Science Fiction

Topics: Solar System, Asteroid, Space exploration Pages: 8 (2454 words) Published: June 21, 2013
Cebu Institute of Technology – University
Cebu City, Philippines

Science Fiction: Space Technology

Kendrick A. Mendiola

A Research Paper in English
presented to:

Mrs. Raniza R. Romero

February 7, 2008

Science Fiction: Space Technology

Many ancient people, including the Aztecs, Egyptians, and the builders of Stonehenge, were interested in astronomy. Their writings and architecture indicate they studied the moon’s phases and movement. They related the position and the perceived movement of the sun to earth and its seasons. Some chartered the stars, identifying the constellations. Through the ages, scholars suggested various explanations for the makeup, movement, and relationship to earth of these heavenly bodies. Like us today, they wanted to know more about those distant objects, but a lack of technology limited their ability to learn. Over the centuries, scientists like Galileo and Newton described the structure of the solar system and the movement of the planets. Inventions such as the telescope permitted them to see the moon’s craters, the canals on Mars, Saturn’s rings, and other intriguing details. This knowledge increased their curiosity about the moon, sun, and planets, and they longed for more information. They even dreamed of expeditions across space to encounter them first-hand. In the early years of the space program, lightweight batteries, fuel cells, and solar modules provided electric power for space missions. As missions became more ambitious and complex, power needs increased and scientists investigated various options to meet these challenging power requirements. By the mid-1950s, research had begun in earnest on ways to use nuclear power in space. These efforts resulted in the first radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), which are nuclear power generators built specifically for space and special terrestrial uses. These RTGs convert the heat generated from the natural decay of their radioactive fuel into electricity. The low-power devices are designed to supplement a craft’s primary non-nuclear power source, but as the technology progressed, they soon began shouldering many missions’ entire power needs. Today, RTG-powered spacecraft are exploring the outer planets of the solar system and orbiting the sun and earth. They have also landed on Mars and the moon. They provide the power that enables us to see and learn about even the farthermost objects in our solar system. Thus, science fictions on space technology came into existence because of the endless imagination of man. This research would serve as an evaluation of these science fictions. This study will explore just three: terraforming mars, asteroids as outposts, and space farming.

Terraforming Mars

This is the idea that no single technique for terraforming Mars can work in isolation, and that only a combination of several technologies, requiring a massive industrial effort on both the plant’s surface and in space, can hope to succeed. McKay wrote a two-phase approach to terraforming, in which the planet is first warmed by a massive release of carbon dioxide, followed by a modification of the atmosphere to scrub out the carbon dioxide and increase the oxygen content in order to support complex life. The time scale for such a two-phase approach was estimated to be about 100 years for the first step and up to 100, 000 years for the second. McKay explicitly stated in his paper that he had limited consideration in his study to technologies that were not far beyond the current state-of-the-art. The fact that a scenario for the full terraforming of Mars can be conceived within the parameter of space of current planetological models, and without violating any known laws of physics, demonstrates that such an idea is, at least, feasible in principle. To bring such a project to fruition would require engineering capabilities greater than those of the present day, but not necessarily out of the question for a future...
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