Astronomy was my hobby when I was a kid growing up on a farm. I read everything I could about astronomy and related topics.
There are some incredible things happening in astronomy that I want to draw your attention to.
I need to discuss later, the topic of why SPACE TRAVEL is turning into a flop for us. At the beginning of the space age, brought to us by the NAZIS like Von Braun, the SS Nazi who invented liquid fuel rockets, there were big hopes that Whites would be able to travel across space in the same way that we sailed through the oceans of the world. But that Star Trek vision is not possible because of the dangers of radiation. The radiation problem is a very serious problem that makes things like bases on the Moon and Mars very problematic and people will die from the radiation.
However, the area of science that is getting a super massive boost is ROBOTICS!!! Finally, we have a reason to create robots, especially robots that can function at great distances. So, for the foreseeable future our robots will be racing through space doing all sorts of amazing things. I think robotics will explode into something greater than science fiction could imagine. Our robots are going to do incredible things.
But one thing which was a problem when I was young and interested in astronomy was the problem of the atmosphere and its effect on astronomy. However, an amazingly creative solution was found to this by shooting lasers into the sky and measuring the distortion of the light thereby allowing computers to correct for this. So ground based telescopes got an enormous boost as a result. So the ground telescopes still have a lot of value to add.
But there are newer and more incredible space telescopes coming that are going to open up space like never before.
The new telescopes scan masses of the sky quickly and they can view and analyse vast amounts of information.
These telescopes are going to monitor a number of things on a scale we’ve never seen before. Among the things they will be hunting for like crazy are exoplanets – planets outside our star system. Exoplanets, I must tell you, are an example of our science outstripping our original thoughts. We thought we would need to send spaceships and probes to stars in order to photograph the planets, but instead computer technology allows us to detect planets which we never imagined we would be able to detect.
It gets even better. Scientists now have the means to detect "rogue planets" which are planets which don’t belong to a star, but which float freely through space. They have already detected almost 30 rogue planets. However, scientists think that in our galaxy alone, there are 50 billion such planets floating around.
So rogue planets are one strange development we never really expected.
But it gets better.
In recent years scientists discovered 2 small objects that entered our solar system and they were able to track them and watch them leave again!
Now when objects coming from the stars are just floating through space (at great speeds), they can approach from weird angles and if they enter our solar system they will be gravitationally pulled by the Sun or Jupiter and their orbits may be changed, but they are going so fast that they will still be flung back into space on a new trajectory.
The new telescopes will be able to scan vast areas of sky and they are expected to detect all these space rocks that are floating around including rocks that are pretty small. Scientists are now thinking that thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of such small rocks are constantly moving into the Solar System. These are free floating rocks that are debris from elsewhere in the universe. It is probable that most of these rocks have been floating in space for many millions of years and very probably even billions of years.
So here’s the kicker: We won’t have to go to the stars to actually find rocks. We might be able to grab them in space and study them or get some soil and rocks from them. It probably won’t be easy because it will depend on the trajectory and speed but I suspect that they will one day find something that they can intercept with a small space craft and study, even if it is a high speed flyby.
What I’m saying is that in the decades to come, we might actually get a chance to study and intercept rocks that come from tremendous distances without us having to leave the solar system.
Another more distant possibility is to create very tiny space probes that weigh a few grams and to blast them into space at very high speeds and get them to nearby stars within a few decades or centuries.
But the most probable way, it seems to me, that we will get our first samples of rock from other star systems will be to capture dust and small rocks entering the solar system. The downside is that we have no ability to choose a target. It is going to be a random affair. But it may be very educational as scientists get a chance to study matter that has come incredible distances through space.
I think that our ROBOTS will be exploring space like freaking crazy. Perhaps within a century we will have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of very tiny high speed craft racing into space. But then again, maybe there will be no need! Maybe super telescopes even more powerful than we can imagine will yet again beat them to the punch?
Here’s another thought of mine that I think will be viable: A telescope’s real strength is based on its base-line, its width. Given the power of computers, we might be able to "construct" a type of "telescope" using multiple satellites that are very far apart. e.g a "telescope" that is composed of say dozens of satellites orbiting great distances apart across the solar system. This would give the "telescope" a massive base line of hundreds of km in diameter. Perhaps such a thing will allow us to "see more"?
It seems to me that our knowledge of space is going to increase faster and faster in leaps and bounds.
Human space travel is currently a waste of time because of radiation and the slow speeds of our craft. We need to solve the problem of near light, or better still, faster than light travel. Until then however, our robots will be doing incredible things.
It’s very possible that before Whites actually head to the stars, that we will know almost EVERYTHING about our destination so that we don’t waste our time "searching". All the searching will have been done by our robots and computers. If we go anywhere, it might be to actually physically settle there. There won’t be a need to "explore". It will simply be a case of getting there to begin the process of settling. By then, our robots will probably even have built the entire settlement!
I think this is how space travel is actually going to work and it’s not going to be the same as ocean travel. The robots will do everything.