Life Beyond: planning for Mars in prisons

Charles Cockell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

One of the most ambitious aspirations held by our society is to establish settlements beyond the Earth: to build stations on the Moon and Mars and to exploit the vast resources of the solar system. But this objective has as much potential as a tool for education as an end in itself: building a successful space-faring capacity encourages many beneficial social characteristics including individuals gaining pride in contributing to a large-scale social purpose and fostering skills in science, engineering, art, writing and many other creative talents. With this in mind, it occurred to me that the exploration and settlement of space has enormous potential to raise educational opportunities in the prison environment, engaging inmates in an activity that requires individuals to work together to build a better society while thinking about our future. In that sense, one might even think about space exploration and its allied subjects, such as astrobiology, as instruments of social reform, for it is well established that prison education can reduce rates of reoffending (Stevens & Ward 1997, Jancic 1998, Vacca 2004, Chiras & Crea 2004, Esperian 2010) and enhance social integration after release (Hull et al. 2000, Linden & Perry 1983). In 2016, I approached the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) to discuss developing a course in space exploration entitled Life Beyond. The motivation was to provide an educational opportunity to learn about space exploration and then, with this education in hand, to engage prisoners in designing settlements on other planetary bodies, using their existing skills and abilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-35
Number of pages4
JournalAstronomy & Geophysics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


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