I know. It’s old news already. Everybody knows. Here’s the new take on it. Follow along.
Imagine we want to go to some place that might have life. We don’t know if there’s life or not, but we want to go and find out.
To quote the NASA website, designed to generate funding for NASA so that Trump won’t cut it out of existence, it says: (This is where the old news already follow along part comes in.)
|NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.
The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.
“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”
Bla bla bla. To date, no extraterrestrial microbe has ever been found — not even in our own solar system. We have not even found a fossil of a microbe. We have no idea whether life exists on any other planet in the universe other than here.
We want to find life. It will finally prove life evolves. No need for God!
It hasn’t happened yet.
Is it possible life exists elsewhere? Yes.
No proof of that above statement exists.
GIven so, are we being visited by aliens and is the bungling government covering it up? No.
Anyway, how do we go and find out? That’s 40 light years away. It would take the fastest spaceship 700,000 years to get there.
We’d need a generational spaceship. You and your mates blast off. You live your life on the spaceship. You have kids. You die. They have kids, they die. For many generations. Finally you arrive. Just like Earth traveling through space.
Well, guess what? We are already on a generational spaceship. It’s called Earth. It’s traveling through space. Generations come and go. Sometime in the future we may or may not see if there’s life out there other than us. No need to build a spaceship.
Mars is one of the most habitable planets in the solar system besides Earth. But don’t let that fool you — that says more about the rest of the planets in the solar system than it does about Mars.
By Matt Lever
“But… but Mars has CO2 in the atmosphere, soil, and sunlight!” I hear you reply.
Mars has an atmosphere, sure. But it’s atmosphere is so incredibly tenuous in comparison to Earth’s that it may as well not be there at all, at least so far as a respirating organism is concerned. Partially thanks to this, it is also perishingly cold, particularly at night. Siberia would seem like Tunisia in comparison.
And yes, Mars has soil. It’s dead soil, though. Not only is it not going to be nutritious to a burgeoning plant baby, but it would also be toxic. To say nothing of how frigid and dry it is.
And it may well receive sunlight, but only about half as much as we get on Earth. Contrariwise, Mars lacks an effective magnetosphere, so much more radiation gets down to the surface. So even if that first shoot somehow forced its way out of the toxic, perishingly cold, infertile soil, and somehow managed to suck out some CO2 from that tenuous, dry atmosphere, it would be starved of light and irradiated.
And then blown away by ferocious winds and torn apart by sandstorms.
Mars is one of the most habitable planets in the solar system besides Earth. But don’t let that fool you — that says more about the rest of the planets in the solar system than it does about Mars. As it stands now, planting a tree there would just be a seed funeral.
We are too heavily influenced by science fiction writers, movies and XBox to see it for what it is.
Space. The final frontier.
One day in our futures humans will travel to other planets, terraform them and colonize them. We will spread out and our species will survive, even if our own sun blows up. We have to start somewhere. We’ve been to the moon once. Let’s go again. Let’s live on the moon.
That would be very difficult. We would need a way to supply our moon resident with food, water and food. Perhaps it could be as we do now with the International Space station (ISS), i.e. fly up supplies once in awhile.
The problem is that the ISS is in low Earth orbit at 249 miles above mean sea level. The moon, on the other hand is between 225,623 miles at it’s closest, and 248,855 miles at it’s farthest, and is moving away from Earth at a rate of 1.5 inches per year. The moon is more than 906 times further than the ISS.
Taken distances into consideration, I would say it is not practical to have a living human being on the Moon for an extended period of time unless he could somehow grow his own food, and get oxygen and water locally.
We are too heavily influenced by science fiction writers, movies and XBox to see it for what it is. Hopeless.
The answer to your question, sadly, is no.
A question people ask.
We really want to send somebody to Mars. Why?
The answer to the question is that it’s a long way away, it moves all the time (sometimes it’s a very long way away on the other side of the sun), it’s expensive, it’s very dangerous, it’s a dead planet, there’s nothing humans can do there that our less expensive rovers can’t do, we can’t breathe the air, we can’t grow anything there, there’s no legitimate scientific reason to go and last but not least nobody would fund it, especially Congress.
In two previous blog posts about Newton’s Cannon and Joe Drops the Ball I posed the question: If falling objects go faster and faster, why don’t orbiting objects fall out of orbit and crash to the ground?
The question is legitimate and also has a perfectly legitimate explanation.
The rate of a falling object is 32.2 feet per second per second, i.e. it goes faster and faster as it goes down. It accelerates on the way to the ground. So the first question is this: 1) Is an object in orbit in free fall? The answer is yes. 2) Do falling objects accelerate as they fall to the ground? The answer is yes. 3) Do orbiting objects accelerate and thus fall to the ground? The answer is no.
It’s all in the definition of accelerate. Acceleration is a change in velocity not just a change in speed. Velocity is the speed in a given direction, but because an object in orbit is always changing direction it is technically accelerating even if it’s speed isn’t changing.
The force of gravity bending the forward motion of the orbiting object changes the direction of the object. The object is accelerating even if it’s speed isn’t changing, because it is constantly changing direction.
This is alternatively explained in the article I wrote called The Little Rocket that Was.
Mars is cool. Isn’t it? Well, spoiler alert: neither you nor I are going to settle on Mars.
It’s inhospitable and has no benefit. It’s not a safe haven if we screw up Earth. Why? Because Mars lost its hot core billions of years ago. Without a hot core Mars lost the magnetic field shielding it from the sun. The atmosphere blew away, the volcanos dried up, and there’s nothing protecting any people there from the dangerous rays of the sun. It has no value for humans to go there, what to speak live there, and NASA has a whole department dedicated to making sure we don’t bring germs to other planets or from other planets back to Earth. That means we’ll never terraform Mars. We will never grow stuff there, and we will never survive there. Mars is useless except, maybe, for rovers to rove.
Same goes for the moon. No point in going back to the moon. Anything you want to do there you can do without human hands. That’s what robots are for, and if a robot dies it costs money but no lives.
We were born on this Earth. We will die on it. We’ve got stuff in orbit, and robots on Mars and in space, but that’s it. Maybe SpaceX or somebody will put some poor souls on the surface of Mars, but they will either die or have to come back to the safety of Earth.
There will be no Star Trek Enterprise. There will never be a spaceship that can go “warp” speed. There will never be a Federation of Planets. Get real. Sorry if it’s upsetting. Great TV, great movies, but it’s science fiction.
We won’t be able to visit those 7 “earthlike planets” recently discovered over 40 light years away, 10 times further than our closest stellar neighbor.
We’ve got one place to live. Earth. Screw it up, and the future’s screwed. We have the science to sustain it, but greediness and politics, international conflicts and third world governments, big industry and you and me in our cozy environment choking homes, will not allow us to save it. Gradually a wide variety of species will go extinct, both plants and animals. Gradually the food chain will be disrupted. Not for you, probably not for your kids, but down the line it’s coming.
Sometimes Earth people go “green” – reducing their “environmental footprint.” Yeah, you can try. You can even succeed if you try really hard. You can live off the grid, by candlelight or self generated electricity, don’t buy any food in containers or wrapped in plastic, make compost and grow food.
I know people who live like that and it’s great for them.
However, let’s get real here. Out of billions of people, if a few people leave less of an environmental footprint than most of the others, it might make them feel good but will it really save the world? No it won’t, because at the core of the problem is humanity itself. We are the polluters of our own planet. We are not likely to stop as a whole. We are not one world government, one people and one culture. We are diverse and dream of going to other planets if this one gets screwed up.
Is this a pessimistic view? Probably. I’m going to be 64 years old in a few months. This is the world the boomers and those before us are leaving behind. See if you can fix it.