From Star Trek to Star Wars, we have all thought about what it would be like to travel in space-to live on a planet besides Earth. From travelling to different galaxies in the matter of minutes to being able to go into cryosleep so we can hit interstellar travel without aging. It's such an intriguing topic.
But let's get serious we all know that it's practically impossible for us to be able to accomplish these things, but it still doesn't mean we can't travel across space and colonize on a different planet(that's close enough to us of course).
Hazards, Costs, Benefits
- Let's begin with the most simple part of this topic. Hazards, we all know that there are many hazards in space that can kill you. The first one is space junk/debris(scattered pieces of waste or remains). Space debris can literally be anything, from a lego piece, a metal pole right up to a fully-sized satellite. Over 2000 satellites have been launched into space.The first satellite to be launched into space and orbit the Earth was the Sputnik which was launched into in 1957. But unlike Sputnik, which did return to Earth after re-entering the atmosphere after three months in orbit, there are some satellites that have not come back, such as the US Vanguard 1 satellite which is the oldest satellite still orbiting in Earth’s low orbit after its launch in 1958(Vanguard 1 was the fourth Earth orbital satellite launched, it was the first satellite to be solar powered, we had lost communication with in 1964 and it is the oldest in orbit to this day). According to Nasa, there are about 20, 000 pieces of space debris bigger than 4 inches and about 500, 000 between 1cm and 10cm and millions smaller than 1cm in Earth's orbit. These debris are floating at roughly 4 miles per second (6.6 km/s), which can turn a tiny fleck of paint into the equivalent of a pound coin hurtling at a speed of 60 mph (100 km/h).
- But let's not forget natural space debris including meteoroids and micro meteoroids. Meteoroids are pieces of rock and metal floating through space which are often left over pieces of rock from the formation of the Solar System. Micro meteoroids are basically just smaller pieces of meteoroids, they usually weigh up less than or up to a gram.
- Radiation and Cosmic Rays: On Earth we are protected by the planet’s natural radiation shield, according to armaghplanet.com the magnetic field that surrounds our world which blocks out 99.9 percent of the harmful radiation from the sun and deep space. We obviously know that radiation is not healthy for humans. In space radiation is in the form of subatomic particles(a particle smaller than an atom (e.g., a neutron) or a cluster of such particles). Which comes from the Sun and further out in the Universe including the Milky Way. Health effects can include cancer and other diseases.
- On Earth we are exposed to roughly 3 millisieverts(the average accumulated background radiation dose to an individual for 1 year)of radiation per year. According to Nasa astronauts are exposed to approximately 50-2,000 millisieverts during a six month mission to the International Space Station.
The International Space Station
- Launch and reentry: A lot of rocket fuel for reaction mass and energy is required to attain even a low Earth orbit. The spacecraft needs to get up to at least 7 miles per second or 25 000 miles per hour if not it could be disastrous. For instance the Challenger disaster of 1986 when a Space Shuttle blew apart 73 seconds into its launch costing the lives of all seven members of its crew. The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster was a space shuttle consisting of 7 members(5 Nasa astronauts and 2 payload specialists), the shuttle disintegrated 73 seconds into it's launch, which was caused by a O-ring seal(It is a mechanical gasket, "which is designed to be seated in a groove and compressed during assembly between two or more parts, creating a seal at the interface)." in its right solid rocket booster failed at liftoff.
Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
- The friction of air on the rocket would cause the rocket to burn up and be destroyed, so spacecrafts have been designed to allow them to re-enter the atmosphere slowly by gradually circling downward. Not always has it works, for instance the Columbia space shuttle disintegrated upon its return to Earth in 2003 after a part of the Orbiter’s wing was damaged on launch. The vehicle’s thermal protection system which shields the shuttle from the massive amounts of heat, was affected and then resulted in the crash which then also resulted in a further seven astronauts deaths.
Columbia Space Shuttle disaster
- Moon dust: The Moon, has no liquid water so the dust on the Moon’s parched plains has the consistency of flour (which allowed footprints to be made). This powder is known as Moon Dust and can stick to basically everything touches and can come into and block creases and seams of a space suit. This dust is made of tiny jagged grains, kind of like like sand paper. Breathing it in could be like a million tiny daggers, which can eventually damage your lungs. For instance Apollo 17’s crew in 1972. Jack Schmitt and Eugene Cernan forgot to brush the dust off their boots before re-entering their space capsule. They knew how annoying this dust could be throughout their mission as it clogged up their suits and they then were stuck with it on their journey home. The dust was immediately airborne and Schmitt soon complained of congestion and lunar hay fever(hay fever but with moon dust). Thankfully the amount was too small, so they were fine in the end, but a larger amount can be fatal. Also moon dust is abrasive and can rip through friction. It can climb up at excelling speeds and if you get hit, well let’s just say game over.
- Drifting away or getting lost: Probably one of the most obvious one but yes drifting away or getting lost in space, being stuck in space without anyone by yourself floating around contemplating about your life's choices would probably be devastating and fatal. As it usually takes some time for space stations to send rescue parties but how would you even call them in the first place, but either way you would have probably drifted away, far too far for the rescue team to get there. Plus space junk/trash could hit and or either damage your suit(DEAD) or injure you(probably also Dead).
- Damaged Space Suit: A space suit regulates an astronauts body temperature to keep out the hot and cold temperatures outside, and even the astronaut’s own body heat building up inside it, the suit uses insulation and a cooling system. "Near Earth space itself is about -180˚C"(Very cold). But when in a direct line from the Sun it is an about 115˚C(Very hot). If there is a problem in the space suit's’ system or a tear from the suit, things could go fatally wrong."An average lifespan for a tank of oxygen is between 6 – 8 hours."
Why even is this important?
Well for starters if we know the dangers of space we can be able to avoid and or overcome such obstacles. If we know the dangers we can prevent and reduce injuries and fatalities. Knowing the dangers can help scientists, astronauts, etc research better and bring more knowledge in the long run, the reason of which is because with the dangers scientists, astronauts, etc can see the effects of such dangers to us, our planet, the solar system, etc, or ways to prevent those dangers from affecting us and the planet/solar system/etc. Also I mean if your heading up into space i'm pretty sure you wouldn't want to be injured, or most definitely DEAD. Also you wouldn't want any setbacks to your mission or job.
- Space Shuttles cost about $196 billion and $50 billion for the space station. "NASA's total inflation-adjusted costs have been more than $900 billion since its creation in 1958 through 2014 (more than $16 billion per year)".
- “In 2005 NASA had a budget of $16.2 billion”; this includes the human spaceflight division, engineering projects, and science that is funded by NASA. The total spending budget in 2005 was $2 trillion ($2000 billion), which made "the NASA share 0.8% of the budget". About 19% of the budget was spent on Military, 21% on Social Security and 8% went to paying interest on the national debt.
- The ESA budget for 2005 was 2.98 billion euros (about 3.5 billion dollars), but many European countries also have their own space agencies which are independently funded. ESA and NASA are by far the highest funded agencies. The Russian space agency has an annual budget of $800-900 million dollars, Japan is 1.8 billion,and China is 1.2 billion.
- Benefits:It allows people to know more about the universe. Space exploration has most definitely answered many questions such as; is the Earth round or not?
- It gives us a better understanding about the universe and provides us with more information about the world we live in. It helps us realize that the problems we face today aren't that big compared to other issues in the universe while also reminding us of how fortunate we are to be part of the vast and majestic universe.
- It progresses our technology. Us humans are always developing new technology for space programs, the interesting thing is that these new tech can be used in other ways and, in fact, have already led to the development of modern products and gadgets that many people use. For instance GPS systems (which is used in many smartphones, tablets, and sat-navs), Teflon-coated fiberglass (which is now used as roofing material), and breast cancer test imaging.
- It creates numerous jobs. Space exploration doesn’t just involve scientists and astronauts, it also requires the skills and work of engineers, research assistants, technicians, mechanics, etc. If space exploration stopped today, many people would lose their jobs, which means they wouldn't be able to support themselves and their families.Thankfully space exploration programs won't be stopping in a very long time, as a matter of fact they are all growing. Which means that more jobs would be created, which can significantly help with the employment problems that many countries face.
- It can offer a solution to many problems. Space exploration doesn't just help with jobs and research of many things in our galaxy, many space exploration programs are used to address some of the problems that modern society faces today. For instance, there are space exploration programs that help scientists learn more about the earth and it's atmosphere and how we can better predict weather and natural disasters. Then there are other programs, that focus on looking for planets that can support human life, which may and could be the solution to the overpopulation.
- Resources.Since we are using up many resources on Earth, space exploration can actually help with that. Many planets may have resources such as fossil fuels we need. For instance, the moon has resources such as oxides of typical engineering metals, such as iron, aluminum, magnesium, titanium and silicon.
Why is this important
Obviously this is important to us because it benefits us in good ways. I mean it wouldn't really be important to mankind if it doesn't really benefit us. There are even many things we have and use today thanks to space travel. For instance, CAT Scans. A space program needs really good imaging in order to locate, measure, research, understand, etc objects and things in space. "Digital imaging is the computer processed numerical representation of physical images." This has proven incredibly useful in a variety of medical technologies, like CAT scanners, radiography and microscopy. Another example is Water Filtration and Purification, surprisingly NASA has contributed a lot to the development of water purification technology. NASA has developed ways to filter water for manned space missions.Let's not forget that Water purification technology also helped treat contaminated water after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico(It was a huge oil spill caused by an explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig). Thus technology developed to purify water on a spacecraft is now also used to purify fish tanks, drinking water to help people, etc.
- Colonization is when a colony sets up a colony away from one's place of origin.
For Colonization I will be using the Mars One project to explain the hazards, costs and benefits.
What is the Mars One
- Mars One proposes and has made a goal to create a permanent human settlement on Mars. Mars is so far the only planet we know that is not light years away from Earth and can supposedly support human life and will hopefully be humankind’s first step to become a species that has colonies on more than one planet. Before the actual mission there are many missions that will be completed, such as making a habitable settlement for the first astronauts to arrive.
- First of all, people that will be apart of the mission are going to there to stay, they most likely wouldn't be coming back to their origin home of Earth(just saying this is more of a con than a hazard).
- The risks are basically that of space travel. such as launch and re-entry, cosmic rays and radiation, etc but this time there are other hazards besides the ones from space travel. For starters, we have no idea what it's going to be like colonizing on Mars, we don't know the effects on the human body(in the long run). Mars has an environment where any small mistake or accident can result in failure, injury, and death. Everything must work perfectly from the systems to the astronauts procedure anything mistake brings a human life at risk. A perfect example of the environment of Mars was shown in the movie the Martian-a fantastically directed film about astronauts that are in Mars and then blast off the planet , they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission. At one point there was no storm nor did the crew notice it coming, which then all of sudden the storm hit. Now In real life people may not be so lucky with there lives like Mark Watney. Another example in the movie was the temperature changes during the night, it became extremely cold which is very common for Mars. Mars is far colder than Antartica as the typical night time temperatures are -70 °C and it even occasionally drops to below -100 °C. It is often so cold that the CO2 in the atmosphere freezes out as dry ice.
- Dust Storms-Every Martian summer, which is about every two Earth years, the people on Mars would get a get a higher chance of global dust storms. These storms can last for weeks, and the light from the sun can drop by over 99%.
- In dust storms like this, artificial light would be needed to grow plants since there would be no sunlight, solar power obviously wouldn't work, and the dust could potentially be hazardous for us humans.
Contamination-A colony on Mars could eventually contaminate the planet with Earth micro-organisms. According to http://www.science20.com/, a human is host to about 100 trillion micro-organisms in 10,000 different species. Micro-organisms could also get in the food, in the soil, other supplies, and floating in the air. Depending on the organism it could be drastically harmful for the people living there.
Space Suit- A person there would need to have a spacesuit on most of the time in order to survive the low pressure, never mentioning the lack of oxygen. "The pressure is so low, your saliva and the moisture coating the interior of your lungs would boil." The average Mars surface pressure is well below the 6% Armstrong limit(The Armstrong's Limit is the altitude above which no human can survive without pressurization, even if using an oxygen mask. Water in the lungs will boil at body temperature, due to the reduced pressure). Which means any leak or rip in you space suit could easily be fatal, let alone there not being enough oxygen.
Hard to make self sufficient - need for parts and supplies from Earth-Even though there are lots of resources available on Mars, Mining on it will be hard to do, you obviously still need to use space suits because of the conditions; lack oxygen, low pressure, etc. Even with things from native Mars materials, at the present levels of technology we have now, still many components and replacement parts will have to come from Earth. Even people at the International Space Station have to be sent new clothes when the ones they have become dirty and then all the dirty clothes are disposed of in the supply vessels which burn up in the atmosphere.
- Mars One has a budget of $6 billion-US$ 450 million for the first unmanned Mars lander mission,US$ 425 million for the communications satellite,US$ 900 million for the first rover mission,US$ 2,300 million for all remaining outpost hardware and supplies before the human mission US$ 1,250 million for sending the first crew to Mars,US$ 582 million for operations, including astronaut selection and training,US$ 93 million for ground stations and other costs,US$ 1,850 million per year for follow-up human missions
- If this mission is a success, it's basically a dream come true for humanity. Just imagine living on another planet, millions of miles from the Earth, Who can even think of the incredible feeling of being that first human in history to step out of the shuttle and leave your very own footprint on the surface of Mars. It's literally exactly like the day when about 600 million people watched the day when Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong leading humanity in it's next step to evolution but instead it's much bigger.
- Progress. If people can successfully live on mars it is literally "the next big step for mankind." The mission could jumpstart massive developments in all kinds of areas of solar energy, food production and the advancement of medical technology and technology in general.
- New Home- If the mission is completed and is a success we have found a new home. It could be the solution to overpopulation. Think about we can create thousand of more homes with this.
- Research and knowledge- With this we can research even more about Mars, we would receive much more knowledge especially if we can study other planets and galaxies much better from Mars.
- Resources-Mars has the key life-support compounds O2, N2, and H2O. The soil could be used as radiation shielding and could provide many useful industrial and construction materials. Aluminum, titanium, chromium, gold, and other metals have been found on Mars.
The Night Skies
- We need to know the characteristics and properties of certain galaxies and or planets to be able to know if and how to travel through them and or colonize them. Celestial objects such as meteors and comets are hazardous for humans but at the same time do have valuable resources such as iron, gold, manganese, etc.
- For instance I will once again use Mars One/Mars as an example. Mars has a striking red appearance, Mars has a diameter of 4,200 mi (6,800 km). The planet has a very thin atmosphere consisting mainly of carbon dioxide (95%) with some nitrogen, argon, oxygen, and other gases. Mars has an extreme day-to-night temperature range, resulting from its thin atmosphere, from about 80°F (27°C) at noon to about - 100°F ( - 73°C) at midnight.
- The surface of Mars to be pitted with a number of large craters, much like the surface of Earth's moon. Mars has numerous enormous volcanoes like Olympus Mons which is 370 mi/600 km in diameter and 16 mi/26 km tall, it is the largest in the solar system. There are also many canyons on mars, one of which even dwarfs the size of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It is Valles Marineris is an estimated 5 miles (8km) deep and over 1,800 miles (3,000km) long.
- Since the axis of rotation is tilted about 25° to the plane of revolution, Mars experiences seasons close to Earth. One of the most visible seasonal changes is the growing or shrinking of white areas near the poles known as polar caps. These polar caps are composed of water, ice and dry ice. During the Martian summer the polar cap in that hemisphere shrinks and the dark regions grow darker, in winter the polar cap grows again and the dark regions become paler.
Fun Fact #1
On Earth we can see Mars as well as 4 other planets(Jupiter,Venus,Saturn, and Mercury).During most clear nights these 5 planets are most visible. On Earth Mars looks much more like a star than a planet. It shines brighter than regular stars and has more of a reddish hue. Dust in the atmosphere of the planet causes the distinct red-orange colour.
- The Sun is the largest object in the Solar System, accounting for 99.86% of the mass and is about 109 times the diameter of the Earth and about one million Earths could fit inside the sun.
- The Sun has a mass of 1.98892 x 1030 kg, a diameter of 1,391,000 km, a radius of 695,500 km, surface gravity of 27.94 g, a volume of 1.412 x 1018 km3, and a density of 1.622 x 105 kg/m3.
- Importance of the sun: Without the Sun's heat and light, the Earth would be a lifeless ice ball. The Sun warms our seas, stirs our atmosphere, generates our weather patterns, and allows for photosynthesis to occur within plants, which also helps us with oxygen. The Sun also gives us energy from Solar, Hydro, etc. Photosynthesis cannot happen without the Sun. Without the Sun's, plants would die off or not be here in the first place, which then mean animals that are herbivores would perish, and then followed by the omnivores and carnivores until there is no life on the Earth. Ultraviolet light from the Sun's rays can even be used to kill bacteria and other microorganisms in the air and water. Studies show that Ultraviolet b rays are good for humans. As when our skin is exposed to the sunlight, our body is designed produce vitamin d when it’s exposed to sunlight, but it’s not like if I stand in the Sun for hours and hours it’s good(everything has a limit-except for dreams).
- Chemical Composition: The Sun is mostly made up of Hydrogen followed by Helium. The remaining Matter consists of oxygen, carbon, neon, nitrogen, magnesium, iron, and silicon.
- The visible part of the Sun is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,500 degrees Celsius), while temperatures in the core reach more than 27 million F.According to Nasa, someone would need to explode 100 billion tons of dynamite every second to match the energy produced by the sun.
In space the Sun looks to be a very bright white ball.The Sun emits visible light of all wavelength, and all those colours mixed together create that white colour.The reason we see red/orangish of sun from earth is because the short-wavelength colours (green, blue, violet) the Sun send out are scattered out by the Earth's atmosphere. Thus giving us only red, yellow, and orange to get through the thick atmosphere and then to our eyes.
An image of the Sun from space
Fun Fact #2 How does this relate to Theories and evidence of our universe?
This relates to theories and evidence of our universe because for starters, we can learn and research about space a lot better if we know the way our universe was made or how it works. For instance with the Big bang it says that the universe was smaller at at some point and everything started out at as a single point in space and time and expanded to what we have today. If know that this is true we can know the many reasons on the purpose of planets, stars, etc. Another relation is that supposedly meteoroids are pieces of rock and metal floating through space which are often left over from the formation of the Solar System. It is suggested that meteors had an impact with making life on Earth possible. Sankar Chatterjee says that "meteors and comets most likely brought ingredients for life to form.
- The Canadian Space Agency was established in 1989 with the mission to promote the peaceful use and development of space for the social and economic benefit of Canadians.Canada is the third country in the world, after Russia and the United States to design and build it's own satellite(it was called the Alouette).With the launching of Anik A1 in 1972, Canada became the first country in the world to have a commercial geostationary communications satellite network.
- Greenhouses in space: "At the University of Guelph, Mike Dixon and his team are working on biological life support" which can basically help mankind in long-term explorations. "Canada currently leads the world in research and technology development in this field,” says Dixon, director of Guelph’s Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility, they are trying to find ways grow crops on different planet for example Mars with greenhouses.
- Space vision system: Space is very unpredictable as from it can be very bright to very dark, which makes it hard for astronauts to travel with eyesight alone. The Canadian Space Vision System, was first thought up about three decades ago, the system uses TV cameras as sensors to help astronauts see better, it can help astronauts gain information about certain targets so they can locate and or get to it at a faster rate.
- Canadarm: The Canadarm was a remote-controlled mechanical arm ,it had a 30-year career with NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. "The robotic arm deployed, captured and repaired satellites, positioned astronauts, maintained equipment, and moved cargo."
The $110-million Canadarm development program was carried out under the direction of the National Research Council of Canada. There were industries like, Spar Aerospace Ltd, CAE Electronics Ltd. and DSMA Atcon Ltd. The Canadarm was signed over to NASA in February 1981.
Spar Aerospace was a Canadian aerospace industry. It made equipment for the Canadian Space Agency to be used in cooperation with NASA's Space Shuttle program, the most known thing it has assisted with was the Canadarm.
The Canadian Space Agency had a budget of $483 million(2015,2016), $383 million for 2016-17 and $322 million for 2017-18. The budget includes things like Space Utilization, Space Exploration, and Space Science and Technology which receives.
Economically,Socially, and Environmentally
Economically, space travel and colonization can end in two ways, one being ending in a complete disaster- for example if the mission for Mars one ends with the mission not working, Mars not being a suitable home for human kind, and maybe even the people being killed. Lives could be lost as well as billions of dollars. Number two being a complete success, for example the Mars one, if it seen that Mars is habitable-then all that money wouldn't go to waste it obviously gives to our community as we have made a big step and now we have gone multi-planetary(a species that has been able to colonize on more than one planet).
Socially, it has the same two outcomes. One being a complete disaster socially, once again for example the Mars one. If it ends in a disaster, do you think anyone else would want to go out to try to live on a different planet. If there was casualties the families would be absolutely devastated. Even people that are not related would be devastated, they now know that it was a complete waste of billions of dollars, there were casualties and we are probably never going to try to go multi-planetary ever again. There would probably even be a social outbreak with protests strikes, etc against Nasa and other space agencies about the devastating failure of the mission. Number two using the example of Mars one again, is the mission being a success. It would be exactly like the feeling when we saw(people that we born in that era) Neil Armstrong took those first steps on the moon but it would be much bigger knowing that we have gone multi-planetary. There could be even be memorials, celebrations, special events etc for that day.
Environmentally, using the example of space travel in general. Environmentally we could help the Earth from running out of all her precious resources. As if we can find and mine out all those vital minerals and resources we would have a much better and bigger source of resources. Meteors, Comets and Asteroids have minerals like gold, aluminum, etc that are pretty vital to us. Now rockets do have an impact on the environment when they take off, they emit reactive gases that cause ozone molecules(Most ozone found in our atmosphere is formed by an interaction between oxygen molecules and ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun). to break apart. There are different types of rocket propellant such as Solid propellants. Solid propellants are more damaging than liquid ones. Spacecraft dump has pollutants, and if they are not disposed of properly, they can directly affect the upper and middle stratosphere, where they can start causing damage immediately.