By Chuck Woodbury
I am still in Quartzsite (Arizona), but last evening I might as well have been on Mars. Well, sorta. . .
First, I will tell you that I will die with one big regret – that I did not visit Mars. That said, I feel fortunate to have been able to visit there virtually via incredible photos of the planet from our Rovers’ incredible high definition cameras.
But last evening, I had a very Mars-like experience.
The mountains around here are barren. They don’t rise very high, maybe 1,500 feet, maybe not even that high. They’re more like sharply carved hills than mountains, like what you see in photos from Mars.
Most of the time, during the day, the sky here is a deep blue. Occasionally there’s a cloud in the sky. This, of course, would not be true on the Red Planet. The sky there never has clouds, and it is always a brownish-orange color, like a smoggy day in L.A.
Last night, right before the sun set in the west, I glanced out my window to the east. The mountains were bathed in an orange glow, and the sky was not blue at all, but a brownish-orange color just like on Mars.
I walked from my motorhome into the desert and looked off a distance toward those mountains and its sky. With just a bit of imagination I could have been on Mars. Of course, on Mars I would have been wearing a space helmet. But I wasn’t doing that here because I don’t carry a space helmet in my motorhome because it’s just extra weight.
Here is what I pondered as I stood out there in the desert: I thought if I had the opportunity to go to Mars, it would require a journey of a few months, with no rest areas or fast food joints along the way to grab a burger, in a small spaceship about the size of my RV. And then, finally, I would land on Mars and step outside, stretch my legs, and then, no doubt, take a look around. And I would think, “This looks just like Arizona!”
And I believe after a few days I might have this huge desire to hop the next rocket back home where the sky was blue and I didn’t need a space helmet.
All that said, if I got a call from NASA tomorrow and was invited to go to Mars in a couple of years (they might need a writer to document everything), I would say “yes” in a heartbeat. I say that with 100% certainty, which tells you I really mean it!