The former International Space Station commander said the risk of death was simply too high.
“We could send people to Mars decades ago,” Hadfield told Business Insider.
“The technology that took us to the moon and back when I was just a kid — that technology can take us to Mars.”
Hadfield was referring to the famous Apollo 11 mission: it was the spaceflight that landed the first two people on the moon.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the moon on July 20, 1969 – and Hadfield is convinced that same spaceship technology could put us on Mars.
The problem, according to Hadfield, is that those classic space shuttles would simply take too long to get to Mars.
This poses loads of risks, particularly illnesses caused by the tough environments in space.
“The majority of the astronauts that we send on those missions wouldn’t make it,” he explained. “They’d die.”
The astronaut added: “Mars is further away than most people think.”
Hadfield isn’t wrong: there’s an immense distance between Earth and Mars, with the red planet being roughly 600 times further away from us than the moon.
The situation is made more complicated by the fact that the distance is constantly changing as the two planets rotate around the sun.
The closest that Earth and Mars can ever be is a distance of 33.9 million miles — or 9,800 times longer than the trip from London and New York.
A more useful distance is the average gap, which is even bigger at 140 million miles.
Launching shuttles to Mars have, so far, taken huge lengths of time – anywhere from 128 to 333 days.
That’s an incredible length of time to be aboard a cramped shuttle, particularly one so far from Earth — where the opportunity to launch rescue missions is near-impossible.
Astronauts who spend a long time in space face significant risks.
One is the threat from deep-space radiation, which can cause cancer due to prolonged exposure.
And a 2016 study published in the Nature journal found that astronauts who spend a long time in space have a much greater risk of deadly heart disease.
Hadfield compared the feat of putting humans on Mars to Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who famously circumnavigated the world between 1519 and 1522.
“Magellan, when he launched in 1519, they launched with five ships and 250 people to try and just go around the world once and almost everybody died,” Hadfield explained.
“They only came back with like 15 or 18 people and one out of the five ships.”
He said current space travel mechanisms of “burning chemical rockets” is the “equivalent of using a sailboat or a pedal boat to try and travel around the world.”
There are lots of space-faring firms claiming to offer Mars travel in the near future, but Hadfield is skeptical that using them to put people on Mars is a good idea.
They include NASA’s Space Launch System, SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket (masterminded by tech billionaire Elon Musk) and Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket (funded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.)
“My guess is we will never go to Mars with the engines that exist on any of those three rockets unless we truly have to,” he explained.
“I don’t think those are a practical way to send people to Mars because they’re dangerous and it takes too long and it, therefore, exposes us to a risk for a long time.”
“Someone has to invent something we haven’t thought of yet,” Hadfield said.
NASA’s goal of returning to the moon should see a major push in early 2019, when the agency awards its first contract for the lunar “Gateway” program.
The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway is NASA’s planned “staging” area intended for studies of the moon and the deep-space environment. Eventually, it will function as a way station for astronauts traveling to and from Mars .
NASA’s first spending for the platform will be for power and propulsion elements early next year, followed by habitation components, Associate Administrator William Gerstenmaier said Thursday at the Space Symposium conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They will probably be launched moonward, in that order, starting in 2022.
The platform should be orbiting the moon in 2025, said Gerstenmaier, a 41-year NASA veteran who oversees human exploration and operations. It will carry a four-astronaut crew on 30-day missions, he said.
The Gateway would also further NASA’s goal of another human landing on the moon and will help determine whether water near the surface could be used to manufacture propellant for deep-space missions. The moon’s gravity could also help a spacecraft reduce the blistering speeds used for six-month voyages back-and-forth to Mars, thus facilitating re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere.
“We want to understand orbital mechanics around the moon” a little better, far from the Earth’s deep gravity well, he said. “Doing things in this region, where gravity isn’t such a big driver … is a different way of operating.”
In November, NASA selected five companies to study a high-power solar-electric propulsion system to use in deep-space missions, including the lunar platform. Future human missions will require a power system that has triple the capability of current designs.
Trips to the “gateway” will be aboard the Orion, a spacecraft being assembled by Lockheed Martin Corp., with the service module being supplied by the European Space Agency. The Orion’s first flight, without crew, is scheduled for next year. The craft will serve as the command deck when it’s docked with the platform.
“Development of the gateway has great momentum, and we are providing our expertise as NASA looks to industry to bring know-how to this important effort,” Lockheed said Thursday in an emailed statement. The lunar platform is based on current NASA budgets and “doesn’t require a huge new influx of funding,” Gernstenmaier said, calling realistic budget planning one of NASA’s strategic principles for how to pioneer deep-space missions.“It’s got fiscal realism, and it’s also adaptable,” he said of the program. “It can adapt to commercial partners. It’s not a rigid program of one mission following another,” an allusion to the Apollo program, which famously required an aggressive schedule of flights that built off each other.“As long as we view the moon as a stepping stone and not an end goal, I think we’re OK,” Gernstenmaier said. NASA is also assessing how to continue the U.S. presence in low-Earth orbit. The Trump administration has proposed ending U.S. funding of the International Space Station in 2024. “We think it’s a great place to do development,” Gerstenmaier said. “To do major development in the vicinity of the moon is really costly.”
Scientists have discovered that a subsurface ocean on Enceladus could have existed for billions of years, providing plenty of time for microbial alien life to emerge and evolve.
One of Saturn’s icy moons, Enceladus is considered one of the best bets for finding extraterrestrial life within our solar system. Geophysical evidence has long suggested it boasts a salty, liquid ocean between its frozen shell and rocky core. Scientists believe the ocean exists as the result of heat generated by hydrothermal activity the moon’s interior.
NASA has been considering a mission to Enceladus to search for evidence of alien life for several years, although no confirmed plans are in place.
In a study published in Nature Astronomy, an international team of scientists looked data from NASA’s recently completed Cassini mission to better understand what is going on within Enceladus’ that allows it to have a sustained, global ocean. If it was just being heated by tidal forces within the ice, the ocean would freeze over in less than 30 million years. But they now know this is not the case—so something else must be heating the ocean.
Researchers looked at different ways Enceladus could be generating the heat to maintain the liquid ocean, producing models to find one that fits with Cassini observations. Their findings indicate that the additional heat is the result of Enceladus’ core being highly porous.
Water moving through the porous rock is heated then transported up through narrow upwellings, with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees Celsius. The team also found these hotspots are particularly prevalent at the moon’s south pole, which explains why the ice seems thinner at this point. Further analysis showed that this heating mechanism could be sustained for tens of millions, if not billions of years.
One of the most prevalent theories as to how life evolved on Earth is through chemical reactions at deep sea hydrothermal vents. The presence of hydrothermal activity in Enceladus that could last for such a long time has major implications for the potential for life to evolve. If Enceladus has had a liquid ocean for billions of years, life would have had the chance to emerge and evolve into a more complex form.
In an email interview with Newsweek, lead author Gaël Choblet, from the French National Center for Scientific Research, said that while he cannot speculate on the presence of alien life on Enceladus, their timescale for hydrothermal activity does bolster the case that microbial life could emerge.
“If a new theory published last year is correct, then powerful hydrothermal activity could have been occurring since the formation of the moon, possibly as much as the age of the solar system,” he says, adding that which timescale they are working on—tens of millions or billions—could be determined with future research
He said the team now plans to simulate the chemical interactions within Enceladus and to work out how heat and chemicals are transported around the ocean.
Ravi Desai, from Imperial College London, U.K.,has previously looked at the chemistry of Enceladus’s ocean. Commenting on the latest study, which he was not involved in, he says the findings represent “excellent news” for the possibility of detecting microbial life deep in the ocean.
“These findings from Enceladus are highly relevant to exploring the icy moons of Jupiter … [The] results are particularly exciting when considering what could be discovered at Europa and Ganymede.”
David A Rothery, professor of Planetary Geosciences at the Open University, U.K., also says the findings are exciting as “it all fits together”—Cassini observations have now been reconciled with a suitable model of heat transfer within Enceladus. In terms of the potential for life, he said the only possible drawback is that due to its size, it only take about 250 million years for the entire ocean to be recycled through the rock—and once this is done, the number of chemical reactions that take place becomes very limited.
“But this is still happening at the moment because we’re seeing the products,” he says. “Chemical reactions are going on even today. If it’s going on today it could have been going on a billion years into the past, and that’s long enough for life to get started—and to have evolved beyond the very most basic stages. It could be quite a complex microbial community down there and we’d love to study it.”
By Pallab Ghosh
Prof Hawking says: “If humanity is to continue for another million years, our future lies in boldly going where no one else has gone before.”
Prof Stephen Hawking has called for leading nations to send astronauts to the Moon by 2020.
They should also aim to build a lunar base in 30 years’ time and send people to Mars by 2025.
Prof Hawking said that the goal would re-ignite the space programme, forge new alliances and give humanity a sense of purpose.
He was speaking at the Starmus Festival celebrating science and the arts, which is being held in Trondheim, Norway.
Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity
Prof Stephen Hawking
“Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity,” he said.
“I hope it would unite competitive nations in a single goal, to face the common challenge for us all.
“A new and ambitious space programme would excite (young people), and stimulate interest in other areas, such as astrophysics and cosmology”.
Moon LandingsImage copyrightNEIL A. ARMSTRONG
Return of the Moon landings would give humanity “a sense of purpose”.
He addressed the concerns of those arguing that it would be better to spend our money on solving the problems of this planet along with a pointed criticism of US President Donald Trump.
“I am not denying the importance of fighting climate change and global warming, unlike Donald Trump, who may just have taken the most serious, and wrong, decision on climate change this world has seen,” he said.
Prof Hawking explained that human space travel is essential for the future of humanity precisely because the Earth was under threat from climate change as well as diminishing natural resources.
“We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth,” the Cambridge University theoretical physicist explained.
The head of the European Space Agency (Esa) Jan Woerner has said he envisages the construction of a Moon base to replace the International Space Station in 2024 and is collaborating with Russia to send a probe to assess a potential site. China has set itself the goal of sending an astronaut to the Moon.
Nasa has no plans to return to the Moon, instead focusing its efforts on sending astronauts to Mars by the 2030s. Though if other space agencies begin to collaborate on constructing a lunar base it would be hard to see Nasa not participating.
Prof Hawking said that there was no long-term future for our species staying on Earth: it would either be hit by an asteroid again or eventually engulfed by our own Sun. He added that travelling to distant worlds would “elevate humanity”.
Media captionIn this European Space Agency video Dr James Carpenter describes the landing site
“Whenever we make a great new leap, such as the Moon landings, we bring people and nations together, usher in new discoveries, and new technologies,” he continued.
“To leave Earth demands a concerted global approach, everyone should join in. We need to rekindle the excitement of the early days of space travel in the sixties.”
He said that the colonisation of other planets was no longer science fiction, though he did pay tribute to the genre in his closing remarks.
“If humanity is to continue for another million years, our future lies in boldly going where no one else has gone before.
“I hope for the best. I have to. We have no other option”.
The clandestine celestial war between superpowers isn’t over. It’s just getting more high-tech.
BY JAMES BAMFORD
The historic race that reawakened the promise of manned spaceflight
Alone in a Spartan black cockpit, test pilot Mike Melvill rocketed toward space. He had eighty seconds to exceed the speed of sound and begin the climb to a target no civilian pilot had ever reached. He might not make it back alive. If he did, he would make history as the world’s first commercial astronaut.
The spectacle defied reason, the result of a competition dreamed up by entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, whose vision for a new race to space required small teams to do what only the world’s largest governments had done before.
Peter Diamandis was the son of hardworking immigrants who wanted their science prodigy to make the family proud and become a doctor. But from the age of eight, when he watched Apollo 11 land on the Moon, his singular goal was to get to space. When he realized NASA was winding down manned space flight, Diamandis set out on one of the great entrepreneurial adventure stories of our time. If the government wouldn’t send him to space, he would create a private space flight industry himself.
In the 1990s, this idea was the stuff of science fiction. Undaunted, Diamandis found inspiration in an unlikely place: the golden age of aviation. He discovered that Charles Lindbergh made his transatlantic flight to win a $25,000 prize. The flight made Lindbergh the most famous man on earth and galvanized the airline industry. Why, Diamandis thought, couldn’t the same be done for space flight?
The story of the bullet-shaped SpaceShipOne, and the other teams in the hunt, is an extraordinary tale of making the impossible possible. It is driven by outsized characters—Burt Rutan, Richard Branson, John Carmack, Paul Allen—and obsessive pursuits. In the end, as Diamandis dreamed, the result wasn’t just a victory for one team; it was the foundation for a new industry and a new age.
Business and Vacation Property Rentals
China plans to become the first nation to land a probe on the far side of the Moon, according toXinhua News Agency, the country’s official press organization.
Launching possibly as early as 2018, the mission represents the next step in China’s plans to explore the Moon with robotic probes and, within the next decade, to return a couple of kilograms of lunar material to Earth. The proposed Chang’e-4 probe follows the successful soft landing of the Chang’e-3 probe on the near side of the Moon in December 2013.
Although the new probe was built as the engineering backup to the Chang’e-3 lander, Chinese officials said the structure could handle a larger payload. China plans to use the probe to study “geological conditions” on the far side of the moon. The Chang’e probes are named after the Chinese goddess of the Moon.China has also offered foreign countries the opportunity to participate in its lunar exploration programs. In contrast to NASA, Europe and Russia have both signaled their interest in further studying the Moon and likely landing humans there, before moving on to Mars. Many countries and businesses see potential value in ice at the lunar poles and rare minerals in the lunar soil. The US Congress recently passed a law to legalize the mining of these resources.
Humans have studied the far side of the Moon from above since 1959, when the Soviet Union’s Luna 3 spacecraft returned the first grainy images of its pockmarked surface. But no humans or robotic spacecraft have yet landed there.
Paris (AFP) – Scientists Wednesday announced the discovery of an Earth-sized planet orbiting the star nearest our Sun, opening up the glittering prospect of a habitable world that may one day be explored by robots.
Named Proxima b, the planet is in a “temperate” zone compatible with the presence of liquid water — a key ingredient for life.
The findings, based on data collected over 16 years, were reported in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.
“We have finally succeeded in showing that a small-mass planet, most likely rocky, is orbiting the star closest to our solar system,” said co-author Julien Morin, an astrophysicist at the University of Montpellier in southern France.
“Proxima b would probably be the first exoplanet visited by a probe made by humans,” he told AFP.
An exoplanet is any planet outside our Solar System.
Lead author Guillem Anglada-Escude, an astronomer at Queen Mary University London, described the find as the “experience of a lifetime”.
Working with European Southern Observatory telescopes in the north Chilean desert, his team used the so-called Doppler method to detect Proxima b and describe its properties.
The professional star-gazers spent 60 consecutive days earlier this year looking for signs of gravitational pull on its host star, Proxima Centauri.
Regular shifts in the star’s light spectrum — repeating every 11.2 days — gave a tantalising clue.
They revealed that the star alternately moved towards and away from our Solar System at the pace of a leisurely stroll, about five kilometres (three miles) per hour.
– Goldilocks zone –
After cross-checking an inconclusive 2000-2014 dataset and eliminating other possible causes, the researchers determined that the tug of an orbiting planet was responsible for this tiny to-and-fro.
“Statistically, there is no doubt,” Anglada-Escude told journalists in a briefing.
“We have found a planet around Proxima Centauri.”
Proxima b is a mere four light years from the Solar System, meaning that it is essentially in our back yard on the scale of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
It has a mass around 1.3 times that of Earth, and orbits about seven million kilometres (4.35 million miles) from its star.
A planet so near to our Sun — 21 times closer than Earth — would be an unlivable white-hot ball of fire.
But Proxima Centauri is a so-called red dwarf, meaning a star that burns at a lower temperature.
As a result, the newly discovered planet is in a “Goldilocks” sweet spot: neither so hot that water evaporates, nor so cold that it freezes solid.
But liquid water is not the only essential ingredient for the emergence of life.
An atmosphere is also required, and on that score the researchers are still in the dark.
It all depends, they say, on how Proxima b evolved as a planet.
“You can come up with formation scenarios that end up with and Earth-like atmosphere, a Venus-like atmosphere” — 96 percent carbon dioxide — “or no atmosphere at all,” said co-author Ansgar Reiners, an expert on “cold” stars at the University of Goettingen’s Institute of Astrophysics in Germany.
Computer models suggest the planet’s temperature, with an atmosphere, could be “in the range of minus 30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit) on the dark side, and 30C (80F) on the light side,” Reiners told journalists.
Like the Moon in relation to Earth, Proxima b is “tidally locked,” with one face always exposed to its star and the other perpetually in shadow.
Emerging life forms would also have to cope with ultraviolet and X-rays bombarding Proxima b 100 times more intensely than on Earth.
– Search for life –
An atmosphere would help deflect these rays, as would a strong magnetic field.
But even high doses of radiation do not preclude life, especially if we think outside the box, scientists say.
“We have to be very open-minded as to what we call ‘life’,” Jean Schneider, an expert on exoplanets at the Observatoire de Paris, told AFP.
Some 3,500 exoplanets have been discovered since the first confirmed sighting in 1995.
Most of these distant worlds — like our own Jupiter and Neptune — are composed of gas, an inhospitable environment for life.
Even the 10 percent that do have rocky surfaces are mostly too cold or too hot to host water in liquid form.
And — until today — the handful that are in a temperate zone are effectively beyond reach.
Last year, for example, NASA unveiled Kepler 452b, a planet about 60 percent larger than Earth that could have active volcanoes, oceans, sunshine like ours, and a year lasting 385 days.
But at a distance of 1,400 light-years, humankind would have little hope of reaching this Earth-twin any time soon.
By comparison, Proxima b is a stone’s throw away, though still too far away for humans to visit with present-generation chemical rockets.
“This is a dream for astronomers if we think about follow up observations,” said Reiners.
Chris Smith,BGR News
A new theory says Earth is made of two planets, rather than just one. Apparently, our planet is the result of a collision that helped map the course of both Earth as we know it and the moon.
According to new research from the University of California, Earth and a hypothesized early planet called Theia collided, and the two planets fused together 4.5 billion years ago. That impact also formed our moon, Science Alert explains.
The initial working theory was that the Earth and Theia only side-swiped each other, sending the moon into orbit and then flying away into space. But this new research says that Theia never left Earth and instead, it helped shape up our planet.
Scientists studied oxygen isotopes from moon rocks from the Apollo missions and volcanic rocks from Earth’s mantle. Since each planet has a particular oxygen signature when it comes to oxygen contents, they would be able to see differences between lunar soil and Earth rocks.
If Theia simply swiped Earth, then the moon would be made mostly of Theia, and the Earth and moon rocks would have different oxygen isotopes. However, the researchers found they have the same isotopes.
“We don’t see any difference between Earth’s and the Moon’s oxygen isotopes; they’re indistinguishable,” researcher Edward Young said.
“Theia was thoroughly mixed into both the Earth and the moon, and evenly dispersed between them. This explains why we don’t see a different signature of Theia in the Moon versus Earth.”
The researcher also explained there’s evidence that Theia was a growing planet, still evolving at the time of the impact. The planet was similar in size to either Earth or Mars.
If confirmed, the research will help us better understand the origins and history of our planet. You know, as long as you believe Earth is a spheroid planet, and not a flat surface floating in space.