For centuries man has questioned whether life exists on other worlds. Do intelligent beings exist on Venus with her dense clouds and relatively moderate temperatures? Do the “canals” of Mars witness to human engineering as Percival Lowell maintained? And what of the other planetary systems throughout the universe, and of the other island universes, the spiral nebulae, which are scattered across the inconceivable vastness of space? Has man any right to assume that intelligent life exists solely on his “small and insignificant planet”?
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is making no such assumption. Beginning this fall and continuing at least into 1964, the NASA will launch a series of space probes toward Mars and Venus, the planets of our solar system most likely to yield evidence of life. The first of these experiments, Mariner II, which carries a 450-pound load of instruments, has now been launched on a three-month, 35-million-mile voyage toward Venus. If all goes as anticipated, the unmanned space craft will pass within 10,000 miles of the foggy planet and will radio back valuable information of its environment before going into orbit around the sun. In the months and years ahead subsequent probes will attempt to land instruments on both Mars and Venus, their Lilliputian instruments analyzing the soil and atmosphere and relaying the discovery of living organisms or their by-products to earth. It seems possible, therefore, that man will soon know whether life exists elsewhere within his solar system.
What import will these findings hold for Christian theology? If no life is discovered on either Mars or Venus, man on earth remains in the estimate of some researchers but a small activated speck in the myriads ...1
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