Archive for the ‘Extra Terrestrial Intelligence’ Category

What if There was Life on Other Worlds?   19 comments

The UN Outer Space Treaty and Planetary Protection

What is Planetary Protection?

Planetary protection refers to ‘interplanetary contamination’ – protecting solar system bodies (i.e., planets, moons, comets, and asteroids) from ‘biological contamination’ by Earth organisms, (Forward contamination – the transfer ofviable organisms’ from Earth to another interplanetary body), and protecting Earth from the transmission of alien organisms, to Earth’s biosphere e.g. as a result of ‘extra-terrestrial sample-return missions.’ (Back contamination)

 

The Outer Space Treaty

Why is Planetary Protection Important?

Planetary protection is a directive code in the blueprint of an interplanetary assignment, and is critical for several important reasons:  

  • mirrors the unknown nature of the space environment 
  • to safeguard our ability to study other worlds in detail, in their natural conditions 
  • to prevent contamination that would make it difficult/impossible to find potential life on another world  
  • to ensure that we take judicious safety measures to shield Earth’s biosphere in case it does.  

The UN Outer Space Treaty and Planetary Protection

The legal basis for planetary protection is located in Article IX of the United Nations Outer Space Treaty ratified in 1967 by the US, USSR, and UK.

“Article IX: … States Parties to the Treaty shall pursue studies of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, and conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction of extra-terrestrial matter and, where necessary, shall adopt appropriate measures for this purpose.”

Requirements for Protecting Life on Other Bodies

heres-why-scientists-think-a-tiny-moon-of-jupiter-is-the-most-likely-place-to-find-alien-life

Planetary protection prerequisites for each mission and interplanetary body in focus are ascertained based on the scientific advice of the Space Studies Board, NASA or international policy guidelines.

Each mission is categorized according to:

  • Type of mission (e.g. flyby, orbiter, or lander)
  • Nature of its destination (e.g. a planet, moon, comet, or asteroid)
  • And the planetary bodies that may be discovered over the course of the mission (e.g. Mars and Europa).

Proposal to Increase Time-Scale for Planetary Protection

In the case of  Europa, the majority opinion was, that not only should Europa be kept it is not contamination-free during current times of exploration, but that it could well be scientifically important enough to warrant being kept in an un-touched and un-contaminated condition for future generations to benefit from studying too. 

“One consequence of this view is that Europa must be protected from contamination for an open-ended period, until it can be demonstrated that no ocean exists or that no organisms are present. Thus, we need to be concerned that over a time scale on the order of 10 million to 100 million years (an approximate age for the surface of Europa), any contaminating material is likely to be carried into the deep ice crust or into the underlying ocean.” 

(The minority opinion was that these protection measures are unnecessarily strong.)

But What About the Natives??!!

Europa and Alien Life

It is natural that we should want to explore worlds with the potential for life, and even to exploit them, but what if these worlds, such as Europa, do prove to have natives? There are different views on this subject. For example:

  • If the life is only microbial then there is no cause to worry about it. We should not let microbes interfere with potential colonisation.
  • It has its own ecosystem, and this should be left alone. However, if the long-term aim was to terraform Europa it would change the climate of the moon along with the rest of Europa.

Will we as egotistical humans decide, that despite knowing that this is a world that we have had no hand in creating, none-the-less that we should take measures to change it anyway? Or will we recognise our boundaries and appreciate that we have a unique standing in the cosmos, and therefore put aside our arrogance and leave untouched, a world, and possibly an eco-system, that we have had no hand in creating?

Europa’s Icewolf’s Personal Howl!

Red_Wolf_Creek_Inverted

My personal howl on this subject is that absolutely Europa needs to be protected from Earth contamination! We do not know the consequences of any potential contamination. And precautions should be taken so that accurate observations can be made regarding any life found on Europa. If we find life there, it will have its own ecosystem and we should leave it alone and allow it to be a nature reserve moon. We may even be able to find ways to improve its habitat to help its life to thrive in ways not yet possible for it on icy Europa. It may be possible to ring fence the inhabited areas to reduce human contact, but it seems to me that such action would serve only to damage Europa, and ultimately this moon needs to be left alone! 

As mentioned earlier, backward contamination by micro-organisms (e.g. bacteria, certain algae and fungi) from other worlds are also a risk, when carried back to Earth on probes. which could have catastrophic upshots for Earth dwellers. Our immune systems will not have any resistance to extra-terrestrial micro-organisms. Not only would our bodies be totally unable to fight them it is pretty much guaranteed that we would have no time and no opportunity to research the creation of the necessary vaccine. Therefore, it will be essential to have high-level, cutting-edge systems for filtering and highly advanced procedures in place.

What do YOU think?!!

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Discovering beyond all doubt that alien life does exist would have big impacts on Earth.

  • Inevitably there would be changes to terrestrial science, technology, religion, politics and ecosystems as a result of contact with extra-terrestrial life, whether it be microbial or a technologically advanced civilisation.

Consequences for Society and Cultural Back-Lashes

Nobody will avoid the impact from the culture shock that would occur if we were to discover extra-terrestrial life, whatever form it might take. We would be forced to face the sudden reality that we were not a unique exception in the universe, which could cause a very serious back-lash in society as we know it. A culture shock of this nature could last for decades, possibly centuries. It would not only be ourselves affected in the deepest and most profound of ways but also our children and our children’s children. As we reach out to new, unexplored worlds with no real knowledge of what we might find there, exactly how the potential revelation of extra-terrestrial life and the impact on future generations is an issue that requires our consideration…

…NOW!!  

Sources: 

https://planetaryprotection.nasa.gov/overview 

https://www.state.gov/t/isn/5181.htm 

http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/publications/STSPACE11E.pdf   (SpaceTreaty PDF) 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_protection 

www.space.com  (What Finding Alien Life Could Mean for Earth) 

www.wikipedia.com  (Potential Cultural Impact) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Europa’s Icewolf is Going to Mars!   35 comments

Europa’s Icewolf is Going to Mars!!

Mars-InSight Boarding Pass 🙂

My name is onboard the “passenger list” for the next mission to Mars-InSight!

InSight will launch in May, 2018. It will study the interior of Mars and listen for Marsquakes. 

BoardingPass_MyNameOnInSight

Feel free to join me! I’ve recently completed an Open University course – How to Survive on Mars, so everyone will be fine! All my shiny new followers welcome too 🙂 It will be the perfect time to get to know each other…it takes a while to get to Mars! Look carefully, and you may even see the Black Wolves of Mars 😉

Silence in the Shadows: Ring-World   21 comments

 

 

Galaxy’s Edge – The Final Planetary Frontier

 

 

Dark alien planetscape…eerie silence bar the wisps of the star winds whispering across a shadowed, dimly-lit terrain. The final planetary frontier, the most distant planetary world in the galaxy…ice cold and barely lit, by a star a million light years away.

 

The shuttle port was the busiest in the galaxy and settling back comfortably in few remaining free viewing zones intergalactic voyagers watched the ringed shadow of other worlds drift in the skies, as shuttles cleared the flight gantries soaring or roaring, depending on specific speed and flight capacities.

Tourists awed by the sight of the giant swirling vortex at the end of the galaxy – galaxy’s edge. The hub at the end of the galaxy teaming with life that many did not realise existed. Business and leisure intermingled as the vortex at the end of the galaxy swirled in dominant splendour, marking the largely ignored gateway to alternative worlds. It was all very self-contained and comfortable. Yerik and Yelena unashamedly joined the group gazing into the monumental machinery of the galaxy, worlds away from home. Dreams circled in their alien eyes reflecting the bright arms of the vortex. The viewing area alive with the lucky few who had chanced on the space city nestling at the end of the galaxy, a well-kept gem known to the lucky and the privileged.

Yerik glanced sideways at Yelena, seeing a woman lost in the darkened dreams of interplanetary mysteries. Drifting, sliding rifts of thought and endless dreams, meandering like a metallic river through the wandering imagination of a star-driven mind. Floating on the ectoplasm of a world of thoughts. Distant worlds drifted in her eyes, the echoes of the universe’s wonders ebbing and flowing in an endless cosmic flow, in tune with the darkened, radioactive river flowing in untouchable sentient streams through the interstellar star city.

A world built for thousands and inhabited by none. A radioactive ghost city immaculate and equipped with all manner of hi tech gadgetry. A modern day sentinel world humming with electronic life but devoid of any living being. Deep in its centre, artificial green parks and well-stocked shopping malls; still and silent, locked down by an electronic security system, manned remotely from a distant world a thousand light years away. Silent, dark transporter rooms housing brand new equipment that would never be used, never see the immaculate highways built for them. Silence. Sentinel. A world where only the cold winds whispered across a barren and darkened world….

 

 

 

Yelena.jpgLost and distant… Lured by a sighing solar wind that filtered the haunting gold-black suns, filaments tenderly flickering amongst the strands of her fractured thoughts. He had seen that look before…not often, but enough to know. Speaking her name gruffly, chiselled features hard and set, Yerik sensed also, that she was psychologically and emotionally a million light years away, caught up in the desolation, lost in the land of wolves…not of this world…distant and unreadable, and definitely not responding… and she needed to! “Yelena!!” He barked her name sharply this time, eyes, grey and shrouded in cold self-assured scrutiny, attitude dark and commanding demanding her attention in his own language, determined to exact a response from her one way or another.

She started as the alien winds brushed gently through her hair, as ethereal as the dimly lit world they wandered through, stirring her thoughts back to the alien reality before her; to the thrill of the final cosmic frontier.  Silvered seas of tranquility sliding into the night of another world. Vast and silken-dark waters, glistening in wonderful isolation in the flashing lights of exotic, alien eyes.

She turned slowly, gazing deep into his soul, drifting back to him from a great distance, nanotechnogy second after nano second…wolf breed…sleep walking… wolf flashed in her eyes awaking suspiciously to only half conceal the stark warning of wolf and woman towards the veiled threat of the alien male.  She responded to him in his own language, her tones low and throaty, her eyes inward looking, at some unseen mirage of this radioactive world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The final planetary frontier, the most distant planetary world in the galaxy…ice cold and barely lit, by a star a million light years away.

 

Always remember that your present situation is not your final destination. The best is yet to come.

Proxima B – Life in the Habitable Zone?   26 comments

Historic Potentially Earth-Like World Proxima B

The historic discovery of potentially Earth- like world Proxima-b was announced 24 August 2016. Orbiting Proxima Centauri, a Red Dwarf star in the habitable zone and the nearest star to our own Sun Proxima-b marks not only the closest alien planet ever found but also with the potential to be habitable.

Proxima b

This artist’s impression shows what the sky might look like on Proxima Centauri b if the planet has a surface. The exoplanet orbits the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, currently the closest star to the solar system at 4.2 light-years. The other two members of the Alpha Centauri triple, Alpha Centauri A and B, would appear in the sky, too.
ESO / M. Kornmesser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If this proves to be the case, then there is no shortage of time for some form of life to originate based on the fact that red dwarf stars such as Proxima Centauri burn for trillions of years.

From the point of view of the average Earth-based visitor stopping by for a summer vacation, Proxima-b runs the risk of being a rather boring holiday resort. The sun-tan would be awesome, not so much so the destruction of the biological cells exposed to the intensely dodgy UV radiation that is present. Combined with the prospect of heavy duty sun-screen to protect from the sun’s constant bombardment of energy flares bouncing around the planetary surface probably wouldn’t be classed as entirely awesome either. On top of which the Proxima Centauri flares would also banish any hope of using mobile phones, tablets, X-boxes or any other such devices thanks to its electronics-disabling qualities. so no ET calling home and definitely no Skype!

Proxima b _Bustle DarkBAlthough it is a tidally locked planet– roasting hot on its star- facing side, freezing cold on the other, there is also enough wind around in the atmosphere to circulate the heat, balancing out the extreme temperatures that would otherwise exist. None-the-less a visit to the the planetary darkside, where it is bathed in perpetual night could prove to be the safest, and possibly the only option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately astronomers are choosing to be particularly pessimistic about this little world following the initial euphoria and have currently decided it is probably a dead, airless rock that will never harbour life due to it’s close proximity sun (20x nearer than Earth to the Sun) creating a risk of it boiling off the water and thereby stripping away the planet’s atmosphere. Researchers its oxygen will be gone in about 10 million years. Life on Earth took billions of years to develop.

Young M Dwarf StarsYoung M dwarf stars can unleash dangerous flares, (“planet-frying radiation”) that strip off atmosphere-forming oxygen spelling doom for closely orbiting planets. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / S. Wiessinger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

proxima bImage: NASA Goddard/Conceptual Image Lab

However hope lives eternal. Theoretically it is possible life could advance to endure the high levels of radiation, by altering the worst of Proxima Centauri’s emissions into inoffensive visible light. We know this is plausible, because due to a process known as biofluorescence this —has already happened on many occasions on Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimately It is expected that the 2018 launch of The James Webb Space Telescope, will provide answers to the critical question of whether there is any chance at all that Proxima b is capable of supporting life.

Proxima b – Habitable ‘Ocean Planet’??

Another possibility is the Proxima b could be an ocean world whose entire surface consists of a liquid ocean. This may bear a similarity to the Jupiter and Saturn moons that are icy worlds with subsurface oceans.

On the other hand the more optimistic researchers suggest that Proxima b may in fact be habitable after all. So don’t put the suitcases back in the attic just yet intrepid cosmic holiday makers! If Proxima b had in reality formed further out from it’s sun than its current position this would also offer a high possibility of there being water. This idea is based on the outer realms of planetary systems being more likely to form ice. If it then moved inwards for a up closer and more personal relationship with its sun then this ice could melt and form seas. Maybe 😉

Sea

Proxima b – A Desert World??

be8a53dc8479400431b0270a3d2ef730But it still seems most likely, according to Victoria Meadows (University of Washington), that this exoplanet is a desert world since the radiation bombarding it would almost certainly have evaporated the majority of the water. This process could have collected the oxygen and hydrogen in the water and created an atmosphere rich in oxygen. Then again it could a 2nd Venus with an atmosphere rich in Carbon Dioxide, or even another Uranus or Neptune.

The Other Closest Habitable-Zone Worlds

If all else fails cosmic holiday makers may wish to try some of the nearbyProxima Wolf 3, potentially habitable exoplanet worlds, for size….: Kapteyn b (13 light-years away) and Wolf 1061 c (14 light-years). Both planets are just over half again as wide as Earth, with minimum masses of 4 to 5 Earths, and both are in their stars’ habitable zones. Wolf 1061 c does not look at all hopeful in terms of habitability. But Kapteyn b looks good. It’s about 3½ times farther from its sun than Proxima b is from its sun so potentially it could be far enough out of reach of its sun’s rather violent output to provide a half decent holiday resort!

 

References:

www.skyandtelescope.com

www.gizmodo.com

www.space.com

www.scinews.com

www.csmonitor.com

FireWolves of Io   26 comments

Howling New Moonshine….

Spirit of the FireWolves…

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Howling new moonshine tumbling and stealing across the contrasting volcanic world of Io’s Fire wolves. Half hidden in the new moon shadows they gathered in moon dark silhouettes amongst the volcanic mountain ranges, calling the song of the stars, drawing on the fiery heart of the pack to call home the Fire wolves of Io, adorned in the mighty colours of the volcanic fire breed. The “Watcher at the Window” gazed in alluring fascination at the mountains peaks of Io bejewelled in the spectacular rainbow arrays of black and gold, catching too the starlight dancing in the gold-fire eyes of the Fire wolves of Io, bathed in the new moon darkness gliding around craters and dark plains.

Red_Wolf_Creek_Expt

Universal Silver Star Wolf   33 comments

Universal Silver Star wolf

Silent tranquillity hung in the night air. A cool silvery moon wolf cast shafts of silvery light, shadows stretching across the snow crystals and a more distant moon silhouetting the blackened branches of dead trees. A lone space dog barked the sound echoing on the night air. As the stars winked and flickered in a clear sky, glinting in the white-darkness an alien moon wolf paused for a moment and shook the snow off her forepaw. Her orm blue eyes glowing softly throwing a silver-blue light across her fine-boned facial features, enhancing her alienness.

scificityplanet_thumb (4)As though contemplating on them she gazed curiously on the charred stumps and the blackened skeletons of dead trees seeming remember a past she had never been a part of.…

Hesitantly she reached up and sniffed at the nearest branch, her alien eyes keeping a careful watch on the lights emanating from the nearby star bases. Well used reflexes came instantly into action as the branch crumbled into blackened ashes scattering emptily across a tight packed snow. The Moon wolf started away momentarily afraid. Peace fell, tranquillity spread, time passed.

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The night sky blushed outlandishly, rose-tinted charged particles filling the air. The stars twinkled calmly, tiny piercing lights in the darkness of space. The road ahead stretched smoothly into the distance and the moon seemed to lose some of its power. Silence fell, nothing moved. Something unseen swept across the sky, lights flashing, and vanished.

Quietly the silvery star wolf slid out into the open, wary and suspicious. Her skin prickled uneasily but she detected no danger and instead she shook herself vigorously scanning the sky, clear, sharp eyes revealing nothing. A moment passed. All was silent and calm. The Silver wolf sent out her mind signals, and waited, gazing longingly at the stars.

 

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The circular shaped star ship paused in its flight, checking the telepathic coded signal. Silently it glided around in a 90 degree turn to sweep away through the sky following the signal. It passed within range of Space Flight Control’s (SFC) scanning devices for a short time before sweeping out of radar range and away behind the dead tree skeletons, leaving SFC officials in a state of escalating excitement. The air was tense. Quietly the moon wolf yawned and stretched, hardened muscles sliding under coruscate coat. Eyes bright and eager she stalked across the hard packed snow gazing at the glowing shape as the circular ship swept silently into sight, its lighting systems flashing around it. A hazy aurora blotted out the nearby stars and the craft glowed, shimmering silver from some inner source, suspended above the deserted highway in unearthly alienness.

imageThe star wolf walked forward calmly to meet it, eyes glowing. As she approached jade poured from a panel and engulfed her in its green aurora – a transportation beam. Slowly she ascended towards the craft glowing sunlit bronze in its light. Too late the occupants of the SFC star bases poured out, exclaiming in wonder at the sight that confronted them. Cameras flashed – Unidentified Silver Star Wolf! Slightly apart from the milling crowds a shadowy figure spoke covertly into a discreet, hand-held communication device, both eyes fixed on the moon wolf and its craft;  “Unidentified Silver Star Wolf in ….”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This is the miracle we celebrate today, one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

We celebrate not the final achievement for there is still much to achieve.

We celebrate the promise, the progress, the hope….”

Inexorable–Stealing Away the Last of the Sunlight   19 comments

Inexorable – Stealing Away the Last of the Sunlight

Monochrome Moon Wolves

 

Monochrome Moon WolvesSpacePort Eclipse Wolves

Monochrome moon wolves! A subtle, relentless shadow crept across the face of an alien sun sending a soft, fiery glow sliding across the abandoned landing unit tips where only the moon wolves resided and the wild vegetation flourished growing rapidly in the cracks and crevices of the deserted buildings, long since abandoned by their alien civilizations. The abandoned shuttle port and its overgrown, unused space crafts roamed only by the Wolves_Abandoned SpacePort glowing moon wolves sliding subtly amongst the empty shells, food in plentiful supply around the crumbling, rusted hulls and skeleton cruisers.

 

 

Inexorably the eclipse light silenced them, cooling the air as the light faded into eerie, unnatural night, changing the atmosphere into something apocalyptic and alien to the moon wolves drawn back to the higher ground on the rooftop. Gradually stealing away the last of the sunlight till only the corona remained – a glowing fire burning flames and solar flares bursting across the darkened skies… The moon wolves watched with heads thrown high to the solar winds as darkness descended and the world feel silent. The eerie howl of the wolf song echoed on… and on through the monochrome eclipse light.

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