Space exploration just doesn’t get us jazzed up like it used to. In the early days of NASA, the potential to explore the universe beyond our own atmosphere captivated the entire nation, young and old. We dreamed of who and what might be out there, and imagined living on other planets in relative peace and harmony. Now we just play video games about space instead.
It’s been decades since we’ve made progress in our quest to explore the galaxy, and we’ve gutted NASA’s budget. Sure we’ve sent up satellites and robotic probes, but nothing that really gets us closer to human contact with other terrestrial bodies, and according to scientist Stephen Hawking, that’s a problem.
The acclaimed researcher recently issued an urgent call for the continuation of space exploration programs. According to Hawking, if humans don’t find somewhere beyond Earth to live within the next millennium, our entire species could very well become extinct. “We must continue to go into space for humanity,” Hawking recently said at an event at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Basically, Hawking is admitting what activists and scientists have known for a long time: we’ve done and continue to do irreparable damage to our home planet. We do this despite the fact that we have no escape plan and no way to get to a Planet B even if one does exist. Sure it won’t matter to us, or even to our great grandchildren, who are likely to pass on long before climate change and pollution render this planet inhabitable. But rest assured–it will happen. And then what?
NASA’s Kepler space telescope recently discovered three exoplanets that may be capable of supporting life, and one of them is perhaps the most Earth-like world spotted to date. According to Space.com, the most interesting one is called Kepler-62f:
…a rocky world just 1.4 times bigger than Earth that circles a star smaller and dimmer than the sun. Kepler-62f’s newfound neighbor, Kepler-62e, is just 1.6 times larger than Earth, making the pair among the smallest exoplanets yet found in their star’s habitable zone — the just-right range of distances where liquid water can exist on a world’s surface.
It will take many decades before we’re technologically advanced enough to test our theories about Kepler 62f, and even longer before we’re in a position to place human life there on even a short term basis. While that time frame may make Hawking uneasy, it’s a blessing in disguise for the health of the universe.
It may be at least a millennium before we can shed the selfish, greedy impulses that led us to pillage Earth in the first place. Moving to another planet without first acknowledging what we did wrong on the first one could be disastrous. Do you think being forced into exile would finally be the wake up call humanity needs to change its parasitic ways? Share your thoughts in a comment.
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