What if he had come upon a world of little green men? What about a place where Martian vessels glide up canals that once existed, and let epochs drift by collecting on the ancient alien riverbanks? But no.
Instead, it’s a desert world of firsts, and records. Tasting soil samples, always thick redness. It is tedious work, but keeps him fascinated.
Landscapes never ceased to amaze. Maroon ridges slope along. Heavy orange skies are cast like fire above him as his wheels echo throughout vast plains of dust.
When the sun comes, he stretches out his solar panels, smiling, bathing in warmth while covered in frost.
But the beauty of a new world is tainted. One night, with the universe clasping itself around him, sensors detected where Earth hovered, a tiny blue candle in the sky, holding vigil on a death that had not arrived yet, but might at any moment, as the flicker of blue gets snuffed out by the stars bobbing around it. Without even a single sound.
And Curiosity felt very small, until morning came. He’s perhaps the most well-known robot in the world, but this was not a place of knowns, and this was not that world. Emptiness fills all time there. No microbes, ruins, stirring shadows. Nobody to keep company.
It’s a terrible twist. As men send him in search of the deep question, “Are we alone?” the rover already has his own answer, and not the possession of a whole world can make up for it.