Yesterday 6 “astronauts” boarded the Mars 500, a mock spaceship, where they will spend 520 days surviving in a cocoon of living quarters, gym and sauna, with no windows and only tinned food to live on. Senior officials from the US, China, and the EU were present at the news conference last night prior to the boarding, and if the experiment is successful we may be one step closer to a flight to the red planet itself.
A real flight could go ahead within the next 25 years, the likelihood of which also depends on the political and economic support for advanced space programmes - and support has been somewhat flagging of late. In certain quarters, NASA and space are regarded as increasingly irrelevant in comparison to more immediate problems faced on earth, but keynote speakers such as Ray Kurzweil, author of The Age of Spiritual Machines, support the relevance of space research for both immediate and future problems here on earth.
NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit also recently found more water on Mars than previously believed, thus increasing the likelihood of life having existed on the red planet. There are many sceptics when it comes to the existence of extraterrestrial life, but keynote speaker, physicist extraordinaire and bestselling author Dr. Michio Kaku believes that many alien civilisations do exist. Michio is Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York and a co-founder of super string theory who is due to speak at the World Science Festival in New York City this month. Futurist Michio presents the implications of his future predictions not only for the world of science, but also for society and business.
So fingers crossed for Mars 500! It may currently be more Red Dwarf than Red Planet, but it could be the step that’s needed to secure the success of a future flight to discover more about the possibilities of life on Mars. Moscow over and out...
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