During the second mission to the moon in 1969, Apollo 12, the crew brought back a camera that had been sent some two and a half years earlier. When they returned, the camera underwent extensive testing including microbiological analysis. Much to their surprise, they found a colony of earthly bacteria; apparently the microbes had survived the inhospitable lunar environment.
Late tonight (for those on the west coast), and pre-dawn Monday morning (for the rest of us in Canada), a scary-looking, laser-carrying, plutonium-powered robot rover named Curiosity will attempts to make a soft landing on Mars. Succeed or fail, it is likely that a good many people are being inspired by Curiosity, including some of whom may aspire to take on similar challenges in all walks of life in the years ahead.