Re-Post: Say Hello To Baby Aliens On Enceladus


(Originally posted on Read With The Gringa 7/6/17)

If scientists discover microbial life one of Saturn’s moons, is this a big deal? Well, the gringa supposes that humans could officially lay to rest the question of whether or not we are alone in the universe. But it does leave open the question of whether or not mankind shares the Universe with intelligent life. After all, I’m not so sure microbial life counts as an intellectual peer for humanity. So what, exactly, did NASA report they found on Enceladus? See for yourself:

So microbes eat hydrogen like candy. Does that mean that life might evolve on Enceladus or that life is dead and gone and this candy is all that’s left? You know, kind of like coming home and finding traces of teenagers in the crumbs left on the sofa and smears of chocolate on the gaming controls.

It means that it’s possible that microbes can exist in Enceladus’ ice covered sea. The next step would be to explore this cosmic ocean, perhaps with a probe that can take samples, to see if microbes are alive and well. But what kind of environmental conditions would microbes need in order to survive? Let’s take a look at some of the basic environmental conditions of Enceladus:

-Surface temperature of -330 degrees F (or -201 degrees C)

-Freshwater ice surface that reflects 100% of sunlight

-5 surface features: cracks, ridges, fissures and crust deformation

-Liquid fresh water sea underneath surface crust of ice

-Tidal forces created upon internal sea by Saturn’s pull, which creates internal heat, so sea temperature would be warmer than surface temperature but still unknown

-Smooth surface plains of ice crust indicate that water once flowed upon the surface, possibly forced upward from eruptions of volcanoes in the interior sea

-No detectable atmosphere

-No magnetic field

Are there any microbes known to man that could survive these conditions?

-Microbe Colwellia psychrerythraea strain 34H can survive temperatures as cold as -320 degrees F. Testing was conducted with liquid nitrogen, which is -321 degrees F.

-No detectable atmosphere and no magnetic field means no protection from radiation. But, as concluded from microbe studies on the International Space Station (ISS), there are microbes that not only survive such conditions, but actually thrive in them: Deinococcus radiodurans, also called the Conan of microbes, could live quite happily in Enceledus’ frigid ocean.

So, if there are microbial Conans alive and well in the interior sea of Enceledus, how long might it take for them to gain some intelligence and start communicating? Well, let’s start with the moon’s suspected age, 100 million years. The earth, by comparison, is thought to be about 4.5 billion years old. Enceledus is just a baby.  It was during Earth’s second phase, the Archean phase, when the first signs of microbial life appeared on Earth. This would have been when Earth was about 1 billion years ago.

So, Enceledus may just be getting started. Those microbes out there in its interior sea? Those could be the earliest seeds of a future humanoid race that evolves to build a bone-chilling, zero oxygen, radiated civilization in another couple of billion years or so. So, just stay tuned, right?

Sources: Science Mag

New Scientist

Sea Sky Org.

BBC

Image Credit: America Space

Video Credit:  NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Slingshot Time Travel With Cosmic Strings


If you have read sci-fi novels or watched sci-fi flicks, then you have heard about cosmic strings. If you have dabbled in physics and astronomy you have probably heard about string theory. But, really, what the heck is a cosmic string? What do they do? Do they really exist? Are they space garbage that can be recycled for another purpose?

You know how Enterprise always seems to encounter some kind of space “anomaly” that causes all sorts of mayhem and the crew doesn’t know what the heck it is? That’s pretty much what life is like for space explorers now. We really have no idea what kind of stuff is out there in outer space. Cosmic strings are just one such anomaly.

Cosmic strings exist. They’re weird. They have different textures. They have walls that define their domains. They’re powerful, possibly containing the energy-mass of our Sun within a tube about one billion of a billionth the size of an atom.  And scientists don’t know much more about them.

The gringa supposes that it’s a good thing that there are not very many of them, as far as we know. Running into such a weird anomaly could be disastrous for astronauts that don’t know what they are dealing with. But some scientists are not above guessing, er, um, theorizing about cosmic strings.

Physicist J. Richard Gott introduced the novel idea of using cosmic strings for time travel. Scientists suspect that these stringlike objects had something to do with how the early universe formed. They are left-over tidbits whose job is all done. Or not. Perhaps they could be upcycled to warp space-time near a black hole making time-travel possible. Is Gott for real?

Cosmic strings are skinnier than an atom. And they are taut, like a rubber band, because they are under immense pressure. So, just like when you launch a spitball by pulling back a rubber band, Gott thinks the same concept could be applied to cosmic strings. But we wouldn’t actually strap a spaceship to a cosmic string and slingshot it across the Universe.

To make Gott’s theory work, he proposes relocating two strings so that they are close together. Because of the great pressure they are under, putting two close together would create a massive gravitational pull on anything that passed near them. The strings would basically suck in a spaceship at such an incredible speed that the crew would experience time dilation.

Time dilation is a fancy way of saying you have changed the passage of time. On Earth, six months may have passed. For astronauts on a cosmic string launched spaceship bound for Mars, the trip might only take one month. They return home to find everyone a couple of years older yet maybe they only experienced the passage of a few months. Yep. Cosmic strings are weird.

The gringa can imagine the rich and the famous exploiting cosmic string travel as the next great fountain of youth treatment. Maybe we could blast across the galaxy our worst criminals on multiple trips. This could essentially leave them for the next generation to sort out. We could find all sorts of crazy uses for time dilation travel.

But Gott’s theory goes further. If the strings were positioned near a black hole, he thinks we could warp time-space and create what he calls a “closed timelike curve”.  This would make true time-travel possible. Currently, time-travel is theorized to only be possible to make trips into the future that are one-way. A person cannot travel back into the past, only forward into the future. But Gott thinks he has found a way to yesterday.

The compounded effects of gravity on a spaceship by two cosmic strings and a black hole could create a loop with the cosmic strings. This powerful loop would propel the spaceship back through time. But there’s a catch. To re-visit a previous birthday just one year prior, a loop of cosmic string powerful enough would need the mass-energy of our entire galaxy. So, basically you sacrifice the life of everyone and everything in the present just to return to life of a year ago. Not so sure it’s worth it. Today doesn’t seem so bad.

Sources:  Astronomy Cafe

Science – How Stuff Works

Science Daily

Image Credit: Pinterest

Video Credits:  FloatingUniversity

National Geographic

 

Cosmic Explosions? What The Heck Is Going ON?


Have you heard the news? There was a big, bang, boom way out in outer space! What the heck was that? Is it the birth of a new universe? A star gone supernova? Has galactic war broken out? What the heck is going ON up there?

What We Know: Astronomers engaged in a bit of stargazing through a powerful X-ray imaging telescope called the Chandra Observatory. It is an orbiting observatory, launched and managed by NASA, and named after Nobel prize-winning astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. Observing astronomers witnessed several cosmic flashes (aka EXPLOSIONS). In order for these flashes to have been visible as they were, they had to have packed a punch with at least one thousand times greater energy than any other star in that neck of the deep space woods. The explosions occurred over a period of hours on a single day.

Although this event was witnessed in 2014, scientists are still scratching their heads over the phenomena. And, considering the scientific law about energy never ceasing to exist, transforming yes, but disappearing no, well, this head scratcher is a deep mystery. There seems to have been no energy trace left behind by these explosions.

Where It Happened: If you happen to have access to a deep space, X-ray telescope, you will want to take aim at an obscure, unnamed galaxy that is nearly 11 billion light years away (but chances are you will have to rely on what Chandra relays back to NASA). This is a region of deep space called “Chandra Deep Field-South”. Although the explosions are over, it may be worth staying tuned. Who knows what might happen next? I mean, after all, we don’t know what the heck actually happened.

The Big Question: How the heck can what seems like a cosmic cataclysm leave no footprint in the Universe?

What Experts Theorize (in other words, scientists’ best guesses):

  • A destructive event like a neutron or white dwarf star that died.
  • Merging of a star with a black hole (which would result in the death of a star)

Death Of A Star: When a neutron or white dwarf star dies it is actually an energy rich collapse of gases, plasma, and all other kinds of energy related “stuff”. This creates a gamma-ray burst which is a fancy way of saying massive explosion of energy. This is what is commonly called a supernova event.

Where’s The Aftermath Evidence? If a star went supernova, or got destroyed in a crushing black hole, where’s all the tidbits that would be left behind? Depending on the size of the star, several things will happen after the explosive excitement:

  • The star’s core shrinks back to form a tiny neutron star if it was about twice the size of our own Sun.
  • A black hole forms where the star used to be if the star was massively larger than our own Sun.
  • In a supernova, the layers surrounding the star’s core are blown out into space.
  • The shockwave of the final, spectacular explosion helps the blown out bits form new stars and, perhaps, a new galaxy.

What The Heck Is It? So, if there is not a new, tiny, neutron star or black hole in that particular part of space, scientists may eventually rule these likeliest theories out. But there’s more to consider, making a supernova/black hole theory unlikely:

  • Time: A Supernova event usually takes a few years of explosive activity to build up to the final KABOOM when the star finally collapses and explodes. This recent event occurred in a single day within a span of a few hours.
  • Experience: Scientists have a lot of experience identifying supernovas. In a galaxy the size of our Milky Way, supernovas occur about twice in a century. Throughout our Universe, scientists estimate, from their observations, that a supernova happens every single second. So, if this event wasn’t immediately recognized as a supernova by scientists familiar with what to expect, chances are it wasn’t one.

Now What? We have to continue to follow the logic. Which brings us full circle to the original question:

“What the heck just happened? What the heck is it?”

What is it that Sherlock Holmes or Spock would say?

“When you rule out what is most likely, whatever is left, however unlikely, must be the answer.”

What The Heck Are We Left With?  UFOlogists will be quick to conclude it must be evidence of alien life. Perhaps they are tinkering with catastrophic weapons. Maybe a devastating planetary conflict took place. It could have been an alien science experiment gone bad. Maybe it’s the deep space version of a telephone call or SOS. Perhaps a mega-asteroid impact with a star or planet occurred. You see, it could be a natural cosmic event. But it may be of a unique nature. One never observed by humans before. The simple explanation could be that scientists are flummoxed because no suggestion of such a thing exists “on the books” today. They may have to figure this one out from scratch, on their own.
In the unlikely event it does turn out to be a cosmic conflict between alien species or alien planetary natural disaster apocalypse, should Earth expect an influx of ET refugees? Well, if they do begin to show up, the gringa’s got a bit of advice for them. Don’t come to the US. Trump yanked up the refugee welcome mat a few months ago.
If you really want to live in the good ol’ U.S. of A, here’s a better plan for a space alien refugee. You see, since Trump is bent on building that stupid border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, he’s trying to come up with the dough to pay for it. Turns out he’s not the great business negotiator he made himself out to be. Mexico ain’t paying for it.
One clever plan he has for some quick cash is to slash the budget of the U.S. Coast Guard. All an ET refugee need do is camp out in a Mexican coastal town, buy a kayak and wait for construction to begin. Then, chances are there won’t be anyone on duty patrolling our coastal waters because their paychecks have been invested in that dumb wall. All a space alien refugee has gotta do is paddle north along the coastline!

Trump, what a dope! As if people can’t go under, over or around a stupid wall! And if brown-skinned “aliens” from other countries drive him loco, wait til they start showing up from other PLANETS, perhaps in shades of blue or green or gray! He’ll have a stroke for sure.
Sources: NASA

Nobel Prize Org.

Independent UK

Photo Credits: PodBean

Nobel Prize Org.

Video Credits:  Chandra X-ray Observatory

 

Are Space Aliens Transporting Through Light Streams?


There is an amazing light phenomena even more fantastic than the legendary Aurora Borealis. This particular play of light in Earth’s atmosphere is reminiscent of the special effects used by Star Trek producers to “beam” people willy-nilly to their destination of choice. For night owls and insomniacs in the farthest reaches of the Northern Hemisphere, they got to bear witness to an event that surely had some UFOlogists wondering if a mass alien abduction event was taking place.

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What created these prismatic columns of light on the early morning horizon? Were space aliens zapping unsuspecting sleepers to heavenly laboratories for an exploratory prod and a poke then returning them to their beds unaware of what had happened? Sorry to crush any enthusiasm for fantastic explanations. The truth is that these were simply pillars of light, actually quite ordinary once you understand the science, despite their very extraordinary appearance.

When temperatures plunge in lower latitudes of Earth’s polar regions, there is enough moisture in the air for ice crystals to form. As light reflects off of these crystals, prismatic columns in every hue of the rainbow, blue, orange, red and white, can be seen vividly against the grayish backdrop of an arctic or sub-arctic sky. The most recent event was documented by amateur and professional photographers and videographers in Canada. The phenomena lasted for hours on January 6, allowing plenty of time for those lucky (or unfortunate, depending on how you view insomnia) enough to be awake at nearly 2am.

Source: Live Science

Image Credits: API NY

From Behind The Pen

Wild Sound Movies

Video Credit: Timmy Joe YouTube Channel

A Wave Making Waves & Suction Storms


(Originally posted 2/3/17 on Read With The Gringa)

An enormous gravity wave is making waves in space exploration circles. The wave of excitement began when Akatsuki, a space probe that is the handiwork of JAXA, Japan’s space agency, observed a 6,000 mile long gravity wave. That’s the longest gravity wave ever recorded by humans in outer space. But why is this a big deal? What does it mean? I mean, after all, gravity waves have been discovered before. Is this just a big deal because this is the largest one scientists have observed?

What a gravity wave does is affect a planet’s atmosphere. It can cause weather disturbances. What kind of weather does Venus have? With an atmosphere of 96% carbon dioxide, 3% nigrogen, a tiny speck of water vapor (about .003%), and a density nearly 90 times greater than Earth’s, things could be very interesting on Venus should a storm begin to brew.

Picture peeking out the window of your Venus habitat and seeing golden, yellow clouds billowing that stink of that rotten egg stench of sulfur. Imagine watching as they raced across the sky at more than 200 mph. And consider that you would have to be looking through glass several inches thick to withstand the atmospheric pressure outside. Sounds kind of cool, doesn’t it! But, really, is there more to this excitement than just discovering the longest gravity wave ever?

December, 2015, JAXA’s Akatsuki observed the largest gravity wave ever over one of Venus’ mountain ranges. It looks like a whitish, bow shape in the image below:

akatsuki-venus-jaxa.jpg

When the probe made its journey once again over this region a month later, the wave wasn’t there. The original thought that the wave was stationary had to be discarded. What scientists now theorize is that the gravity wave formed in Venus’ lower atmosphere and was then gradually pulled into the upper atmosphere by the rapid rotation of clouds. Once it reached the upper atmosphere it dissipated. So, on Venus, a storm is really like a great big gravity vacuum rather than wind and rain like Earthlings are accustomed to. Instead of stuff falling down, stuff is sucked up.

For scientists, this gives them more clues to understand what conditions are like on the surface of the planet. Instead of a lower atmosphere that is stable, quiet and boring, scientists are more inclined to believe that life on Venus’ surface could be quite thrilling and dynamic. It also means that any plans for a surface mission would require rovers that could withstand the possibility of a massive gravity suction storm. The gringa envisions the tornado scene that the “Wizard of Oz” opens with. That would be life on Venus if things weren’t “nailed” down really, really well. Or, Venus colonists could all just live in bouncy castles. When a massive gravity suction storm approaches you batten down the hatches, ride out the storm and who knows where you end up! New neighbors and new landscape when it all blows over. How exciting!

Sources: JAXA

CalTech

Dispelling Some Space Myths


(Originally posted 2/2/17 on Read With The Gringa)

If you are a dear reader of Read With The Gringa, chances are you are also a fan of science fiction. The gringa has seen every episode of her favorite series like the Star Trek franchise, Battlestar Galactica and Firefly. If it’s a cheesy, classic or epic sci-fi movie, I’ve seen that, too. What about some of the common themes and aspects of this genre? Is there any kernel of truth to these commonalities or are they just creative license?

Spacecraft Explosions: Cosmic space battles between a star ship battle cruiser and a sporty, feisty spacecraft that maneuvers with lightning speed often end up with the absolute destruction of one, maybe even both. But what about those fabulous fireballs and bits and bobs of bulkhead that create an enormous blast radius. Does that really happen?

startrekenterpise1701d_destroyed_wallpaper_1024

NO! Why? Well, think about it. There is no oxygen in space! No oxygen, no fire. The best you could hope for is an insignificant spark that, pfft, quickly goes out. And the boom factor? Nope. You wouldn’t hear anything either. Sound only travels through Earth’s atmosphere because of a complex recipe of certain gases. So, that pfft effect goes for explosive sounds as well.

Human Explosion: Sci-fi takes a reverse course on the pressure effects of deep water on the human. Go deep enough in the ocean without protective gear and  the water pressure will implode you. Not a pretty sight for a human to be crushed like an aluminum soda can. Sci-fi screenwriters like to imagine the vacuum of space would result in the atoms of humans no longer experiencing enough atmospheric pressure to remain cohesive. Thus an explosion of eyeballs and fingernails. A rather gruesome and bloody prospect. Is this accurate? Would astronauts who experience spacesuit failure explode in the vacuum of space?

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First, you would quickly begin to dehydrate as water began evaporating rapidly through your pores. You would also begin to feel the chill of MINUS 455 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, instead of exploding into itty-bitty bits, you would quickly become a human ice cube. About 30 seconds to be exact.

frozen-person

The dark side of the Moon… who could live there? Well, a colony on the “dark side of the Moon” would get just as much sunlight as the “other” side of the Moon. You see, it is only the Earth that the Moon hides its backside from. That’s because of tidal influences between these two planetary objects. The Sun, on the other hand, enjoys seeing every aspect of the Moon.

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What of golden sunsets and sunrises? Are they as beautiful when seen from space? Well, they are definitely as bright but not golden. Stars, which our Sun is, have colors that are determined by their temperature. Our Sun, at about 6,000 degrees Kelvin, is actually white. It only appears yellow to us Earthlings because of how it’s short-wavelenths of blue, green and violet are scattered as they travel through Earth’s atmosphere. And you know those wavy little rays we always draw around our Suns when we are little kids? Yeah, those are all wrong too. The Sun isn’t burning. There are no flames. It is EXPLODING with gases so it’s glowing. Like a light bulb.

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Have you ever seen those crack pilots zipping about in their little shuttles, navigating like aces through the hazards of an asteroid belt? Yeah. That’s not real either. Even in a really, super crowded asteroid belt with millions of space rocks each of these hunks of geological junk are most likely hundreds of thousands of miles apart. How do you think NASA’s probes make it to the farthest reaches of space if there were such dangerous obstacles? Remember, space is really, really, really, big. Plenty of room to navigate.

asteroid_livestream

Could a huge meteor slam into a wilderness area and create a fiery crater? Nope. A crater, yes, but not a fiery one. I know, I know. The dear reader is saying, “Hold on there, gringa! I have actually seen a fiery fireball of a meteor that raced across the sky!” Yes, I am sure that you did. However, it is the outer surface of the meteor that has heated up, liquefied and converted to flaming plasma from the friction of hurtling through Earth’s atmosphere at high-speed. Its core, however, is frozen solid from a lifetime in space where temperatures are hundreds of degrees BELOW freezing. So, you would most likely end up with scattered fires from fiery plasma scattering on impact and then a soggy mess in the crater after the cosmic ice ball melts. Basically, a meteor is like a flaming snowball.

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The gringa’s really sorry if she spoiled things for you. But I must remind you that the most important thing about science-fiction is that it is FICTION. So enjoy it the way it is meant to be enjoyed… an escape from reality into fantasy for pure pleasure. Let it titillate your imagination and inspire you to greater things. But always know the difference between fact and fiction!

Sources:

NASA

David Darling

Geoffrey Landis

Stanford

How Stuff Works

www.space.com

Image Credits: Discovery Channel

Star Trek Desktop Wallpaper

YouTube

Keyword Suggestions

Top Tenz

UK2

Animal New York

Gizmodo

A Dubious Path To Delightful Wonder


The gringa loves all things outer space. I even get a kick out of exploring the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. Filtering through reports from UFO conspiracy theorists is very inspiring and often leads me to interesting place. For instance, I started out on a lark to examine the truth behind a report that claims that Russia has threatened the U.S. if the nation doesn’t “fess up” and tell folks the truth about the existence of alien life. And this led to something absolutely fascinating that captured my attention upon a completely different topic. Let’s travel the twists and turns of the gringa’s rabbit trails together.

First, UFO conspiracy theorists use a couple of quotes from space agency officials to claim that they are hinting that space aliens exist. Let’s examine the quotes:

“I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years.” – Ellen Stofan, NASA chief scientist, Tuesday, May 12, 2016.

Now what UFO conspiracy theorists leave out is that Stofan said this during a panel discussion about finding WATER in outer space, which is necessary to life as humans know it. Stofan later clarified that she is specifically referring to finding life in the form of MICROBES and not little green men.

The same UFO conspiracy theorists go on to use a quote by NASA’s Dr. John Grunsfeld, who works on the Science Mission Directorate, as also claiming that mankind is on the verge of discovering life on other planets. The conspiracy theorists weave into his words the implication that aliens have been visiting Earth for hundreds of years. So what the heck did he say? In July, 2015, Grunsfeld testified before the U.S. House Science, Technology and Space Committee where he made his pitch for more funding. This was the teaser he hoped would open the funding spigot:

“Are we alone? Many, many people on planet Earth want to know… We are on the cusp of being able to answer that question.”

The gringa hates to burst the bubble of conspiracy theorists but I don’t see any indication that he is expecting to find sentient beings in another part of the Universe that we might have a conversation with. The gringa also finds nothing worthy in his words that lead me to believe that he believes Earthlings have played host to extra-terrestrial visitors. But there’s more, and boy is what the UFO conspiracy theorists claim next a real dilly.

They claim that in March of last year there was a top secret shindig on the Moon attended by 70 civilians and 120 officials representing Earth’s national governments and space programs. Now, for being a top secret affair, the gringa finds it incredibly interesting that security was so lacking that UFO conspiracy theorists were able to discover that an 8’ alien was the guest of honor and even found out his name! He’s called Raw-Teir-Eir from the Blue Avian race that is part of the Sphere Being Alliance. By now the gringa is having great difficulty typing because I am laughing so hard but I must go on and get to the final leg of my rabbit trail journey.

It was at this point that the gringa took a turn off this strangely beaten path. Although I don’t believe a word about a secret meeting taking place on the moon with blue birdmen, I am struck by the fact that even if a meeting like that did occur, mankind would never be the wiser. There is no way for us regular folk to eavesdrop or spy on anything that happens on the dark side of the Moon. Or is there? And here the gringa goes again.

My final leg of this curious journey landed me on the website of Icarus Interstellar. This is a group of citizen scientists who are opening up the possibility for anyone to be a part of designing spacecrafts and exploring the stars. They have many different projects in the works. If a person thinks that they have something to contribute, they want you to sign up and be part of a team. And trust the gringa, there is something for everyone. The group believes that interstellar travel is possible but only through a united global effort of talent. Project Icarus was initially launched thanks to the British Interplanetary Society (BIS). Here’s a list of current projects:

  • Project Icarus: Design a theoretical interstellar spacecraft
  • Project Hyperion: Manned interstellar flight
  • Project Bifrost: Nuclear Space Technologies
  • Project Forward: Beamed Propulsion
  • Project Persephone: Living Architectures
  • Project Tin Tin: Interstellar Nano Mission To Alpha Centauri
  • Project XP4: X-Physics Propulsion & Power
  • Project Astrolabe: Navigating The Future Of Civilization
  • Project Voyager: Mapping A Path To The Stars

Collegiate student chapters are forming the next generation of citizen scientists, engineers, artists, etc. who will be continuing the mission of taking man to the stars. Join one and become part of a community of scientists and humanitarians, contribute to the advancement of missions, be a part of the Starship Congress (interstellar annual conference) and have your own space on the Icarus Interstellar website.

If you don’t have any specific skills or talents, you can always become a charter member by making financial contributions. For those who can’t afford charter membership, even small donations are appreciated. A reciprocal way to help fund these missions is to purchase merchandise from their shop. They have some pretty cool stuff like:

  • Board games
  • Plans for how to build a spaceship

So, although the gringa started out with crazy UFO conspiracies, look at where that led! The take away lesson from that is don’t be afraid to tread along dubious paths. They just might lead to really cool destinations.

Sources:

Waking Times Media

www.space.com

CNN

exopolitics.org

Icarus Interstellar

Image Credit: Astrology King