The Perseverance Rover successfully landed on Mars today, and it got me dreaming of space again. It is incredible to think that we have several rovers now on Mars and that these were built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which I’ve driven, run, or walked past countless times. My earliest memory of JPL was back in the days before GPS (or even Mapquest) when my dad took a wrong turn at night coming home, and we ended up at the security checkpoint at the entrance of “NASA.” I was thrilled to find that NASA was so close to home, and it seemed so mysterious being at the foot of the mountains–as if it were an entrance to this vast underground vault of treasures. I remember when I was little hearing a few twin sonic booms when the space shuttles would land in the high desert. In 2012, I believe, I took an extended lunch break and drove up into the mountain to get a view of the Space Shuttle Endeavor piggy-backed on an airplane as it flew over JPL in a final salute before it was retired to a museum.
On and on, memories and thoughts of space travel popped into my head throughout the day. What will it be like when the first humans eventually land on mars? I would probably dread the portion of the trip when you’re far enough from both planets, where both look just like mere specks in a sea of black sprinkled with stars.