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November 26, 2022

 

Perseverance and Ingenuity

In the article,”Perseverance Rover Lands on Mars” (BTW, 2021). I learned that after spending 7 months traveling 470 million miles Perseverance made it to Mars in order to search for the microbial life of the past. It landed in crater by the name of Jezero where there was once a lake; knowing this. they decided for it to search there as it would uncover the evolution of the planet over the time it has been as well as the water that was there. In addition to this, Perseverance was tasked to essentially test if in the future they could make it livable. Then comes Ingenuity which is tasked with taking colored pictures and testing powered flight, to send the info back to Earth. Pretty cool stuff.

I think this is pretty epic stuff, super epic cool epicness. Speaking of space, it truly is amazing, the thought of the limitless amount of space where it cannot be comprehended is truly such a delight; such as death, it being understandable in concept but when you consider what is beyond it, one cannot grasp the true fear, the true meaning that is such a thing. Realising that one will experience it is so amazing but so terrifying. Of course one day I hope i can see even a tiny bit of space, it is so beautiful.

Do you think that facing the unknown is something that is to be concerned about or a necessary part of human life?


Revolutionizing Space travel

In the article, “Civilian Space Travel, I learned that the citizens of the U.S. are now able to take trips to space in spacecrafts. Actors and celebrities are getting their own opportunities to go out and orbit earth. Space travel is becoming more and more commercialized after being controlled for so long by the government. Right now its really only an opportunity available for people with the funds to pay for a seat but it will get there one day.

I think that this is really cool. The fact that technology is getting so enhanced and better that we are starting to take civilians up to space is great. This can create so many more opportunities for the future as well.


A trip to space

In the article, “YOU DECIDE: Civilian Space Travel” (McGraw Hill) there was a group of four civilians who had the opportunity to orbit the earth. As exciting as it sounds, some civilians are now able to take part in space travel. Although, in order to travel you’d have to go through extensive training, spend a great amount of money, and will have to deal with the dangers of spaceflight. After taking that into consideration, the benefits are also present. For example, being able to use space travel for philanthropic purposes, providing information on human health, and being able to just receive that once in a lifetime experience of being in space.


Would you travel to space if given the opportunity?

As great as this sounds, I do not think we civilians should interfere with the traveling of space… it should be left to the professionals. Even with great training, it won’t make up for the years of research the professionals have done. Having said that, I personally would not do it but do think it is something exciting.


Is there life beyond Earth?

Is there life beyond Earth? I would say yes, I think it’s very likely that there is life beyond earth or there was at some point in time. This doesn’t have to be extraterrestrial beings either this can include water, or plants, any form of life. Mars is our strongest contender and proof at the moment. Mars has shown multiple signs of once having life, more specifically, nature. And of course some may say that other planets are unable to support life because they don’t meet conditions needed for life. But, even if only one planet, I think there is substantial evidence for life beyond Earth.

I think when we hear of life beyond Earth our mind goes straight to aliens or intelligent life on different, or unknown planets. But, life beyond Earth entails something a lot more simple. Life is defined as “the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.”. Life beyond Earth can entail things like the previous or current existence of water, or plants, or even insects as small as brine. So this broadens the discussion a lot more.

As for our current progress on the search for extraterrestrial life Mars has been a strong contender for a while. Mars has a few key aspects that may suggest there once was life there. As of now we have found “dried-up riverbeds and evidence of ancient glacial events”. We’ve also found “solid sub-surface ice, snow, and even frozen surface water on Mars in real-time.”. The curiosity rover has also made strides for signs of life on mars. For instance, clay. On the surface, not great. But, this is actually huge. “Clay is a good signpost towards evidence of life because it’s usually created when rocky minerals weather away and rot after contact with water — a key ingredient for life. It is also an excellent material for storing microbial fossils.”. “Clay is a good signpost towards evidence of life because it’s usually created when rocky minerals weather away and rot after contact with water — a key ingredient for life. It is also an excellent material for storing microbial fossils.”. Though Mars appears cold and dry now, this was likely not always the case. NASA has theorized that Mars may have once held active volcanoes, and flash floods. So though maybe not the best place for humans if there was water there, life was there. 

Now some may say that other planets are unable to support life because they don’t meet conditions needed for life. That Venus for instance could likely never hold life because of all the greenhouse gases. Earth is the only planet that can sustain life. And this may be true but even if not human life, if somewhere like Mars even once held life we have a new world of possibilities with modern technology. Just because we haven’t made such strides yet doesn’t mean we can’t in the future.

I do believe that there is life beyond Earth, just maybe in a different way than we may think. Mars has shown us incredible things and possibly past signs of life. If Mars even once held life we have made a huge stride. Still the search is not over and there is still so much to uncover.


Learning about hypothetical types of stars

In the universe there are many types of stars. They come in many sizes, temperatures, and colors, ranging from cooler, small M class (red) stars to large, hot O class (blue). The mass of a star is what determines its “life” cycle. Smaller stars tend to burn out silently while larger stars usually end in a supernova. However the stuff they leave behind can be quite interesting, and there are many hypothetical types of stellar remnants.

The first 2 types of stars are blue dwarves and black dwarves. These are the later stages of what happens to a red dwarf. According to Smithsonian Magazine “astronomers believe red dwarfs can last for trillions of years”. This means they can be almost as old as the universe itself (13.8 billion years) and still have a long way to go before becoming a blue dwarf, the hypothetical final stage of a red dwarf before it becomes a white dwarf. All smaller mass stars, meaning those not large enough to go supernova, are hypothesized to end up as a black dwarf once their white dwarf stage runs out of fuel.

The next type of star is a quark star. They are made entirely of either quark matter or strange matter. Quarks are what make up all the elements and come in 6 different types; up, down, charm, strange, top, and bottom. Quark stars are formed when a neutron star is put under enough pressure that the neutrons that make it up collapse into quarks. What sets them apart from regular neutron stars is that they behave as a fermi liquid and enter a color-flavor-locked state of color superconductivity, which is all very complicated stuff.

The last type of star is a white hole. They are the exact opposite of a black hole, ejecting matter rather than absorbing it. If you were to see one, it could be described as a “a video of a black hole played backwards”. They would hypothetically form after a black hole decays enough, releasing all information (meaning stuff that fell into it) that it gathered previously, but this process would take many trillions of years. Almost everything involving white holes is mysterious and complicated and as of yet they are a hypothetical object. 

Sources: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/four-types-stars-will-not-exist-billions-or-even-trillions-years-180971299/ 

https://global.jaxa.jp/article/interview/vol43/p2_e.html

https://www.space.com/39717-are-quark-stars-possible.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quark_star

https://www.space.com/white-holes.html


The Issue with NASA

I am passionate about this issue because I am very interested in space/space travel, and I feel that the importance of organizations such as NASA and SpaceX is often overlooked by the general public. Exploring space frontiers is a necessity for human progression, as it can help expand human knowledge about our surroundings and potentially create a “backup home” for humans during severe events such as the beginning of a nuclear war.
Before I started this project, I was aware about what NASA did but I did not fully understand the issues it had with funding. However, I was generally aware that most people didn’t understand the importance of NASA and so it wasn’t very well funded.
I now know that NASA receives approximately 0.5% of the national government funding, and that NASA’s progress is being hindered by two general ideas: presidents change every 4-8 years, and each president changes the goals and aims of various NASA projects; and people don’t fully recognize the importance of NASA as an organization, with very little focus on increasing their budgets.


Deadly Space Radiation

Radiation is everywhere! Lucky for us the Earth’s magnetic field protects people on the planet from this radiation by trapping the particles in radiation belts that surround the globe. These areas in space are called Van Allen belts and lie up to 36,000 miles from the Earth’s surface. In Earth’s orbit astronauts are protected but anything beyond they are at risk to these cancer-causing agents. Radiation is major roadblock especially for longer missions of prolonged space travel such as a mission to Mars. At this point it seems inevitable that humans travel to Mars and scientists are testing every aspect of the journey but unless we figure out how to deal with this radiation all of this preparation will be for nothing.

Astronauts have to content with two types of radiation. The first is composed of galactic cosmic rays, high-energy particles that travel close to the speed of light. These cosmic rays can damage human DNA, trigger mutations and change gene transcription. When gene transcription occurs the RNA produced carry imperfect instructions to the cells, long term these errors can become permanent mutations. Scientists at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine performed a study to find the effects radiation from a Mars mission might have on astronauts. They found Leukemia, a quickly developing form of cancer, would pose a major issue to the astronauts health during the two-year mission.

To prevent this form of radiation Scientists are looking to both internal and external means of protection. This same team states that a daily oral vitamin might be able to restore about 75 percent of the potential of the cells if given to them before the exposure to radiation. One problem they have run into during testing was that the pill isn’t absorbed well orally so they might have to find other ways to implement this. StemRad, an Israeli company specializes in radiation protection for nuclear workers, has designed a vest that will protect astronauts from space radiation. Organs, tissues, and stem cells are the most vulnerable parts of the body and they have created a test that is designed to specifically shield these areas. Spacesuits already seem to be very uncomfortable and clunky, I imagine a large protective vest on top of this worn around the clock would add be unfavorable. StemRad aims to tailor each vest to each astronaut for maximum flexibility to combat this issue. The company announced on March 3rd of 2017 that the vest will be on Exploration Mission-1, the unmanned test of NASA’s Orion scheduled for launch in 2019. Two dummies will fly aboard the capsule with only one wearing StemRad’s vest. On recovery, NASA will perform test on each dummy to determine the vests effectiveness.

There is also another type of radiation that will pose a risk to the astronauts and this is solar radiation. This form of radiation is emitted from the sun as energized particles. Unlike the cosmic rays, these particles are discharged from weather events such as solar flares and affect astronauts acutely short term damaging the central nervous system and resulting in impaired motor and cognitive function. As you can see this form of radiation compromises the mission as the astronauts would most likely die before reaching Mars. It seems the most likely way the astronauts will avoid this radiation is through radiation sensors that could warn them of solar flares about an hour before they reach them. With this warning system the astronauts could take shelter in the spacecrafts cargo area protecting them from the bulk of the radiation. Protecting astronauts from these forms of radiation should be the primary objective over the next few years to ensure a successful mission and hopes of Colonization.


Fossils on the Moon

With the list of unexplored places on Earth growing smaller and smaller everyday, the odds of us finding new evidence pointing to our planet’s origins decreases. Surprisingly we could look to the stars to learn more. The moon is lifeless, and probably always will be, however this very deadness makes it extremely important in our search for the origin of Earth. It is possible that the moon’s surface holds an unprecedented fossil record of life on Earth or from our surrounding planets. The oldest evidence of life on Earth dates back to 3.5 billion years ago. There is a major possibility that we could find evidence of life on the Moon coming from Earth dating back much further than this. Because the Moon has no atmosphere and no plate tectonics, anything that lands there stays in pristine condition. I, without a doubt, believe that there is some form of Earth material showing signs of life on the Moon.

The last time we visited the Moon was 1972. Now we are all very focused on our next major objective, Mars, but are we skipping over a key to our past? We have only visited a minuscule fraction of the Moon and we have already dismissed it as lifeless and dead. There is so much potential for what we could find if we go back.

Through the research of Luis and Walter Alvarez in the 1980s it was discovered that small bits of Earth and astroids are sprinkled around the Earth. After asteroid impacts, pieces of rock had been flung into space and melted on re-entry into the atmosphere creating tektites. The bits and pieces of crater and asteroid spread all over the world is a testament to the violence of the event and evidence that most of the ejected crust took to space and even circled the globe before finally falling back to Earth. Could these chunks of rock travel to the moon though? A Journal, Icarus, in 2002 said it could and that although most rock travels back down to Earth, an appreciable amount breaks free and fell onto other bodies in our solar system. This was proven when the meteorite ALH 84001 was discovered and believed to contain fossils of bacterial life from Mars. Although the bacteria part was wrong, this discovery did point to the fact that planetary rocks could routinely travel vast distances across the solar system. This also breathed life into the concept of panspermia which is the idea that microbes can travel from planet to plant on rock blasted into space by an impact.

A man named John Armstrong teamed up with Llyd Wells and Guillermo Gonzalez to begin serious work of calculating whether a impact on the Earth could send enough amounts of material to the moon. They decided that in order for this idea to be accepted they would need to figure out how big the impact would need to be to propel crust beyond our planets gravitational pull and they would need to see if the frequency of these events is enough for appreciable quantities of material to end up on the moon. Through their research they found that the asteroid would actually only need to be about 100 meters in diameter and leave a crater a kilometer across, this is relatively small as asteroids come in the past. It seems the rate of these types of impacts is roughly once every 100,000 years recently, and far more frequently in the distant past. Armstrong and his team calculated that a single impact of a 100 meter asteroid would deposit about 120 kilograms of fairly pristine Earth rock on each 100 square kilometers of the moon surface. Even with a conservative estimate, there could be up to a few million tons of Earth rock on the Moon. The material is there and waiting to be found, all we need to do is look for it.


E.T.

Certainly, if you ask me if there I believe in alien life beyond Earth, I would respond with yes.  The possibility of extraterrestrial life is very likely considering the vastness of our Galaxy.  The announcement that there is life somewhere other than Earth would be very exciting to me and I would react in a very positive way.  Obviously, I would have some apprehensions about alien invasion, but the positive effects of finding life would out weigh the bad.

On I survey I took on February 28, 2018, I randomly selected 30 of my classmates and asked them if they believed if there was life beyond Earth.  The results were surprising.  26% of the students did not believe that there is life somewhere other than Earth.  This was higher than I expected because I expected more optimism.  Although a higher a number of people said “no” than expected, 74% of student believe that there is a life form somewhere in the Galaxy.  Those who did believe in life beyond Earth also expressed how they thought there was a possibility of aliens or other humans. These results show how optimistic and hopeful our generation is about extraterrestrial life.

Knowing the results of my study, I think its important to look at the effects finding alien life would have on our society.  Looking for extraterrestrials benefits society with new intellectual, societal and political opportunities.  The search for life beyond Earth with astrobiology is a powerful educational opportunity.  It would provide an important understanding to the timeline of life in the vastness of time where space exploration complements the cosmic perspective.  Prussian naturalist, Alexander von Humboldt said, “the most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world”.  By broadening the mind with cosmic and evolutionary perspectives with astrobiology it may make the world less fragmented and dangerous.  Important political implication of exploring life beyond earth is that humans are intelligent technological species that dominate the only know inhabited plant in the universe. We then have the responsibility to develop and manage the world we find ourselves in.

The benefits seem mostly all good but how would humanity react to this discovery?  Psychologists collaborating with The Washington Post studied how media covers extraterrestrial discoveries. Analyzing fifteen articles, they found that the written content use words with a positive effect more frequently than negative ones. Even though these words do not reveal anything monumental, they made predictions on how humans will react to alien life.  It is reported that Americans would react positively is NASA announced the discovery of alien life tomorrow.  It is cautioned that the rest of the world might not reflect the same reactions as Americans. Past research on extraterrestrial civilizations suggest the Americans view aliens more in black and white, the discovery would be all good or all bad, not both. The residents of China, where they are able to see the risks and the benefits.

This research opened my eyes to effects alien life would have on humanity.  It started to make me think of how this would affect my life.  Would society accept this discovery?  Research says yes, but there would be few that do not take it positively and those people could possibly be my loved ones.  Everyone’s life would change to this news.  Would this polarize our already polarized country?  There are many scenarios that are plausible when extraterrestrial life is found but my hope is that it benefits and makes society stronger.


Is Space Exploration Worth The Cost Part 2

Americans have been worried about spending now that our national debt has gone $20 trillion deep and anything they don’t see as necessary they think we should cut. One of the most attacked topics because of this is space exploration.  Is it completely unnecessary though? Are there other areas of spending that should be worried about more? One thing we need to do to change this is educate the public more on our total spending and where it all goes. If people checked the statistics I can tell you there would be a very large change in opinion. The amount of money NASA receives alone may seem very large but compared to total spending and other fields, it is nothing. I can tell you now space exploration is something we need to keep and preserve for the future and generations to come.

Some argue that we are in an economic depression and spending money on space exploration is a waste but we can use the Great Depression as a good example. In the 1930’s we pumped money into infrastructure and technology (Roosevelt’s New Deal) and by the end of that decade we were the most powerful country in the world. Funding this kind of research boosts people’s moods and drives to work.

In the poll I conducted I asked 25 people the question: “Should we continue to fund space exploration?” The results I got were mixed. 15 of the 25 said yes, we should continue to fund it but 10 said no. I asked the ones who said no why and 7 of them said that it is an unnecessary spending in one way or another. A poll made in 2015 showed that 58% of Americans think that the U.S. needs to be the leader in space exploration. What Americans are not keen on is the cost. I think if they knew the real cost compared to other spending their mindset would change.

Much of the youth of today believe the only great change they can make will happen through online means or via the internet but the funding of space exploration can give these youth a different way to change and benefit the world. It keeps an option for kids to work and dream for. The unlimited unknown that is space provides unlimited dreams and aspiration for the younger population. Space also provides a way for people to do something great and leave their name in history forever.

SpaceX have emerged recently thanks to CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk. With his $20 billion fortune he has worked with space exploration and has pushed new limits. He is the first person to send a car into space and it is planned to pass Mars. While this seems useless the way that he accomplished this is revolutionary. He made the first “commercially reusable rocket”. This means that the rocket can go into space, do its mission, come back to Earth, land safely, refuel, and go back into orbit. This eliminates the huge cost of using a rocket once and having it plumet back to Earth and being trashed. It is also much safer if there is ever a human passenger in the rocket. Musk’s biggest goal is to colonize Mars and he believes he will be able to by the year 2025. While this goal seems very unrealistic, at the pace SpaceX is moving it may be possible.

Space exploration will always be a debated topic but the endless options of space leave an endless area for research and exploration. That is the beauty of space; the more we develop, the more we can find and grow. The outer area of space is untouched and unknown which means it could have things that Earth will run out of eventually. It could help future generations and change the human race forever.


Aliens and UFOs

Not everyone is optimistic about life beyond Earth.  Enrico Fermi is attributed to Fermi’s paradox which questions if there is alien life why haven’t they made contact with us if they are so advanced. A mealtime conversation in the 1950’s lead Enrico Fermi to realize that if there is extraterrestrial societies with an amount of rocket intelligence then the possibility for rapid colonization of the entire Galaxy is possible. This realization lead to the thought that within ten million years, every star system could have been colonized and compared to the age of the Galaxy that is nothing and should of happened. Certainly, the Milky Way would have been the first stop on the way or even a test run.  Fermi looked around and asked the obvious question, “where is everybody?”

There isn’t a clear indication that aliens are in our presence.  Aliens have had more than enough time to grace us with their presence so do extraterrestrials really exist.  There may be no extraterrestrials anywhere in the vast Galaxy. This could be a conclusion by a small observation but there must be a way to account for the evident loneliness we experience here on Earth.  Fermi Paradox is a strong argument because the Galaxy is ancient. You can question if the speed of the alien aircraft will be fast enough to move throughout space and colonize. You can argue how long it would take to colonize a star and move on to the next one. You can ponder any possibility but it doesn’t matter because any reasonable assumption of how fast it takes to colonize would be profoundly shorter than the age of the Galaxy.  Some think there is no paradox at all and the reason we don’t see any evidence of extraterrestrials is because there aren’t any at all.  Why does the cosmos look so untouched and unconquered? What is keeping advanced extraterrestrials from claiming every star system in sight?

Some researchers suggest that the Galaxy is colonized, but we just don’t notice.Truly advanced engineering projects would be indistinguishable from magic. Perhaps the evidence of alien presence is so beyond us that we simply don’t recognize it.  Another thought is that the aliens find Earth an interesting nature park, and have arranged matters so that, while they can observe us, we can’t observe them. The idea that we may be some aliens’ high-tech ecological exhibit is called the “zoo hypothesis.”  A resolution to the Fermi Paradox is and idea that we are an exhibit to alien tourists where they observe us. Yet, there is no evidence to this “zoo hypothesis,” some people argue that aliens are closer than you think.  

Researchers from SETI say, “Many thousands of sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) are reported each year, and polls show that one-third to one-half of the population believes that at least some of these aerial apparitions are alien spacecraft.” This would resolve the Fermi Paradox.  Scientists do not think this is a prevalent idea like the public but researchers are trying to collect better evidence.  People have claimed to see ghosts and there are many stories of those accounts.  These stories aren’t exactly convincing and you don’t read about them in scholarly journals.  Until better evidence, scientists are in favor of accepting that the Fermi Paradox can be resolved by UFOs.  Perhaps the universe is teeming with societies so subtle we can’t prove their presence. Or haven’t yet. On the other hand, maybe we’re alone.


The Benefits of Funding Space Exploration

Our national debt has just risen past 20 trillion and people are finding any way to bring this down. One of the arguments is to lower or completely stop funding space exploration, but would this be worth or contribute a significant amount? Space exploration can only benefit us at this point and I’ll tell you why.

Much of the space budget is spent on salaries that are used to stimulate the economy. Much of the money funded is given back and used for good. Many of the inventions created for space travel have become commercial use over the years. These include the iPhone camera, CAT scans, LEDs, landmine removal, athletic shoes, water purification systems, dust busters, the jaws of life, wireless headphones, baby formula, artificial limbs, portable computers, and much much more.

Space exploration is also good because it provide knowledge for asteroids. While the chance of Earth getting hit by one is slim, it is still possible. The more we monitor and explore space, the more we can prevent these threats. With this knowledge, we have found an asteroid know as Apophis that is suspected to miss Earth by 18,600 miles. This may seem far away but to put it into perspective, the moon is 238,900 miles away. Scientists believe that since this asteroid is getting so close it may alter its orbit and collide with Earth in the future. The impact would be 65,000 times as strong as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Now that we know about this and the more we develop the space program the more of a chance we have to stop it.

Space harbors a plentiful amount of raw materials that we will need in the near future. In the cosmos there is gold, platinum, silver, and much more. If we venture more into space, we could gain these and continue to get more after Earth is ran dry. The moon potentially has a very large amount of helium-3 which is very vital resource for MRI’s and could be used to fuel power plants. Scientists also believe that the moon could have europium and tantalium which is rare on Earth and is used in many electronics such as solar panels.  

Working on space projects with other nations provides a good common ground. This collaboration results in peace and alliances. Space exploration really helped in this area after the bumpy relationship in the years between 1957 and 1991. Between these years there was a rare and unexpected cooperation during the Cold War with the docking in orbit in July of 1975. This cooled the tension between us and might have stopped something terrible from happening.

The effectiveness of communication has increased the more we have worked on space exploration. In the 1960’s companies like AT&T and RCA partnered with NASA to place satellites in Earth’s orbit. Global positioning systems, television, and radio stations are all dependent on satellites.

While our defense is important, I think we spend too much on it. In 2012 NASA was allocated $18.7 billion while the department of defense was allocated $670 billion. In 2010 Obama stated “For pennies on the dollar, the space program has improved our lives, advanced our society, and inspired generations of Americans”

Space travel has had very few casualties and is only a fraction of the national spending. Space travel has only really improved lives for many people. The more we explore the space the better it can get and the possibilities are endless. The future holds many new innovative inventions that will aid everyone. Who knows, maybe one day we will all be living on Mars or a newly discovered planet. The future is unknowns but the past is proof that we will improve.


Space Exploration Is Worth The Cost

The first object ever launched into space was by the Soviet Union in 1957. While it was only an artificial satellite it was the start of something huge. Not too long after this the Space Race started and the speed that we developed was incredible. The thing Americans started noticing was the amount spent do this. Are we spending too much on space exploration? No, and I’ll tell you why.

As humans we strive to know as much as we can. We can not put a price on knowledge and the more we know the more we can help others. We work to find what we don’t know out there and if we do find anything useful for the population it will all be worth it. NASA and space exploration causes great economic stimulation. The supplies and staff needed to build and manage these great machines is very large. It offers a great amount of jobs and helps the people. At this point in time, anything that can stimulate the economy helps.

If we don’t go further into research and exploration about space, other countries will. Ever since the Space Race it has been very competitive to have the edge of space control or advancements. Human nature is to want to know more. If the US doesn’t strive towards greater heights, others will and then the US will lose its competitive edge. If we ever do get into a war in the future, which seems somewhat possible with our government, we need to have the upper hand. We are expanding fast and soon the Earth will not be big enough for us. We need to start thinking ahead for a new home in the future. We will be capable someday we just need to find places. If we are able to inhabit another planet it will be a huge advancement and can assist in controlling crime, environmental issues, and much more.

NASA has made huge technological advancements that have become an integral part of things we use everyday. These items include the MRI machine and the Reusable Rocket Motor that is used in the military. We wouldn’t have satellite TV, internet, and many other things you take for granite. Scientific advancements that are discovered through space research can be very helpful for everyday life. Without space exploration we would not have weather technology to find and predict horrible disasters. People argue that space exploration has resulted in unwarranted deaths but without the advancements we have made through these missions, we would have many more deaths.

On the argument of it being too expensive, NASA’s spending is only a fraction of federal spending. NASA’s budget is 19.3 billion out of the 3.95 trillion of federal spending. Space exploration is 0.5% of the total spending. We should be focused more on the extra spending on other things such as military and defense. This 0.5% includes environmental monitoring and more. If you looked at NASA’s spending alone it would be 1.63 billion as of 2016 or 0.04% of the total federal budget.

Overall our want for knowledge and exploration can really only benefit us. The spending from all of the efforts put forth is not even a percent. The discoveries and inventions made are incredible and have changed so many lives. Space exploration is also something for the people. The idea of space and the unknown intrigues people. As long as we are working towards it and making improvements the population will remain entertained. In conclusion, there are bigger issues to worry about than the vital idea of space exploration. It does not affect the people negatively and could only help the more we explore. If we continue space exploration, it will only benefit us.


To Infinity and Beyond

People have been contemplating extraterrestrial life long before I have.  The ancient Greek considered the possibility of civilizations in our infinite universe. Later, Copernicus’ model opened that door to extraterrestrial babble.  During the space age in the 1950’s, the question of alien life became more popular as the Russians sent satellites into Earth’s orbit. We sent machines farther than we imagined, leading us to question if life had taken root somewhere unimaginable and evolved. The search for extraterrestrial life was born and the world has never been the same.

There is evidence for the possibility of extraterrestrial life beyond Earth.  An analysis drawn in 2005 by a telephone survey conducted by the National Geographic Channel, SETI, and the University of Connecticut found that majority of Americans expressed that they believed there is life on other planets in the universe besides earth. This whopping sixty percent was in favor of the possibility of extraterrestrial life.  The study identified two factors that influence people’s attitudes: education and religion.  Americans who are more religious, measured by service attendance, are more likely to reject the idea of life on other planets.  This may be because of the notion that Earth is a single spot where God focused and created life.  College educated samples were confident in the discovery of life beyond Earth than the less educated samples because of their ability to question beyond.  

Majority of Americans support this idea of extraterrestrial life and a group of scientists have dedicated their work to support the evidence that there is some sort of life form on a planet that is other than Earth.  Search for Extraterrestrial Life enterprise, ETI, is continuing to look for life by scanning the galaxy for electromagnetic transmissions from extraterrestrial civilizations.  By sending these electromagnetic transmissions it opens up possible communication if we find something.  Finding them seems like the easy part, communicating with them in a way that we both understand may be impossible. The comparison between modern humans and the Neanderthals is the best analogy between us and aliens. Their language could be highly complex or extremely simple, there is no way to gauge what their language will consist of.

We may not be the only ones in our universe that are discussing the exploration of intelligence outside our planet. It is easily debatable by some scientists that this discovery could be the most important event in human history.  In an article I read and annotated “Contemplating extraterrestrial civilizations,” the importance of this discovery surpasses anyone that is yet to come, “By inference, it would demonstrate that an advanced civilization was able to work through the myriad of problems associated with advanced societies, including global warming, pandemics, overpopulation, and nuclear proliferation. Furthermore, if a civilization can surmount these problems, presumably, its technology will continue to advance, in which case some form of interstellar travel could someday be possible.”

New civilizations seem like a back up plan if things do not work out here on Earth.  New discoveries point to extremophiles, organisms that can live in severe environments, that could support life somewhere in the universe and not be negatively affected by threatening low and high temperatures of other planets.  This tells us that if extremophiles exist on earth it is very likely there is something very similar out there in the cosmos.  Extremephiles can exist anywhere but not without water.  Water is a crucial factor to give rise to new life or sustain life on another planet. Water is a fluid environment that dissolves organic molecules so compounds can enter and leave cells, necessary to maintain life. Also, water remains fluid in a variety of temperatures rather than the alternatives, leading water to be more likely found and sustained in other worlds.  Who knew how far we’d come in search of life beyond earth and hopefully one day it will happen.


Are We Alone In the Universe? Continued.

At the beginning of time we believed that we were blessed beings and the only life was on Earth. As time has progressed, people began to challenge this belief and question if there is life on other planets. These people were usually exiled and ignored. Even with all of the scientific advancements we have made throughout the years, we haven’t found any other life. This doesn’t mean there isn’t other life out there though. We have only personally visited the moon and sent a rover to Mars. Although we have high powered telescopes and other technology, that isn’t always enough to search a planet completely. All of this research is only inside our galaxy as well. We haven’t been able to search outside the Milky Way galaxy.

On the side of the argument that we are the only life in the universe, we have never seen any other life even after thousands of scientific advancements countless years of exploration. Many scientists state that we should believe in facts and not hopes. We should rely on what we know and not what we think we know. They also state that life doesn’t sprout and come up randomly with Earth being a very rare acception. If there was older life out there, we would think that they would have made scientific inventions advanced enough to make contact with Earth. Through our discoveries throughout the year we have found that Earth is very unique in its capability of life. Other planets are very gaseous and incapable of any life close to human life.

On the other side of the argument, that there is other life out there or that there is a possibility of life coming to existence off of Earth, is one that picked up traction later into history. After people finally opened up their minds to the possibility of humans and Earth not being the focus of the entire universe, ideas and thoughts of life outside of our planet began to spread.  Scientific research from 2013 announced that the Milky Way may harbor billions of planets that have liquid on them. This shows that there might be billions of planets just in our galaxy capable of life. This is just in one galaxy of an uncountable number of them. This could make someone feel very small if they believe this. If a person thinks that we are the only life, it makes you feel very big.

Our perspective on who we are and how much we matter is based largely on our beliefs. If you think we are alone, you feel big but if you think we are one of many, it makes you feel very small. We have absolutely no evidence that there is other life out there but at the same time, we have no reason to think that we aren’t alone since we have never proven we aren’t. Personally I believe that their is. This universe has proved us wrong so many times and there seems to be a smaller chance that there is not life with so many planets in the entire universe. Obviously we won’t know until we search them all but I believe there is much more life out there.


The Hunt For Life Beyond Earth

The sky twinkles on a starry night, filling the pure darkness with tiny specks of light, looking up I wonder, “Is there life beyond Earth?”  Millions of miles away huge gas stars burn and even bigger planets rotate the sun just like ours.  We are bothered with this concept as Earth is constantly rotating around the sun and as soon as the sun sets the stars naturally appear.  What’s out there, there has to be more, right? Our galaxy is so vast and that vastness is accompanied by billions of other galaxies in our universe, there has to be some form of life out there.  In other words, there are more galaxies in our universe than there are grains of sand on our beaches. That gives you something to think about and I have been thinking of the possibility that something is out there.

Astrobiology is a new field of science that is concerned with the possibility of existing life beyond Earth.  In an article I annotated “Signs of Alien Life Will Be Found By 2025,” NASA scientist think we are on the verge of finding something out. Within the next twenty to thirty years, NASA predicts that we are going to have a definite answer as to if there is life beyond Earth.  Also, scientist have been looking at the broader Milky Way suggesting that there may be many habitable environments that can sustain life. There are many components needed to sustain life and one of them is water. There needs to be some source of water and there is research that water is common throughout our solar system.  The Hunt For Life Beyond Earth suggests that there once was water, now frozen, on Mars.  Before Mars’ environmental catastrophe, there might have been life even before Earth was around. Ancient Mars could have been a planet to help sustain life. This proof gives us hope that like Earth and Mars, there could be an environment that supports life just like ours.

Looking beyond our solar system, astronomers have now discovered over four hundred planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy. In general, the exoplanets detected are supermassive and hugging tight  orbits around  their  sun. This  is  simply  because  the  effects  of  big  planets  orbiting close to a star are easiest to spot.  Their hot, expansive atmospheres are not the sort of place for life to begin, but over time we have been finding more and more Earth- like worlds. The expectation is that within the next few years we will discover a true Earth twin. The next step will be trying to work out what this new world is like.  So, what did you think, is there a possibility of life beyond Earth?

 


When will the human race come to an end? Argumentative Research Topic

Us humans have been around for along time, but at the rate we’re going right now, we might not be around much longer. Due to factors such as pollution, lack of resources, and sheer overpopulation, the future isn’t looking all to bright for humans right now. In an article by CNBC, world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking claimed that, ” the human race only has 100 years before we need to colonize another planet” or else we will be doomed as a species. Similar to these, I found more articles from Gizmodo and The Washington Post that further support these claims, saying that our best hope is find a way to colonize other planets before we exhaust our resources here on Earth. Possible ways that our species will end such as asteroid strikes, deadly diseases, and famine are all speculated upon within these pieces. Any feedback or additional sources would be very helpful to continue on with my essay, and I’d appreciate it very much. I will post the link to my annotated article below.

CNBC hypothesis annotations: https://hypothes.is/users/billyriley5


Trumps shift from Mars to the Moon

Recently the our president Donald Trump has declared that he plans to shift NASA’s direct focus from Mars back to the Moon. These last several years Obama set the focus of NASA on reaching Mars. This looked like the next step for humanity and has even started a new space race. Some independent companies, most widely known being spaceX led by Elon Musk has made plans of colonizing Mars by 2022 and recently Boeing also joined the race. This change in plans will lead to NASA withdrawing from this race for the time being. This could potentially be devastating for our budget and completely change what seemed like the future of humanity. Colonizing Mars was always a dream and out of this world idea but as of late this idea became close to a reality, this may change that. On the other side, if you dig deeper this may have been a smart move from Trump, further research is needed.

One major issue NASA has faced in the last several presidencies is that with each new president there comes a new plan for space exploration which doesn’t allow the previous mission to be completed. This first occurred with Bush setting sights on the Moon once again, however this quickly changed when Obama came into presidency announcing we would reach for Mars. Now the agenda has once again changed back to the Moon. This impedes our productivity and makes it nearly impossible to actually make reasonable progress. In a great site I found explaining this to me, previous astronaut, Scott Kelly, says, “We’re always asked to change directions every time we get a new president, and that just causes you to do negative work, work that doesn’t matter….I just hope someday we’ll have a president that will say, ‘You know what, we’ll just leave Nasa on the course they are on, and see what Nasa can achieve if we untie their hands.’” Scott Hubbard, a former director of Nasa Ames Research Center says, “Please don’t push the reset button again, because you’re just going to waste billions of dollars of previous investment.” To think that the progress of technology and exploration of space is being impeded by a few men too stubborn to let their predecessors be successful is truly sad.

When taking a deeper look into these plans, there may great potential for this new agenda. Nothing has been confirmed yet but we imagine the shift in focus onto the moon would mean perhaps building an ISS in the moon’s orbit or even building a moon base. Traveling to Mars is a huge leap and it is great idea to use the moon as a great stepping stone. There is a lot we do not know about how people and life in general will fair away from our planet. The change in gravity and radiation could create long term issues that we have no clue about. Travelling to the Moon first would help us understand how our bodies and other forms of life might react to such dramatic changes. Partially colonizing the Moon could be an extremely helpful tool in eventually colonizing Mars. Although as it was pointed out earlier that this could throw billions down the drain, the rocket being built for Mars could also be used to travel to the Moon and many other technologies being built wouldn’t so much be wasted but delayed for future use. These plans have been criticized heavily but I remain on the fence on whether or not this will be productive and efficient in our exploration of space.

 


Fighting for Minority Equality Through the Aerospace Field

America, the land of equality and opportunity for all. Equality for everyone hasn’t existed for long and is still being fought for to this day. Voting and citizenship rights for women and racial minorities were not granted at the founding of this country, but had to be amended to the Constitution much later. Even after minorities had the right to vote guaranteed by the Constitution, they were still treated as second class citizens for multiple decades, and still not treated as they should be. Minorities are still being underestimated and discriminated against, but with hard work and dedication, we have been making progress to change this.

The story of Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly tells the story of three extremely bright young African American women who work for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which later became the National Aeronautics and Space Association (NASA) post World War II. These three women started off as human computers, people who ran the numbers for engineers, and advanced to become engineers, supervisors and programmers. Their story shows the hardship of a nation segregated by race, both by culture and law. They, along with their other female African American coworkers, fought against the racial injustices they faced relentlessly at the lab. By taking small steps every day, the separation between whites and Blacks at the Langley lab started to slowly fade. Eventually, Katherine Johnson, an African American computer, became an engineer in the Space Task Force, one of the most important and prestigious groups during the time. With the Jim Crow Laws in place in Virginia at the time, this was a major advancement for African Americans everywhere, showing the country and the world that Blacks were as smart as whites and just as qualified to work at NASA. They proved it by putting a man on the moon. Astronaut John Glenn asked specifically for Katherine Johnson to run his re entry point numbers.

NASA has had many women pioneers in the aeronautics and space world. According to Atkinson, these three women were hardly the first to break the gender barrier. Pearl Young was the first women to work at Langley. She started working at the NACA as an engineer in 1922 and eventually made her way all the way up to Chief Technical Editor at the NACA. By women fighting for equality from the 30s to the 60s, many women now serve at NASA in all departments and in all aspects. There are many women currently serving in executive positions at NASA including, “Lesa Roe, who has served as NASA Langley’s center director and is currently detailed as a deputy associate administrator for the agency; Ellen Stofan, who serves as chief scientist; and Elizabeth Robinson, who serves as chief financial officer” (Atkinson). At NASA and in many other technical institutions, throughout the 20th century women advanced from being computers, to programmers and engineers. Now, women are starting to become more involved in the STEM fields because of the groundwork laid in the past. This shows that with many years of persistence and hard work, anything is possible.

Since America started sending people into space in 1961, there have been 14 African American astronauts who have made it into space, two of which have been women (List of African-American). The International Space Station (ISS) had its first manned crew in the year 2000, with one American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts. Since then, many African Americans have been sent into space, but none have ever been stationed on the ISS as a crew member for a mission. In May of 2018, for the first time in ISS history there will be an African American crewmate, astronaut Jeanette Epps. According to Workneh, Epps will be joining astronaut Andrew Feustel for Expeditions 56 and 57. This is a significant milestone, the first Black astronaut representing America on the ISS for all the world to see. Since 2000, America has been sending astronauts to the ISS, all but a few members have been white.

Over the years, America has become more accepting to diversity and equality. As a nation, we are nowhere near perfect when it comes to minority equality, but we have made significant improvement each decade.

 

Sources-

Atkinson, Joe. “From Computers to Leaders: Women at NASA Langley.” NASA, NASA, 24 Aug. 2015, www.nasa.gov/larc/from-computers-to-leaders-women-at-nasa-langley.

“List of African-American Astronauts.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Aug. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_African-American_astronauts.

Shetterly, Margot Lee. Hidden Figures: the Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race. William Morrow, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2017.

Workneh, Lilly. “First African-American Crewmember To Join The International Space Station.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 9 Jan. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/first-african-american-astronaut-to-board-international-space-station_us_586fd5b1e4b02b5f85889969.


Is Time Travel Possible?

s time travel possible? This is one of the questions that we have all thought of at one point. There has been many movies and books based upon this idea. When you get into this question, many other questions arise: If I went into the past would I affect the future?, Would I see myself if I went into the past?, If I went into the past and stopped my mom and dad from meeting would I be alive, and if so how would I stop them from meeting? Once you get unto the subject, the possibilities are endless but is it even possible in the first place? Through my research on Spaceplace, I found a few things out. Special relativity says that when your speed relative to other objects is close to the speed of light, time goes slower for you than the people not going near the speed of light. This isn’t something you would feel or recognize until you went back and met them. One example I got from this website was if you left earth at the age of fifteen and were traveling very close to the speed of light for five years, when you returned to earth, your friends that were 15 would then be around 65. This shows that time travel is possible but you would need to be traveling extremely fast, most likely in space, for a very long time. One day we may be able to perfect time travel and have it available here on Earth. This seem very interesting and exciting but it may end poorly if it is used by the wrong person.


Hard Work is the Key to Success

Throughout the history of America, there have been a countless number of incredible Americans. Through American beliefs, ideals, and governing these people have changed the world for the better. Things like the internet, airplanes, nuclear power, etc., would not exist if it was not for America (Dan).  To each of the amazing Americans who changed the face of the world the American dream has meant something a little different. To some the difference in their American dream was minute. However, for many, the difference was undoubtedly huge. Sherman Alexie, who wrote Superman and Me, and is now a successful author and Dorothy Vaughan, an incredibly talented African American mathematician, Dorothy was the star of Hidden Figures, and helped send America to space, no doubt had very different definitions of the American dream.

However, there is one linking factor between all of these great Americans and that’s their hard working, “never give up”  attitudes. Every single incredibly successful and influential American has one thing in common, and that’s their ability to put in great amounts of hard work. Without his hard work and great amount of reading Sherman Alexie might have just ended up another minimum wage American nobody (Alexie). Dorothy Vaughan had to prove everyday that she was worthy of keeping her job at NACA (now modern day NASA). Dorothy often put in 18-hour workdays in order to stay caught up and prove she was just as worthy as her white counterparts (Shetterly).

The beauty of the American dream, is that it does not matter if you’re a poor Indian from a reservation in middle of nowhere Washington (Alexie). It does not even matter if you’re a brilliant African American female mathematician trying to succeed in a field that is dominated by white males during the Civil Rights Era (Shetterly). If you can get down, roll up your sleeves, ignore those telling you “you’re not good enough” or “your kind isn’t welcome here”, You will succeed.

The opportunities offered in America will take you farther than you can imagine. Sure, if you’re born into a rich, successful family, will life be easier for you? Absolutely. However, even if you don’t have a family and are born on the streets. If you can get your hands a little dirty and grit your teeth, then you can be anyone you want to be, and do anything you want to do. That is the American Dream.

 

Works Cited

Dan, Major. “10 Great American Achievements.” History and Headlines. History and

               Headlines, n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2017.

 

Alexie, Sherman. “Superman and Me.” LA Times. La Times, 1998. Web. 3 Oct. 2017                                                                                                                                           

Women Who Helped Win the Space Race. London: William Morrow, an Imprint of

              HarperCollins, 2017. Print.

Image credit: NASA


Are We Alone in the Universe?

One of the questions our world has been working to answer for many years is what if there was life outside of Earth. This has been one of my biggest interests and something I have been thinking about a lot recently. We have grown in our world for many many years but what if there is other life out there that is ahead of us, behind us, or with us? Air Space Magazine talks about the chances that we are the only advanced species in the universe. They say the odds are 1 in six billion. Something I wonder is that if the odds are that high of there being other intelligent life why have we not found it. Obviously we have explored a ridiculously small fraction of the universe but is there something that could be living close to us that we don’t know about? Science Magazine talks about how they did research and discovered that almost every sun has a planet. This gives the option that there might be life on all of those in the organisms can withstand the conditions. The question that boggles my mind most is the thought of another planet that is almost exactly like us but they have minor differences on how they eat, walk, breath, or live.


Private Space Travel

The ability for private companies to participate in space travel is essential to the exploration of the Fermi Paradox. On EBSCO, I found an article that explains how private companies get authorization for space travel. What I found is that they must have a very explicit goal and strategy to obtain this goal, once they show all the math to the board, the board then decides whether its beneficial and safe for they company to take part in space travel. What this means for the fermi paradox is that the board might not agree with exploration into the proving of a topic like this.

 

http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=19&sid=670fef09-0c2a-445e-a7ff-8488c568f31c%40sessionmgr4009&hid=4207&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=115920104&db=aph


The Fermi Paradox and What it Means For Us Today

The Fermi Paradox stems from the simple insight that for every grain of sand on Earth there is 100 habitable, earth like planets in our universe- a total of 100 billion earth-like planets. Let’s imagine that after billions of years in existence, 1% of Earth-like planets develop life (if that’s true, every grain of sand would represent one planet with life on it). And imagine that on 1% of those planets, the life advances to an intelligent level like it did here on Earth. That would mean there were 10 quadrillion, or 10 million billion intelligent civilizations in the observable universe. Moving back to just our galaxy, and doing the same math on the lowest estimate for stars in the Milky Way (100 billion), we’d estimate that there are 1 billion Earth-like planets and 100,000 intelligent civilizations in our galaxy alone.

Those calculations are what brings this paradox to question, why haven’t we heard from, or encountered any forms of alien life, and more importantly, what does this mean for our civilization as a whole? These questions are obviously intriguing, and have an infinite number of solutions, all of which are merely hypothetical.

For that reason, I chose this topic as the topic I’d like to research for the next six weeks. I will be attempting to provide philosophical proofs to unorthodox ways of looking at this paradox, and I hope to come out of this paper with new insights into the expanse (or barrier) into the study and exploration of our cosmos.


What’s Out There: Pros or Cons?

Lately my research has been centered around the question: should we support the government in funding a space program?  I have found that this question is a lot more complex than I initially thought.  For example, putting money into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) programs can affect the national economy in a big way.  We have to ask ourselves is the possible effects on the economy worth having a space program, but before we even ask that we have to know whether or not the effects will be good or bad.  I still believe that the United States Government should support the space program by funding NASA, however, I am curious about what the right mix of funding is.  How much money should NASA get each year?  That is a question that I do not think can be answered unless we, as a nation, decide to experiment.  

I have also been coming to the conclusion that a lot of people do not understand the possible benefits the space program has to offer, not only Americans, but even all humans.  Now, I do want to say that the possibility of benefitting people through NASA projects and programs, is just that, a possibility.  There is no way to find what will come of the space program without some trial.  I think that this trial of new things is pretty scary to a lot of people, just because it is so unknown and it means possible change.  I do not think people necessarily handle change or the unknown so well.  So I guess what I am really saying is that those who are arguing to fund a space program are going to have an uphill battle ahead for the long haul.  

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s programs are not cheap.  Depending on how you look at it though, the U.S. government is not poor, at least they are not in my personal opinion.  When I started researching this topic I was absolutely for increased funding for NASA.  I still am in support of it, but I think I understand a lot more about why people do not support NASA.  Unfortunately, I do not have the answer to the question of whether or not we should fund a space program.  If there is a compromise where both sides in the argument can be satisfied I think it would be very popular, but it seems that a lot of people do not, or do not want to, understand what is really at stake.  That is where I want to direct my attention now.  What do we have to gain?  What do we have to lose?    


The Moon and It’s Slow Disappearance

Having curiosity of how the world would belike  if the moon disappeared, I read various articles about moon disappearance-some hypothetical and probable theories that could happen based on current events.  Dr. Maggie Aderon-Pocock wrote in a BBC article  “The Moon continues to spin away from the Earth, at the rate of 3.78cm (1.48in) per year, at about the same speed at which our fingernails grow.   Without the Moon, the Earth could slow down enough to become unstable, but this would take billions of years and it may never happen at all.  The migration of the Moon away from the Earth is mainly due to the action of the Earth’s tides”.   Without the moon, We would have less substantial high and low tides without the Moon. However, there would still be tides, because the Sun also has a tidal effect, although it only amounts to about half that of the Moon, explains Kaare Aksnes, professor emeritus at the Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Oslo, in addition this we would have shorter work days and the Earth’s axis will tilt rearranging the Earth so that the Congo would end up at the North Pole.

 

https://www.spaceanswers.com/solar-system/what-would-happen-if-we-blew-up-the-moon/http://sciencenordic.com/what-would-we-do-without-moonhttp://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2013/08/08/the-top-5-things-wed-miss-if-we-didnt-have-a-moon/http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-12311119

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