Over the last couple of weeks we have seen many fantastic and quite literally out of this world pictures brought to us courtesy of New Horizons. AND perhaps it is a bit over the top to call this the last picture show (various online news outlets call it that, not me!) as there is still the Europa Clipper – and that is one adventure I am looking forward to but it will take a while once it leave our atmosphere to get to Europa and in the meantime we will have some really cool things going on – such as our Moon and the many landings that will no doubt cause a traffic jam! The coolest part of all this is what comes next; the plan for man to take on the galaxy.
In my presentation which I’ve given all across the nation from NJ or Maryland, to Texas (Austin & Houston) to Reno, Vegas, Sacramento and places in between, it speaks of the efforts to visit the Moon, Mars, Europa and beyond (“NASA Takes on the Galaxy”). It discusses a time when we spread our wings and fly, but the future still has a number of un-manned delights where NASA will amaze us no doubt as we look in the unseen areas of our solar system.
1)A Kuiper Belt object called Eris, discovered in 2005, thought to be larger than Pluto (it turned out recently that New Horizons found Pluto’s diameter to be 2 kilometers more than it was thought to be – giving Pluto the upper hand!) Eris in fact is about 25 per cent more massive, probably because it's denser and rockier than Pluto. Proving that calling it a day, hinting that we may be done when there is so much left to explore is reckless. Because we gotten the planets out of the way – dwarf or otherwise, doesn’t mean we’re done.
2)Icy Worlds. Another thing captured, albeit briefly, in my presentation as I know scientists get all excited about finding life when you start to talk about a frozen world. The Hubble telescope found two objects in the Kuiper Belt that are potentially reachable by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft in 2018. We have seen the pictures; we have an idea about how different Pluto is, but it may be the beginning of strange, the two objects we view next just might be bizarre!
3)Sedna and the Oort cloud. Sounds like a band, no?Having an elliptical that takes it as far away from the Sun as 150 billion miles, Sedna is suspected of being caught by the Sun from a cloud of objects orbiting a different star as they came close together a real long ago. Sedna is a reddish, planet-like object
4)Being considered is the fact that there are many asteroids and comets and yes, each with a different color, some darker than others and some metal some not; they are extremely diverse. Assuming they operate differently depending on the mass/make-up etc. and also assuming that while the asteroid redirect mission is extremely important to obtaining some idea of how we will handle moving an asteroid in that were ever necessary, it is also important to know these differences, visit each sort of asteroid or comet or collectively as world citizens between the ESA, NASA, and JAXA and any other agencies, look into the characteristics of different space objects.
5)One would think the Soviets were trying to colonize Venus, sending more than a dozen landers and orbiters. Venera 13, which landed on March 1, 1982, lasted 127 minutes before expiring. At the height of the program, tens of thousands of people were working on the Veneras, according to Viktor Kerzhanovich, a Venera veteran and now a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. In true cold war style, he says, the Soviet Union added as many zeroes to the Venera budget as were necessary to beat the Americans.From the American side – our visits to Venus are mostly limited to the Pioneer family of orbiters. Perhaps you’ve seen NASA’s inflatable plane that just might soar the skies of Venus. (Venus is shrouded in thick clouds that only radar can penetrate, and even our radar data so far is not very detailed, hence the plane concept.) So Venus is on our radar for a more detailed look/see!
So still some interesting missions that aren’t manned missions. AND each one is captivating in its own way. BUT people aren’t picking up on the other cool things that are being planned and then scrapped because of a better idea that came along…The next 20-30 years in space are going to leave us with something awesome. From link-ups in NEO to either pickup cargo for the journey, maybe more fuel or maybe a different ship from our several to choose from, Lunar Elevators, possibly an Earth Elevator, different methods of propulsion though perhaps not time tested! Also, a shield for the spacr craft – awesome right? It’s all in the cards!