I lifted a ladybug out of my bathroom today and put her in the garden where I thought she had a better chance of survival. But I wondered what it was that got her to travel so far from her native home.
Then I heard today that the European Space Agency is seeking six volunteers to spend 17 months in an isolation space the size of nine truck containers. In reality they will be somewhere in Moscow, but the idea is to simulate a trip to Mars. The Agency wants to study how people would respond to weightlessness, high workloads, limited supplies and communications with Earth, lack of privacy, and with various planned and possibly unplanned emergencies.
I think what impelled the ladybug into my bathroom is the basic force that will motivate those six volunteers to simulate a trip to Mars, and probably someday a real attempt to reach Mars. I believe they are motivated by the same life force that got plants and fish out of the water and onto land half a billion years ago. It motivated humans’ humans’ trek out of Africa perhaps 100,000 years ago, and propelled our ships to the edges of the oceans until we had at last circled the globe 500 years ago.
Maybe it’s not all that different from what motivates us more ordinary mortals to take a trip to a new place, or maybe ski down a steeper slope, climb a higher mountain. Or maybe just walk into a new restaurant.