Last night the world took a short break from watching the Olympics to witness NASA make history yet again. The Mars Curiosity Rover arrived safely and started transmitting images of the Martian surface back to Earth.
But Curiosity was not the first. Spirit and Opportunity began exploring Mars in 2004. And don’t forget the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which was launched in 2005 and is still sending us images from its orbit around the Red Planet.
Before all those, there was Pathfinder. The lander, formally named the Carl Sagan Memorial Station following its successful touchdown, and the rover, named Sojourner after American civil rights crusader Sojourner Truth, both outlived their design lives — the lander by nearly three times, and the rover by 12 times. It stopped transmitting in 1997.
A sojourner might be described as “One Who Wanders With Purpose.” Like me, and Kat, and Julie, and Jake. We’re all with the Sojourner program. Although the director takes our own talents and needs into consideration before making a placement, we’re all willing and ready to go wherever The Holy Spirit leads.
Heh… well, on Mars, Sojourner came before Spirit, but Spirit and Opportunity definitely led the way for Curiosity!
I know that NASA had lots of very well-informed people discuss the heck out of where exactly each of these missions should land, and where they should go from there. But think about it… there’s an entire planet to explore! A planet where man has yet to set foot. Any way it turns, any way it goes, could lead to fantastic new knowledge that will take humanity just that much closer to the stars.
Us sojourners on Earth are the same. There is no one path that we must follow in order to spread God’s love. No matter where we turn on this planet, there will be someone who has something for us; maybe they need us to lend an ear or a hand; maybe they have a story to tell that leads us to a deeper understanding of ourselves. The enrichment is mutual.