There are seven, earth-sized planets around a star in a solar system named TRAPPIST-1 that would take our (current) fastest spacecraft 817,000 years to reach, yet people right this very second are trying to figure out a way to get there.
Cassini, launched in 1997, will make its final mission on September 15 by plunging to its death into Saturn’s gassy atmosphere because it’s finally run out of fuel.
I graduated college in 1997. I’ve done balls compared to this space robot.
(Look at its resume if you get a chance. It discovered potentially habitable moons!)
There’s a giant asteroid passing by us right now, closest it’s been since 1890, won’t be this close again until 2500. Her name is Florence. She’s enormous. You can spot her easily through your kid’s telescope in the backyard.
Yesterday I took two of my boys to see the 40th Anniversary rerelease of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We watched it on a big screen in an enormous movie theater. When we were finished, I told them one of my biggest dreams since I was a kid was to discover alien life. I wanted an E.T. like creature to find its way into my backyard. I still want that.
They called me crazy but agreed that if a spaceship should make its way to our house one night, they would nominate me first to go up with them.
So much has changed in 40 years.
I guess when you have cellphones, iPads, google maps, Wii U’s and Minecraft worlds, the idea of yearning for something bigger than ourselves becomes a little less immediate.
(I need to fix this for my kids. I think I fucked this one up.)
I comb through science magazines and websites every single night in order to escape the “real” news and also to keep myself in check because ultimately? We are all so unbelievably meaningless. I don’t mean that in a depressing way, but look up and out and oh my goodness.
We are so tiny. So small. So unimportant. So quick.
A blip. One pixel.
I find few things more terrifying, remarkable, unpredictable and beautiful than outer space. And I think sometimes I take it for granted and forget that it’s there and vast and terrifying.
Fall is here and that means opening the windows and listening to the chorus of crickets and letting all the moonlight in. It means reminding myself that my problems–while very real and genuine and sometimes all-consuming–they are temporary.
They have to be.
Because what a magnificent show this is.