If I’m feeling especially stressed, I can calm myself down by closing my eyes and imagining the Earth, as viewed from the Moon. The picture of our little blue marble, hanging in the darkness, immediately reminds me how tiny I am, and by extension, how ridiculously small my problems are.
In recent years, though, I’ve been able to imagine an even wider perspective on the planet. Human-made robots now give us the eyes to see the world as it would be seen by the Martians that don’t exist. (It turns out that intelligent life on Mars is actually us.)
Following the recent meteor landing in Russia, and the concurrent asteroid side swipe of Earth, I’d love to see Mars video of that space action. Not only would it look cool, but it would make the potential destruction from that kind of collision seem a lot less scary.
In all my self-soothing lunar imaginings, I never considered that some object hurtling through the vacuum could make my problems disappear in a fiery explosion. Suddenly, I’d like a safer distance. It so happens that HG Wells already considered this event, and wrote a profound – and profoundly terrifying – short story about it in 1897.
This is my reading, with the images of that Chelyabinsk fireball still fresh in my head, of ‘The Star’.