We are making scientific giant steps forward, just in baby steps. But WHAT steps !!!! Right now fusion power is being worked on in earnest. We’re a ways from utilizing it, maybe a year from actually realizing it and ten more from the commercial use. Its first use is for removal from dependence from oil. But then....space travel! And then as we travel among the stars we can stop at this planet and that as if to stop at galactic gas stations and fill up with Deuterium.
Next we have progress on the ‘where to go’ side....Kepler is a sort of telescope we launched into space 3 years ago. Actually it is photometer. Basically the goal is to find other habitable planets; planets in the sweet spot, planets ‘like earth’. So far Kepler has located 2321 candidates and 61 confirmed planets.
Pictured above is the star chart showing Kepler’s field of view. It checks each square for planets in transit. This is a planet that is crossing in front of a star. The change in brightness in the path of the planet tells us that it is a planet. We see that it is something following an orbit not just a spot. Other factors of it’s behavior then get monitored once we start paying attention. Then we get the planet’s orbital size, the temperature of the star, which then allows us to get the average temperature of the planet. This project is expected to go on 3 more years. But that’s not to say that scientists won’t be busy looking into the results for quite some time. Maybe picking where we want to go!
Ever since we have been to the moon we have had our eyes to the next set to the next goal, the next exploration. Amid budget cuts and more Earthly problems, we have still kept our eyes to space. Some have faltered, some say it is too lofty of a thought, but there is no doubt we will be going to space again. The only question is when. Yes there are some technologies that have to be worked out, but Russia is working on it, NASA is doing some work on it with its incredibly shrinking budget and great minds have never swerved in their resolve. There has been NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, the ESA’s Rosetta space probe, and since July of 2011 there has been the Red Dragon Mars Mission. Of course China has entered the race now as well. It tried to send a Mars orbiter, but alas it never made it out of Earth’s orbit. With everybody working on it, it is going to happen. And once we have gone there, it leave us a new place to go forth from. Supposedly the European Union has some ventures planned for 2014, but who knows with the economic problems. Perhaps they will all take a lesson from Sanacion: The Black Hole Mission and put aside their differences and pool their resources.
There are so many other things scientists are working on. Rover’s that can handle the surface and environment, robot spacemen to assist the humans and limit their time in dangerous situations in space, actually thinking about life-forms that aren’t based in our understanding (carbon based, oxygen based and water based and all those things we ‘think’ are necessary for life.