The red ball of rock
Near to us, though not as near as we might like, there is a red ball of rock that looks a bit like our own ball of rock.
It has air around it, but not air like our air. The air there is very light and made of different things than our air.
The ground is like our ground, but not quite. This other ball of rock looks like it should have water all over it, but for some reason it doesn’t. Other than this, the ground looks a lot like ours in some places, in between the round bits made by rocks from the sky.
We have been interested in this other ball of rock for a long time. Really really long ago, people thought the ball of rock was actually a ball of fire, an angry god flying through the sky.
Later on, people looked closer at the red ball of rock and thought they saw things that looked like they were built by people. Everyone got very excited that there might be people on another ball of rock, and wrote exciting stories about the people from the red ball of rock.
Even later, when we managed to send things to the red ball of rock, we saw that there weren’t really any people there. Or things built by people, or any sign of people in the past.
Even though it isn’t as exciting as people from the red ball of rock, we still want to go there and find things out about it. The red ball of rock could tell us many things about our own ball of rock. It could tell us lots about the stories of all the other balls of rock, even the ones very far away, and also about the star in the middle of all of them.
The most exciting thing, though, is that even if there aren’t people on the red ball of rock, there could still be living things there. They would probably be deep down, where it’s safe (not like the ground above them) and might not be like any living things we know. If we could find living things there it would tell us lots about life, about how life may have got started, and about how much life there might be in other balls of rock that are even further away.
Getting to these living things, that live deep down, is really hard though. We have sent things to the red ball of rock that drive around and see exciting things, but they can’t see under the ground. Even if they could see under the ground, the living things there would be so deep they would be hard to see.
To find the living things, then, we have to think different. We have to look for signs of living things rather than the actual living things. I look for things the living things might breathe out or throw away. These could come up from deep down where the living things live until they got into the air, where it’s much easier to see them, from things that we sent to fly around the red ball of rock.
I’m trying to work out what we might be able to see, and what exactly they would look like if we could see them.