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Astrobiology

Astrobiology, an interdisciplinary scientific field, focuses on geochemical and biochemical processes that lead to the emergence and evolution of life in the universe. In clearer terms, it investigates the habitability of “potentially inhabited planets” in the universe. While doing so, it concentrates on examining the biological origin, evolution, distribution, and future of living organisms. Collaborations with individuals from various disciplines such as physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and climatology are integral to these studies.

Astrobiology is a relatively recent and evolving field. NASA prepared its first astrobiology project in 1959 and established its astrobiological program in 1960. In 1971, NASA initiated the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project, aiming to detect the presence of messages from extraterrestrial civilizations or distant planets. The project focused on investigating potential extraterrestrial intelligent life, particularly through the listening of radio-electric signals.

Mars meteor ALH84001 shows microscopic formations that may belong to a living thing.

In the present day, Mars, due to its proximity to Earth and geological history, is the planet where the most significant investment in the exploration of life is made within the specialized research field of astrobiology. Research has provided evidence of past liquid on the surface of Mars, intensifying the focus on these studies.

NASA has identified 7 fundamental goals for astrobiology:

  • Understanding the nature and distribution of habitable environments in the universe.
  • Exploring habitable environments, prebiotic chemistry, and signs of life in their current and past states within our solar system.
  • Investigating how life could arise based on cosmic and planetary indicators.
  • Understanding the interaction of Earth’s life with changes in planetary systems and the solar system in the past.
  • Understanding the environmental limits and evolutionary mechanisms of life.
  • Understanding the principles that shape the future of life on Earth and in other environments.
  • Defining how signs of life on Earth and other worlds can be recognized.

While exploring the possibility of life on other planets, it is useful for astrobiologists to make some simplifying assumptions, even if their accuracy is not yet known, to narrow down their field of study and lighten their workload.

Celestial Bodies Where Life Could Form

According to the current general consensus, essential conditions for the emergence of life on a planet often include the presence of liquid water, nitrogen, carbon, and silicon. In addition, the planet’s orbit should be stable in the “habitable zone” in its solar system.

Life in the Solar System

It is still unknown whether there is a hot, rocky, mineral-rich planet similar to Earth in our solar system. Based on available data, the three most promising candidates for hosting life in our solar system, apart from Earth, are the planet Mars, Jupiter’s moon Europa, and Saturn’s moon Titan.

The photograph taken by the Mars Global Surveyor probe on September 10, 2005 (on the right) reveals the formation of a whitish deposit similar to water ice that was not present in the photograph from August 30, 1999 (on the left). This indicates the presence of liquid water flow on the surface.

Theories of the End of Earth Life

Considering that living molecules on Earth appeared 3.8 billion years ago and will disappear 3 billion years later, humanity is still in its infancy. In this process, it is discussed how life on earth will end. Our home in the universe will eventually undergo major change.
In his poem The Hallow Men, written by T.S.Elliot, he said that the end of the world would happen slowly, not with an explosion but with a groan.
One assumption is that any massive star, planet or black hole that comes too close to the solar system could be catastrophic for Earth.
According to another scenario, Mercury could also bring about the end of our planet. Our planet may be destroyed as a result of Mercury hitting the Earth.
A disaster of this scale has happened before. As a result of a Mars-sized planet hitting the Earth 4.5 billion years ago, the debris that was thrown from the Earth into space formed the Moon.
A supernova explosion in our immediate vicinity bombarding the Earth with gamma rays was an event that could completely end life. We would also like to talk about a similar hypernova explosion. Some scientists think that a hypernova explosion in the Milky Way caused the second known large-scale disaster in Earth history. The Ordovician Silurian mass extinction event, which took place 443 million years ago and lasted 3 million years, caused the extinction of 85 percent of the world’s species and many species, including photosynthetic plants living on earth.
What awaits us in that theory, ‘slow extinction’ mentioned in Elliot’s poem?

We know that climate change has occurred many times throughout world history. A major change in the climate we currently experience could lead to the collapse of civilization and we could witness the gradual end of humanity. However, unless we suffer an unexpected disaster, the end of the world will not come suddenly. As the continental plates move in balance and order, the mountains will disappear as they disappear from the earth.

The Fermi Paradox

It can be difficult to realize that the space of which we are a tiny part is vast. This is hard to imagine… As living beings on Earth, we always raise the question of whether we are alone in the huge universe. The universe exists beyond the limits of our perception. In this news, we will delve into these issues a little.

The Fermi Paradox emerged in 1950, while the famous Italian physicist Enrico Fermi was working at the Los Alamos national laboratories, during a conversation between him and his colleagues. Considering how big the universe is, it is quite possible that there is life somewhere out there, but it expresses the paradox that we still have not encountered any life form on this planet that is four and a half billion years old.

‘’The size and age of the universe indicate that many technologically advanced civilizations must exist. However, this hypothesis is inconsistent due to the lack of observable data to support it,” says Fermi.

The first part of the paradox involves dimensions and numbers. As far as we can observe in the universe, it is estimated that there are approximately 10 to the 22 (sextillion) to 10 to the 24 (septillion) stars.

The second part is about the spread of intelligent life to other planets and stars. At least a small portion of intelligent creatures will, one way or another, go into space like us, want to access resources in space, and form their own colonies. Then, sooner or later, they will reach other star systems.

Although it is difficult for us intelligent creatures to reach other stars, we have the opportunity to send robotic vehicles. According to the comment of Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev; A civilization existing in the universe will, over time, develop enough to use all the energy of the stars. And just as we are now sending radio signals willingly or unintentionally throughout space, they will be sending out many more and much stronger signals than ours. Even if such advanced civilizations are very rare, the fact that just one of them existed in the past and then disappeared will leave behind great evidence of their existence.

In this case, it is up to us to get rid of this paradox and discover extraterrestrial civilizations.

Although there should be hundreds or even thousands of extraterrestrial civilizations discovered in our resources, the fact that we cannot detect them is of course not only due to us. Maybe the beings in that civilization do not want to investigate our world, our system and us, maybe they cannot communicate with us due to the difference in our technologies, maybe we have already been discovered but cannot communicate with us for reasons we do not know. They don’t set it up.

To solve the Fermi Paradox, we hope that one day we will encounter an extraterrestrial civilization, we can communicate and open the doors to new universes.

Ignition Test of the Indigenous Rocket Engine to be Used in the Moon Mission was Conducted

DeltaV, a company conducting research and developments on chemical rocket propulsion systems, has successfully conducted the ignition test of its newly developed hybrid rocket engine. This engine will be used for a lunar landing mission as part of the Moon Exploration Program (MEP), which is carried out in collaboration with the Turkish Space Agency and is one of the goals of the Turkish National Space Program.

Arif Karabeyoğlu, the CEO of the company, was also involved in the development of the hybrid engine, which aims to use paraffin, the raw material of wax, as the fuel. The use of paraffin, an easily accessible and processable substance, as a solid rocket fuel in the hybrid engine is considered a revolutionary approach. This propulsion technology is a system discovered by Arif Karabeyoğlu and has been under development for years.

In a statement made on January 10, DeltaV announced, “With our innovative technology, we have created the world’s highest thrust density hybrid rocket engines,” and shared the video of the ignition test.

In 2021, the ignition of high thrust density hybrid rockets was achieved, followed by the first ignition of the Hybrid Propulsion System (HPS) developed for orbit operations in 2022. In 2023, DeltaV achieved the milestone of surpassing 100 km altitude using paraffin/liquid oxygen fuel in the first Solid Rocket System (SRS). DeltaV is steadily evolving and growing, with the additional achievement in 2023 of igniting the first hybrid space motor in space. Below, you can find the test video of the company that deserves attention and support.

Link: https://x.com/DeltavUzay/status/1745089538244943964?s=20

This Week in Our Art Corner

Good Night Oppy! Documentary

Good Night Oppy tells the inspirational true story of Opportunity, a rover that was sent to Mars for a 90-day mission but ended up surviving for 15 years. The film follows Opportunity’s groundbreaking journey on Mars and the remarkable bond forged between a robot and her humans millions of miles away.

While watching the documentary, it is deeply felt that the scientists and everyone involved embrace Opportunity as if they were their children, and similar feelings are shared. We are happy to present to you the worth-watching narrative of this miraculous success story.