Sol 18 – When space exploration brings philosophy to the table
“It is good to renew one’s wonder,” said the philosopher. “Space travel has again made children of us all.”
– The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
“Alexandre to the Hab, I have arrived at the Observatory.”
When I heard this message over the radio this morning, I instinctively wrote it down in my notebook, for no particular reason other than that I was happy for Alexandre. The Sun was shining, he would be able to spend time in the solar observatory to record footage of our star and program his nighttime observations.
I also felt happy for Alice and Quentin: the Sun was shining, the hills were drying, boding well for tomorrow’s scheduled EVA. As the exploration EVA using the 3D map ended up being rescheduled to Sol 20 due to the weather, tomorrow, Quentin, Jérémy, and Alexandre will be looking for the checkpoints using only the 2D map.
I started preparing lunch while Jérémy and Corentin debriefed the Sociomapping reports received after the first half of the mission. This technique allows to literally “map out” the relationship between crewmembers: Using a series of weekly queries we answer regularly, a 3D map is generated, illustrating how the crew is organized, and how efficient communications are between us.
While Alexandre and Jérémy were preparing their notes, and memorizing paths and caches for tomorrow, Quentin made a discovery: the damaged weather station screen was in fact not needed! By placing a receiver near the Hab window, he was able to “hear” the weather station’s transmissions directly from inside the Hab and receive them on his computer.
Gathered around the Hab table for lunch, as we were rereading some questions sent by journalists about our mission and Martian exploration, we quickly slipped into debate mode: Why go to space? Why explore Mars? Many answers arose. Most of us mentioned science: good use of orbital space can help solve the climate crisis, studying Mars helps us understand our own Earth, even pure scientific curiosity can be a powerful motivator. But some crewmembers also mentioned a reason more difficult to justify, abstract yet almost visceral, even artistic: the desire to explore. Which is why I chose this quote, instead of going through Bradbury’s 18th chronicle as usual:
“‘It is good to renew one’s wonder,’ said the philosopher. ‘Space travel has again made children of us all.’”