Tianwen No.1 has sent back selfies, when will you go to Mars?

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Tianwen No.1 has sent back selfies, when will you go to Mars?

The high-resolution image of the Mars landing area returned by Tianwen-1. The picture on the left is before landing, and the picture on the right is after landing. You can see the Tianwen-1 landing platform and the “Zhurong” rover. |National Space Administration

Why do we explore the moon and Mars? Was it true that the US moon landing more than 50 years ago? Where is the progress of mankind’s lunar exploration and fire detection programs today? With current evidence, is there life on Mars? Can we transform Mars to make it more livable?

In the special live broadcast of Popular Science China-Future Science “Space Exploration” on April 27th, researchers from the National Space Science Center Liu Yong, Kong Linggao and Zhou Binghong unveiled the two The mystery of a “near neighbor”.

Why explore the desolate moon?

The earth has an atmosphere and a magnetic field, which protect us humans from living on it. The moon’s atmosphere is very thin and close to a vacuum, and the magnetic field is less than one percent of the earth, which is very weak. This makes it difficult for the moon to block the impact of small celestial bodies, nor can it block cosmic radiation, and its surface is desolate and unsuitable for human survival. So, why are human beings so fascinated by lunar exploration?

Introduced by Kong Linggao, human beings can observe the changes of the moon’s cloudy, clear and round with the naked eye, which will naturally arouse people’s curiosity and drive us to explore the moon.

Another important factor is that the earth’s population is growing rapidly. If humans want to develop sustainably, they need to expand their scope of activities, so they want to go to the moon to see if there are any available resources. For example, helium-3 is a very clean and efficient nuclear fusion fuel. 100 tons of helium-3 can be used for power generation for the earth for one year; because the moon has no atmosphere and magnetic field protection, the solar wind can directly hit the surface of the moon, making helium- 3 It is enriched in lunar soil and ore, and the reserves are currently estimated to be about 1 million tons.

Zhou Binghong introduced that there is another reason for us to explore the moon, that is, the moon is much smaller than the earth, and its surface gravity is only about 1/6 of that of the earth, so it is easier to take off from the lunar surface. Therefore, the moon can be used as a transit point for mankind to explore deep space in the future.

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Although the moon is desolate , But it contains abundant resources, and can also be used as a transit station for deep space exploration. |SETI.org

Where is the progress of human lunar exploration?

The moon is so close to us, but so far, only 12 American astronauts have landed on the moon, and some people even doubt it. Is the US moon landing real? Where is the progress of human lunar exploration?

Zhou Binghong believes that from the perspective of systems engineering, whether the US moon landing is true or not, may not be particularly important. More importantly, in order to land on the moon, the United States developed a huge lunar exploration program, the Apollo program, and conducted a series of tests such as flying around the moon, just like our Chang’e project today. In addition, later evidence showed that there were footprints and excrements of astronauts on the moon, and these traces were still there because there was no weathering on the earth.

Liu Yong introduced that the United States actually did a lot of preparatory work before landing on the moon. For example, the pioneer plan to explore the moon failed many times in succession. A plan that has failed so many times and spent so much money, on a large scale, it should be true. In aerospace, people often say that failure is actually a little bit of success, and success is actually a little bit of failure. This process of exploration is very important.

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1969, Humans set foot on the moon for the first time. The picture on the left shows Aldrin taken by Armstrong on Apollo 11 Aerospace. The picture on the right shows the Apollo 15 astronaut using the lunar rover.

The moon is our outpost for exploring the deep space of the universe and heading towards the sea of ​​stars. When can we build a lunar base?

Zhou Binghong introduced that the lunar exploration project is divided into several steps. The first is to master some key technologies, such as sampling and return technology, and determine where to find resources and water; now the goal is very clear, and all countries are focusing Look for water in the south pole of the moon. The second step is to establish a lunar research station, verify these key technologies, and prepare for the construction of a lunar base. The third step is to build a lunar base. All major projects will have a process from immaturity to maturity. According to this context, we need about ten years to complete the first two steps.

Among the planets in the solar system, Venus is closer to the earth. Why don’t we explore Venus and have a soft spot for Mars?

Introduced by Kong Linggao, the important reason for humans exploring Mars is that Mars is very similar to the Earth, and its rotation period is close to that of the Earth, which is about 24 hours. There are also day and night, and the seasons alternate. It is said that there may be life on Mars, and even life on Earth may come from Mars.

For example, some studies have found that the environment during the period of life on the earth is actually very harsh. There are constant asteroid impacts, volcanic lava is everywhere, and the temperature is very high. On the contrary, at that time, the climate on Mars was warm and humid. There are a large number of rivers and lakes, which are especially suitable for nurturing life. Therefore, people speculate that it is possible that life was born on Mars, and then a small celestial body hit Mars, and the fragments that were knocked out carried life matter, and after a long journey, they brought the seeds of life to the earth.

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As for why not To detect Venus, Liu Yong introduced that Venus is closer to the earth, but the surface of Venus has a dense atmosphere, mainly carbon dioxide. These greenhouse gases make the surface temperature of Venus up to more than 400 degrees. Coupled with atmospheric pressure, you can imagine that it is a pressure cooker. . The Soviet Union once launched a probe to Venus, and it hung up less than a minute after landing. It can be seen that the environment of Venus is very harsh.

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The surface of Venus has Extreme climate environment. (Artistic image)|NASA

Zhou Binghong compared the difficulty of detecting the moon, Mars and Venus from the perspective of space technology. He introduced that from the perspective of flight difficulty, going to Venus is much more difficult than Mars and the moon, because Venus is closer to the sun, and the rocket speed increment required to go there is actually higher. Relatively speaking, the difficulty of rocket flight to Mars and the moon is actually about the same, except that the moon is about 400,000 kilometers away from the earth. Question 1 took more than half a year to fly 450 million kilometers to reach Mars.

However, landing and taking off on the surface of Mars is much more difficult than on the moon. This is because the moon is much smaller than Mars, and its gravitational force is also small, so it is easy to brake on the surface of the moon, and it is more difficult to brake on Mars; similarly, to get rid of the constraints of gravity, it is more difficult to take off from Mars and requires a larger rocket. So humans have not yet taken a sample from Mars. Now, the United States and Europe have a plan to take samples from Mars. You need to launch a rocket to collect Mars samples, then use another rocket to send the samples to Mars orbit, and then use a rocket to return the samples from Mars orbit to Earth, like a relay. Same to complete.

Until now, there is no clear evidence that there is life on Mars. But what do we need to detect before we can find life matter on Mars?

Kong Linggao believes that if organic macromolecules are detected, it must indicate the existence of life on Mars, but it has not yet been seen. In addition, scientists have observed changes in the concentration of methane on Mars. We know that many life activities are closely related to methane, such as digestion, biological decay, and archaeal activities, which all produce methane gas, so this may also be an evidence of the existence of life.

Zhou Binghong introduced that the theme of Mars exploration is gradually evolving, from the initial search for life to the study of whether the environment on Mars is suitable for life, or whether it has been suitable for life in history, and that is, Is it possible to transform Mars to make it more habitable?

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People imagine that The red Mars is transformed into the blue earth, making it the second home of human beings in the future. | Daein Ballard

As for the environment on Mars, we currently know that there is indeed water on Mars, mainly in the form of water ice, and some in liquid form. These are brines, which means that the salt content is very high. Of water. There are two hypotheses about the origin of water on Mars: one thinks that there is water on Mars, it is water produced by the chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen on Mars; the other is that the impact of small foreign celestial bodies brings water. .

From this perspective, because Mars has water, an atmosphere and a magnetic field, it is not susceptible to asteroid impacts and space particle radiation. Compared with the moon, the establishment of scientific research stations on Mars also has unique advantages.

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North and South of Mars The poles are covered with ice caps, which are made of a mixture of dry ice and water ice. The picture on the left shows the north pole of Mars in summer, and the picture on the right shows the south pole of Mars. |NASA/JPL/MSSS

The sea of ​​stars, where the heart is. When can we ordinary people fly into space, or even take a trip to the moon?

Zhou Binghong introduced that ordinary people have to go to heaven, and there are three main problems at present. The first is that people may feel lonely psychologically. The second is whether humans can adapt to the microgravity environment, because the gravitational force in space is very weak and people will float up. Now it seems that this is not very difficult for healthy people. Hawking had been in a weightless plane before, and the plane flew in a parabola. After turning off the engine, it entered a state of microgravity, which lasted for a few minutes.

The third involves rocket technology. Because space travel often requires multi-stage rockets, multi-stage rockets will have the problem of front arrow coupling vibration, especially when low-frequency vibration or even a few hertz vibration occurs, the internal organs of the human body will resonate together, which is not only bad for the rocket, but also Sitting inside will also feel very uncomfortable. Yang Liwei encountered this problem before when he went to heaven, but with that experience, our country later solved this problem well.

Since the Apollo project in the 1970s, humans have never landed on the moon. But now with the vigorous development of aerospace technology and space exploration technology, returning to the moon may not be far away. Even in the future, on the two magnificent planets of the Moon and Mars, there may be human extraterrestrial bases that will support us to fly deeper into the universe.

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Humanity returns The moon may not be far away. |therift