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Thread: The Astronomy Thread

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    Default The Astronomy Thread

    Use this thread to ask questions and discuss everything related to Astronomy - Flinn


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    Anyone here good with astronomy? I have a few questions regarding binary stars.
    Last edited by Flinn; February 19, 2021 at 06:39 AM.

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    Default Re: Question on astronomy

    Don't know if I'm any good but I'm curious. Do present the questions please.
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    Default Re: Question on astronomy

    Sorry, i had my question answered in another forum. But do you mind if I PM you if i have any more questions in Astronomy?

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    Default Re: Question on astronomy

    Not at all. It's a fascinating subject.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    I claim myself to be a reasonably expert amateur astronomer, I'd be happy to take part in any discussion about

    I took the liberty and renamed this thread as "The Astronomy Thread", I don't think we already have one dedicated to general discussion about astronomy, do we?

    As I'm here, what about the recent arrival of Perseverance on Mars. I followed the live coverage of the event and was pretty exciting to be honest: I mean the Nasa has become very good at landing probes on Mars, but a certain chance of failure is always there of course. It was pretty fast though, the "7 minutes of terror" passed quite fast and it was great to see the first pic from Perseverance.

    As for the mission itself it has big expectations, Nasa says on the Mission overview

    The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover will search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance NASA's quest to explore the past habitability of Mars. The rover has a drill to collect core samples of Martian rock and soil, then store them in sealed tubes for pickup by a future mission that would ferry them back to Earth for detailed analysis. Perseverance will also test technologies to help pave the way for future human exploration of Mars.

    Strapped to the rover's belly for the journey to Mars is a technology demonstration — the Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, may achieve a "Wright Brothers moment “ by testing the first powered flight on the Red Planet.
    I'm expecting this mission to answer some if not all the main questions about life on Mars (Exomars 2020 will have a saying in that as well, but it's actually 2 years away still, so..), at the least for those info that can be accessed on the surface; there's still all the underground exploration to be carried on (mostly of under-ice lakes of liquid water, located on the north pole), but it will be long before anyone could do anything concrete about.

    As per the: "Perseverance will also test technologies to help pave the way for future human exploration of Mars.", I look forward to understand what kind of technology they are going to use to extract oxygen from the atmosphere (after all, Mars' atmosphere is composed at 95% by CO2, so there's already plenty of oxygen available) and how effective it will be: as a matter of fact having cheap and abundant oxygen will be the turning point not just for the permanence of humans on the surface, but also for it's usage as a fuel, which could be used certainly for returning to the Earth but as well for possible future missions towards different objectives in our system (particularly in the outer solar system).

    And I have to say: at last they brought a flying drone on Mars! I mean, I know that flying a drone in a rarefied atmosphere is a tough job and that actually driving a land drone on a planet with a gravity which is 1/3rd of the one we have on Earth is easier, but considering the chaotic nature of the Martian surface and the impeding limitation of having a gap on controls that ranges from 7 to 22 minutes circa, it makes it very slow to actually program and drive land drones (i.e. Curiosity only covered about 25 Km in 8 years, afaik, and Mars has a surface of 1,4481014 m! ...for this very reason it's faster to send new probes than moving them around). However, my point is that the future of remote exploration has to be with flying drones, the possible limitations created by the need of reducing the weight are outdone by the benefits of having the possibility to go much faster and, most important, higher. There are of course issues related to the weather, but they can be forecasted (they already do a lot of weather forecasting on Mars).
    Last edited by Flinn; February 19, 2021 at 09:11 AM. Reason: typo
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    That 11 minutes delay in signal relevance, or related to conveyance of information in space in general, is just mind boggling. Anything you are seeing on screen have already passed and you have no real window to react.

    I do wish more love is given to Venus though.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by PointOfViewGun View Post
    That 11 minutes delay in signal relevance, or related to conveyance of information in space in general, is just mind boggling. Anything you are seeing on screen have already passed and you have no real window to react.
    It's mind blogging indeed. Pretty sure that IA will play a major role in the future of remote exploration.

    I do wish more love is given to Venus though.
    The problem with Venus is the extremely harsh environmental conditions. Temperature at the soil is above 450 C and pressure at around 9MPa, there have been a handful of missions that landed on the surface (mostly Russian probes, the Venera series), but they all survived for few minutes, when they didn't actually crash. IIRC there are few photos of the surface, and if my memory serves me well only 2 are colorized



    Fact is, human exploration of Venus is impossible, and that puts a huge limit to the actual interest, because of course the first goal of exploration of platens and moons is the possible future direct colonization. Venus represents an interesting piece of study for what regards the evolution of rocky planets, though, in particular because in terms of mass and dimensions it is very similar to the Earth: clearly something (much actually) has gone quite differently than on Earth, and it's of course mandatory to understand what, this not only for the pure theoretical knowledge, but also because of gathering data that would be useful to decide on what planets would be worth of focusing attention at when searching for other habitable planets out of our own solar system. In other words, there's more than the mere Goldilocks zone.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Great, one of my passions has a thread now!

    Quote Originally Posted by Flinn View Post
    but also because of gathering data that would be useful to decide on what planets would be worth of focusing attention at when searching for other habitable planets out of our own solar system.
    May I ask what kind of outcome are you expecting to see (or future generations to see) with this search for habitable planets? Sadly, I have been convinced by the exoplanet community that manned interstellar travel is not really feasible even theoretically. Of course gaining knowledge about exoplanets per se is insanely interesting regardless of whether we could ever reach them.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Flinn View Post
    It's mind blogging indeed. Pretty sure that IA will play a major role in the future of remote exploration.
    IA?

    Maybe they could expand on the idea of quantum entanglement for instant communications. That would certainly help with space travel.



    Quote Originally Posted by Flinn View Post
    The problem with Venus is the extremely harsh environmental conditions. Temperature at the soil is above 450 C and pressure at around 9MPa, there have been a handful of missions that landed on the surface (mostly Russian probes, the Venera series), but they all survived for few minutes, when they didn't actually crash. IIRC there are few photos of the surface, and if my memory serves me well only 2 are colorized



    Fact is, human exploration of Venus is impossible, and that puts a huge limit to the actual interest, because of course the first goal of exploration of platens and moons is the possible future direct colonization. Venus represents an interesting piece of study for what regards the evolution of rocky planets, though, in particular because in terms of mass and dimensions it is very similar to the Earth: clearly something (much actually) has gone quite differently than on Earth, and it's of course mandatory to understand what, this not only for the pure theoretical knowledge, but also because of gathering data that would be useful to decide on what planets would be worth of focusing attention at when searching for other habitable planets out of our own solar system. In other words, there's more than the mere Goldilocks zone.
    What makes Venus inhabitable is something we can alter. It's more caused by its thick atmosphere than its proximity to the sun. Perhaps an orbital machine could be used to alter the atmosphere of Venus so that the planet can cool down. What makes Venus a much better candidate for habitation in my opinion is its similar gravity compared to Earth. The much lower gravity of Mars is bounding to be problematic and its something we can never change.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Septentrionalis View Post
    Great, one of my passions has a thread now!



    May I ask what kind of outcome are you expecting to see (or future generations to see) with this search for habitable planets? Sadly, I have been convinced by the exoplanet community that manned interstellar travel is not really feasible even theoretically. Of course gaining knowledge about exoplanets per se is insanely interesting regardless of whether we could ever reach them.
    Oh well that's a question worth a book, but I'll do my best to be short

    The main point is: everything is possible in theory, while of course feasibility of manned interstellar travel is far far in the future, centuries from now. The main obstacle we have is the distances we have to cover of course, or in other terms the limited speed of our motors (not to talk about the possible relativistic effects of near-to-light-speed velocity, but let's not enter that part of theoretical physics for now), so what we are doing now is focusing on what we can already work at, or in a simplified list:

    - survival of the astronauts in the interplanetary space
    - future survival of the astronauts in the interstellar space (that's why the little info gathered by the Voyager probes are still very important, even for possible future missions with automatic probes)
    - study of our own solar system to gather data that can be useful to decide at the least to were to point our actual instruments and, more important, what instruments to build in the future (i.e. if we discover that under the iced surface of, say, Encelado, we found oceans with bacteria, we are likely going to build instruments in the future that would focus on searching iced moons orbiting gas giants that are located "not far" from Earth).

    The most recent researches of planets are focused on near-by systems for a good reason: the goal is to get a possible direct observation (mostly by means of a mix of radar waves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet) of "habitable words", this not to presume to set up a mission to get there, not in less than a thousands of year probably, but to answer the most basic question: is there life anywhere else in the Universe? Suppose that we'll find an habitable planet in a reasonably close system, that will change everything.

    So every bit of info is essential at that regard.. we ave just started to look at the stars, as I like to say we don't even have looked out of the window, we are still peering from behind the curtains, so it's early to give up on anything, isn't it?

    @ PoW, sorry I meant AI, I used the Italian acronym my bad

    and yes it is definitely possible to alter the conditions on Venus, in like 20k years or more, and this just to be able to set a foot on it, while on Mars it's already possible to go and stay, even for only a limited amount of time. It's a matter of feasibility, practicability and usefulness, nor to talk of, relatively, immediate return in terms of experience and knowledge.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Oh boy, I really wish I could prepare my questions in a more specific way, because I was not looking forward to taking a lot of time out of your busy schedule to have you map out your ideas and understanding about interstellar travel in a concise from. I am very much aware of most points that you made, and I was really going for whether or not you are excited about habitable worlds for distant observing alone or for possible human visitation.

    Well, your answer is much appreciated; it answers my question, shows us that you have done some solid reading on the subject and that your expectations and understanding of our limitations are not unreasonable. And you make some fascinating points about astronomical observation and lines of study.

    The one exception is that whereas I may have used the word "theoretically" way too carelessly, I still maintain that manned interstellar travel faces a number of daunting obstacles that may just amount to impossible. There are individual obstacles that may be impossible to overcome alone (energy needs for reasonable travel speeds, human survival in 0g environment, human survival as a society on a spaceship in a multi-generational mission, human societies on Earth collapsing due to overpopulation and environmental deterioration before any mission could be attempted, space debris hazards over the course of the trip, etc.), but to succeed, a great many of those daunting obstacles would have to be dealt with at the same time.

    To some degree, we have become accustomed to a possibly false sense of optimism about the capability of future generations to solve those problems, and the prevalence of science fiction (should be called speculative fiction) have cozied us up with the idea of star fleets and warp-speed travel. In reality, space is a harsh environment for an earth-based life-form and the distances are truly unfathomable. The 4+ light years to our nearest neighbor Alpha Centauri is, in the cosmic scale, basically conjoined with Sol, and there is no telling if there is anything worth our while that close. Yet the New Horizons mission speed, the fastest travel speed so far reached by our species, would take us there in 20,000 years. Twice or more the time that agriculture has been around.
    Last edited by Septentrionalis; February 19, 2021 at 12:48 PM.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    I don't think human space exploration is a good bet tbh. There is no inherent benefit to establishing human presence in space or on other planets*. As things stand, even on Earth, the reason to put a human in charge of a process rather than an AI is that humans are more versatile; AI's are getting better fast though. There's every reason to expect that well before 'we' have worked out how to sustain human life beyond Earth, 'we' will conclude the added value is too limited to justify it. I suspect the only reason it's kept on the agenda is for propaganda purposes.


    *The odds of a catastrophy befalling earth that would not still leave it our best bet for survival are too remote to contemplate.
    Last edited by Muizer; February 19, 2021 at 01:10 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Septentrionalis View Post
    Yet the New Horizons mission speed, the fastest travel speed so far reached by our species, would take us there in 20,000 years. Twice or more the time that agriculture has been around.
    I wanted to elaborate on this a little more. As far as I understand, we have not made significant advances in propulsion techiques. The New Horizons mission was made faster by a genious use of planetary gravitational assist that is a limited resource. If we could speed up space travel ten times, for which we have no means now, the trip would take 2,000 years. But that would not solve a single issue. All the unsolved problems of traveling in space for 20,000 years are present in a 2,000-year mission. Unless I am relying on outdated information, the present question is whether a human being can retain their eyesight on a two-year mission to Mars.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    I don't think human space exploration is a good bet tbh. There is no inherent benefit to establishing human presence in space or on other planets*. As things stand, even on Earth, the reason to put a human in charge of a process rather than an AI is that humans are more versatile; AI's are getting better fast though. There's every reason to expect that well before 'we' have worked out how to sustain human life beyond Earth, 'we' will conclude the added value is too limited to justify it. I suspect the only reason it's kept on the agenda is for propaganda purposes.


    *The odds of a catastrophy befalling earth that would not still leave it our best bet for survival are too remote to contemplate.
    In my amateur opinion, advanced space exploration is not only beneficial to humanity, but inevitable. Colonizing other planets will become increasingly attractive as technology improves to the point of facilitating resource extraction, and meanwhile, conditions on earth will continue to deteriorate as a result of human activity and exponentially increasing population. Even if growth inevitably tapers off due to exceeding the capacity of Earth to support current living standards, this too would probably further incentivize looking to space for solutions and new opportunities. Obviously it’s difficult to envision the idea of another planet ever replacing Earth as humanity’s primary home, but becoming an interplanetary species is the inevitable and necessary next step in our evolution. Our generation may even live to see the earliest stages of this process, as indicated by the international competition already developing in space.

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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    For manned missions, I think the limitation is not the speed but acceleration. The human body can not endure higher than Earth's gravity acceleration for a prolonged time. We can withstand 5gs commonly for a brief of time though pilots can go up to 9gs. For a journey to be manageable though you're pretty much limited to simulating Earth's gravity. At 9.8 m/s it would take about a year to reach the speed of light (ignoring the limitations with reaching the speed of light of course). At that point you traveled about 4 light years.

    Alpha Centauri is 4,367 light years away. Speeding up till the half way and then speeding down the other half with 9.8 m/s, it takes about 65 years to get to Proxima Centauri b.

    Without some kind of science fictionesque travel method it's quite hard to go anywhere meaningful.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    In my amateur opinion, advanced space exploration is not only beneficial to humanity, but inevitable. Colonizing other planets will become increasingly attractive as technology improves to the point of facilitating resource extraction
    To be clear, my argument is not that 'humanity' will not conduct space exploration/ I'm saying it will be done via robotic missions. We're making way faster progress towards making human presence no longer necessary than we are towards developing self sustaining habitats in space or on planetary surfaces other than Earth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    and meanwhile, conditions on earth will continue to deteriorate as a result of human activity and exponentially increasing population. Even if growth inevitably tapers off due to exceeding the capacity of Earth to support current living standards, this too would probably further incentivize looking to space for solutions and new opportunities.
    It is really hard to imagine Earth becoming a worse place to live than anywhere else until we develop the capacity to build self-sustaining habitats. We've yet to exploit the entire continent of Antarctica and, hell, the whole ocean floor. Both more amenable to human colonization than anywhere in space. If you compare the advances in robotics with the advances in space-habitat building, then my bet would be that humans will go into space as an afterthought. As 'space tourists', because all the work we need to do there is already being done by autonomous machines.

    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Obviously it’s difficult to envision the idea of another planet ever replacing Earth as humanity’s primary home, but becoming an interplanetary species is the inevitable and necessary next step in our evolution. Our generation may even live to see the earliest stages of this process, as indicated by the international competition already developing in space.The war for outer space has already begun, and as any other time in human history, the future belongs to whoever can win it.
    The future of humanity in space will be decided by who builds the best ai. I know it's not glamorous, but it's logical. If space is a new frontier we must evolve to tackle, then our next evolutionary step has to be to shed this insurmountable, liability that is our biological substrate.

    Quote Originally Posted by PointOfViewGun View Post
    For manned missions, I think the limitation is not the speed but acceleration. The human body can not endure higher than Earth's gravity acceleration for a prolonged time. We can withstand 5gs commonly for a brief of time though pilots can go up to 9gs. For a journey to be manageable though you're pretty much limited to simulating Earth's gravity. At 9.8 m/s it would take about a year to reach the speed of light (ignoring the limitations with reaching the speed of light of course). At that point you traveled about 4 light years.

    Alpha Centauri is 4,367 light years away. Speeding up till the half way and then speeding down the other half with 9.8 m/s, it takes about 65 years to get to Proxima Centauri b.

    Without some kind of science fictionesque travel method it's quite hard to go anywhere meaningful.
    Again, unmanned probes would always be the first to go. If humans are ever to reach that far it would be a loooooong one way trip following in the wake of machines doing the real work of exploring and laying the ground works. Of course, you could wonder: if you can build a ship that people can live on indefinitely, that would kind of negate the necessity to ever land anywhere.
    Last edited by Muizer; February 19, 2021 at 05:30 PM.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    I'm back after WE break. I'll try to "answer" to the various points as much as I can; honestly I don't like zebra posting, but I think it's inevitable this time, so let's see ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Septentrionalis View Post
    The one exception is that whereas I may have used the word "theoretically" way too carelessly, I still maintain that manned interstellar travel faces a number of daunting obstacles that may just amount to impossible. There are individual obstacles that may be impossible to overcome alone (energy needs for reasonable travel speeds, human survival in 0g environment, human survival as a society on a spaceship in a multi-generational mission, human societies on Earth collapsing due to overpopulation and environmental deterioration before any mission could be attempted, space debris hazards over the course of the trip, etc.), but to succeed, a great many of those daunting obstacles would have to be dealt with at the same time.
    It's indeed a huge challenge, maybe even one of those impossible to win, but I'm optimistic after all: the human kind as a whole has demonstrated to have the capability of winning most of the challenges, at the least of those related to find a way to adapt and survive. I believe that the best skill of humanity is adaptability (I mean as opposed to specialization), that if from one side makes the human not "special" in anything when compared to other beings on Earth, it also makes it extremely capable of using abstraction to solve issues that no other "specialized" species could even approach. I also believe that our main obstacle to the efficient exploration of the interstellar space is our limited understanding of the environment we are to travel within, in other words our scientific understanding of how the Universe works is still very far from allowing us to safely and efficiently travel the interstellar space (either in manned or automated flights), but we have proofs that we have the intelligence to understand the environment that surrounds us and overcome our natural limitations (i.e. the understanding of how flotation works that allows us to sail, or the understanding of lift force that allows us to fly, etc).
    As I said we have just started to peer from behind the curtains, there's still so much to know that it's to early to state that something it's impossible: personally I think that the possible, future development of the Theory of Everything, intended as the theory which will unify the Relativity with the Quantum physics, will play a major role here.. let me insist, we still lack much of the understanding of how the Universe works, not a case we have things like Dark Matter and Dark Energy that we do not understand at all yet (and we are talking of up to like 95% of the actual composition of the Universe that we do not understand between the two, depending on sources and theories of course!)

    As for the survival of humans in space, experiments are already taking place since long: most of the tests they are doing on the ISS are related to the effect of micro-gravity on the human body, and some solution have been already found, such as for instance the training program which every astronaut on the ISS is to carry out daily. But they are not limited to that: they are testing how to grow food in a similar environment, for instance (and IIRC the Chinese have done some growth tests on Lunar soil). And I know for sure too that Nasa is carrying out experiments on forced isolation on small groups of people on limited/narrow space (such us a Moon or Mars base). So, for what concerns what we can already test and study, it looks like that those involved are taking the thing seriously.
    Besides, there are some issues (like i.e. protecting the human DNA from exposure to cosmic rays) that already have a solution, even though not very efficient (read it as extremely expensive).

    Quote Originally Posted by Septentrionalis View Post
    I wanted to elaborate on this a little more. As far as I understand, we have not made significant advances in propulsion techiques. The New Horizons mission was made faster by a genious use of planetary gravitational assist that is a limited resource. If we could speed up space travel ten times, for which we have no means now, the trip would take 2,000 years. But that would not solve a single issue. All the unsolved problems of traveling in space for 20,000 years are present in a 2,000-year mission. Unless I am relying on outdated information, the present question is whether a human being can retain their eyesight on a two-year mission to Mars.
    That's absolutely true, and that's where the understanding of how the Universe really works will make the difference.. in hundreds or maybe thousands of years

    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    In my amateur opinion, advanced space exploration is not only beneficial to humanity, but inevitable. Colonizing other planets will become increasingly attractive as technology improves to the point of facilitating resource extraction, and meanwhile, conditions on earth will continue to deteriorate as a result of human activity and exponentially increasing population. Even if growth inevitably tapers off due to exceeding the capacity of Earth to support current living standards, this too would probably further incentivize looking to space for solutions and new opportunities. Obviously its difficult to envision the idea of another planet ever replacing Earth as humanitys primary home, but becoming an interplanetary species is the inevitable and necessary next step in our evolution. Our generation may even live to see the earliest stages of this process, as indicated by the international competition already developing in space.

    https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techt...l-competition/

    The war for outer space has already begun, and as any other time in human history, the future belongs to whoever can win it.
    I very much agree with this; also, we need to keep in mind that the future of space exploration and travel will go on on two levels: the scientific and the economic one: in particular I found fascinating the idea that private companies will invest in drilling asteroids for the extraction of valuable resources, which is something very likely to going to happen. And Munsk isn't certainly spending billions on Space X because of kindness, is he?

    Quote Originally Posted by PointOfViewGun View Post
    For manned missions, I think the limitation is not the speed but acceleration. The human body can not endure higher than Earth's gravity acceleration for a prolonged time. We can withstand 5gs commonly for a brief of time though pilots can go up to 9gs. For a journey to be manageable though you're pretty much limited to simulating Earth's gravity. At 9.8 m/s it would take about a year to reach the speed of light (ignoring the limitations with reaching the speed of light of course). At that point you traveled about 4 light years.

    Alpha Centauri is 4,367 light years away. Speeding up till the half way and then speeding down the other half with 9.8 m/s, it takes about 65 years to get to Proxima Centauri b.

    Without some kind of science fictionesque travel method it's quite hard to go anywhere meaningful.
    True, but I won't use the term "fictionesque" TBH: just because we haven't yet understood how things work it does not mean that it's impossible or fictional; personally I would replace that term with a simple "futuristic", in the sense that it will become available at a certain time in the future, pending the understanding of the physical laws that regulate it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    To be clear, my argument is not that 'humanity' will not conduct space exploration/ I'm saying it will be done via robotic missions. We're making way faster progress towards making human presence no longer necessary than we are towards developing self sustaining habitats in space or on planetary surfaces other than Earth.



    It is really hard to imagine Earth becoming a worse place to live than anywhere else until we develop the capacity to build self-sustaining habitats. We've yet to exploit the entire continent of Antarctica and, hell, the whole ocean floor. Both more amenable to human colonization than anywhere in space. If you compare the advances in robotics with the advances in space-habitat building, then my bet would be that humans will go into space as an afterthought. As 'space tourists', because all the work we need to do there is already being done by autonomous machines.



    The future of humanity in space will be decided by who builds the best ai. I know it's not glamorous, but it's logical. If space is a new frontier we must evolve to tackle, then our next evolutionary step has to be to shed this insurmountable, liability that is our biological substrate.



    Again, unmanned probes would always be the first to go. If humans are ever to reach that far it would be a loooooong one way trip following in the wake of machines doing the real work of exploring and laying the ground works. .
    I agree, as I said above (my bad that I misspelled AI with IA ), artificial intelligence will play a major role in the future of space exploration, either automatic or manned (because in any case only computers have the capability of doing all the calculations necessary to set, maintain, modify/adapt and what's not, a route towards a specific interstellar destination).

    Of course, you could wonder: if you can build a ship that people can live on indefinitely, that would kind of negate the necessity to ever land anywhere
    This is an interesting statement: as a matter of fact a part of the scientific and also fictional literature considers this possibility to be the likeliest to happen; once we will be able to create an artificial environment that will allow us to live and/or travel in space, there won't be the need to go on any other planet/moon to live. While I agree in principles, there's a lot to consider, such as the enormous quantity of resources needed to create an artificial environment that would be able to host more than few tens or hundreds of people (and the resources needed to maintain it, of course); the "will" of individuals, especially those who can afford it, to not to live on an artificial environment, etc. I do believe that in a far future a good percentage of people will live in spaceships or space stations, but even more will still live in planets and moons, either by need (gathering resources) or by choice.
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  18. #18
    Sir Adrian's Avatar the Imperishable
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    What Septen said makes sense but only if you add the word presently. Anything that is allowed by the laws of physics is possible, we just lack the right material or know-how. If we survive 2100 I have no doubt that we will be looking at a colonised solar system by 2200.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    The Perseverance rover performing its landing sequence [spoiler: successfully]:



    And to those who wonder why we should even bother with this sort of thing:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Last edited by skh1; February 23, 2021 at 01:27 AM.

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  20. #20
    Flinn's Avatar Dude of Steel
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    Default Re: The Astronomy Thread

    Oh my every time I get to this thread I'm overwhelmed by the possibilities it has it terms of discussion; of course much of what we can discuss can be sourced online, but anyways I want to start a discussion about the chances of finding life in other places in the Universe and what our personal opinions on this are, so ...

    I think that as of today, apart for a very small group of people that (usually) have religious reasons to deny it, everybody agrees that there will be life somewhere else in the Universe, without fault. The Universe in itself is so immense (infinite according to someone) that it's really impossible to not to have "more life", for a mere matter of brute numbers (in terms of chances I mean). So, assuming most of people will agree with that statement, what we do possibly not agree on is how frequent life is, and at which level of development it is (from the most basic bacteria to the most advanced civilizations, maybe even forms of "superior" life which we can only speculate on or imagine in fiction).

    I was a prudent "believer", so to say, but in the recent years, due to new discoveries, I've become very optimistic on the possibility of finding basic forms of life outside of Earth but still within our own solar system; just few days ago they have confirmed the discovery of a new group of extremophile bacteria that survived at 5 km underground, with a temperature above 135 C (they have been found by a Chinese scientific mission, in a well drilled for other scientific purposes; previous "record" was at around 3,6 km and not above 120 C. As per the definition of what "habitable conditions" means, such a discovery resets them, in the sense that finding the proof of life in such a harsh environment, multiplies dramatically the possibilities of finding life in other planets/moons even in our own solar system: for instance, the main obstacle to life on Mars is the lack of an atmosphere tick enough to shield any possible life form from the deadly UV rays (or cosmic rays, such as the Gamma ones).. it was already proposed that life could possibly have developed underground in the presence of liquid water (rocks both supply the shield to lethal radiation and enough pressure to rise the temperature above the melting point of water), so expanding this range from 3,6 to 5 km makes it much more likely that life, if bacterial form, has developed on Mars as well. This is, of course, just an example.

    So I'm pretty confident basic forms of life could be found almost everywhere there are the basic conditions for it: water in liquid form and basic chemical elements that are used to assemble amino acids.
    I honestly have no clue, though, of how rare "intelligent" life could be, for various reasons: first, it is obvious, by looking at our own system, where we have millions of bodies, that a combinations of elements like the ones you have on the Earth are pretty rare (giving for assumed that only rocky planets similar to our can give birth to intelligent life, for obvious reasons); second, it is not clear yet which kind of stars are better suited for hosting Earth-like planets: as of today, it seems that both yellow dwarfs (such as the Sun, approx 1/13 of all the stars) and orange dwarfs (approx 1/8) have the best chances, due to the fact that they seem to be more stable that red dwarfs (red dwarfs show to have frequent powerful solar flares that can possibly destroy any atmosphere and/or form of evolved life in their systems, and they represent approx 3/4 of all the stars!!!) or bigger stars (from white dwarfs up to blue giants, here I'm referring only to main-sequence stars of course), due to the fact that those stars have a shorter life, which might not allow enough time to develop superior forms of life; third, the very definition of "intelligence" is pretty subjective and can make the difference at that regards: for instance, most animals do have a form of intelligence, therefore if we look at this as our starting point, it needed roughly 250 millions year for the life to evolve from bacteria to intelligent life on Earth.. but if we believe that intelligence is the ability to shape the word around you, then we have to wait for hominids, sometimes like another 250 millions years; more points could be listed, but I'm sure you got my point by now.

    In any case, considering the size and age of Universe, it is likely that the number of bodies where life is, is uncountable .. after all we have to consider the fact that life is a consequence of the existence of matter and energy, so whenever they are, potentially there's life.. I won't be surprised if in a far future we'll have to admit that life is everywhere, maybe just in the basic form of organic molecule, and that it only waits for the right conditions to flourish.

    Ah and one thing is certain: life is extremely tenacious and very fast in differentiate and spread: we had at the least 5 confirmed mass extinctions on Earth, but every time life came back, probably even stronger and more varied than before.
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