Our cosmic calling and the creatures we take with us.
We live in an age of wonder when the boundaries of the earth seem to be more porous than ever before. Our reach extends beyond the atmosphere. We speak of earth as the ground we trod but also as a planet, a specific place in the heavens. What does it mean for us to fill the earth when we walk on another planet?
This morning NASA launched a new mission to Mars with a launch period. It has me thinking about our place in the world, our place among the worlds, and our neighbors in space.
The Mars 2020 mission will place a new rover on the surface of Mars by Feb. 18, 2021, if all goes according to plan. This mission takes the next step in searching for life and preparing for human space travel. The car-sized rover, named Perseverance, will resemble Curiosity, the rover that landed on Mars in 2012 and still remains active. It will have a whole new suite of instruments, however, and will land in an exciting new location: near the Jezero Crater, on the edge of Isidis Basin, which contains the remains of an ancient river delta. It will collect and package samples that can be returned to Earth by a future mission.
I believe that God calls us to explore space, to see what God has made, to share our love and wisdom, and to care for creation. But we cannot go alone. We travel with a host of other creatures—the animals, plants, and even bacteria that live with us daily and keep us alive. God calls them as well, and we cannot understand our call until we understand theirs. Questions about the journey, where and when and how we go, involve other species. We cannot go alone, technically or morally. We take others with us. And that requires understanding our interdependence.
The exploration of Mars pushes us to the very …