Yahoo News recently published 18 astonishing NASA photos of Mars. I find all images of actual planets and moons pretty awesome. They jolt me with a view of reality, so completely outside everyday experience. Maybe this amazement is what people felt when they realized there were lands on the other side of the earth that no one from Europe had ever visited. Or when they realized Earth was not the center of the solar system, or of the universe.
Yet seeing close-up pictures of the planet next door, I have to catch my breath. It will be a very long time before humans go to Mars (if ever!), so I know that “next door” is not exactly a short flight away. But we have been able to send machines, and the machines have faithfully looked at Mars, and traveled around Mars, and sifted Mars. And they’ve sent back photos of their trips for us to see.
The photos make Mars look like a place I could walk around on, if and when I get there. They make Mars look like Earth. Yet they also show how strange and different this next-door, earth-like planet is. Mars looks wonderful in the original meaning of that word: Full of wonder!