With all of the recent spacecraft landings on different bodies in the solar system, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on how these achievements will affect us in the Science Fiction realm. I have a few ideas about how they could shape the near future.
LANDING ON A COMET
It’s no secret or small feat that we have landed a probe on a comet. But what does this mean for us? Well for one thing we will know a lot more about comets than we previously did. Also, have you ever thought about how much fuel it would conserve to hitch a ride on one? Perhaps we will be using comets as Solar Systemic taxis in the near future.
If you don’t know what Ceres is, it is one of the largest non planets in our solar system. It is roughly the size of Pluto’s moon Charon, and resides in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. There is a probe sending higher and higher resolution pictures of it by the day, and soon we will know precisely what its surface looks like. There is already speculation, because the low resolution images have yielded different colored spots on the surface of the asteroid, as well as a rotation. It will be quite the adventure if we decide to venture out for a manned mission to Ceres,especially if we can make it on a taxi comet ride.
Recently the white house requested a bunch of million dollars (30 to be accurate) to fund an unmanned mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter. Why is it so tantalizing you ask? Well there are a few reasons. The first one is that scientists believe Europa has a liquid ocean underneath its icy crust. They say this because the formation of new cracks on the surface indicate geo thermal activity and plate tectonics. This is significant because it would be the only occurrence of this mechanism in the solar system besides right here on old planet Earth.
And a liquid ocean could hold other treasures. What if there are some alien bacteria down there in those deep oceans? Bacteria tend to thrive in otherwise uninhabitable places. And what if there’s an alien fish? Or alien Merpeople?! The possibilities are endless. Of course this is all speculation. There could be no ocean and just really crappy ice that moves a lot. But it’s fun to guess.
These new horizons are ones that excite me as not only a SciFi writer, but a Sci Fi fan. I can’t wait to see what we all produce as a result of these discoveries. It really is fascinating to think that in a just a little over 100 years we’ve gone from flying planes short distances to sending craft to the far reaches of the solar system. The voyager missions are still kicking out there somewhere. We can catch a ride on a comet. We can explore new worlds seeking out strange new life.
It really is an exciting time.