Why does every crew member from Mission 141 wear that blue patch velcroed above their heart? Well, that is Earth, “…the only home we’ve ever known.”
Inspired by Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot,” the Blue Marble patch is a reminder to all space-faring participants that we come from one place: Earth. We may live in other countries, root for soccer teams of different nationalities, and have fierce competition between two states’ baseball teams---though the rivalries and hatreds are all abounding, the only species we yet know who has sent life and machines to the stars has come from this “mode of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.”
It will be extremely important to maintain this oneness when a country, or countries, venture towards Mars. They must do so by means of peace and science. When Neil and Buzz first landed on the Moon, residents of Planet Earth, no matter where they were from, said “We did it.”
Notice that phrase: “We did it.” Tribes of Africa and New Guinea, Pacific Islanders, Europeans, and the like, all acknowledged that landing on the Moon was a human endeavor. Though the United States built the rockets and hardware out of fierce competition with the Soviet Union, landing on the Moon during that fateful night in 1969 united the planet as one. The ghostly images of Neil and Buzz bouncing around an alien world captured the imagination of billions.
As we continue our adventure towards the planets and stars, we are maintaining a tradition the hominids have kept alive for almost six million years. We are a family of wanderers, and where most of our cousins left off, we will continue. And in that sense we are the Planet's best voyageurs. We have the responsibility, whether we like it or not, to be the stewards of Earth--- a representation of our planet, and of our species, as we ebb and flow towards the heavens. The Blue Marble patch reminds us of that.
One day, should we ever reach a life-form somewhat like our own, we will have to answer for the things we have done here, and the things we have yet to do. The very thing we will discover most when we venture to Mars will be ourselves: The Cosmic Voyageurs.
So, as we continue on our adventure towards Mars, let the Blue Marble, the Pale Blue Dot that we call home, remind us that from space the borders of states and countries are dissolved. Instead, the opaque hues of a schoolhouse globe are replaced with the white caps of ice on our poles, the beige of our deserts, the precious greens of our forests…and the deep blues of our water. I find no better way to end a mission than with the famous “Pale Blue Dot” quotation from the late Carl Sagan:
You can get your very own Blue Marble patch here: http://www.oneflaginspace.org/
-Josh Borchardt, Crew Biologist/HSO