By Mary O’KEEFE
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently held a recognition/celebration event for the 50th anniversary of the Mariner 4. Scientists and engineers who helped make the Mariner mission possible, including Norm Haynes, John Casani and Gentry Lee, were invited to speak on a panel about the challenges of getting to Mars and receiving data back. Also on the panel was science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson.
The Mariner mission was new territory for the agency and those at the Lab and NASA knew from the success of the Moon landing the eyes of the world were on them.
On July 15, 1965 Mariner 4 made its closest approach to Mars and flew into history taking the first photos of another planet from space.
During the panel discussion, talk turned to what technology was like 50 years ago – from the large computers that would have to be housed in cold rooms to keep them from overheating to blazing trails in areas no one had ever tried before.
CVW wanted to find out what young scientists and engineers would predict for the next 50 years. About 35 Girl Scouts gathered at the Montrose Girl Scout House as part of the First Lego League (FLL) team. CVW spoke to them about their predictions of 50 years in the future.
“There will be men and women on Mars.”
“We are going to farm on the Moon.”
“I think Mars is going to be like Earth; we will live there.”
These were some of the comments made by the girls who were at the Scout House being mentored by Crescenta Valley High School robotic team members as part of FLL.
Most agreed that space travel will not only include robots but humans who will travel to other planets and that new fuels and sources of energy will be found that will make possible that travel to distant planets. But then when the conversation turned to the future of Earth the girls had very strong opinions, and often did not see a rosy outcome for their own planet.
“It’s not going to be a better world,” said Sam Bonk, fourth grader. “I think it is not going to be good for animals. There is going to be a lot of pollution and we are [destroying] our natural environment. The only way we will see animals will be at zoos.”
“I think more animals will be extinct and more will be endangered, even the Border collie could be endangered, ” said Cailyn Clarke, sixth grader.
They all were concerned about over-population.
“I think there is going to be a lot more people in 50 years. You will have to travel pretty far to find houses like we have here [with yards]. It will be like living in New York,” Sam said.
Accelerated global climate change was a concern for most of the girls.
“Greenland might turn into a small island because of the [ice caps] melting,” said Sofie Hagen-Smith, fifth grader.
There was some hope though as the girls spoke about what they could do to help the Earth in the future and how humans will work alongside robots to help improve the quality of life.
“I think robots will replace the jobs of humans,” said Seabrign Hutson, sixth grader.
“I think robots will actually have feelings and be able to talk to people about things that are bad for them,” said Cailyn.
Cailyn thought robots would be able to teach humans about issues like smoking and how that is bad for their health.
Lucas Repath-Martos, a CVHS junior and robotics team mentor, said he thought robots would be able to help with scientific studies.
“I think robots will be useful,” he said. “They will be self automated and adapt to [their surroundings]. A robot could be [introduced] into a herd of elephants and could study them.”
And there were some ideas about how to, if not reverse accelerated climate change, do what they could to slow it down.
“We will have the knowledge to fight it back, and in 50 years technology will be advanced enough to find [a way to help],” said Rianna Reinhard, CVHS sophomore.
“Maybe there could be something we could attach to cars that would stop the pollution from [exhaust],” said Sofie.
Solutions from the girls also came in more advanced ideas from solar power and buildings that were more environmentally friendly.
Even though these girls grew up with technology they were concerned that too much is not always a good thing.
“My English teacher said in the future everyone will be hunched over with huge thumbs,” Cailyn joked.
Her teacher was referring to the focus on cellphones and texting.
The kids ranged in age from fourth grade to high school and looked forward to exploring and colonizing Mars and other planets, and hoped that by the time they inherited the Earth there would be enough time to save it.
The Girl Scouts participating in the discussion included Cailyn Clarke, Seabrign Hutson, Kaylee Gunnoe, Gianna Pacelli, Sam Bonk, Karan Patel, Cordelia O’Rourke, Desiree Gunnoe, Ava Evans, Camila Lee, Charis Chung, Annika O’Rourke, Charlee Leatherberry, Ella Summers, Clarrissa Dubbs, Zoe Scott, Sofie Hagen-Smith, Sara Hightower, Sarah Bonk, Rianna Reinhard, Quinn Hurd, Natalie Avakian, Lucy Rickey, Nicole Rivera, Josie Lafontant, Kylie Rozzell, Julia Weeden, Gabrielle Scott, Melanie Evans, Kimberly Backes, Meredith Weeden, Lucia Reynolds, Gabrielle Reynolds and Lauren Peirson.