Okay. I admit it.
This is a weird blog. It’s my blog and I post whatever I want on it and I get, for some reason, a whole lot of traffic.
I post about weird stuff. Space. Occasionally politics. Life and death stuff. Philosophy. Linux. Weird stuff. At all times of the day.
Now I want to tell you about Cassini–Huygens. It’s an unmanned spacecraft sent to the planet Saturn. It is a Flagship-class NASA–ESA–ASI robotic spacecraft. Cassini is the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit, and its mission is ongoing as of April 2017.
That last paragraph was mostly plagiarized which I can do. Sue me.
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune could all fit in the gap between the Earth and our Moon with about 4,990 miles to spare
Think of Earth as a basketball and the moon like a tennis ball. How far would you have to place them apart to approximate the distance between the Earth and Moon? Five feet? Ten feet? Twenty feet? Nope! Further even then that! A tennis ball would then have to be about 24 feet from the basketball to be of the proper scale. Farther than most people visualize.
This is how it looks (See image). Kind of surprising. The moon looks bigger to us than that, doesn’t it? Well, no it doesn’t. Our minds eye just makes it look bigger. Hold your thumb out at arms length. The tip of your thumb at that distance more than covers the moon. Still, the moon is the biggest thing in the night sky, and it really stands out much brighter and bigger than all the stars, relatively.
Surprisingly, people really do think the Moon is closer to the Earth than it is. You can see from the photo taking a “mere trip to the Moon” is no easy task!
Here’s a statistic for you! Think how big Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, the gas giants, are in relationship to our tiny Earth.
Yet our Moon is so far from Earth that Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune could all fit in the gap with about 4,990 miles to spare (using the average Earth-moon distance of 238,555 miles).
Not very big! It would just have to be natural. Not made by man! And it wouldn’t have to be there for very long either. Just long enough for it to be in orbit.
The astronomical community doesn’t have a definition for moon other than it has to be a natural object. Thus captured asteroids can be moons. It’s even possible for a moon to have a moon!
Mars has two moons, neither of which are large enough to be round. Objects in space get round due to their own gravity. The first image above is Deimos and the second is Phobos, the Martian Moons. Deimos (top) is the smallest. It has a mean radius of 3.9 miles.
Some of my readers embrace my pessimism. Some hate it!
Finding life on other planets is the Holy Grail of science. The final punch in the age-old fight between scientists and creationists. It runs deep.
It would finally prove life can exist elsewhere. To date no proof exists.
There are candidates right here in our own solar system with some moons in orbit around Saturn and Jupiter. They are going to spend a lot of money to look. They had hope for Mars. That hope faded quickly when we realized Mars is dead.
My gut feeling is on the side of pessimism, though.
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.