Imagine standing on the summit of a mountain 12 kilometres high. From this point you can see the vast red landscape of dust and rock beneath you. High speed winds beat against the metal armor of your transport and every gap is rapidly filled with fine flecks of dust. If you were to step outside of your warm vehicle you would surely be frozen solid in a matter of seconds, and if not, you would probably suffocate. You are on top of Arsia Mons.
As you look out below you, 12 kilometres down you can see tornadoes ripping across the surface of the planet, each is 8 kilometres high and about as wide as 5 football fields and at the base of each is a brilliant blue light. You can clearly see the potency of the electricity crackling beneath the tornadoes and you are glad that you are safe up on your mountain. You watch as these dust devils skim across the surface of the red earth whipping rocks high into the air.
You look away from the weaving dance of the dust devils towards the north. There is a huge canyon 6 kilometres deep there and from this vantage point you can clearly see the immense scale. Far in the distance beyond the canyon you can see fluffy white clouds above the polar cap of the planet and you wonder what could be over there.
This is Mars.
Recently I have been thinking a lot about this place. It truly is exciting that one day we could be there walking on the Martian surface, perhaps discovering life or ancient life long gone. What’s even more exciting is that this could all be happening within my life time, in the next 40 years or so we may have the first missions to Mars. Not to mention our return to the moon.
I was wondering, if asked, would you go to Mars? I know I certainly would. Even if there were no chance of coming back. I’m not trying to sound emo here but let me rationalize it for you. In my thinking, what could be more exciting, interesting and life fulfilling than going to another planet let alone the moon! Nothing you see there will be the same as Earth, everything will be new and beautiful. I cannot think of anything on Earth that would give the same feeling.
So, if a scientist came to you in 40 years and asked you to go to Mars, Would you?