THE MOON, MARS, NASA, AND THE INTERNETJune 5, 2014
Now, while we're on the subject of "strange space news," many of you sent me these articles, and I freely confess that I had to think about them for a long time before blogging about their contents. I do so today, not because my thoughts have achieved any state of consistency or organization, but because the story is important enough to put out there, along with my usual "high octane speculation."
The story, when you really think about it, is bizarre, for it seems that NASA is testing internet links to the Moon(to put the matter "country simple"):
My first thought, upon reading these two articles, and particularly the second one, was "Are they kidding? Internet to the Moon so they can play their favorite Facebook games and have video-chats with Houston":
"Space travel might just have got a little more entertaining, as any future colonists living on the Moon may be able to enjoy all the benefits of online access that their Earth-bound compatriots do, thanks to a new breakthrough by American researchers.
"Working with NASA, a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory has for the first time demonstrated that data communication technology that can provide those outside of our planet with the broadband connectivity currently in place on Earth.
"The connection is stable enough to enable large data transfers and even provide high-definition video streaming, meaning astronauts would be able to communicate with friends or colleagues back on earth via video chat.
"Alternatively, it could allow Moon dwellers to catch up on their favourite television shows, the researchers suggested."
Television shows. Internet. Video chats. How convenient, especially if one is planning a permanent presence on the Moon, or better, already has one (or many). Hence: my first high octane speculation. Given the idea that many have, including this author, that we're never told about such advances until long after they are in place and already functional, the revelation of the capability becomes rather suggestive, and notably, I'm not the one entertaining the high octane speculation in this case; the second article is the one doing so. And the bottom line of this revelation is clear: it represents a determination to make permanent human presence in space and on our celestial neighbors a real possibility. Additionally, it makes the idea more appealing. After all, why would one want to colonize the Moon if there were none of the creature comforts of home?
But I suspect there is much more going on here than meets the eye, and it's not just about the creature comforts of planet Earth.
Consider the boon and utility of such high-speed data transfer that is stable over long distances for space communications. More importantly, consider it in the context of yesterday's blog about the desire of some to archive humanity's most important and ancient texts. The ability to place radiation-shielded shelters for such texts on a nearby celestial body, along with the means to transfer those texts electronically rather than physically, would adequately serve the purpose(and provides a clue as to how it might have been done in the past). Similarly, we've seen recent stories about NASA using scanning technologies and 3D printing to scan objects on Mars, transmit the data to Earth, and print a replica of the object here. By the same token, one might conceive of a scenario of encountering something that looks like stored data, and with the ability to scan it, transmit it to Earth. It's a convenient technology to have around if, say, one were looking for holographic records of bygone eras, something like the Tablets of Destinies perhaps... but I won't go there. It's enough that this story comes out in the context of other stories about space-based archives on the Moon. I suspect you've already worked out all the potential high octane implications...
...See you on the flip side...