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Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. --Herman Melville
Pluto By Moonlight. Image Credit; NASA/JHUAPL/SwRi
HOME! ALL BUT INVISIBLE ACROSS THE VASTNESS OF SPACE.
AND ALL BUT INACCESSIBLE.
The spacecraft door opens and instantly, in a cacophony of emotions, your thoughts are a jumbled, uncontrolled maelstrom as you stand on the surface of a planet three billion miles from home; so far from home, in fact, the sun is a thousand times dimmer than where you started your journey.
No warming rays and only the dimmest of light; shadows barely perceptible in the strained, soft glow of reflected light.
You’re fortunate to have a partner with whom to share the mind-numbing view. Yet; the sheer loneliness is paralyzing as you try to imagine the distance to home, to fellow human contact.
This inhospitable world is so utterly frigid, even your thoughts are frozen, leaving you speechless at sights no human has ever before seen, not even with our best telescope, Hubble. Inhospitable, alien, and perilous, yet the breath-taking beauty is exhilarating beyond anything you’ve encountered.
“Absolute!” A term used in rare circumstances.
But, this place is so remote, even where you now stand will likely never again see human footprints. “Contact” with the human race is nothing more than invisible radio waves; a thin, frail thread three billion miles long linking you to any other human beings. Any communications you have with home are tenuous, at best, for you are so remote it takes four and one-half hours for radio transmissions, traveling at almost the speed of light, to reach you from Earth. Self-sufficiency now harbors a special inference; if you encounter a problem, any problem, the nine-hour response time will surely mean your death, long before you receive the instructions with which to prevent it.
Yes; absolute isolation!
You’re uncontrollably contemplative, engulfed by an overwhelming sense of wonderment. Is this how humanity’s early explorers felt?
Almost ten years to reach your destination; ten, very long years, and we haven’t even made a noticeable scratch on the surface of exploring our own galaxy, much less the known universe.
Wonderment is instantly transformed to insignificance at the realization that your step onto this surface, even with all the work and accomplishments of humanity to this point; these efforts don’t even register with the scale of the known universe.
Innumerable hazards. Severe isolation. Dubious survivability.
Indeed! And a fabulous journey despite them all.
For more about the New Horizons and our incredible journey into space: