SCIENCE: Discussion on space exploration

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    Registered User Caitlin's Avatar
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    Default Discussion on space exploration

    This forum has hit a dry spell recently. There is not a lot of news being reported, mostly because the major media outlets are in hyperdrive and focusing their reporting efforts on hot button issues that are better discussed in Nicoleta's Campaign Bus. Being that I am not an active subscriber to any newspapers, magazines (Good Housekeeping doesn't count) or websites, I don't find much unless I really dig, which I haven't had much time to do recently.

    So instead, I'm going to open a discussion thread about one of my favourite scientific topics, space exploration. We can get into (lighthearted) debates about the merits of space exploration, the possibilities of travel at sub-light and faster-than-light speeds, general finds in the cosmos, etc.

    I'll start the discussion off, but feel free to speak about whatever you like within the confines of space exploration. Given the current problems of disease, famine and war on our planet, is it justified to spend such a large amount of the world's economy in exploring outer space? To develop new technologies that may not have immediate impact on the problems our societies face, rather than combat those problems? Or should we aim at colonizing Mars and the moon for raw materials, establish farms, etc for goods and services that can be used to solve our problems back on Earth?

    My real father lost his head at King's Landing. I made a choice, and I chose wrong. ~ Theon Greyjoy

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    Canada's Oshimen Shinobu's Avatar
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    Default Re: Discussion on space exploration

    Are we really spending that much money on space programs? America's NASA funding is tiny in comparison to federal government expenditures on things like healthcare. I don't know how much other countries are spending on space exploration though.

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    TheMissingno.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Discussion on space exploration

    No, we don't spend a lot of money on space programs. NASA is the most advanced space program in the world and it accounts for less than 0.5% of the national budget.

    I could sit here and list all of the things that the space program has done which impact our everyday lives, and it would be quite a long list, but I believe the relevance of that would be very small to why space programs are important. Likewise, someone could list all of the other things that are wrong with the world that we could be spending the half penny that we spend on NASA to fix, but I think that would also be irrelevant. It's like when a parent tells a kid he should finish his broccoli because there are starving children in Africa. Whether or not the kid eats the broccoli has absolutely no bearing on whether or not children will be starving in Africa.
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    Rocket traditionalist Hunter Blade's Avatar
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    Default Re: Discussion on space exploration

    I agree. No matter how much we spend on poverty and hunger, there's never going to be an end to it. It has been, and always will be part of civilization. Cutting the space program would only free up extra money for other government projects that have nothing to do with poverty. This way we're at least seeing helpful advances in technology and research.
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    Default Re: Discussion on space exploration

    A lot of scientists say that the human space flight program should be scrapped because better science can be done at a much lower cost only using robots. Humans are difficult to get into space. They need to eat and breath, they need pressure, they need to sleep and have leisure time, and they make mistakes sometimes. Any extra mass added to a launch increases the cost. Do you think the manned space flight program is worth it or do you think space is just for robots? I'll give my response after other people do.
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    Registered User Caitlin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Discussion on space exploration

    Robotic space travel at first seems like a must. My inner sci-fi nerd wants human space exploration to continue though. We're eventually going to need to get off of this rock and out into other star systems, there's so much out there for us, even if intelligent life isn't among what we can find.

    My real father lost his head at King's Landing. I made a choice, and I chose wrong. ~ Theon Greyjoy

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    TheMissingno.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Discussion on space exploration

    I'm going to basically parrot Neil DeGrasse Tyson's opinion on this. We need the manned space program because the general public cares about people more than it cares about robots. People like Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Buzz Aldrin, Yuri Gagarin, Sally Ride, Alexei Leonov, Alan Shepherd, etc. are household names. Manned space flight makes heroes, and it puts a human face on all this stuff that is going into space.

    There were a lot of robots that went to the moon, and even Mars and Venus before we landed humans on the moon, but the public didn't huddle around their TV to listen to them, they huddled around their TV to hear "The Eagle has landed" and "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Facebook didn't go crazy when the Spirit and Opportunity stopped transmitting, and no one ridicules their piers for not knowing about the Venera program, but when Neil Armstrong died that was exactly what happened.

    So basically the short version is we need the manned space flight program because they don't name high schools after robots.
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    Rocket traditionalist Hunter Blade's Avatar
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    Default Re: Discussion on space exploration

    I know a bit about the space program, but I don't actually know what the Venera program is. Whoops.
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    Default Re: Discussion on space exploration

    Quote Originally Posted by Hunter Blade View Post
    I know a bit about the space program, but I don't actually know what the Venera program is. Whoops.
    It's a Soviet program that sent probes to Venus. They were the first probes ever to land on another planet and transmit data from the surface. It's pretty cool really, a lot of people don't know that we've sent that many things to Venus. For some reason the Soviets really wanted to go there and the U.S. didn't really seem to have any interest.
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    Default Re: Discussion on space exploration

    I knew of the Venera program, but not quite by name.

    Venus has always fascinated me due to its atmospheric makeup and the fact that we can barely see through the thick smog on the surface when we do actually land something on it that survives the atmosphere. I've always wondered what caused it to become so hostile, and I've subscribed the theory that some form of intelligent life lived there at one point but completely destroyed the planet through unchecked industry. I keep hearing that the atmosphere is like "the greenhouse effect on steroids" so it's not 100% unreasonable.

    My real father lost his head at King's Landing. I made a choice, and I chose wrong. ~ Theon Greyjoy

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    Default Re: Discussion on space exploration

    One cool thing about Venus is that, even though the surface conditions are very harsh, the conditions at an altitude of 50 km are quite Earth-like. First of all Venus is almost the same size as Earth, so the gravity there is about 0.98 g. The pressure at that altitude is about the same as it is here on Earth, and the temperatures are about 0 to 50 degrees C. Basically if there was a floating colony at that altitude on Venus, a person would be able to go outside relatively comfortably with only a respirator. Any breech in a structure would not cause any kind of decompression since the pressure would be pretty much the same on the inside as it is on the outside.
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    Default Re: Discussion on space exploration

    One thing I am surprised that hasn't been pointed out is that in this one week there are three different tragedies that should be remembered

    Jan. 27, 1967 Apollo 1 fire
    Jan. 28, 1986 Challenger Explosion
    Feb. 1, 2003 Columbia broke up on re-entry

    It's almost shocking how some of the largest NASA tragedies have happened all within a one week time frame.

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    Rocket traditionalist Hunter Blade's Avatar
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    Default Re: Discussion on space exploration

    Wait, wait, those were this past week and Columbia is tomorrow? Why haven't any news stations done "Remembering the..." stories about them?
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    Default Re: Discussion on space exploration

    By the way, I was wondering, did they ever actually send that probe to Europa? I heard tons about it as a kid but never heard anything about their findings.

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    Default Re: Discussion on space exploration

    Several probes have passed by Jupiter and photographed Europa, but none have been sent specifically to Europa. The only probe to ever land on one of Jupiter's moons was the Huygens probe, which took and transmitted this picture from the surface before freezing to death:



    Titan has one of the thickest atmospheres in the solar system with about four times the density of Earth's at sea level. It also features hydrocarbon oceans, as well as a reverse greenhouse effect that keeps it extremely chilly.
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