We got our first television way back when I was 7 or 8 years old. Of course back then there was only one TV station that we could get at the time. Since we lived just south of Butler, PA, it was KDKA channel 2 out of Pittsburgh. Even back then, my favorite programs were science fiction. I grew up having no doubt what so ever that some day man would explore the universe. Of course at that young age I had no idea how large the universe is and to think about it, I still don’t. Unless some magical never thought of type of super transportation is developed or the sci-fi teleporter can actually be perfected, we are stuck to our own solar system and then probably only to our closest neighbors, the moon and Mars.
I believe that the best chance of life elsewhere in our solar system would be on Europa, a moon of Jupiter. Europa is an ocean world covered by a layer of ice. The gravitational interaction between it and Jupiter heats Europa enough to keep the ocean liquid and a perfect place for life to form. Jupiter puts out very strong radiation that would be bad for humans and doesn’t do electronics very much good unless they are will shielded.
No matter how tough we think we are; man is fragile. Once you get up over 10,000 or more feet you will understand that you feel much better closer to sea level. Our earth’s atmosphere and magnetic flux shield us from the Sun’s dangerous radiation. The solution, let robots or machines do our exploring for us. They can go more places with less shielding and life support than man could ever dream of going. They have gone close to the sun and have either landed or flown by all the major things in our solar system and sent back information and pictures from these places. Without these machines, we would not know much about the solar system.
Speaking of these machines, how many of you remember when the two Voyager space craft were launched back 34 years ago? Do you know that they are still sending back data? They are so far away that it takes over 12 hours for their radio signals to reach us here on earth. In fact, Voyager 1 will become the first spacecraft to cross the boundary of the heliosphere and into interstellar space. BTW, the heliosphere is a huge bubble of charged particles from the sun that surrounds our solar system.
Just think, if a young astronaut, say at age 25 had been on that flight, he would be almost 60 years old by now. So now, maybe you will understand that machines are, for the time being, our best way to explore places higher than Mount Everest.
You all have an out of this world week, you here?