Punk Science

Hello again my fellow punk scientists!
There has always been a human fascination with space. From the first landing on the moon to the discovery of water on mars, there has been no shortage of fantastic moments that have captured the wonder of those of us who remain here on earth and look up at the stars.
It’s been 48 years since humanity landed Apollo 17 on the moon, and for many, it appeared that our golden age of space exploration had come to an end with the lack of crewed space travel to a planet since.
All of this is about to change, however, as NASA has developed a new set of missions with a compelling goal; to build infrastructure and presence in space to prepare for a human-operated mission to Mars.
There are several innovative components to NASA’s new initiative, dubbed Artemis as a tribute to the original Apollo missions. To get to Mars, the astronauts first must make an interplanetary pit-stop on the moon.
This involves a brand-new series of astronaut delivery systems called the Space Launch System and Orion. Both spacecrafts are being designed so that they can safely and effectively land astronauts on the moon.
This isn’t the biggest news out there though, as NASA is looking to build a new space station called “Gateway” to create a sustainable point to operate from, the first real step to creating a full-on presence on the moon.
Until now, there have only ever been three kinds of lunar exploration. Rovers galore have been sent to earth’s smallest neighbor, and there have been humans on the moon six times between 1969 and 1972. The third, and final, form of lunar exploration comes in the form of our imaginations, with dreams of lunar beach houses flooding the minds of space nerds everywhere.
This may not be the realm of science fiction for long, however, as NASA has planned to have a sustainable presence on the moon by the end of the decade. To go along with that, the next astronaut mission to the moon will take place in 2024, and in an exciting bit of news, it will include the first woman to land on the moon, though she has yet to be selected for the mission.
All this infrastructure and preparation has a bigger goal in mind. It is hoped that as soon as these systems and missions have been completed that there will be a new opportunity for space-traveling humans that has never been done before: landing on Mars.
Crewed missions have not been sent out beyond the moon due in part to the lack of technology and a platform to jump off from, one that the Artemis missions are looking to provide.
This effort doesn’t belong solely to America. The Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency are all providing parts of the Gateway system, with Russia expressing an interest in participating as well.
Each space agency will deliver modules of the new space station such as communication equipment, robotic components or the actual place that astronauts will stay called the International Habitat.
Much of what has been learned for this endeavour comes from the continuous inhabitation of the International Space Station. Many of the technologies that have made that station viable have been revisited and enhanced to offer a new variety of space equipment that will make deeper exploration possible.
One such technology is the new life support systems that have been fashioned after the ones aboard the ISS. They are safer than the originals and require fewer spare parts. In addition, NASA has said that they will be 36% lighter, which will make them less of a burden on the shuttles that have to carry them into space.
While there is no official timeline beyond the end of the decade, it is possible that humanity could see the first people on Mars in the next 20 years. After that, it’s anyone’s guess as to where humanity will be able to go. Maybe we’ll find the secret to interdimensional travel or an alien civilization while we’re out there. One can only hope.
For now, that’s all the science we’ll be looking at this week. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment of Punk Science, where we’ll be looking at yet another fascinating area of science and technology. Until next time, farewell from Punk Science, where we’re making science cool again!