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Elon Musk declares he’s ‘selling almost all physical possessions’ because he’s ‘devoting myself to Mars and Earth’ – The Week Magazine

Posted: May 8, 2020 at 10:55 am

President Trump put on a cheery face on Friday as the country reeled from a historic job report that reflected the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the American economy. "I created, as president we had the strongest economy in the history of the world, the strongest economy we've ever had, and we had to close it, which is artificial," Trump said during a wide-ranging interview with Fox & Friends. "Those jobs will all be back, and they'll be back very soon. And next year, we're going to have a phenomenal year."

Unemployment spiked to 14.7 percent in April, the highest since the Great Depression and triple what it was in February, with the numbers even higher for certain demographics. Government data revealed that Hispanic unemployment is 18.9 percent, or nearly one in five, while African American unemployment is 16.7 percent, CBS News reports. "It's fully expected, there's no surprise, everybody knows that," Trump told Fox in reaction to the staggering numbers. "Even the Democrats aren't blaming me for that."

Still, America's unemployment numbers are especially startling compared with Europe; Germany, for example, has seen unemployment rise from 5.1 percent to 5.8 percent over the same time period due to its robust subsidy programs, The Washington Post reports.

Trump's reassurances also run counter to analysis by experts, who say it could potentially take "much of the next decade" for the economy to recover. "We have to be utterly realistic about this because there is political fantasy out there and then there is economic reality," Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at consulting firm RSM, told Politico. "It is going to be years before we recover all of these lost jobs and as much as 25 percent of them aren't ever coming back." Jeva Lange

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Elon Musk declares he's 'selling almost all physical possessions' because he's 'devoting myself to Mars and Earth' - The Week Magazine

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Viruses Are Likely To Be Ubiquitous Throughout Cosmos – Forbes

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artistic impression of a great discovery

As this wretched COVID-19 disease has so acutely demonstrated, we live in an ecological duopoly of predator versus prey.Nothing about this set-up is going to change.At least a part of this microbial world is going to continue to wreak havoc on humans anytime it can.

Thus, in our current quest to move off-world, first to the Moon and Mars, then even further afield what are the chances that any given exo-earth will also harbor microbes that will be lethal to other living organisms?In other words, will this predator versus prey dynamic play out on a grand cosmic scale?

Most if not all ecosystems on Earth depend on some life forms feeding on other life forms for energy or other nutrients.I don't see any reason that this would not be similar on exoplanets that harbor life, Ken Stedman, a virologist at Portland State University in Oregon, told me.

Would viruses be ubiquitous wherever life evolves?

Wherevercellular life evolves first, says Stedman.Thats because virusesneed to infect a living cell in order to reproduce, he says.

The inert virion, the viral form visible under the electron microscope, is analogous to a seed or a spore that can only replicate in an appropriate environment, Stedman and co-authors write in a 2018 paper appearing in Astrobiology Journal.It then reprograms the cellular machinery to produce more virions, and the release of virions from the host cell to infect other cells, the authors write.

People walk dogs in New York's Times Square, Wednesday night, April 29, 2020, during the coronavirus ... [+] pandemic. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

As for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COrona VIrusDisease-2019?

SARS-CoV-2 infects human cells (and possibly bat cells) and causes these cells to make more SARS-CoV-2, says Stedman.A lot of COVID-19 disease is due to our immune system's reaction to the viral infection, not the virus infection itself, he says.

But viruses arent all bad.

Over billions of years of evolution, multicellular organisms have been prodded and provoked to adapt and evolve to counter the deleterious infections of all manner of viruses.Even Earths ecosystem has been impacted by viruses.

Up until some 2 billion years ago, Earths atmosphere was pretty much devoid of molecular oxygen (O2), notes a 2013 report from the American Society of Microbiology (ASM).Thats when oxygen levels on Earth rose in what is now known as the Great Oxidation Event, which coincided with oxygenic photosynthesis.

Although cyanobacteria drove photosynthesis in the worlds oceans, the ASM report notes, a good portion of the cyanobacterias photosynthetic activity, may be attributed to viral cyanophages (viruses that infect bacterial cells). Thats because many cyanophages infect cyanobacteria and encode photosynthetic proteins within the bacteria. Its thought that the expression of these photosynthesis genes during infection not only promotes photosynthesis in the host, but also cyanophage replication, the ASM report concludes.

Without viruses on Earth, life [here] would probably be a layer of slime, said Stedman.

Corona Virus with Triangle Shapes Lines And Dots Forming A Plexus

As for ideas on how viruses actually originated, some researchers think they may either be genes that escaped from cells; or descendants of some of Earths earliest life forms.

Viruses are the only life-forms that use RNA as their primary genetic material, says Stedman.

Its now thought that the nucleic acid RNA evolved on Earth before DNA. Thus, as Stedman and colleagues wrote in their 2018 Astrobiology Journal paper, todays viruses may be descendants of viruses or similar replicative entities that existed in this hypothetical RNA world.

And if in the far future, humans colonized an exo-earth, or even Mars and found viruses there, would the viruses be able to infect our cells the same way they do on Earth?

Stedman says that would be highly unlikely unless there was life on an exo-earth that was extremely human-like.

What prevents viruses from infecting a host cell?

Thecell has to have the appropriate receptor on the cell surface (that the virus has evolved to interact with), says Stedman.And the cell has to have the machinery that the virus needs to make more virus, he says.

What about detecting viruses on an extrasolar earth?

Thus far, astronomers have no viable means of remotely detecting exo-viruses, says Stedman.

We are trying to develop methods to change that, but are not there yet, he says.

As for finding viruses on Mars?

I would love to put an electron microscope on a rover, but that has not yet been done, said Stedman.

Alien microbes in space above Mars, conceptual illustration. Mars once had a wet climate, which ... [+] prompts many astronomers to believe that life may have arisen there in the past, and perhaps exists there still. This illustration conceptualises the idea, showing microorganisms floating above Mars. In 1996, NASA announced that they had found evidence for fossilised microorganisms in a meteorite hailing from Mars. However, whether these structures are indeed fossilised life forms or merely Earth-based contaminants remains unsettled.

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STREAMING WARS: The Expanse trades sci-fi fantasy for realism and it works – The Guardian

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Shedding the cowboy antics of Star Wars and the utopian idealism of Star Trek, Amazon Prime Video's The Expanse highlights how royally we can screw things up, which is made only worse by being in the vacuum of space.

Rather than slick spaceships and operatic overtones, The Expanse takes a hard, cold look at what colonizing the solar system could look like in the next few centuries.

I'll admit I'm only a couple of seasons in so far, but I haven't been able to watch anything else since I started. It's so damn watchable.

The story centres around Jim Holden (Steven Strait) and his crew of misfits as they bounce from one crisis to another in the colonized solar system. Things go from bad, to worse and then much worse.

Holden is a reluctant, but capable leader. Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar), Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) and Amos Burton (Wes Chatham) make up the rest of the team, each with their own can't-help-but-root-for-them attitudes.

Luckily, they have each other (for the most part) and a relatively stable moral centre.

The expanded cast includes some fantastic performances from Thomas Jane, who plays a hard-done-by detective and Jared Harris as a gang/rebel leader with an impossible accent.

But the highlight is easily Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala, a powerful diplomat looking after Earth's interests. She doesn't suffer fools lightly, performing delicately when she needs to, but able to flip the switch to badass in an instant.

The series, based on novels of the same name by James S. A. Corey, is set during a solar system-spanning Cold War. On one side is Earth, governed by the decadent UN, and the other is Mars, a militaristic but fragile state which is bound in a tenuous peace. However, one little provocation and that could all come crashing down, along with all of human civilization.

Originally released on American channel Syfy, the series was picked up by Amazon after it was cancelled following its third season. Prime released the fourth season in 2019 and announced a fifth is already in the works.

And thank goodness Amazon scooped it up. The mystery surrounding an unusual and dangerous alien substance that can alter matter (being experimented on with the most Machiavellian way imaginable) is the main throughline for the plot.

But The Expanse is about much more than this existential threat, it's about the incredible world it's set in.

This isn't the idealized universe of Star Trek, where money and hunger have gone the way of the dodo, in The Expanse, water has become more precious than gold. It's a world full of greed, corruption and inequality. It is capitalism gone mad in the far reaches of space.

People have inhabited asteroids in the belt, which is being taken advantage of by the dominant planets in the system, Mars and Earth.

Mars, with the know-how to turn their rusty-red planet into a garden, is low on resources because of their spending on the military, just in case there's a war.

And Earth, after years of degradation and sea-level rise is changed (but all too familiar) with an elite pulling the strings for selfish ends.

One also has to admire the writers (both screen and novel) restraint when it comes to the technology. Yes, humans have been able to reach the other planets and stellar rocks in the solar system, but the ships people use are definitely built for speed, not comfort. They're blocky, with wires and scaffolding unceremoniously strapped to their sides.

New languages and phrases seem so natural. Yes, a group of people living on asteroids probably would develop their own culture and a sizeable chip on their shoulders.

Differences in gravity, resources, time, it's all taken into account and given its due. Sometimes I'll pause an episode just to remark, wow, they've thought of everything.

It also doesn't hide the audience from the cruelty and inequalities, and it doesn't pull away from the atrocities that could happen. It's a warning of what we could become.

It's science fiction without the utopia, and although somewhat depressing, it adds a layer of realism that is so compelling to watch.

Needing an escape from planet Earth? I get it. Here are some other sci-fi shows worth checking out I haven't already recommended (like The Mandalorian, Star Trek Discovery and Picard).

Battlestar Galactica (remake), available on Amazon Prime Video. A deep, though sometimes convoluted plot that touches on humanity and artificial intelligence. An excellent musical score that reverberates throughout.

Westworld, available on Crave (with HBO add-on). A theme park made for the elite with no limits, the characters within the fantasy are highly intelligent robots, what could go wrong?

Space Force, available on Netflix on May 29. Needing something a little lighter? Steve Carell is tasked with forming the Space Force (an actual real thing), a new branch of the American Armed Forces with no idea of what it's supposed to be. Hopefully, it will be a sufficient replacement for The Office for the streaming giant.

For All Mankind, available on Apple TV Plus.What if the Soviets landed on the moon first? This alternate history drama takes a look at what could have been and what it would mean for America's psyche.

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NASA concludes agreements for returning to the moon with three companies – InTallaght

Posted: at 10:55 am

NASA has announced that it has concluded contracts with three commercial teams, each of which will develop a human landing system as part of the Artemis program of the space agency.

The groups in question are SpaceX, Dynetics and a team led by Blue Origin, which will share a total of $ 967 million over 10 months of development work. The options are, at this early stage, quite varied, as commercial teams are adopting very different approaches towards their landers.

SpaceX, for example, will continue to develop its deep-space transportation system called Starship, which Elon Musks company plans to make economically feasible for the colonization of Mars and other exploration activities. The 50-meter spaceship will be launched from Earth on top of a giant rocket called Super Heavy. Both of these elements will be reusable. The spaceship will also be able to carry up to 100 people at a time.

The Dynetics crew module, however, is designed to accommodate two astronauts travelling to and from the lunar orbit, including stays on the lunar surface for about a week, company representatives say.

The third team will be led by Jeff Bezos Blue Origin, with the participation of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper. This group will develop a three-phase architecture, which has elements of descent, ascent and transfer. The descent phase will be based on the Blue Moon lander, the ascent phase will take advantage of Lockheeds experience in developing the Orion crew capsule, while Northrop Grumman will handle the transfer.

In short, the plans for the return to the Moon seem to take shape gradually.

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A Third of the World’s Population Could Be Blanketed in Sahara-Like Heat by 2070 – Gizmodo

Posted: at 10:55 am

Brain geniuses like Elon Musk may want to colonize Mars, which sure. But for simpletons like me, keeping Earth mostly habitable seems like a better use of time and resources.

If carbon emissions are allowed to continue unchecked, though, that may be a tough proposition. According to a new study, extreme heat now only found in parts of the Sahara could spread to nearly 20 percent of the globe (and nearly a third of humanity) if carbon emissions arent curtailed. The paper, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, makes a pretty compelling case to cut carbon emissions and not fry the world.

The authors of the new paper use a host of historical data going back 6,000 years ago to uncover just what conditions make humans tick. It turns out people can make do with all levels of rainfall, with humans living in all but the very driest places on Earth. Civilization has also adapted to all types of soil fertility. The biggest limiting factor in terms of human habitation is how hot it gets.

The results of the study show people thrive in a narrow temperature band, where the average annual temperature spans 11 to 15 degrees Celsius or roughly the 50s if youre into Fahrenheit. Its in that belt where many staple crops grow best and livestock can be highly productive, and its why the authors define it as the human climate niche. Thats not say there arent other confounding factors for human thriving, but temperature is one of the key elements linked with well-being.

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Unfortunately for us, theres a shock on the way if climate change continues unchecked. Were already seeing the toll rising heat is taking on people around the world, from heat wave-related deaths to billions of hours in lost productivity because it was simply too hot to be outside. Still, humans have made it work in many hot places, from Phoenix to New Delhi to Dubai. But eventually, climate change could overwhelm us.

The study uses RCP8.5, a scenario where carbon emissions rise on an extreme level, to model what the end of the century would look like for our little human climate niche. The results show it would contract substantially. The Sahara is one of the only places on Earth where the annual average temperature cranks above 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit) and where the human climate niche basically ends. The areas with that much heat only cover 0.8 percent of the worlds land. But by 2070, that type of heat would become commonplace over nearly 20 percent of land on Earth. That area is home to up to 3 billion people who, if they dont migrate, will be living in conditions humans have never been able to tolerate for year-round existence.

Whats more, this spike in temperature over the intervening 50 years will be more dramatic than anything experienced in at least 6,000 years. You know, the period where human civilization really hit its groove.

The results are truly shocking in map form. Nearly all of Brazil will become essentially uninhabitable, as will huge chunks of the Middle East and India, showing the poorest areas will be hit the hardest. But the impacts arent limited to developing countries; the U.S. South, parts of Australia, and Mediterranean Europe will also see temperatures beyond the niche. The flip, though, that North America and Europe will also make habitability gains. When scientists found last year that we were all going to want to move to Siberia by the end of the century, they werent kidding.

Thats whats most alarming about the results. They show that, absent curbing emissions, there will almost certainly be mass migrations out of the hot zones. It wont all happen in 2070 like a switch flipped. Rather, some areas will pass the climate niche threshold first, potentially triggering waves of migration. The results show that, first and foremost, we need to start cutting emissions now. But just as important is the need to prepare for climate-induced migration in the future. And not in the ecofascist kind of way.

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Alien life on Mars: Scientists claim to have spotted thousands of mushrooms on Red Planet – International Business Times, Singapore Edition

Posted: at 10:55 am

A study report published in the journal Astrobiology and Space Science has claimed to have discovered alien life on Mars. The study report states that mushroom-like objects can be seen oriented towards the sky, and researchers believe that the alleged living beings are showing typical behaviors of mushrooms that grow on earth.

Biological causes behind these alien mushrooms

In the study report, the researchers revealed that non-biological presence could not explain the presence of the structures on Mars. They also claimed that the 'puffball-shaped' objects could be the result of a biological process.

Even though the study report was initially published in 2019, researchers have now revised their claims, and made it clear that their findings are not conclusive proof of alien life, but can be considered as a stepping stone for future research as humans are vigorously searching for extraterrestrial life on the Red Planet.

"There are no abiogenic processes that can explain the mushroom-morphology, size, colors, and orientation and growth of, and there are no terrestrial geological formations which resemble these mushroom-lichen-shaped specimens. Although the authors have not proven these are living organisms, the evidence supports the hypothesis that mushrooms, algae, lichens, fungi, and related organisms may have colonized the Red Planet and may be engaged in photosynthetic activity and oxygen production on Mars," read the study's abstract which is published in Research Gate.

Jim Green's prediction holds the clue

Jim Green is a chief scientist at NASA, and he strongly believes that alien life forms, at least in its microbial form will be discovered by 2021 on Mars. However, Green claimed that the world is not enough prepared to accept the reality of extraterrestrial existence.

Green also revealed that the discovery of alien life could be revolutionary and it will open a whole new line of thinking. Green is one of the key personalities behind the NASA mission that will start drilling on the Martian surface in 2020. NASA's Mars 2020 Rover will collect samples from Mars, and the testing will be completed by 2021. Green predicts that the testing of the samples will provide vital clues behind the existence of alien life on Mars.

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Author Tours The ‘End Of The World,’ From Prairie Bunkers To Apocalypse Mansions – West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Posted: April 24, 2020 at 3:05 pm

While researching his new book, Notes from an Apocalypse, about people who are preparing for doomsday, author Mark O'Connell undertook what he calls "a series of perverse pilgrimages."

Some stops on O'Connell's "end of the world" journey include a prairie in South Dakota, where a former munitions facility is being converted into a "survival shelter community," and the New Zealand apocalypse house owned by PayPal founder Peter Thiel. He also attended a Los Angeles conference, where he met people who hope to colonize Mars and use it as a "backup planet" if Earth becomes inhospitable.

Though it was written before the COVID-19 pandemic, O'Connell says the research he conducted for the book is heavy with "dramatic irony" now.

"I bought a lot of practical guides to surviving the end of the world doomsday prepper guides and so on when I was writing the book," he says. "And I read them at the time in a spirit of scholarly interest."

But as the pandemic spread, he says, "I found myself taking one or two down off the shelf in that first week and sort of flicking through the index with something other than scholarly interest, I think it's fair to say."

Despite spending so much time steeped in end-of-days scenarios, O'Connell doesn't despair. In fact, the book is peppered with humor.

"Laughter is obviously a kind of a release valve," he says. "The funny stuff [in the book] comes as a result of a buildup of like an accumulation of anxiety and seriousness. I'm often up at my funniest as a writer when I'm dealing with the most serious things."

On the demographic profile of the doomsday preppers he spoke with

So the doomsday preppers who I look at in the first section of the book tended to be overwhelmingly male, and overwhelmingly white, and often conservative Christian. And the ideology that they bring to it is often one of, I would say, quite right-wing, quite libertarian, a mistrust of the state and a kind of a fetishization of ideas of kind of rugged self-reliance and masculinity. And often fantasies of defensive violence, ... an idea of: You have to protect your family, you have to protect your home. Often that involves guns and so on particularly in American context.

On visiting an apocalyptic real estate development in South Dakota

Part of the reason why I wanted to go there was that it just looked so otherworldly. It's a dairy farm, essentially in the prairies of South Dakota, which was used as a ... munitions facility. There's 500-something overground bunkers, reinforced concrete and steel kind of mounds coming out of the ground, covered in grass. And it just looks like something out of an alien landscape. So it's been bought by a ... guy named Robert Vicino. And he's bought the land and is selling off these bunkers for, I think, ... $35,000 is the figure that he quoted me. So the idea is that people buy these empty bunkers and convert them to their own sort of specifications. This is a place for people to retreat to in the event of certainly nuclear exchange ... [and] viral pandemics and any kind of situation that threatens civilizational collapse or civil unrest. The idea is that there would be ... a private army that would patrol the perimeter of this place to stop the war, to stop the rest of us getting in.

On why the Silicon Valley elite and other wealthy Americans are buying land in New Zealand

In a way, it didn't take you that long to figure out why New Zealand, because it is an insanely beautiful place, and if I had endless resources, I probably would want to buy a place in New Zealand. You could approach it as an apocalypse retreat or you could [approach it as] a nice holiday. ... New Zealand is a very politically stable place, a lot of clean air, an abundance of lakes, fresh water. It's far from everywhere else. So you don't have those kind of threats that you would have in Europe and America. It's quite distanced in various ways. So you can see the appeal. ...

To put it bluntly, I think a lot of New Zealand people, Mori in particular, see it as a kind of a return of the colonial mindset. So New Zealand as a country I think is unusual amongst kind of post-colonial nations of being absolutely open and absolutely resolute in having a strong but nuanced kind of understanding of what colonialism meant in the history of the country and how to sort of move beyond those mindsets. And I think there is a suspicion of people like [PayPal founder] Peter Thiel and wealthy Americans coming and buying up land that it might be a kind of a modern version of that sort of tragic colonial moment in the state's history.

On how some doomsday preppers see Mars as a backup planet

Mars is almost like the next step up from New Zealand. If New Zealand is kind of the safest retreat on this planet, then, if everything goes wrong here and the planet gets hit by an asteroid or whatever the term that is used amongst Mars enthusiasts would be we need a "backup planet." So we need a backup planet for humanity in case something goes catastrophically wrong with Earth. [Tesla CEO] Elon Musk is always using this term. Elon Musk would be, I suppose, the most prominent kind of advocate of Mars exploration, obviously, with his space exploration company SpaceX.

On why he visited Chernobyl for the book

I wanted to see what the end of the world looked like, in a way. And I also wanted to see what a catastrophic event on the order of Chernobyl what happens afterwards. I was fascinated by the ways in which life is kind of returning to this place in ways. Nature is thriving there. And not only nature, but people are living there. There's a relatively small number of people, in the dozens, generally older people who have returned there to live in their houses that they evacuated in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. ... But ultimately, what I was really interested in was catastrophe tourism. There are tour companies that have set up in and around Kiev who will bring you there and you can stay overnight, which is what I did on the tour. You get to explore Pripyat, which is the abandoned city that was purpose built for the workers and Chernobyl. It's a fascinating kind of insight into the sort of visual spectacle of the apocalypse. You get to wander around this kind of diorama of a sort of post-apocalyptic future. I think that's what attracts the people who are on this tour and to some extent myself.

Nature has reclaimed the place. Pripyat is full of nature just bursting forth out of concrete, and there is something sort of quietly beautiful about it. There's quite a large population of wolves there. So life is kind of going on without humanity. As bleak as it is, there's something slightly reassuring about that.

On whether he'd consider joining a doomsday community

If you're preparing for the collapse of civilization in that way, I think for you, civilization has already collapsed. - Mark O'Connell

Where I landed with it is that I would not want to be part of that community. I would not want to be part of a protected, sheltered, elite ... that was being protected by a private army. On some level, I think I'd rather be dead. I'd rather be outside and take my chances because it seems, from an ideological perspective, that is just too too bleak and too terrifying to me. ... If you're preparing for the collapse of civilization in that way, I think for you, civilization has already collapsed.

Sam Briger and Seth Kelley produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Meghan Sullivan adapted it for the Web.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The coronavirus isn't the end of the world, but your anxiety may make you feel like it is. And your home may be feeling like a bunker. This makes my guest's new book, "Notes From An Apocalypse," strangely timely. It's about people who are preparing for a doomsday resulting from environmental catastrophe, nuclear war or a pandemic. The book is also about the reality of anxiety, like the anxiety you may be experiencing now.

Mark O'Connell is not preparing for the end of the world. But he is anxious about the future and what it holds for his two young children. And he's fascinated by people who've taken their doomsday and survival fantasies to extremes. As part of his research, he made a series of what he describes as perverse pilgrimages. He went to the prairies of South Dakota, where a former munitions facility is being converted into a, quote, "survival shelter community," and to New Zealand, where some Silicon Valley billionaires are planning on waiting out the collapse of civilization in a stable, remote retreat.

At a conference in LA, He met people who hoped to colonize Mars and use it as a backup planet for a doomed Earth. In Chernobyl, he saw what it looks like in a place where all life was eradicated. One of O'Connell's previous books, "To Be A Machine," is about transhumanism, the movement that believes new technologies implanted in human bodies will extend the cognitive and physical abilities of humans and extend life beyond our biological limitations. Mark O'Connell is speaking to us from his home in Dublin, Ireland. Mark O'Connell, welcome to FRESH AIR. How is the virus playing into your end-of-the-world anxieties?

MARK O'CONNELL: I guess, like everyone else, I've been on a bit of a trajectory with this thing for the last couple of months, for the last few weeks. You know, the first week here in Dublin - really, right before the lockdown happened, I was going through a pretty intense period of anxiety and sort of uncertainty. It really did seem kind of a little bit apocalyptic. And that coincided with the sort of ramp-up to my book coming out. So there was a lot of, I guess, dramatic irony surrounding my experience of it. You know, I'd written about all these kinds of scenarios. I'd written about people who were preparing for the end of the world in various ways. And there was just a lot of - yeah, a lot of dramatic irony.

At one point, I - you know, I bought a lot of sort of practical guides to surviving the end of the world - you know, doomsday-prepper guides and so on - when I was writing the book. And, you know, I read them at the time with, I guess, you know, in the spirit of scholarly interest and with a certain kind of arm's-length irony there. And I found myself taking one or two down off the shelf in that first week and sort of flicking through the index with something other than scholarly interests, I think it's fair to say.

But since then, you know, it's been interesting because so much of what I wrote about in the book has to do with not just kind of catastrophe scenarios or, you know, natural disasters or asteroids hitting or whatever. A lot of these people who I'm writing about, they're very focused on the prospect of civilizational collapse. So it's not necessarily the virus or the nuclear bomb that they're most focused on, it's civil unrest.

And it's - a lot of it is predicated on this notion that, you know, given a severe enough catastrophe, humanity is sort of bound to revert to savagery. And people will start looting and sort of, you know, stealing each other's stuff. And we'll sort of revert to an animalistic kind of original human nature. And I think - you know, with some sort of high-profile but relatively minor examples - certainly, where I am, what you're seeing is strengthening of community, a strengthening of civilization itself.

GROSS: So you write that your book is really also about the reality of anxiety and that everything in the pages of your book exists as a metaphor for a psychological state. I think it's the psychological state so many of us are experiencing now. So explain what you mean by that.

O'CONNELL: Yeah. Well, the book - I mean, the book didn't begin as a book about the apocalypse. It began, really, as me sort of trying to confront the sources of my anxiety. So, you know, I write in the first couple of pages of the book about a moment where I'm watching cartoons with my son. He's watching this cartoon about a bear and his sort of companion. And I'm sitting on the couch with him watching a polar bear starving to death and sort of trying to get some trash out of a trash can to eat.

And it began out of, like, a sense of the irreconcilable kind of energy of those - of these two kind of worlds, of the world of the outside - the news, things that are going on - and the kind of imperative of early parenthood, which, for me, has to do with trying to protect your kids, trying to instill in them the idea that the world is a beautiful and a good place. And I wanted to kind of explore the tension between those two things, which was a source of real anxiety for me. And it was only kind of a little bit later that the idea of the apocalypse kind of came into view as a way that I could give shape to those anxieties.

GROSS: Have you found that most of the people preparing for the end of the world are white and male?

O'CONNELL: Yeah. Certainly - so, you know, the doomsday preppers who I look at in the first sort of section of the book tended to be overwhelmingly male and overwhelmingly white and, you know, often conservative Christian. And the ideology that they bring to it is often one of, I would say, you know, quite right-wing, quite libertarian - a mistrust of the state and a kind of, I guess, a fetishization of ideas of kind of rugged self-reliance and masculinity and often, you know, fantasies of kind of defensive violence - so an idea of, you know, you have to protect your family. You have to protect your home. Often, that involves guns and so on, you know, particularly in American context. So yeah, it's not - it is something that I think appeals more to a particular kind of masculinity, a particular kind of man than it does to women. Although, there are, of course, female preppers.

GROSS: So let's talk about one of the places you went to to study the people who were really preparing for the collapse of civilization or the end of the world. You went to the Black Hills of South Dakota, where people planned to prepare for a nuclear war by living in a former Army munitions and maintenance facility that was built during World War II for the storage and testing of bombs. And you went there when tensions were really high between Trump and Kim Jong Un. And there really were fears about, you know, some kind of, like, nuclear weapon being used. So just describe this former storage and bomb testing site.

O'CONNELL: Yeah. It's a really extraordinary place. And part of it was - you know, part of the reason why I wanted to go there was that it just looked so otherworldly. It's a dairy farm, essentially, in the prairies of South Dakota, which, as you say, was used as a former munitions facility. So there are all these - I think it's 550 is the number. There's 500-and-something - anyway, sort of overground bunkers, reinforced concrete and steel kind of mounds coming out of the ground covered in grass. And it just looks like something out of an alien landscape.

But all of these are being converted into - so it's been bought by a kind of - I guess you would describe him as an apocalyptic real estate entrepreneur, a guy named Robert Vicino. And he bought the land and is selling off these bunkers for - I think it's $35,000 is the figure that he quoted me. And so the idea is that people buy these empty bunkers and convert them to their own sort of specifications. And this is a place for people to retreat to in the event of - I mean, yeah. Certainly, nuclear exchange is one of the big ones but, you know, also things like viral pandemics and any kind of situation that threatens civilizational collapse or, you know, civil unrest. And the idea is that there would be an army, like a private army, that would patrol the perimeter of this place to stop the - well, to stop the rest of us getting it, I suppose.

GROSS: So it's like a condo gated community, except you're living in bunkers and instead of a guard at the gate, you've got, like, a whole army (laughter) is...

O'CONNELL: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it's...

GROSS: ...Protecting - it's quite a vision, yeah.

O'CONNELL: It is an extraordinary vision. And it seems like, I mean, it is a sort of a gated community. It's sort of I described in the book as, you know, a kind of a logical conclusion of the psychology of the gated community. Vicino, who started this survival community, is - he also makes kind of a luxury apocalyptic bunkers. So these are kind of, you know, pitched at the middle range of the market, the kind of the apocalyptic bourgeoisie, I suppose. But he sort of made his name building these very lavish luxury bunkers that are supposedly kitted out with, you know, private cinemas and wine sellers and all kinds of things.

GROSS: Living out the end of days in style.

O'CONNELL: Sure. Why not?

GROSS: You cite some pretty strange beliefs that he has including that there's a rogue planet called Nibiru that's heading toward Earth and might collide with it. What are some of his other beliefs that are motivating him?

O'CONNELL: Yeah. I mean, Vicino is an interesting character in that he doesn't seem to focus on any one particular apocalyptic scenario. So climate change interestingly is not a big issue with most of these people. So it's not that they're necessarily climate change deniers but just that climate change doesn't seem to offer the prospect of sort of total annihilation or total civilizational collapse. So things like asteroids hitting the planet, that's a big one. Viral pandemics as well, certainly, that's another one. But, yeah, I mean, this idea of Nibiru, which is, I guess it's - you know, it's a relatively sort of well-sort-of-subscribed conspiracy theory. There's zero evidence for it as far as I can tell and as far as most sort of scientists would tell you.

But I think the idea is that, you know, he's a salesman, and a lot of these people are salespeople. And so it makes sense to have a kind of a spread of apocalyptic scenarios. So if you don't subscribe to the Nibiru idea, which I certainly didn't, you know, someone like Robert Vicino has another apocalyptic scenario that he might be able to sort of hook you on. And a lot of our - I mean, it was a really interesting, kind of weirdly enjoyable, also quite antagonistic sort of exchange that we had because a lot of it had to do with him. You know, he approached me as he would anyone who was interested in his property, so he was trying to sell me the idea of the place. So a lot of it was him, you know, trying to sell me a bunker basically and giving me reasons why it might be sensible for me to have this for myself and my family.

GROSS: What's his sales pitch?

O'CONNELL: Something's going to get us. Something is going to come along eventually, whether it's an asteroid, whether it's a nuclear exchange, whether it's just sort of civilizational sort of atrophy, something will come along eventually that will make it unsafe. He's talking particularly in the United States context, but also, you know, he had sort of a pretty grim vision of global civilization.

But yeah, something is going to come eventually, and it will - you know, it will cause a civilizational collapse. And in a way what's happening now, although, as I've said, it's nowhere near any kind of civilizational collapse scenario, but, you know, you can imagine preppers and people like Vicino might be feeling somewhat vindicated and might be feeling even somewhat smug.

GROSS: Was there just a little bit of you that thought maybe I should invest in one just for safety?

O'CONNELL: You know, he's a really good salesman. He's like a really powerful persuasive salesman, and he's successful for a reason. So yeah. And I'm - you know, I quite enjoy people selling things to me. I'm fascinated by the kind of the psychology of salesmanship, and I like being sold to. So there were moments where I was open to it, yeah. But ultimately, I think what - where I landed with it is that I would not want to be part of that community. I would not want to be part of a protected sheltered elite or an elect that was being protected by a private army.

On some level, I think I'd rather be dead. I'd rather be outside and take my chances because it seems, you know, from an ideological perspective that is just too bleak and, yeah, too terrifying to me - the idea that that would be, you know, where I land with in the book is if you were preparing for the collapse of civilization in that way, I think, for you, civilization has already collapsed.

GROSS: Well, let's take a short break here and then we'll talk some more. If you're just joining us, my guest is Mark O'Connell. He is the author of the new book "Notes From An Apocalypse." We'll be right back. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. Let's get back to my interview with Mark O'Connell, author of the new book "Notes From An Apocalypse" about people who are preparing for a doomsday caused by environmental catastrophe, nuclear war, a pandemic, a comet crash, any number of things.

One of the places you went to research your new book was New Zealand. And there are wealthy people from the United States, maybe other places too, who are buying land in New Zealand because they see it as a safe, relatively isolated place not near major nuclear targets where they'd have a chance of not only living out a collapse in much of the world but also doing it in a land of great beauty and in comfort.

And several of the people - oh, oh, this is interesting. You write that two days after Trump's election, the number of Americans who visited New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs to inquire about citizenship there increased by a factor of 15 compared to the same day in the previous month. Tell us more about New Zealand. Like, why New Zealand?

O'CONNELL: Well, I mean, that's why I went there I guess because I wanted to know why New Zealand. And, you know, in a way, it didn't take me that long to figure out why New Zealand because it is an insanely beautiful place, and if I had endless resources, I probably would want to buy a place in New Zealand, you know. You know, you could approach it as an apocalypse retreat or you could just - you know, it's a nice holiday. There's nice vineyards and so on.

So, you know, I guess if you have that kind of money, particularly, you know, Silicon Valley people tend to be quite rationalistic and, you know, there's a lot of interest in those circles in terms of, like, long-term forecasting of, you know, the future of civilization and so on, you can see the appeal because, you know, New Zealand is a very - it's a politically stable place, a lot of clean air, an abundance of lakes, fresh water. You know, it's far from everywhere else. So, you know, you don't have those kind of sort of threats that you would have in Europe and America. It's quite - you know, it's quite distanced in various ways. So you can see the appeal.

GROSS: Peter Thiel, who is the founder of PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook and is a billionaire, he has land in New Zealand. And you're right. One of the things that inspired him to think about New Zealand was a book called "The Sovereign Individual: How To Survive And Thrive During The Collapse Of The Welfare State." This was published in 1997. What is the vision this book offers?

O'CONNELL: "The Sovereign Individual" is - gives a very bleak and in some ways dystopian vision of a future in which the nation-state as a sort of a concept begins to fall away. And, you know, strong democratic governments are kind of on the way out. And what you get is the rise of what they call sovereign individuals, people who are very wealthy, have a lot of kind of intellectual capital, people like I suppose Peter Thiel who will sort of rise above democratic nation-states and become kind of more influential and more powerful than states themselves. And it predicts the rise of things like cryptocurrency and, you know, the future in which wealthy people will no longer be sort of beholden to the state by having to pay taxes and so on. It's just sort of a radically libertarian vision of the future. And it's a good thing from the point of view of the book that the state is on the way out.

GROSS: I'm wondering how the massacre at the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, where more than 50 people were murdered by someone with an assault rifle, what impact that had on people who see New Zealand as this safe space.

O'CONNELL: That came towards the end of when I was writing the book, and I'd already written the New Zealand chapter at that time. And I knew that I had to revisit it because, you know, it seemed to throw everything into a different light because, you know, the sort of premise of the idea of New Zealand as this sort of safe retreat from the rest of the world is that, you know, it's this fantasy, that it's not connected to these, you know, dynamics and vectors that are happening in the rest of the world. And, of course, that's not true. And this was, like, a really violent, tragic illustration of that fact. But what I saw was - you know, in the immediate aftermath, I remember watching - and I write about it in the book of course. I remember watching all these videos of, you know, Maori men doing the haka as a kind of a gesture of solidarity and grief.

And there's so much of this kind of communitarian response to this terrible act of, like, fascist violence that spoke to me, I think, of, like, the real heart of New Zealand and what makes New Zealand such a valuable place. It's not the - you know, obviously, it's a very beautiful country, but it's not the kind of - you know, what's valuable about New Zealand is not what people like Peter Thiel and so on value in the country. It's the kind of - it's the community aspects of the place.

GROSS: What is the reaction of people in New Zealand, particularly the Maori who are native to New Zealand, what is their reaction to New Zealand being seen as a safe space for people waiting out doomsday?

O'CONNELL: To put it sort of bluntly, I think a lot of New Zealand people, Maori in particular, see it as a kind of a return of the colonial mindset. So New Zealand as a country I think is unusual amongst kind of post-colonial nations of being absolutely open and absolutely resolute in having a kind of strong but nuanced kind of understanding of what colonialism meant in the history of the country and how to sort of move beyond those mindsets. And I think there is a suspicion of people like Peter Thiel and sort of wealthy Americans coming and buying up land that it might be a kind of a modern version of that sort of tragic colonial moment in the state's history.

GROSS: My guest is Mark O'Connell, author of the new book "Notes From An Apocalypse." We'll talk more after a break. And our critic at large John Powers will review two TV series he's become caught up in while social distancing. I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF BILL FRISELL'S "HELLO NELLIE")

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Let's get back to my interview with Mark O'Connell, author of the new book "Notes From An Apocalypse." It's about people preparing for a doomsday caused by environmental catastrophe, nuclear war, a comet crash, a pandemic. He visited a former bomb-testing facility that's being turned into bunkers by a survivalist entrepreneur. He went to New Zealand, where some Silicon Valley billionaires have bought land to wait out doomsday in a beautiful, remote location. He went to a conference of people who believe Mars should be turned into a backup planet for our doomed Earth. He's speaking to us from his home in Dublin, Ireland.

So let's talk about Mars and people who hope to use Mars as a backup planet when Earth is destroyed. Tell us about the thinking behind this.

O'CONNELL: Yeah. Well, so Mars almost is like the next step up from New Zealand, you know? If New Zealand is kind of the safest retreat on this planet, then, you know, if everything goes wrong here and the planet gets hit by an asteroid or whatever, Mars is kind of the term that is used amongst Mars enthusiast - an enthusiasts would be, we need a backup planet. So we need a backup planet for humanity in case something goes catastrophically wrong with Earth. You know, Elon Musk is always using this term. Elon Musk would be, I suppose, the most prominent kind of advocate of Mars exploration, obviously, with his space exploration company, SpaceX.

But yeah, it's, you know, again, things like climate change, the prospect of, you know, an asteroid strike - anything that could sort of present an existential threat. The idea is that, you know, even on the long-term kind of scale, the sun is going to burn out eventually. And the idea is that we need to sort of ensure the future of humanity. And so we need a kind of a second place to sort of - to form a backup for it, for civilization and for the species. And I found this just a fascinating kind of emanation of the apocalyptic kind of mood of our time.

GROSS: So one of the things that kind of baffles me, in a way, about this Mars colonization premise is that - I mean, I don't know that much about space travel. But I would assume that if Mars was actually colonized and used as a backup planet, that would be far enough into the future that the people who are in this movement now would not be alive by the time it happened.

O'CONNELL: I think some of them certainly would hope that they will be around for it. I think, you know, Elon Musk, for instance, who is kind of the major advocate of Mars colonization at this point, I think, I think he's pretty explicit about the fact that he wants personally to get to Mars. So you know, these are optimistic people. And, you know, a lot of them do believe that they will get to Mars - or at least humans will get to Mars in our lifetimes.

But yeah, I mean, it is very much a long-term sort of long-scale project. And it's about, you know, as I say, having a backup planet for civilization. So it's not - you know, as much as certain individuals might want to see Mars in their time, it's not really about the individuals. It's about the idea of, you know, preserving the species. If, you know - if an asteroid hits Earth or if the sun explodes or whenever, you want to have a backup planet for humanity. And that's, you know, where Mars is - kind of comes into it.

GROSS: One of the places you went to was Chernobyl. Why did you want to go there? People are not building bunkers in Chernobyl (laughter). No one wants to live on the site...

O'CONNELL: No, no.

GROSS: ...Of a nuclear catastrophe.

O'CONNELL: Well, you know, I wanted to see what the end of the world looked like, in a way. And I also wanted to see what a kind of an - like, a catastrophic event on the order of Chernobyl, what happens afterwards? And I was fascinated by the ways in which life is kind of returning to this place in ways, you know? Nature is thriving there. And not only nature, but people are living there. There are, you know...

GROSS: They are, yeah?

O'CONNELL: Yeah. There's a relatively small number of people, you know, in the dozens. But there are - and, you know, generally older people who have returned there to live in their houses that they evacuated in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. And so there are people living there. But ultimately, what I was really interested in was, you know, catastrophe tourism. There are tour companies that have set up in and around Kyiv who will bring you there.

And you can stay overnight, which is what I did on the tour. And, you know, you get to explore Pripyat, which is the abandoned city that was purpose-built for the workers in Chernobyl. And there's a just - it's a fascinating kind of insight into the sort of visual spectacle of the apocalypse, you know? You get to wander around this kind of diorama of a sort of post-apocalyptic future. And I think that's what attracts the people who are on this tour and, you know, to some extent, myself.

GROSS: So what does it look like?

O'CONNELL: It's pretty grim (laughter). You know, I went - it was a beautiful day, you know, the two days I was there. So - you know, nature has reclaimed the place. Pripyat is full of, like, you know, nature just bursting forth out of concrete. And there is something sort of quietly beautiful about it. And there's, you know, wolves. It has quite a large population of wolves there. So life is kind of going on without humanity. So there's something - as bleak as it is, there's something slightly reassuring about that. I wouldn't recommend it as a honeymoon destination or a sort of weekend getaway...

GROSS: (Laughter).

O'CONNELL: ...But that's not what I was there for.

GROSS: How much did the tour cost?

O'CONNELL: The tour, it was - I think it was something around, maybe, 250 pounds, which is a lot of money in Ukraine. I think it's close to, like, you know, a monthly wage. So it's a huge amount of money. But they bring you on the tour from Kyiv. So you get on the tour bus outside of McDonald's in Maidan Square. And it's about a two-hour drive to the zone. And then, you know, it's heavily sort of controlled or patrolled by the army still at this point. So you need a passport to get in. And they check your passport. And you're sort of rigorously checked for radiation at various points along the way towards the power plant.

And, you know, they bring you in this place and show you what - you know, what it was like to live in this place and what it's like now. You know, it's a pretty - there are some, you know, threats of, you know, pockets of radiation that are quite high. But in general, the cleanup was very successful. And, you know, the guides know where they're taking you. So you don't stray into any particularly, you know, hotspot zones or whatever. The one thing they do tell you is don't eat the moss. I wasn't going to eat the moss anyway. But they're quite...

GROSS: (Laughter).

O'CONNELL: ...Quite sort of strict about eating anything from the ground, particularly moss. Moss soaks up a lot of radiation. So if you do go to Chernobyl, do not eat the moss.

GROSS: So you weren't worried about exposure to radiation on the tour?

O'CONNELL: Well, you know, you've read my book. So you know I'm quite an anxious. So I did find ways to be worried...

GROSS: (Laughter).

O'CONNELL: ...You know, mostly after the fact. Like, you know, I got back from the two-day tour and I was like, well, what did I do? Why did I stay overnight in Chernobyl? Why was I, you know - was it worth it? I'm still - you know, I'm OK.

But I think the thing that you realize pretty quickly is that almost everywhere you go, the levels of radiation are actually lower than they would be. You know, they measure the radiation with a dosimeter outside McDonald's in - the McDonald's in Kyiv. And it's quite a bit higher than it is in most of the places where you are in the zone. So any kind of built up urban area would probably have higher radiation levels than any of the places where you actually go on the tour in the zone. Now, there are places where you just don't want to be within the zone. The power plant itself, certain spots there are still incredibly high. But you don't go anywhere near those.

GROSS: Well, let's take a short break here. And then we'll talk some more. If you're just joining us, my guest is Mark O'Connell. His new book is called "Notes From An Apocalypse." We'll be right back. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF AWREEOH SONG, "CAN'T BRING ME DOWN")

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Author Tours The 'End Of The World,' From Prairie Bunkers To Apocalypse Mansions - West Virginia Public Broadcasting

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Spaceship Earth Trailer: Experience the 1991 Quarantine Experiment That Rocked the World – IndieWire

Posted: at 3:05 pm

Matt Wolfs Sundance Film Festival documentary Spaceship Earth arrives at quite a moment in history, as the film ponders a science experiment that wanted to find the good, and science-expanding possibilities, in self-imposed quarantine. Check out the first trailer for the film below, which Neon will release in May on digital platforms including the websites of restaurants, bookstores, and other small non-theatrical businesses as distributors get used to skipping theatrical in these crazy times.

Spaceship Earth is the true, stranger-than-fiction adventure of eight visionaries who, beginning in 1991, spent two years quarantined inside of a self-engineered biome called Biosphere 2. The glass terrarium deep in the Arizona desert sought to replicate earths ecosystem, end became a pilot program for Mars colonization. The experiment became a global phenomenon, chronicling daily existence in the face of life-threatening ecological disaster, from food shortages to oxygen deprivation, while contending with growing assumptions from the media and beyond that the Biosphere inhabitants were nothing but a mad cult. Biosphere 2 soon found itself labeled as the product of science-fiction, not credible science, from a pack of 60s hippies. The $200-million research facility, of course, became a tourist attraction, tarnishing its integrity and reputation along the way.

Out of Park City, Variety called the film a lovely, engrossing documentary flashback. Spaceship Earth reclaims Biosphere 2 from the pop-culture-footnote dustbin, capturing the spirit of genuine idealism and earnest scientific inquiry An involving, oddly poignant tale that should have broad appeal to those on the lookout for distinctive documentary features has the excitement and involvement of a fictive sci-fi narrative.

Matt Wolfs previous documentaries include Recorder, about activist and pioneering television archivist Marion Stokes, who taped 35 years worth of cable news on her eight VCRs; Wild Combination, a documentary about cult queer musician Arthur Russell, who died of AIDS in 1992; and Teenage, about the evolution of youth culture throughout history based on a book from Jon Savage. Spaceship Earth, which looks to blend Wolfs interests in science and in counterculture, world-premiered in the US Documentary Competition of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where it competed for the Grand Jury Prize.

Spaceship Earth is another entry in distributor Neons growing slate of distinctive documentary films, including last years Honeyland, which earned multiple Academy Award nominations, and Apollo 11. Watch the trailer below.

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NASA and private sector have big plans for space travel and they’re recruiting – New York Post

Posted: March 19, 2020 at 11:44 pm

Amid all the coronavirus worries, heres a positive development: NASA this month began taking applications for new astronauts.

You probably wont qualify: Candidates must have STEM backgrounds, and the odds of being accepted in the last round were 50 times worse than those for Harvard applicants.

Plus NASAs at least four years away from getting anyone to the moon though thats far from the only manned mission now on the planning boards.

On the other hand, firms like Axiom Space and Elon Musks SpaceX are starting to offer regular commercial trips that are (literally) out of this world and you dont need to be a real astronaut.

Its not cheap: You need to fork over $55 million for a seat on the first fully private-sector spaceflight, slated for next year complete with two days of space travel and eight days at the International Space Station. (Better act fast: Only two of the three available seats are left, reports The New York Times.)

But prices will come down, as the long-term prospects for off-planet exploration and residency are improving.

NASA is forging ahead with its Moon to Mars program, with a planned lunar landing date in 2024.

The moon leg, called Artemis (Apollos twin sister), includes an orbiting spacecraft with room for astronauts to live for up to three months, while shuttling back and forth to the lunar surface.

Thatll allow for extended periods of exploration and access to more moon sites, including, notably, the lunar South Pole, which is thought to hold hundreds of millions of tons of ice. (Off-Earth ice is a huge asset for further space exploration.)

NASA hopes to establish a permanent human presence on the moon as it searches for scientific discoveries and lays the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy.

Artemis will also help NASA prepare for a trip to Mars in the 2030s. And the agencys not alone with its Martian dreams: SpaceX and other private firms are eyeing colonization of the next planet out from the sun.

Its important to get a self-sustaining base on Mars, says Musk, whose company is working on plans to get there. The Red Planet is far enough away that, in the event of a war, its more likely mankind can survive there than on the moon.

Musk hopes to ferry 1 million people to Mars by 2050 via 1,000 Starships a year, each with 100 people and materials to sustain them, for 10 years.

Such visions are ambitious. But space exploration and development come with big payback: They broaden knowledge, create possibilities for new applications and hold out enormous economic potential, with resources to be mined and space jobs to be filled.

And even if Musks worry about a humanity-ending war is excessive, having an off-Earth refuge may be handy for other reasons such as an outbreak of something even worse than COVID-19.

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LGBT+ campaigner and space expert’s solution to coronavirus: Colonize the Moon – Gay Star News

Posted: at 11:44 pm

A Russian lawyer who specializes in LGBT+ advocacy has offered the boldest solution yet to the coronavirus crisis colonize the Moon and Mars.

Maria Bast is the chair of the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights. And in particular she helps LGBT+ people get asylum abroad. She also fights to legalize same-sex marriage, for better laws for LGBT+ people.

But she also has another job as a manager in the space industry.

And yesterday she issued a message to the inhabitants of the planet Earth about COVID-19.

In it, she argues that coronavirus is a result of overpopulation. And she therefore proposes that we expand our home to fix the problem.

Bast made a video which she particularly addressed to those people who are smart people farmers, workers, businessmen, leaders of countries, politicians, officials, activists etc.

She explained: You have heard now the phrase coronavirus. Coronavirus is a crisis of human civilization. A global crisis. Coronavirus shows there are no borders and no nations [anymore]. Everyone is connected by one world with one problem.

Coronavirus is a result of overpopulation. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second we strain resources of our planet.

In particular, she says people living in megacities concentrates viruses.

What should we do in this situation? It is my suggestion we should leave megacities. We should leave megacities in favor of space exploration. We should expand our home. Because it is overwhelmed.

We have been forced to leave this planet, to [take] the next step into space. To make space bases on other planets, for example the Moon, Mars and other planets.

Indeed, the world population is expected to hit 7.8billion people this year. But as recently as 1960 it was just 3billion. Moreover, by 2030 it is set to exceed 8billion.

However, colonization of other planets may be a way off. Nobody has stepped foot on the Moon since 1972 and no human has yet visited Mars.

And some people think that washing their hands is a big ask.

But while Basts solution to the immediate coronavirus problem may generate some laughter, she is right about one thing:

We are all connected now. If we want to defeat coronavirus we need to join our resources, we need to join our efforts.

Meanwhile, in more practical COVID-19 news:

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