Wyn Wachhorst comments: |
"If the essence of exploration is to touch the boundary — the beach, the mountaintop, or the moon — the core of the human condition is the attempt to see the self in context. To stand on the moons of Saturn and see the Earth in perspective is to act out the unique identity of our species" (The Dream of Spaceflight 78). Long before photographs were possible from orbit, humans artistically rendered in the late 1800s what Earth looked like from the moon. Astronomers like Camille Flammarion, among others, envisioned earth as a tiny oasis of life in the vast abyss of outer space. Apollo 8's photos of Earth rising over a desiccated lunarscape galvanized forever our understanding of our planet as a fragile haven whirling through the interplanetary depths. Those photographs forever reconfigured our relation to the planet and, more importantly, to each other. This vision, affirmed specifically as a result of space exploration, calls us all into accountability to each other, to the survival of the planet and all species, and to dedicate ourselves to understanding life in the solar system, and in the galaxy that we call home. Space challenges humankind--to love that which we inhabit, and to seek out that which is not yet known. How can we not answer the challenge?
Assistant Professor, Department of English
California State University, San Bernardino