Monday, November 21, 2011

Cloudy Skies

stars against a velvetine sky This Friday we send plutonium to Mars. Lately, I've been asking myself why we aren't accomplishing more in space. We have an international space station in orbit but haven't really made much progress since the Apollo missions (which used the most powerful rocket yet, Saturn V). Part of the reason is fuel. Liquid fuel can be turned on and off. It can be used in more precise maneuvers. Solid fuel burns continuously, all at once, yet allows for lighter, less complicated rockets to be built. But, one of the most recent concerns is space junk:

Why so wasteful? Because we can. Because our abundance allows us the luxury of waste. Flight paths have to be carefully corrected in order to avoid crashing into this junk which is rocketing around the earth at 20 times the speed of sound. In order to protect the space craft from the debris, they must be made more impact resistant which makes them heavier. This extra weight in turn requires more fuel. We instead squander our last 50 years of liquid fuel miserably commuting individually. We spend even more fuel to create Genetically Modified Organisms for human consumption to replace the biodiverse plant life which was once abundantly available on our planet. The fruit of our abundance:

Earth now wears a trash halo.

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