The short SpaceX vignette of the last few weeks has ended, but more SpaceX news is sure to come. Also in the news this week was a continuation of the Martian life argument, a short segue to the question of life on Europa, and some questions about the viability of the human form in space.
While this hasn’t been a terribly exciting week for aliens, seeing as how we’re increasingly nixing Mars from the list of places in the solar system with life, it’s been an incredibly interesting week for the progress of humans in space. Both as a mobile, scientific society and as a specific organism with biological limitations.
Fully Successful, Part I: SpaceX’s Dragon landed successfully off the coast of
Baja California just a few days ago. Not
only does this represent Dragon’s first complete and successful mission to the
ISS (its second overall), it clears the way for a lot more low-orbit space
activity. Dragon and SpaceX at large
might become the go-to thing for all ISS and space cargo trips, and a steady,
easy way to ship cargo loads might lead to more than just the ISS in terms of a
permanent human presence off of Earth.
Mars Does Not Have Life… This Week: Yeah, more Mars. There’s been a lot of focus on methane production on the planets and moons that might just have life, and scientists are trying to figure out if it’s caused by geology, biology, or something else entirely. It was something else entirely: UV light breaking down carbon compounds in meteors. The 200 to 300 tons of methane produced every year on Mars are due (in probably their entirety) to the Sun breaking down carbonaceous everything in alien rocks peppering the planet’s surface. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily account for all of the methane on Mars, so the game is still on.
We Might Not Have Mars, But There’s Still Europa: Mars wasn’t the only spot on our list of lively probables in the Solar System. Jupiter’s Europa, where an icy sulfur landscape might host tiny life, is the potential destination of NASA and European Space Agency missions. To prepare for these missions, scientists have been studying extremophiles in
Canada’s and identifying
signs that we can search for in the future. Borup Fjord
First Spine, Now Eyes: Primarily, this article is about the potential damages space flight and microgravity can cause to vision and eye anatomy. NASA scientists are looking to see if enzyme polymorphisms are behind the changes. Then, presumably they’ll look for a biological cure, seeing as how nutritional effects have already been taken off the list of possibility. If you remember the research over microgravity’s causing spinal degeneration – which was solved by genetically modifying mice – there’s a chance this, too, might be solved by altering genetic make-up. This could lead to the artificial evolution of certain humans into different species based initially on occupation. It's a stretch right now, but entirely possible.
SpaceX Is After the Next Frontier: Military Contracts: The ULA (United Launch Alliance) has monopolized military launches in the past, but SpaceX is now trying to get in on that market. This has lead to questions over certifications, criteria, and the viability of SpaceX’s success. It also means space travel is an industry filling up with competition and branching out beyond basic markets. In the long-term, and even the short-term, the space industry is increasingly becoming an actual industry.
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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 be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.