Archive for the ‘Mars’ Tag

The Distant Past And The Far Distance, Human Knowledge Keeps Growing

marsThe discovery of a mini Tyrannosaurus Rex from 125 million years ago has greatly increased our understanding of how and when the dinosaurs evolved. It also shows that it took a further 60 million years for what we know as Tyrannosaurus Rex to develop and it only reached its huge size towards the end of its existence. Being able to delve into such detail of a era that occurred so long ago is utterly amazing.

Also this week scientist have issued the results of a study into why they think the planet Mars is red. For a long time its been assumed the red colour is rust from the heavily oxidized iron minerals and thus a clear indicator that there was once water on the planet and therefore the possibility exists that the planet was and may still harbour some forms of life. Well, scientists now think the red colour is the result of a natural chemical reaction between regular sand and the black Martian basalt that does not involve water.

All quite amazing when you remember Mars is 143 million miles from Earth and the fact we have yet to get there. Its a further indicator of our ability to understand the world and the universe. However the one thing we have yet to understand is just how intelligent are the other species on this planet. We may be at the top of the league, but I bet there are quite a few species not far behind us. The problem is defining what we mean by intelligence and devising ways in which it the can be measured.

Touching The Moon And Dreamin Of The Stars

At the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida you can touch a small piece of moon rock. Considering the cost of the Apollo programme this must be the most expensive substance on earth. Watching the 3D film of the moon missions and listening to the astronauts you quickly realise how significant and risky the whole adventure was, and how it could have all ended in disaster as almost happened to Apollo 13.

All this began nearly 30 years ago when Apollo 11 made the first moon landing. Considering how technology has advanced in the intervening years it make the achievement all the more amazing. Since the end of the Apollo programme space exploration has been based on probes and robots other than the international space station. Non-manned missions are less risky and less expensive. However, a robot cannot be a substitute for actually being there in person.

There are plans for more manned Moon missions, but not for many years ahead. There is also a project looking at the feasibility of a manned mission to Mars, this would be a huge step forward in space exploration as it would require the development of self sustaining life support systems as it would be very difficult to provide all the food needed for a round rip of over two years. The biggest limitation is not our ability to innovate but the cost of such a mission. It is difficult to justify such huge expenditure when there is so much that needs to be done to help many in the worlds poorer countries, but man’s fascination with the starts will always be a big driving force to escape this world.