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The Future of Space Exploration - Wall Street Journal, Sara Seager's Predictions

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posted on Apr, 27 2015 @ 01:36 AM
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The Next Generation Transit Survey saw first light in January of this year at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile. - See more at: Sky and Telescope Magazine.

Since a lot of what is discussed here in this forum revolves around the subjects of exoplanets, new space vehicles and what we might do in the future I thought you'd might be interested in these well-grounded predictions from exoplanet atmosphere expert Sara Seager. These are not pie-in-the-sky predictions but based on solid science, planned and funded missions, equipment and telescopes or ones on the drawing board.

Because they have such a solid footing and come from such a notable researcher (Seager won a Genius Grant), the Wall Street Journal took note and published them on their site.

They are written from the standpoint of what she would say if she were giving a news report from 2045:

Enjoy:




July 2045

I am jet-setting on a one-hour suborbital flight from Boston to Hawaii for a meeting devoted to atmospheric data on habitable exoplanets—planets outside our solar system. It’s a topic the world never tires of.


Data has been flooding in from the nation’s latest space telescope, one with a 30-meter-diameter mirror (the Hubble’s, for comparison, was 2.4 meters). The initial searches for signs of life on exoplanets by 2020s telescopes found so many tantalizing hints. The new telescope, with thousands of times the capability, has searched hundreds of the nearest Earth-size exoplanets and found something astonishing: A large fraction show unusual chemistry in their atmospheres.

We are working hard to understand if any of the unusual chemistry can be attributed to gases produced by life. If geophysical or other contributions can be ruled out, we might establish that our galaxy is teeming with life, or at least microbial life.

If we instead hit a dead end with ambiguous chemical signals, we’ll need to go to the next step. Thanks to telomere gene therapy that has extended my life, I am willing and able to direct an even more capable space telescope, but that isn’t good enough. We will have to leave it to the next generations to figure out how to send the first interstellar space probes to actually travel up to tens of light years away to visit the other Earths.

In the meantime, a radio-telescope array on the dark side of the moon sweeps each suspected life-bearing planet for a broad range of radio transmissions, a quicker but perhaps less likely way to confirm the presence of life beyond Earth.


Dr. Seager is a planetary scientist and astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She can be reached at reports@wsj.com.


Not bad, though I'd have said "far side of the moon" but she is one of my mentors so like yeah.... I'm not going to criticize her for making a common mistake. Even astrophysicists are human.

BTW: I've started writing a "hard sci-fi" short story called "The Neighborhood" which takes place in the roughly the same time frame (actually the main part of it takes 7 years later than 2045 in the year 2052). I'm thinking about posting it here on ATS in the stories forum but I need to learn more about the protocol for doing that first.
edit on 27-4-2015 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)




posted on Apr, 27 2015 @ 06:41 AM
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a reply to: JadeStar

So I would say to Saegar in her 2045 world: "So you scientific geniuses are still dismissing all data of UFO reports as, what, outside of your fields of study, not worthy of study as they are only modern folktales, government secret devices you don't want to discuss or maybe even real alien craft from some other dimension, or world?

"How can you so intently be looking 'out there' for signs of intelligent activities when you and the government that one way or another mostly funds and directs your endeavors continually denies and ignores local phenomena that seems to easily fit your parameters of intelligent activities on a far more generous basis than mere radio signals from afar--albeit a safe distance?

"You know, on a basic scientific level of determining the mysteries of nature, this situation doesn't make much sense. But in terms of doing social engineering in a scientific fashion, we can tend to understand that efforts of proving a suspected outcome by an incrementally applied, plodding scientific approach to a very serious situation is without a doubt the proper tool for a required change in a global civilization. So carry on...."



posted on Apr, 27 2015 @ 06:53 AM
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a reply to: Aliensun



Science is very simple, there is only one requirement - evidence, and from there we can make conclusion...

All those 'signs' you are talking about are just that, until you can prove with evidence that they are not what they appear to be so far...


@ OP, thanks for link and topic. I've learned from previous experience and from similar 'what future bring us', that we most likely will be disappointed again, but this is mostly just for astronomy/space exploration. I remember reading about space stations, build in rings that they predicted at latest 2010, with thousands of people living and working 'up there'... On the other hand, what new technology brings us, sometimes even sounds scary.



edit on 27-4-2015 by SuperFrog because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 27 2015 @ 08:09 AM
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a reply to: JadeStar

I hope the future of space exploration either comes to a screeching halt or is just continued by SUPER cheap robots.

While it is interesting and fantastical, space exploration is by far the stupidest use of resources ever known, next to war and the military.

There are MANY issues down here on earth that need to be focused on long before we start abandoning earth in search for another planet to screw up.

Don't get me wrong, I find everything about space amazing and intriguing. I just feel it shouldn't be a priority while the issues keep piling themselves up, down here on earth.



posted on Apr, 27 2015 @ 08:45 AM
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originally posted by: Sparkymedic
a reply to: JadeStar

I hope the future of space exploration either comes to a screeching halt or is just continued by SUPER cheap robots.

While it is interesting and fantastical, space exploration is by far the stupidest use of resources ever known, next to war and the military.

There are MANY issues down here on earth that need to be focused on long before we start abandoning earth in search for another planet to screw up.

Don't get me wrong, I find everything about space amazing and intriguing. I just feel it shouldn't be a priority while the issues keep piling themselves up, down here on earth.


Space exploration is so very important to life on Earth. Several of the improvements and tech that make life easier come from Space technology(ies):



For more than 50 years, the NASA Technology Transfer Program[1] has connected NASA resources to private industry, referring to the commercial products as spin-offs. Well-known products that NASA claims as spin-offs include memory foam (originally named temper foam), freeze-dried food, firefighting equipment, emergency "space blankets", Dustbusters, cochlear implants, and now Speedo's LZR Racer swimsuits. As of 2012, NASA claims that there are nearly 1,800 other spin-offs in the fields of computer technology, environment and agriculture, health and medicine, public safety, transportation, recreation, and industrial productivity. Contrary to common belief, NASA did not invent Tang, Velcro or Teflon.[2]


Here is a list:

Health and medicine[edit]
Infrared ear thermometers[edit]
Diatek Corporation and NASA developed an aural thermometer that measures the thermal radiation emitted by the eardrum, similar to the way the temperature of stars and planets is measured. This method avoids contact with mucous membranes, and permits rapid temperature measurement of newborn or incapacitated patients. NASA supported the Diatek Corporation through the Technology Affiliates Program.[9]

Ventricular assist device[edit]
Collaboration between NASA, Dr. Michael DeBakey, Dr. George Noon, and MicroMed Technology Inc. resulted in a heart pump for patients awaiting heart transplants. The MicroMed DeBakey ventricular assist device (VAD) functions as a “bridge to heart transplant” by pumping blood until a donor heart is available. The pump is approximately one-tenth the size of other currently marketed pulsatile VADs. Because of the pump’s small size, fewer patients developed device-related infections. It can operate up to 8 hours on batteries, giving patients the mobility to do normal, everyday activities.[10]

Artificial Limbs[edit]
NASA’s continued funding, coupled with its collective innovations in robotics and shock-absorption/comfort materials are inspiring and enabling the private sector to create new and better solutions for animal and human prostheses. Advancements such as Environmental Robots Inc.’s development of artificial muscle systems with robotic sensing and actuation capabilities for use in NASA space robotic and extravehicular activities are being adapted to create more functionally dynamic artificial limbs (Spinoff 2004). Additionally, other private-sector adaptations of NASA’s temper foam technology have brought about custom-moldable materials offering the natural look and feel of flesh, as well as preventing friction between the skin and the prosthesis, and heat/moisture buildup. (Spinoff 2005 url = spinoff.nasa.gov...

Light-emitting diodes in medical therapies[edit]
After initial experiments using light-emitting diodes in NASA space shuttle plant growth experiments, NASA issued a small business innovation grant that led to the development of a hand-held, high-intensity, LED unit developed by Quantum Devices Inc. that can be used to treat tumors after other treatment options are exhausted.[11]:10–11 This therapy was approved by the FDA and inducted into the Space Foundation's Space Technology Hall of Fame in 2000.

Invisible braces[edit]
Invisible braces are a type of transparent ceramics called translucent polycrystalline alumina (TPA). A company known as Ceradyne developed TPA in conjunction with NASA Advanced Ceramics Research as protection for infrared antennae on heat-seeking missile trackers. [12]

Scratch-resistant lenses[edit]
A sunglasses manufacturer called Foster Grant first licensed a NASA technology for scratch-resistant lenses, developed for protecting space equipment from scratching in space, especially helmet visors.[12]

Space blanket[edit]
So-called space blankets, developed in 1964, are lightweight and reflect infrared radiation. They are often included in first aid kits.

Transportation[edit]
Aircraft anti-icing systems[edit]

This ice-free airplane wing uses Thermawing's Aircraft Anti-Icing System, a NASA spin-off.
NASA funding under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and work with NASA scientists advanced the development of a thermoelectric deicing system called Thermawing, a DC-powered air conditioner for single-engine aircraft called Thermacool, and high-output alternators to run them both. Thermawing allows pilots to safely fly through ice encounters and provides pilots of single-engine aircraft the heated wing technology usually reserved for larger, jet-powered craft. Thermacool, an electric air conditioning system, uses a new compressor whose rotary pump design runs off an energy-efficient, brushless DC motor and allows pilots to use the air conditioner before the engine starts.[13]

Highway safety[edit]
Safety grooving, the cutting of grooves in concrete to increase traction and prevent injury, was first developed to reduce aircraft accidents on wet runways. Represented by the International Grooving and Grinding Association, the industry expanded into highway and pedestrian applications. Safety grooving originated at Langley Research Center, which assisted in testing the grooving at airports and on highways. Skidding was reduced, stopping distance decreased, and a vehicle’s cornering ability on curves was increased. The process has been extended to animal holding pens, parking lots, and other potentially slippery surfaces.[14]

Improved radial tires[edit]
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company developed a fibrous material, five times stronger than steel, for NASA to use in parachute shrouds to soft-land the Viking Lander spacecraft on the Martian surface. Recognizing the durability of the material, Goodyear expanded the technology and went on to produce a new radial tire with a tread life expected to be 10,000 miles (16,000 km) greater than conventional radials.[15]

Chemical detection[edit]
NASA contracted with Intelligent Optical Systems (IOS) to develop moisture- and pH-sensitive sensors to warn of corrosive conditions in aircraft before damage occurs. This sensor changes color in response to contact with its target. After completing the work with NASA, IOS was tasked by the U.S. Department of Defense to further develop the sensors for detecting chemical warfare agents and potential threats, such as toxic industrial compounds and nerve agents. IOS has sold the chemically sensitive fiber optic cables to major automotive and aerospace companies, who are finding a variety of uses for the devices such as aiding experimentation with nontraditional power sources, and as an economical “alarm system” for detecting chem



posted on Apr, 27 2015 @ 09:52 AM
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a reply to: Sparkymedic

"Deny Ignorance"..



posted on Apr, 27 2015 @ 10:46 AM
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a reply to: Sparkymedic

It is not a stupid waste of resources, what a strange statement. The greatest minds on earth are fully aware that our planet can only sustain an ever increasing population for so long. Increasing food production to feed everyone will only lead to further population increase, disease and will lead to genetic breakdown of most foods. With genecide not an option for most scientists, we need to find another habitable planet to either move to or ease the burden on earth. Your resources would be spent on political issues where these discoveries will help the human race in both a "safe haven" and the possible emergence of intelligent life (if you don't believe in ufos)



posted on Apr, 27 2015 @ 11:14 AM
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originally posted by: Sparkymedic
a reply to: JadeStar

I hope the future of space exploration either comes to a screeching halt or is just continued by SUPER cheap robots.

While it is interesting and fantastical, space exploration is by far the stupidest use of resources ever known, next to war and the military.

There are MANY issues down here on earth that need to be focused on long before we start abandoning earth in search for another planet to screw up.

Don't get me wrong, I find everything about space amazing and intriguing. I just feel it shouldn't be a priority while the issues keep piling themselves up, down here on earth.



Im so sick of arguing with short sighted Luddites Im not even going to bother and let someone else do it.
Hell its jade thread she can do it this time.

All I will say is if your so concerned with starving Africans, drowning polar bears or suicidal panda bears or whatever your pet cause is, there plenty you can do to help of you so wish so.



posted on Apr, 27 2015 @ 05:29 PM
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a reply to: Sparkymedic

If anything, space exploration should be the top priority. Space exploration hardly gets any resources at all and I'm glad private corps are starting to invest in it.

But I agree that there are many problems on our own little planet and those are just many reasons more to actually invest in space exploration.

It's a case of having all your eggs in the same basket.



posted on Apr, 27 2015 @ 07:20 PM
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Regarding the assertion that space exploration somehow displaces dealing with problems on Earth I would say I find that fairly myopic and illogical.

It is not a zero-sum problem. We can walk and chew gum.

Here's a personal anecdote: I spent 2 weeks in Nigeria recently with some people who have worked with Astronomers Without Borders and nearly everywhere I looked I saw stuff which came from or were spurred on by investment in technologies driven by the space programs of the 50s-60s.

Mobile phones, GPS, osmotic water purification, cheap electronics for entertainment, etc.

I thought about how different our world would be without this stuff and specifically how different modern day Nigeria would be without it.

There is nothing which we will do here on Earth any differently if we suddenly withdrew from exploration. In fact I'd argue that a society which turns its attention from exploring things eventually turns on itself. History bears this out.

There are no new lands to settle or explore on Earth. There is a growing population and there are limited resources which only can be expanded by doing things in new and different ways.

Nothing peacefully drives doing things new and differently (also called innovation) as well as the basic science and engineering problems space exploration, both human and robotic address.

I can think of nothing to prepare us for living on what will increasingly become a less and less habitable planet than learning how to live and thrive on even less habitable places like the Moon, Mars, Titan, etc.

The problems of Spain would not have ended had Columbus not set sail. China burned their ships and turned away from exploring the oceans yet it still has problems.

Turning inward does nothing to solve anything, it never has, and it never will.

The dinosaurs had no space program to avert disaster. That's why they are gone and we are here. Those who argue against space exploration should be well aware of the fact that we are just an asteroid impact away from extinction.

We are also in a race against time with our Sun.

In about 300-500 million years life on Earth will begin to be stressed into the beginnings of a mass die off due to the evolution of our Sun.

Now that sounds like a lot of time right? But a lot can happen between then and now.

We are at a special time in that we have both the technology to avert our extinction and have people almost completely unaware of the significance of that.

Procrastination and naval gazing will not avert the next asteroid nor will it stop the Sun's natural evolution to becoming a red giant.

The amount of money spent on space exploration is miniscule compared to the other crap we waste money on. ie: Super Bowl advertising totalled something like a half billion dollars last year. That's enough money to build an asteroid protection system that the B612 project has been advocating.

The waste is not in space. It's down here on Earth.
edit on 27-4-2015 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 28 2015 @ 06:28 AM
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I really don't see correlation between astronomy and space exploration and current state of our planet. If we stop space exploration, will wars, famine, diseases and killing really stop? Might be worth look at?!

You have to be well delusional to believe so, but there is something that might worry our friend here...

What if we find life out there, even microbial life... That would mean end of the world to some...



posted on Apr, 28 2015 @ 06:55 AM
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I wonder how likely, as our observational tools get better, that instead of finding a radio signal, we might find signs of macro-engineering instead. I think that would be a pretty awesome discovery.




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