Wessex Scene Space Issue

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EDIT OR Emily Dennis editor@wessexscene.co.uk DEPUTY EDITO R Sam Pearson deputy-editor@wessexscene.co.uk H EAD O F DESI GN Ren Neoh design@wessexscene.co.uk H EAD O F I MAGERY Sayli Jadhav image@wessexscene.co.uk ONLINE & MARKETING MANAGER James Huford publicity@wessexscene.co.uk SUB-EDITO RS

Sam Pegg

Rachel Manthorpe

Chloe Wade

FE AT URES EDITO R Elizabeth Sorrell features@wessexscene.co.uk OPINI O N EDI TO R Ellie Griffiths opinion@wessexscene.co.uk POLITICS EDITO R Hector Hemingway-McGhee politics@wessexscene.co.uk SCIENCE & TECH EDITOR Jack Davies science@wessexscene.co.uk LIFE S TYL E EDI TO R Daisy Gazzard lifestyle@wessex scene . c o . uk T RAVEL EDI TO R Hannah Griffiths travel@wessexscene.co.uk SPOR TS EDITO R Mitul Mistry sport@wessexscene.co.uk PAUS E EDITO R Alyssa-Caroline Burnette pause@wessexscene.co.uk

F LY M E T O T H E MOON… Wessex Scene has been very lucky to play amongst the stars this year, as we explore everything from Jupiter to Mars in our Space edition! This year’s World Space Week is celebrating ‘Women in Space’. The first woman in space was Valentina Tereshkova, a Russian cosmonaut all the way back in 1963, later followed by Sally Ride as the first American woman in 1983 and Helen Sharman as the first British woman in 1991. From 2001, women have been helping continue scientific research on the ISS. It’s important to celebrate the achievements of these amazing women, as just over 10% of all people who have ever been to space have been women. And it’s not just those who break through the atmosphere that need to be idolised. Take Dorothy Vaughan for example, who worked as a literal human computer, calculating flight paths despite being discriminated against due to both her gender and race. You can find out more about World Space Week by looking at their website at worldspaceweek.org. In honour of Space Week, we have been taking a look at our relationship with the great beyond. The highest proportion of this magazine are Opinion pieces, tackling climate change (p.6), Astrology (p.9), Philosophy (p.10), and Mars, of all places (p.11). Our writers have a lot to say about Space, but don’t feel like you have to agree with them! In fact, we actively invite you to share your counter opinions. If out-of-this-world arguments aren’t your thing, there’s lots more to find out about the great unknown, including international space politics (p.13), tips for how to stay weightless (p.20), and help for planning a route of celestial sightseeing (p.22). There’s even been reported sightings of long-missing committee members! (p.21) I hope you feel inspired to look up at the night sky, spot the planets, investigate black holes, and make a wish on a shooting star. Bonus points if you wish to get your work printed in an edition of Wessex Scene. We can make that happen. Your Editor,

EMILY DENNIS Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this magazine belong to each author alone - Wessex Scene is a neutral publication which aims to publish views from across the student body. To respond with an opposing opinion, please contact opinion@ wessexscene.co.uk or join our Opinion Writers’ Group.






































Space and Beyond: Loving the Unknown

h Space, how I love it. Catch me at any point and I will happily spurt random knowledge about the stars and black holes to anyone willing to listen. Sometimes, I may even be factually correct (but more likely not). There’s something about its infiniteness, its resistance to being truly understood and comprehended, or even because Brian Cox simply exists; I fall in love with Space every time I think about it. My fascination with Space started when I was a child. I remember turning over to documentary channels and watching some of the greatest minds on Earth discuss the planets in our Solar System, stars, and even black holes. I could never fully comprehend everything they said, but to have something that felt like science-fiction be genuinely real was the closest my brain had ever got to magic. I rewatched these same documentaries over and over, explaining the tidbits I understood to my parents and slowly letting my grasp of the unknown become a little more known. When I was ten, I went on a school trip to the Science Museum in London and all I wanted to explore was their Space exhibition. I was even willing to pass on the interactive “playpark” of the museum designed to make science experiments fun for children so that I could read about planets and look up at the objects that have defined our understanding of space. Rockets, probes, and satellites were all fascinating parts of history and space exploration that I wanted to know more about, and I couldn’t get enough of it. During GCSE Physics, my favourite three lessons were on our Solar System. When I had my first two cracks at A-Levels, I tried doing Physics and Maths so that I could go on to study Astrophysics at University, but sadly no matter how much the theory of space intrigued me, the maths of it always alluded me. Yet I didn’t let that end my love of space, and instead, I encouraged it in new ways. Now I’ll try and read science-fiction novels set amongst the stars, even if not technically grounded in realism. To this day, I still watch space documentaries about anything


I can, and recently I’ve discovered a newfound love for podcasts and Brain Cox (beware, I am about to fangirl pretty hard). The Infinite Monkey Cage, a podcast hosted by Robin Ince and Brian Cox, is my current favourite, covering everything you can think of about space as well as science in general. Plus... BRIAN COX! The University of Manchester physicist, host of a great podcast, star of many space documentaries and author of multiple books - he brings charisma and humour to the world of space and I just can’t get enough of him. There’s something about Brian Cox’s approach to space that never veers into the realm of being too complex to grasp; he breaks it down while never assuming that his listeners are too idiotic to understand. In essence, he understands that space doesn’t have to be complex to be learnt about - even grasping the fundamentals without the maths is worth something.

So, why do I love space? Simple, Brian Cox. No, I actually love space because it’s intellectually stimulating and infinitely fascinating. It’s the playing ground of physics and the beholder of many unknown things. In fact, it’s the resistance to being completely understood (is time real? is there a multiverse? what’s inside a black hole?) that makes me love it so much more.



Universe Full of Friends and Foes A

reetings, Earthlings. Never has a group of individuals on God’s green earth become so anxietyridden and generally lonely as those who are reading this. As the age of space exploration becomes vaster and more convenient, it won’t be that long until we potentially find something previously undiscovered - sentient life in space. But this does beg the question: extra-terrestrial beings - friends or foes? Some people believe that we haven’t been contacted by aliens before as the human race is just far too pathetic and stupid for them to bother. If our space exploration changes these aliens’ opinions and they present themselves to us (and don’t immediately resort to destruction), it is almost a guarantee that they will not be our friends. Maybe they are kind, they show us new things, they develop our way of living and existing for the better. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Sounds like something a friend would do. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Extremely intelligent beings are possibly the worst thing we could discover (or that could discover us) dancing amongst the stars. ‘But how can they be so bad if they make our lives better?’ you may ask. Simply, arrogance. There is always that person who just immediately gets on your nerves because they think (quite rightly) that they are a bit better than you. Imagine that girl with better fashion sense, or that guy who runs the 100m a few seconds faster, or even the blond-haired Tory MP who sits behind the safety of his famous black door and gets away with everything. All of these examples know they are better than you in some way, and, by god, do you feel it. There is no way that an extra-terrestrial being who is so much smarter than humans, having watched from afar as we poke our tin rockets against Earth’s atmosphere and seeing them fall down in flames for centuries, will be kind


enough not to openly acknowledge this clear divide in intelligence. They may mock lightly and jest freely, but we know it’s hard to let it slide when it really hits home. It’s like trying to be friends with the really popular people; while you try to fit in, you feel unworthy and wonder why you even bothered. We already have self-esteem issues as a species, so it won’t get much better if we have a devastatingly superior being let us know. But perhaps these aliens aren’t like that. Perhaps they are still on their dinosaur stage. Colossal beasts that are both calm and ferocious, surviving on their own planet and thriving on it’s natural resources. Obviously a friend, right? Well, no. What does the human race like to do to au naturale creatures? DESTROY THEM. While there might be a 5-year-old boy dreaming of meeting an alien Brontosaurus, those rich enough to have found one will have already begun preparations to tear apart its planet to obtain the highest profit. The human race is greedy, and not one that really deserves friends. So, while the universe may be full of pals waiting to be discovered, all we should really get is a bunch of hotheaded, arrogant, superior beings to put us into our place. This is unless real life is just like Doctor Who, and there’s a universe of adventure right within our grasp.




we are aiming for the stars, ith the advent of commercial flights into Space, we are defining a new way to travel around the globe and beyond. However, few have stopped to think about how these advancements impact climate change. News of wildfires destroying the Earth’s green lungs has now reached every country worldwide. The World Resources Institute estimates that 12 million acres of forest and land burned in 2020 alone, increasing by 12% compared to 2019. Although this year’s statistics are not yet out, growing temperatures around the globe translated into record-breaking devastation of the environment, projecting 2021 into the most destructive year in recorded history. One of the key points to minimise the effects of global warming is to reduce our carbon footprint, the quantities of greenhouse gases produced by human activities. From travelling to our eating habits, every step in the production, use, and end-of-life of what we consume emits pollutants. Carbon dioxide, methane, fluorinated gasses, and other chemicals enter the atmosphere, trapping the heat and ultimately leading to an increase in temperatures globally. While governments encourage their citizens to decrease their carbon footprint by leading a more mindful lifestyle, highly polluting, commercial space flights are becoming the new frontier in travelling. After decades of advancement in space flights, billionaires such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson are developing their own space. The privatisation of space flights in the US stems from a lack of funding to the government-owned space programmes in the 1970s. The problem of inadequate backing from the government culminated in the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984. With new legislation, private companies were not only encouraged to fund governmental projects but to venture into private enterprises at the same time. However, most of the economic support towards commercial space flights comes from the last two decades. Since the 2000s, privatised companies have fed billions of dollars into space, rapidly deploying their own spaceflight corporations.



But At What Cost For Our Earth? While we can argue that private enterprises increased the efforts towards advancing space technologies and interplanetary travels, we need to weigh the ecological impact they have on Earth. Estimates show that one trip to the upper layers of the atmosphere emits 4 to 10 times more nitrous oxide than Drax, the biggest thermal plant in the UK. This number increases to 50 to 100 if compared to a long-haul plane flight.

the pollution to produce their materials and avoids their dispersion in the environment. Similarly, there have been efforts to promote greener fuels and extraction of their by-products by asking the scientists for insights. At the beginning of 2021, SpaceX committed to funding the best carbon dioxide sequestration technologies. This would reduce the emissions from spaceflights and find a solution for the always increasing greenhouse effect.

To reduce the pollution from using fossil fuels, new spaceplanes burn hybrid propellants made of liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen, and nitrous oxide. Even though there has been a shift towards greener resources, these combustibles still release carbon dioxide, soot, water vapour, and nitrogen oxides, which get trapped in the atmosphere. Two-thirds of the exhausts are released into the stratosphere and mesosphere, where they linger for two to three years. The extremely high temperatures of launch and re-entry convert nitrogen in the atmosphere into reactive nitrogen oxides, which ultimately react with the chemicals from the breakdown of water vapour. These, in exchange, convert ozone into oxygen and destroy the ozone layer that protects the Earth’s crust from UV rays from the Sun. Water vapour increases the production of stratospheric clouds that supply a surface for these reactions to occur.

Although companies have taken measures to minimise the effects of spaceflights on Earth, there is still a long way to go. It is of the utmost importance that governments understand the ecological impact of spaceflights on Earth before they are allowed more often. The Earth’s atmosphere is put at risk by daily human activities, so regulating spaceflights should go hand-in-hand with the international effort to reduce our carbon footprint. As humans, we want to aim for the stars, but we need to keep our feet on the ground, making our own planet thrive before it is too late.

Prices for tickets into a spaceflight oscillate between $125,000 and $55 million depending on the company, duration and whether the guests can board the International Space Station. Only moneyed people will experience space in the future. Given the financial supply put into spaceflight, companies should aim at fuelling projects that target greener options. Although the way they spend their wealth cannot be syndicated, how will the privilege of a few affect the rest of the world? SpaceX made steps towards more ecological options. The company can now reuse their rockets in multiple launches, retrieving different stages from used rockets, which normally go to waste after one use. While these reduce the costs for the enterprise, they guarantee a way to recycle the parts of the rocket. This decreases




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been tested and proved by experiment. So, Scorpios of the world, fear not, just because you were born on a cold autumnal night in November, it does not mean you’re destined to be a spawn of Satan. Not according to scientific evidence, anyway.


ly t s Mo

Personally, I think star signs are a comfort to a small proportion of the population. I have often heard the phrases: ‘Sorry for my awful mood, Mercury is in retrograde’, or ‘I apologise, my Libra moon is showing’. Star signs enable us to relate to other people, identify ourselves as part of a group of similar people, and most importantly, reject partners due to their crummy birth charts. Because let’s be honest, no one wants to date an Aquarius with an Aries rising.

un signs, rising signs and houses. Star signs and the zodiac chart have become increasingly popular since the 1970s. But does the date, time, and place of our birth along with the positions of planets and stars actually have any effect on our development and growth as humans? It would be nice to think so. As a self-proclaimed textbook Pisces, star signs have always been incredibly accurate, and often resonate with my traits and actions. Being emotional, imaginative, and gracious are all things I am happy to identify with. However, I do like to argue I am not overly sensitive, money-minded, or pessimistic, even if my friends and family disagree with my objection. However, I know some people (Geminis…) don’t exactly like to be associated with this cosmic system at all, even if there is some reverberation within their lives.

Star signs have just become a justification for many human interactions, or lack thereof. As humans, we often try to find explanations for our actions. It is nice to have a system through which we can blame some not so pleasant characteristics on the exact time and place we were born, even if some people choose not to go along with it. There’s always comfort in having excuses for being late or causing an argument, even if they aren’t entirely true. Science is not always the decider of fact and fiction, and I shall continue to believe that whatever is out there has had an effect on me, my personality and my future - even if it is not entirely accurate. What is these days?


Realistically, there is little to no scientific evidence to back astrology up. Although the use of the stars, moons and planets may seem completely scientific, there has been no proof to show influence on humans as far as star signs claim. There have been no recent scientific studies into astrology, as it is simply deemed untestable by the scientific community. There are so many theoretical obstacles like the lack of predictability, lack of physical basis and mechanism that astrology has been classified as null and void. One of the main flaws of astrology, as told by our dear friend Professor Stephen Hawking, is that astrology goes against certain scientific theories that have



Infinite ‘You’s and How They Can Help hilst the idea of infinite universes may terrify some, for me, the idea is comforting. Not only would it mean we are not alone on a tiny rock hurtling through space-time, but even thinking about infinite universes can be of great assistance to us no matter how distant they may hypothetically be. There are a multitude of ways we can employ thoughts about infinite universes to help us. Though some are more technical, others are very accessible. Let’s imagine you are facing a challenging situation and can see no fix. This could be anything from making a decision about your personal career advancement to having a difficult conversation with a member of your family. If there were infinite universes, with infinite possibilities - infinite versions of you - one of those versions has already achieved exactly what you want to. Without the confines of your real situation, it is quite easy to use your imagination and work through the situation; you can ask, ‘what needs to be different for me to progress through this problem?’. Then, with a clear view perhaps you’ll be able to work through the problem as the real you, and really fix it. In philosophy, the idea of infinite universes and the possibilities they would bring is almost indispensable. They are usually referred to as ‘possible worlds’ and explore the logical possibility of a claim or theory. They work by offering an environment wherein a theory or claim can be tested without interference from our world and its constrictions, to see if we can logically process and deem the claim possible. For example, a famous thought experiment using possible worlds is the Zombie Argument (which doesn’t really sound too comforting at all). It asks us to imagine a world wherein there are people just like us - who look, sound, and behave just like us, but


with one change. They have no minds; they do not think. Would we be able to tell any difference? While the idea of possible worlds may not seem to you, reader, to be little more than an exercise of the imagination, there are those who argue that every possible world is just as real as ours. David Lewis argued for a theory known as ‘modal realism,’ which claimed that there is no difference in kind between our actual world and the possible worlds we may imagine. If there are infinite universes, then every possibility must be played out an infinite number of times, and so Lewis would be right. These situations we imagine are no different to our own actual situation. They must be coming to fruition somewhere, akin to our actual experiences. Just because we cannot connect with them further than the imagination doesn’t mean they aren’t there. But how is any of this comforting to me? Well, I know there is a Martha who is destined to graduate with a First-Class Honours Degree (and I do hope it’s this one), a Martha who became a dancer, and infinite Martha’s living out our infinite dreams and succeeding. And I am grateful that I am not one of the infinite Martha’s who has not fared so well. I am comforted greatly by the idea that I am living each dream I’ve ever had, but also by the fact that I am lucky. I have, by chance, ended up living this life which I enjoy, meeting the friends I love and receiving so many great opportunities. So, infinite ‘you’s can help you not only reason through problems and ask big questions about the human experience, but also just to simply practice gratitude.



Can Mars be Earth 2.0?

arth is supposed to be the only planet in our Solar System (heck, possibly in the Universe) that supports life. However, it seems unlikely that this will always be the case. With an exponential growth in the human population, rising CO2 emissions, and greenhouse gases, eventually, we may need to turn our eyes towards another home to sustain human life - so, what about Mars?

Estimated as a seven-month journey and crossing a meagre 300 million miles, we’ve had success in landing rovers on the planet and it’s conditions aren’t so extreme as to result in instant death upon arrival. The boons of Mars mostly include that it has a similar day-night cycle to Earth, it’s relatively close to us (in terms of the sheer size of space), and we won’t fry while walking on its surface. In fact, if we could take everything that produces greenhouses gases and stick them on Mars, it would actually benefit the planet rather than harm it at first (counterintuitive but I’ll explain a bit later on). Yet there are plenty of negatives: Mars has scarcely any water, it’s soil is toxic with high levels of chlorine, its gravity is only about 1/3 of Earth’s, there’s a lack of oxygen, and Mars has no atmosphere. In fact, the atmospheric pressure on Mars is so low that it is below the Armstrong limit, meaning that human blood can boil without a pressurised suit. Not a nice way to die.


So, in turning our attention to whether Mars can be Earth 2.0, it doesn’t look favourable for humankind, at least not if life is only worth living with the same current freedoms we have on Earth. At first, our only option will be building pressurised pods on the planet that humans will have to spend the majority of their time in. Although, these pods would have to somewhat exceed our current technology, as they would require materials that can resist the high radiation levels on Mars, as well as technology capable of filtering the 95% carbon dioxide atmosphere and splitting it into breathable oxygen. These pods would also be an extremely long-term solution because without an atmosphere at all and a complete lack of oxygen, Mars would be a harsh and inhabitable wasteland without spacesuits to keep humans going. All is not lost for those willing to consider the bigger picture and look far into the future, as scientists have come up with theories for making Mars inhabitable. Some argue that launching nuclear bombs at Mars’s poles could cause a nuclear winter of sorts that would create an atmosphere for the planet. While dangerous, it could open the possibility of kickstarting a level of inhabitancy on Mars. Another option is counterintuitively producing more CO2, to create a blanket of it around Mars. This would help increase the atmosphere on Mars. However, Mars does not have enough CO2 deposits in the rocks and minerals, and we do not have the capabilities to move the amounts needed between Earth and Mars. Other theories and ideas are floating around, but all eventually hit this wall that says our current technology is not currently sophisticated enough. So, can Mars be Earth 2.0? Well, no, not yet. While it could be a possibility in the future, current technological limitations are seemingly holding us back. However, that doesn’t mean that it will always be the case. Until then, we’re stuck on Earth, and we should probably start taking a little more care of our home because we won’t be finding a new one anytime soon.




Space For Us All?

he possibility of settling on other planets is an idea familiar to humankind. It has been the subject of many works of fiction, on print and screen. But that expansion of human society out into the cosmos would prove just (and only) that. Humanity writ large across our solar system, with all of our vices and virtues still very much in play.

It would, barring some scientific miracle, be just our solar system. The distance from earth to even our closest star is vast beyond the human mind’s ability to quantify - travelling at the speed of light, it would take us 4 years to reach Proxima Centauri. Without light-speed travel, it took the Voyager 1 probe almost 35 years merely to escape our solar system. Human interstellar travel is not a viable prospect, considering the complexity of the vital equipment required to support human life, which requires maintenance, and the need to have sufficient propulsion and working equipment to make orbit and land on the target planet. So, our solar system it is. Not that the story is much better in our immediate neighbourhood. Colonies on Mars and the moons of Jupiter would be desperate for resources. Water is difficult to manufacture, and there is finite amount trapped in our solar system, whether on icy asteroids or Earth’s ocean. Electricity, vital for life on other planets, is somewhat easier to generate, but requires specific materials to generate it, whether from a fuelpowered generator or silicate-based solar panels. Attempts to colonise the solar system could well degenerate into vicious conflicts over the materials necessary for life.

For a start, Earth itself, with its billions of people and centuries of what we might gently refer to as ‘baggage’, is perhaps the worst contender for a unified community going. If anyone has any alternative suggestions, I’m all ears. Furthermore, the scenario of Earth having a singular identity associated with its population would also, presumably, involve other planets and colonies developing their own identities and communities. For a long-form demonstration of why this would Not End Well, please watch the TV show The Expanse (seasons 1 through 5). If you haven’t seen it (which you should), or you can’t be bothered, allow me to paraphrase. Political identities breed tribalism, tribalism breeds war. War, even with present technologies, would be devastating, and pose a threat to human life as we know it. Nor would this risk dissipate with a divided Earth, as varying factions vie for dominance in space, continuing their struggles earthside by other means. There’s no telling what kind of societies colonisation would create. Living on other planets would require artificially maintained life support, which would need to be maintained at all times. How does a society function when someone has control of the air it breathes and the water it drinks? Such a society could easily turn autocratic, with the ultimate sanction for resistance only a few inches away, on the other side of the hab-dome wall. A strong potential for autocratic rule, intense competition for resources, and the competition of nationalisms on a grand scale. Hardly a prepossessing combination. As a humble suggestion, we might want to focus on dealing with problems here at home on Earth, before we start spreading them all over our neighbourhood.

Perhaps we might discover a planetary identity, one that allows us to ‘pull together’ in the face of these tensions. Well. That would certainly be something.




Can Countries Colonise Space and Call It Their Own 'Land'? he short answer is no. Countries are prohibited from claiming sovereignty over any celestial body by Article II of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. However, humankind has a long tradition of ignoring silly little things like sovereignty and laws. Whilst the Outer Space Treaty prevents countries from claiming sovereignty over any part of outer space, it says nothing about individuals and private companies claiming land for themselves and for profit. Colonisation by the private sector is not unheard of, with the East India Company ruling over large areas of India for a century until being ceded to the British Government in 1858. This ‘loophole’ around private ownership was intended to be closed by the 1979 Moon Treaty, which also would have prevented the exploitation of natural resources. The treaty today is meaningless, only ever applying to the moon and being ratified by only five countries. It also failed to include the US, China, or Russia. The lack of ratification by the US is significant as this is where many of the influential private space exploration companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are based. Both companies have expressed interest in staying on the moon, Blue Origin with the ambition of shifting heavy industry to the moon, and what Elon Musk dubbed ‘Moon Base Alpha.’ With supposedly nothing prohibiting private ownership of the moon, there are numerous online vendors selling plots of land on the moon, although as Virgin Experience Days clarifies in bold, they ‘make no guarantees about the legal ownership of the moon.’ More recent treaties on space such as the 2020 Artemis Accords continue to attempt to ensure and clarify the access of private companies to outer space. Being focused on the Moon, Mars, comets, and asteroids, it allows for the extraction and recovery of their resources, along with


an agreement that their exploitation does not violate Article II of the Outer Space Treaty. This treaty too suffers from a lack of adoption with only twelve member states, not including Russia or China. It does however point us towards what is becoming the other goal of space exploration, which is natural resources. For example, NASA awarded SpaceX a contract to visit the asteroid 16 Psyche in 2022, an object valued at $10,000 quadrillion. The world economy is valued at only $80.27 trillion. Whether it be the land on which our moon base sits or the asteroid we wish to mine for near-infinite resources, more robust rules about sovereignty and ownership are needed if there are going to be competing national and corporate interests. The safety zones of the Artemis Accords which are intended to exist around installations and operations have been criticised by Russia as a means of making de facto territorial claims to the moon. This should be seen as a step in the right direction as rules provide a means to manage these competing interests, and should be preferable to anarchy. We have rules governing behaviour and claims of sovereignty to uninhabited spaces on earth like Antarctica and the sea, so why not in space too?



SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ars. You stand on the surface for 2 minutes and you’re dead. It is a radioactive, oxygendeprived landscape of poisonous soil. So why bother colonising it when we have enough problems here on Earth? Well, human presence on a second planet would drastically decrease the likelihood of human extinction. Human observation could provide insight that robots would miss, and there could be valuable resources to be found. Also, living on Mars would be cool as fuck. So, how do we do it? Let’s assume we’ve decided on a good location, and previous missions have built up a store of resources and equipment. First, the simple stuff. Water is easy to find since the poles are made of ice. Right, now on to the challenges.

Growing plants is a challenge as the soil is alkaline and lacking nitrogen. The soil would need decontaminating which is difficult and expensive. A better solution would be hydroponics: suspending plants in nutrient-rich water, removing the need for soil.

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The gravity on Mars is only 38% as strong as on Earth, and will cause muscle & bone loss as well as heart problems. Mars dwellers will have to exercise a lot, and this will only slow the degradation. Also, the repetitive lifestyle, lack of time outside, and critically important work will be highly mentally strenuous. Time spent on Mars will probably not exceed 26 months (which is how often we have a narrow travel window) and during this time people will undergo regular psychological screenings.

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Mars is lacking an extensive magnetosphere and dense atmosphere, so half of the radiation from space reaches the ground. This is a combination of galactic cosmic rays and solar energetic particles, both of which react with the soil and create secondary particles. We can get around this by shielding the habitats. As the atmosphere is mostly CO2 this can be harvested and frozen into thick layers around the habitats. Dirt could be placed on top of this for extra protection. This is an effective strategy unless you are a fan of living in a building with windows.



Mars is further from the sun, so solar power is only 40% as effective, and the sun is often obscured by dust storms. Wind/ geothermal energy is unusable as the atmosphere is 1% as dense as Earth’s and the interior is too cold. Combining solar and nuclear is best, using radioactive elements and a reactor from Earth, as Mars doesn’t have easily accessible uranium or thorium. Next, the living habitat needs to be pressurised and filled with nitrogen and oxygen to replicate Earth’s atmosphere. Pressurising means habitats must have rounded/smooth shapes.

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The lack of protection outside means that until the planet is terraformed (a short 100,000 year wait), residents will spend most of their time indoors, with remote-controlled robots completing work outside. But there’s a problem here too. Dust on Mars consists of very fine electrostatically charged particles, which stick to everything. It covers solar panels, decreasing their energy production, and it clogs up gears and gets into electronics. It was a dust storm that wrote the death certificate for the opportunity rover. These storms cover continent-sized areas and last for weeks.

And there we have it. Until better technologies allow us to overcome these problems, this ‘primitive’ setup would allow for human presence on the red planet for decades. All that is needed is a constant supply of crew members, resources, parts and nuclear fuel. Mars will be the toughest challenge we have ever faced. And look how well we’ve handled everything here! What could possibly go wrong….






The Roman God of the Underworld (5)


Fifth planet from the Sun (7)


See 26A


See 26A


Third NASA Spaceflight program (6)


See 13A


First official Earth satellite (7)


Misses the Earth and his wife (6, 3)









telescope (6) 11

First US woman in Space, Sally ___ (4)

13 & 3D Closest star to Earth outside of the Milky Way (7, 8) 16 Light display caused by solar wind (6)

10 Site of spaghettification (5, 4) 11 Science fiction sitcom starring Craig Charles (3, 5) 12 First woman in space ____ Tereshkova (9) 14 Explosion of a star (9) 15 Who David Bowie’s Ground Control are trying to contact (5, 3)

17 Building used to watch the stars and sea (11)

18 State that contains Area 51 (6)

19 Cosmic dust that burn up before reaching the

20 Saturn’s largest moon (5)

Earth’s surface (6)

22 Earth’s closest planetary neighbour (5)

21 Film starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (7) 23 Actor who played a botanist stranded on Mars (4, 5) 24 The first dog in Space (5) 25 Luminous active galactic nucleus (6) 26 & 6A & 2D Schwarzschild wormhole (8-5, 7)



Borrowed Time and Escaping the Solar System

t’s unlikely that our current Solar System will be our home forever. In fact, it’s impossible. With an expiration date on both Earth and the Sun, it’s practically unarguable that humans will eventually have to leave the Solar System to survive. While currently, the idea of interstellar travel seems more in line with science-fiction than science-fact, it’s unreasonable to think that this will always be the case.

Our closest neighbouring star is Proxima Centauri, sitting 4.246 light-years away with an exo-planet named ‘planet b’, also referred to as ‘Proxima Centauri b’, which theoretically may contain liquid water. With the possibility of the presence of water, we can deduce that the planet sits at a temperature that can sustain human life as well assuming the planet has oxygen (water is after all a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen). Yet that 4.246 lightyears is a daunting number, one which at the current would take humans over a thousand years to reach. So in order to leave our Solar System, we need to find a way to travel through space at rapid speeds. In Einstein’s theory of relativity, one of the arguments stated is that nothing can surpass the speed of light (299,792 km/s). In the simplest of terms, Einstein and other scientists believe this because light is basically massless (modelled as a wave) which means it doesn’t lose energy like particles do through friction, sound, heat, etc. It’s unlikely then that a human-made object comprised of massive particles could travel faster through a vacuum when battling all these energy losses. Our fastest humanmade probe reached speeds 0f 532,000 km/h (147.7 km/s)


translating to around 0.05% of light-speed. At that pace, we’re not going to be getting anywhere quickly and so developments in science and technology need to come a lot further to allow humans to reasonably leave our Solar System. In 1977, Nasa launched Voyager 1 into space where it has since managed to leave the Solar System, currently estimated at 18.5 billion kilometres away from Earth. Yet Voyager 1 would approximately take over 40,000 years to reach our closest star at its current speed of 45 km/s. So everything points to us being too slow to make it to Proxima Centauri. So we have three options. One: develop spacecraft that travel meaningfully quicker through space to make the journey time more manageable. This requires us to make dramatic leaps in scientific development which, while not impossible, is not a solution with a quick turnaround. Even if we manage to develop spacecraft that can travel at 1% the speed of the light (20 times faster than we have currently reached), it would still take hundreds of years to reach Proxima Centauri b, which we can’t even be sure could support human life, with only an educated deduction (a fancier way of saying ‘guess’, to be frank) of its viability. Option two requires advancements in cryogenics, finding means by which we can preserve humans for prolonged periods of time. Our study of animals during hibernation, alongside theories on cryogenic freezing (films often referring to this process as ‘hypersleep’) indicate that it


could be possible to induce humans into an extended sleep/frozen period during which the passing of time would feel indistinguishable. Our problem isn’t necessarily the cryogenics side though, but in how we ‘wake up’ those in hypersleep and whether it is even possible. Again, it’s something for which science hasn’t come far enough to give definitive answers, with little to indicate any breakthroughs in this field coming over the horizon.

So, is leaving our Solar System possible? Theoretically, yes. Once we consider the inevitable death of our solar system, albeit with a sizeable preparation period, it will in fact become a necessity to do so, rather than an ‘if ’. However, whether we have enough time and resources to make these preparations will always be a problem - one that, rather ironically, only time will be able to tell.

Finally, our third option is to turn away from travelling on spacecrafts to find habitable exoplanets and instead look towards the vastness of space as our solution (not unlike the positions the humans find themselves in in Pixar’s Wall-E). It might be theoretically easier to create spacecraft that are designed to support human life in space for prolonged periods. This way speed becomes much less of a factor, with the problem now being how to survive in space. We might have more success in designing spacecraft for prolonged habitation rather than for the fastest interstellar travel possible. Inevitably there would be problems with finding a renewable energy source (solar cells are great but require us always to be near a star) as well as with establishing a constant supply of food, water and oxygen and with overcoming the long-term effects space habitation has on humans. Excursions to planets or other space-based reserves of essential resources would become necessary to support human life, but could also pose great risks. Although all three options aren’t currently feasible, option three might be our best solution and the easiest to plan towards. Either way, it’s difficult to fathom that we could evacuate the entirety of all humans from Earth, especially as our population grows exponentially. We can however plan for smaller scale expeditions to ensure the survival of the human race, as long as our extinction doesn’t come before our technology advances enough to enable them!





How Space Helped Me Through Lockdown

WORDS BY DAISY GAZZARD IMAGE VIA FLFLFLFLFL, PIXABAY have always been amazed by space. From visiting the new planetarium in Bristol for my birthday to being really excited for the space topic in science at primary school, I have always found it fascinating. One issue is that I live in a big city and so the light pollution always made it hard for me to see the stars. That is why my love for space was reignited and flourished during lockdown. As less cars took to the roads, light pollution levels in Bristol dropped and I could finally see the stars. I jumped at this chance to spend as many evenings as possible sitting in my garden staring at the sky and as many days researching what to look out for. When I was younger, I was given a little book of constellations. It had a little compass in the front cover and instructions on how to find the constellations in the sky so you could work out what you were looking at. After spending some of lockdown using this, my mum and I upgraded to a stargazing app, SkyView. This allowed me to aim my phone at the sky and uncover the world above. It shows the constellations, planets and more. Me and my mum would spend ages walking around outside, craning our necks to the sky to try and work out where the Big Dipper or Orion’s Belt were. As lockdown progressed, we dug up our old telescope, which sadly no longer worked, took blankets and cups of tea outside so we could stay out for longer and even monitored twitter pages and more to look out for meteor


showers. My mum and I would spend work and study breaks tracking the International Space Station and setting alarms on our phones so we didn’t miss it fly overhead. I have always found the International Space Station to be one of the most incredible things about space. I find it surreal and unbelievable that there are real people up there, seeing our planet from the stars. During lockdown, there were several big events happening at NASA too, from spacewalks to the SpaceX Dragon capsule launch. I loved keeping an eye on all these events and it really gave me something to look forward to. The rocket launch, spacewalks, and more were all livestreamed on YouTube too. I even went outside to watch the rocket fly over us after watching the livestream but sadly it was too low for us to see. I loved looking forward to them and watching them. They provided structure to the long, lockdown days. Space and stargazing really helped me through lockdown. It gave me something to look forward to, provided some form of structure and allowed me to reignite my love for space and the stars. It brought me and my loved ones closer together too, from messaging my partner to look out the window at the rocket launch at the same time as me to telling my friends that there was a spacewalk next week. Though the light pollution has now returned and there is more to do on an evening as lockdown lifts, I still love to take a look at the stars.



A Hobby to Get Lost In here is something truly fascinating about the stars. To look up on a dark and clear night, staring at the unending expanse of blackness, you’re shown just how small you are. But the gentle flickers give you hope and remind you that you’re not alone. My admiration of the stars began at a young age. As a child, I would imagine what it would be like to hold one in my hand, inspired by the last scene from the film Stardust, where Victoria opened up a napkin and threw grey and glittery dust onto the ground. I was in awe of the sparkling appearance and kept that childlike aspiration to touch that sparkly thing for many years.

grass of my parent’s garden, and I can feel the chills from the late-night wind. I close my eyes and am on top of a huge hill with someone pointing out the North Star, the Big Dipper, Orion’s Belt. There’s something comforting about knowing that they’re always there, just above your head. Things on earth change so rapidly, but a clear night sky looks almost exactly the same as it did fifteen years ago. Within a second and with only one glance, you are transported through time into space. Stargazing for me is less of a hobby and more a worthy distraction. For even a short while, you are transported to the stars, floating amongst nothing and everything, with only the twinkling lights for company.

While I know now that I can’t actually get that close to the celestial bodies without my hand slipping through the gas or melting off my body, I found solace in the simple hobby of stargazing. I grew up in a hillside village that overlooks Birmingham. If I had an argument with my parents, I would storm outside and lie on the grass, open eyes stinging with tears which became immediately calmed and entranced by what lay above me. Many nights, I would gaze from my bedroom window and watch the constellations forming above the trees. After passing my driving test, anytime I felt sad, I would get in my car, drive up to the top of the hill, and park. There would be a ‘Space’ themed playlist on the go and I would stare out across the bright spots of the city below. While the light pollution of the big city made the cosmos above it look cloudy, if you looked out the other windows above the fields, the stars would twinkle. It was one of the best parts of a rural childhood home and helped grow my fascination with the stars. Moving to university and battling the inner city lights, it became more difficult to keep up this hobby. Instead, the stars would be replicated with small lights across the bedroom wall, reminiscent of many others’ uni rooms. While my time stargazing has depleted rapidly, the love and fascination with the stars have not. Any song that comes on and mentions the stars - any film, any conversations - and I am immediately whisked back to the






xercise. It’s a simple set of instructions we as humans force our bodies through as a way of maintaining our levels of fitness. Sometimes we exercise without completely recognising the fact that we are doing it. That’s right, simply walking down the road to the chippy, whether it’s one or ten minutes away, counts as exercise. But when the human body is tasked with tolerating the alien conditions in space, how does the astronaut keep themselves active in the land of stars? Exercising in space differs massively to exercise on Earth and that comes down to one simple fact: the lack of gravity. According to NASA, lifting 200 pounds in space would be far easier due to the fact that the microgravity would cause the 200-pound equipment to feel lighter. Weightlessness in space can have its benefits and drawbacks. Astronauts need to work out for two hours per day in order to maintain their bone and muscle mass. Without any attempt to keep fit, it can be easy for the astronaut’s muscles to begin crumbling as the body becomes lazy. In 2013, Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut and commander Chris Hadfield shared his workout routine through the CSA YouTube channel, providing viewers with a remarkable insight into the daily life of an astronaut. Hadfield filmed his routine, showing us how gets his cardio fix and keeps his upper body muscles in good health. In terms of cardio, the treadmill serves as one piece of equipment which allows astronauts to perform their workout. The space treadmill is of course not your typical treadmill, in fact, a harness has to be worn to prevent the


astronaut from floating away into outer space (physically and literally). On the other hand, the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) allows astronauts to maintain their muscle and bone mass. Similar to an elliptical machine, the ARED ensures that the astronaut has the ability to work a number of muscles in the body, helping to prevent the body from laziness due to the low gravity conditions. The deterioration of leg muscles is a potential problem for astronauts departing from the Earth into the unknown, considering how the legs won’t be required for use as much as they would be on Earth. To contain these issues, the ISS is also equipped with a stationary bicycle, again with a harness to ensure that the astronaut doesn’t float too high towards the ceiling. The bicycle comes with a monitor which allows the astronauts to keep a record of their fitness data. The data is sent directly to the trainers and doctors on Earth to make certain that the astronauts are keeping healthy. Nutrition is just as vital in space as exercise is when it comes to the matter of keeping fit. The potential deterioration of bones is a challenge that must be dealt with as constantly and consistently as possible whilst on the space station. Foods rich in calcium like yoghurt are absolutely crucial otherwise astronauts risk a decrease of up to 20% in muscle mass and bone density. Fresh produce with a two-day shelf life is stored in refrigerators on board the spacecraft, astronauts acquire their source of vitamins through such fresh food whilst also consuming food in their natural form such as nuts which are simply packaged. Exercise forms in space are rapidly evolving. So who knows... maybe in 20 years, PureGym in space will officially open. You never know.



Did Aliens Abduct Wessex Scene's News & Investigations Editors? WORDS AND IMAGE BY J. M. HURFORD

s some of our readers may have noticed, Wessex Scene currently doesn’t have any News & Investigations Editors, but how did this happen? Until now the official line has been that nobody ran for the positions at the AGM or the subsequent EGM but new evidence has emerged that there may have been a coverup of cosmic proportions, and the truth is quite literally out of this world. Aliens took them! And then they tried to erase the whole debacle from everyone’s minds. The keyword here is ‘tried’ as fortunately for us they didn’t quite pull it off. Whilst we have no idea who is missing we have clear traces of their activity which we cannot attribute to anybody else. A number of our news writers have come to us with followups on things none of us has any recollection of asking them to follow up and when pressed for more information they can’t recall who sent them to do the follow-up in the first place. Interestingly, one of our writers came to us with a follow-up on UFO sightings and crop circles in the local area, perhaps our missing editors knew too much?

side and none of it is mine, the clothes aren’t even in my size.’ We asked Billy why he was so certain that his other half must have been one of our editors and not a fifth victim,

We’re just patching a leak, scorch marks are a common symptom of this, pay no mind to them. he retorted: ‘That’s just how it works, okay.’ 2 - We suspect recent work on the roof of the Hartley Library may also be a result of alien intervention. In the early hours of the 6th September, several students passing through campus after a night out drinking reported bright lights above the Harley Library, a place our editors are known to frequent at night, and the library was closed for urgent repair work which suddenly began shortly after sunrise. At the time we asked the university to comment on the damage, a spokesperson told us, ‘We’re just patching a leak, scorch marks are a common symptom of this, pay no mind to them.’ Observers noted that a large circular section of the roof was missing with the surrounding roof tiles looking melted and scorched, undoubtedly the calling card of a death ray. With the News and Investigations Editors out of the picture we’ve been receiving reports that the news section has fallen into anarchy, one of our news writers who now insist they be called ‘The Reporter’ told us: ‘For years the editors have been watering down our content, but now we’re free to write as we please and I’ll be damned if we ever let some filthy editors control us again.’ Stay tuned as we uncover more about this situation. (A note from the editorial team: upon review of this article it has come to our attention that Billy Traderman does not exist, the author also has no recollection of writing about him. We suspect that Billy is yet another victim of alien abduction.)

1 - Our Head of Events & Outreach, Billy Traderman, tells us that he could have sworn he was in a relationship with one of the Editors but has no idea who, and likewise all our editors deny any romantic involvement with Billy. Billy elaborated on this experience, telling us, ‘I’m sure my partner and I lived together, we must have shared a room because there are all these extra clothes and makeup on one






aravan C e e




reetings, interstellar holidaymaker, and congratulations on your first step toward the most memorable and awe-inspiring excursion you’ll ever take. This guide is the perfect way for the rookie astro-vacationer to tackle the cosmos and muddy their boots on alien planets. And where better to start than our own backyard? The Solar System. Buckle in, check your oxygen tanks, make sure you’ve brought enough packed lunches, and let’s blast off! Note: This guide includes only major bodies in the system


that are possible to land on. The gas giants aren’t included, as upon your landing attempt you’d fall through and be crushed by their internal pressures – but they make for amazing fly-bys! Check out the rings of Saturn, the Spot of Jupiter, and the marvellous colours of Uranus and Neptune. The Moon ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ You may be inclined to disagree with Armstrong as you wait out the three-day trip to our closest destination, but where


better to start than the most significant stellar body in our solar system, tied only with the Sun! Luckily, we can visit the Moon without being atomised by the 5505°C surface temperatures of our star. That being said, the Moon is no picnic either. You’ll need to pack all-weather clothing, as temperatures can vary from 127°C in the day to -173°C at night. You’ll have to stay inside your spacesuit and stick with pre-prepared meals, but rest assured the stunning views of the landscape will make up for it! Of best interest are the ancient impact craters. You may be lucky enough to find ice on the poles, or scientific expeditions like Apollo 11. The most incredible view, of course, will be Earth. As Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov put it, ‘The Earth was small, light blue, and so touchingly alone, our home that must be defended like a holy relic. The Earth was absolutely round. I believe I never knew what the word round meant until I saw Earth from space.’ Mars The God of War, the Red Planet – Mars has had a place in the public consciousness for a very long time. The ancient Greeks and east-Asian cultures both referred to it as ‘fiery’, but despite it’s red surface, Mars is extremely cold. This is another planet that you’ll need to pack warmer clothes for, as it can plummet to -143°C (although temperatures can reach 35°C at the height of summer.) But don’t be fooled, summer is also storm season. These dust storms are deadly, as can be seen in The Martian, and will blow away your lodgings with their 100 mph winds! You need to plan out your visit in advance, which you’ll have plenty of time to do over your seven month journey. Upon landing safely, there will be many choices for sightseeing. Whilst the canals are an optical illusion, there is plenty to see, such as the icy poles or Valles Marines, the largest canyon in the solar system that runs the length of New York to Los Angeles. For the hiker, there’s Olympus Mons, a colossal volcano the size of Poland and three times the height of Mt. Everest. After that, you’ll definitely be in need of a breather!

462°C. Do not visit the surface. Colour pictures from the Soviet-era show a hazy yellow wasteland, and while you may be determined, the hellish conditions will certainly dissuade you. The upper atmosphere of Venus is conversely quite pleasant with rolling clouds abound. They make the 97 day travel time worth it. Mercury The closest planet to the Sun and fastest planet in the solar system, it’s no wonder this planet is named after the messenger god. The surface of Mercury is similar to that of the Moon, with many impact craters that are adorably named after famous poets and artists. On your travels, you can visit Dr Seuss, Shakespeare and the Brontës – assuming you don’t mind them being rocks! Mercury is also the best place to get a good look at the sun, although you’ll need sun cream and sunglasses, as temperatures can reach 427°C during the day. I strongly advise sticking to the cooler areas. Due to its close proximity to the Sun, Mercury is a victim of solar flares, which are devastating to tourists. It’s theorised that the planet is so small (just larger than the Moon) because the sun has stripped away its mantle, leaving a denser core behind. Make sure you check the weather forecast during your 147 day journey, as you don’t want to be blasted into space! And thus ends this guide that will hopefully inspire you to take your first steps into the unknown. There are multiple bodies in our solar system not covered in this article, like the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and many others within the Asteroid Belt. With this guide to get you started, you can get out there and forge your adventure amongst the stars. Just remember – pack for a long trip!

Venus As the brightest point in the sky (excluding the Sun) Venus has always had a place in human mythology. Common features ascribed include purity, bringing of light, and beauty. While this sounds lovely, the brightness of the planet is due to its dense and reflective atmosphere composed of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and sulphuric acid. Yikes. The pressure density is 93 times that of Earth’s, resulting in a greenhouse effect that makes the temperature





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