In my never-ending quest to find interesting curios and artefacts for sl, i came across the NASA 3D resources site – and, with a whole host of juicy Blender files to choose from as potential candidates for importing into sl, my imagination was filled with vistas of star fields and satellites – a worthy and stimulating inworld project, that would keep me busy for weeks!
One model, in particular, grabbed my attention – the Stardust probe – a mission that i feel a strong affinity with and with which i have a tenuous, but tangible connection.
Stardust originally launched in 1999, (wow! i can’t believe it was all that far back) – its seven-year mission: to rendezvous with comet Wild-2 and attempt to collect particles of comet dust and bring them back to earth. A ground-breaking material – aerogel – was harnessed to capture the comet’s substance, a task which it achieved magnificently, as was discovered on Stardust’s return with its precious cargo in 2006. Remarkably, Stardust wasn’t done yet – those NASA boffins pressed the plucky craft back into service, rechristened Stardust NExT, later that year for a visit to another comet, Tempel-1 – which had previously played host to the impressively named Deep Impact mission. Stardust finally fired its thrusters for the last time in 2011, having clocked up an impressive 3.54 billion miles in its 12 year working lifetime.
And my connection?
i discovered Stardust in 1998, a year before launch. These were the days when the internet was still the preserve of geeks and home computers tended to be of the 8-bit variety. Fortunately, i had access to the web through a local college, and i still vividly remember the day when browsing the NASA site, using Netscape Navigator, i read the exciting news that i could submit my name to be added to two computer chips which would be attached to the probe and flown into space. One chip would be returned to earth with the comet samples, the other would remain in space, forever. It was an opportunity i simply couldn’t resist. And so it came to pass that my name is enshrined forever, up there somewhere in space, perhaps to be discovered distant millennia in the future by a mysterious alien race, who’ll have endless hours of fun laughing at the ridiculous names that those strange earth people chose to call themselves!
The urge to leave a lasting legacy is a strong one – it’s what drives us to carve our initials on school desks and graffiti walls with the legend, ‘Seren woz ere!’ and, perhaps less prosaically, spurs us on throughout life to be creative and leave something to the world that will endure, even after we are long gone. Words, painting, sculpture, architecture, deeds and even children can be our testament to who we were; our mark on the world and a reminder that we were once real.
i wonder if we feel the same way about sl? There are certainly those who have left their mark on our virtual world and whose names and creations live on even when, sadly, some are no longer with us, in either life. How many of us aspire to be like those of whom we speak in hushed tones, or – for that matter – with a derisory snort? In sl, it seems to me, the chances of fame, or infamy, are that much greater than in our real lives – sl is, after all, a much smaller world, one moreover that transcends borders, language and culture – it is a world where leaving one’s enduring mark should be relatively attainable, and i’m sure that’s what many of us might aspire too, even if we wouldn’t necessarily admit to it in public.
There is something special about being perceived as ‘special’ – to be recognised for our contribution to either the real or virtual worlds is indeed a powerful thing; to be remembered ad eternum is in an altogether different league. More than this, there is a wonderful sense of reassurance and peace within, knowing that you’ve done your bit and your own little piece of the virtual jigsaw is safely in its place and will remain there, for all to see, even when you are no longer around.
As for me… well i’ve already made it in sl – my legacy is already secure, and it feels great! And rl? Well, how many of us can honestly say our name is written in the stars?
I would wallow
Till you told me
There’s no glitter in the gutter
There’s no twilight galaxy
Metric – Twilight Galaxy