Friday, August 10, 2012

To Mars ~ Kicking and Screaming

I would have moved to TEXAS.  That should give you an idea of my sweet, loving, altruistic nature.  I was willing to forsake my Okie sensibilities and relocate to TEXAS if my husband’s job required it. 

OK.  I’ve quit gritting my teeth.  My fingers have unclenched and I can type again.  I can go on.

My point is I can embrace change if I must.  I’ll drink lemonade all day and carry a sow’s ear purse.  TEXAS is one thing.  But I don’t know if I could move to Mars.

Oh, don’t kid yourself.  Ever since they navigated the rover Curiosity onto the surface of the red planet, NASA scientists have been talking right out loud about Mars being the next home for civilization.

As you know, Curiosity is the Hummer-sized robot now snooping around near the Gale Crater, at least 36 million miles away, on Mars.  Curiosity’s stated mission: not only to see if Mars could ever have supported small life forms called microbes, but also to determine if human beings could survive there someday!
In fairness, the last time I encountered a new colony of any significance, it was in my son’s bedroom. 

He was thirteen at the time, a critical age for glandular development and unintentional science projects.  A good kid, but he was unencumbered by attention to detail or – to his way of thinking – superfluous habits of hygiene.  Suffice it to say that contraband snack food, wet towels and gym socks produced a simulated Petri dish next to his laundry basket, complete with a thriving culture of unknown bacteria.  

So, objectivity requires effort.

But in spite of this, in the spirit of adventure and anticipating the inevitable, just as I did when it looked like we might have to move to TEXAS, I’ve done some advance reconnaissance.  The NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website provides an animated interactive geek, “Dr. C., Your Personal Mars Expert,” to answer questions for those of us bold enough to ask.
Dr. C.'s social skills however, mandate a safe distance from actual living beings.  When I asked if it’s true that we will someday colonize Mars, he took an uppity attitude right out of the gate, prefacing his comments with “If you mean will humans ever colonize Mars…”  Who did he think was asking the question, Wall-E?

Totally uncalled for.  But I held back.  I took the higher ground.  If a cartoon needs to make itself feel important by talking down to me, well!  Where would that argument go anyway? 

He went on to say, “On this site, we prefer the idea of ‘establishing communities’ on Mars as opposed to ‘colonization.’”  So, even self-important line drawings have to be politically correct.

But establish communities we will.  In fact, Dr. C. spends the next few lines telling me what a lot of work it will be to accomplish such a task.  We’ll need liquid water, he says, and oxygen at the appropriate pressure for humans to breathe. 

Duh.  I could have been a nerdy interactive animated cartoon scientist stating the obvious.  That’s always been one of my strong suits.  But when he went on to say that in order to live on Mars, we’ll need 'comfortable' temperatures and protection from Martian dust, an idea began to form in this Tulsa girl’s mind.

There’s liquid water and oxygen in Oklahoma.  In fact, from April to October, they come packaged as a two-fer in the form of mold-inducing humidity.  That’s thanks to the ‘uncomfortable’ temperatures - read 'blazing heat' - that Okies have endured since God made goat cheese.
And as for protection from dust, Martians should take a lesson from Dust Bowl Okies!  We know dust.  Our dust is red too!  Just like Martian dust. 

And you’ve seen those pictures; there’s not a lick of shade on Mars. 

Just like Oklahoma…Hmmm…

This whole community-building concept is starting to smell like a sham, a cover-up, a pretense to relocate Okies from earth to another flat, dusty, humid, twangy colony of fried food and mosquitoes!  Not me buster!

My momma didn’t raise any fools in Oklahoma!  No!  You’ll have to roast a lot of roosters to find me sleepin’ at dawn. 

I ain’t goin’ to TEXAS; and I sure as shootin’ ain’t goin’ to MARS!