My kids – before they’re my age – will know Mars better than I know, say, Tasmania or Patagonia. They won’t have been there but they’ll feel like they have. If they’re paying attention (unlikely), they’ll also have a pretty detailed mental image of two or three of our Sun’s other planets, submarine images from Europa’s salty ocean and – maybe – reasonable pictures of half a dozen small-ish, blue-ish planets orbiting other stars. I suspect they’ll also know that the solar system – and the universe beyond it – are greener and more hospitable to life than we could ever have imagined and that there’s as much water (liquid and otherwise) on distant planets as there is here on earth. They’ll also have a pretty good idea how it got there.
Leo Enright, the BBC’s Space Correspondent (now that’s a good job title) has made a wonderful series of programmes about the discovery of water elsewhere in the Universe. His amazement and pleasure at the rush of new discoveries he uncovers keep spilling over into infectious laughter. Joyful factual radio.