2016 Solar Scholarship Winner: Patrick Miga (Georgia Tech Georgia Institute of Technology)

Solar Action Alliance is a group of environmentalists who want to spread the word about the most clean, reliable, and abundant source of renewable energy: the sun.

A Future Among the Stars by Patrick Miga (Georgia Tech Georgia Institute of Technology)

My ideal future cannot be achieved without harnessing the energy of the sun. In my ideal future, fossil fuels are nonexistent for a very simple reason – as far as we know, they only exist on the Earth. This future exists beyond the scope of the Earth, where humans have begun to colonize other celestial bodies that are not plagued by fossil fuels.

I am currently a rising sophomore pursuing a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech. I am captivated by planets and the expanse of space; I do not believe that the human race should be confined to the bounds of the Earth and that it is our duty to first explore our solar system and eventually the stars. We are extremely lucky to be living in a solar system that not only has a beautiful planet that we call home but also has an expanse of unique celestial bodies each with their own distinctive properties and beauty. However, reality has led us to discover that hidden within the uniqueness of each world lies a hostile environment. The only way for the people of Earth to truly appreciate its beauty is to experience the hostility of the rest of the solar system and to conquer it – only then can we come to understand the importance of our home and cease to destroy it with pollution and carelessness. Currently we take the Earth and its resources for granted by pillaging what it provides and not allowing it time to heal. With just how large the Earth is, it is easy to get a false sense of the abundance of its resources. Obviously the Earth is not infinite, and the only way to convince the population is to show them just how small and insignificant we really are. Therefore, colonizing the solar system and observing just how rare it is to find an Earthlike world may be the quickest method to preach for the conservation of home.

The first step to colonization of the solar system is to have the means of sustaining ourselves without our umbilical cord binding us to Earth. We must be able to function without the dependency of ferrying resources between our settlement and our home – we must learn to live off of the land. This requires the means to sustain the massive energy consumption that will be a reality of colonization. Fortunately, we can colonize the solar system the same way we explore it – by harnessing solar energy. Today, almost everything sent into space with a desired lifespan longer than a few days is equipped with solar panels or Plutonium. The majority of the planets in the solar system are close enough to the sun that it provides enough energy to be considered an effective source. In the colonization of another planet or a moon, solar panels will accompany almost any form of technology that consumes electricity. Every building and vehicle will boast solar panels that work with cutting edge efficiency, presumably taking advantage of the lack of atmosphere to account for the difficulties presented by a lack of atmosphere.

In order to be positive that solar technology can be depended upon where the proximity to the Earth cannot be, we will first have to demonstrate that even on Earth we can survive solely on solar technology. I am excited for the implications that arise from this circumstance – soon there will be solar cities that validate its success and lead the struggle of convincing the rest of the world that solar power is reliable. More and more people will buy into the idea of solar power and eventually we will evolve into a race that only depends on renewable energy. Roadways will convert to solar roadways, rooftops boasting solar panels will be a common sight, and the days of dirty clouds emerging from a coal plant will fade like a bad memory. Solar technology will be developed for daily life as well as space exploration and both will improve together in synergy with overlapping technology – problems of space exploration will solve the problems of regular life, and vice versa. We will come to completely understand the power of solar technology and come to depend on it for the preservation of not only our world but also our way of life.

Once we have completely conquered the ability to produce energy without harming ourselves and our world, we will begin to conquer the solar system. We will evolve into a spacefaring species and joke of the days where humanity was guided by nonrenewable energy. Eventually we will only be bounded by our imaginations and the laws of the universe as we travel from one world to another.

 

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