Humans have always looked up into the sky, gazing into the night sky, wondering what lies beyond the billions of twinkling stars. Though we have travelled out into space over the last 70 years, we still can not visit other planets.
Many of us dream of the possibility of becoming a true interplanetary species - especially as we will eventually outgrow Earth. It's no wonder we love the countless science fiction stories, novels, video games, movies and television shows that are set in space or about distant galaxies.
Nasa is currently working on a three-phase program to have humans land on Mars as early as 2030 and other planets in succeeding decades. However, there is a slight issue with the time it will take to get to these locations. How will we ensure the astronauts survive the trip itself? Prolonged space travel harms the human body. There is a rapid loss of bone density and exposure to radiation equivalent to about 10 to 20 chest X-rays per day.
Scientists are currently looking at a primate called the Fat-Tailed Dwarf Lemur, who goes into a state of deep torpor, hibernating for extended periods. In this state, the metabolism, muscle atrophy and bone loss slowes down, body temperature cools down, and brain activity is reduced. Though we are very different from the Lemur, we have the same genetic "switches" that allow it to hibernate. We need to figure out how to activate it in humans to help space travel.
But even as we try to make space travel happen, there is still so much we don't know about outer space. This is why scientists worldwide jump on almost any clue they can find to learn as much as they can. These clues are, of course, bits of rock and debris from one of the hundreds of meteorites that strike the Earth every year. There is usually a huge rush to collect them because they could unlock the secrets of the cosmos.
In Morocco, dealers from all over the world come to trade in the million-dollar - and very secretive - meteorite market. Rare rocks - like those from Mars that contain Martian water - retail for US$10,000 per gram, much higher than the $50 per gram you can get for gold.
Sadly, meteorite dealers sell to anyone, even private collectors, and take the rocks from the landing site. This greatly undermines scientists' efforts to learn about how the solar system was formed, the materials found in space, and where and at what speed they landed.
And they're not the only group posing a growing threat to the future of space exploration. The rising numbers of Flat Earthers are also disturbingly on the rise, undermining science and thousands of years of empirical evidence.
But, human curiosity and survival will overcome these challenges. Further space explorations will take place in the near future.