Posted tagged ‘Planet’

The ‘Earthification’ of Science

December 18, 2011

All people from all nations must support Earth Science

“…To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”  – Carl Sagan

No, no, this is not one of those “evil, evil man was never meant to fly” type hyperventilations. It is an effort to point out that despite the scientific community‘s obligation to explore, discover and explain the Cosmos, it must also continue to accord the same intense curiosity about our home planet, Earth. This must be regardless of the rising number of discoveries of exoplanets including some that promise to be uniquely Earth-like (Kepler 22b). Science must increase its understanding of the entire evolution of Earth and in achieving this understanding, dictate its preservation
Yes, humankind must survive and Earth is our life-supporting host, but we must evolve our dependence to not continue to suck the very life from Earth while also tearing at its own life-giving entrails. Earth-focused science and technology is the answer. This is where we continue to enjoy and benefit from Earth’s bounty, but at the same time continue to insure that we do not abuse it benevolence. In times of crises such as those surrounding us now, it is even more critical that we defer to science for help in coping constructively with our crises in a manner that protects; even enhances our home planet.
No political head butting here, no cries of environmentalists seek to increase joblessness, and no defiance of the gifted and dedicated by the intense Earth abusers who seek immediate returns in trade for a degraded planet. Yes, we can enrich ourselves from this planet’s munificence, but we must do it in such manner that we preserve that abundance of resources while protecting the well-being of ALL life here at home. In this respect, organizations that are both global and territorial in scope seek to inspire greater Earth-science solutions to this challenge. One such public persuasion in this regard is clearly illustrated by the following video from the advocates for protecting millions of life-forms including Homo sapiens.
Science is the answer and for it to address ALL of the issues and challenges we must press hard upon the political button to bring about the changes and enactments needed to preserve planet Earth and in doing so preserve and enrich all life. ALL of us, tiny cells to towering Homo sapiens, are an integral part of this planet’s very existence. We are and must remain inseparable, and unified on behalf of Earth and life.

A RHEALIFE: An Explorer’s Journal – Part III

February 28, 2011

An Apology: I sincerely apologize for the lateness of this update to my journal. A series of intervening events kept me very busy and the best I could manage was to jot down some notes to remind me of ideas and events I wanted to include in this last part of my journal. I hope all of you will forgive this transgression.

The icy, fractured and chaotic surface of Rhea

Core Anyone?: As the above image of Rhea’s tumultuous surface shows, I had a very limited range of exploration; all of it considerably hazardous. The “dirty snowball” concept would seem a fitting description if my personal experience and research had not proved a different assessment of Rhea. Deep beneath Rhea’s crusty skin, there is evidence of a base core.

Tasty Green Plants: Even though there had been earlier research on the effects of both microgravity and hypergravity upon plant growth, I neglected to consider the changes in the tastes of the vegetable plants I grew in my hydroponic garden. The taste was not unpleasant; just different. I acquired a new taste for all of my green food.

Oxygen’s here: I continue to both assess and utilize the thin flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide in Rhea’s atmosphere. Researchers are still investigating the possibility that similar thin but oxygen rich atmospheres may exist on other icy planets in our solar system and even possibly on some exoplanets in other star systems.

Something other than rings: Years back there was real excitement that Rhea may have rings. Well, I do not see any here, and I am right. It turns out that Cassini‘s detection system MIMI spotted something that behaved (one time) like there may be rings, but subsequent flyby’s showed no repeat of those indications. There is still something unusual that occurred that was either peculiar to Rhea or was an event between Rhea and Saturn or Rhea and another one of her sister moons.  There is a lot of action our here, but most of it is physics of the understood kind.

Well, its wrap up time: Yes, I am happy and proud that I was selected to be here, and I think my observations and reports have helped us to better understand the very intricate process of planet formation (including most moons). This same knowledge is helping and will continue to help us eventually understand what we finally, physically see in our neighboring exoplanets.

How am I doing? I am tired. I am weak, and I am ready to return to Earth. Despite my regular exercises, the microgravity of Rhea is physically debilitating. In this regard, long-term visits on planetary bodies like Rhea should be done by robots. Additionally, although all of my food, both grown and supplied was very nutritious, I remained constantly hungry. Why? In any given meal my chew-time was very short.  Don’t laugh, really. By chew time I mean just that, the process of chewing food is a neuro-physiological need that is directly related to hunger satiation. No chew or low chew often fails to produce our bodies hunger satiation response.

Ahh, but being here, in the eyes of Saturn will remain unforgettable. The imposing, gorgeous, and powerful giantess with her accompanying gaggle of moons is a constant panoply of celestial dynamics. Waking up to Saturn, or Titan or Dione or Mimas knocking on my window, so-to-speak, is difficult to describe. Lets just say I lived most days in complete awe.

Can humans exist in this kind environment for long periods of time? I would say, barely. It is cold, almost airless, with little or no gravity and depending upon the specific orbit of the planetary body, your days can be very short or terribly long.  Earth-style sunlight is not present and so a human’s life-cycle can get pretty confused.  It certainly was for me in the beginning. I adjusted, but I can’t wait for a good old sunrise on Earth. In this regard, I am, as far as my research revealed, the only living being on Rhea. We need to remember this when we continue our search for life on exoplanets.  Yes, we will find life out there, but most likely it will occur in a very Earth-like environment. Need I point out then, what a precious treasure our home planet is? Be kind to Mom Earth,  it is, at the moment,  our only safe and supportive home.


Header Image:  Courtesy of Maestro Cassini and NASA – Rhea blue streaks.

Site Close-up:  Courtesty of Maestro Cassini and NASA – A crusty, fractured, icy Rhea.