I chose to write about the difficulties and ethical dilemmas of space exploration, and write about colonisation. This relates to my Btec science in many different aspects. I will be looking into slightly technical bit of colonisation which requires knowledge in science. Also I will be talking about Mars colonisation, and that requires a good knowledge about the planets, size of planet, type of planet, molecules present in the planet, and of course any researches conducted on planet. Cosmos – a space surrounded by mystery, forces and massive formations of hydrogen, helium, oxygen and carbon which we call planets, stars, asteroids1. No live creature’s brains on earth are able to visualize the size of the space. Cosmos is able to be empty and full at the same time. Why empty? Compared to the size of cosmos all the planets and all the atoms are only a small part of an old system. Although compared to the size of it there is nothing much in it, for us, humans, the amount of planets, stars, galaxies can only be represented by a number we call infinity. Infinity is an unidentified number, number that is so large that our brains are not able to process it.By looking at human nature, we have always been explorers. This curiosity led us on the path of cultural evolution. At first we started to discover other continents; Columbus discovered America and Willem Janszoon discovered Australia. Once we completed the exploration of the land, we started to analyse our surroundings, . People started to discover patterns in nature, which we now call science. People started to wonder: what’s behind the clouds, where do we live, why are we here?2 Then we started to observe the sky, the movement of the moon and stars.Then ideas about the round Earth came to life. Pythagoras was the first person to propose that the Earth has to be a sphere. He based his findings on a fact that he observed: The moon must be round by observing the shape of the termination (the line between the light and dark side of them moon). The great Aristotle declared that the Earth was a sphere based on observations he made about constellations that you could see in the sky as you travelled further and further away from the equator. All those discoveries led to present time.3Not long time ago, the first person visited space in 1961. It was Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin4. At the very end of 20th century, people began to think about colonising the space. The first planet in mind was mars. At the time it was the most earth-like planet. With the help of satellites, we found out that there were old evaporated riverbeds on the surface of mars, that showed that once there had to be some water, and if there was some water there could have been some life. At the time everyone was shocked and started to wonder, is there still life on mars, is there any intelligent species? All the questions that people’s curiosity caused, drove largest space related company National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to create something that could reveal some more mars secrets. And then the first mars rover was ‘born’. The first rover landed on mars on July 4, 1997. Mars ‘Pathfinder'(U.S spacecraft that landed the rover on mars) landed the first object created on earth in mars. It was a small 10.6 kilograms wheeled robotic rover named ‘Sojourner’. The six-wheel rover explored the area near the lander. The mission’s primary objective was to demonstrate the feasibility of low-cost landings on the Martian surface. After great scientific success and public interest, the mission formally ended on November 4, 1997, when NASA ended daily communications with the Pathfinder lander and Sojourner rover. During that time the rover traveled around 100 meters, but never gone more than 12 meters from the Pathfinder. The rover sent more than 550 pictures and more that 16,500 images. The lander and rover communicated to Earth nearly three times longer than projected, sending back enough scientific information to keep researchers here, on earth busy for years. One of the most fascinating pictures was the mars sunset. Nowadays mars is still a planet that has the biggest chance of being colonised by us simply because of the distance from earth and some similarities. There are a few main groups that pushes the idea forward like SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Mars One group. There is a lot of plans on how to colonise mars, but the most popular and realistic is terraforming mars. Terraforming of a planet, moon, or other body is the process of deliberately modifying its atmosphere, temperature, surface topography or ecology to be similar to the environment of Earth to make it habitable by Earth-like life(Us). Based on experiences with Earth, the environment of a planet can be altered deliberately; however, the feasibility of creating an unconstrained planetary environment that mimics Earth on another planet has yet to be verified. Aerospace engineer at NASA R.Zubrin is regarded as the driving force behind the proposed Mars Direct mission to reduce the cost and complexity of interplanetary travel. His opinion that was formed by intense research and work done was clearly expressed in one interview done by Astrobiology magazine, he said ”The basic of ethics needs to be of benefit to humanity, if there is life on Mars, it is microbial, and its interests can in no way be considered as commensurate with human interests. Those who argue otherwise strike a fashionable pose, but deny their arguments every day through their actions”. Majority of the scientists support this and other similar opinions about our activities in space and plans of colonisation. They defend this opinion with a fact that an intellectual life form can not exist in our solar system. If it would, we would already know and notice it. What scientists do not deny is that there is a possibility of microbial life form. Even if we would encounter microbial life during colonisation, we have no intentions to harm it or experiment with it in any way. I think people should not mix two words: Explore and experiment. Yes, we might explore the microbes and try to explain where are they from, what kind of bacteria is it etc. But not a single scientist mentioned experimenting or trying to alter the evolution of it on purpose. Some people think that even a small change in foreign microbe’s evolution can not be caused. To that scientists respond that we should not put bacteria and microbes above us humans. We are intelligent species and as Richard taylor said, we should ”Move over microbe”. Those who are against the colonisation and space travel have a strong argument as well. Terraforming mars or any other planet would exhibit narcissism. A lot of times it is self-evident when enthusiasts and scientists start speaking about terraforming, when they imagine the possible future where humans gained god like powers and can reshape any planet they want to fit their needs. Another point why terraforming would include arrogance is to think what we did to Earth, our own planet. The place that we call home is trashed and polluted in every way possible. Until we grasp basic knowledge like treating our home, our planet in a better way, any attempt to reshape a planet, its’ surface and nature would be egocentric. Personally I think that terraforming is a great option to create an immortal species, humans. By terraforming you reshape a planet which does not cause harm to anyone unless there is life. In my opinion we could find solutions that would fit the needs of both scientists and people who are against terraforming. For example the biggest dilemma is altering of life in a planet terraformed. To solve this problem we could still send some people or robots/rovers to explore the planet and search for any signs of life. If there is no life or signs of it we could start terraforming and both sides would be happy. Another strong argument by people against terraforming is Earth example. They say that the planet terraformed will have the same destiny as Earth. I do not agree with this argument and I think the complete opposite would happen. Because people who plan terraforming and will perform it if it will ever happen are very intellectual, I think Earth will become a good example of how not to take care of the planet. We started destroying Earth and Its atmosphere without knowing the massive impact it will have. Because we already know the severe impacts of pollution and waste of materials, we would manage our new planet in a completely new way. Of course it is hard to predict what rules would apply and how we would regulate the important variables, but I am positive that the new planet would serve a lot longer than Earth because we would take care of it more. The only unsolved dilemma I think would be narcissism. If we would be able to successfully reshape a planet, we would reshape our minds as well. The god-like feeling of terraforming would have an impact on how we evaluate and respect life. We would understand the amount of power we have in our hands and some people would probably use it for something not as good and useful as terraforming to preserve a species. Another important ethical dilemma is the consideration of people who will be sent to the planet to explore and colonise it. The first people that will travel to Mars will have to deal with the fact that it will probably be only one way trip, and they will be alone together for the rest of their lives. Famous American Jewish ethicist and a professor of medical ethics and humanities Laurie Zoloth thinks that it all depends from the preparation. Looking back to history we had some examples that show how important the preparation might be. For example Robert Falcon Scott arrived to the pole a month later, after it was claimed by Norway by Roald Amundsen. Also on the way home Scott and all of his crew died. All of this happened due to lack of preparation for the trip. This shows that a good preparation of people and supplies is crucial for a successful mission. https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/trip-mars-ethical There is a lot of risks for a long duration space travel and most of them are already known for decades. The two main risks are the dangers of long duration space travel, and living or being on Mars. Traveling in space for a long time could go very bad quickly. A smallest error or a missed calculation by scientists could lead to either quick or very slow and painful death of astronauts. The simplest thing as amounts of food and water have to be calculated perfectly, because another supply mission would reach travelers in at least two years. Also the spaceship have to be built to withstand huge amounts of space radiation. Exterior has to be made out of a strong material so that the spaceship would be able to deal with an impact of space debris. If the spaceship would fail, astronauts would be sucked out into space and would stay there forever, eventually amount of oxygen in the suit would go critically low and astronaut would die in slow and painful death by slowly suffocating. Even if the journey would be successful and the astronauts would reach space, they would still have to survive on a planet that has a very thin atmosphere and contains no oxygen. Of Course the plan is to terraform Mars so that people could be able to freely roam the planet. But terraforming takes a lot of time, and while terraforming, astronauts have to have a space to live in. The plan now is to create a biosphere for them so that they would feel less stressed and would not develop mental disorders created by dramatically changing an environment for life. But, there is a big problem. We have failed to create one even on Earth. Biosphere 2 was an attempt to create a replica of Earth that is self-sustainable. It is 3.14 acre sealed research facility. Top is sealed with 6500 windows it is also sealed from the Earth bellow with a steel liner. Under the seal 5 biomes were created: Ocean with coral reef, Tropical rainforest, Mangrove wetlands, Fog desert and savanna grassland. From the very beginning of the experiment, when the scientists were sealed inside, some problems occurred. As soon as they were sealed, oxygen percentage started to constantly decline. This puzzled the scientists because the plans should have created enough oxygen to at least keep it the same level. About 18 months after they were sealed, the oxygen levels were so low that the scientists could barely breath and function. Because of that oxygen had to be pumped in in order to complete the experiment. Because outside supplies were added, the biosphere was not self-sustainable, therefore the experiment was an instant expensive fail. In order to imitate a full completed mini biosphere, scientist also had to include some other forms of life. They included some carefully chosen species of plants and insects. The species also showed that the biosphere failed to recreate earth’s environment. Out of 25 vertebrates, only 6 survived by the end of the mission( 2 years). Other species were extinct. With them the species that had to pollinate the plants died as well, which means that a lot of plants died out as well. Although most of the life died, there were some species that absolutely dominated the land. Ants, cockroaches and katydids thrived in the environment. A lot of vine plants enjoyed the environment as well. Because biosphere 2 could not balance out the ecosystem, a lot of people formed opinion that if we would create this for our astronauts they would slowly die because of the similar reasons to those why biosphere 2 failed. In my opinion the idea of a biosphere is promising. If we would look at the past, a lot of brilliant ideas failed at the beginning. We just need to do more experiments and find the flaws in them. By doing that, I think we would keep finding and fixing problems that limit the abilities of the biosphere and eventually, we would create an ecosystem that would be fully self sustained and would support multiple life forms. I do agree with the other side as well. Yes, we should not send the astronauts to live in a ecosystem like biosphere 2. It had a lot of mistakes and miscalculations. If someone would tell me that they are already sending people on Mars to live in a biosphere I would be more than worried, but I think people need to look at the other side as well. The experiment was created to experiment and learn how to create a sustainable ecosystem, scientist have no Intentions yet to build a biosphere anywhere in the space. First they have to successfully create quite a few of them on Earth before it would be approved, that is how science works. Because there is no official information that successful ecosystem was created, and there was no information that the scientists or government plan build one is space now, I can not criticise projects like Biosphere 2 in any way. They were created to experiment and explore how would an ecosystem work under different conditions. To conclude, space travel will always be dangerous and risky. But In my opinion people forget that everything we do could be dangerous. We do not need to be scared of exploration and technological evolution. I think some people that are scared of evolution try to cover it by doing quick and bias conclusions about various researches and experiments like biosphere 2 or mars rover explorations. From my point of view the experiments are very important for the final product no matter what it would be, a space travel, or a driving lesson. By experimenting with ecosystems and space technology we can see the impacts and problems the technology has not yet solved and it keeps us motivated to perfect the ideas. But, at the end of the day we need to still reflect on ourselves and see the consequences our studies or ideas may have on the environment and life, does not matter earth or terrestrial, and keep it humane after all. If we will be able to achieve all this while still being curious and full of ideas, I believe we will finally take a huge leap forward and will start a new era, Space era.
All Research Proposal
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