Why her (Space) Mission Matters

 

 

 

The drive to explore the universe has been the catalyst for generation of scientists and engineers to push technological boundaries and create an array of new inventions to get us there

We live in a world that is busy crumbling and filled with despair. Now more than before we are witnessing the fragility of the systems and the building blocks of our world. Many are struggling to survive and cope under such difficult conditions. This scenario is what moved Dr Adriana Marais to pursue her mission to go beyond our world.

She was chosen amongst more than 200 000 applicants to Mars. She then became one of 100 around the globe who was preparing for a trip to Mars. The trip by 100 aspirant astronauts was however cancelled after the organising company, Mars One, became bankrupt. Mars One was a startup company that received money from investors to land the first humans on Mars and leave them there to establish a permanent human colony. From its announcement in 2012 to its bankruptcy in early 2019, it is estimated to have received tens of millions of dollars. This however did not stop Dr. Adriana Marais from pursuing her goal of going beyond. Instead the Mars One project has inspired her to start her own organisation, Proudly Human, with a similar mission in a more sustainable approach. Many may wonder, why she is determined to go to space and  beyond. Why the Space mission matters?

According to Marais the very act of reaching out for something that seems impossible has an effect of moving us forward. This is evident when one looks at the by-products of the space race. The drive to explore the universe has been the catalyst for generation of scientists and engineers to push technological boundaries and create an array of new inventions to get us there.

In the movie Hidden Figures, we witness the creation of new, cutting-edge technology for the Space Race, technology that still has many applications to this day.

ARTIFICIAL LIMBS – Nasa led the way in robotics in order to remotely control space vehicles, and this technology has been successfully adapted to create more functionally dynamic artificial limbs.

WATER PURIFIER – Finding ways for astronauts to access a ready supply of drinking water is an ongoing challenge for Nasa engineers. Collaborating with commercial companies, they have developed systems for use on the International Space Station that turn waste water from respiration, sweat and urine into drinkable water. The technology is now been utilised in underdeveloped parts of the world where water may be heavily contaminated.

ADJUSTABLE SMOKE DETECTORS – Sensing early signs of fire is a vital consideration for the safety of astronauts and there is no room for error in detection. In the 1970s, Nasa instigated the invention of a smoke detector that could be adjusted to different sensitivity levels, to protect from false alarms. The development informed later designs of the inexpensive detectors we rely on today.

SATELITE TV – Before astronauts went into space, unmanned satellites were sent up on test flights to beam data back to Earth. The technology is now an essential part of our everyday lives, allowing long-distance communication via 200-odd satellites that currently orbit the globe each day.

 

Dr Marais  with her pursuit to go beyond has established an organisation that will prepare human beings for life on the moon, Mars and beyond. In the process of preparing for life beyond, her organisation is also developing technological solutions that may allow us to live in difficult environments even here on planet earth. Proudly Human takes up the challenge by applying knowledge of how we will live off-world to improve standards of living for people on earth.

Proudly Human’s Off-World Project is a series of settlement experiments in the most extreme environments on Earth to prepare for life on the Moon, Mars and beyond. Through grit, imagination, science and technology, the Off-World communities will demonstrate off-grid capabilities from life-support to communication systems, as well as community spirit, in the harshest imaginable conditions.

The Off-World Project will launch in Cape Town, where a group of carefully selected students and young entrepreneurs from the area will spend time inside an off-grid habitat produced from waste plastics. The team will manage their renewable power, water, food production, communication and healthcare systems, while working on their own research projects. The public will have the opportunity to interact with the community via live video and social media, and also to visit the habitat, placed in a public area in the city. Next is a location scout to the Danakil Desert in Ethiopia, the hottest place on average on Earth, where the plan is to run the first experiment, Off-World Ethiopia, next year.

When her mission is accomplished our world will be richer with solutions that address some of our complex challenges such as water shortage, food shortage, communication systems for the most rural parts of the world. The Off-World Project prepares for the  trip to Mars, Moon and other spaces beyond by creating settlement experiments in the most extreme environments. Such experiments will be key in the process of preparing for the world beyond. At the same time it will also facilitate the process of developing necessary solutions to enable life to exist in environments that are not livable currently.

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