How Star Trek Is Inspiring NASA's Journey to Mars

Sunday, 03 July 2016 - 11:05AM
Space
Science of Sci-Fi
Mars
Sunday, 03 July 2016 - 11:05AM
How Star Trek Is Inspiring NASA's Journey to Mars
Star Trek has predicted and inspired countless modern technologies, notably the cell phone, the tablet, and (possibly) portable medical scanners. But as it turns out, Star Trek is still inspiring cutting-edge technology in ongoing scientific projects, including NASA's imminent Journey to Mars.

At the Escape Velocity Convention in Washington DC this weekend, experts including NASA's David Israel and Greg Williams discussed the progress of the Journey to Mars, explaining how ongoing missions like ARM, SLS, and more all feed into the same goal.

Opening quote
"The journey to Mars has already begun," Williams said at the Symbiotic Relationship Between Science and Science Fiction panel. "Mars is the right next place to go for humans."
Closing quote

He explained that Mars' environment has many elements that make it relatively friendly towards life, including frozen water, oxygen in the atmosphere, and manageable amounts of radiation. But there are still many obstacles towards a mission to Mars, and Star Trek may actually help us solve a few of them. 

First, NASA is looking to improve food in space by making a real-life facsimile of the replicator from Star Trek--using microbes.  didn't provide many details, but Israel stated that NASA is "working with microbes that will use organic matter to synthesize meat-like products." He explained that actual meat could never satisfactorily travel through space from Earth, since the taste and texture wouldn't really survive the freezing process, but this way, astronauts could actually make "meat" in space.

There's also the issue of building advanced enough spaceships that can sustain human life through the long and dangerous spaceflight to the Red Planet. According to Israel, spaceships in the near future will be moving away from windows and towards screens that show what's outside as well as "convey much more information than you can get by just looking out the window."

But that being said, windows still serve a very important function. The crew on the ISS looks out the window to feel more connected to Earth, and just generally makes them feel less claustrophobic. "We'll never get rid of windows completely," Israel clarified, "if for no other reason than the crew's mental health."
Science
NASA
Space
Science of Sci-Fi
Mars

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