Is there life in space?

space accent

No one disputes the fact that outer space is a potential theater of military operations. That is, weapons are there, depending on the chosen direction – nuclear, kinetic, laser, etc. – Just a matter of time. Furthermore, deploying nuclear weapons in space is far from a new idea.

The evolution of US military strategy today provides for widespread use of outer space. A new type of armed forces has already been deployed – the space forces, whose task in particular is to ensure the permanent presence of manned vehicles in space in the near future. In this case, we are talking about both the organization of long-term space flights for military purposes and the construction of lunar bases for space exploration and mining.

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There are many projects, realistic and utopian, that build bases on Mars.

In late 2018, General Paul Selva, then Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a very interesting announcement. The general said the Defense Ministry plans to deploy assembly and test complexes in near-Earth space, both for assembling space equipment designed to perform combat missions on the Earth’s surface, and for long-duration manned expeditions into space.

The permanent presence of man in space, including for military purposes, may soon become necessary. The Earth’s resource base is being depleted before our eyes, so the search for new, cosmic energy sources is relevant in the near future.

Even now, with mathematical precision, all the Earth’s resources without exception have been calculated. Based on this, it is not difficult to predict how long a person can still exist “comfortably” on our planet. According to calculations, hydrocarbon energy sources will actually last only 80-140 years. The reserves of uranium as a nuclear power tool are also not encouraging. According to some reports, only a few decades of mining remain. It is clear that the developed countries will not today or tomorrow face the task of leaving their homes and directly face the problem of creating life and its reproduction in the universe.

Thus, manned expeditions cannot be considered in terms of purely scientific experiments. Against. Such flights are part of a practical solution to the problem of creating conditions for the development of life outside Earth, including from a safety point of view.

If humanity continues in its quest to remain on the planet, the only solution seems to be political coercion to allocate resources that are already insufficient to meet the world’s needs. This will inevitably sow the seeds of discord between nations.

The path of the moon.

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The path of the moon.

It is clear why the Americans are aiming for the colonization of Mars, China and Japan are setting up corresponding lunar programs.

“Biosphere-2”: too many problems

Nevertheless, a long stay for man in space means the solution of many scientific, technical, purely medical and psychological problems. Today, however, almost none of the above can boast positive results in terms of possible solutions.

One of the key conditions for life on Earth is the presence of gravity. Meanwhile, American studies suggest that people who have spent a long time in space suffer from bone loss. Observations of the condition of 13 astronauts, each of whom spent half a year on the ISS, showed that the strength of their skeleton decreased by an average of 14% compared to the corresponding indicators before the flight. Three astronauts lost up to 30% of their bone mass, which is comparable to the skeletal condition of an elderly woman suffering from osteoporosis (a disease in which bones lose their strength, become fragile and can break easily).

But is it possible to create an artificial “Earth gravity”? Can. In theory. In practice, no experiments have yet been carried out on the existence of humans under conditions of artificially maintained gravity.

A distinctive feature of all plans, as a rule, is their inconsistency with many realities of life. In the first half of the 1990s, the Americans decided to fundamentally test the theory of creating thousands of self-sufficient space settlements, which so easily fit on paper. The program was called “Biosphere-2”, taking into account the fact that the first number is the planet Earth itself.

Complex

© wikipedia.org

Complex “Biosphere-2”.

From September 26, 1991 to September 26, 1993, an impressive experiment took place in the Arizona desert. A team of eight people – four men and as many women – spent two years in a special complex in complete isolation. Communication was handled exclusively via a computer.

The complex itself was a grand structure on an area of ​​several hectares. Essentially, for the first time, a closed biosphere was artificially created to simulate the processes that occur in the Earth’s natural ecosystem. The complex of “greenhouses”, completely isolated from the environment, occupied about 1.5 hectares, the volume of the atmosphere in “Biosphere-2” was about 204,000 m³ of air. About 3,000 species of animals and plants were placed in a giant “greenhouse”. Trees, grass and bushes grew inside the laboratory which provided 46 kinds of plant food, there were goat pens, pig pens, hen houses, fish and shrimp swimming in artificial reservoirs.

Seven different biomes were recreated: rainforest, desert, savannah, sea with a small coral reef and mangrove estuary, agrocenos where the colonists grew food (vegetables, fruit and livestock) and a residential area. The species composition of living organisms was selected to best simulate the biospheric cycle of substances, including the production and decomposition of organic matter, including the natural decomposition of human waste.

I must say that life in this ark somehow did not work right away. A couple of weeks later, one of the participants in the experiment cut off her finger while working with agricultural equipment. Attempts to reattach the finger failed and the participant had to leave the experiment. Perhaps the fear of further tests undermined the spirit of the participants in the experiment, but quite quickly the team broke up into two opposing groups. This greatly disrupted the normal course of research. It is remarkable that even today these groups avoid meetings.

The main problem was that the attempt to recreate the Earth’s atmosphere failed. It turned out that plants cannot produce the amount of oxygen required. The content of O2 in the atmosphere of the “Biosphere” decreased from 21 to 15%, as a result of which oxygen had to be pumped from the external environment. For two years, the participants in the experiment lived in conditions of constant oxygen starvation – people lost weight and suffocated.

© wikipedia.org

“Biosphere-2” from the inside. Blocks “Savannah” and “Ocean”.

It was found that microorganisms and insects began to multiply in unexpectedly large numbers, causing unexpected oxygen consumption and destruction of crops. By the way, the designers did not anticipate such a phenomenon as wind: it turned out that in the absence of wind pressure on the trunk and branches of trees, the mechanical tissues of wood were not sufficiently developed. As a result, tree trunks and branches became brittle and broke under their own weight.

Even with food, everything was not completely smooth. The area of ​​agrocenosis “Biosphere” was not enough to provide enough food for eight people. To solve this problem, it was necessary to increase the seeding density of cereals, as well as to plant bananas and papayas in the rainforest.

The third problem that significantly complicates the life of people in an isolated ecosystem is the uncontrolled growth of the number of pests. The food chains in the artificial ecosystem of the complex turned out to be incomplete, and the number of pests in the absence of enemies began to grow steadily, the use of pesticides was excluded, because. self-purification processes in such small ecosystems are very slow, and chemical poisoning of all inhabitants, including humans, will be inevitable. Domestic gardeners will understand American “colleagues” who had to manually collect all kinds of Colorado potato beetles, as well as breed their natural enemies.

The desert biome didn’t last long. In the mornings, moisture condensed on the glass roof of Biosphere-2 and fell as artificial rain. Some time after the start of the experiment, the desert began to be overgrown with grass.

…After the end of the experiment, neither the ladies nor the strong part of the brave “pioneers” communicated with each other. Never…

death rays

If the problem of an artificial atmosphere, including the much-needed wind, can be solved, because the problem itself is known, then one does not even know how to counteract cosmic rays. Rather, not fully studied and identified all possible consequences of a long stay in space for the human body.

No one knows exactly how much radiation is too much for a person.

© flickr.com/nasa2explore

No one knows exactly how much radiation is too much for a person.

Even the Mars expedition, which is a particular dream of NASA, remains a mystery to American scientists regarding the consequences for its participants. Radiation experts at the University of Nevada are thus convinced that cancers that can develop as a result of increased exposure to space radiation are likely to be very dangerous. Scientists have concluded that the types of tumors that form as a result of exposure to cosmic rays are more aggressive than those that arise from other forms of radiation.

The problem is that no one knows exactly how much radiation is too much. For example, much data has been collected on the probability of cancer in a person who has been exposed to the harmful factors of a nuclear explosion. But the most harmful types of radiation in the universe are very different from those resulting from a bomb explosion. Astronauts are exposed to galactic cosmic rays – the nuclei of their atoms move in outer space at an incredible speed and have great energy. If they collide with a complex cellular structure, such as DNA, they can cause mutations.

It is estimated that three days in outer space will be enough for each of the trillions of human somatic cells to be hit by the high-energy protons that make up the most abundant galactic cosmic rays. As a result, the likelihood of lung cancer, as well as colon and rectal cancer increases, that is, significantly. These types of cancer are the most aggressive.

As a result of the data obtained, scientists draw a far from comforting conclusion that the Mars expedition, the duration of which will not be more than two and a half years, will shorten the life of the participants from 15 to 24 years.

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