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MIT Students to launch mission to Mars

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The normal human has never had better access to powerful technology and advanced scientific ideas than in 21st century America. A statement evidenced by the fact that a group of students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are planning on sending a time capsule to Mars in 2017.

The students will send three 26lb Cubesats to Mars, each containing videos, messages and photos which represent life on earth. The messages will be sent by participants across the globe, with the aim being to engage young minds in the possibilities of science and in particular, space travel.

Paulo Lozano is the head of the Space Propulsion Laboratory at MIT. He sums up the mission to Mars’ main concerns saying:

“You’re very far from home, so getting there is very hard. The actual propulsion, the communication, and health of the spacecraft are the biggest concerns.”

A lot of people have questioned the relevance of space travel in recent years, especially against a backdrop of grinding poverty on our own planet. However, projects like Barrack Obama’s proposed manned mission to Mars - which should land before 2030 - and even the project at MIT are a profound symbol of human endeavour and collective achievement.

Indeed, the MIT team are quick to remind us that many of our most treasured technological developments stem from space travel: Ion electrospray propulsion will send the ‘Cubesats’ on their way, and developments like quartz storage could well be pioneered in the project, which has been given the acronym‘TC2M’ (Time Capsule 2 Mars).

If you’re wondering how a group of students gather the $25million necessary for the project, the mission will be crowdfunded. The likes of Boeing and NASA will also be adding funds and expertise.

Students have never before been so central to the question of technological development. Advanced science will obviously never be completely democratised, due to funds and training, but it can certainly cast its net over a wider section of the public due to powerful home technology and access to the internet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a look at these student designed Enable Talk gloves which convert sign language into digital speech. Consider the profound implications for how deaf people manage their challenging surroundings.

MetroChange from Genevieve Hoffman on Vimeo.

Then there’s the way these students participating in the ‘MetroChange’ project have recognised the residual funds that can be associated with contactless payment cards on public transport. The students have provided the option to make an easy charitable donation using your metro card. Mobile payments will be the future of consumer society, so these questions will be vital to the way we live.

TC2M is in many ways grassroots science, and what we could learn from their mission to Mars could be far more profound than what’s invested monetarily.

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