Space exploration, life and the cosmos
The space age is little more than 50 years old, and has been crucial for science. Unmanned probes have visited the planets of our Solar System. But will human explorers follow? Or will the Solar System be an arena for robots and fabricators? The wider cosmos has become much more interesting. We have learnt that most stars are orbited by retinues of planets. Within our Galaxy, there are billions of planets like Earth. Will we find life on them? Our Galaxy is just one of billions, whose history can be traced back to some mysterious ‘beginning’ nearly 14 billion years ago. We now understand in outline the emergence of atoms, galaxies, stars and planets – and how, on at least one planet, life emerged and developed the complex biosphere of which we are part.