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Sol Journal for October 4th

October 4, 2016

This report filed by Anastasiya Stepanova – Crew Journalist

Here we are at the Mars Desert Research Station simulating that we have landed on the red planet. Undertaking a massive field science research program, living in isolation, eating dehydrated food and having delays in communication with Earth. But how far are we really from actually getting to Mars? How many years will pass before we see the first footprints in the red dust?

If we go back into space history, almost impossible things were done in a short period. Today is the 59th anniversary of the first artificial Earth satellite “Sputnik”. The Russians started the calendar of the space era from this day, the 4th of October 1957, when the Soviet Union launched a 58 cm in diameter satellite into lower Earth orbit. It was quite a simple metal sphere with four external antennae to send radio signals, which were detectable all around the Earth. Even though it was poorly equipped, Sputnik provided valuable information. An analysis of radio signals was used to gather information about the electron density of the ionosphere. Temperature and pressure were encoded in the duration of radio beeps.

But the major impact caused by this event was the start of the space race. Military, technological and science developments had such a boost as never before. Sputnik orbited the Earth just about three months and burned in the atmosphere, but inspired a generation! The whole human ideology changed! Kids were dreaming to build stations on the Moon, Mars and Venus. To be an astronaut was the most prestigious profession, compared with a real life superman.

I’m often asked if it is possible to get to Mars in 10 years. I reply with one simple example: from 58 cm satellite, not knowing what is out there in space, we could manage to send the first human, Yuriy Gagarin, just four years after. So, yes, we as a whole planet, nation or as one extraordinary human can do it!