By Niamh Shaw
Crew Artist & Journalist Crew 173
It’s 1977 and I’m 8 years old.
We have just moved to a small town in Ireland called Carlow.
It’s summertime so we have no school, and I have only my cousin to play with.
She’s nice, but she’s 2 years younger than me and we have very little in common.
I like school and learning, so I’m bored a lot this summer.
Dad is leaving for work and he asks me what my favourite planet is.
I tell him its Saturn.
I’m not sure why.
I think it’s because its the only planet with rings.
He asks me to make a report about Saturn.
I have something finally to do with my day!
I open the Children’s Encyclopaedia and get to work.
I make a big poster, using my new colouring pencils.
It’s filled with facts and drawings.
I can’t wait to show it to Dad when he gets home later.
But now that I’m done, I’m bored again.
I’ve never lived in the countryside before.
I haven’t yet discovered the fields around me that will soon provide me with limitless fun for the next 2 years until we move again to another small Irish town.
So I continue to read the encyclopaedia.
And learn about all the other planets in our solar system.
I go to John’s room and study the poster on his wall.
It’s a poster from National Geographic. Dad gave it to him.
Having read the encyclopaedia, I realise it’s of our solar system and all the other stars in our local interstellar neighbourhood.
I like it.
John comes in and tells me more about the poster.
And Alpha Centauri.
And that his favourite planet is Mars.
He tells me about Mars.
It’s now my favourite planet too.
Roy can’t remember a time when he didn’t know about Mars. His mother would tell him about our solar system all the time. She had a special chart that could predict the position of the stars and planets in the night sky and they would use it to stargaze most nights.
Rick learned about planets in school when he was aged around 8, but for as long as he could remember, he was always interested in nature, rocks, fish and the world around him. His curiosity for space and Mars began in earnest in University while studying geology.
Idriss was 13. Living in Morocco, he spent a lot of time in the Atlas mountains, and with such low light pollution so high above the cities, the area had stunning views of the night sky. He needed to know what he was looking at and so he signed up for an Astronomy weekend. They told him about the French magazine ‘Ciel et Espace’, which he still reads to this day (he brought a copy with him to MDRS to share with us). And thus, our astronomer crew member was hooked on the stars and planets.
I wish I could tell when our commander first learned about Mars. But Michaela’s cooking dinner at the moment and also has to communicate with CapCOMM shortly. Its Slovakia night here so its all on her. I will have to tell you her story another time.
We have all been inspired in so many different ways. But somehow we all ended up here at MDRS with our shared passion for Mars. I wonder who we will inspire, with our experience here?
Here’s to another great Culture night here at MDRS. Hura do toho a na zdravie!
by Niamh Shaw
Crew Artist & Journalist