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Maree’s musings

August 24, 2021 August 2021, Regular Features No Comments

FROM OUT THERE …

Space travel’s been in the news lately. Of course, it’s nothing new, but just now when any sort of travel is out of bounds for most mortals [thanks, Co-vid], the thought of going very far away appeals. Way back in 1961, Yuri Gagarin was the first person to orbit the earth and just eight years later, walking on the moon became A Thing. 

And as I write, less than a month has passed since Jeff Bezos with his guests flew his very own rocket 106km above the earth, following Richard Branson nine days before. ‘Best day ever!’ was Bezos’ comment when he landed. In fact the trip lasted only ten minutes, give or take; which was not really much time to reflect on the mess the ‘blue marble’ they temporarily left behind is in.

I’m sure it would have been impossible to see forests on fire or the odd flood [gosh, we had one or two at the time] even if they had been looking instead of enjoying zero gravity and focussing on avoiding orbiting space junk. Our own little islands would have been hard to spot, especially under those rain clouds. And what about the vast areas of land destroyed and not capable of sustaining life? The war zones. Places ravaged by Co-vid. Sad.

Future jaunts are inevitable. There are already space stations with crews on board planned to keep the ISS one, launched 22 years ago, company. All in the name of scientific research, or possibly with a military purpose. That’s worrying. You’d think we have enough strife going on down here without adding ‘space squabbles’ to the mix! 

Over the years, we’ve left a lot of junk which is merrily orbiting along with thousands of satellites. About 3000 of these have ‘died’, apparently, and no-one wants to take responsibility for them. I guess it’s good that there are ways and means of waste disposal, especially considering us back on earth are pretty abysmal at it. 

Some of the bits, politely called debris, are cajoled out of orbit, burn up in the atmosphere and with a bit of luck, any residue falls into the South Pacific Ocean, which is known as the Spacecraft Cemetery and ‘as far from civilisation as you can get’. Interesting that the area is about as far from NZ as Australia is. I hope their aim is good then! 

Another question. Is there life out there? Surely there is, considering the size of the universe which nobody knows as it keeps getting bigger. Remember when experts wondered if there was life on Mars? Now it’s almost a tourist spot, ‘little green men’ have become mere comic book constructs. UFO sightings keep us guessing though. I wonder what beings from other solar systems would think of earthlings gorging KFC while watching TV and getting grumpy when the Tokyo Olympic coverage takes over the Coro St slot? With any sense, they’d take one look at the mess we’ve made and fly home.  

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