Showing posts with label Space Research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Space Research. Show all posts

Quantum Computing Application To Detect Alien Life

While quantum computing may take many years to become commonplace in everyday life, the technology has already been enlisted to aid in the hunt for life in outer space. 

Zapata Computing, a quantum software firm, is collaborating with the University of Hull in the United Kingdom on research to assess Zapata's Orquestra quantum workflow platform, which will be used to improve a quantum application intended to identify signs of life in outer space. 

The assessment is not a controlled demonstration of characteristics, according to Dr David Benoit, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Physics and Astrochemistry at the University of Hull, but rather a study using real-world data. 

He said,

 "We're looking at how Orquestra works in realistic processes that utilize quantum computing to give typical real-life data." 

"Rather than a demonstration of skills, we're looking for actual usable data in this endeavor." 

Before the team releases an analysis of the study, the assessment will run for eight weeks. 

According to the parties, this will be the first of many partnerships between Zapata and the University of Hull for quantum astrophysics applications. 

The announcement comes as many quantum computing behemoths, including Google, IBM, Amazon, and Honeywell, were scheduled to attend a White House conference sponsored by the Biden administration to explore developing quantum computing applications. 

In certain instances, academics have resorted to quantum computing to finish tasks that would take too long for traditional computers to complete, and Benoit said the University of Hull is in a similar position. 

"The tests envisioned are still something that a traditional computer can perform," he said, "but, the computing time needed to get the answer has a factorial scale, meaning that bigger applications are likely to take days, months, or years to complete" (along with a very large amount of memory). 

The quantum equivalent is capable of solving such issues in a sub-factorial way (possibly quartic scaling), but this does not necessarily imply that it is quicker for all systems; rather, it means that the computing effort is significantly decreased for big systems. 

We're looking for a scalable method to do precise computations in our application, and quantum computers can help us achieve that. 

What is the scope of the job at hand? 

In 2016, MIT researchers proposed a list of more than 14,000 chemicals that may reveal indications of life in the atmospheres of far-away exoplanets, according to a statement from Zapata. 

However, nothing is presently understood about how these molecules vibrate and spin in response to neighboring stars' infrared light. 

Using new computer models of molecule rotations and vibrations, the University of Hull is attempting to create a library of observable biological fingerprints. 

Though quantum computing models have challenges in fault tolerance and error correction, Benoit claims that researchers are unconcerned about the performance of so-called Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) devices. 

"We consider the fact that the findings will be noisy as a beneficial thing since our approach really utilizes the statistical character of the noise/errors to try to get an accurate answer," he added. 

"Clearly, the better the mistake correction or the quieter the equipment, the better the result." 

However, utilizing Orquestra allows us to possibly switch platforms without having to re-implement significant portions of the code, which means we can easily compute with better hardware as it becomes available." 

Orquestra will enable researchers "produce important insights" from NISQ devices, according to Benoit, and researchers will be able to "create applications that utilize these NISQ devices today with the potential to exploit the more powerful quantum devices of the future." 

As a consequence, scientists should be able to do "very precise estimates of the fundamental variable determining atom-atom interactions — electrical correlation," which may enhance their capacity to identify the building elements of life in space. This is critical because even basic molecules like oxygen or nitrogen have complicated interactions that require very precise computations."

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Quantum Computing here.

How COSMOS-webb Is Mapping The Universe's Oldest Structures

When NASA's James Webb Space Telescope begins scientific operations in 2022, one of its first missions will be to record the universe's oldest structures. 

  • COSMOS-Webb is the biggest mission Webb will undertake during its first year, with a broad and deep survey of half a million galaxies. 
  • COSMOS-Near-Infrared Webb's Camera will scan a vast area of the sky—0.6 square degrees—with more than 200 hours of observation time (NIRCam). That's three full moons in size. 
  • With the Mid-Infrared Instrument, it will map a smaller region at the same time (MIRI). 

"It's a huge swath of sky that's unique to the COSMOS-Webb mission. The majority of Webb projects go extremely deep, similar to pencil-beam surveys that examine small areas of sky "Caitlin Casey, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the COSMOS-Webb program's co-leader, said. 

We can look at big-scale features at the beginning of galaxy formation since we're covering such a wide region. 

"We'll also search for some of the earliest galaxies, as well as trace the large-scale dark matter distribution of galaxies back to the beginning." 

  • Dark matter is invisible because it does not absorb, reflect, or emit light. Because of the impact it has on things that we can see, we know dark matter exists.
  • With multi-band, high-resolution near-infrared imaging and an unprecedented 32,000 galaxies in the mid infrared, COSMOS-Webb will investigate half a million galaxies. 
  • This survey will be a major legacy dataset from Webb for scientists researching galaxies beyond the Milky Way, thanks to its fast public release of the data. 

COSMOS started as a Hubble mission in 2002 to photograph a considerably bigger region of sky, about the size of ten full moons. 

  • The cooperation grew from there to encompass the majority of the world's main telescopes on Earth and in space. 
  • COSMOS is now a multi-wavelength survey that spans the whole electromagnetic spectrum from X-ray to radio. 
  • The COSMOS field is visible from observatories all around the globe because to its position in the sky. 
  • Because it is located on the celestial equator, it may be examined from both the northern and southern hemispheres, yielding a wealth of information. 

"A lot of extragalactic scientists go to COSMOS to conduct their analyses because the data products are so widely available, and it covers such a large area of the sky," said Jeyhan Kartaltepe, assistant professor of physics and co-leader of the COSMOS-Webb program at Rochester Institute of Technology. 

We're utilizing Webb to expand our coverage in the near-to mid-infrared portion of the spectrum, and therefore stretching out our horizon, or how far away we can see. 

COSMOS-Webb will expand on past findings to achieve breakthroughs in three areas of research: changing our knowledge of the Reionization Era, searching for early, fully developed galaxies, and understanding how dark matter evolved with star content in galaxies. 

To revolutionize our knowledge of the post-reionization period. 

The cosmos was totally black soon after the big bang. 

  • Stars and galaxies, which provide light to the universe, had not yet formed. 
  • The cosmos was made out of a primordial soup of neutral hydrogen and helium atoms, as well as unseen dark matter. 
  • This period is known as the cosmic dark ages. 
  • The first stars and galaxies appeared after several hundred million years, providing energy to reionize the early cosmos. 
  • This energy broke apart the hydrogen atoms that made up the cosmos, charging them and bringing the cosmic dark ages to an end. 

The Reionization Age is the name given to the new era in which the cosmos was filled with light. 

  • The primary aim of COSMOS-Webb is to study the reionization period, which occurred between 400,000 and 1 billion years after the big bang. 
  • Reionization most likely occurred in little bursts rather than all at once. 
  • COSMOS-Webb will search for bubbles that indicate where the early universe's initial pockets of reionization occurred. 

The team wants to figure out how big these reionization bubbles are. 

  • "Hubble did a fantastic job of locating a few of these galaxies out to early periods," Casey said, "but we need many more galaxies to understand the reionization process." Scientists have no idea what type of galaxies ushered in the Reionization Era, whether they were large or low-mass systems. 
  • COSMOS-Webb will be able to locate extremely big, uncommon galaxies and study their distribution in large-scale structures, which will be a first. 

So, do the galaxies that cause reionization live in a cosmic metropolis, or are they generally equally dispersed across space? 

Only a large survey like COSMOS-Webb can assist scientists in answering this question. 

Finding early, fully developed galaxies. 

COSMOS-Webb will look for fully developed galaxies that stopped forming stars in the first 2 billion years after the big bang. 

  • Hubble has discovered a few of these galaxies, which call into question current theories about how the universe came to be. 
  • Scientists are baffled as to how these galaxies may contain ancient stars while not generating any new ones so early in the universe's existence. 
  • Many of these unusual galaxies will be discovered by the team using a big survey like COSMOS-Webb. 
  • They want to study these galaxies in depth in order to figure out how they might have developed so quickly and shut off star production so early. 

Discovering how dark matter developed in relation to star content in galaxies. 

COSMOS-Webb will provide scientists with information on how dark matter in galaxies has changed through time as the star composition of galaxies has changed. 

  • Galaxies are made up of two kinds of stuff: visible matter that we see in stars and other objects, and unseen dark matter that is frequently more massive than the galaxy and may surround it in a halo. 
  • In galaxy creation and evolution, these two types of matter are linked. 
  • However, there is currently little understanding of how the dark matter mass in galaxies' halos originated and how that dark matter influences galaxies' formation. 

COSMOS-Webb will shed light on this process by enabling scientists to use "weak lensing" to directly detect these dark matter halos. 

  • Gravity from any kind of mass, whether dark or bright, may act as a lens, bending the light we see from faraway galaxies. 
  • Weak lensing alters the apparent form of background galaxies, allowing scientists to directly estimate the mass of the halo's dark matter when it's in front of other galaxies. 
  • "For the first time, we'll be able to measure the relationship between dark matter mass and luminous mass of galaxies back to the first 2 billion years of cosmic time," said team member Anton Koekemoer, a research astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore who helped design the program's observing strategy and is in charge of constructing all of the images from the project. 
  • "That's an important era for us to understand how galaxies' mass was initially set in place, and how dark matter halos drive it. And that, in turn, may help us comprehend galaxy formation in a more indirect way." 

Data sharing with the community in a timely manner COSMOS-Webb is a Treasury initiative, and its goal is to generate datasets of long-term scientific relevance. 

Treasury Programs aim to address a variety of scientific questions with a single, consistent dataset. 

Data obtained via a Treasury Program typically does not have an exclusive access period, allowing other researchers to analyze it right away. 

  • "As a Treasury Program, you agree to release your data and data products to the community as soon as possible," Kartaltepe said. 
  • "We're going to create this community resource and make it publicly accessible so that other scientists may utilize it in their research." 
  • "A Treasury Program commits to making all of these scientific products publicly accessible so that anybody in the community, even at very tiny universities, may have the same, equal access to the data products and then simply conduct the work," Koekemoer said. 

COSMOS-Webb is a General Observers program in Cycle 1. 

  • The General Observers programs were chosen via a competitive process utilizing a dual-anonymous review mechanism, similar to the one used to distribute Hubble time. 
  • When it launches in 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope will be the world's top space scientific observatory. 
  • Webb will explore beyond our solar system to distant planets orbiting other stars, as well as the enigmatic architecture and origins of our universe and our role in it. 
  • Webb is a NASA-led multinational project involving ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency as partners.


~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about space based systems here.

Space Mission Planning

The first thing to consider when planning a space trip is why we want to undertake it and what we expect to gain from the findings. 

The following issues concern the enterprise's viability, as indicated by the following questions: 

    • How much does it set you back? 
    • Is it reasonably priced? 
    • Can it be done technically (and politically)? 
    • How safe is it, and what are the chances of it failing? 
    • Can we launch (and potentially build) the necessary vehicles in space? 

Without putting in a lot of time and effort into early research and modeling, even rough solutions to these issues are difficult to come by. 

Additionally, there are a variety of architectural variants in space ships, their sequencing, phasing, and destinations that may be used to carry out such a space mission. 

“Mission architectures” or simply “architectures” are the terms used to describe these different variants. Conducting thorough studies of each possible architectural alternative would require substantial financial resources as well as a significant amount of time and work. 

  • Furthermore, while planning a human trip to Mars, it is virtually difficult to predict what the status of marginal technologies like nuclear propulsion and large-scale aero entry will be many decades from now. 
  • As a result, the most common method includes a rudimentary first study to evaluate architectural alternatives, from which a small selection of preferred designs may be determined that should be investigated further. 

The initial mass in low Earth orbit (IMLEO) is often used as an approximate gauge of mission cost in early planning, and since IMLEO can generally be predicted to some degree, it is frequently used as a proxy for mission cost. 

  • This is predicated on the idea that when comparing a set of possible missions to accomplish a given objective, the quantity of "stuff" that has to be transported to LEO is a significant driver of the cost.
  • IMLEO is the overall mass in LEO at the start, but it doesn't say how that total mass is divided up into individual vehicles. 
  • Unless on-orbit assembly is used, the mass of the biggest spacecraft in LEO determines the requirements for launch vehicle capacity (how much mass a launch vehicle must lift in “one fell swoop”). 

As a result, the early planning of space missions, as well as the preliminary selection of mission designs, is based on two linked parameters: 

(1) IMLEO, and 

(2) the necessary launch vehicle and number of launches. 

It's critical to realize that the requirements for space missions are driven by the need for vehicles to accelerate to great speeds. 

  • Unlike a car, which has a big crew compartment and a tiny petrol tank, most spacecraft have huge propellant tanks and a small crew cabin. 
  • A space mission is made up of many propulsion stages, each of which contains more propellants than cargo. 

Each propulsion step necessitates the acceleration of both the cargo and the propellants set aside for subsequent acceleration steps. 

  • As a consequence, the majority of IMLEO is spent on propellants rather than payload. 
  • The quantity of propellants transported to LEO to go from here to there (and back) becomes (at least in part) the decisive element in evaluating whether a space mission is possible and economical. 
  • As we previously said, this is reflected in the value of IMLEO, which is mostly comprised of propellants rather than payload. 
  • This image may alter in the future if we can effectively deliver propellants to LEO.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

You may also want to read more about Space Missions and Systems here.

Space Campaigns

A campaign is a collection of closely linked space missions that work together to achieve the campaign's overall objectives. 

Each mission in the campaign may be unique in certain instances, and the primary benefit given by past missions to future missions is the information acquired from previous missions, which may affect mission locations and verify instrumentation, flying technologies, or other mission design components.

  • In the case of robotic expeditions to Mars, this is usually the case. 
  • Prior robotic trips to Mars will be required to test new technology on Mars before they can be used by humans. 
  • The campaign, which is made up of a series of human operations, will, nevertheless, develop infrastructure and improve capabilities with each mission. 
  • The MEP, for example, envisions a series of exploratory robotic trips to Mars, each of which gives crucial information on where to go and what to search for in the next mission (s). 

The NASA lunar exploration project of approximately 7–9 years ago was an outline of a campaign, but the campaign was not clearly defined, apart from the fact that it would start with short-duration “sortie” flights and progress to the construction of a lunar “outpost” with unknown location and functions. 

  • In reality, preliminary planning failed to address several key elements of the sortie missions or improve the Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM), with virtually all of the attention focused on the so-called Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). 
  • NASA seems to have lost sight of the entire campaign and how the parts fit together throughout this process. 

Although ISRU for generating oxygen for ascent propulsion was a major topic for outposts, the removal of oxygen as an ascension propellant indicates that various organizations working on the lunar exploration program were not only not communicating, but were also working at cross-purposes. 

  • At the highest level, a campaign should begin with a set of objectives to be met. 
  • A collection of hypothetical missions that might form the basis of a campaign would be defined. 
  • Campaigns are collections of missions, although the order in which they are completed may be random. 

Consider the following scenario: 

  • • Each Mission has at least two potential outcomes, each with a probability associated with it. 
  • • If Event A occurs, go to Mission 2A; if Event B occurs, proceed to Mission 2B. 
  • • Each campaign may have a variety of potential results (each with a different series of missions, and differing cost, risk, and performance) 

A "tree-diagram" depicting various models for the campaign as routes across a space consisting of configurations of sequentially ordered missions may be used to illustrate alternative methods for carrying out a campaign. 

  • A lot of researchers have been looking at methods for determining the best campaign (i.e. the best sequence of missions) based on some kind of campaign merit figure. 
  • However, since this is a complicated topic, it is beyond the scope of this debate. 

The features, characteristics, and needs of the various missions that make up a campaign must be understood in order to make a smart campaign decision.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

You may also want to read more about Space Missions and Systems here.

Humans On Mars: A Skeptic's Perspective

It's encouraging to learn that the Mars Society is interested about creating law and order in townships on Mars. 

However, there are immediate difficulties in sending the first people to Mars for preliminary exploration, and the costs and dangers are very high. 

There are many issues to consider: 

(1) What are the primary objectives of the Mars mission? 

(2) How does robotic vs human exploration compare in terms of benefits and costs? 

(3) What are the dangers and difficulties associated with sending people to Mars? 

The dominant opinion in both scientific and futuristic circles, as we covered in earlier parts, is that the primary reason to investigate Mars is the hunt for life, which necessitates a search for liquid water (mostly past). 

Futurists and visionaries have imaginations that extend well beyond this early stage, to the point when human communities are created for their "social, inspirational, and resource worth." 

Even if we accept the implausible notion that the hunt for life on Mars is essential to exploration, the issue of comparative costs and potential outcomes based on robotic vs human exploration of Mars remains. 

The benefit-to-cost ratio for robotic exploration seems to be much higher. 

Furthermore, because the search for life is likely to fail, maybe the true benefit in investigating Mars is to learn more about why the three terrestrial planets, Venus, Earth, and Mars, came out to be so different, despite the fact that they were all equipped with comparable resources from the outset. Venus has a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere, while Mars has relatively little. 

  • There are ideas as to why this occurs, however it may be required to explore the planets to learn more about the geological history of how this happened. 
  • In comparison to robotic exploration, sending people to Mars seems to be a highly costly and hazardous endeavor. 
  • In terms of the wider, aspirational perspective stated in DRM-1, the push for a long-term human presence beyond Earth seems to be at least a few hundred years premature. 

Certainly, the existence of a few people on Mars will not alleviate any of the stresses that the Earth is experiencing owing to overcrowding, pollution, or resource depletion. 

Comparative planetology is an admirable aim, but it is unclear if human presence is required to achieve it. 

Without sending people to Mars, aren't there plenty of possibilities for international collaboration on Earth? 

By comparing bigger societal expenditures, the conclusion that the investment needed to transport people to Mars is "small" is reached. 

However, when compared to conventional space expenses, it is enormous. 

On the other hand, the claims that new technologies or new applications of existing technologies will benefit not only humans exploring Mars but will also improve people's lives on Earth may have some merit, and that the boldness and grandeur of Mars exploration "will motivate our youth, drive technical education goals, and excite the people and nations of the world" may have some merit. 

It ultimately comes down to the benefit/cost ratio, which seems to be poor in this case. 

Aside from the why and if it is worthwhile, the actual problem at hand is the technical, financial, and logistical obstacles that a human trip to Mars would face. 

Nonetheless, a human trip to Mars would be a tremendous technical feat and the pinnacle of more than 60 years of rocketry and space exploration.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

You may also want to read more about Space Missions and Systems here.

Why Send Humans To Mars?

The Opinions of the Enthusiasts, Science, inspiration, and resources are three of the most common reasons for exploring the Moon or Mars. 

This foundation was laid by Paul Spudis for lunar exploration6, but many of the same ideas have been extended to Mars by fans. 

The NASA Mars Design Reference Mission (DRM-1) elucidated the justification for human exploration of Mars in great detail (Hoffman et al. 1997). 

A workshop on the "whys" of Mars exploration was conducted in August 1992 at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. 

The workshop participants highlighted six key components of a Mars exploration program's justification, which are described here.

  • Human Evolution—Outside of the Earth-Moon system, Mars is the most accessible planetary body where prolonged human presence is thought to be feasible. 
  • The technological goals of Mars exploration should be to figure out what it would take to maintain a permanent human presence outside of Earth. 
  • Comparative Planetology—One of the scientific goals of Mars exploration should be to learn more about the planet and its past so that we may learn more about Earth. 
  • International Cooperation—At the conclusion of the Cold War, the political climate may be favorable to a coordinated international effort that is both suitable and needed for a long-term program. Technology 
  • Advancement—Human exploration of Mars is now on the verge of becoming a reality. Some of the technology needed to complete this mission is already in place or is on the way. Other technologies will emerge as a result of the mission's requirements. 
  • Novel technology, or new applications of current technologies, will help not just those exploring Mars, but also people on Earth. Mars exploration's objectives are audacious, big, and a stretch of the imagination. 

Such objectives will test the population's collective ability to achieve this accomplishment, will inspire our young, will push technical education goals, and will thrill people and countries across the globe. 

A Mars exploration mission is a low-cost investment when compared to other types of societal expenditures. 

“In the long run, the greatest value of human exploration of Mars may possibly be the philosophical and practical consequences of colonizing another planet,” DRM-1 said.

  •  Human history, overpopulation, resource depletion, the quest for religious or economic freedom, competitive advantage, and other human problems were all discussed in DRM-1. 
  • The idea that Mars might one day be a home for humans is at the heart of most of the public enthusiasm in Mars exploration outside of the realm of basic research. 

A human settlement on Mars, which would have to be self-sufficient in order to be sustainable, would satisfy human desires to push the boundaries of human capability, provide the possibility of saving human civilization from an ecological disaster on Earth (for example, a giant asteroid impact or a nuclear incident), and potentially lead to a new range of human endeavors not possible on Earth. 

DRM-1 went on to say that there are three things to think about: 

  • Demonstrating the ability to be self-sufficient. Demonstrating that humans can thrive and live on Mars. 
  • Demonstrating that the dangers of survival encountered by residents on Mars in their everyday lives are consistent with the advantages they perceive. 
  • Robert Zubrin, the founder and president of the Mars Society, is a leading proponent of Mars exploration. Zubrin (2005) further on why he thinks humanity should go to Mars. 

In fact, when he says we can accomplish it in a decade, his excitement outweighs his common sense. “Of all the planetary destinations presently within reach,” Zubrin said, “Mars offers the most—scientifically, socially, and in terms of what it portends for humanity's future.” 

  • Zubrin repeated a widely held view in the scientific community: that any planet with liquid water flowing on its surface in the presence of sunshine would ultimately spontaneously develop life. 
  • “So if the hypothesis is true that life is a naturally occurring phenomena, emerging from chemical ‘complexification' anywhere there is liquid water, a temperate temperature, adequate minerals, and enough time, then life should have emerged on Mars,” Zubrin concluded. 
  • This was based on his argument that “liquid water flowed on the surface of Mars for a billion years throughout its early history, a period five times as long as it took life to emerge on Earth once liquid water existed.” 

Zubrin considered looking for "fossils of previous life" on the surface of Mars, as well as employing "drilling rigs to access subterranean water where Martian life may still exist." He thinks that the inspiration generated by a Mars mission has enormous societal benefit. 

  • “The most essential reason to travel to Mars is the gateway it offers to the future,” he said. Mars is the only alien body in the inner solar system that has all of the resources necessary to sustain not just life, but also the formation of a technological civilization. 
  • We shall begin humanity's career as a multi-planet species by establishing our initial footing on Mars.” Many Mars enthusiasts back Zubrin (the Mars Society's mission is to "advance the objective of the exploration and colonization of the Red Planet.") 
  • They seem to think that “in 10 years” we will be able to transport people to Mars and establish long-term colonies. 
  • Every year, futurists present comprehensive ideas for long-term colonies on Mars at the International Space Development Conference. 

The Mars Society often refers to colonies on Mars as the next stage in the history of "colonization," and cautions against repeating the errors committed on Earth. 

  • According to the Oregon Chapter of the Mars Society, "there will most likely be a few clusters of tiny villages when the first colonies are put up." They should widen out as time goes by. 
  • The more dispersed the townships are, the more likely they are to establish their own culture.
  • Townships will first be reliant on one another for common resources such as food, water, fuel, and air.
  • People should be encouraged to establish more isolated settlements after a more solid infrastructure has been established on Mars. 
  • The law is an essential factor to consider in every region where colonization or expansion has happened. 
  • On Mars, some kind of law will be required. When we consider the system that was utilized in the old west, we can see that whomever is in charge of enforcing the law may have trouble doing so. 
  • The sheriffs' on Mars must be trustworthy persons who have the support of the majority of the population. 
  • They should not be chosen by the present crop of politically motivated citizens; this would only promote corruption. Instead, some kind of volunteer lottery system should be permitted. 
  • In terms of the legislation itself, it should be enacted to protect everyone's fundamental rights, from speech to privacy. 

While these fanatics are already preoccupied with creating law and order on Mars, this humble writer is just concerned with safely getting there and back. 

Rycroft offered a different point of view (2006). “The overall aim of space exploration for the twenty-first century should be to bring people to Mars, with the primary purpose of having them stay there,” he said. 

The aim was to give humanity with “a second base in the Solar System... since the Earth may no longer be livable at some time in the future.” Rycroft pointed out that this might happen as a result of a catastrophic event on Earth. 

Civilization may self-destruct, or the Earth may be rendered uninhabitable by a massive natural disaster. 

Overpopulation, global terrorism, nuclear war or accident, cyber technology war or accident, biological war or accident, emergence of a super-virus, asteroid collision, geophysical events (e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, volcanoes, hurricanes), resource depletion (e.g., oil, natural gas reserves), climate change, global warming and sea level rise, stratospheric ozone depletion, stratospheric ozone depletion.

 “The chances are no better than 50–50 that our current civilisation on Earth will survive to the end of the century,” he added, quoting M. Rees. 

The most urgent problems include overpopulation, pollution, global warming, resource depletion, and the global spread of Islamic terrorism, which may lead to a third World War between the West and Islam. 

While Rycroft highlighted the gravity of these dangers, his proposed approach of "colonization of Mars by the end of the twenty-first century" will exacerbate rather than alleviate humanity's difficulties. 

How will we manage to populate the Earth and live in peace if we can't do it on Mars, which has an immensely harsher climate? 

A number of new projects aiming towards human exploration of Mars have emerged in the eight years after the original version of this book was published. has been an outspoken proponent of sending people to Mars. 

Their strategy seems to be to organize gatherings and have prominent individuals give remarks. Mars One will create a permanent human colony on Mars, according to Mars One. 

Starting in 2024, four-person crews will leave every two years. 

In 2018, we will launch our first unmanned mission. Participate in our journey to Mars by joining the Global Mars One Community.

According to a 2014 news report10, "Sending people to Mars by the 2030s is cheap," but "several critical adjustments are required if it is to materialize." 

  • A workshop group of more than 60 people from more than 30 government, industrial, academic, and other institutions discovered that if NASA's budget is restored to pre-sequestration levels, a human trip to Mars lead by NASA is possible. 
  • A human arrival on Mars is still approximately 20 years away, according to a more recent news report11, but NASA's journey to the Red Planet seems to be gradually moving ahead. 
  • NASA's top human exploration official told a Senate panel that major components of the deep-space rocket, capsule, and infrastructure required to reach Mars are on track for a landing in the 2030s. 
  • NASA is developing the technologies required to transport people to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s, according to a NASA website. 
  • NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and colleagues from throughout the agency presented NASA's Human Path to Mars during an Exploration Forum at NASA Headquarters in Washington on April 29, 2014. 

The Mars Society continues to push for human trips to the Red Planet. 

Human arrival on Mars is just a decade or two away, according to dozens, if not hundreds, of websites. Some groups, on the other hand, have determined that all of the above are untrue. 

The National Research Council (NRC) determined that NASA's human spaceflight program had an unsustainable and dangerous approach that will prohibit the United States from landing a person on Mars in the near future. 

The 286-page National Research Council report, the result of an 18-month, $3.2 million congressional investigation, concludes that continuing on the current path with budgets that don't keep up with inflation "invites failure, disillusionment, and the loss of the longstanding international perception that human spaceflight is something the US does best." 

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

You may also want to read more about Space Missions and Systems here.

Views Of The Curmudgeons On The Search For Life On Mars

How life started on Earth is one of science's biggest unanswered mysteries. 

The current consensus among scientists is that life forms relatively easily and with a high probability on a planet if you start with a temperate climate, liquid water, carbon dioxide, and possibly ammonia, hydrogen and other basic chemicals, and electrical discharges (lightning) to break up molecules and form free radicals that can react with one another. 

How is it possible for such rubbish to be propagated in the scientific community? 

  • At least part of the explanation seems to be attributable to the fact that “the planet was a dead rock 4.6 billion years ago; a billion years later it was teeming with early forms of life.” 
  • The fact that life originated very early in the Earth's history is one of the pillars of the commonly held belief that life forms readily and with high probability—an argument that I can't find any evidence for. To begin with, we don't know whether life "began" on Earth or was transported from another body to Earth. 

Second, since we don't know how life began, how can we be certain that the relatively early appearance of life on Earth is predictive of anything? 

There is no evidence or logic to indicate that if life originated 3 billion years after the Earth's creation (rather than 1 billion), the chance of life developing would be lower than if life began in 1 billion years. 

Even if this reasoning were true, which it isn't, the difference would be just a factor of three, while the inherent likelihood of life formation must be a very high negative exponential. 

  • If you imagine a million planets orbiting stars in a billion galaxies, all of which have the same basic requirements: temperate climate, liquid water, carbon dioxide, and possibly ammonia, hydrogen and other basic inorganic chemicals, and electrical discharges (lightning), you'll notice that if life emerges on any of them and evolves into thinking beings, the people who live there will be the same as the people on Earth. “I think, therefore I exist,” as Descartes put it. 
  • Assume that the chances of life developing on such a planet are very remote, and that it requires an extraordinarily rare confluence of chemical, electrical, and geological processes to create the required channel for life to emerge from natural molecules. 
  • Assume that out of those 1,000,000 planets, life only developed once on one of them. People that developed on that planet would believe they were prototypical of other worlds and that life exists all throughout the cosmos. Because we are living, we are conscious of life. We have no way of knowing whether life has existed somewhere else. 

Given the complexity of life—even the smallest bacteria needs about 2000 complex organic enzymes to function—the likelihood of life evolving spontaneously from basic inorganic chemicals seems to be very remote. 

  • This chance, according to Hoyle (1983), is very small. Hoyle goes on to say that life began somewhere in the cosmos and was "sown" on Earth by interstellar dust grains. 
  • Many of the ideas in Hoyle's book that support seeding life from alien origins were thoroughly debunked by Korthof (2014). 
  • The majority of these complaints seem to be valid. However, the issue of how life began, whether on Earth or elsewhere, remains unanswered. 

Faced with the problem that the chances of life emerging spontaneously are very low, Hoyle proposed a quasi-religious perspective that the world is under “intelligent control,” with life being generated by higher powers that we cannot comprehend. 

  • Shapiro (1987) presented a hilarious allegory of a seeker of the solution to the beginning of existence who travels to the Himalayas to see a renowned guru. 
  • Every day, the guru presents the seeker with a new far-fetched “scientific” idea, and the seeker remains unsatisfied. 
  • Finally, on the last day, the guru reads the first page of Genesis (“In the beginning,...”), and the seeker decides that this explanation is approximately as good as the “scientific” ones. 
  • Consider the Earth 4 billion years ago, after it had finished its initial creation and cooling process. 

How long did it take for life to show up? 

Is it a day? Is it really a month? Is it really a year? 

What is a millennium? Hundreds of millions of years? 

Did it emerge in a single location or all across the world? 

Why isn't life still developing if it formed that quickly? 

  • If it took a few hundred million years, it was likely due to an extremely unusual series of occurrences. 
  • The issue with all of the theories about how life emerged from inanimate stuff is that none of them can withstand even a cursory examination. 
  • Given 1,000,000 planets in the universe with a climate that might potentially sustain life, it is conceivable that only an extraordinarily unusual and fortunate conflux of circumstances led to the creation of life on one planet (or possibly a few). 
  • We are the one, according to Descartes' reasoning, if life originated on just one planet. 
  • As a result, the hunt for life on Mars seems to be destined to failure—or at the very least, a high chance of failure. 
  • The whole direction of inquiry and study may be shifted depending on how the basic questions are phrased. 

One of the "four big questions" posed by the ESA Cosmic Vision5 is: 

"What are the prerequisites for planetary formation and the development of life?" 

  • This tilts the whole framework toward the widely held belief that, given enough time, a set (or sets) of circumstances (temperature, pressure, atmospheric components, liquid water, energy input, etc.) would deterministically create life from inanimate matter as a matter of chemistry. 
  • This perspective has impacted (and, in my opinion, distorted) the whole Mars Exploration Program into a futile, doomed-to-fail hunt for life on Mars, as well as spawned a slew of fictitious stories about the quest for life. 

We don't even know if life began on Earth or was brought there from somewhere else. As a result, it's unclear if life began on planets. 

  • It's conceivable that the development of life from inanimate stuff is a complex, unlikely, nearly impossible process that necessitates a series of improbable sequential occurrences, such that life only exists once in the universe, and we'll never know where or how. 
  • The widely held notion that life would develop deterministically in many places across the cosmos where there is water and moderate temperatures seems to be unfounded. 
  • Someone appears to declare a major “breakthrough” in understanding how life started from inanimate matter many times a year, and they generally conclude that life forms quickly and with a high likelihood. 
  • Jeremy England, a 31-year-old physicist at MIT, believes he has discovered the fundamental physics driving the genesis and development of life.

What is the purpose of life? 

  • A primordial soup, a flash of lightning, and a massive stroke of luck are all popular theories. 
  • However, if a controversial new hypothesis is true, chance may have a little role. 
  • The genesis and subsequent development of life, according to the physicist who proposed the theory, "should be as unsurprising as pebbles flowing downhill," according to the scientist who proposed the theory. All of these ideas, however, fall short on one crucial aspect. 

Why isn't fresh life sprouting up everywhere around us if life develops readily and deterministically from the "primordial soup"? 

What does it indicate about the inherent likelihood of creating life from the "primordial soup" if it takes millions of years for life to emerge from such a large quantity of it?

Nonetheless, there are still compelling reasons to visit Mars. 

The following are some of them: 

  • However, knowing the circumstances that existed on early Mars will certainly offer significant insights as to how the Mars we see today came to be. 
  • In this regard, Mars may offer crucial information on the nature of the early Earth. 
  • The Noachian is thought to account for up to 40% of the Martian surface, although this era is hardly represented in the Earth's geologic record, since the few exposures that have been found are extensively metamorphosed (i.e., with uncertain preservation of original texture and chemistry). 
  • Because Earth and Mars are Solar System neighbors, they are likely to have shared certain early (pre-3.7 Ga) processes, and research on Mars may help us learn more about our own planet.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

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