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Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Voices of Mars


 Marcus T Anthony's new web site and blog can be found at

The Red Planet has always held a great fascination for us humans. It is as if it is calling us from across the relatively short distance of 60 million kilometers that stands between it and the earth (at its closest point). The good news for space enthusiasts is that Barack Obama has just announced that he is committed to sending US astronauts into Mars orbit by the mid-2030s. 

"By 2025 we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first ever crew missions beyond the moon into deep space," Obama told an audience at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

"So, we'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to earth, and a landing on Mars will follow."

It’s still a fair way off, but if you are like me, you’ll feel a sense of excitement at this news. Obama went on: "As president, I believe that space exploration is not a luxury, it's not an afterthought in America's quest for a brighter future. It is an essential part of that quest.”

To me, this is always the most important component of any concept, goal or action. Obama spoke of the need for us to forge meaningful and captivating goals, ones that inspire us to a better future. He sees this as an essential part of the American spirit.

The truth is, it’s not an exclusively American “spirit”. The desire to explore transcends national boundaries. It is one of the evolutionary drivers of the human species. I’ve often said that we should follow our excitement as we live our lives; and the same is true for our species as a collective.
 It is excitement that calls us forward.

I’ve lived in China and Hong Kong for seven years, and it is the vision and excitement of the Chinese that has transformed the country in the last 30 years. This is what the Chinese call “the spirit of the Chinese people”, and it has produced the miracle economy of the early 21st century. People work harder and better when they have something to hope for, to dream for.  The genuine excitement of the human spirit  calls us forward towards a greater good. Still, the call of “excitement”, this has its dark side – and in China it can be seen in worker exploitation, corruption, greed, environmental destruction and so on. 

The push to explore space also its dangers. It could be used for warfare, and to export our bad habits off-planet (the colonial mindset.). 

This is why we must always check our intention at every step of the way, to see what it is that’s driving us. This is part of what I call the Wisdom Cycle. We must  listen to the spirit/excitement, take action, observe the results, then check the reasons for the success or failure, before repeating the process (at the next level).

As children, we feel the excitement of new adventures every day. We owe it to ourselves, and those who follow us in the future, to initiate noble dreams that take us forward. Answering the call of the voices of Mars is just such a noble quest.

But before I sign off, here’s something quite fascinating about Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, and just happened to be there with Obama as he made public his commitment to Mars. Previously, Aldrin has openly spoken about a monolithic structure on Phobos, the largest of Mars' two relatively small moons. As far as I can gather, he considers that this thing might be of artificial origin. Check it out for yourself.


  1. Hmm! I find this troubling, why not spend the money of fixing what is broke first, then thinking of ways to improve here on earth where there is still a long way to go, many exciting challenges and much exploration to be done.Colonising space has never been a personal fave.

  2. There's certainly a strong argument for spending the cash on something more immediately pressing. There are plenty of people in need right now in the US. But then, there is a strong value in setting and achieving goals which unite the nations and bring it together. China spent 50 billion on the Olympics two years ago (Australia spent 1.5 billion in the yr 2000, by comparison), and they have about 100 million people living below the poverty line. The Chinese also have a go-ahead space programme, and it has a very political motive - to unify the nation and to tell the world that they are a superpower. That does have some benefit for China (having said that I think China has HUGE problems brewing, and all this may backfire, but that's another story).

    Finally, there is a price top pay for everything, and that includes every goal and every dream. It's just a matter of whether you are prepared to pay it.

  3. Personally, I love Obama's vision. Why return to the moon when we've been there already? Mars holds enormous appeal. Yes, there's tons to fix in the U.S. Eight years under Bush was crippling for the US economy and Obama came into office with a mess to fix. But he's smart, a powerful speaker, and I like that he has such far ranging vision, that he has goals and dreams. Can't say that about Bush, who could barely speak correct English.

  4. Is this the same Obama who said that he would shut down the illegal Guantamano Bay 'dentention center'? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's still open, isn't it? What makes you trust him this time.....?

  5. Just found this article on BBC, torture continuing under Obama:

    Rather than going to Mars maybe they could spend this money on closing Guantanamo and other torture chambers....?