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Space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock reckons humans will spread across the solar system in the future as we are “vulnerable” just living on Earth.
Dr Maggie, who presents the BBC’s Sky At Night, says it’s only a matter of time before technology makes the dream a realistic proposition.
She says: “I do believe the destiny of humanity is out there.
“All of humanity on one planet leaves us vulnerable. Having humanity seeded across the solar system – and maybe beyond – in future is important.
“Space probes are discovering exoplanets, going around stars trillions of miles away.
“Technology is adapting so maybe in the future there will be people living and thriving in other solar systems in the long term.”
London-born Dr Maggie, who was presented with an OBE in 2009 for services to science education, also co-hosts CBeebies show Stargazing.
The physics and mechanical engineering graduate believes scientific evidence shows life on other planets is likely.
“I do believe in extraterrestrials,” says the 53-year-old.
“The probe Gaia has been doing a census of our Milky Way galaxy since 2013, when we thought there were 200billion stars – but there’s 300billion.
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“Each one is a sun like ours, and now we’re detecting planets going around those stars. The Hubble telescope discovered that there are about 100billion galaxies in the universe.
“With all those potential planets that could hold life it would be arrogant to believe we were the only ones.”
But it’s going to take sheer chance for us to cross paths with aliens, adds Dr Maggie, who once revealed extra-terrestrial kids show The Clangers inspired her to become a space scientist.
“The universe is so big, if there are intelligent aliens able to travel through space, the challenge is how would they find us?” she says.
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“Not only do they have to travel vast distances but you also have to have civilisations overlapping.
“There’s a lot to say there’s life out there but it’s going to be challenging to find.”
This week Heinz revealed they have made a Marz edition of their famous ketchup after a two-year collaboration with the Aldrin Space Institute at Florida Tech.
A team of 14 scientists and students grew a crop of tomatoes for it in what they’ve dubbed “The Red House”.
Dr Maggie says: “It contains three and a half tonnes of the stuff you find on the Martian surface and gives us the green light to grow crops on Mars in future.
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“Mars is about as cold as Antarctica and we can’t breathe in the atmosphere, but with bio domes we could – and grow food, as Heinz has demonstrated.”
And as for the rich and famous like Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson jetting off in private space shuttles, Maggie explains: “It’s a battle of the billionaires and I’m in two minds about it. We’ve had three eras of space. The first was war and confrontation.
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“The second era was collaboration when you had the formation of the Euro-pean Space Agency and handshakes in space. The third era is commercialism.”
Dr Maggie, who was the first woman of African descent to win gold at the Physics News Award, said: “All my life I’ve dreamed of getting out there and this might enable us, but we use a lot of fuel and need to work out green ways of doing it.
“Let’s learn some lessons here on Earth before we start messing up another planet.”
●Heinz and scientists from Florida’s Aldrin Space Institute have worked together to create the Marz Edition ketchup prototype bottles.
- Spaced Out
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