Lament for Earth’s microbes heading to Pluto

If only the weather we are experiencing these days in my part of the world could be like this all year . . .

Temperatures are in the upper 20sC (i.e. upper 70sF), the sun is bright and beautiful, and the lake is cool and soooo refreshing . . .

Sigh . . . This is perfect skinny dipping and nude sunbathing weather.

I don’t like to think of what’s coming in six weeks or so. Summer is far too short in these parts. I’m doubting I will even get any jack ‘o lanterns from my pumpkin plants.

Meanwhile, a NASA spacecraft called New Horizons is closing in on Pluto, and has been sending some pretty cool — with emphasis on cool as in cold — photos in the past few days. It will come within 7,000 or so miles of Pluto on Tuesday after travelling for 9 and a half years and some 3 billion miles, and the NASA folks are understandably thrilled by the success of this mission –even though Pluto is inhospitable to us Earthings and is probably little more than a frigid chunk of rock.

Sigh . . . Sentimental me feels a little sorry for the New Horizons spacecraft, manufactured out of good old Mother Earth. It is so alone out there in the universe, never to see its home planet again. I’m thinking that surely there must be some microbes onboard that may still yet be alive. Are they wondering where they are? Have you ever felt sorry for microbes unfortunate enough to be trapped in space probes on a one-way mission to, ultimately, nowhere? It reminds me of a rock that makes its way to the surface of the earth after eons of being buried, finally feeling the sun — as much as a rock can feel; who knows how much rocks can feel? — only to have a child come along and throw it into a lake or a river . . .

I am so grateful that I haven’t been thrown into the deep pools of space onboard New Horizons . . . and the thought of the coming change of seasons is not so intimidating now.

Still . . . I wish . . .

Smiles . . . It is a dreamy summer day today, Alice says as the Cheshire cat grins at her. Such peculiar thoughts fill my brain . . .

Am I dreaming?

Merrily, merrily, merrily . . .

— Alice (a.k.a. Jillian)

12 thoughts on “Lament for Earth’s microbes heading to Pluto

  1. Hope your GB is resting comfortably too? Chilled Cupcake wine on the deck must be helpful too. But it’s been a beauty today, I must to agree. Big Easy weather %D

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    1. We’ve been doing some work outside, difficult work. We’re both pooped. But I did go for a swim today. It’s too hot to dress this evening . . . Drinking some Barefoot Zinfandel . . . I hope you are enjoying this wonderful weather. It is dreamy, isn’t it?

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      1. Is the Big Easy the home of Jazz? Do Loons loon on the lake? Do wood sprites dance au natural on the deck? In the heat of the night? Of course %*

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  2. No place to swim near us.

    All spacecraft leaving earth orbit are serialized before launch. The possibility of earth microbes hitchhiking are extremely remote.

    But it makes for interesting science fiction.

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    1. But what about the materials used to construct the spacecraft? Are they not made of substances composed of atoms, however dense, that are in constant motion? What about the poor atoms that have been propelled 8 million miles from home? Poor little atoms . . .

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    1. I thought you were joking, but I saw a news report that confirmed what you said: the remains of the earthling who first spotted the planet are on-board the spacecraft.

      So, here’s a thought: if he were resurrected in some sort of biblical way, would he awake to find himself 8 million miles from the Earth?

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      1. I suppose it would depend upon when he was reincarnated, as the new horizons spacecraft is already 3,000,000,000 miles from earth and after tomorrow; it continues on and I don’t know where goes from there. As you pointed out though, it’s never coming home.

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      2. I suppose eventually, it will smash into something, and be obliterated — with all its ashes and molecules and atoms becoming dust, forever to hang about in the darkness of space . . . Or, the spacecraft could be retrieved by some space travellers who will take it back to their planet . . . Or? Who knows. But I still feel a little sorry for it now. Who knows what level of consciousness its atoms might have? So alone, so far from home, so freakin’ cold . . .

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      3. You youngsters act as if the New Horizons spacecraft is the first to go that far.

        Pioneers 10 and 11 left our solar system in 1973. Pioneer 10 is in interstellar space heading generally for Aldebaran (the eye in the constellation Tarus). Aldebaran is 68 light years away and it will take Pioneer 10 more than 2 million years to reach it. Pioneer 10 last phoned home on Jan 22, 2003 as it’s nuclear power plant ran out of fuel. Pioneer 11 stopped transmitting on September 30, 1995. Pioneer 11 should pass close to the nearest star in the constellation Aquila in about 4 million years.

        Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched in 1977 and both are still sending science data to earth. It takes more than twelve hours for the signals to reach home. SETI uses the Voyager signals as a calibration tool. “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” was based on the Voyager spacecraft which at the time was still approaching Jupiter. The Star Trek episode “The Changeling” was loosely based on the Pioneer spacecraft which had not yet launched. Fear not, fellow Trekkies, Paramount Studio is discussing a plot line for a new Star Trek movie.

        Space is big. Really unimaginably big. Once past the heliopause the spacecraft will be unlikely to encounter more than a few hydrogen and helium atoms for millions of years.

        And that’s all in just our own galaxy – one of trillions of galaxies. Feel insignificant yet?

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