“Further than the Pleiades” is a saying used by Arabs to express just how impossible a particular goal is to attain.
Mankind has always been fascinated by those bright stars up in the sky. The stars and planets have often been at the heart of inventions and innovation. Our fascination with space pushes us to search for that ultimate evidence of other life forms.
There are hundreds of websites dedicated to exploring and interpretations of “strange” phenomenon, photos and videos of shadows and images captured on the surfaces of the Moon and Mars.
From “Cat on Mars” where a rocky structure looks like a cat sitting on an outcrop, to “Dinosaurs on Mars” (yes, indeed two shadows do look like dinosaurs if outlined with a pen on Photoshop), sightings of strange objects are seemingly endless.
From specks in photos to structures with bright lights, it is quite an experience googling this area of interest. Everything you can imagine shows up, from “alien” corpses to stories of abduction by UFOs and all sorts of things. Some researchers have dedicated their whole lives to this, and have published books and theories on this.
One of the latest photos that went viral on social media was captured by Nasa’s Mars rover Curiosity using its MastCam. In it, a particular rock looks a lot like a femur, or thigh bone.
“Alien bones found”, “Life on Mars” and “We are not alone” were some of the headlines making the virtual news after the image broke cover.
But then Nasa shut down the hopes of all the space and UFO enthusiasts with its own headline: “No bones about it!”
The mission’s scientists think its shape has probably been “sculpted by erosion, either wind or water”.
Shutting down all these theories of monstrous aliens, the experts and scientists at the mission say the only “others” we may expect to be ever living out there “would be small simple life forms called microbes.”
“Mars likely never had enough oxygen in its atmosphere and elsewhere to support more complex organisms. Thus, large fossils are not likely.”
So there you have it. But who knows what future explorations will bring?
Space exploration is no small matter, with governments across the world at different stages investing heavily in the final frontiers.
The UAE is joining the space explorations and is set to launch its first unmanned probe to Mars by 2021.
“The UAE Mars probe represents the Islamic world’s entry into the era of space exploration,” said Sheikh Khalifa, the President of the UAE.
Emirati investments in space technology have already exceeded Dh20 billion.
Those investments include the communications company Al Yah Satellite (Yahsat), mobile satellite company Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications, and Dubai Sat, whose second satellite was launched in November last year.
At the same time, Mars One, a Dutch non-profit foundation, promises the next “giant leap for mankind” by establishing the first human settlement on Mars in 2023.
Many of us, at some point in our childhood, wanted to be astronauts.
Back in 2006, I met and befriended one of the original cosmonauts of the Soviet Union, Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space, when he was visiting Lebanon.
I recall asking him if he saw anything out there to indicate alien life form. He laughed and told me he was too busy being in awe of planet Earth and making sure he survived his historic spacewalk on March 18, 1965.
“You realise how small and insignificant you are when you out there ... so I doubt the universe just belongs to us,” he said. Until we find “hard” evidence, the speculation will continue on whether or not we are alone.
Either way, I could be persuaded to go to Mars, to be part of a chance to start a more peaceful new world. But only if I can take my cats with me, and then there will really be “Cats on Mars” footage.