What's Up with Mars?

What's Up with Mars?

Mars is hot.

Figuratively and literally.

Mars seems to be the planet of choice (POC) for rich guys like Elon Musk, who insists he is going to go there, for Hollywood that has made a growing number of films about the red ball, and for ordinary people.


When I was in fifth grade I had to draw the solar system.  There were nine planets. Since then, Pluto has been decertified as a planet and is… I guess a hunk of space rock or something.  I drew some cool planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and more.  Oh, yes. Mars. The planets in my drawing were drawn in color, so Venus was blue, Earh was blue-green (that’s what we knew at the time) and Mars was red.   I’ll skip the jokes I made then — and now– about Uranus.

The moon landing was still a few years off, so the idea of going to Mars or even the moon was a dream of JFK and a bunch of geeks at NASA.  Nobody thought it would happen.  Some believe the moon landing never happened, but they also believe the earth is flat.  We put more stock in George Jetson’s flying car, jetsons-flying-carwhich were promised by “experts” by 2000.  So far, no commercial flying car, but Neil Armstrong did manage to swing a golf club on the Moon.  And then a few more Apollo missions returned to the moon, and we called it a day.  There’s not a damned thing there worth anything.

Now it’s Mars.

It’s red, not dull gray,  like the Moon.

It’s waaaay out there, not boring close like the moon.

We aren’t interested in getting back to the Moon.  Even if it were made of green cheese we probably wouldn’t go back.  Leave it for the Commie Chinese, who are building rockets powered by soy and rice and stolen technology to get there.

The other night I watched a movie called, “Approaching the Unknown,” which is about some obvious social misfit astronaut who is so obsessed with getting to the red planet that he keeps on going solo in his tin can space ship long after a critical system has failed.  Spoiler alert: he makes it  and is bored and disappointed, you can tell.  He is wandering around on red soil and he keeps saying to himself that “nothing has ever lived here and nothing has ever died here.”   He apparently didn’t see the other Mars movies.

As I was watching this moving, thinking “why Mars,” I couldn’t help but notice the Hollywood version of Mars –mountains and valleys and rocks, all tinted reddish. mars-scene I had seen that Hollywood-Mars Scape many time in the last five years. Probably the same one.  It’s not what I would call inviting.

Mars must be the fantasy of those who have given up on Earth and are thinking that even a red-zone devoid of life is better than Chicago and Illinois and Earth in general.  They could be right: no long commutes on the Dan Ryan or Ike to work and no lines in the grocery stores after work.

It wouldn’t be long, though, before JB or Mike Madigan showed up to ask for your vote and a little mad Mars money to help things along, don’t ‘cha know.

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