The Earth is a special place for many reasons, one of the most important being its ability to sustain human life. But are there other places in our solar system that could be inhabited by humans?
That's exactly what planetary scientist and author Amanda Hendrix explores in her new book Beyond Earth, and this morning she met separately with students in all three academic divisions to dialogue about space colonization.
In her visits with the students and at an event at Powell's Books on Hawthorne yesterday evening, Hendrix explained that the most likely location for a human colony within a reasonable distance of Earth is Titan—Saturn's largest moon. Titan is only slightly larger than Earth's own moon (about 5,000 km in diameter), but boasts a thick atmosphere, wind, a great deal of ice, and even lakes! All of these features and many more are necessary to sustain human life.
The students had excellent questions for Hendrix, who worked for the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 12 years and is now a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute. "What would you eat on Titan?" queried one Middle School student. "I would imagine you'd have to have a whole new food system," Hendrix replied. "Maybe we'll want to make algae-based foods, and also fuels. That doesn't sound that palatable, necessarily, but fake meat has been created, don't forget!"
One of our Lower School students had an even more pressing question after hearing that the Saturnian moon experiences seasons just as Earth does: "Are there holidays on Titan?" Mrs. Burton's kindergarten class (pictured above) enjoyed hearing from Hendrix about the wild possibilities of living elsewhere in space.OES Winningstad Chair for Science and Engineering Anna Rozzi said of Hendrix's visit, "We are committed to broadening student perspectives by showing them that science research can have a huge impact on our communities locally and globally. We hope that connecting them with experts in the field will inspire students to continue to dive deep, ask questions, and push them to think about the real-world relevancy of what they are learning in school every day."