NASA’s InSight Mars mission shows the best parts of being human.

My daughter once asked me where heaven is. I don’t lie to her so I told her the truth: “Heaven is in your heart.” And when I say “heart” I mean the philosophical understanding of a heart that can contain things like emotion. When I told her this I also explained two important concepts. First, if she keeps heaven in her heart then no-one can take it away from her. Secondly, she now understands that Christianity is a personal choice and other people who made different choices believe different things, and that’s perfectly fine.

Keeping heaven in that place also prepares her for when we discover the furthest reaches and most complex designs of the universe and leave little room for God to hide. If God is always in the unknown then our curious minds will always be a threat.

I believe in people and their ability to unlock the secrets of our world. Our curiosity and ingenuity is the thing that sets us apart from all other creatures on this planet. We are risen apes that are now in a position to understand the inner workings of our celestial neighbours.

When the Atlas V-401 rocket launched InSight from Cape Canaveral on 5 May 2018 – a first for NASA – it set into motion a chain of events that requires years of preparation. Matthew Inman from The Oatmeal is a lot more eloquent and creative than I am in his mission explanation, so I’ll leave it to him.

My point is that people built InSight. It took the collaboration of teams of engineers and scientists, even two of the biggest jet propulsion manufacturers in the world – Lockheed Martin and Boeing – had to come together to solve the problem of getting the instrument to Mars. When humans work together for a higher (and this time quite literally so) purpose, we can achieve wonders.

Even if the 7 minutes of terror ends in catastrophe, at least we had a chance. Working together gave us a chance at something magical. This is a human achievement, and it’s awesome.

 

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