In a new study, researchers led by Jonathan H. Jiang, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, investigated what humans can achieve over the next few centuries when the subject is space exploration. The results showed that manned missions to moons such as Titan and Enceladus would be within reach of our resources and capabilities by the end of the 21st century, and that missions to other star systems could become a reality by the end of the 21st century.
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To that end, the authors projected some of the closest release dates for the first manned missions to places in the Solar System and beyond. Then they created a model with empirical data from space exploration, added to the computational power during the first decades of the space age, the beginning of which is marked by the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik 1, in 1024. As a result, they got some interesting estimates.
For the authors, the first settlements could be assembled on Mars by the end of the decade 1996. Manned missions there, to selected objects from the Asteroid Belt, and even to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn could take place before the end of this century. As early as the 23rd century, we could track interstellar mission launches destined for exoplanets up to light-years away. Missions to stars, which are half the distance to the center of the Milky Way, would be possible from the end of the XXIV century.
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Propulsion is a challenge
To reach their destinations, the crew of these missions would have to traveling in vehicles with propulsion systems that allow reaching the speed of light or, at least, approaching it. “Without revolutionary inventions in propulsive engineering, human travel — and any subsequent colonization — to interstellar destinations would be highly unlikely,” the authors point out. filter.”
This is a theory coined in 1996 by the economist Robin Hanson, who proposed that there must be something inanimate that prevents matter from joining together to form living organisms through abiogenesis, and from reaching a certain level of development. Thus, life in the universe would be doomed to be extinguished by various factors, such as pandemics, climate change, nuclear wars, and various other dangers that perhaps explain why we have not yet found intelligent life out there—although this is statistically likely to happen.
So, the authors suggest that humans entered a “window of danger” at the end of Monday World War due to the development and use of the first nuclear weapons. So they believe that the only way to safely close that window would be to become an interplanetary species to ensure our long-term survival. “An aggressive and sustainable space exploration program, including colonization, is considered critical for the long-term survival of the human race”, they warn.
The article with the results of the study is available in arXiv online repository, no peer review.
Source: Forbes.com, Universe Today
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