Saturday, July 13, 2013
Space, The final frontier...
In my last post I talked about Star Trek: Enterprise and why I was drawn to that show more than others. I explained it was mostly because of the plots revolving around exploration and discovery. That got me to thinking about why Enterprise interested me so much and why the more action oriented series (DS9 and Voyager, as well as the new movies) do not interest me.
I came to the conclusion that it's because real space is something that fills me with wonder. I mean how can you look up into the sky, even in a light soaked city like I live in and not be awed?
The image to the left is NASA's XDF image (eXtreme Deep Field) and if you can examine that photo in depth and not be amazed at what the Universe has to offer well, then, space isn't for you. ;) (clicking on the image will take you to NASA's website where you can explore it in its full glory).
Everyone has something that interests them, something that when they talk about it they seem to come alive. For me space, the Universe is that thing. Much like in Enterprise I would love to be able to explore our solar system, our galaxy and our universe. I could certainly go on for page after page about this system or that galaxy but most likely you don't want to read that and even if you did you would be better off reading at NASA's website. I will however mention a couple of things that interest me because I can and because it's my blog and I'll write whatever I want.
Mars: I could talk for hours about Mars and in fact I have, you can ask anyone. When you live in a city surrounded by so many lights there are a lot of stars and planets that just disappear into the background noise. Mars isn't one of those, it shines in the night sky bold and bright. I can only imagine what it looked like before both air and light pollution took over. The discoveries that the current missions to Mars are making bring a much better understanding of how Mars became what it is and what it once was. Every day new information returns to Earth, evidence of previous atmosphere, evidence of water, evidence that conditions were right for life. I can't wait until manned missions to Mars begin, imagine the discoveries then.
Saturn: My interest in Saturn is more recent that that of Mars, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is sending back tons of information about Saturn, it's rings and it's moons. Saturn's moons are the most geologically active bodies in our solar system with subsurface oceans, geysers, particle streams. C'mon this is the stuff of Sci-Fi how can you not be intrigued? There is so much to learn and discover about our own solar system and there are many billions of solar systems in an estimated 500 billion galaxies out there. I get giddy just thinking about it.
Star light: I know that's a strange interest, but think about it. Looking at the stars is like going back into time, the light reaching us now from the most distant stars has taken billions of years to reach us. We are seeing back into the very distant past of the universe some of the stars we are looking at now don't even exist anymore. Thats why images like the XDF above and those being released now by NASA are so interesting. Think about the distances involved, for a minute. Light moves pretty fast (299 792 458 m / s) if we are looking at light thats billions of years old it must be coming a long way. The image above is thought to be of light thats 13 billion years old do the math on that one. Douglas Adams once described distances in space like this: “Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.” One look into the night sky and you can get a small idea of what it's like small dots of light that are actually hundreds of thousands of miles in diameter.
Take some time, explore NASA's web sites, explore the night sky. Let your imagination run away with you. It really is the final frontier.