Thursday, March 09, 2006

Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Earth....and YOU!

Yes my friends, I enjoy reading news about outer space. I frequent, and also like to look at various other sites for news regarding anything to do with space. Why? Because its God damn interesting thats why. It interests me scientifically, science fictionally, and everywhere in between. I took an Astronomy course in college, which was very interesting, and my Dad has had various telescopes in the past. However, I am just as much frustrated with space as I am enamoured with it. There is just too much we don't know, and too many possibilities out there that haven't been discovered or investigated. The reason for that is simply that humans have a hard time leaving Earth. What would we find if we could send a human past the moon? Considering the vastness of space, I think it would be foolish to assume we are the only life around. So what direction is the space program headed? Where are we going, why are we going there, and how are we going to do it? I don't know these answers...but I did investigate.

My space talk today doesn't come out of the blue, or black as the case may be. Today NASA announced that they have discovered liquid water shooting off the surface of one of Saturn's moons named Enceladus. The picture above illustrates the moon with the sun as backlight, and the water spraying off the surface similiar to how a geyser releases water. So what does that mean for us? Who knows. Scientists all agree that water must be the basis of life on any planet. This information, however, is based solely on assumptions of space and what is known about organisms on earth. Pools of frozen liquid exists under the surface of a Titan, a moon of Jupiter. Outside of that possibility, this is the first actual evidence of water in our solar system.

Another exploration in space that took place recently involved a satellite that collected dust from an comet. The reason for this is because comet travel around the entire galaxy, and are thought to be made up of some material that existed when the universe was thought to have formed, roughly 15 billion years ago. Scientists figure if they can analyze samples of this material, then they can learn a lot about the makeup and origin of the universe. To collect the samples, a sateillite intersected the path of a comet and use small pockets of Aerogel, which was arranged like a Connect 4 board. Aerogel is the lightest solid material on earth. It is 99.8% air, with only a mix of sand and silicone dioxide making up the rest. Thats an actual picture of it below; it is sometimes referred to as solid smoke. This mission was a huge success, and scientists are analyzing their findings as I type.

The third big exploration is the Rover mission to Mars. In the early part of 2004, two rovers landed on opposite ends of Mars, called Spirit and Opportunity. These rovers were only supposed to last about one hundred days before they broke down, but they have been functional for over two years now. These machines are sending back thousands of images to earth, which are then put together and colorized. The picture below depicts an area of Mars where the Rover currently is located called Home Plate. The picture kind of looks like a face, and I have no idea what those blue circles are, but they are interesting. At one point one of the rovers was so covered with dust that mission managers thought it was going to be unusable, until it was miraculously cleaned off overnight. NASA said it was from 'dust devils.' Picture the Tazmanian Devil and his cyclone of fury, minus the Tazmanian Devil, and thats what a dust devil is. Another mission headed for Mars named Phoenix is planned for the near future. The Phoenix rover will land on one of Mars icy poles and investigate the water samples there.

With all these missions going on, NASA has been very busy. But does anyone else out there believe that this is as far as we have gotten? It almost feels like NASA is a public front for a real space program where humans can travel as far as other planets. Perhaps that sounds like a conspiracy theory to you, and maybe it is. But there are many questions that need to be answered regarding humans and space. The main question has to be; are we alone in the universe? Granted, the circumstances that took place on Earth over millions of years had to unfold exactly the way they did in order for life to form here. Yet isn't it a little naive to think we are the only intelligent life in the entire galaxy? Humans are easily impressed with themselves, but I feel we have severly underachieved in least publicly. I mean, we reached the moon over 40 years ago, and still can't past it. We are either failing miserably in our mission to travel the stars, or, the general public doesn't know yet how far we have gone...or what has come here.

If 'President' Bush came on television tonite and told the world that aliens have been on earth for decades, I would believe that without a problem. There are many conspiracy sites, like, that have discussion boards that deal with everything from ancient pyramids to stories about the government interacting with aliens since the 60's. One huge point I like to think about is this; consider how far technology advanced from 1900-1950. Now think about how much technology improved from 1950-2000. Finally, from 2000-2006 we have improved technology on Earth exponentially. People didn't have personal computers until the 80's. A mere 25 years later, and Microsoft introduces Oragami, basically a desktop computer compacted into a palm size device.

Did humans finally start understanding more, or did we have help? Can we rationally explain the explosion of technology over the period of a few decades when civilization has existed for thousands of years without coming close to anything we have today? In general, I am skeptical about the truthfullness of our government about many things, but especially space. I cannot just pin my doubts on George W. either. A good way to look at it is this; if you had a time machine, and took someone from 1860 and brought them to 1900, they would be shocked at the change, but not overwhelmed, as the world at that time would bear some resemblance to the world of 1860. Now take your time machine and bring someone from 1950 up to the year 2006. It would take about a week just to grasp that the world had changed that much. Every single aspect of life would be different to that person, and it would be tough to deal with. As we move along into this new century, we need to start believing in ideas we once thought were impossible. There is no reason to doubt the impossible anymore. Impossibility is not permanent. Neither is the governments ability to shield us from the truth.


Post a Comment

<< Home