NASA Finds New Potential Evidence for Ancient Life on Mars

Since last April, astronomers have been turning their attention to the eastern sky before sunrise. They see the planets alternately marching from the eastern horizon to the zenith, an imaginary point in the sky that is perpendicular above the earth to the horizon.

One that was spotted last June was a rare occurrence: the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in alternating rows. The next chance to see these five planets come together is predicted to happen again in 2040.

The planetary parade is a special heavenly sight. This is possible because the planets in the Solar System revolve around the Sun in orbits that are almost in the same plane.

Five planets line up in space on June 23, 2022.
Bosscha Observatory ITB

When viewed from Earth, when the positions of these planets are connected by a line (projection) it looks like it forms a straight line.

The author still remembers that when the positions of the Earth, Sun, and several planets were almost aligned on May 5, 2000, the Bosscha Observatory of the Bandung Institute of Technology received many questions about the impact of this phenomenon. Some worry about a possible catastrophe on Earth due to the increasing force of gravity.

Although they appear to be aligned, these planets are actually very far from each other to affect each other. However, theoretically there is a gravitational influence that we can take advantage of in spacecraft missions.

Efficiency tactics for spaceships

Since the beginning of the development of space science and technology in the 1960s, the biggest and most frequently asked question has been how far an unmanned spacecraft (spacecraft) can travel in outer space.

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One of the obstacles in this type of aircraft is how to meet the energy needs to run the vehicle. The strategy for increasing mission coverage is to choose the most cost-effective trajectory, apart from efficiencies in the rocket combustion system (engine) and the construction of the spacecraft itself.

Given the enormous distances between the planets, in the 1950s and 1960s many experts were pessimistic that spacecraft could reach planets further than that. Mars.

To get away from the Sun, where the pull of gravity is so strong, with rocket designs that existed in the 1960s, it would take 30-40 years to reach Neptune.

Hopes to explore distant areas of the Solar System come alive through the ideas of space engineers Gary Flandro who then, in the 1960s, worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory – a NASA facility, USA.

Gary outlines mathematician’s work Michael Minovich about the “three things problem”. In this concept, a physical system consisting of three objects that interact gravitationally (attractive to each other) can be expressed mathematically as a complex problem. The solution also requires the help of a large computer.

This mathematical solution deals with the position of each object over time. Minovitch exploits this three-body problem for the purposes of space travel by assuming two large-mass objects (in this case a planet) at the same time interacting with a third-low-mass object (a spacecraft). At a certain position, the interaction of these three objects can catapult the lightest object to a considerable distance.

Flandro then carefully calculated the possible positions of the planets and spacecraft that would provide gravitational assistance (gravity assist). The goal is that the vehicle can be pushed to a further position without rocket power. It would be very advantageous if gravitational interactions did occur.

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In order to predict the positions of planets and spacecraft over time, Flandro needed accurate calculations. In this issue, we look again at how breakthroughs in mathematical engineering – through mathematical models – can solve physics problems. We also look at how computing technology helps speed up and accurately calculate complex, large, and iterative calculations.

In particular, Flandro used accurate predictions of the positions of several large planets for his purposes Voyager . space mission which was being prepared at the time. He had a prediction that in 1977 Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune would line up. If Voyager can arrive at a special position at the right time, then this spacecraft will enjoy gravity assistance in the form of a catapult throw (catapult shot) to be able to traverse the distant giant planets in a practical and fuel-efficient manner.

If successful, the journey across Neptune would be as short as twelve years. The problem is, the alignment of these large planets only occurs about once every 176 years.

So the Voyager mission was really pushed to launch and arrived at that vantage point on time.

Benefits for science and peace missions

Next up is the famous story about Explorer mission.

spacecraft cruise 2 launched on August 20, 1977 and Voyager 1 15 days later. The mission, now 45 years old, is an extension of the human eye for a close look at these giant planets. These two space probes even traverse some of the moons (natural satellites) of some of these large planets from a fairly close distance.

The detailed photographs of the surface features of the planet and its satellites that we receive on Earth not only amaze our minds, but also expand the range of questions about the universe. Many consider the Voyager’s most impressive gift to be photos taken while ‘looking back’ and looking at Earth from a distance.

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Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot.

The Earth that looks small and dim in that photo, by astronom Carl Sagan nicknamed Pale Blue Dot. He invites us to interpret Earth as our home, all of which we need to cherish and care for together. This is a great opportunity for reflection about our existence in the universe.

Voyager also brings gifts from Earth to the universe that contain messages of greeting and introduction about Earth and life on it, and of course humans as intelligent and cultured creatures.

One of the souvenirs Voyager brought from Earth was a number of 90-minute recordings of music, including music from Javanese Gamelan Gending Ketawang Puspawarna by Mangkunegoro IV.. Music These recordings are played in outer space to carry a message of peace to the entire universe.

Javanese music like this was performed by Voyager in 1977.

cruise 1 had left the heliosphere (sphere of influence of the Sun) in 2012, and Traveling 2 di 2018.

From then on, the two of them left the Solar System and began exploring the lonely but story-rich interstellar space of the universe. Vehicles still work and sometimes subtle messages are received on Earth.

Unfortunately, this time there were no space missions from America or other countries like the 1977 mission carried out by Voyager. Subsequent space missions focused on the Moon and Mars.

In 2040, it might be a good time to send out an efficient space mission, when the five planets appear together in a row in an imaginary line of celestial dots. Hopefully.

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