ARE THERE OTHER
Are there on any of these globes which seem to be moving around us beings formed like ourselves, or animals, or any plants? Do people on the Moon contemplate our Earth, a glorious orb in their firmament, and spy out our actions through telescopes as we attempt to spy out theirs? Before the evening is finished I hope to be able to answer these questions in a satisfactory manner.
Let us examine in the first place, the conditions essential to the existence of the organize beings with which we are familiar, then we will try to discover whether such conditions are found on any other celestial body. It will only be necessary to investigate a few of these conditions, because if we find any that are absolutely essential to life, whether animal or vegetable, missing on other globes, our purpose will be fulfilled. They can not be inhabited.
To sustain the life of an animal three things are necessary. It must have air, water…Water in its turn is just as essential as air.
Here’s the thing. There is non-frozen water on Mars! People! This is, like, you know, humongous!
By its (water’s) aid food is carried into the body and distributed, and it also acts as a regulator of heat. If we tend to become too warm, as in the summer season, winter escapes rapidly from the lungs and skin, and by its evaporation keeps us cool. That such evaporating processes cause a cooling may be proved by an experiment with which many of us are acquainted…
…We are now ready to glance for a few moments at the construction of the solar system. Around the Sun, a sphere 880,000 miles in diameter, there revolve a number of globes; some, the more important, called planets; some the moons or satellites of these planets; and the rest asteroids, or else, if very small, aerolites or meteors…
…The first planet outside of the Earth—Mars—is 50 millions of miles more distant from the Sun than we are. When it is favorably situated its surface can be closely scanned through the telescope.
It seems to me to be by far the most interesting object in the heavens from its similarity to Earth…when my large telescope was completed, Mars was often observed…There was visible, in the first place, an expanse of water covering a large proportion of the Southern hemisphere, and of a greenish hue. The remaining parts, at the upper portion of the picture, are land of a reddish tinge, assuming the figure of continents. In addition—and this is a point of peculiar interest—at the north and south polar regions there are accumulations of snow, presenting appearances strictly analagous to those at the arctic and Antarctic regions of our globe. The snow spot at the South Pole here shown, the North Pole is invisible.
It’s been such a tedious year, what with all the bad economic news and political ho-hum, that you’d think the possibility that an environment on Mars that could make life possible is tremendous.
…If we can succeed in rendering it probable that on any of these (celestial) bodies there is life, we shall be led at once to extend the sphere of animated nature infinitely. For we know that each of the countless multitudes of fixed stars, which delight our gaze on a clear evening, is a sun, shining as our sun does, by virtue of its own light. At distances vastly greater than these are collections of stars, which, though they may in reality be separated as far from one another as the nearest fixed star is from us, yet seem closely packed together. These, the resolvable nebulae, are stellar systems of prodigious extent. Many are not bright enough to affect the naked eye; and who shall say what immense numbers there may be invisible even with the telescope.
There’s already speculation that if there’s water on Mars, rocket fuel could be manufactured there!
We may argue from analogy that all these suns, many of them larger than ours, are surrounded by trains of planets, revolving around them at various distances. If on any of the planets of our solar system life can be maintained, why not on these planets too? And does it not seem reasonable to suppose that all those bodies have been created for some other purpose than merely occasionally to illuminate our skies? Is this little speck in the universe where we are existing, and which is visible to only two or three of its immediate neighbors, the only seat of life?…
Many of us remember the day we landed on the Moon…that was a GREAT DAY! Why can’t we do something really cool like that again?
President Obama announced early on in his presidency that NASA was re-emergent…He promised a crewed mission to Mars by the mid 2030s. That is still the official NASA mission. The Nation’s Journey to Mars continues. But funding is lagging.
Mars is hardly on the horizon, at least not for us.
NOTE: This article is an integration of two articles I read this weekend.
The first was published in June, 1866: “ARE THERE OTHER INHABITED WORLDS” written for a lecture delivered before the Young Men’s Christian Association of New York by Henry Draper, M. D., Professor Adjunct of Chemistry in the University of New York, and published in Harpers New Monthly Magazine, No. 193. pp 45.
The second: Americans really want NASA back again, written by Ann McFeatters for the Tribune News Service, updated October 1, 2015.
The older ones are from Harpers New Monthly Magazine, No. 193. pp 45
The others are from Wikipedia Commons:
“Dissected Channels, as seen by Viking” by Jim Secosky selected nasa image.