Many decades from now, maybe a century, maybe forever, there will be humans marching over the red planet. They will be suited and covered from head to foot in shiny silver. They will walk or drive many miles with the sun a far-away lover to their human flesh– imports from a distant kingdom.
They will scour over unforgiving rocks and dusty fields and on and on they will tread. Finally, something will beep or blink and they will look up and wave to the others, “Come!” They will cry, “over here. It’s here!”
A shovel will bore into the earth and they will dig and dig past layers of soil and years of sediment buildup. The party will gently uncover a bent head the size of a breadbox and panels the size of kites. With careful hands and diligent fingers they will unearth the many bits and pieces that have been tucked into the dirt like a quilt over a sleeping child at bedtime.
They will attach pulleys and rigs and ropes and perhaps they will even call out “heave” and “ho!” And the darkened head and busted wheels will slowly be pulled up and back into the light and back into the unforgiving winds and radiation.
They will tug it over the ground and uneven terrain to a settlement of tough buildings and tougher plants hidden inside.
There will be singing, I promise you there will be singing. There will be toasting and raising glasses, and they will lift it higher into the air, into the place where we put our gods and heroes and cherished things.
They will lift the sleeping device onto a pedestal where we have put those that have come before: those of the ilk of Laika, Balto, ship cats, and war horses.
There will be toasting and weeping and singing. Oh there will be singing for the sake of the thing that gave us eyes into the unknown, hands into the inhospitable, and furthered our reach into the guts of the stars themselves.
Tell me, tell me, of our Spirit, tell me, tell me, of our Opportunity. One day there will be a plaque on Mars, under the little robot that was meant to last 90 days but endured for over 5,000. A thing that sang itself Happy Birthday every year on an entirely different planet than its makers. A thing that will sleep for maybe a decade, maybe a century, maybe forever.
But I will tell you, if we make it, because of ourselves, despite ourselves, if we make it we will gently, lovingly, lift it toward the sky and say our thanks in the way we have many times before and hopefully will many times again.