Other Worlds on Earth: Preparing for Space from Home

Other Worlds on Earth: Preparing for Space from Home


This episode is sponsored by The Ridge. Go to ridge.com/space and use promo code “SCISHOW” to get 10% off your next order. [♪ INTRO] As much as space inspires us to imagine and
explore, it doesn’t exactly welcome that exploration. You’ve got deadly radiation, extreme cold,
lack of oxygen, and those are just the start. Some of the most tempting destinations in
our solar system are home to the most
hostile environments you can imagine. But Earth also has its fair share of hostile
places. And we can use them to prepare space probes and even astronauts for some of the most
unwelcoming places in our solar system. And that includes our nearest neighbor, the Moon. Even though it’s the one other world humans
have walked on, the idea of something like a lunar colony is still a major challenge. Any long-term explorers would need protection from radiation and the constant shower of micrometeorites, because unlike on Earth,
there’s no atmosphere to burn them up. But the Moon itself might have the perfect
hideaway. Back in 2012, NASA’s GRAIL spacecraft created
a high-resolution map of the moon’s gravity, which reflected differences in density under
the surface. The map revealed huge underground voids on
the near side of the moon. They seemed to be in shape of tunnels, some of them dozens of kilometers long and hundreds of meters wide. Astronomers think these voids are massive
lava tubes. Lava tubes can form when cool air solidifies
the outer layer of a lava flow. When the molten rock inside drains away,
it forms a natural tunnel. And these giant lunar lava tubes could be
the perfect refuge for humans. Not only could they house a whole city, they could provide shelter from radiation, micrometeorites, and the Moon’s extreme temperatures. So, scientists like those at JAXA, the Japan
Aerospace Exploration Agency, are considering building our first lunar cities
inside lava tubes. It’s a pretty dramatic idea, but fortunately,
we can do a practice run. Here at home, we also have lava tubes in volcanically active places like Hawai’i, Iceland, and the Canary Islands. The tubes are smaller because Earth’s stronger gravity collapses any that get too big, but they still make
a pretty great laboratory. In Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, lava
tubes stretch more than 8 kilometers in length. They go from openings in the surface
to more than 50 meters below sea level. And inside, the European Space Agency has been training future astronauts and mission specialists since 2016. The trainees work alongside robots inside
these volcanic caverns, and practice using pioneering technology to do things like map the cave systems and look for signs of water and life. These are techniques that will keep them alive
and help them scope out the alien environments they might one day encounter on the Moon. As barren as it is, the volcanic landscape
of Lanzarote is charming compared to some of the more hostile environments in the solar system, like Mars. Even though it’s our most-visited planet, we still struggle to answer the one basic question that keeps drawing us back: Has it
ever had life? Mars’s surface is unbelievably dry and cold, and its thin atmosphere means that its soil can’t catch a break from radiation. So if it has life at all, it’s probably microscopic and buried beneath the surface for protection. And NASA is developing a rover that they hope
will be able to detect life like this. And luckily we have just the place on Earth to
test it out. The Atacama Desert in Chile is one of the
driest places on Earth. Some areas get just 1 to 3 millimeters of rain a year. Between this and the chemical makeup of its soil, it’s about as close to a Martian environment
as you can get on our muggy planet. The microscopic Atacaman life is forced to
live underground, where the last drops of water might persist. Now, scientists are using a rover to look
for these buried microbes, just like we would on Mars. The Atacama Rover Astrobiology Drilling Studies
project, or ARADS, has designed a rover that can drill down as much as 2 meters, through soil, salt, and rock, and return samples to its onboard lab. NASA hopes to be able to detect signs of life
from these samples, and this test run will tell us if a rover like this could pull off the same stunt on Mars. Much deeper in the solar system, scientists
are eyeing Jupiter’s icy moon Europa as another target for robotic explorers. Astronomers believe the moon has a liquid
ocean, and, as far as we can tell, liquid water is the number-one requirement for life. The thing is, that water and any life it contains are buried beneath a 20 kilometer-thick crust of ice. Which is kind of inconvenient, but maybe not
impossible. Right now, scientists are training robots
using our own ice-covered ocean, the Antarctic. A team at Georgia Tech has developed a long-range,
underwater rover called Icefin. It’s about 3.5 meters long
but just 23 centimetres wide, which lets it slide into narrow boreholes that the scientists drilled in the ice. This robotic explorer can then dive beneath
the Antarctic ice shelf and navigate on its own, all the while surviving freezing temperatures,
crushing pressure, and unpredictable currents. But it can do much more than just survive. Instruments onboard Icefin can take high-resolution measurements of the environment. And that’s exactly what we’ll need any
Europan explorer to do, if we want to get a picture of this alien ocean and figure out if it’s habitable, or even inhabited. Of course it’ll take more research before
we’re ready to launch an underwater drone to an icy moon more than 600 million kilometers
from home. So Icefin itself won’t make it to Europa. But its great-grandchild might. In the meantime, Icefin’s measurements are helping us understand and document the melting of Antarctic glaciers. It turns out that in reaching for space, we’re also learning about some of the most amazing places on Earth. And preparing for hostile worlds gives us even more reason to appreciate the one world in this solar system that actually does welcome
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86 COMMENTS

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    yes it does, try to go into hell's kitchen when it has been sweltering hot for a week and you look prim and proper.. that is a good hostile environment to train in..cool go to the moon and crawl into the tunnels.. This is all way cool.. But my question is why are we spending all this money to find life.. How will finding life change anything here at home..let's just get there and then when we have the time, see if we can find life.. I know that some of the experiments to find life are actually designed to see if we can survive on other planets.. Looking for water and minerals and such.. but the pure "let's find life" experiments seem to me to be holding us back a bit.. if we could pour our time and money into one goal, getting man to the moon and to mars.. it might happen faster.. I am getting old now and want to see a base on the moon at least before I die.. Well, carry on, be safe and thanks for all of these video's you put out.. I enjoy them immensely!

    Lanzarote pronounced lanza rottay btw Los Angeles should be with a hard g like angle the place where two lines meet Los An- gelays

    Lava tubes can form when cool air solidifies the out layer of a lava flow.Did the moon have air at some time?Or am i thinking to much into the tubes and a slip of the tongue?

    Mars probably was habitable much sooner . The fact that the water evidence sea rive beds gullies sediments are still around. At speed of the Martian wind.
    And at rate Mars is loosing it's atmosphere. How far back in time before atmosphere become thick.

    If we find remains animal life even human level life on Mars or advance life under the ice of Europa. Be or air Born Bacteria or fungi's in Venues atmosphere Does it really mean life common in the Galaxy.
    I mean you wouldn't need a hyper drive to travel between those worlds water bear could be a jump over many filters. And if their was intelligent species in solar system before use. Mars or. Earth a billion ago and Gama Ray Burst wiped out all life on Earth accept microbes deap in the ground.

    My nagging question lately is whether or not low (moon/mars) gravity will have horrific side effects. That could end our dreams real quick.

    I would like for them to find some microbes somewhere on Mars. But I'm more interested in making Mars another planet supporting as much biodiversity as Earth.

    Me while watching the video:

    Ey! They are talking about lava tubes, like the ones in my island.
    Woow! They named the Canary Islands where I come from. Cool!
    Wait wait wait, what? They are training astronauts in MY ISLAND and I didn't know???! AWESOME!

    Scientists build all there models, assuming that the speed of light is constant throughout the all universe !!
    This is fifty fifty the last time I checked.
    fifty fifty!
    It's really ridiculous!

    Science is Make believe!?

    LOve and Light

    The response of a flat earther watching this video:
    "See, I told you space was fake. Here's them admitting they fake space."
    Man are flerfers idiots. Science is awesome. Space is awesome. You're awesome.
    The earth is a globe.

    The more weird places we explore the more prepared we will be for weird things found elsewhere.
    Edit was to correct spelling.

    Seeing Caitlin present SciShow videos always brings a smile to my face. She is so likeable and cute.

    Any long term stay on the moon would be hard. Considering the low gravity. The astronauts kept falling down. I think building a docking bay in space would be a better option and ability to build ships there. Storage place on the moon would be handy though. And robotic refinement of materials if possible. since it's not hard to launch something into space from the moon.

    Earth has Earrthlings, Mars had (possibly has) Martians therefore I deduce that should there be life on Europa they will be called Europeans.

    Question: From what I have heard in documentaries, and PLEASE correct me of any ignorance i portray, Snail fish are the deepest dwelling fish and vertebrate in the ocean. No other vertebrates are found below the depth they are because of the water pressure destabilizing the proteins in their cells. So if Europa does have an ocean, then what effect would the extra pressure have on simple multi cell life or single cell life. Certainly they are far more resistant than vertebrates but don't all cells have similar basic laws of operation where species limits are set, protein structure stability, osmosis, and other basic cell functions? What depth or pressure would the most resilient life form at the deepest possible part of our planet be able to withstand on Europa, and by extension how would the evolution of potential life occur at such vast depths and pressures. Would chemistry function the same? What is the maximum pressure of the proteins that make up the most basic amino acids needed for the simplest life form? Sorry, I was very much hated in school and never quite grew out of the 1000 questions so I'll stop now:) Thanks for the great video I cant wait till we have some form of eyes on Europa, and how the heck we are going to get through 20km of ice when we have issues and technical problems all the time drilling here on Earth.

    In order to practice for exploring Venus, scientists need to do something unspeakably evil and then die. That place is as close to a description of Hell as you can get!

    Wow I had an idea of building a tunnel under the moon to make shelters and build a launchpad on the moon for a long time ago. I thought it was a good idea and finally someone creative enough manage to think that through…

    I'm sure a lava tube is a nice place to live, but they'll need rebranding. I just hear General Grievous, "I am sending you to the Mustafar system in the outer rim. It is a volcanic planet. You will be safe there."

    Maybe we should practice terraforming our hostile environments here on earth… like reversing desertification around the Sahara?

    Earth's hostile places have air and heat during the day. Also gravity that matches the human body. Mars has none of these things so the tests are mostly useless.

    Problem is we cannot prepare for the way lower gravity of Mars by putting people in arctic deserts. Many months of low gravity is very unhealthy, we need close to Earth gravity to be healthy.

    could you use the magnetosphere to generate electricity by making copper tube around the poles and moving iron magnates thru them? the same thing should then be able to spin the iron core back up, like a flywheel in an engine….????

    we need to spin mars iron core, to make a magnetosphere. that will protect whatever atmosphere we are able to make. i think this can be done by putting massive amounts of energy into the poles.

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