In "Touching the Face of the Cosmos", an Anthology by Levinson Paul & Waltemathe Michael, an essay by Jeremy Saget

Men have always been fascinated with the planet Mars. The Red planet, as it was before adopting the name of the Roman god of war, evokes the color of blood and rusty iron, and has intrigued the earthlings since ancient times. From the Egyptians more than three thousand years ago, followed by the Babylonians, Chinese and Greeks providing the first observations, its early history was associated with the color of conquest, passion, antique divinity through beliefs and religions. Down the ages, interpretations have abounded according to the creed. We owe a debt to the Arabs and Indians for calculation of its size and its relative distance, and to Galileo for its first telescopic viewing. More recently, the nineteenth century brought us the birth of the imaginary "Martian", fed by the fantasies of an extraterrestrial civilization, the origins of the "canali" that Schiaparelli observed and then Lowell interpreted, through to Wells’ "War of the Worlds". The twentieth century saw a growing number of authors cultivate the Martian myth to an extent that is out of this world. Science fiction has long since anticipated the history of our neighboring and next home planet.

Since entering the space age less than sixty years ago, for the first time in two hundred thousand years, mankind today has the technological ability to physically reach Mars in the coming decades. We are now seeing renewed interest in this space epic, revisiting the big questions regarding the nature of man, the birth of life in the universe, between science and conscience. The exploration of Mars has been the sure priority for all the experts, right from the days of the astronautical pioneers. The robotic exploration of the planet, dominated by the Russians and Americans, a little more successfully in the case of the latter, stimulates international cooperation and draws us an ever more detailed portrait of Mars, while we are still learning more about our own planet. But despite advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, nothing beats placing a Human on the site. Firstly, we are more capable and adaptable in that we can move around more flexibly and more objectively select relevant samples (Apollo 17, 1972, to compare with Lunokhod 2, 1973 & Opportunity, 2004-15)[1]. Then, as we do not always find what we seek, we are endowed with the gift of creativity, the serendipity that is not coded into the software. Finally, and above all, because the marstronauts can transport the whole of humanity with them to share in their curiosity and their feelings.

We will see how the re-enchantment of the world allows the reanimation of our curiosity for exploration during the development of the mind, but first it is necessary to ask the right questions.

Why Mars? “Because it’s there!” (Mallory, 1924)[2]. “It’s all there…” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994).

Where do we come from? Where are we going? Who are we? These three huge questions emerge from our reflective consciousness and remain paramount in our lives. But to find his place, a man must also ask: What can I do? What would I do? What will I do? Each of these great metaphysical questions is exactly what we envisage in the exploration of the cosmos. And indeed on Mars can be found the basic building blocks for solving the equation of life in the Universe. Indeed, all the elements necessary for life as we know it, depending on liquid water and carbon, are there on Mars. If we find evidence of a past or present life on Mars, it will mean that life is common in the universe and intensifies the question of intelligent life and the Fermi paradox (Fermi, 1950 cited by Sagan, 1975). If we do not find it, this could suggest that life is very rare, or that some determining factor still eludes us.

In other words, the human philosophical quest transits the world of ideas and is taken on an interplanetary voyage. When poets and space engineers agree: "Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in the cradle forever" (Tsiolkovsky, 1911)[3], succeeding "It is the destiny of man in the end escaped" (Hugo, 1859)[4]. Could the real world, as an emulating phenomenon, follow simulating noema according to a holographic formula adapted to the structuralist world of ideas ? "Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real", according to the famous apocryphal aphorism of Jules Verne. The future is standing there among our dreams.

 

In line with the doomsday scenarios predicting the inevitable extinction of humanity if it fails to expand onto other planets, this determination to explore the cosmos seems to be intrinsic to our nature. Our essence is the fuel that drives us on, the propellant of our space adventure that will continue to oppose the earth’s attraction. Gravity and freedom. Our world can sometimes appear to be retracted, closing us in. The resources of such a world tend to be exhausted and the resulting adverse global events are constantly repeated, what’s more, magnified by our media. It is time to stand back, re-invigorate the world, open up to infinity. The prospect of an open world, the extraterrestrial imperative in a philosophical sense (Ehricke, 1978), changes the angles of view, offering sustainable solutions and new resources, launching our civilization into a new dimension on the Kardashev scale (Kardashev, 1980 ; see also Annis, 1999). This valuable momentum supports positive global dynamics and events inside their virtuous circle.

 

We are well underway in our preparation for the experience that will come with the next giant leap for mankind! As we head towards a pluriplanetary age, ad astra per aspera, (“the road to the stars is a rocky one”), from inspiration to aspiration, it may be appropriate to inhale deeply and reflect on the likes of Odyssey from where man draws the breath that guides him. This trend explores the link between our inner world and the discovery of the outside world.

 

With respect to this link, it must be remembered that faith concerns the relationship between the subject and the object of the faith while belief implies a judgment, which is very different. Traditions, rituals and religions structure these beliefs in our societal cultures. We will try here to present rather the awakening and development of a faith placed in exploring the cosmos, in a shared philosophical and spiritual quest in its intelligible and explicit form. This is a reflection based on this experience that questions the very meaning of existence. This extravertive introspection naturally leads us to the planet Mars, guided by space exploration as a specific metaphor reflecting what we learn about ourselves. Beyond the logic of this spatial quest as far as the search for the truth of Man, we will see that faith reestablished here could be the real key to change, opening up the world and the infinity that it offers us. A faith such as this would seem to be the main source of intrinsic energy that propels men and women who are ready to meet the challenges of our great adventures, moved by the desire to explore, constantly pushing our frontiers and embracing the wide sky.

 

Calling to Mars

I remember the second time I was born with clarity. I was twenty.

My childhood was relatively free from religious influence apart from cultural exposure. The father of our large family, eminently rationalist and probably agnostic, personifying the intelligentleness, wanted his children to make their own spiritual choices at the time of the awakening of their conscience. Innocent, we therefore received no particular religious education but rather a culture of active listening and openness. Our family motto emphasized the three words: be constructive, open and independent. After an initial childlike period marked by a primary, magical, intuitive and intense faith, at the age when I actually wanted to become a "sage", at the age of two, then an astronaut exploring space, at the age of five, I then felt the age of reason growing. This brought about a personal theorization that was somewhat atheist, rationalist, scientist though reductionist, and always with a dash of optimistic idealism. This model of the world worked relatively well, satisfied the desire to understand and had the elegance of consistency, respecting the ready-to-think aversion, but somewhere I still perceived incompleteness. I thought that enriching our scientific knowledge would gradually complete the understanding of the entire worldly phenomena, where each unique property, even human consciousness, would emerge from its increasing complexity. This was a scientific design from knowledge based primarily on sound deterministic deduction, perched on the shoulders of giants and their operative paradigms.

 

Then I had two very strong intuitive experiences.

The first, when I was sixteen, came while I was under a tree sharing a poetic moment with the woman who would become my wife, and concerned the acute sense that chance does not exist. I had the sudden implicit certainty that the so called "happenchance" emanated from an unintelligible information source, a field surrealistically baptized the “bachido effect” after some amusing discussion. Twenty years later, I was equally amused when I came across some very recent readings revisiting Gödel’s incompleteness theorem (Gödel, 1931)[5], the fundamental indeterminacy of quantum physics and the need for an informational field outside of space-time (Laszlo, 2004). For me, this anecdote underlined the conative potential of our intuition and strengthens the justifications that follow.

The second would bring lucidity to my entire life, originally a sort of vibration in a partially configured (Klein, 2014) "past-present-future" wave through which I regularly felt the effects.

So I was twenty years old, immersed in a prospective article alluding to the possible first manned mission to Mars, then projected for 2020. It was a real intuitive shock, a real "cognitive shift" experience, probably what could be called a revelation. Without doubt, that moment brought about the exciting awareness that our generation, the first in the history of mankind, was capable of reaching another planet. This would be the start of our universal history, leaving the cradle, being pluriplanetary, the direct testimony of the space age, the transition from a retracted finite world into the infinite, the opening of the “world” of possibilities, the next giant leap for mankind, where the infinity returns to the infinite regress. What exciting times we live in! The intentionality of the moment could actualize a future potential that we could realize together. But at the same time, there was another dimension present in that indescribable revelation. Astronauts frequently, while observing our blue planet offered up in its entirety right before them from a space station or even the moon, describe an "overview effect" (White, 1987). This is an experience which, at the same time, offers a spectacular awareness of the beauty of our planetary-spacecraft while fragility of its thin living surface layer, and the interdependence between humankind and the environment. This is the very moment when I was transported to Mars, a short journey for the imagination, and I somehow saw this "pale blue dot", which I imagine could induce a similar psychological effect. What interests me here is the power of the intention, the light carried along the trajectory of life. I have no idea of the how or when, but from this I glimpsed some transcendent causality in the very depths of my being that would lead me to dedicate my efforts and patience to this common goal which would see Man on Mars in our lifetime, overcoming all. Since this moment of enlightenment, a serene power that we call faith has once again echoed within, in the sense of irrefutable confidence in that which escapes the judgment and in the exercise of conditionally formatted reason, the irresistible purpose and dedication that we set in motion. It is a universal human concept par excellence that structures an image of life as a whole. Our spiritual nature harmonizes perfectly with the predilection that drives us to explore the cosmos in all its dimensions and refocuses our date with Mars as the next destination awaited by all.

 

A certain synchronous reconfiguration of the mental software that perhaps consisted of decentration, a new mode of understanding (Kant, 1787)[6], a meta-cognitive way of reading the world. Accordingly there was a reinvestment of the potential for intuitive awareness. There is in fact another type of neural processing, quite neglected in our academic activities or our conscious workspace because it is not structured like logic. Language is very closely coupled with the discursive epistemological tradition and the dialectic of the refutability criterion (Popper, 1978) defining knowledge through science, the most reliable method there is. This second type of fluency is proven to be much faster than explicit sequential processing, based on a tree network architecture, it is swift, global, multi-modal, differential, integrative, inductive, with efficient extraction of relevant data by significant correlations or inferences. It is this way of thinking that gives us the solutions to difficult problems in the early morning, that permits serendipity (Cannon 1945; see also Kingdon, 2013) and flashes of paradigmatic revolutions, which is again working toward our famous "eureka" moment. It allows us to recognize a good idea, but does not allow us to explain it, which may seem confusing. It is, however, just the best way of pointing us in the right direction, but we have to choose to follow it. We often turn away from it through very reassuring but blinkered rationalist molding, and we should remember that he who recognizes the truth is ahead of he who models the approximation. Intuition lets you know immediately that a venture is good and allows complete confidence in a subsequent incremental approach, even before knowing all the specifications. This is also probably why science and literature each speak of the truth, one demonstratively, the other through the suggestion of a profound hidden truth. Pure reason never produced anything reasonable (Hölderlin, 1799)[7]. The exploration of the cosmos is open equally to poets and scientists.

 

Aspects of social psychology

The main selection challenge concerns the psychology of the crews to find the chosen few. It begins with the "select out" according to individual criteria arising from social psychology studies into containment and isolation in extreme environments (Kraft et al., 2003). The oddity is that it has more to do with the multicriteria compatibility than to the level of performance in a specific area. This especially continues during the "select in" of the "what it takes" during a continuous process of intensive training, immersive multipurpose workouts, extended simulations in Mars analog outposts, group challenges. This is not about selecting individuals but multicultural mixed groups of two men and two women. The makeup of these groups must be sufficiently different to extend the viewing angles, the usable range of adaptability and the solving of unexpected problems while maintaining synergistic understanding and level of performance in trying conditions. Success must be collective, a positive team spirit is a key factor, while a willingness that moves in the same direction, the cohesion constituting the main propulsion energy.

 

A recent review of the literature highlights the principal protective psychological factors in mission situations involving long term isolation and confinement in extreme environments (Vanhove et al., 2015). The Mars One selection committee, an expert social psychology team for such missions, has pre-identified certain relevant personality criteria (Mars One, 2013)[8], and plans to highlight the relevant strategies for coping, adaptation and positive adjustment to adversity through simulated group dynamics. If one tries to draw a portrait of the pioneers in the exploration of outer space and of Mars, these are some of the traits that one could imagine: endurance, resilience, adaptability, curiosity, confidence, creativity, optimism, kindness, willingness, hardiness. Endurance and resilience require excellent internal and external connection, perseverance, with consistency in a stable thought process, and an ability to maintain consistent performance in extreme situations. This means being oriented and focused on the goal. A spirit of integrity, balanced and patient, strengthen a "can do" attitude. Adaptability is about situations, contexts and individuals. It is necessary to understand fields of competence, limitations and the search for how to overcome them. Active listening, openness to differences is essential. Great curiosity will be a characteristic, with a thirst for learning, a search for understanding and the passing on of skills. The future explorers of the extreme will be particularly optimistic and confident in themselves as well as in their companions and their fate. It will be necessary to have developed social skills, experience, and be equipped with wisdom, shrewdly integrating social interactions and self-informed feedback. Creativity will be very helpful, to which can be added flexibility, plasticity, versatility, context appropriate humor, playfulness, and a rich and resourceful imagination. This last point was understood by Shackleton when establishing his crew for the "Endurance" mission, a reference model in the field (Kraft & Kass, 2012). This is the vivacity of the inner world brought onboard by the crew, conscious of the uniqueness they bring and take along with them, which represents the best way of coping with the containment, the search for an absolute link to the extreme isolation and the “out of view” effect.

 

So, it seems there is a change in the astronaut profile, very professional versatile operators, a departure from the "space cowboys" of the stuff of heroes, the very resilient test pilots with a pronounced taste for risk and the search for an adrenaline rush, toward a scientific profile with an explorer attitude where psyche is well-balanced, flexible, open, creative, even-tempered, with a goal-oriented team spirit and accomplishment-driven. Little by little, through intensive development and prolonged training, the prerequisites for the selection of crews should expand and focus primarily on the personalities, the group dynamics and the coping strategies rather than on the background itself. With regard to the strategies, more protective factors have been identified: problem-focused coping strategies, stress avoidance coping, effective positive cognitive reappraisal, self-efficacy, perceived social support (Vanhove et al., 2015). Also, between the sense of coherence and the feeling of self-efficacy, the intrinsic characteristic of a bold nature, or hardiness, is what seems to facilitate such coping and growth, a positive adjustment to adversity (Kobasa, 1979): “hardiness” brings together the cardinal notions of commitment, sense of challenge, confidence, and perceived control, in other words, the feeling that one’s own actions can change the course of events. Commitment is specifically an active attitude in relation to the environment, to give meaning to the experiences and to feel involved in what is being undertaken. The ability to meet challenges implies the attraction for innovation, motivation through difficulty, the sense of effort. We do not give ourselves because it is easy, but because it is difficult (Kennedy, 1962)[9]. "They did not know it was impossible, so they did it" (Twain, 1910)[10]. Day by day, it is always possible to push the perceived boundaries a little further to better discover the real limits. Finally, perceived control is therefore based on an attribution system of factors internal to the decision process, underpinned by trust and a second innocence. It is necessary to want to change the world a little, through actions, and according to ideals. An idealistic personality here strengthens this psychological robustness, based on introspective dominance, intuitive, with preference for feeling and perception (Briggs Myers, 1962)[11].

 

The human dimensions concern above all the psychological barriers, but also the physical constraints, of course, as demonstrated by our technological aids and life support systems. Here, we should remember that the study of the ontogeny of Man suggests the hypothesis that neoteny (Margulies & Sagan, 2002) plays a special role in the evolutionary emergence of human hypercognitive characteristics, including reflective consciousness and spirituality. This concept is the conservation of juvenile like characteristics in adulthood when compared to another species. Man, in this unfinished form, inherently premature, depends more than any other species on prosthetic creations and technology, on the one hand, yet on the other, has a cultural and cerebral adaptive plasticity which bestows a selective advantage which replaces the instinctive programming. This retarded autonomy, requiring a long period of socialization, learning, technological differentiation and maturation, is paradoxically the greatest asset of Man in his hope to adapt to life on another planet. And all this goes hand in hand with a long moral and spiritual maturation that emerges from this teleonomic process. We should not forget the child that exists within us.

 

Aspects of developmental spirituality

In my experience, there appears to be an open spiritual cycle, and we can allow ourselves to be touched by a secondary faith, following a surface rational latency that is much needed for the consistent construction of our deep spirit. In the way that paradigms and civilizations overcome their limitations by heuristic spirals arising from revolution, so it is for the individual interested in spiritual development. James Fowler described six stages of spiritual maturation (Fowler, 1981; see also Kohlberg, 1981) that appropriately illuminate our analysis.

 

The first spiritual stage is the intuitive projective between the ages of two and six years old.

Here there is a cognitive egocentrism, the child's perspective is the only perspective considered. Stories provide the symbols that structure reality. Faith is imitative, full of imagination, not restricted or inhibited by logical thinking. The child and their fluid thought patterns constantly encounter new things for which the knowledge modes are not yet formed. The emerging strength here is the ability to capture the experience of the world, to transform it into powerful unified images that advise the intuitive understanding of the child of the conditions of existence. The transition to the next stage involves the emergence of operational thinking.

 

The second spiritual stage could be described as mythical-literal, between the ages of seven and twelve on average.

The subject begins to internalize the stories, beliefs and rituals that symbolize their membership in a group and appropriates moral rules and attitudes. One-dimensional symbols are understood literally. The emergence of concrete operations orders the composition of the previously acquired world by more coherent linear construction. The story gives value to experience. Some empathy emerges with a sense of immanent justice based on reciprocity. The cosmos appears anthropomorphic, without the perspective to allow the formulation of reflection, the meaning is both carried and enclosed by the story. The narrative capacity emerges and myths provide coherence to experience. Implicit contradictions and disappointments initiate a self-transition allowed by the acquisition of formal operations.

 

The third spiritual stage is the synthetic-conventional, generally between the ages of twelve and twenty. The experience of the world thus extends to society. This deals with coherently navigating through this increasing complexity. Faith forms the basis for identity and world view by synthesizing a system of values and by structuring relationships. This conformist stage is adapted to conventional expectations and judgments and for some becomes a permanent balance without the construction of autonomous judgment or independent perspective. Beliefs and values are deeply felt, tacitly held, forming limits without any explicit systematic review, and a tendency toward categorization of individuals and consensual membership. There is a personal myth in formation, resulting in the cutting of identity and the development of faith, incorporating the features of personality. The conflicts or, often the experience of escape, emotional and physical, precipitate self-examination, the construction of fundamental values and hence lead to the next spiritual step.

 

For some, a fourth stage of spiritual development corresponds to an individual-reflective stage, most often between the ages of twenty and forty.

This transition is especially critical because of the contemporary assumption of responsibilities and undergoes paradoxical tensions. The seemingly opposites of subjective power versus objectivity, the latter necessary for critical thinking, self-realization versus altruism, the dedication to a relative cause versus the search for an absolute. This stage is marked by a dual development. The development of the self, where the identity is no longer defined by the relationship to others, but supported by the awareness of its own limitations, its internal connections and the composition of a rational vision of the differentiated world. It includes a demythologizing. The capacity for critical reflection of the identity itself and perspective is a growing force as well as a second narcissism given that the perspectives of others are integrated into their own worldview. However, the resurgence of a deeper self from childhood, the paradoxes, the compromises, and even the logic that distinguishes the complexity of the dialectic between abstract concepts and levels of truth, life and representation, provoke the overcoming of limits and illusions of this spiritual stage.

 

Some may well reach a fifth stage, occurring between thirty and fifty, the stage known as conjunctive.

Conjunctive faith implies integration into the self of that which individualism with its certainties could ignore by emotional adaptation of reality. A second innocence, which unifies the power of the symbols, is accepted and the new conceptual signifiers allow the history of the subject to be reconsidered. The subject opens up to his "deep self" to his unconscious, which implies a critical recognition of his ideals, prejudices, value system and moral cultural content. Unusual without irreversible commitments and before mid-life, this spiritual level is again receptive to the apparent paradoxes and contradictions. The subject accepts his vulnerability, proximity to otherness but the difference is the commitment to the conservation of each identity and of alternative worldviews. His strength is rooted in the ability to recognize his deepest values and the group who share them, while accepting their relativity. The subject can appreciate symbols, myths, rituals without being literal, and is grasps the imperative of an inclusive community of beings. However a division can result from living in an untransformed world, with the need to preserve his own welfare and maintain an ambiguous balance, with a transforming vision of the world and of loyalties. In rare cases this tension leads to a radical change, the final stage of spiritual development described.

 

Finally, there are a rare few who reach universalization, the sixth spiritual stage. This is probably, along with the preceding stage, a key operating stage for the pioneers who will show us the way to Mars.

Reaching this spiritual level involves overcoming paradoxes. It is about the subject reaching universal values, looking for an absolute, giving priority to others over his own interests and preservations, which give an outstanding quality to his actions. The depth of the devotion to the object of faith, embodied in a just cause, well-understood in all its dimensions, can disturb the common sense of pertinence. Perseverance and renunciation. Fulfillment and self-denial. Detachment and connection. Autonomy and sharing. Ecumene and isolation. Presence and absence. Action and meditation. Integrity and risk. Freedom and confinement. Acceptance and defiance. Related and absolute. Some of the many paradoxes that must be overcome to consider a trip to Mars. The way of resolving these contradictions is probably eminently spiritual. For example, the detachment (Luong, 2002) in Eastern spirituality aims for, far from indifference or callousness, unconditional love, an absolute, which frees us from the fear of losing, the characteristic of attachment. Hence the distance taken gives a new force and another depth to essential links. Self-denial is not self-extinction, but the gift of self, complete and in full conscience, the creation of a link between the surface and the new level. Sometimes in the life of a man the distance is relative. To arrive, it is necessary to be the path (Gautama, -400)[12].

 

Man could thus be the real vessel that explores the cosmos and paves the way. Be the captain of his soul (Henley, 1888)[13], and allow the curious child that we all have within take the helm, in a new cycle guided by the compass of intuition, in the harmony of full spiritual maturity. Faith is the first and last key for humans in the challenge of Mars exploration. A spiritual awakening to become part of the adventure and to overcome the ultimate challenges. A journey to the end of what we can know about ourselves.

 

 

In summary, considering all psychological elements known or thought to be critical to lead a mission to explore the planet Mars, and the installation of a first permanent human settlement, it becomes clear that the spiritual maturity described appears as the ideal success vector, resonating correctly with each of the notes of the score. A proper spiritual development seems to be the best medium to support the growth, for the individual and for the group, of trust, openness, overcoming, guidance, communication, sharing, mindfulness, to which it is possible to add stepping-back, sharing and the necessary degree of self-denial.

In conclusion, faith is probably the real cornerstone, transcending the paradoxes of such a human challenge, an unprecedented one as it involves leaving our reassuring blue planet for the first time, beautiful but fragile, until it is lost from sight. This is thus a renovation of the way to be part of the world to be invented. Could humanity be the best chance for the universe to learn about itself? Aiming for a sense of coherence, with unified science and global awareness, where a supplement of soul determines the quantum field? During the voyage, when sublimating the gravitational field, I will weigh my words: "faith to face, touching the face of the cosmos."

 

REFERENCES

Annis, James (1999). Placing a limit on star-fed Kardashev type III civilizations. Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 52 p 33-6.

 

Cannon, Walter ‘1945). The Way of Investigator. Norton, New York.

 

Ehricke, Krafft (1978). The Extraterrestrial imperative. Air University Review.

 

Fowler, James (1981). Stages of Faith: the psychology of human development and the search for meaning. Harper & Row, San Francisco.

 

Kabat-Zinn, John (1994). Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness meditation for everyday life. Hachette Books.

 

Kardashev, Nikolaï (1980). Strategies of Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: A Fundamental Approach to the Basic Problem. Cosmic Search, n°7, 2, p 36-8.

 

Kingdon, Matt (2013). The Science of Serendipity: How to Unlock the Promise of Innovation? Wiley.

 

Klein, Etienne (2014). Le futur existe-t’il déjà dans l’avenir ? Revue Temps, 1 p 3-7.

 

Kobasa, Suzanne (1979). Stressful life events, personality, and health. Inquiry into hardiness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, p 1-11.

 

Kohlberg, Lawrence (1981). Essays on Moral Development. The Philosophy of Moral Development. Harper & Row, San Francisco.

 

Kraft, Norbert ; Binder, Heidi ; Lyons, Terence ; Kass, Raye (2003). Types of relationships formed by a mixed gender, multinational crew while in isolation. 54th International Astronautical Congress of the International Astronautical Federation, the International Academy of Astronautics, and the International of Space Law.

 

Kraft, Norbert ; Lyons, Terence ; Binder, Heidi (2003). Intercultural Crew Issues in Long-Duration Spaceflight. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, n°5, 74, p 575-8.

 

Kraft, Norbert ; Kass, Raye (2012). The Uncharted Territories of Mars: Is Science Enough? Huffington Post, Science, July.

 

Laszlo, Ervin (2004). Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything. Rochester, Vermont, Inner Traditions, p 176.

 

Luong, Can-Liem (2002). Psychothérapie bouddhique: meditation, éthique, liberté. L’Harmattan, p 50.

 

Margulies, Lynn ; Sagan, Dorion (2002). L’univers bactériel. Le Seuil, Collection Point Sciences,148, p 231-6.

 

Popper, Karl (1978). Natural selection and the emergence of mind. Dialectica, 32, p 339-55.

 

Sagan, Carl (1975). Cosmic connection: an Extraterrestrial Perspective. Editions du Seuil, Points Sciences.

 

Vanhove, Adam ; Herian, Michel ; Harms, PD ; Luthans, Fred (2015). Resilience and Growth in Long-duration Isolated, Confined and Extreme (ICE) Missions. A Literature Review and Selection, Training and Countermeasure Recommendations. NASA technical report.

 

White, Frank (1987). The Overview Effect, Space Exploration and Human Evolution. Houghton-Mifflin.

 

[1] Apollo 17 (1972): 35.9 km traveled in 4:26 hours by Cernan and Schmitt to collect 110 kg of lunar rocks by a geologist versus 37 to 42 km in 4 months by Lunokhod 2 (1973); Opportunity to cover more than the distance of an out-of-this-world marathon, although it took eleven years all the same (2004-2015).

[2] Mallory, Georges (1924). “Because it’s there”, famous answer about the reason to persevere in his Mount Everest ascent. He would be the first ever to reach the very top with Irvine (1924, 8 June), but unfortunately they didn’t survive unlike later first successful expedition (Hillary & Norgay, 1953, 29 May).

[3] Tsiolkovsky, Konstantin (1911). “A planet is the cradle of mind, but one cannot live in a cradle forever”, from a letter written in 1911 usually cited as above.

[4] Hugo, Victor (1859). “La Légende des siècles”, XIV. Vingtième siècle: II. Plein Ciel ; first series : a prophetic poem expressing an epic eloquence.

[5] Gödel, Kurt (1931). Second incompleteness theorem of Kurt Gödel & concept of undecidability: a complete and consistent finite list of axioms can never be created within any system, some true statements remaining unprovable without out-of-field informations.

[6] Kant, Emmanuel (1787). The Critique of Pure Reason: a metaphysical essay. According to the philosopher, the “Understanding” allows the synthesis of the miscellaneous, that consists of the unification of sensitive intuition’s data by ordering them through categories, transcendental foundations of knowledge, and creating mind-operable concepts.

[7] Hölderlin, Friedrich (1799). “Pure intellect has never produced anything intelligent, nor pure reason anything reasonable”. Hyperion or the Hermit in Greece, volume 2: an epistolary novel.

[8] Mars One (2013). Selection and preparation of the Astronauts: Five Key characteristics of an Astronaut.

http://www.mars-one.com/faq/selection-and-preparation-of-the-astronauts

[9] Kennedy, John F (1962). “We choose to go to the Moon”. Rice University, speech in Houston about Apollo Program launching, which opened a golden age for the american astronautical endeavour.

[10] Twain, Mark (1835-1910). “They didn’t know it was impossible so they did it”. Famous unsourced aphorism included in the « Thoughts and aphorisms » collection.

[11] Briggs Myers, Isabel (1962). Idealist personality: Introversion Intuition Feeling Perception, according to original articles relating to the “Myers Briggs Type Indicator” description published in “Journal of Psychological Type”, peer-reviewed academic journal founded in 1977.

[12] Gautama, Siddhartha (around 400 B.C.).“You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself” precept assigned to the Buddha.

[13] Henley, William E (1888). “I am the master of my fate : I am the captain of my soul”, thereby ended the famous poem written in by Henley, later intitled “Invictus” by an another poet, Quiller-Couch, in 1900.

 

Destiny Mars

Men have always been fascinated with the planet Mars. The Red planet, as it was before adopting the name of the Roman god of war, evokes the color of blood and rusty iron, and has intrigued the earthlings since ancient times. From the Egyptians more than three thousand years ago, followed by the Babylonians, Chinese and Greeks providing the first observations, its early history was associated with the color of conquest, passion, antique divinity through beliefs and religions. Down the ages, interpretations have abounded according to the creed. We owe a debt to the Arabs and Indians for calculation of its size and its relative distance, and to Galileo for its first telescopic viewing. More recently, the nineteenth century brought us the birth of the imaginary "Martian", fed by the fantasies of an extraterrestrial civilization, the origins of the "canali" that Schiaparelli observed and then Lowell interpreted, through to Wells’ "War of the Worlds". The twentieth century saw a growing number of authors cultivate the Martian myth to an extent that is out of this world. Science fiction has long since anticipated the history of our neighboring and next home planet.

Since entering the space age less than sixty years ago, for the first time in two hundred thousand years, mankind today has the technological ability to physically reach Mars in the coming decades. We are now seeing renewed interest in this space epic, revisiting the big questions regarding the nature of man, the birth of life in the universe, between science and conscience. The exploration of Mars has been the sure priority for all the experts, right from the days of the astronautical pioneers. The robotic exploration of the planet, dominated by the Russians and Americans, a little more successfully in the case of the latter, stimulates international cooperation and draws us an ever more detailed portrait of Mars, while we are still learning more about our own planet. But despite advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, nothing beats placing a Human on the site. Firstly, we are more capable and adaptable in that we can move around more flexibly and more objectively select relevant samples (Apollo 17, 1972, to compare with Lunokhod 2, 1973 & Opportunity, 2004-15)[1]. Then, as we do not always find what we seek, we are endowed with the gift of creativity, the serendipity that is not coded into the software. Finally, and above all, because the marstronauts can transport the whole of humanity with them to share in their curiosity and their feelings.

We will see how the re-enchantment of the world allows the reanimation of our curiosity for exploration during the development of the mind, but first it is necessary to ask the right questions.

Why Mars? “Because it’s there!” (Mallory, 1924)[2]. “It’s all there…” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994).

Where do we come from? Where are we going? Who are we? These three huge questions emerge from our reflective consciousness and remain paramount in our lives. But to find his place, a man must also ask: What can I do? What would I do? What will I do? Each of these great metaphysical questions is exactly what we envisage in the exploration of the cosmos. And indeed on Mars can be found the basic building blocks for solving the equation of life in the Universe. Indeed, all the elements necessary for life as we know it, depending on liquid water and carbon, are there on Mars. If we find evidence of a past or present life on Mars, it will mean that life is common in the universe and intensifies the question of intelligent life and the Fermi paradox (Fermi, 1950 cited by Sagan, 1975). If we do not find it, this could suggest that life is very rare, or that some determining factor still eludes us.

In other words, the human philosophical quest transits the world of ideas and is taken on an interplanetary voyage. When poets and space engineers agree: "Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in the cradle forever" (Tsiolkovsky, 1911)[3], succeeding "It is the destiny of man in the end escaped" (Hugo, 1859)[4]. Could the real world, as an emulating phenomenon, follow simulating noema according to a holographic formula adapted to the structuralist world of ideas ? "Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real", according to the famous apocryphal aphorism of Jules Verne. The future is standing there among our dreams.

In line with the doomsday scenarios predicting the inevitable extinction of humanity if it fails to expand onto other planets, this determination to explore the cosmos seems to be intrinsic to our nature. Our essence is the fuel that drives us on, the propellant of our space adventure that will continue to oppose the earth’s attraction. Gravity and freedom. Our world can sometimes appear to be retracted, closing us in. The resources of such a world tend to be exhausted and the resulting adverse global events are constantly repeated, what’s more, magnified by our media. It is time to stand back, re-invigorate the world, open up to infinity. The prospect of an open world, the extraterrestrial imperative in a philosophical sense (Ehricke, 1978), changes the angles of view, offering sustainable solutions and new resources, launching our civilization into a new dimension on the Kardashev scale (Kardashev, 1980 ; see also Annis, 1999). This valuable momentum supports positive global dynamics and events inside their virtuous circle.

We are well underway in our preparation for the experience that will come with the next giant leap for mankind! As we head towards a pluriplanetary age, ad astra per aspera, (“the road to the stars is a rocky one”), from inspiration to aspiration, it may be appropriate to inhale deeply and reflect on the likes of Odyssey from where man draws the breath that guides him. This trend explores the link between our inner world and the discovery of the outside world.

With respect to this link, it must be remembered that faith concerns the relationship between the subject and the object of the faith while belief implies a judgment, which is very different. Traditions, rituals and religions structure these beliefs in our societal cultures. We will try here to present rather the awakening and development of a faith placed in exploring the cosmos, in a shared philosophical and spiritual quest in its intelligible and explicit form. This is a reflection based on this experience that questions the very meaning of existence. This extravertive introspection naturally leads us to the planet Mars, guided by space exploration as a specific metaphor reflecting what we learn about ourselves. Beyond the logic of this spatial quest as far as the search for the truth of Man, we will see that faith reestablished here could be the real key to change, opening up the world and the infinity that it offers us. A faith such as this would seem to be the main source of intrinsic energy that propels men and women who are ready to meet the challenges of our great adventures, moved by the desire to explore, constantly pushing our frontiers and embracing the wide sky.

Calling to Mars

I remember the second time I was born with clarity. I was twenty.

My childhood was relatively free from religious influence apart from cultural exposure. The father of our large family, eminently rationalist and probably agnostic, personifying the intelligentleness, wanted his children to make their own spiritual choices at the time of the awakening of their conscience. Innocent, we therefore received no particular religious education but rather a culture of active listening and openness. Our family motto emphasized the three words: be constructive, open and independent. After an initial childlike period marked by a primary, magical, intuitive and intense faith, at the age when I actually wanted to become a "sage", at the age of two, then an astronaut exploring space, at the age of five, I then felt the age of reason growing. This brought about a personal theorization that was somewhat atheist, rationalist, scientist though reductionist, and always with a dash of optimistic idealism. This model of the world worked relatively well, satisfied the desire to understand and had the elegance of consistency, respecting the ready-to-think aversion, but somewhere I still perceived incompleteness. I thought that enriching our scientific knowledge would gradually complete the understanding of the entire worldly phenomena, where each unique property, even human consciousness, would emerge from its increasing complexity. This was a scientific design from knowledge based primarily on sound deterministic deduction, perched on the shoulders of giants and their operative paradigms.

Then I had two very strong intuitive experiences.

The first, when I was sixteen, came while I was under a tree sharing a poetic moment with the woman who would become my wife, and concerned the acute sense that chance does not exist. I had the sudden implicit certainty that the so called "happenchance" emanated from an unintelligible information source, a field surrealistically baptized the “bachido effect” after some amusing discussion. Twenty years later, I was equally amused when I came across some very recent readings revisiting Gödel’s incompleteness theorem (Gödel, 1931)[5], the fundamental indeterminacy of quantum physics and the need for an informational field outside of space-time (Laszlo, 2004). For me, this anecdote underlined the conative potential of our intuition and strengthens the justifications that follow.

The second would bring lucidity to my entire life, originally a sort of vibration in a partially configured (Klein, 2014) "past-present-future" wave through which I regularly felt the effects.

So I was twenty years old, immersed in a prospective article alluding to the possible first manned mission to Mars, then projected for 2020. It was a real intuitive shock, a real "cognitive shift" experience, probably what could be called a revelation. Without doubt, that moment brought about the exciting awareness that our generation, the first in the history of mankind, was capable of reaching another planet. This would be the start of our universal history, leaving the cradle, being pluriplanetary, the direct testimony of the space age, the transition from a retracted finite world into the infinite, the opening of the “world” of possibilities, the next giant leap for mankind, where the infinity returns to the infinite regress. What exciting times we live in! The intentionality of the moment could actualize a future potential that we could realize together. But at the same time, there was another dimension present in that indescribable revelation. Astronauts frequently, while observing our blue planet offered up in its entirety right before them from a space station or even the moon, describe an "overview effect" (White, 1987). This is an experience which, at the same time, offers a spectacular awareness of the beauty of our planetary-spacecraft while fragility of its thin living surface layer, and the interdependence between humankind and the environment. This is the very moment when I was transported to Mars, a short journey for the imagination, and I somehow saw this "pale blue dot", which I imagine could induce a similar psychological effect. What interests me here is the power of the intention, the light carried along the trajectory of life. I have no idea of the how or when, but from this I glimpsed some transcendent causality in the very depths of my being that would lead me to dedicate my efforts and patience to this common goal which would see Man on Mars in our lifetime, overcoming all. Since this moment of enlightenment, a serene power that we call faith has once again echoed within, in the sense of irrefutable confidence in that which escapes the judgment and in the exercise of conditionally formatted reason, the irresistible purpose and dedication that we set in motion. It is a universal human concept par excellence that structures an image of life as a whole. Our spiritual nature harmonizes perfectly with the predilection that drives us to explore the cosmos in all its dimensions and refocuses our date with Mars as the next destination awaited by all.

A certain synchronous reconfiguration of the mental software that perhaps consisted of decentration, a new mode of understanding (Kant, 1787)[6], a meta-cognitive way of reading the world. Accordingly there was a reinvestment of the potential for intuitive awareness. There is in fact another type of neural processing, quite neglected in our academic activities or our conscious workspace because it is not structured like logic. Language is very closely coupled with the discursive epistemological tradition and the dialectic of the refutability criterion (Popper, 1978) defining knowledge through science, the most reliable method there is. This second type of fluency is proven to be much faster than explicit sequential processing, based on a tree network architecture, it is swift, global, multi-modal, differential, integrative, inductive, with efficient extraction of relevant data by significant correlations or inferences. It is this way of thinking that gives us the solutions to difficult problems in the early morning, that permits serendipity (Cannon 1945; see also Kingdon, 2013) and flashes of paradigmatic revolutions, which is again working toward our famous "eureka" moment. It allows us to recognize a good idea, but does not allow us to explain it, which may seem confusing. It is, however, just the best way of pointing us in the right direction, but we have to choose to follow it. We often turn away from it through very reassuring but blinkered rationalist molding, and we should remember that he who recognizes the truth is ahead of he who models the approximation. Intuition lets you know immediately that a venture is good and allows complete confidence in a subsequent incremental approach, even before knowing all the specifications. This is also probably why science and literature each speak of the truth, one demonstratively, the other through the suggestion of a profound hidden truth. Pure reason never produced anything reasonable (Hölderlin, 1799)[7]. The exploration of the cosmos is open equally to poets and scientists.

Aspects of social psychology

The main selection challenge concerns the psychology of the crews to find the chosen few. It begins with the "select out" according to individual criteria arising from social psychology studies into containment and isolation in extreme environments (Kraft et al., 2003). The oddity is that it has more to do with the multicriteria compatibility than to the level of performance in a specific area. This especially continues during the "select in" of the "what it takes" during a continuous process of intensive training, immersive multipurpose workouts, extended simulations in Mars analog outposts, group challenges. This is not about selecting individuals but multicultural mixed groups of two men and two women. The makeup of these groups must be sufficiently different to extend the viewing angles, the usable range of adaptability and the solving of unexpected problems while maintaining synergistic understanding and level of performance in trying conditions. Success must be collective, a positive team spirit is a key factor, while a willingness that moves in the same direction, the cohesion constituting the main propulsion energy.

A recent review of the literature highlights the principal protective psychological factors in mission situations involving long term isolation and confinement in extreme environments (Vanhove et al., 2015). The Mars One selection committee, an expert social psychology team for such missions, has pre-identified certain relevant personality criteria (Mars One, 2013)[8], and plans to highlight the relevant strategies for coping, adaptation and positive adjustment to adversity through simulated group dynamics. If one tries to draw a portrait of the pioneers in the exploration of outer space and of Mars, these are some of the traits that one could imagine: endurance, resilience, adaptability, curiosity, confidence, creativity, optimism, kindness, willingness, hardiness. Endurance and resilience require excellent internal and external connection, perseverance, with consistency in a stable thought process, and an ability to maintain consistent performance in extreme situations. This means being oriented and focused on the goal. A spirit of integrity, balanced and patient, strengthen a "can do" attitude. Adaptability is about situations, contexts and individuals. It is necessary to understand fields of competence, limitations and the search for how to overcome them. Active listening, openness to differences is essential. Great curiosity will be a characteristic, with a thirst for learning, a search for understanding and the passing on of skills. The future explorers of the extreme will be particularly optimistic and confident in themselves as well as in their companions and their fate. It will be necessary to have developed social skills, experience, and be equipped with wisdom, shrewdly integrating social interactions and self-informed feedback. Creativity will be very helpful, to which can be added flexibility, plasticity, versatility, context appropriate humor, playfulness, and a rich and resourceful imagination. This last point was understood by Shackleton when establishing his crew for the "Endurance" mission, a reference model in the field (Kraft & Kass, 2012). This is the vivacity of the inner world brought onboard by the crew, conscious of the uniqueness they bring and take along with them, which represents the best way of coping with the containment, the search for an absolute link to the extreme isolation and the “out of view” effect.

So, it seems there is a change in the astronaut profile, very professional versatile operators, a departure from the "space cowboys" of the stuff of heroes, the very resilient test pilots with a pronounced taste for risk and the search for an adrenaline rush, toward a scientific profile with an explorer attitude where psyche is well-balanced, flexible, open, creative, even-tempered, with a goal-oriented team spirit and accomplishment-driven. Little by little, through intensive development and prolonged training, the prerequisites for the selection of crews should expand and focus primarily on the personalities, the group dynamics and the coping strategies rather than on the background itself. With regard to the strategies, more protective factors have been identified: problem-focused coping strategies, stress avoidance coping, effective positive cognitive reappraisal, self-efficacy, perceived social support (Vanhove et al., 2015). Also, between the sense of coherence and the feeling of self-efficacy, the intrinsic characteristic of a bold nature, or hardiness, is what seems to facilitate such coping and growth, a positive adjustment to adversity (Kobasa, 1979): “hardiness” brings together the cardinal notions of commitment, sense of challenge, confidence, and perceived control, in other words, the feeling that one’s own actions can change the course of events. Commitment is specifically an active attitude in relation to the environment, to give meaning to the experiences and to feel involved in what is being undertaken. The ability to meet challenges implies the attraction for innovation, motivation through difficulty, the sense of effort. We do not give ourselves because it is easy, but because it is difficult (Kennedy, 1962)[9]. "They did not know it was impossible, so they did it" (Twain, 1910)[10]. Day by day, it is always possible to push the perceived boundaries a little further to better discover the real limits. Finally, perceived control is therefore based on an attribution system of factors internal to the decision process, underpinned by trust and a second innocence. It is necessary to want to change the world a little, through actions, and according to ideals. An idealistic personality here strengthens this psychological robustness, based on introspective dominance, intuitive, with preference for feeling and perception (Briggs Myers, 1962)[11].

The human dimensions concern above all the psychological barriers, but also the physical constraints, of course, as demonstrated by our technological aids and life support systems. Here, we should remember that the study of the ontogeny of Man suggests the hypothesis that neoteny (Margulies & Sagan, 2002) plays a special role in the evolutionary emergence of human hypercognitive characteristics, including reflective consciousness and spirituality. This concept is the conservation of juvenile like characteristics in adulthood when compared to another species. Man, in this unfinished form, inherently premature, depends more than any other species on prosthetic creations and technology, on the one hand, yet on the other, has a cultural and cerebral adaptive plasticity which bestows a selective advantage which replaces the instinctive programming. This retarded autonomy, requiring a long period of socialization, learning, technological differentiation and maturation, is paradoxically the greatest asset of Man in his hope to adapt to life on another planet. And all this goes hand in hand with a long moral and spiritual maturation that emerges from this teleonomic process. We should not forget the child that exists within us.

Aspects of developmental spirituality

In my experience, there appears to be an open spiritual cycle, and we can allow ourselves to be touched by a secondary faith, following a surface rational latency that is much needed for the consistent construction of our deep spirit. In the way that paradigms and civilizations overcome their limitations by heuristic spirals arising from revolution, so it is for the individual interested in spiritual development. James Fowler described six stages of spiritual maturation (Fowler, 1981; see also Kohlberg, 1981) that appropriately illuminate our analysis.

The first spiritual stage is the intuitive projective between the ages of two and six years old.

Here there is a cognitive egocentrism, the child's perspective is the only perspective considered. Stories provide the symbols that structure reality. Faith is imitative, full of imagination, not restricted or inhibited by logical thinking. The child and their fluid thought patterns constantly encounter new things for which the knowledge modes are not yet formed. The emerging strength here is the ability to capture the experience of the world, to transform it into powerful unified images that advise the intuitive understanding of the child of the conditions of existence. The transition to the next stage involves the emergence of operational thinking.

The second spiritual stage could be described as mythical-literal, between the ages of seven and twelve on average.

The subject begins to internalize the stories, beliefs and rituals that symbolize their membership in a group and appropriates moral rules and attitudes. One-dimensional symbols are understood literally. The emergence of concrete operations orders the composition of the previously acquired world by more coherent linear construction. The story gives value to experience. Some empathy emerges with a sense of immanent justice based on reciprocity. The cosmos appears anthropomorphic, without the perspective to allow the formulation of reflection, the meaning is both carried and enclosed by the story. The narrative capacity emerges and myths provide coherence to experience. Implicit contradictions and disappointments initiate a self-transition allowed by the acquisition of formal operations.

The third spiritual stage is the synthetic-conventional, generally between the ages of twelve and twenty. The experience of the world thus extends to society. This deals with coherently navigating through this increasing complexity. Faith forms the basis for identity and world view by synthesizing a system of values and by structuring relationships. This conformist stage is adapted to conventional expectations and judgments and for some becomes a permanent balance without the construction of autonomous judgment or independent perspective. Beliefs and values are deeply felt, tacitly held, forming limits without any explicit systematic review, and a tendency toward categorization of individuals and consensual membership. There is a personal myth in formation, resulting in the cutting of identity and the development of faith, incorporating the features of personality. The conflicts or, often the experience of escape, emotional and physical, precipitate self-examination, the construction of fundamental values and hence lead to the next spiritual step.

For some, a fourth stage of spiritual development corresponds to an individual-reflective stage, most often between the ages of twenty and forty.

This transition is especially critical because of the contemporary assumption of responsibilities and undergoes paradoxical tensions. The seemingly opposites of subjective power versus objectivity, the latter necessary for critical thinking, self-realization versus altruism, the dedication to a relative cause versus the search for an absolute. This stage is marked by a dual development. The development of the self, where the identity is no longer defined by the relationship to others, but supported by the awareness of its own limitations, its internal connections and the composition of a rational vision of the differentiated world. It includes a demythologizing. The capacity for critical reflection of the identity itself and perspective is a growing force as well as a second narcissism given that the perspectives of others are integrated into their own worldview. However, the resurgence of a deeper self from childhood, the paradoxes, the compromises, and even the logic that distinguishes the complexity of the dialectic between abstract concepts and levels of truth, life and representation, provoke the overcoming of limits and illusions of this spiritual stage.

Some may well reach a fifth stage, occurring between thirty and fifty, the stage known as conjunctive.

Conjunctive faith implies integration into the self of that which individualism with its certainties could ignore by emotional adaptation of reality. A second innocence, which unifies the power of the symbols, is accepted and the new conceptual signifiers allow the history of the subject to be reconsidered. The subject opens up to his "deep self" to his unconscious, which implies a critical recognition of his ideals, prejudices, value system and moral cultural content. Unusual without irreversible commitments and before mid-life, this spiritual level is again receptive to the apparent paradoxes and contradictions. The subject accepts his vulnerability, proximity to otherness but the difference is the commitment to the conservation of each identity and of alternative worldviews. His strength is rooted in the ability to recognize his deepest values and the group who share them, while accepting their relativity. The subject can appreciate symbols, myths, rituals without being literal, and is grasps the imperative of an inclusive community of beings. However a division can result from living in an untransformed world, with the need to preserve his own welfare and maintain an ambiguous balance, with a transforming vision of the world and of loyalties. In rare cases this tension leads to a radical change, the final stage of spiritual development described.

Finally, there are a rare few who reach universalization, the sixth spiritual stage. This is probably, along with the preceding stage, a key operating stage for the pioneers who will show us the way to Mars.

Reaching this spiritual level involves overcoming paradoxes. It is about the subject reaching universal values, looking for an absolute, giving priority to others over his own interests and preservations, which give an outstanding quality to his actions. The depth of the devotion to the object of faith, embodied in a just cause, well-understood in all its dimensions, can disturb the common sense of pertinence. Perseverance and renunciation. Fulfillment and self-denial. Detachment and connection. Autonomy and sharing. Ecumene and isolation. Presence and absence. Action and meditation. Integrity and risk. Freedom and confinement. Acceptance and defiance. Related and absolute. Some of the many paradoxes that must be overcome to consider a trip to Mars. The way of resolving these contradictions is probably eminently spiritual. For example, the detachment (Luong, 2002) in Eastern spirituality aims for, far from indifference or callousness, unconditional love, an absolute, which frees us from the fear of losing, the characteristic of attachment. Hence the distance taken gives a new force and another depth to essential links. Self-denial is not self-extinction, but the gift of self, complete and in full conscience, the creation of a link between the surface and the new level. Sometimes in the life of a man the distance is relative. To arrive, it is necessary to be the path (Gautama, -400)[12].

Man could thus be the real vessel that explores the cosmos and paves the way. Be the captain of his soul (Henley, 1888)[13], and allow the curious child that we all have within take the helm, in a new cycle guided by the compass of intuition, in the harmony of full spiritual maturity. Faith is the first and last key for humans in the challenge of Mars exploration. A spiritual awakening to become part of the adventure and to overcome the ultimate challenges. A journey to the end of what we can know about ourselves.

In summary, considering all psychological elements known or thought to be critical to lead a mission to explore the planet Mars, and the installation of a first permanent human settlement, it becomes clear that the spiritual maturity described appears as the ideal success vector, resonating correctly with each of the notes of the score. A proper spiritual development seems to be the best medium to support the growth, for the individual and for the group, of trust, openness, overcoming, guidance, communication, sharing, mindfulness, to which it is possible to add stepping-back, sharing and the necessary degree of self-denial.

In conclusion, faith is probably the real cornerstone, transcending the paradoxes of such a human challenge, an unprecedented one as it involves leaving our reassuring blue planet for the first time, beautiful but fragile, until it is lost from sight. This is thus a renovation of the way to be part of the world to be invented. Could humanity be the best chance for the universe to learn about itself? Aiming for a sense of coherence, with unified science and global awareness, where a supplement of soul determines the quantum field? During the voyage, when sublimating the gravitational field, I will weigh my words: "faith to face, touching the face of the cosmos."

REFERENCES

Annis, James (1999). Placing a limit on star-fed Kardashev type III civilizations. Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 52 p 33-6.

Cannon, Walter ‘1945). The Way of Investigator. Norton, New York.

Ehricke, Krafft (1978). The Extraterrestrial imperative. Air University Review.

Fowler, James (1981). Stages of Faith: the psychology of human development and the search for meaning. Harper & Row, San Francisco.

Kabat-Zinn, John (1994). Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness meditation for everyday life. Hachette Books.

Kardashev, Nikolaï (1980). Strategies of Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: A Fundamental Approach to the Basic Problem. Cosmic Search, n°7, 2, p 36-8.

Kingdon, Matt (2013). The Science of Serendipity: How to Unlock the Promise of Innovation? Wiley.

Klein, Etienne (2014). Le futur existe-t’il déjà dans l’avenir ? Revue Temps, 1 p 3-7.

Kobasa, Suzanne (1979). Stressful life events, personality, and health. Inquiry into hardiness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, p 1-11.

Kohlberg, Lawrence (1981). Essays on Moral Development. The Philosophy of Moral Development. Harper & Row, San Francisco.

Kraft, Norbert ; Binder, Heidi ; Lyons, Terence ; Kass, Raye (2003). Types of relationships formed by a mixed gender, multinational crew while in isolation. 54th International Astronautical Congress of the International Astronautical Federation, the International Academy of Astronautics, and the International of Space Law.

Kraft, Norbert ; Lyons, Terence ; Binder, Heidi (2003). Intercultural Crew Issues in Long-Duration Spaceflight. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, n°5, 74, p 575-8.

Kraft, Norbert ; Kass, Raye (2012). The Uncharted Territories of Mars: Is Science Enough? Huffington Post, Science, July.

Laszlo, Ervin (2004). Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything. Rochester, Vermont, Inner Traditions, p 176.

Luong, Can-Liem (2002). Psychothérapie bouddhique: meditation, éthique, liberté. L’Harmattan, p 50.

Margulies, Lynn ; Sagan, Dorion (2002). L’univers bactériel. Le Seuil, Collection Point Sciences,148, p 231-6.

Popper, Karl (1978). Natural selection and the emergence of mind. Dialectica, 32, p 339-55.

Sagan, Carl (1975). Cosmic connection: an Extraterrestrial Perspective. Editions du Seuil, Points Sciences.

Vanhove, Adam ; Herian, Michel ; Harms, PD ; Luthans, Fred (2015). Resilience and Growth in Long-duration Isolated, Confined and Extreme (ICE) Missions. A Literature Review and Selection, Training and Countermeasure Recommendations. NASA technical report.

White, Frank (1987). The Overview Effect, Space Exploration and Human Evolution. Houghton-Mifflin.

 

[1] Apollo 17 (1972): 35.9 km traveled in 4:26 hours by Cernan and Schmitt to collect 110 kg of lunar rocks by a geologist versus 37 to 42 km in 4 months by Lunokhod 2 (1973); Opportunity to cover more than the distance of an out-of-this-world marathon, although it took eleven years all the same (2004-2015).

[2] Mallory, Georges (1924). “Because it’s there”, famous answer about the reason to persevere in his Mount Everest ascent. He would be the first ever to reach the very top with Irvine (1924, 8 June), but unfortunately they didn’t survive unlike later first successful expedition (Hillary & Norgay, 1953, 29 May).

[3] Tsiolkovsky, Konstantin (1911). “A planet is the cradle of mind, but one cannot live in a cradle forever”, from a letter written in 1911 usually cited as above.

[4] Hugo, Victor (1859). “La Légende des siècles”, XIV. Vingtième siècle: II. Plein Ciel ; first series : a prophetic poem expressing an epic eloquence.

[5] Gödel, Kurt (1931). Second incompleteness theorem of Kurt Gödel & concept of undecidability: a complete and consistent finite list of axioms can never be created within any system, some true statements remaining unprovable without out-of-field informations.

[6] Kant, Emmanuel (1787). The Critique of Pure Reason: a metaphysical essay. According to the philosopher, the “Understanding” allows the synthesis of the miscellaneous, that consists of the unification of sensitive intuition’s data by ordering them through categories, transcendental foundations of knowledge, and creating mind-operable concepts.

[7] Hölderlin, Friedrich (1799). “Pure intellect has never produced anything intelligent, nor pure reason anything reasonable”. Hyperion or the Hermit in Greece, volume 2: an epistolary novel.

[8] Mars One (2013). Selection and preparation of the Astronauts: Five Key characteristics of an Astronaut.

http://www.mars-one.com/faq/selection-and-preparation-of-the-astronauts

[9] Kennedy, John F (1962). “We choose to go to the Moon”. Rice University, speech in Houston about Apollo Program launching, which opened a golden age for the american astronautical endeavour.

[10] Twain, Mark (1835-1910). “They didn’t know it was impossible so they did it”. Famous unsourced aphorism included in the « Thoughts and aphorisms » collection.

[11] Briggs Myers, Isabel (1962). Idealist personality: Introversion Intuition Feeling Perception, according to original articles relating to the “Myers Briggs Type Indicator” description published in “Journal of Psychological Type”, peer-reviewed academic journal founded in 1977.

[12] Gautama, Siddhartha (around 400 B.C.).“You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself” precept assigned to the Buddha.

[13] Henley, William E (1888). “I am the master of my fate : I am the captain of my soul”, thereby ended the famous poem written in by Henley, later intitled “Invictus” by an another poet, Quiller-Couch, in 1900.

All Posts
×

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OKSubscriptions powered by Strikingly