'Curiosity': good name for a Mars rover

A Christian Science perspective.

AP Photo/NASA
This artist's rendering provided by NASA shows the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. NASA announced Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, it plans to send another Curiosity-like rover to Mars in 2020.

Curiosity – that's my middle name. And as far as I'm concerned, NASA couldn't have chosen a more appropriate name for a Mars rover. It succinctly defines why the United States should send another rover to Mars. And the pursuit of putting a research vehicle on Mars has generated new technology on Earth with many benefits beyond the space program.

Growing up on the plains of Minnesota, I had the opportunity to view the full expanse of the sky. The confines of the small town that encapsulated my youth encouraged me to spend time staring up at the sky. While my environs seemed so small and limited, the sky, especially the night sky, was so vast, so infinite, so freeing. When I stared up into that great expanse, I knew I wanted more, to be more, to know more. I wanted to reach for the sky, literally. I wanted to know the truth about how everything worked, why everything was.

As I watched men land on the moon, I kept reaching for the stars. I studied the sciences. Eventually, after obtaining degrees in physics, astronomy, math, and computer engineering, my job with NASA kept me reaching.

Meanwhile, a friend gave me the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy. One of the book's epigraphs reads, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). This book was on the right track. It was about science and truth, which I felt had already set me free. I continued reading the preface, where my eyes landed on the sentence, “The time for thinkers has come” (p. vii). Wow, I could definitely relate to this book.

As I read, a whole new universe opened up – a universe based on Spirit, not matter, as the source and cause of everything good. This was a new idea to me, but there were also familiar elements in the book. Mrs. Eddy employed the scientific method to prove the truth of her discovery. She encouraged other seekers for truth to demonstrate her discoveries for themselves as any researcher with a new scientific discovery would do. After pursuing this science, Christian Science, for many years, I have proved to myself, as have many others, the validity of her discovery.

One instance was during Curiosity's landing. Last August, the much discussed "Seven Minutes of Terror" had arrived – the time during the rover's descent to the surface of Mars when there could be no communication with the vehicle. We wouldn't know for seven minutes if the 100-plus pyrotechnic devices, which my husband and his team of NASA pyrotechnic engineers had designed, were going off as planned, putting the rover in the correct position to land safely.

With my hand in my husband's I thought about whose hands Curiosity was in at that moment. If the fate of this technological wonder was out of our hands, what – or who – exactly was governing the outcome of this grand adventure? My husband and I were thinking about God. Eddy wrote in Science and Health, "In Science man is governed by God, divine Principle, as numbers are controlled and proved by His laws" (p. 318). Since God governs the universe, everything is under His control, as was Curiosity. We were at peace knowing that God, not chance, was governing. And when the signal came back on, we were very happy to see Curiosity safely on the ground.

We must be curious. If we fearfully cling to what we already know for security, we may never find the solutions we need, nor will we be able to help others. Only by reaching beyond ourselves can we find that truth that we didn't know.

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About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

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