Life Beyond Earth

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Life Beyond Earth

Anna Costa, Editorial Page Editor

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You might not think that life on Mars or in a far away solar system is in our near future, but it is! The genius minds behind NASA have predicted that man could be near or even on Mars in the next two decades. Though Mars is not the only possibly habitable planet, NASA has yet to figure out all there is to know about our galaxy and will probably never know with the vast expanse of space. Abi Cartright, who is a junior here at WVHS, said “NASA exploring more of our solar system is revolutionary because there’s still so much we do not know about space.” Putting efforts into discovering all we can about space is very important and NASA has been doing just that since July 29, 1958. They have made a multitude of discoveries over their many years and are pushing to make many more. Seana Morgan, a junior, has a love for NASA said, “I think it’s so cool that NASA is making these amazing innovations time and time again. The speed at which we are finding new things that no one ever thought would be found in this lifetime is so amazingly cool I can’t even believe it. I really hope they continue to find new planets and stars and asteroids because the more we find the closer we are to solving one of the many enigmas on this planet.”
In 2010 NASA announced one of their biggest projects to date, they were going to get the human race to Mars. NASA has had a long interest in getting and going to Mars. In 1999 when NASA’s Mars Polar Lander lost contact with base control someone wrote on the wall at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab “We have your satellite. If you want it back send 20 billion in Martian money. No funny business or you will never see it again.”
The mission will be implemented in three steps the first one will include mostly research taking place from now until the 2020s. The scientists that are currently on the International Space Station will start to do more research and try and develop ways for the human race to be able to withstand space travel. We have seen this when Scott Kelly spent a whole year in space proving that humans could withstand long periods of time in space. This step is called “Earth Reliant.”
The next step “Proving Ground” is when the scientists will travel towards Mars so that they will be able to work from the cislunar. Cislunar is between a planet and its moon(s). Once there, they will be able to make huge discoveries about Mars and human space travel in a short amount of time. During this step, NASA will send its astronauts into deep space which while there they will be “proving ground, verifying habitation and testing our readiness for Mars.”
The third and final step will be “Earth Independent” which will hopefully be in full swing by the 2030s. In this step is we will finally get someone to Mars orbit .Seeing someone walk on Mars and having the chance to finding another life sustaining planet would be a huge step for Earth as a whole. Kaitlyn Fenton, a junior, shared her interest in NASA “I think what NASA is doing is very awesome, they are doing something that could change the way humans live. Can you imagine what it would be like to live on another planet? I have a feeling the first people would be kind of lonely but as more and more make the trip it could turn into something amazing!”
Though nowadays we see NASA and the journey to space more and more in the media. You may have seen the movie that came out in 2015 called The Martian. In the movie Matt Damon plays Mark Watney who is an astronaut that gets strained on Mars and has to learn to survive in the harsh climate. Though there are more than movies about Mars coming out that revolve around space and what could be in it. The movie Arrival, which was nominated for numerous Oscars and Golden Globes, is based on the short story “Story of Your Life” about an alien life lifeform that lands on Earth. One can see through all of this that the public interest in life beyond earth is truly rising. Jesse Thompson, a freshman, says “I think that NASA going to Mars is great because they might find aliens and aliens are cool!”
Recently NASA had announced that they had discovered seven “Earth-sized” new planets orbiting a star about 40 light years away. As of now the name of the system is TRAPPIST-1. The current working theory is that there could be water on of the the three planets that are in the “ habitable zone.” Junior Emma Davis expressed her excitement when she heard about the new planets “The new planets are so exciting. The chance that humans could be living on any other planet then Earth is just astounding!”
They hope to have further proof next year when NASA launches its “James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2018. Webb will be able to detect the chemical fingerprints of water, methane, oxygen, ozone, and other components of a planet’s atmosphere. Webb also will analyze planets’ temperatures and surface pressures – key factors in assessing their habitability.” as stated on NASA’s official website.
Syanne Staine, a sophomore, shared “I’m so excited that there is a new chance for life in the universe now that NASA is finding new planets. I’ve always thought that there was a possibility for new life outside of our solar system and now we are getting closer to proving that.” The chance of living off of Earth and life being discovered in other worlds becoming more and more realistic as the months and years go on. Who knows? Maybe in 70 years or so we will have hundreds of people on different planets spread out across our universe

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