Trials and Tribulations of Space Exploration
NASA just announced that the Kepler Space Telescope has identified a planet that is similar in size and distance from its star as Earth. Our technology for discovering new exo planets is advancing. We can see planets many light years away from our home planet. This recent planet is located in the Milky Way but still unreachable by modern spacecraft. We have no way of making a journey from our planet to any of the planets we have discovered that may be similar to Earth. Even Mars, in our own Solar System is as of now unattainable for a manned mission to reach and survive for any amount of time, then return. Until we can come up with a type of propulsion that can get us there faster we may not reach these planets, even if we had to. I am reminded of the Disney movie WALL-E. The Earth became uninhabitable and they were forced to board a cruise ship in space, only to return when Earth was again inhabitable. If there came a day when we had to abandon Earth, I think we would be in a lot of trouble unless there is some secret technology that has been developed that we are unaware of.
That would be the only way to be able to set a course for a distant star system and have any hope of a chance to reach it before your lifetime is over. Commercial space company SpaceX has stated that they will be working on a plan for a manned mission to Mars. After their failed rocket test last month, that might be on the back burner for a while until the problems can be worked out on the rockets, which are used on missions to resupply the International Space Station. I couldn’t imagine what goes into developing and troubleshooting rockets or space craft, I have a hard enough time with trying to keep my house clean on a regular basis. We as a whole society probably have no idea of the necessity to discover things such as exo planets or microorganisms because most of our lives revolves around things so distant from them. What most of them do not realize is that studying these things can help us better understand our lives on a daily basis. The things we learn can help us better prepare for what we face here at home or better understand why something is happening. We associate the degradation of our planet with the pollution caused by man and machine, but some planets have experienced total greenhouse effect without the effects of humans. We are trying to estimate what is happening to our planet based on a miniscule amount of time, compared to how long the Earth has been around. This may be just a trough in a vicious cycle of Earth’s climate shift that we have not seen before because we were not around to experience it. We are looking to other planets to try and answer some of these questions for us. Kepler is just one of many expensive projects to better understand our own planet by observing and studying distant ones.