Category:  Fun

NASA's Next Steps

Space has interested humans since creation; there are many more questions than answers.

Space exploration became a reality in the mid twentieth century when America and Russia were entangled in the great space race. Russia launched its first satellite in 1957. Twelve years later the United States landed its first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. Since then, amazing new discoveries have been found and unimaginable space technology has been created.

Most recently, Scott Kelly touched down on Earth after nearly a year in space. During his time orbiting our home planet, Kelly grew taller, witnessed climate change from a perspective few have, and gathered remarkable information for professionals to analyze. Kelly himself is currently being analyzed by physicians alongside his twin brother to study the effects of space travel on the human body.

The research stemming from Kelly’s three hundred and forty days in space will be used to begin tangible research into possible space habitation. Could life similar to the Jetsons become a reality? Currently, Virgin Galactic has seats open, priced around $250,000, for those who want to be the first space tourists. Some celebrities with tickets on this flight include Ashton Kutcher, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Katy Perry.

After landing, Scott Kelly announced he believes it is very possible that we could land people on Mars within the next decade or so. Buzz Aldrin thinks the magic year will be 2040. However, NASA has its goals set on 2035. A one-way trip to mars is one hundred and forty miles, with a trip duration time of half a year. The United State’s next satellite for Mars is scheduled to launch in May 2018.

Even though several other countries have well-developed space programs, NASA feels strongly that the U.S. will remain a leader in the space exploration community for at least the next fifty years. However, NASA has not forgotten Mother Earth when it comes to making plans for the future. Currently, NASA has several research projects being conducted on Earth: monitoring climate change, rising sea levels, and extreme weather. Many NASA scientists are considered climate experts.

NASA has not always been concerned with Earth science. Originally, Earth science was specifically for the Weather Bureau and the U.S. Geological Survey. However, in the 1970’s both of those agencies shut down due to lack of funding. When the bureaus existed, NASA was responsible for building the technology the departments used to monitor Earth’s climate, while the agencies ran the programs and performed the work. When the Weather Bureau and Geological Survey shut down, NASA handled both ends of the projects, creating the research equipment and executing the research.

NASA officially entered the realm of Earth science in 1976, when Congress included in the new Space Act that NASA was now responsible for studying pollution, energy efficiency, and the receding ozone layer. These studies were meant to be conducted everywhere from the ground through the stratosphere. If it was not for Congress expanding its interest into Earth science, we may not know as much as we do today about other planets.

NASA first explored Venus and Mars because it was believed the two planets had characteristics similar to Earth. After further investigations, we now know neither of those planets are Earth-like. Venus has no water, and Mars has freezing temperatures. However, scientists have learned that Earth, Mars, and Venus may have derived from similar origins. Now scientists are studying how all ended up so different. The biggest keys to finding an answer; climate and climate change.

blog comments powered by Disqus