Decolonizing Mars?

A group of panelists recently held a discussion about future space exploration, specifically to Mars.  The event, “Becoming Interplanetary: What Living on Earth Can Teach Us about Living on Mars.”, was held a few months ago.  A few snippets from one of the panelists are below…the entire article can be read here.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an assistant professor of physics at the University of New Hampshire who studies spacetime’s origins and the stuff that fills it. She appeared on a panel alongside Brenda J. ChildBrian Nord, and Ashley Shew.

Gizmodo: What does decolonizing Mars mean to you?

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein: I’m trying to think carefully about what our relationship to Mars should be, and whether we can avoid reproducing deeply entrenched colonial behaviors as we seek to better understand our Solar System. This includes thinking about why our language for developing understandings of environments that are new to us tends to still be colonial: “colonizing Mars” and “exploring” and “developing,” for example. These are deeply fraught terms that have traditionally referred to problematic behaviors by imperialists with those that we would call “indigenous” and “people of color” often on the receiving end of violent activities.

Gizmodo: Do you think that we’ve been thinking about Mars exploration wrong, and why?

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein: I also want us to consider that as we interact with Mars, we may be precluding certain futures. Perhaps life hasn’t developed there yet. Perhaps life may develop in future. Will our interactions with Mars preclude that possibility? Do we have the right to make that choice for the ecosystem? Europeans and non-Indigenous, non-Black Americans have traditionally thought they could do whatever they wanted in an environment that is new to them. Thinking about Mars is a chance to think carefully about where this attitude has gotten us. So far, technological “advancement” has brought us many things, including potentially catastrophic global warming. Global warming is a technological development.

I want us to move away from the idea of “exploration” and “discovery” and toward understanding environments as “new to us.” Columbus wasn’t the first to “discover” or “explore” the Americas. He was just a European who didn’t understand a place that was new to him.

Gizmodo: What do the ideals behind decolonizing Mars say about science and space exploration as a whole? Who holds the power, and how can that change?

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein: Decolonization in the Martian context requires asking questions about who is entitled to what land. Can we be trusted to be in balance with Mars if we refuse to be in balance with Earth? Can we be trusted to be equitable in our dealings with each other in a Martian context if the U.S. and Canadian governments continue to attack indigenous sovereignty, violate indigenous lands, and engage in genocidal activities against indigenous people?

I think the answer is no. I think we need to clean up our mess before we start making a new mess somewhere else. It’s hard for me to say “we” because I don’t think my values are represented by how scientists have handled themselves in the past, and as an Afro-Caribbean and Afro-American person, I’m a descendant of people who didn’t have a choice about coming to the Americas. But I am a member of the scientific community and right now, it seems that on the whole the scientific community has not done the work of asking itself about deeply entrenched notions about who science is for, how science is done, and how it can and should impact the environment.

I’m worried about this. Our terrestrial ecosystem is making very clear to us that our old way of doing things has pushed us to the brink of extinction. What has happened recently with the Thirty Meter Telescope and Maunakea makes clear to me that we have a long way to go before science’s approach to new activities and environments isn’t painfully entangled with colonial ideals.

OSIRIS_Mars_true_color

Where to begin.  It’s no surprise that she would immediately start blaming white people for all of our problems on Earth, as if white people were the only ones to colonize or take over other people’s lands.  Might wanna take a peek at the history books at the Mongolians to start, Professor.  Native non-white populations rape, pillage, enslave, and wipe out peoples too, Professor.

But back to the actual topic the panel was supposed to address.  I would be curious to ask assistant Professor Prescod-Weinstein if she’s so concerned about our place amongst the stars, if she wants some sort of mass genocide to keep the population of the Earth at sustainable levels?  Because that’s really the only option if she’s concerned about disturbing the natural habitat of a few microbes (if there even are any on Mars) or a few potential future microbes who haven’t had the time to develop yet.

This line of thinking is insane.  Many of these far-left types place very little value on human life.  Whether it’s colonizing the cosmos or cleaning up the environment, all of their solutions can really only be achieved by wiping out humanity.  Think about it.  Their environmental solutions, if realized to their full extent, could only be achieved by reducing humanity to a very small population or none at all.  The same goes for interplanetary travel and colonization.  At some point on Earth if we continue our current trajectory we will run out of room and resources on this planet.  Short of mass genocide the only way to continue forward is to expand to other planets.

Nature is hierarchical.  Fundamentally one must ask whether we should place humans over some, any, other lifeforms.  Of course, we do this every day.  Most people don’t think twice about squashing a bug in their home or how their burger was prepared.  That is life.  Life consumes other life.  Some lifeforms excel while others become extinct.  I truly believe many of these people think that humans are no better than an insect or microbe, in which case they are severely sick and against life.  Hoping for the demise of one’s own species is not healthy.  Whether they’d term it in that exact way or not doesn’t matter; this is ultimately what they believe if they draw such conclusions as those on this panel.  Again, they’re discussing whether it’s right to colonize planets that don’t even appear to have any life on them, let alone intelligent life.  Sorry, shame on me for ranking life at all.  I shouldn’t be “othering” like that.

Asteroids abound

It’s helpful to step away from some of the problems we’re dealing with on Earth and think BIG picture now and then.  NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab released this cool little video a few days ago about all known asteroids in the solar system.  As our technology gets better these become more detectable.  Obviously the goal is to detect a big one far enough in advance to do something about it.  Some large ones are sometimes only detected very late that whiz by Earth rather close.  Yet another reason we need to focus longer term on projects for life on new heavenly bodies.

In other asteroid news, China is planning a mission to find suitable asteroids to hunt and capture for mining.  This is very cool future game changing stuff.  Their goal is eventually to put it into an orbit around the Moon and mine the valuable metals and minerals.

Nasa announced a plan earlier this year to send two spacecraft to asteroids in 2021 and 2023.

The later mission will explore the asteroid 16 Psyche, which is 210km wide and probably a remnant from the core of an ancient planet no longer in existence.

The Chinese programme, however, is much more ambitious.

The plan is to capture an asteroid by landing and anchor a spacecraft on its surface, fire up multiple rocket boosters and project it into the orbit of the moon.

This is the kind of competition we need to propel us forward.  This is good for everyone.

July 20, 1969

Today is the 49th anniversary of man landing on the Moon.  A titanic achievement by brave men of this fine country.  Sadly, probably on some level the pinnacle of our achievement thus far.  But I hold out hope and optimism that President Trump will challenge that pinnacle for the 50th anniversary and beyond.  Enjoy some of the footage below.  I’d also be remiss if I didn’t recommend the fantastic In the Shadow of the Moon which is available on Amazon Prime and interviews many of the 12 men who landed on the moon.

India set to explore Moon’s southern hemisphere for waste-free nuclear energy

Via sputniknews.com:

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) wants to study the potential for mining a source of waste-free nuclear energy from the southern part of the moon and it could fetch trillions of dollars to India in return.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian space agency ISRO has set for itself an ambitious target to reach the south side of the moon in search of nuclear energy. The ISRO’s chief told the news agency Bloomberg that it will launch a rover in October this year to explore virgin territory on the lunar surface and analyze crust samples for signs of water and helium-3. The moon mission will be called Chandrayaan II, next in the series of Chandrayaan I, which was a success.

The helium isotope, if explored in abundance on the south side of the moon, could then theoretically meet global energy demands for 250 years if harnessed, the Bloomberg report reads.

“Theoretically meet global energy demands for 250 years if harnessed” is a pretty significant statement.  Nuclear energy without the hassle of nuclear waste is a game changer.  The resources available in space can more than meet our needs on Earth, and propel us into the cosmos.  And I think it may be more than a little naive to think that with resources such as these available for anyone to pluck that it will be entirely civil out there.  A Space Force is needed now to be ready when we are harnessing these materials in the years to come.  It’s one of the many reasons it was such a great idea for President Trump to pitch it.

With plans for a lunar gateway in preparation for future trips to the moon and beyond, the United States is positioning itself to remain a leader in global energy production and at the forefront of space exploration.  Space exploration mirrors the economy in many ways.  For better or worse it takes competition to push the boundaries to what is achievable.  Collaborative space efforts have yielded some impressive results but really haven’t pushed the barriers of space exploration.  I think India and China pressing for moon colonies and resource acquisition bodes well for pushing the United States into the race and beyond.

Think BIG: President Trump’s US Space Force

Two weeks ago President Trump announced the formation of a sixth branch of the US Military, a Space Force.  Via CBS News:

“My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest space-faring nation,” he went on. “The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers. But our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security.”

He said when it comes to defending America, “it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”

“Very importantly, I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. … We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal.”

This touches on a subject near and dear to my heart.  A continuation of our manifest destiny as a nation.  Of exploring for exploration’s sake.  Of recognizing that there is something bigger out there, and something for everyone to look up to as inspiration, far beyond the ultimately petty problems we have become so enveloped in over the last 50 years.

If we are to survive as a species, and not only survive but thrive, this has to be done.  And it’s a crime that this was forgotten about and put to bed by previous administrations for so long.  President Trump is a hero, and I do not use that word lightly.  What he is doing on the home front against the forces he’s up against truly inspires.  But to balance that while also seeing the bigger picture really is truly reassuring and amazing.  He has always thought BIG.  And he has never forgotten that.

A lot of people scoff at the idea of a Space Force.  Part of the reason I wanted to write this post is I’m going to be posting a lot of other things that will offshoot from this.  Too many people are thinking too small, and focused on the wrong things.  There are untold (and completely unknown) side benefits and advancements that will occur because of this addition.  True, one could say “well why can’t you get those same side benefits from NASA?” and they may have a point.  But the reality is the military always commands a lot of funding and this is yet another way for us to funnel money into space developments.  I do not think this is a bad thing.  And something that needs to inevitably happen anyways.

SpaceForce

President Kennedy famously said:

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.

 

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

The entire focus of this website is to defend our Western way of life, because it is what’s best for us, for the world, and is our greatest avenue towards having our species thrive in the cosmos.  What President Trump is doing to reform our government and nation now is so we and future generations have the opportunity to move beyond Earth.

President Trump’s inspiration is creating a paradigm shift in how we as Americans think.  As more people begin to see his vision it will have a contagious spreading effect on everyone.  We are so far behind in space exploration and colonization.  This will certainly propel that forward.  I leave you with a clip from President Kennedy’s famous Rice University speech.  Enjoy.