July 16, 1969 is a historic day. It was that day, as we will all remember, that the Apollo 11 spacecraft was launched toward the Moon.
And on July 20, man landed on the moon. People all over the planet stopped what they were doing and watched TV to see this incredible event.
Newspapers with huge headlines and equally huge photos recorded this human miracle the next day.
The Moon, which has dominated the human imagination, the subject of poets and novelists, fell like another castle to the onrush of human achievement.
The words of astronaut Neil Armstrong as he stepped on the Moon still echo in our ears:
“That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The Moon is relatively close to Earth. It is only 238,900 miles away. In contrast, Mars is 128 million miles away. And yet, a few short days ago, a NASA robotic spacecraft with the name ‘Perseverance’ landed there – with true perseverance, stubbornness. But the coverage given to this event did not come close to that given to Apollo 11.
Perseverance landed there with a simple mission:
“Are we alone in this sort of vast cosmic desert, just flying through space, or is life much more common? … We don’t know the answers yet,” JPL’s Ken Willford, Perseverance’s deputy project scientist, said. “We’re really on the verge of being able to potentially answer these enormous questions.”
Another robot landed there in 2004, discovering the existence of water from billions of years ago.
But Perseverance is much more advanced than the previous spacecraft. It is able to "see" microorganisms that previously were not visible.
The image of the Perseverance robotic vehicle on Mars is in itself a step of historical significance for humanity.
But it also has other beneficial properties: in the difficult times we live in, a time of lack of confidence in our capabilities and questioning of everything, this image stimulates our fallen morale and reminds us of the tremendous progress that man has made, as well as the gains that will follow as a result of his scientific discoveries. Perseverance.
Still, in our melancholy about the coronavirus we have begun to almost take for granted the discovery of vaccines in such a short time.
And yet, that was a scientific miracle. The development of those vaccines is a strong testimony to the huge recent leaps in science.
The other element is that it confirms America's scientific prowess for itself and in the world as a whole – which means that America will continue to attract the best science minds that humanity has to offer.
So, here another good word; it goes along with Perseverance: optimism. There are many problems left to solve. From cancer to hunger, climate change, etc.
But at the same time, we are solving more and more all the time.