VOICES PUSHPESH PANT G PARTHASARATHY ANAND NEELAKANTAN RAVI SHANKAR SHINIE ANTONY SADHGURU JAGGI VASUDEV THE NEW SUNDAY EXPRESS MAGAZINE BUFFET PEOPLE WELLNESS BOOKS FOOD ART & CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT JULY 28 2019 SUNDAY PAGES 12 Guardians of the Galaxy Exactly 50 years ago, man landed on the moon. Chandrayaan-2 will look for places to build lunar colonies. An astral colonisation race is on as climate change threatens the Earth, and countries and Space Moguls explore what lies beyond as a possible human habitat. Chandrayaan-2 Launched on July 22, 2019, by ISRO, the purpose of Chandrayan-2 is not just to map the moon’s surface but also to explore lunar craters and caves for water and gauge the possibility of establishing environmentally controlled lunar cities. T VIRGIN GALACTIC FOUNDER: Richard Branson NET WORTH: $5.1 billion TRANSPORTATION: SpaceShipTwo TYPE OF LAUNCH: Horizontal from mid-air plane CAPACITY: Six astronauts DESTINATION: Thermosphere, 62 miles high COST: $2,50,000 per person By RAVI SHANKAR his Chinese New Year was about fear, hope and sacrifice, not just for China but for the world. Now streaming on Netflix, The Wandering Earth, a dystopian tale about saving the Earth from a collapsing sun and directed by Frant Gwo, is the biggest grossing Chinese film in history with takings of £232 million in six days. It also broke another record as the highest-earning Chinese film on IMAX. Popular entertainment reflects the fears and hopes of the times. Ours, in this young century is planetary destruction. The hope is that science will be the saviour. The MaddAddam Trilogy , by Booker-winner Margaret Atwood—which incidentally has been adapted into a popular TV serial—also deals with the end of the world, caused by rising sea levels and environmental degradation. As far back in 1962, The Drowned World written by JG Ballard foretold a global apocalypse caused by global warming. Is Frant Gwo’s film a premonition? Will Atwood and Ballard be right? Countries such as India and the US are seeking habitable planets in outer space. The purpose of Chandrayaan-2 is not just to map the moon’s surface but also to explore lunar craters and caves for water and gauge the possibility of establishing environmentally controlled lunar cities. Virgin Group owner Sir Richard Branson and billionaires such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Tesla’s Elon Musk are spending great amounts of their combined wealth of £140 billion to find habitable planets. In June, an Australian environmental report concluded that life on Earth as we know it will end by 2020— over half the population will reel under 20 days a year of lethal heat, crop yields will drop by a fifth, the Amazon ecosystem will collapse, all Arctic ice will melt, sea levels will rise and over a billion people would be displaced. Diby- SPACE MOGULS endu Nandi, Professor and Principal Investigator of the Centre of Excellence in Space Sciences India at IISER, Kolkata, and Vice-Chair of the Space Weather Panel of the International Committee on Space Research, says, “In a few billion years, the Sun will run out of hydrogen that keeps it stable. It will enter a phase known as the Red Giant. It will expand and its atmosphere will engulf the inner planets, including Earth. We must make incremental progress today to be able to , face up to an uncertain future.” ELECTRIC DREAMS: Is there life after death? Sure. On another planet, if scientific imagination becomes real one day Both real life and fiction explore . redemption and idyll as ultimate rewards—an intergalactic Garden of Eden. Space scientists are already predicting holiday resorts and barbecues on the Moon. Sudip Bhattacharyya, Associate Professor at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, says, “The situation of spacefaring now is similar to seafaring in the 15th century . Most of the Earth’s surface was unknown. Some people stepped out investing whatever little wealth they had. The result was spectacular and rewarding.” In the 1920s, scientist John Desmond Bernal conceptualised the 10-milewide floating space colony— Bernal Sphere—with residential areas and farms. In the 1970s, the idea was advanced by physicist Gerard O’Neill—the constantly rotating O’Neill Colony accommodating one million people living in an Earth-like state of artificial gravity In 1975, Stanford . University participated in a NASA Summer Study to design the ring-shaped Stanford Torus Colony that could ‘permanently sustain life in space on a large scale’. Bezos is inspired by O’Neill’s vision—colonies constructed with material from lunar mines and run on power generated by using huge sunshinereflecting mirrors and solar panels. Mammoth electromagnetic catapults will aid propulsion. Bezos’ extraterrestrial vision is radical: massive future colonies housing a million residents each; and millions of such colonies housing trillions. Space taxis will ferry visitors. With paraterraforming, an Earth-like biosphere teeming with verdant parks, virgin forests and unpolluted lakes would be created on Mars, enclosed within an oxygenated bubble with the right air pressure. (Mars has an air pressure of just seven millibars. A person landing on it will float at an altitude of 21 Earth miles.) In 2013, ISRO launched Mangalyaan, harbinger of an interplanetary mission. In Musk’s words: “There is a strong argument for making life multi-planetary in order to safeguard the existence of humanity in the event that something catastrophic were to happen.” BOLD AND BOUNTIFUL: Environmental conscience is changing the way money is spent on researching alternate futures. And money is being made too. Over 10 years before Musk’s arrival on the scene, space pioneer Branson started Virgin Galactic—300 enthusiasts plonked down $2,00,000 each to book seats on the inaugural flight. Starting 2020, US space agency NASA will charge two dozen space tourists millions of dollars a year to spend a month on its $100 billion International Space Station (ISS). NASA chief Michael Griffin had said in September 2005, “The goal isn’t just scientific exploration… it’s also about extending the range of human habitat… We may well have people living on the Moon, or on the moons of Jupiter, and other planets, or even asteroids.” That was 14 years ago. Bhattacharyya says, “Things may not happen according to our initial imagination, but big changes will happen.” Now, NASA takes the three-seater Russian Soyuz spacecraft on hire to send US astronauts to the ISS and back at $80 million per trip or $35,000 per person per night for lodging, food, water and life support systems. A major chunk of the proceeds will go to private companies to develop spacecraft. The ISS is a hybrid commercial adventure by NASA and big Turn to page 2 SPACEX FOUNDER: Elon Musk NET WORTH: $19.2 billion TRANSPORTATION: Crew Dragon/Starship TYPE OF LAUNCH: Vertical CAPACITY: Seven astronauts /100 passengers DESTINATION: International Space Station (ISS)/Moon orbit COST: $35,000 a night at ISS BLUE ORIGIN FOUNDER: JEFF BEZOS NET WORTH: $165.4 billion TRANSPORTATION: New Shepard/New Glenn TYPE OF LAUNCH: Vertical CAPACITY: Not known DESTINATION: Thermosphere, 62 miles high COST: Not yet announced PAUL ALLEN STRATOLAUNCH SYSTEMS It is an air-launch platform to make access to space more convenient, reliable, and routine BAS LANSDORP MARS ONE Plans to send a group of people on a one-way trip to Mars by 2031 NAVEEN JAIN MOON EXPRESS Mulling to build an outpost on the Moon YURI MILNER BREAKTHROUGH STARSHOT To build new technology to launch an unmanned space flight at 21 percent of the speed of light to reach Proxima, the closest star to the solar system
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