The Science! The Science!

Reason the Second: The Science! The Science!

This post is Part 3 in a 5 Part series about why space travel should be made a priority by governments, world leaders, private companies, engineers, scientists, and teachers. Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.  Follow my blog or follow me on Twitter @jajaamanda to be alerted to when the next one is up!

Nick Risinger's Photopic Sky Survey (5000 mega pixels!)
Space has been the domain of art, divination, and religion, but since science reached the level of sophistication it has today space has claimed the attention of scientists. There are.... (deep breath) astronomers, astrophysicists, astrogeologists, astrobiologists, astrochemists, astrohydrologists, astro-anythingists! My point is that any question you can ask about anything on Earth you can also ask about Space, and your answer is going to be different and new because the surrounding variables are endlessly different and new.

And the best place to observe space from is space.

Endeavor brought with it a fancy shmancy particle physics do-hickey called the AMS - Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer - that can do some fabulous science that physicists can't do here down on the ground. The AMS is a telescope of sorts, only, it doesn't measure light. It measures particles. And up in space, our grimy atmosphere doesn't get in the way.

Says NASA:
The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is a state-of-the-art, high energy particle physics experiment built in Geneva by a collaboration of 16 different countries. It will search for clues on what the universe is made of and how it began, the origin of dark matter, antimatter and strangelets, pulsars, blazers and gamma ray bursters. And that’s just what the scientists now to look for.
Isn't it the cutest effin' noise you've ever seen? (right, February?)
So it could answer questions for us that we don't even have the capacity to ask yet.

Also aboard Endeavor is a squid with a flashlight. (No, I promise it's not a Disney/Pixar Nemo/Wall-E crossover.)

The bobtail squid uses a pouch of bio luminescent bacteria to light its way underwater and fool predators. It can control how bright it gets by regulating the amount of oxygen the little bacteria get. More oxygen, brighter light.

The little guys are headed to outer space to see if the lack of gravity affects their bacteria-gathering and flashlight-shining abilities. It's the first step in figuring out if the good bacteria in humans is affected by weightlessness.

Once we know exactly how humans are affected by being out in the cold, dark, floatesphere (I coined that term just now, like it?) we can be more confident about sending humans farther into the solar system, possibly to Gliese 518g, the most Earth-like planet ever discovered. And the best way to learn about a thing is to be able to observe it first hand. 

Everything we know about everything we can observe is biased by our point of view here on Earth. All of the solid things we rest on, all of the constants in our lives are of the Earth. Once we leave Earth, imagine the new insights and the new point of view we'd have!

Okay, yes, I know all the problems about getting humans across vast, empy distances, but that brings me to my third reason, that I will post a bit later.

Part 4: Space is Cool! It's Big! It's Different!

1 comment:

  1. Pretty cool. Lots of space stuff going on even though the shuttle program is ending. Just read about a new space capsule. And there's a huge rocket a private company is developing.

    There's astrophysics study in Antarctica - at the Pole and long duration balloons launched here at McMurdo:


    - Mike