Author: Arthur Guilherme Vinicius
The theme of this article was chosen to take into consideration the fact that we foresee that even before humanity can reach 2100 we will be suffering from ecological and social problems so vast and irreversible that the planet will be practically uninhabitable. This is due to factors such as global warming, natural disasters, extreme pollution, overpopulation, and pandemics, which have become increasingly alarming. We believe that the most viable and only solution to prevent this forecast from becoming a reality is space exploration.
Humanity has traced its history through discoveries and innovations from the discovery of fire by our ancestor homo Erectus over 7,000 years BC, to the discovery of electrical energy by Benjamin Franklin. Technology has the capacity to change society in many ways so many economic factors so many social aspects and since the beginning of civilizations man has dreamed of reaching the stars a dream that would only be achieved in the 20th century, thanks to the discoveries of the former USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), and the American efforts we finally managed to send a man into space and not happy we landed on the moon, "A small step for man, but a great leap for mankind" (Armstrong, Neil, 1969,) phrase uttered by the first astronaut to step on the moon.
The 20th century was marked by the large-scale space race the result of a dispute that became known as the Cold War which arose soon after the end of World War II. On one side we had the already finished USSR which launched the first artificial satellite in space the Sputnik 1 launched in October 1957 and only 4 years later in April 1961 Yuri Gagarin would be the first man to go into space aboard Vostok 1. But the Americans would not stay behind and only a few years later on July 20, 1969, the Operation Apollo XI, would accomplish the feat of getting the first man to step on the moon, Neil Armstrong and his companions Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins, brought this great achievement to humanity.
However, even with the conquest of reaching the moon would not satisfy the search for discovery Mars had already been observed by an American probe to Mariner 4 even before the first man stepped on the moon this shows us that the discovery and expansion is part of us as humans with the red planet already being one of our next objectives before ideas such as the Terraforming appeared.
After the success of the American probe, many other probes were sent to Mars but only in 2003 with the Mars Exploration Rovers mission of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), we had the first real contact with the planet's soil the "Spirit and Opportunity" Rovers traveled the Martian soil taking pictures, collecting samples, and collecting data from Mars.
With all these advances man can build one of the great symbols of space exploration, the International Space Station (ISS), in order to house astronauts from different parts of the world for studies and preparation for future missions in space, about 100 meters long, being able to house a crew of up to 6 astronauts to the International Space Station is an important landmark in our direction to space exploration. Physicists, cosmologists, and scientists point out that space exploration must be one of the next objectives of humanity and that it is very important for the future of our species and maybe the key to our survival.
According to Stephen Hawking, astrophysicist and former professor of the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a position already held by Isaac Newton. In his "final frontier" lecture (George Washington University on NASA's 50th anniversary, 2009) Stephen Hawking points out the importance of space exploration and points out that although a large number of people point out that the money spent on space exploration should be spent to solve earthly problems first we should take a different view on the subject and think that with space exploration it would be possible to face the problems differently and have a wider range of options than at present. Against the idea that the money is being misspent, and according to Statista (a German online portal for statistics) in 2017, the global space economy was $383.5 billion and according to the WHO (World Health Organization) by the year 2015, it was already spent about $7.2 trillion on health 10% of all global GDP, thus demonstrating that spending on space exploration does not take the focus off basic needs and should continue to be invested. According to Stephen Hawking himself with space exploration, we can find various solutions to the problems of humanity, be it energy problems, global overpopulation, or lack of resources.
Another world-renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson in his interview with Don Cohen, managing editor of ASK magazine, answers questions regarding the role of space exploration and the advances NASA has brought when asked how much useful technology NASA has brought, the physicist mentions that the achievements were extremely important and adds "Without a space program, you end up running away from problems, when in fact we have scientists, engineers, intelligent people who can really stop it in the first place. (DEGRASSE TYSON,2008), the interview shows us the opinion of the astrophysicist and as well as Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson believes and trusts in the potential of space exploration and the benefits it can bring to us such as preventing disasters, understanding how our planet works, identifying threats to humanity. And once again it is pointed out that spending on this sector is minimal and the return enormous, and in 2008 when the survey was conducted, about six-tenths of one percent of the U.S. federal budget was allocated to NASA as Neil himself points out during the interview.
Therefore, we believe that we can expect from the future, the exploration of space as something real, a truth that people will live, in for 80 years or not. According to the thought of these authors and the scientific bases, we can believe that the exploration of the limits of space will be part of the development of the human race, and perhaps the key to solving many of the problems that have been happening in our times, giving us a new horizon and a sea of infinite possibilities, and all this advance can appear in various ways, either in the form of colonization of other planets, constructions in space, or even space travel that are impossible today, as Carl Sagan said in his work The Cosmic Link: An Extraterrestrial Perspective "We Are Made of Stardust" (SAGAN, 1973).
- METHODOLOGY AND JUSTIFICATION
The following article will deal with the assumptions made by our group about the cosmological future of humanity. This article was based on two research methodologies, the bibliographic and documentary, where books, scientific journals, and scientific articles were consulted, as well as documentaries and lectures on the subject. We strongly believe that the next great step for human development will be the conquest of space, through colonization, terraforming, and construction of space stations, among other means. The space that has long been desired, might be the next great stage of humanity, as it has been in recent decades. Countless researches and important technological advances make us dream about this future where space will be our next destination, a horizon not yet explored, and with infinite possibilities.
3. MEGASCALE ENGINEERING
Through megascale constructions, it is possible to solve current problems such as the lack of clean energy or its lack of efficiency compared to the most polluting ones. For capturing renewable and clean energy, we have the large-scale use of megascale to provide us with a large capture of energy from the sun for example, or methods that resemble "carbon sequestration" that can help with the control of carbon emissions in our atmosphere, Thus, polluting methods such as the construction of hydroelectric dams, which drastically change the region where they are built, or nuclear power plants which, although they do not emit polluting gases, end up being expensive, and the disposal of radioactive material is a major obstacle due to its volume and degree of danger.
In the future, one of the ways that space advances can bring us would be Megascale buildings, constructions in huge scales being more than 103 km long being able to assign different functionalities. In fictional circles, mega-constructions are already very present, such as in the movie theater as in the Disney Star Wars franchise where we have the death star, a war machine the size of a planet, or in the Halo game series that present structures in the shape of rings that have their own gravity, different biomes, and life. Nowadays with the advances in nanotechnology and self-replicating robots, Megascale constructions have begun to be considered in the 1990 Foresight Institute publication by Ralph c. Markle based on a NASA state on advanced automation for space missions, Ralph, who is director of the singularity university points out according to the NASA study that it would be possible to disembark a self-replicant general-purpose lunar manufacturing facility, a "seed", it could begin to develop and self-replicating on its own and in the future for future space missions it would not be necessary to transport the material from the earth but directly from the moon since taking resources from the earth has a very high cost and not very viable this system of self-reproduction (SRS) would have to be totally independent of human presence being able to reproduce and expand itself solving barriers that we find to go into space, such as the very gravity that hinders the process of taking terrestrial materials.
Through the use of nanotechnology constructions of such magnitude that once would be impossible and incredibly expensive become much cheaper and more realistic. As NASA (Advanced Automation for Space Missions) studies point out, NASA / ASEE 1980) summer study on advanced automation for space missions. This would require the use of AI. (artificial intelligence) to take care of the whole process of self-replication and expansion for this the AI. will deal with various stages of planning, this includes planning from an organization, development, and all the necessary requirements within a real mission. Artificial intelligence must be able to make its own decisions, optimize, manage resources and their dynamics, and perform logical calculations and operations during its mission, thus enabling development and progression without the actual human presence.
Cole C. Pazar from Colorado School of Mines in his article (Megascale Engineering on Planets and in Space, 2018) talks about constructions in megascale and points out benefits and utilities, such as the great availability of resources in space, either in the form of asteroids such as the 16 Psyche asteroid which has its core composed of nickel and iron, in addition to its constitution of platinum and gold, an asteroid that is in orbit between Mars and Jupiter. Or the great solar incidence and through the constructions in megascale, it could be possible to capture this energy from the sun which is clean and renewable energy. Through nanotechnology and self-replication it would be possible to build Megascale buildings in space, since it would be unfeasible to send all the necessary material because of the difficulty and because it has a very high cost, besides that it is not possible to build through conventional means as on earth.
Thus Megascale constructions would allow us to solve numerous current problems, such as providing us with a clean and viable energy alternative that could supply and assist us in numerous processes that need a lot of energy, leaving old means in the past, could also provide us with resources from outside the planet, boosting our technological advances. Scientists and physicists have already imagined constructions on cosmic scale construction that could even use the energy of a star, such as the matrioshka brain proposed by Robert Bradbury that would be a computer of immense scale or the Dyson sphere that would orbit the star around it completely in order to capture almost or all the energy produced by it. Mega-constructions can range from incredibly large equal planets to smaller sizes, but their potential for use is enormous and could lead mankind to reach other levels of civilization as proposed in the Kardashev scale which predicts different levels of civilization according to their technology thus being an incredible path for the future of mankind.
4. MINERAL EXTRACTION IN SPACE
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, mining is defined as "the industry or activity of removing substances such as coal or metal from the ground by digging" that is, it can be described as the process of extracting minerals that are naturally concentrated in the ground. Besides that mining consists of a set of steps, such as prospecting, mineral research, extraction, and processing. So, as in the past, it was necessary to use these natural resources for the development of utensils and weapons, in the present moment, more than ever, there is the eagerness for evolution and survival, which will only happen through the discovery and exploration of new horizons. Thus, the solution to several of the problems we face, such as the scarcity of resources on Earth or even the future overpopulation of the planet, is space.
Just as Peter H. Diamandis, co-founder of Planetary Resources, says, "many of the scarce metals and minerals on Earth are in near-infinite quantities in space", which can solve many of the adversities encountered today, so space exploration will progressively be humanity's next great goal. This achievement will be reached, initially, through the ability to efficiently perform the mining process in small celestial bodies, following steps very similar to conventional mining. But with more refined technologies and able to perform exploration, the set of techniques used to discover the composition and dimensions of a deposit, and thus be able to specify exactly the certain elements present in the object and their respective amounts. In this way, the asteroids will work as the first step in the clearing of space since they are celestial objects abundant in metals and valuable elements. More specifically, the Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA), which are basically asteroids whose orbits are close to Earth, represents a great opportunity since they are more accessible than the other thousands located in the Asteroid Belt.
By successfully mining asteroids, we will be able to conduct space travel more easily using the water obtained which, through a chemical process called electrolysis, can be broken down into its atomic components and thus, become the raw material for rocket fuel. In this way, the asteroids will function basically as stations, where it will be possible to extract and process the water present in them so that it becomes the fuel necessary to continue the journey. Thereby, removing part of the limitation of load capacity caused by the space used to store the fuel, which even has a large portion consumed to simply leave the Earth's gravitational field, which makes interesting the idea of colonies on other planets, so that the journey began from space itself. Ian Webster, a Google engineer and the creator of one of the most complete asteroid databases, the Asterank, says that "We will make it easier for humanity to become a multi-planetary species, and that will be a good thing for our survival," since the presence of human facilities on other stars will have an extremely beneficial effect on humanity, due to the possibility of creating a self-sufficient system by introducing not only residences and operational centers, but also factories that can extract, analyze and process the resources obtained and consequently use them in the construction of more raw material necessary for the colonization and exploitation of space. AI SpaceFactory in its Marsha project, besides creating a residential structure focused on Mars, has also developed, in partnership with Techmer PM, an innovative mixture of basalt fiber extracted from Martian rock and renewable bioplastic (polylactic acid or PLA) processed from plants grown on Mars. This compound surpassed concrete in NASA's strength, durability, and crushing tests and was certified in a laboratory by ASTM, being considered two to three times stronger than concrete in compression and more durable in freeze-thaw conditions. Thus, it is possible to create a self-sustainable model independent of the earth.
Moreover, this will also have an impact on other areas because "As access to these materials increases, not only will the cost of everything from microelectronics to energy storage be reduced, but new applications for these abundant elements will result in important and novel applications," says Peter H. Diamandis about the economic consequences and the resulting technological advances caused by the space revolution. However, the real effect of these discoveries on society is still somewhat unknown, because of this, we will have the responsibility to correctly manage these new resources, so that they do not act as a catalyst for inequality, but rather for progress and evolution, as Chris Lewicki, president of Planetary Resources, said, "If we do our job properly, these metals that are valuable to society will become cheaper, stimulating innovation”. Already in legal aspects, in the future there will certainly be agreements and treaties that properly regulate the rights of possession and occupation of space, because once this barrier is overcome, humanity will be faced with something never before seen. Thus, requiring some institution focused on spatial relations, such as a coalition, which can manage everything through an elaborate and neutral mechanism, based on "a complex mixture of politics, economics and public opinion," as Professor Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, former editor-in-chief of the Journal of Space Law, says. Therefore, once humanity has cleared this sea of infinite possibilities, concepts such as terraforming, multi-planetary society, and mega-constructions will be just another step in the greatest epic our species has ever been involved in.
As the saying goes, "never put all your eggs in one basket", believing that humanity is safe living in only one place can be a fatal decision. Overpopulation, meteors, natural disasters, or even pandemics like the one we are currently facing serve to show how fragile the human being can be, and come to disappear in the blink of an eye without the slightest problem. According to Stephen Hawking himself, if humanity does not seek to colonize another planet in the next hundred years, we can prepare ourselves for extinction. All these factors will make our species enter what we believe to be one of the strands of the era of space exploration, terraforming.
As one of the alternatives proposed to get around this chaotic Hawking scenario, terraforming consists of making habitable a planet that, without this process, would be completely incapable of allowing life forms on it. The steps and processes required to terraform a planet vary according to the planet chosen, however, some factors are common to all, such as stabilization of pressure, the establishment of a magnetic field (if not existing), and economic feasibility. Among all the options, it is foreseen that Mars will be our next home.
Through this process, we can avoid some of the problems already mentioned. With a new habitable planet, colonies could be built to prevent overpopulation from becoming a reality or the natural resources of our present home from being depleted. Moreover, the emission of polluting gases and the greenhouse effect would drop considerably, since the emission would be divided between two places.
1.1 TERRAFORMING MARS
It may not seem so, but Mars is currently the most viable option for the survival of humanity. The small red planet may not be the closest to Earth, however, it has several advantages. Mars has water and carbon dioxide both in solid form in abundance at its poles, water in liquid state a few meters below the ground, an average temperature of -53.3°C and is within the habitable zone, place in the solar system where life would be more propitious.
However, to make Mars minimally habitable it would be necessary to adjust some details, such as the atmosphere that is more than 100 times less dense than the terrestrial one, temperatures that even being good to terraform, are still very low for the maintenance of life, the lack of oxygen and the lack of a magnetic field.
1.1.1 First Step: Atmosphere, temperature, and oxygen
The first step towards the viability of life on Mars would be to thicken the rarefied Martian atmosphere. As said before, the atmosphere there is 100 times less dense than on Earth, however, this does not necessarily mean that we need to equate one with the other. Following the Armstrong limit, we could thicken the Martian atmosphere by 10 times so that we could live outside of space suits, but still with the help of breathing apparatus. This limit only ensures that the atmospheric pressure is sufficient for the boiling temperature of the water to be higher than the temperature of the human body.
To obtain this result there are some options, among them: importing ammonia from asteroids, using cyanobacteria, and heating the Martian poles. It is not known for sure how much solidified carbon dioxide is present on Mars, but it is known that it is enough to reach the Armstrong limit.
The idea behind asteroid bombardment with ammonia is to redirect any asteroid that has significant amounts of frozen ammonia and thus thicken the atmosphere, but this is a considerably dangerous idea apart from the fact that ammonia is extremely unstable in the Martian atmosphere.
In the case of cyanobacteria - the first organisms to perform the photosynthesis on earth - it would be necessary water and carbon dioxide and sunlight to be released through O2 photosynthesis. The water could be extracted either from the underground or from the polar ice caps, from where it would also be possible to obtain the CO2 present in the form of dry ice.
The option that is expected to happen - the heating of the ice caps - can be done in two ways. One of them is to use large satellites carrying mirrors aimed at the poles, thus the incidence of sunlight would increase, consequently increasing the temperature of the planet and thickening the atmosphere. The other would be to bombard the skies from Mars with nuclear bombs, to create micro suns that would increase the temperature and release CO2 contained in the poles. The dirt caused by these explosions would also be useful to increase solar absorption, facilitating the process.
After thickening the atmosphere through processes such as asteroid bombing or bombs, it would only be necessary to use some organism for oxygen synthesis. This could be done using the already mentioned cyanobacteria, or even, as recent studies from the German Aerospace Centre, Institute of Planetary Research, liquens. The studies proved that these life forms were able to survive in conditions very close to those of Mars for 34 days.
1.1.2 Second Step: Magnetic Field
After this stage, it would be necessary to artificially re-establish a magnetic field for the small red planet. Without it, quickly all efforts to establish a minimally breathable atmosphere would be in vain since winds and solar particles would easily dissipate it. This problem could only be done artificially because, being smaller and less dense, Mars cooled earlier, so its core was solidified and can no longer produce a magnetic field.
The only way foreseen to combat this would be the construction of a super magnet on a huge scale, which would be positioned in front of the planet to serve as an artificial magnetosphere and thus dissipate the effects of solar winds.
Exploration and discovery have been part of human history we human beings always set out in search of more be it new adventures or new knowledge always in search of places not yet discovered "Finite to fail, but infinite to venture", (Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886). In past centuries entire continents were colonized, but in the future may be the very planets to be colonized with the advancement of technology it is already possible to imagine a man living far from his homeland, perhaps Mars is the first planet to be colonized by the human race since it is in our sights for a long time, as long as the going to the moon.
Many speculate how much it must cost to take the man to Mars different from what most people think the figures are not so exorbitant in relation to other expenditures, as for example in 2002 the European Space Agency (ESA) together with Russia proposed an estimate of 20 billion dollars to take two ships one with six crew members and the other carrying supplies, and this estimate, as well as others made, do not point to expenditures exceeding 30 billion in general. In the article "Marketing Mars: Financing the Human Mission to Mars and the Colonization of the Red Planet" (Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D.,2010 ) published by the journal of cosmology suggests that if countries were to get together and create an international agency with the purpose of raising funds for Mars it would be possible to reach the red planet and start the process to colonize it, as Robert Zubrin, an aerospace engineer points out in his work (Day 2004,1996), which estimates a value of $150 billion to arrive and settle on Mars, and if this agency in favor of going to Mars were to emerge this value could be raised in a relatively short period of time, approximately 10 years, money that would come from private funds, sales of products, and permissions for disclosure and exhibition among other possible areas to be explored.
Besides the preparation to go to Mars, it is necessary to plan how people will settle in colonies on the planet, and how they will deal with and overcome the challenges in general, such as very low temperature, lower gravity compared to the Earth, and the lack of oxygen becoming impossible to breathe without the help of equipment, as well as how the activities on Mars would be regulated, whether in mining exploration or even the sale of land. As foreseen in the 1967 space treaty, all countries have sovereignty and equal rights over space outside of the land, leaving aside rivalries and proposing union, in front of this one can presume the collaboration and distribution of resources for mutual development on Martian soil, but private companies are not limited by these agreements, so foundations like SpaceX could, explore resources, and sell passes for other people to live on Mars, but certainly it would be an advance and a great step for humanity, joining in favor of the advance of space exploration.
Several legal, and social factors should be considered for colonization, as expressed in the publication Mars Colonization: Beyond Getting There (GOR LEVCHENKO, et al, 2018), published by the Global Challenges Foundation it would have to be evaluated and regulated the application of the international rights already foreseen here on earth, such as human rights, or even the rights of future people born on Mars several issues that still remain open. In general, there is great speculation for the colonization of the red planet, but nothing is certain yet and there are many unknowns. Faced with these challenges companies like IL Space Factory, were founded in order to plan the future of humanity outside the earth, the company in question develops advanced construction technologies for space exploration, with the aim of developing the necessary construction technologies to enable the future of human habitation on Earth and outside it. IL Space Factory already plans buildings that will be able to inhabit the settlers with a design adapted to resist the physical conditions of the planet like gravity, and already has a model called MARSHA a vertical structure of four floors with different areas, including recreation area, bedroom, kitchen, and sink. The public and private interest have been growing over the years institutions such as NASA, E SpaceX, Planetary Resources, and Blue Origin, among others, have been investing in space exploration, thus becoming an interest beyond governmental and has been growing rapidly.
Colonization is an important step for the development of mankind with the ability to bring numerous benefits and solutions including for life on Earth being one of the oldest dreams of a man living outside his planet inhabiting a totally unknown place brings the opportunity for incredible discoveries and surreal advances as it was centuries ago in search of new lands the edge of the world no longer scares us, we are in search of lands even further away and with numerous opportunities "The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but humanity can not remain in the cradle forever. "(KONSTANTIN TSIOLKOVSKY, attributed, The Pioneering Science and Technology of Exploring the Universe, 2014).
Keeping in mind the damage that the human has been caused to the planet - which can be irreversible - at an exceptional speed, we have to consider the possibility of geological exhaustion of the earth. A depressing scenario, but one that can be avoided by making certain decisions. Given the facts presented in this article, we believe that the most effective way is space exploration, taking into account the evolution that technology will have until 2100. This choice is due to the versatility of space exploration, capable of avoiding natural disasters, world hunger, overpopulation, depletion of natural resources, global warming among other factors mentioned above.
Furthermore, given the scientific speculations and predictions of recent years made by scientists and physicists from all over the world, we believe that the dream of many years ago can finally come true. Space is no longer an inaccessible frontier due to the efforts and technological advances of today, advances that began decades ago since the launch of the first probe. Going into space can bring us incredible discoveries, can completely change our history, who knows how many barriers we can break, how far we can go, soon we may be working as one, as a people who seek to solve problems they see in the years and years achieved, a unique population that wants to explore among the stars.
Not only can space exploration be considered even poetic because of all the mystery involved, but the benefits and advances it can provide us are enormous, from the extraction of resources to propel us as a civilization, to the collection of clean energy from the sun or the atmosphere, or even colonization and travel in the darkness of space, travel to distant places that once seemed impossible. A dream shared by the men of centuries ago that had finally come to its end, many scientists, and thinkers, have already dreamed of the arrival of this moment, space might not be our final frontier but the beginning of our journey.
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