I don’t know why, but a certain comic has been on my mind for some time. Dedicated to Spirit, a NASA rover sent on a 90 day mission to explore Mars. After completing its mission it was repurposed to gather more data. On March 22, 2010 Spirit sent its final message to Earth.
XKCD’s 695th comic is titled Spirit, and is a dedication to the Mars Rover of the same name. It was released after January 26, 2010, when NASA announced that Spirit would never move again.
Spirit is a machine we sent to another planet on a mission for humanity. A machine we never had any intention of bringing back. Once its mission was complete we left it stuck, unmoving, alone, to be swallowed by the dust. But, I don’t think this is why the comic has been on my mind for all these years.
In a world where fascism seems to be rising again, a world where our leaders are continuously ignoring climate change, this comic seems to deliver an even darker message. That the reason Spirit will never come home, is because we will never make it off this planet. Because humanity has doomed itself to die on Earth, on this planet, alone.
Reading it this way, Spirit being left alone on that planet to die is agonising to think about. When we turn ourselves to dust, the data it sent will be lost with us. It’s mission, it’s death, ultimately meaningless.