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World Space Week


Ivan Lehocki, M.S. Geophysics

Mission of no return (one way trip)                                                                

If the mission comes to life, they will be the first people who will live and die on another planet. There they can expect everyday struggle for survival but also an amazing new planet which could give answers to many questions which tormented scientists from the past until now.
Ivan Lehocki as everyone else since childhood has deeply implanted curiosity and a desire to understand how the world around us functions. Most adults occupied with other problems forget about the ‘curious child’ within them but Ivan Lehocki is one of those who did not. He is a student of space sciences and he has applied to go to Mars.

They say that Universe is totality of everything that exists. But how to explain what Universe is and what does it consist of?

Until recently it has been said that Universe is totality of everything that exists. Until 1929 our galaxy was the entire universe. Most cosmologists those ‘big boys’ who are trying to find the answers to fundamental questions like who we are, where do we come from and what is the future of our universe, believe that our universe is just one of many (a theory of Multiverse). Our universe is full of big unknowns and there is very little that we do know. To be more precise, 72% of our universe is made of dark energy, 23% dark matter, and only 5% of baryonic matter, matter in other words atoms which are basic building blocks of stars, planets and all living creatures. It means that 95% of known universe is made of something that we don’t know what it is. That shows that we are still far away from the goal to completely understand this universe.

Are all celestial bodies equally important? Can we imagine life on planets without other stars and satellites?

All celestial bodies are more or less equally important. Stars are crucially important for fusion of chemical elements which create basics for life itself. They are ‘our parents’. Planets are objects which together with stars can create conditions for making and evolution of life. But let’s not forget that physical laws enable the existence of stars and other bigger and smaller structures in universe. And even asteroids and comets are of great importance for human development. If 65 million years ago a comet didn’t hit the Earth and in a short period of time killed all the dinosaurs, maybe mammals Homo Sapiens would not have evolved and become a dominant species on the blue planet. Life as we know it could not be imagined without the energy and heat sent by the stars (in our case the Sun). At the same time we know that there are simple organisms so called extremophiles which can survive for millions of years in extremely difficult conditions in deep space. We can also imagine that technologically very developed civilizations (if there are any) can live on which ever planet they wish no matter how distant it is from its star.

Is there a life on other planets besides Earth?

The answer to that question is that we have not discovered life on other planets, but in Solar system there are a few serious candidates which are being studied trying to find the answer to that question. My personal belief is that the universe is just too big to have life on only one planet. I also think that human race has for many centuries or even millenniums been egocentric. It has reflected not only on everyday life but on scientific theories. For such a long time it was believed that the Earth is the centre of our universe, so called geocentric system. Well it isn’t!

Will Mars, even though it is called the red planet, one day have conditions for human life?

Maybe the better question is has Mars had conditions for life? In the light of most recent research sent from Curiosity which explores the red planet seems that in the soil of the planet there is a large amount of water. Water is tightly connected with the concept of life. Also geologists from the photos sent from spacecraft that orbited Mars discovered geological structures that provide strong, but not conclusive evidence that in the past water on Mars were plentiful. It seems that Mars was once a planet of different color. Can Mars terraform? Yes it can and I hope it will. That is a plan and a wish of space entusiasts and of those who are worried for the future of human kind on our planet. I am one of those concerned enthusiasts.

How much real knowledge do we have on Mars?

A lot. And it keeps growing every day. At the moment exploring Mars is the focus of many space agencies, not only NASA and ESA. A book written today on the subject of Mars could be greatly changed in 2 or 3 years.

What are the biggest difficulties in exploring other planets?

The biggest difficulty is that the money that could be used for researches and developing new technologies which could help people on Earth, is spent on wars. Simply there is no money for exploring such tiny part of the universe called the Solar system. Other very important reason is that the travel to the nearest planets is very risky because todays technology has not progressed enough for faster travelling.

What do researches of Mars look like?

At the moment there are a number of missions which explore the surface of Mars. On one side there are orbiters which circle around the planet and take different kinds of measurements. Then there are robot-rovers like Curiosity which explore the surface of mars and give scientists information on chemical contents of the surface, weather conditions, magnetic field, etc.

You have decided to apply to go to Mars. What does that mean precisely ? What awaits you there?

That means going to Mars without the possibility of returning to Earth. They will be the first humans to live and die on another planet. There they can expect everyday struggle for survival but also an amazing new planet which could give answers to many questions which tormented scientists from the past until now.

What made you wish to leave to Mars?

Answer to that question is neither short nor simple. I want to change the world. I want that people on this planet live peacefully. I want the wars and the killing of the innocent people to stop, I want people to stop running after the money. I wish a term of a hungry child and a greedy rich man is a thing from the distant past. I wish that the leaders of this world were intelligent people who will use the scarce natural resources of the tortured mother Earth in a smart way, and who will serve for the good of the mankind. I want a system of values of the future generations not to be so distorted the way it is today, where the accent is on collecting material goods. I wish that people would strive to help their nearest and furthest (not just people but all living creatures) not to only wish for the newest iPhone or a Mercedes. I want us to become a civilization which will peacefully explore the universe a civilization which will not know hunger of any kind but hunger for knowledge. How is all this connected with the mission to Mars? If I will be chosen my voice would be heard by all the races and all the layers of the society. The team that will go ‘up’ will live in very scarce conditions. I hope that that will force those who live in abundance to rethink their system of values.

Are there any fears? Do you think of leaving the Earth and what does it feel like?

Of course there are fears. Brave men are those who are afraid but do what they decided to do. When I heard about the mission I pictured myself on Mars and missing the Earth. On the other hand I have already moved through 8 countries and I don’t have firm roots anywhere. I think it is worth leaving the Earth trying to achieve greater and noble goals.

What would, if you go, your expedition look like?

If you can trust the numbers which I have recently seen there are over 200 000 people applied for the mission on Mars. There is a high likelihood that I will not be chosen. Whoever goes it will be a mission without precedence and the future astronauts will have to cope with many technological, health, psychological and other problems. So good luck to those that will be chosen.
Are there Martians?

No one knows whether they exist. It is the main focus of the research of Mars. And if there are any I think they are very simple and not complex organisms. Forget about the little green men bibip!

Why do the often say ‘as if you fell from Mars’?

It is folk saying. Only the people know the real meaning of the word. But if you would ask the people I believe they would say ‘just so’.

Do you believe that by exploring Mars people would discover Earth?

I believe that exploring Mars will help to better understand conditions of creating the life on Earth. Whatever we discover on Mars will make our picture of solar system more complete.

Author: Amra Hodžić, 2nd Gymnasium, Osijek, Croatia

© WORLD SPACE WEEK HRVATSKA 2013. Sva prava pridržana. Zabranjeno je kopiranje ili prenošenje cijelog ili dijela intervjua bez pismene dozvole.

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