Can we establish Human Civilization in Space in the next 50 years?

by JkTheAnonymousWriter

“The human race must colonize space within the next 100 years or it will become extinct”
~ Stephen Hawking

International Space Station
(Credit: Nasa)

Let’s start this from the start. Isaac Newton must have thought about space travel in his thought experiment to evaluate orbital motion. Cannonballs when fired from the mountain top with a high muzzle speed and if the velocity is much higher, then their paths curve downward no more sharply than the Earth’s surface curves away underneath them; therefore, the cannon-balls will surely go into orbit. This experiment is still the neatest and easiest way to teach the concept of orbital flight.

Newton estimated that to throw a cannonball into the Earth’s orbit, its speed must be about 25000 km/h. However, even after knowing that we weren’t able to achieve that speed until 1957 with the launch of Sputnik 1, 12 years later, we stepped on the moon.

And now we are in the Cenozoic Era. Hundreds more have now traveled into space, which means we have done nothing more than circle the Earth in a space station. The ISS (International Space Station) was one of the most expensive artifacts ever constructed. The ISS acts as a microgravity and technical payoff space environment research laboratory. Extensive scientific research is conducted there in fields like astrobiology, astronomy, meteorology, physics, and some other major fields that might lead us to successful space colonies.

We have so far developed many technologies, space inventories, and robots that will easily help us to explore the entire universe. But the main problem is that we depend on chemical fuel, and at the speed we are going, it might take more than billions of times infinity to explore the entire universe. However, in this century, we will successfully explore our solar planets up to the very edge. We have sent the JWST (James Webb space telescope) into space, which will reveal the mysterious unknown things of the universe. The discoveries will lead us to a new space era and will expand our vision of the entire cosmos.

We are moving towards better communication through networking satellites. In total, about 4,852 active satellites are orbiting the Earth as of January 1, 2022. Researchers and astronomers are planning to take the next step toward planet mining and space fabrication. In that way, they plan to lower the cost of space missions by using space materials as fuel and other means for better and cheaper exploration.

In 2024, NASA is launching a moon base camp mission – Artemis. They are planning to build a gateway in lunar orbit so that they can easily export robots, human beings, and other materials for further research. Also, it will help us learn more about the major effects of disrupted Space Space circadian rhythms, isolation, and high doses of radiation—all this information is quite necessary for establishing space territorial civilization and exploration.

It’s quite complex and sophisticated, as we see in sci-fi movies, to colonize space. Initially, it will be robots who will be sent, not humans, into Mars, space, and exoplanets. The robots that can work and utilize information without any signals or input, such as AI robots, can work for long hours with no human contact. Because it will almost certainly take a long time to send a signal from another planet to Earth and then back again. In the coming years, private space organizations like SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, Blue Origin, and Jeff Bezos, will surely bring the silicon valley culture to space tourism. Elon Musk is planning to launch 100 missions in 2023. He has already succeeded in building reusable rockets. Reusable rockets, which seemed impossible a few years back.

We would have already built a space colony by now if we had solved the problems of the cost price of every mission, space radiation, intrinsic inefficiency of chemical fuel, weight load, and much more. If we remain dependent on our usual means, then surely it will take a lot of time and money to even build a base camp on another planet.

Despite the endless hurdles, scientists are working day and night on many innovations and intriguing ideas that might change the course of our space journey. Project RAMA has proposed a unique and faster way to explore space by turning space rocks and asteroids into autonomous spacecraft. It will use robotic processes to transform asteroid elements into programmed automata.

Another innovation is Nasa’s smart spacesuits with stretchable self-healing skin. It will be a hybrid, intelligent, mobile EVA space suit that helps humans detect signals, weather, and survive on Mars missions.

If Elon Musk succeeds in Mars colonization, then we will surely need breathable air. Ivan Ermanoski, an extraordinary research professor at Arizona State University, has proposed that he can help in making that possible through a process called thermal swing sorption/desorption, which is also known as TSSD. TSSD will help in generating breathable oxygen on the red planet. This portable oxygen generator will use 10 times less energy as compared to our other leading methods.

Also, space mining can transform space rockets. Nasa is planning to work on a technique called optical mining. They plan to transform the asteroid using concentrated sunlight into rocket propellants.

Establishing space colonies on other planets will surely mold and transform our human species’ future. Scientists are planning to do so with 3D printers to create 3D-printed homes, which will not only protect you from the outer atmosphere but radiation too.

Virgin Galactic aims to make space tourism active soon. Virgin Galactic has claimed to have already taken around 600 deposits for space passengers booked on the first-ever commercial space flight that might soon take off in the coming few years.

So, the answer to the question of: will we be able to establish space colonization? Well, we can surely say space tourism will be a big thing and a billionaire-making industry in the coming 50 years. As for space colonization, as far as we are going, many private companies will surely succeed in making base camps and transportation camps, and that will surely lead to Mars civilization in the coming 50 years.

We need a habitable atmosphere, where gravity can hold the habitable atmosphere in its grasp and can sustain life. Even if we move to Mars and build artificial gravity and camps for organic sustainability and evolution, it will lead to a generic constraint. It will further lead to organic intelligence species that will evolve on another planet.

But forget about mass emigration from Earth. It will not be possible within such a feasible budget. Also, political obstacles and public opinion do play a part in that. It is quite possible to take measures and transform the earth while preserving what we have.

However, in doing so, we won’t ever get an answer to our prime question, “Are we alone?”.

New craters on Mars might hold clues about the planet’s atmosphere and evolution

By Raquel Santos

An international team of researchers located four new impact craters on the surface of Mars. Using a seismometer and images captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the team was able to pinpoint the location of these craters.

Impact Craters
(Image of the four new craters by NASA/JPL-Caltech/UArizona)

This is the first time investigators were able to capture impact dynamics on Mars. Such information might hold valuable clues regarding the planet’s atmosphere and internal structure. It might also give us some insight into how our planetary neighbor formed and evolved over time.

Martian Meteoric Exploration

Mars is located nearby our solar system’s asteroid belt. The proximity between the two and Mars’ flimsy atmosphere makes it vulnerable to impacts by space rocks. Even though we know the repercussions of a meteoroid’s impact here on Earth, researchers were never quite able to figure out impact dynamics on Mars.

“Meteoroids and other projectiles in space can change the atmosphere and surface of any planet through impact,” said Nicholas Schmerr, a co-author of the paper. “We’ve seen this on Earth, where these objects can hurtle through the atmosphere, hit the ground, and leave behind a crater. But before this, we’ve never been able to capture the dynamics of an impact on Mars, where there’s a much thinner atmosphere.”

To investigate the martian planet’s structure, crust, and impact activity NASA launched the InSight lander. It touched down on the Elysium Planitia in late 2018 and began recording data, including seismic waves.
Researchers examined those recordings to see if they between 2020 and 2021 to see if they could find any recent craters produced by incoming meteoroids. They expected to detect between one and 100 impacts every five Earth years.

Elysium Planitia
First images of Elysium Planitia from InSight’s Instrument Deployment Camera (Source: Wiki, by NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An Impactful Research

Researchers explored the acoustic and seismic waves triggered by the impact of space projectiles using SEIS (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure), an instrument embedded in InSight. Determining how fast these waves traveled through Mars’ air and rock, researchers estimated the location of four different craters that they decided to explore in detail.

To confirm their estimations, they compared them to visual data provided by Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
“These seismic measurements give us a completely new tool for investigating Mars, or any other planet we can land a seismometer on,” said planetary geophysicist Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the InSight mission’s principal investigator.

The combination of the images and wave data provided investigators with a way to study the martian atmosphere and its interior structure. A better understanding of Mars’ seismology will provide valuable information regarding the planet’s core, heating processes, and underlying tectonic activities.

Planetary Structure and Evolution

The findings from this research will likely impact different planetary studies, as they’ll allow researchers to use seismic activity data to investigate other planets across our entire solar system.

“We can connect a known source type, location, and size to what the seismic signal looks like. We can apply this information to better understand InSight’s entire catalog of seismic events, and use the results on other planets and moons, too,” said Brown University planetary scientist Ingrid Daubar, a co-author of the study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The results could help researchers understand how often new impacts occur in the inner solar system and how they impact each planet’s atmosphere and interior. Combining acoustic and seismic wave recordings with images might also be the first step in determining a planet’s core solidity and heating processes.

Researchers also consider these findings as a way to better understand planetary formation and evolution. “Studying how impacts work on Mars is like opening a window into the fundamental processes of how terrestrial planets form,” Schmerr said. “All inner solar system planets share this commonality, including Earth.”

The original article is called “Newly formed craters on Mars located using seismic and acoustic wave data from InSight” and can be found in Nature Geoscience.


New evidence suggests there’s liquid water under the Martian ice cap

By Raquel Santos

An international team of researchers, led by the University of Cambridge, has found new evidence that suggests the existence of liquid water under the South polar ice cap of Mars. Using spacecraft laser-altimeter measurements, researchers provided the first line of evidence, without using radar, that our neighbor red planet might contain water under its icy surface.

Mars South Polar Ice Cap
(Image Credit: Photo by NASA/JPL/MSSS (Source: Wikipedia))

The findings give way to a wide variety of implications. The main one is that there is a probability that Mars is geothermally active.

A back-and-forward debate

In 2018, the European Space Agency’s Mars Express satellite provided some evidence that indicated that there was liquid water under Mars’ southern ice cap. Using its ice-penetrating radar, MARSIS, revealed an area at the base of the ice that reflected the radar signal.
These measurements were originally interpreted as a possibility of the presence of water beneath the ice. However, researchers were quick to refute it.

Subsequent studies showed that other types of dry material produce similar responses to the ones found under the martian ice cap. And because the climate conditions on Mars are so cold, liquid water beneath the ice would require additional heat sources that weren’t expected to exist on this planet at the time. The radar signal also appeared in some orbital passes but not others.

This debate put the theory on standby, waiting for another line of evidence that could either support it or disprove it completely.

Is that water?

Results from the recent research, published in the Nature Astronomy journal, provide additional evidence that there could, in fact, be liquid water under the southern martian polar ice cap. The team used a wide variety of techniques to examine the surface of Mars’ south polar ice cap where the radar signal was identified.

The analysis showed a 10-15 kilometer-long surface undulation, with depressions followed by raised areas, similar in scale to undulations over subglacial lakes on Earth.

Surface topographic impact of subglacial water beneath the south polar ice cap of Mars
(Image Credit: Original Article)

Then, the researchers tried to determine whether these undulations could be explained by liquid water under the cap. They ran computer simulations of ice flow adapted to the conditions found on Mars.

These models predicted what would happen beneath the ice cap if there was liquid water present. They also inserted various levels of geothermal heat coming from inside the planet. The experiment generated undulations that were similar in shape and size to the ones observed on the real ice cap surface.

Professor Neil Arnold, the leader of the research, said: “The combination of the new topographic evidence, our computer model results, and the radar data make it much more likely that at least one area of subglacial liquid water exists on Mars today, and that Mars must still be geothermally active in order to keep the water beneath the ice cap liquid.”

Where there’s water…

There might be water on Mars, but it doesn’t mean that there’s life. However, it makes it a bit more likely that it could’ve existed in the past when the planet’s conditions were a lot different than what they are today.

For the water to be liquid under the martian ice caps, in such cold conditions, it would need to be extremely salty. That, combined with the harsh conditions of the red planet would make it difficult for even the most extreme microbial life to survive. If martian microbial life is anything like the one existing on Earth, that is.

Still, this discovery could potentially open new paths to help us understand if there were any habitable environments on Mars in the past. It could also be used as a starting point to trying to figure out more about other planets as well.

“The quality of data coming back from Mars, from orbital satellites as well as from the landers, is such that we can use it to answer really difficult questions about conditions on, and even under the planet’s surface, using the same techniques we also use on Earth,” said Arnold. “It’s exciting to use these techniques to find out things about planets other than our own.”