Ok, so the news is a bit old by now but OMG, flowing water on Mars!
I saw this news while I was in the hospital for a while (lots of TV watching), so my tardiness has a good excuse but I just have to go off topic here and shout my enthusiasm for this – THEY FOUND EVIDENCE OF FLOWING WATER ON MARS!!!
This news tied in with the release of the movie adaptation of The Martian (one of the best sci-fi books I’ve read in years – be sure to read the book, and then see the movie) has re-invigorated my enthusiasm for science and space.
I grew up reading Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Dick, Heinlein and countless others in their books, magazines and sci-fi collections. I came away from all of those stories inspired to get a degree in physics and mathematics and somehow ended up in software and security. From all of the stories I read, I always came away aware that life could potentially be in any form, but that water-based life would be closest to our understanding.
The science of it all is beyond me in some places, but what I know is that water on Mars and other planets or moons is a big deal, implying lots of things about the universe and life in it. Yay! I want life to be not only common but abundant and diverse in the universe.
The implications of flowing water on Mars (read more about it at NASA’s website or Phil Plait’s Blog ) are many, but one thing I know is that in this age – where science denial is acceptable – this will inspire some subset of the population to continue to learn and love the science that has driven the development of so many technologies that we now take as commonplace and all of us depend on (the drive for smaller and better computing is in large part due to the necessities of going to space especially with humans on board).
We need more scientists and science. GO NASA and JPL and SpaceX and all of the others out there applying science to solving big problems to get us to space!
Oh, and by the way all of that stuff needs security too…
Threat modeling a space mission would be one of the funnest exercises I can imagine! Think about how disastrous a malicious message sent to the devices on board a space vehicle could be?
Or some sort of DOS by simply sending meaningless messages to the ship. Or breaking into ground control systems and corrupting the computations for flight trajectories. Or causing a malfunction on launch using a “Stuxnet” virus like approach.
I am sure that these topics are addressed along with the redundant systems and failure scenario planning, but oh my, how many things a malicious attacker could try to do.
This is the kind of stuff that got me into science and computers in the first place, and I hope that we keep up space exploration as a way to drive technological advances while keeping security in mind!