How difficult will it be to do a good job in space theme games?

Do you know that?/You know what? If one side of the asteroid is painted white and the other side is painted black, its running direction can be changed; In the International Space Station, astronauts can see the sunrise and sunset every day for 16 days … Mr. Emmet Fletcher of the European Space Agency (ESA) knows a lot about these things that ordinary people may never have heard of.

Fletcher has worked for ESA for nearly 30 years and is currently the head of the brand and cooperation department. Interestingly, Fletcher is still a veteran player. He was exposed to video games as early as the time when BBC Micro was popular. In recent years, he has devoted a lot of time to games such as Juno, Kambara Space Program and Elite: Dangerous.

In his eyes, which descriptions of space in video games are consistent with reality and which are completely wrong?

Fletcher (right 1) has participated in hundreds of space projects, including the "Rosetta" comet exploration program.

Fletcher first talked about the latest popular new work "Starry Sky". According to the background of the game, humans will land on Mars in 2050. "This is an interesting time node. In recent years, many space programs have been made around Mars, but landing on it is still very difficult, which is completely different from the race to the moon between countries in the 1960s."

"In order to achieve the goal of landing on the moon, the superpowers launched an arms race and invested a lot of money. But now, the world has changed. Although many developments in the aerospace industry are inseparable from commerce, ESA is still driven by science and technology, and scientific research is the core of this institution. "

Fletcher further explained that he thought it was really challenging to send humans to Mars, but in the past century, the development speed of flight technology was exciting. The first plane made by the Wright brothers was successfully tested in 1903, only 120 years ago. Humans have achieved the goal of rocket launch and space exploration in a relatively short time.

"Think about the first computer in human history. At the end of World War II, the first programmable electronic computer Colossus appeared. It was as big as a room, but its computing power was not as good as my watch. No one knows what will happen in the future, or what major breakthroughs will occur in science and technology. "

"We are doing something that you may not even think about, such as studying the atmosphere of planets around other stars in the next 10 years and seeing if there is oxygen 70 to 100 light years away. Some people think this is a joke, but scientists never say no easily. Judging from the existing technical conditions, we really can’t land on Mars yet, but you never know where and when the next technological breakthrough will appear. However, the timetable set by Starry Sky for this project is really too hasty. " Fletcher laughed.

Walking on Mars in "Starry Sky" … It may really come true in your lifetime.

If humans can really land on Mars, can they build settlements there and protect their homes from invasion as described in Starry Sky in the future? In addition, Starry Sky also allows players to explore various colonies and destroy enemy ships in space. But according to Fletcher, fighting in space may be a very bad idea.

First of all, Mars is totally unfit for human habitation. Although there is water on Mars, it is particularly cold there, and the surface contains a lot of poison and radiation. "Martian soil is basically iron oxide, which is not safe at all. We can explore it, but it can’t replace the earth after all. Human beings evolved for the earth, and we should maintain the friendly relationship between the earth and human beings. "

Fletcher added that ESA is also trying to be a greener organization. "If we screw up, the earth may no longer be suitable for human habitation after many years. In order to avoid such a thing, ESA is constantly generating a large number of data to track climate change, so as to find out which human behaviors do the most harm to the environment. "

"As for the earth observation mission, we use satellites in orbit to observe the changes of ice sheets, glaciers, deforestation and ocean heights, and make models of the collected data … If the environment continues to deteriorate, the earth may become less friendly to human beings, but there will still be life on the earth-maybe cockroaches."

The purpose of space exploration at this stage is not to replace our home-the earth.

Fletcher pointed out that although many sci-fi works imagined that human beings would migrate to other planets in the future, at least at this stage, the scientific community has not found a plan B that can replace the earth. In addition, even if humans do find a habitable planet, they need to invest a lot of resources to settle down there.

"According to dyson sphere’s theory, humans need to wrap a giant artificial sphere around a star to exploit energy. In the 1970s, the science fiction "Ring World" also put forward a similar vision: a huge artificial ring structure around the stars has increased the living area of human beings by millions of times, but you have to destroy the entire solar system to build it. These huge projects are a complete fantasy for us. Perhaps ideas such as space elevators may come true. Scientists have been thinking about it for decades, but do we really want to live in space? I don’t know. "

Fletcher also mentioned that if someone launches a space war now, it is likely that in the next three or four hundred years, humans will not be able to enter space, because the debris produced by the explosion will not disappear for a long time.

"If you create a huge debris cloud, it will make space travel very difficult or expensive, because humans have to take many protective measures to protect the spacecraft. The weight of the spacecraft is limited, which means that the space for human beings to enter space has become smaller. More than a decade ago, the collision of two small satellites triggered several space accidents, and the debris caused will remain there for the next 200 years. "

These "space junk" are all in orbit, usually running at a speed of 7 kilometers per second. "The spacecraft we developed can withstand an impact of about 1 cm, but if an object with a diameter of 2 cm passes through a sensitive area, it may lead to the scrapping of a satellite." He also revealed that there was a hole on the surface of one of ESA’s sentinel satellites, which was clearly visible under the lens, but no one knew what caused it.

In addition, the shock wave generated by kinetic energy may cause objects in space to smash, and then produce more fragments. "If someone deliberately launches a war and tries to destroy other things in space, it will create a terrible debris cloud, which is definitely not a good thing. Therefore, if the income or survival of warring camps depends on space, then war will only lead to a lose-lose situation. "

Space debris can be anything, such as a drop of paint or a broken 10-ton satellite.

Another interesting question is: can we pull out our guns and shoot at each other in space? In theory, it can, because guns can work without oxygen, but there are still differences between the actual experience of guns in space and science fiction works. In space, the energy generated by shooting will cause the shooter to retreat, and the opponent’s spacesuit may also protect him from injury.

"But you can still shoot people." Fletcher said, "Some gunshot wounds are not fatal in themselves, but in space, any open wound will be very serious. Although the spacesuit can largely prevent debris from hitting and play a certain protective role, there are some very sensitive life-support components installed on it, and no one wants to damage them outside the spacecraft. "

Having said that, considering the atmospheric pressure and the size of spacesuit gloves, it may be difficult for people to pull the trigger of ordinary guns in space. Fletcher recalled that he used gloves to operate ESA astronauts using space cameras and found the whole process quite difficult. In fact, even walking around in a spacesuit is a rather arduous task. It takes an astronaut about 6 hours to wear all the equipment. During the whole preparation process, he needs to ensure that the oxygen has been purified and a lot of inspection work has been carried out. Then, the astronaut needs to slowly decompress in the air barrier cabin.

"It will take some time. It doesn’t mean that you can go into space by putting on a spacesuit, at least not yet." But when I come back, it only takes about 45 minutes to take off my equipment.

Even in outer space with complete vacuum, you can still shoot, but maybe it’s not a good idea?

In addition to the space war, Fletcher also talked about establishing colonies on other planets. According to him, although many sci-fi works describe the scene of human beings establishing bases on planets and carrying out large-scale mining, this is not the most effective way to do this work in space.

"Compared with big planets, it is easier to mine on asteroids, and we have done a lot of work in this regard. Because it is easier to land on asteroids and the gravity is not so great, we can mine them on the asteroid belt or pull them closer to the earth, and then bring the collected metals and other resources back to the earth. "

Fletcher pointed out that space agencies can move asteroids in many ways, such as painting its two sides black and white respectively, thus changing its reaction to the sun. If a deadly killer, such as an asteroid that once led to the extinction of dinosaurs, is flying towards the earth, humans will consider this approach. However, he also stressed that human beings should never blow up asteroids easily, although Bruce Willis’s sci-fi disaster movie’s Armageddon hinted that it was a good idea.

Fletcher shared another simpler way to move an asteroid: install a detector with an engine on it. "Many organizations are studying how to conduct space mining from the perspectives of economy, practicality and safety, and we are no exception. For example, how to find the best asteroid? Do we want to find an asteroid rich in iron ore, or do we want to find resources for lithium batteries of electric vehicles? "

Space mining may be far away from us, but protecting the earth’s environment has always been the primary task of mankind.

Among many video games and sci-fi works on the theme of space, which descriptions of space by creators are the most outrageous? When asked this question, Fletcher quickly gave the answer: voice. After all, sound propagates through the vibration of atoms and molecules in air, water and other media, but without air in space, sound cannot propagate at all. "When people get out of the spaceship, they will find that everything is quiet, and the only sound they can hear actually comes from inside the spacesuit." For All Mankind, a self-made drama of Apple TV, a streaming media platform, restores this sound, but it is still a detail that is often overlooked.

Fletcher also mentioned that people should regard astronauts as people sitting in very, very small spaceships. Because in essence, a spacesuit is like a tiny, self-sufficient spaceship. In addition, the interior of the space station is much more messy than many people think.

"We will push air into the living area inside the spaceship. If a person sits there all the time and the air doesn’t flow, there will be a huge carbon dioxide bubble on his face, because there is no convection … Although space is very quiet, the inside of the International Space Station and spacesuit is never quiet because people have to breathe. "

This article was compiled from:

Original title: "How realistic is Starfield? We ask the European Space Agency》

Author: Victoria Kennedy