Over the past few days, the Internet has been abuzz about the New Horizons probe and its mission to Pluto.

While scientists continue to debate if Pluto is truly the ninth planet in our solar system or merely the largest dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt, no one can deny the momentous nature of this occasion.

Suddenly, photos of Pluto and its moon, Charon, have snapped into view, crystal clear snapshots of what was until now the last truly unexplored heavenly body in our solar system.

But think for a moment what went into this mission: launching a probe at the record-setting rate of 36,000 mph, spanning nine-and-a-half years and a four billion miles. All in order for what amounts to, in the scheme of things, only a few brief moments passing its main target.

What justify can such an investment of time and energy? Such an incredibly journey for such a brief interaction?

The answer lies in what will come next: NASA will continue to receive data from the flyby over the next 16 months—and the information unpacked from there will surely extend for years to come.

What is the Jewish lesson from all of this? The Baal Shem Tov taught that a soul can descend to this world for a lifetime—just to help someone else out in a spiritual or even physical matter. Think of the investment that the soul must make for this deed. It must leave its place above, descend to a world of confusion and conflict, and endure years and decades of the vicissitudes of life. All of that for a single deed for someone else.

That one deed can be the very reason why the person was born. And, what’s more, the results of that momentary connection can bring a lifetime of change and good to the world.