While not necessarily an action-packed week in space – no stars were flipped inside out, in any case – space-based considerations on Earth were busy keeping the theories flying. Scientists are planning how to search for potential life on future missions, current missions searching for extraterrestrial life got the green light to keep looking, and people are wondering how organisms designed to function at Earth-normal gravity levels might operate in completely different environments.
Stuff might not be happening, but stuff is being thought about, put into plans, and being kept in the news. Considering the several scares American space exploration has had in the past few years – scares along the lines of ‘there might not be any more’ – it’s been a pretty good week.
Solar Power Satellite: I know it’s not exactly related to alien invasions, but the reemerging popularity of power-beaming makes it increasingly likely that space will become part of our infrastructure. And once we keep a sustained, active interest in space… Who knows what could happen?
Kepler Continues: We have at least four more years of funding for the search for Earth-like planets in habitable zones. Two other programs studying cosmological structures and the origins of the Universe are also staying afloat. Kepler's search for other Earth's has gotten a really good start, especially based on last week's news, so we can hope for a few more amazing things from it.
Getting Ready for a Potential Trip to Europa: Visiting Jupiter’s watery moon is bit far from possible at the moment, but NASA is doing its best to keep Europa on its ‘to-do’ list. Because the it has water – one of the necessary conditions for life as we know it – scientists contend that it’s very possible for extraterrestrial organisms to be floating around under layers of ice; the only problem is radiation from Jupiter’s magnetosphere, which might either destroy potential alien life or send it hiding deep beneath the surface. In order to pinpoint the best way to look for life on this future hoped-for trip, NASA’s scientists are testing how powerfully electrons can bombard Europa’s icy surface and damage any organic matter.
Evolving With Gravity in Mind: Alien invasion novels, and space exploration fiction as a whole, usually has at least a bit to say about the dangers the great abyss of space represents for humans. Gravity is one of the big ones, as low gravity degenerates our muscles and joints, causes odd bouts of pressure on our brains and eyes, and makes reproduction a bit of a problem. But there’s hope that we’ll move past those difficulties – well, spiders and bacteria might, at least. And there’s a different sort of hope for us humans: students came up with the ideas to test their ability to adapt to changes in gravity.
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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter andFacebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.