From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mars: The ancient new frontier

Mars (Photo by A. Puggioni)
Space buffs are all in a flutter because Curiosity took off for Mars this past week.  Scientists are expecting to utilize knowledge gained from X-ray diffraction (say that three times fast) and infrared laser in order to discover just what makes the red (actually more like butterscotch-colored) planet tick.

A cheaper alternative could have been to bone up on Greek and Roman mythology.  If Ares (the original “bad boy”) didn’t have the answers, his
more “mature” Roman counterpart, Mars, might.  Whereas Ares thoroughly enjoyed destruction, Mars only resorted to military force in order to secure peace.  (This last justification is perhaps the greatest myth of all, but a myth that people have loved enough to name a planet after.)

So Father Mars (aka Mars Alator, Mars Albiorix, Mars Balearicus, Mars Barrex, Mars Belatucadrus, Mars Braciaca – and we’re only up to the Cs…) became the namesake of the fourth planet from the sun.  That - when added to his other duties of protecting the Roman citizens (Mars Quirinius),
carrying out public ceremonies (Mars Grabovius), insuring the health of cattle (Mars Silvanus), and avenging the assassination of Caesar (Mars Ultor) - made for quite an impressive resume.

Nevertheless, Mars continues to take his planetary responsibilities seriously.  After all, Ares is often thought to be linked to an entire zodiac sign (which is actually governed by Mars) – so it wouldn’t do for Mars to be
completely outshone by this upstart glimmer of his former self. 

That is why Mars finally agreed to disclose some of his most closely guarded secrets to modern humans who don’t even believe in him.  For if life can be proven to exist on his one planet – even by so humble a trail as methane gas – then, BINGO! 

Ares will turn from "constellation" to consternation in a Martian heartbeat…


Copyright November 29, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

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