In the midst of the intense focus on the U.S. presidential race and the sobering reports of natural disasters around the world—the cyclone in Myanmar, the earthquakes in China, tornadoes in the U.S.—an unmanned spacecraft gently sat down on the surface of Mars on Sunday, May 25.
The Phoenix , NASA's latest craft designed to probe the red planet's terrain, was launched on August 4 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. After travelling 423 million miles over almost ten months, the solar-powered Phoenix entered the Martian atmosphere where its thrusters slowed the craft from a speed of over 12,000 miles per hour to 5 miles per hour just before touchdown.
The engineers and scientists overseeing the project were delighted with the flawless landing—one of the most treacherous parts of the trip, since over half of all previous attempts to land have failed. After safely settling in the North Polar Region, the Phoenix unfolded its solar panels and soon sent back its first photos of the Martian landscape.
Now comes the especially intriguing part of the Phoenix's mission: a three-month study of the icy terrain and a search for the building blocks of life. If the Phoenix can confirm that the presumed water ice is usable, future missions with humans will be able acquire water to drink and oxygen to breath from the planet itself without having to bring these supplies from earth.
While the results of this mission will undoubtedly add to our understanding of Mars and enhance future missions, have you ever wondered why we humans are so interested in exploring everything around us? Why do we explore not only the earth but also the heavenly bodies within our reach? Why are we so concerned about the possibility of life on another planet?
NASA has four long-term goals for the Mars Exploration Program , of which the Phoenix Mission is part. These goals are to: 1. Determine whether life ever arose on Mars; 2. Characterize the climate of Mars; 3. Characterize the geology of Mars; 4. Prepare for human exploration.
These goals also give us insight into our collective heritage—the psyche of the human race. But there's no need to travel millions of miles through space to discover more about the human mind and why we do the things we do, For most of us, the information we need to begin understanding ourselves is located within a few feet of us or obtainable via just a few key strokes on a computer. So where is this information? In the Holy Bible—the book in which God reveals how we humans were designed.
This great Book of amazingly accurate information tells us that at creation God made each form of life according to its specific type or kind. Plant life was made “according to its kind” (Genesis 1:11 Genesis 1:11And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth: and it was so.
American King James Version×). Sea creatures and every other form of life were also made according to their kind (v. 21, 24). But when God created mankind, He said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (v. 26).
We humans were designed after the supreme Intelligence of the universe—God Himself. As a result, the biblical record shows that Adam was a highly intelligent being capable of naming the animals and carrying on intelligent conversations immediately after his creation (Genesis 2:19-20 Genesis 2:19-20 19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
American King James Version×, 23; Genesis 3). He was no cave man capable of only crude grunts.
And just as God has dominion—rulership—over everything that exists, He has given us humans dominion over the plant and animal kingdoms on this earth. Furthermore, He eventually wants to give us even more authority—dominion over the angels and positions of authority in a new “world to come” (Hebrews 2:5-8 Hebrews 2:5-8 5 For to the angels has he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that you are mindful of him? or the son of man that you visit him?
7 You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, and did set him over the works of your hands:
8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
American King James Version×, Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
American King James Version×).
When we understand that we were created as intelligent beings with dominion over our world, it is no surprise that we humans instinctively continue to add to our knowledge base and explore all that is around us. The Mars Exploration Program simply reflects the fact that we were hard-wired from the beginning to do these kinds of things. And even though our abilities are not nearly as great as God's, we humans clearly exhibit the family traits of our heavenly Father.