Yesterday I had the weirdest dream. I was called, along with a dozen people, to go to Mars to try and test the living conditions or something.
Now Mars wasn’t really comfortably inhabitable yet, there were no cities or other settlements, no vegetation, nothing more than the current dusty red emptiness, really. We were no experts in anything, like engineers or biologists, sent there to build things or start an ecosystem or whatever; we should just go there and see how we do. And indeed, it felt like being sent on holidays for a few weeks, there was definitely no sensation of isolation or anything bad like that involved while being up there.
I remember that we were living in some kind of large appartment, or a cabin, which was pretty comfortable and in particular had Earth-quality breathable air. We also regularly went out on the red and dusty plains, for walks or on errands (I don’t know), and the outside air was much thinner. At the start of my stay, I had trouble staying out for very long before getting difficulties to breathe; after a while though, while it was still hard I could stay out as long as I wanted.
Outside there was always a heavy sensation, possibly due to difficult breathing, and which felt like higher gravity (although I was aware that it couldn’t be the reason). Maybe the desolate ochre landscape contributed to the feeling.
A day or so before finally leaving, I went to a second-hand bookstore to browse through their crime fiction, looking for Maigret novels.
Back on Earth, I went to a sunny beach with some friends. I reflected that the two features striking me the most about our planet were how crowded it is, and how vivid the colours are.
Picture: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. More about it on Caltech’s JPL page.