I watched a NOVA show entitled, “Can We Make It to Mars”? hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. I have been watching quite a few of these shows in the past two years. Maybe because there are more of them.
What I carry away from these shows, is just how wonderful and special Planet Earth is. I have said this before but I truly think some people believe we are just a few years away from boarding a spaceship or walking through a wormhole to some pristine and abundant planet to start over again.
Boy, are they wrong. They seem to have no idea how dangerous and inhospitable space is for us earthlings, including plants and other animals.
Besides not having oxygen to breathe and being freezing cold, space has these dangers.
Danger One: Space Has Meteoroids
A pea-sized meteoroid can travel at 16,000 miles per hour and pierce the hull of a spaceship. The space programs have lost spacecraft because of bombardment by meteoroids. NASA is developing a hull that can hold-up to meteoroid bombardment.
Danger Two: Space Has Zero Gravity
In zero gravity, sure you can fly but you also lose bone mass and muscle strength.
Danger Three: Space Has Cosmic Rays
Yeah, this isn’t Flash Gordon’s cosmic rays. These bright flashes of light pierce spaceships and astronauts brains (yes, brains) to deliver very heavy doses of radiation predisposing the body’s cells to develop cancer. And the astronauts know when they go up into space, the are increasing their chances.
After I watch a show, or read a article or book on the topic of deep space travel, I am convinced humanity is quite insane. We have a beautiful home planet that supports us humans and abundant life, yet some of us dream of hurling through space at mind-numbing speed, picking up radiation and eating food that was cooked and stored several years before.
I highly recommend watching, “Can We make It to Mars?'”. It makes me appreciate the home we have in new ways.
And since I plan on staying put on my home planet, I fight to save it.
See also Space: No Longer an Option?
Image created by Reto Stockli with the help of Alan Nelson, under the leadership of Fritz Hasler (NASA)
More Earth Essays