Moon Over Mankind – WIF Space

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Fascinating Facts

About

Our Moon

Ever since man looked up at the stars, he has been fascinated by the big round white hunk of rock that hangs in the sky above us. The Moon has featured in religious beliefs and in the lore of countless cultures and societies. Due to human curiosity, we set out to understand the Moon further, and what we have learned is sometimes even more interesting than the legends themselves. Join us below as we explore our Moon and revel in its glory.

10. Helium 3

mining-helium-3

Many people, upon hearing that countries still plan to return to the Moon, often wonder why. Some people don’t really think much of a big hunk of dull rock that isn’t even made of cheese. However, the Moon has something much more valuable than stale Gouda underneath the surface. Enter Helium 3, a lightweight isotope that could single-handedly fix our energy problems. Helium 3 can be used in nuclear fusion sans the radioactivity, making it a way safer process. This isotope has already been tested, and has been found to be incredibly efficient. While mining it would be extremely expensive, the costs would be well worth the gain. Imagine a future with safe, affordable, clean energy for the entire world.

9. Water

Bullialdus-RGB

These days, scientists are on a roll finding all kinds of cool new things, and the Moon has been no exception. While many people would suggest all kinds of strange things that could be on the Moon, such as extraterrestrial beings or maybe all of those socks that you lose in the washing machine, what scientists actually found is much more surprising. Using remote imaging, scientists scanned the crater Bullialdus near the equator of the Moon, and found water molecules locked in the rocks deep below the surface. Found beneath the surface, it is referred to as magmatic water and is thought by scientists to have originated due to solar wind that impacted on the surface of the Moon.

8. Preserved Footprints

moon-footprint

As you know, our Moon doesn’t really have much in the way of an atmosphere, but what you may not realize is that this has some very interesting implications. Namely, things don’t erode very easily, so the footprints left by US astronauts in the ’60s and ’70s are still preserved, and should be for a long time. This unique situation has given a brand new thing for people to worry about, and US lawmakers spent time that they were getting paid for in an attempt to legislate the issue. You see, some people are worried that, with commercial organizations getting into space flight and other countries working towards landing on the Moon, that we needed to make sure no one messes with our historical imprint. For this reason, lawmakers tried to pass a bill making the Moon landing site a national park. This failed, though NASA has asked people to at least attempt to respect the original lunar landing site, should they somehow end up there.

7. Spaceship Moon Theory

secret-moon-base

It’s a God! It’s a huge hunk of cheese in the sky! It’s … an alien spaceship? The Moon has been the victim of many strange origin stories over the years. Many have been convinced that the Moon is some sort of God that needs to be worshiped, and some people actually think it is made of cheese. However, perhaps the oddest theory is that the Moon is the remains of an alien spaceship left orbiting earth. The theory starts with the supposition that aliens have been seen on the surface of the Moon. At one point, the United States even experimented with remote viewing, although they decided it was pure rubbish.

But it gets weirder. Those who subscribe to the theory claim that the Moon’s deposits of rocks such as chromium, titanium and zirconium were actually because they were strong building materials for the alien’s enormous spaceship. Those who believe this claim that the Moon’s surface is actually armor plating and was used to protect from meteorite impacts, although they believe the Moon has been abandoned for some time.

6. Moonquakes

moonquake

Over forty years ago while visiting the Moon, astronauts left seismometers that sent data back to the scientists waiting on good old terra firma for results. These seismometers were left active for over a decade and now many years later a professor from Notre Dame and his team set to work once again looking at the data.

What they found is that the Moon has earthquakes or “moonquakes” as it were. Apparently there are several different kinds of quakes that can happen on the Moon. The first are hundreds of miles below the surface, some are simply vibrations set off by meteorites striking the surface. Still others are simply due to thermal expansion. and then there are the shallow moonquakes, the ones that, according to the scientists, we need to watch out for. These are only tens of miles below the surface and can reach a 5.5 on the Richter scale. However, quakes on the Moon have some features that differ from ours and make them more intense. Many of these shallow moonquakes went on for a good ten minutes, and the researcher in charge said the Moon was “ringing like a bell”. Learning more about these quakes is very important if any country is ever to set up a base on the Moon.

5. The Man in the Moon

man-in-the-moon

Long ago before all of our precious modern technology, man looked up at the Moon and wondered about it. For one thing, what was that strange outline that looked like a man on its surface? Wanting to explain the strange shape, people made up many different stories about the Man in the Moon. While these stories have different variations they usually feature a man who was banished to the Moon as punishment for working on the Sabbath and some versions include a woman who was punished with him for a similar crime. However, some legends suggest the man was actually Cain, exiled to our lonely Moon as punishment because his offering was not pleasing to God.

4. Moon Base

Lunar-base

Suggesting that NASA will build a base on the Moon has turned into almost something of a joke in the United States. NASA keeps talking about it and people keep making plans or claiming it is going to happen, and it just never quite gets off the ground. However, while the United States may have been the first to land on the Moon, they may not be the first to establish a permanent base. Supposedly, the Russians plan to head to the Moon with some cosmonauts in 2025, and hope to have a base established a few years later, but they have the countries of Japan, China, and India close on their heels. China especially has ambitious plans of their own and has come up with advanced concepts for their own plans to establish a fully-working base on the Moon by the year 2050.

3. Blue Moon

blue-moon

You’ve probably at some point in your life heard the expression “once in a Blue Moon” and thus know it means something that doesn’t happen very often. However, interestingly there is some confusion as to how not often a Blue Moon actually occurs. Some people are under the impression that it is when two Full Moons happen in the same exact month, but this isn’t accurate. Essentially, a Blue Moon is when a particular season has four Full Moons instead of only three.

Much more interesting though, is that under certain circumstances the Moon can truly appear blue to the naked eye. According to scientists, volcanic eruptions can cause huge plumes of ash to spread out over the atmosphere and scatter red light particles. Particularly strong eruptions such as the volcano Krakatoa caused people to see blue Moons and lavender suns for literally years. According to some people as recently as the 1980’s, after the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption a Blue Moon was visible in some parts of the world.

2. Outer Space Treaty

space-treaty

We mentioned earlier that one lawmaker tried to have the lunar landing site made into a national park, but it turns out that there is a really good reason why his legislation failed. It may not be obvious to those outside the US at first, but the Moon is not actually our property. The Moon orbits the Earth, and is not claimed in particular by any one group of people.

This presents a unique problem when it comes to colonizing, mining from, or even landing on the Moon. Many years back, during the Cold War, some people were afraid the Moon might end up a serious point of contention, perhaps even used as a military base or a place to launch missiles. After much diplomatic back-and-forth, a treaty was finally agreed upon that essentially makes the Moon international territory, from which no one is allowed to conduct any military operations.

1. Dark Side of the Moon

dark-side-of-the-moon

You’ve probably heard the phrase “dark side of the Moon” before; after all, it was one of Pink Floyd’s most well known albums. What you might not realize though, is that the phrase actually doesn’t make any sense. You see, the Moon is mysterious and has a whole secret life we know nothing about, and by that we mean there is a half of the Moon we never see. However, while the Moon only shows one side to us, it still shows both sides to the Sun, and the “dark side” gets plenty of light. Interestingly, if you take this the other way around, it means that if you looked at the Earth from the surface of the Moon, you would end up with the same effect. The Earth would continue to show you the same side, and remain in the same place in the sky every single day.


Moon Over Mankind –

WIF Space

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 51

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 51

…“If we had no moon at all, chances are Earth would be just another rock circling the sun…

“What does our moon have to do with the creation story?” asks Constance.

Martin has descended into professor mode, eager to satisfy the unquenchable thirst of an inquiring mind. “That is where the single most fundamental law of cosmic physics comes into play; gravity is what makes the world, or universe, go ‘round. How Earth orbits the sun, how the solar system navigates through the Milky Way and finally how all the other galaxies keep their distance from each other; gravity is what determines these things.

“Our Moon serves as an anchor for this ship. If you it were to suddenly drift away now, after having been here for the entire time, planet Earth would descend into geological upheaval. The continental plates would be scrambled into an unrecognizable mess and volcanism would rule the day.

“If we had no moon at all, chances are Earth would be just another rock circling the sun, an ordinary orb arbitrarily wobbling from year to year; without life, without singularity.”

“My cousin Jimmy (cousin #4) says that the moon is the Earth’s dartboard, attracting Eddie's Cousins-001all those meteors and crap.” Eddie cannot help but inject his own brand of knowledge. “Just look at it; a good pair of binocs show all those craters.”

“I’d love to meet that Jimmy whom you refer to often.”

“He lives over in Berwyn; I can take you there sometime.”

“That’s quite alright, Eddie, I was being facetious. Anyhow, Earth has as many or more craters being the larger target; it’s just that it heals itself, just like our skin recovers from a scratch.

“That all aside, the bottom line is, believing that all these factors have fallen into place by accident… frankly is folly. There are an increasing number of us in science who subscribe to intelligent design over evolution.

“Will Libby is one of those who have not swallowed that pill.” Martin is still fearful of what kind of Willard Libby they are retrieving; wondering what manner of cruel pill takes away one’s memory.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 48

 

The NULL Solution = Episode 153

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The NULL Solution = Episode 153

…Talk about your triple-trouble, these 3 men are clearly brothers from different mothers…

Chasonn of Seljuk bows, to pay his respects to the Deke-wing of the McKinney clan, with a bonus appearance by a doting Mamma Celeste. He is duly impressed by the scope of the McKinney reach, considering that there are three more members over on or near Earth.

Deke is in the middle of preparing an English {USA} lesson plan.

Celeste is formulating the musical equivalent for Eridanian language comparison purposes.

Cerella is putting out fires in the Null-Gifted social interaction arena, thusly unavailable for introduction.

But it is Skaldic, the former Null, which Sam is anxious to introduce. If there are galactic facts to catch up on, Skaldy is the man with the plan.

Talk about your triple-trouble. These 3 men {Sam, Skaldic, Chasonn} are clearly brothers from different mothers. It does not take long before S2 turn Chase {everyone gets a nickname} on to the Harmonia Query. “That is numerical nonsense.” There will be no help from him. He prefers facts to gobbledygook.

“Well that little ditty boomeranged me and Skaldy all the way from Mars to Eridanus faster than I could send you to the wrong coordinates today.”

“It would seem logical to assume that ⃝    is responsible for an anomaly of such greatness.”

“Chase here is a genuine genius isn’t he?”

“Unfortunately, his transporter does not have a range of 10 light years.”

Chasonn ignores the extraneous banter. “I will be pleased if I am able to return to my ship.”

“I hope you aren’t leaving too soon. You just got here. You need to meet this planet’s head honcho.”

“Do you speak of Ekcello? He has contacted me telepathically in the past. We have a common adversary in the Ÿ€Ð.”

“That Ÿ€Ð colony is on its way to my home planet,” Sam informs.

“Earth; in fact it is getting close enough to affect the gravitation of your moon.”

“That ain’t good!”

“One of the reasons I made my journey, is to be near enough to do the most good if Collapsar Axis becomes a threat.”

“That’s good!”

“It has the capability to defeat the force field I provided Earth.”

“That’s not good!”

“They will not find what they are searching for. Your planet did not have the capability to destroy the Ÿ€Ð fleet.”

 “That’s good!”

“They may retaliate out of frustration. They nearly wiped out our planetary leadership, in the distant past, in their quest for galactic domination.”

“That’s not good!”

“Enough Sammy Mac!” Skaldic concludes.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 153


page 151

The NULL Solution = Episode 13

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The NULL Solution = Episode 13

…Speaking of supposed-to-be’s {what-ifs and cold days in hell}, President Harper Lea Bassett is closing in on the would-be festivities…

“Take it easy, Fletch. While I was poking around in there last night, I discovered that SEx can achieve escape velocity on its own. The reinforced hull, along with the molecular stabilizer, will allow Gus to take that baby out solo.”

The youngest McKinney {that Earth knows about} is suiting up as he speaks.

“Somebody please inform our President about the change in plans, after the fact.”

“But…”

“I know what you’re thinking. We are going to show file footage of the boys inside the SEx. Nobody will know the difference.”

Related image“But what about taking off without a piggyback? Somebody is going to notice.”

“Gus is going to be past the moon before anyone knows he’s off the pad. We’re all supposed to be on the receiving stand, isn’t that correct.”

Speaking of supposed-to-be’s, what-ifs and cold days in hell, President Bassett is closing in on the would-be festivities. Few things are more important to a figurehead than advertised appearances. There was a “leak” a week back {not weak back} about her welcoming the heroes of hyperspace in person. She has long since laid claim to bringing SOL technology to the light of day, when in fact it is only her pen and the insistence of her political backers that are truly responsible.

“Where are our men-of-the-hour?” is the most asked question.

“This guy Shriver is being a leaky O-ring,” is how Francine Bouchette-Crippen describes him, for everyone in the inner circle with an earbud. She is not as cranky as her husband, but at their station in life, they don’t suffer fools lightly.

All Prez Roy does is point to the unique contrail left behind by the Stellar Explorer. He makes up a non-treasonable explanation, “There they go, Madame President. We wanted to give you a live demonstration. How will that play in D.C.?”

To support his elaborate smokescreen, he summons a video of Gus and Deke waving to the camera, curiously resembling the one from their original roundtrip to the fringe of the solar system – and back – mostly {before Deke vanished}. The screen behind the reviewing stand is innocently playing that recording and another showing long-range footage, which elicits rousing applause from all the space-geeks and political freaks who would not know the difference between an asteroid and a comet.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 13


page 19

Space Fact Saturday

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WIF Space-001

 Out of this World

Facts about Space

William Shatner hit the nail on the head when he uttered the famous phrase, “Space, the final frontier.” Why? Well, contrary to what some scientists will have you believe, space remains mankind’s final and rather obscure frontier. After all there is so much we have yet to understand about space, and much that we thought we knew is starting to look ‘shaky’.

For example, if you were to approach a couple of astrophysicists and ask them about their views on ‘black holes’ you will, more often than not, open up a cosmic size Pandora’s box of never-ending debate. While it is feasible that many of you might enjoy such a conversation, it is equally likely that you will walk away from the whole episode with a tangible sense that as much as science likes to think it knows a lot about space… it really doesn’t.

However hope is not lost! For amongst all the dull theoretical extrapolations and mind numbing confusion, there remain a number of facts that will challenge some of the ‘cast iron’ perceptions you have about the universe. As a starting point read on and discover 10 of the most mind boggling facts about space!

10. Water Pools In Space

water-space

In 2011 astronomers discovered a gigantic vapour cloud caught in the gravitational pull of a black hole deep within the universe, making it the largest discovery of water anywhere. According toUniverse Today, the cloud, known as a ‘reservoir’ in astronomical circles, is believed to be capable of holding all of the Earth’s oceans 140 trillion times over!

While the discovery of water in space is not headline news, it is the sheer volume of water discovered and the fact that the reservoir seems to be slightly younger than the big bang itself that has caught the attention of scientists. Matt Bradford from NASA has stated that, “[The discovery] is another demonstration that water is pervasive throughout the universe, even at the very earliest times.”

So if the Earth ever runs out of water, at least we know where we can find ourselves an intergalactic water pump. The only problem is how we would get there, as it currently resides 10 billion light years from Earth.

9. It Would Take 225 Million Years To Walk A Light Year

light year-space

It would take 225 million years to walk a light year. Don’t believe me? Well as all great mathematicians suggest, let us show our workings!

  1. One light year (the distance light travels in a year) is about 5.9 trillion miles.
  2. If you briskly walked 5.9 trillion miles at 20 minutes per mile constantly without any breaks, you would complete your light year stroll in 225 million years.

In other words if you started your walk just before the emergence of the dinosaurs you would be about to finish walking now!

On an interesting side note, according to Jessica Cheng in the September 2008 edition of ‘Popular Science’ magazine, the long trip would come with a unique set of problems. She estimates that in order to complete the journey you would need about 11.8 billion pairs of shoes! Not to mention the fact that you would be burning 80 calories per mile and would therefore need an average of 2 trillion power bars to fuel your body for the trip!

Cheng also goes on to suggest that after such a journey, you wouldn’t have got very far. In an astronomical sense 1 light year is the equivalent of you just about reaching the end of Earth’s garden path. The nearest star from Earth, Proxima Centauri, is a staggering 4.22 light years away.

8. Eros Asteroid Of Riches

eros-space

In 1998 the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous spacecraft passed close to the asteroid Eros and relayed back to Earth its findings. It discovered that Eros was a floating treasure chest of unprecedented riches. Due to its size, NASA has suggested that if Eros consists of 3% metal, like so many meteorites that fall to Earth, then it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Eros might indeed contain 1.8 billion metric tons of gold and other precious metals such as platinum.

According to Dr. David Whitehouse, then Science Editor for the BBC, in an article entitled, ‘Gold rush in space’, Eros is indeed a large but by no means the largest of asteroids. That being said he believes that since Eros is speculated to contain a multitude of rare elements, the asteroid has a total monetary worth of close to $20,000 bn. Of course it goes without saying that if Eros ever impacted the Earth, its priceless metal content and indeed monetary value will be of little consolation (or, for that matter, use) for what would most certainly be an extinct mankind.

7. There Are 1,397 Known Asteroids That Could End Mankind

phas-space

In an attempt to prevent the dramatic scenes of movies such asArmageddon, NASA has its eyes fixed on the 1,397 asteroids in and around our solar system that could, upon impact with the Earth, bring about the end of the human race. You can rest assured that should anything larger than 350 feet in diameter come within 4.6 million miles of the Earth, NASA will be on critical alert.

The extent to which NASA is aware of potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) is both impressive and frightening. Rather ominously NASA has released an orbit plan for each of the 1,397 known PHAs. Aside from looking like somebody’s overzealous attempt at getting to grips with Spirograph, the image does not fail to impress the severity of PHAs and the real and continual threat that they pose to mankind. As Dan Nosowitz suggests in the August 5th 2013 edition of the ‘Popular Science’ magazine, it is hard to believe that we have yet to be impacted by one of these ‘destruction max’ asteroids.

6. The International Space Station Travels At Five Miles A Second

ISS-space

According to CoolCosmos, a NASA education and outreach website, the International Space Station orbits the Earth at a speed of (roughly) 17,150 miles per hour! This equates to the station travelling five miles every second with its crew witnessing a sunrise every 92 minutes. To see the International Space Station in action you can log onto the following website and watch its orbit of the Earth live and in real time here.

5. There Are More Stars Than Words Spoken

stars-space

According to Scientific American, there are more stars in the universe than words have been spoken by every human who has ever lived. As much as this sounds a gross exaggeration of fact, the true number of stars in the universe is probably a number so vast that it is beyond the comprehension of the human brain. For example, Nicola Willett of The Mars Society estimates that there are at least 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (70 sextillion x10 to the power of 22) stars in the universe. She goes on to suggest that the universe itself probably contains more than 100 billion galaxies, each likely to contain billions of stars. Don’t worry if this confuses you, as these are the sort of numbers that we will never truly begin to understand.

Our only certainty in the process of comprehending the total amount of stars in the universe is that we are likely to never know the true answer, as star counting is a process of hypothesising with a large, and a very large at that, margin of error. In other words, nobody has known, knows presently and will never likely know the true figure of the sum of all the stars in the universe.

4. The Moon Suffers From Moonquakes

moonquakes-space

When Clive. R. Neal, associate professor of civil engineering and geological sciences at the University of Notre Dame, and a team of 15 planetary scientists re-examined Apollo data from the 1970s, he concluded that ‘The moon is seismically active.’

Seismometers placed at the landing sites of the Apollo missionsbetween 1969 and 1972 radioed data back to Earth until they were taken offline in 1977. The results were surprising, suggesting that there are at least four types of moonquakes:

  1. Deep moonquakes that occur on average around 700km below the moon’s surface and are probably triggered by the Earth’s tidal forces.
  1. Usual vibrations and minor moonquakes as a result of meteorite impact.
  1. Thermal moonquakes caused by the Sun when illuminating and expanding the frigid crust on the moon’s surface following a two week deep-freeze lunar night.
  1. Shallow moonquakes that occur frequently at a depth of 20-30km below the moon’s surface.

In truth nobody is really certain what exactly causes moonquakes.Speculation is rife among scientists. All that is known is that unlike earthquakes, moonquakes last longer. This is because, unlike the earth, the moon’s crust is hard and uncompressible. Therefore a moonquake tends to vibrate the moon like a tuning fork, whereas the Earth has elements of compression (like water and minerals) that act like a sponge during an earthquake and disperse the tremors within a matter of minutes. On the moon, a moonquake has been known to last 10 minutes!

3. Planet HD189733b

planet-space

The Hubble Telescope has identified a deep azure blue planet in distant space. The planet, called HD189733b, is a huge gas giant orbiting very close to its star. Its atmosphere is a hellish environment of 4,000mph (7,000kmph) winds and molten glass that rains sideways! The estimated temperature of this deep space ‘beast’ is a scorching 1,000 degrees Celsius!

The planet might outwardly look serene and earth-like, but its bluish hue is a result of silicate particles scattering blue light rather than any reflection of a serene tropical ocean. If mankind were to ever find itself in a situation similar to the movie Interstellar, this planet would be one of the most hostile environments in the known universe. Not that we would be able to reach it, as it currently resides 63 light years from Earth!

2. The Earth Has More Than One Moon

minimoon-space

If you thought the Earth has only one moon, it might surprise you to discover that this is actually false. While the moon is indeed the only celestial body to observe a strict orbit of the Earth, there are in fact a number of other ‘near-Earth’ asteroids which follow the Earth as it orbits the Sun. These are called ‘co-orbitals’ and there are at least 6 known ‘co-orbitals’ caught in the Earth’s gravitational pull. However don’t think you can gaze into the night sky to find them, as most can’t be seen with the naked eye.

Of course you might agree with many astronomers and suggest that these co-orbitals are not technically moons. However, what is clear is that while they might not be moons in the traditional sense, they are far from your average asteroid.  Like the Earth they orbit the Sun in roughly a year and occasionally pass close enough to the Earth to exert a slight gravitational influence. In astronomical terms this means that the suggestion that they are in facts moons is all the more realistic.

Robert Jedicke, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii, has suggested that, “At any one time there are one or two 1 meter diameter asteroids in orbit around the Earth.” Perhaps when we think of the moon we should consider the possibility that rather than the Earth having one solitary moon in Luna, the Earth has in fact a number of fluctuating moons that come and go throughout the year!

1. There Are Less Than Nine Planets In Our Solar System

planets-space

Despite what you were taught in your science lessons, our solar system has less than 9 planets. Don’t be fooled, you would be right in thinking that there were 9 planets 10 years ago but in recent years the International Astronomical Union has decided it would be a good idea to apply its own criteria of what constitutes a planet to our solar system.

The criteria stipulate that in order for something to be defined as a planet it must:

  1. Orbit the Sun
  2. Have enough mass to be round in shape (but doesn’t have to be perfectly spherical)
  3. Have cleared ‘their neighbourhood’ or immediate orbit.

The first planet to fail the criteria was Pluto in 2006 when it was demoted from a planet to a ‘dwarf planet.’ This is perhaps not surprising as there has been much debate since Pluto’s discovery about whether it is actually a planet. For years it was seen as an icy rock not too dissimilar to an oversized asteroid confined to the region of space at the very edge of the solar system. That makes 8 planets.

Space Fact Saturday

And Pluto

Exploring Space With WIF

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10 Reasons We Should Leave Earth

and Explore the Space

There’s nowhere to run. Not with today’s technology. There’s no emergency plan to get us off this planet and preserve our legacy in case of apocalypse. For this reason alone we should think about finding ways to spread our wings and leave home. And if we do we’ll find other benefits, like…

10. Become Explorers Again

leaveearth1

From as far back as we can trace our history, man has been on the move. Part ofhumanity left Africa in search of greener pastures roughly 60,000 years ago, and from there we settled the entire world, overcoming one obstacle after another and adapting to new climates and environments. Today we’re left with little to investigate, with the exception of space.

This is a mission of incredible uncertainty and risk, with many unknown factors and incredible costs. Take care that you don’t fool yourself into thinking that private corporations can accomplish this on their own! Governments must go in first and take the risk, and only then will the private sector follow. This is how it’s always been done, from Columbus, Marco Polo and Magellan to Apollo and Soyuz. They were all funded by states with grand goals in mind, not individuals or private enterprises.

9. He3 and the Moon

leaveearth2

Humanity invented the airplane and flew men to the Moon in less than 70 years, but after the Soviets decided to not pursue the space race further we lost the incentive to go back to the Moon. But there’s no better or more necessary time than the present to go back. In all the lunar soil samples brought back from the Moon, scientists have discovered large amounts of helium-3 (He3). This compound is a key ingredient for nuclear fusion, capable of providing the world with enough energy to last centuries. He3 is found on Earth in only very small quantities that lack a practical use. The Sun produces large quantities, but because of the Earth’s magnetic field He3 never reaches our planet’s surface. But the Moon is full of the stuff too, and presents far fewer obstacles. And unlike traditional nuclear reactors the theoretical He3 reactor will be more efficient, while the problem of nuclear waste will become practically nonexistent.

8. Space Tourism

leaveearth3

This is something some of us can theoretically be part of. We already have the possibility of seeing the Earth from really high up, but the price for doing so is beyond most of our means. The Russians will be very happy to take you on a flight, but you’ll have to leave behind somewhere between 30 to 35 million dollars.

As for the rest of us who don’t have that kind of money, there are a couple of alternatives that we can consider. Currently there are about half a dozen companies working towards bringing us into space. Virgin Galactic is developing a spaceship capable of taking six people into outer orbit for a couple of minutes, although at $200,000 that’s hardly a casual weekend getaway either. XCOR Aerospace, on the other hand, offers the intimacy of your trip being just you and the pilot for half the cost. Some want to take it a step further, like Robert Bigelow. This American hotel chain owner dreams of building inflatable living quarters in space for tourists and astronauts alike.

7. Colonize Mars

leaveearth4

When it comes to colonizing Mars, we have to think of its future colonists like the pioneers of the Old West. Once they leave, there’s no coming back — but the chance to go to another planet and call it home is, for some, more than a bargain.

Plans and projects are already unfolding. Mars One hopes to send unmanned missions in 2018, with humans arriving in 2024. It will take the astronauts seven months to get there, and once they arrive it’s not going to be about exploring, but surviving. They’ll get no assistance from anyone, not in terms of supplies like food, water, oxygen or basic aid from Earth. Nor in terms of a breathable atmosphere or temperatures above -70C from Mars itself. They’ll have to make due with only what they brought, along with their own ingenuity and willpower.

Living in space could be called claustrophobic at best, and they’ll lose touch with nature and all the stress fighting relief it provides. That’s why these first colonistswill bring plants with them. They’d provide the settlement with food and oxygen, and also a reminder of home. There’s even talk of terraforming Mars, but that’s a goal for a distant future generation.

6. And Venus

leaveearth5

The idea of colonizing Venus is probably far from your mind, considering it’s a fiery inferno of molten rock with oceans of liquid methane and sulfuric acid rain pushed down by an atmospheric pressure greater than a kilometer of water. Not quite the paradise we were hoping for, and by no means a good place to set up shop.

However, its atmosphere is quite different. 50 kilometers above the surface, conditions are somewhat similar to those here on Earth. Unlike the Moon or Mars, the Venusian atmosphere can shield us from most of the Sun’s UV rays and the pressure is similar to home. Besides Earth, Venus’ atmosphere is themost favorable place for human life in the entire Solar System.

While the surface of Venus reaches temperatures of over 450 C (842 F), the high atmosphere is just above 0 degrees (32 F), while the pressure inside is similar to outside conditions. This has led scientists to believe that a future floating city doesn’t need a heavily reinforced outer shell, just enough to withstand sulfuric acid droplets. Breathable air inside the colony will serve a double purpose of both keeping settlers alive and maintaining the ship at the right altitude.Resources needed to sustain the base and its people can be found all over, either in the air or on the ground. Manned missions to the surface are next to impossible because of the hellish conditions, but mining for resources can be done remotely.

5. The Asteroid Belt

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Next on the list of potential colonies is the asteroid belt situated between Mars and Jupiter. The size of these asteroids varies from small dust particles to bodies 940 km (530 miles) across, and the amount of resources found on them is staggering. There’s over a billion times the quantity of platinum, iron, gold, silver and other metals than there can be extracted here on Earth, not to mention all the water we’ll ever need. Mining these asteroids should and almost certainty will be left in the hands of robots, both to cut down on the already significant investment in resources mining will require, and to limit the danger.

4. Exoplanets

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We know surprisingly little about our own galaxy. For example, we don’t know its shape — because we’re part of it, our view is similar to that of a rat in a maze. We lack the big picture, and so scientists debate whether the Milky Way has two or four arms swirling around its core. Our perspective of galaxies is based on others that we can see, like the Andromeda Galaxy, which at 2.3 million light years away is the closest to our own.

We do, however, know that our Solar System is situated somewhere between the galaxy’s middle and its edge. It’s a good distance away from the core where huge amounts of deadly radiation is being produced, and not far enough into the outskirts where no heavy elements like carbon, calcium and iron can be created. These heavy elements are formed in the bellies of stars, and when these stars die they produce all the elements in and around us. Our Sun is a second or third generation star, meaning that other stars before it called this region of space their home at some point. The edges of the galaxy have fewer stars and thus fewer heavy elements, leading to fewer planets.

Habitable planets follow the same principle. They have to be at the correct distance from their star in order for their temperature to be just right, a region called The Goldilocks Zone. Scientists have discovered around 2000 other planets in our galactic “neighborhood.” We can determine their size, distance from their star and what they’re made of based on the gravitational effect they have on their parent star and the intensity of that star’s light when the planet travels in front of it. Some of these planets are quite close to us, relatively speaking. The nearest exoplanet in the Goldilocks Zone is just 13 light years away, while the next one is 20.2 light years. We can’t reach these planets, but in time and with the help of better technology future generations may get there.

3. Keeping Us Alive

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We live in a globalized society. People can come and go as they please, and can reach the other side of the world in less than a day. Borders are beginning to melt away like in the case of the European Union, and entire families can go and live in totally different places from where they were born. While this is by and large a good thing, one concern is that this is leading to a loss of cultural identity. Some people worry that no traditions will be left intact, and nations will forget what it truly means to be American or Russian, Catholic or Hindu.

Another concern is a global plague. Back in the Middle Ages Europe was decimated by the Black Death that arrived on boats from China. Over one third of Europe’s population was wiped out. The same thing happened in the Americas with the arrival of the Europeans, who brought diseases that killed over 90% of the indigenous population. These unfortunate events happened in somewhat isolated circumstances, but in a world where everyone is connected a virus could have dire consequences for the whole of humanity. Our vastly improved medical technology makes this unlikely, but the risk is there.

Leaving Earth and starting colonies on faraway worlds makes both these problems go away. This doesn’t mean that a deadly disease will never wreak havoc or that humans will never blend into some sort of unity of cultures, but by spreading into the galaxy we can assure diversity in both our traditions and our health.

2. Finding E.T.

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The question of whether we’re alone has been boggling man’s mind since as long as our minds could be boggled. There’s no definite answer, but as Arthur C. Clarke said, “Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”

The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence Institute has been keeping an ear on outer space for decades now, listening for potential transmissions coming from our possible neighbors. Little besides static has ever come out of deep space so far, with the exception of the WOW! Signal. Back in 1977, a 72 second transmission was received from near a star in the Sagittarius constellation, 120 light years away from Earth. Further attempts to locate the signal were in vain, leading to much controversy about its origins.

We’re probably looking at things the wrong way. When it comes to alien life, we really have to think outside the box. We could be surrounded on all sides by signs from distant worlds and we would have no idea, because we don’t know what other intelligent life considers communication to be. Recent discoveries have shown that information, be it in English, Chinese, French or Ancient Sumerian, has a distinct pattern. Some words are more frequent than others, and when someone is talking or writing these words, when graphed based on the frequency of their appearance, form a straight 45 degree angle. The same template even emerges with dolphins. If alien information exists in outer space, it will most certainly follow the same rules. We only need to know what to look for.

1. Finding A.I.

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Chances are that by the time we find extraterrestrial life we’ll have created intelligent life of our own right here on Earth. Artificial intelligence (A.I.) can take over many of our current day jobs. We’re already seeing hints of this, as scientists have been developing vehicles that can drive themselves. Hundreds of such cars have been tested on our roads for years, and the technology is getting better and better. These automated vehicles don’t need to be perfect; they only need to be better than us. They don’t get sleepy, they don’t text while driving and they don’t get distracted. Insurance companies might call them their perfect drivers.

Once this technology becomes mainstream, chances are that many of us will lose our jobs. Millions of people worldwide are employed in transportation, a job that will most certainly be automated in the future. The same principle applies to airline pilots, not to mention military drones currently used around the globe.

Exploring Space With WIF