If aliens in our galaxy are exponentially super advanced, why have they not completely colonized the entire Milky Way by now?

Well, let’s not put the cart before the horse. Right now we don’t know for sure that any life exists anywhere other than Earth. We suppose it does by mathematical calculations, but we haven’t even found a fossil of a microbe from space.

Secondly, suppose there is some super advanced civilization (your use of “exponentially” doesn’t seem to make any sense), the reason they probably haven’t completely colonized the entire Milky Way Galaxy is that for them, as for us, the laws of physics make it pretty much impossible to achieve interstellar travel because of the vast distances involved. And even if they could colonize some surrounding systems by now, it would take light and radio waves 100,000 years to reach us from the other side of the galaxy.

Would you rather live on Mars or on the Moon?

Since both the Moon and Mars would require a carefully constructed closed airtight environment or else people will die, I’d take the Moon because it’s easier to leave the Moon and go back to Earth if something starts to go wrong. On the other hand, it’s not so easy to leave Mars and go back to Earth.

Partial lunar eclipse
I took this photo from the street in front of my house in Amarillo, Texas, during a partial lunar eclipse. You can see the upper left corner of the moon is darker. The green light in the foreground is a streetlight on Pagoda Drive, Amarillo.

How long will it be till we have the technology to terraform?

We should never, ever try to terraform. This is a bad idea. We need to keep these planets in a pristine condition as we can in order to study them for the possibility of life having once existed on them.
This is also NASA’s official position. Do not contaminate other planets, and don’t contaminate Earth on return.

Will the moon or Mars have the first permanent human population?

In my opinion, hopefully neither place because there is no valuable reason for humans other than our robots to establish a presence in either place. Robots are expendable and you don’t have to bring them back. They can transmit what they find. Both are dead planets. Both have no reason to settle there.

Making Our Mark in the Universe

No we are not alone. There is life out there on other planets. Don’t make me prove it. Just accept the premise. Life exists elsewhere than Earth.
Life is one thing. Intelligent life is another.
There’s intelligent life out there too.
The problem is this. We’ll never know about them, and they are out there and will never know about us. This is the sad reality.
Now. Why do I say life is out there don’t make me prove it. It’s because of underwater volcanoes on Earth. We have these volcanoes under the ocean, deep deep volcanoes. They are erupting and giving off heat and they are surrounded by organisms that can’t be found anywhere else on Earth. There’s no sunlight, no photosynthesis – just the heat of the underwater volcano.
The same thing goes on around in other places in our solar system so we are to think there is life elsewhere in the solar system.
Just not so bright. Can’t type. Don’t have computers. No Internet. No smartphones. Just a microbe.
Somewhere, however, there is somebody else. Another civilization of civilized beings that have found a way to be self-aware.
Big problem though, because we’ll never meet them, know them, visit them, and vice versa. Space is so big, so large. By the time our sun dies and Earth is consumed, our radio waves will still be going out there.
We are here. We are alive. We can put our fingers on a keyboard. We are intelligent life that can do more than beavers building a dam and we are doomed.
We can’t go anywhere, star trek be damned. Our sun will blow up and life here will be extinguished.
What’s the point?
Well, we do exist. That’s significant. We exist in the here and in the now. We’re stuck on this rock called Earth. Does it matter?
I think so!
What to do? Well, I think we need to make a mark.
Voyager was a great idea. There’s two satellites that are so small nobody will ever find floating out in space with information about our civilization. Thank you Carl Sagan, but it was done just for funding. Nobody’s going to find Voyager 1 or 2. They are specks of sand gone to eternity. They will out survive us but they will not be found or noticed.
We should, however, be noticed because we mean something. We are here. We were here.
We should design something to make our mark on the universe. How can we do it? Intelligent life please respond.

If you had to design a manned spacecraft capable of traversing the solar system using our current technology, what would it be like?

This spacecraft must have the capability to land humans on various planets and moons in the solar system. (Mars, Moon, Titan, Europa, .etc)

Adymn Enoka Ikaika Anakin Aage Sani

By Adymn Enoka Ikaika Anakin Aage Sani

Yes, this is my real name. I have an I.Q. of 142

I doubt I would design one like NASA has designed Orion. Supposedly this new capsule holds 4 astronauts in about 350 cu.ft. which is small for the future of space travel. The great item about the Orion is the Escape Vehicle: it can yank the Orion free from any harm in 3 milliseconds. In my readings about the capsule in the recent past and I just bought a new magazine last night about the Mars trip in which the the new Rocket is described and the assembly of accessories for the trip; no author that I have read describes a vehicle in which the capsule can in transit detach, turn around and dock with a Mars trip habitat vehicle, as in a larger place for people to stretch their legs. I even emailed NASA, no answer. I’m left thinking that astronauts are meant to sit on their butts for literally months, which is impossible. Also, NASA has stuck with bringing astronauts home by doing a splash down like all the early capsules. Passé. BTW, I understand the desire for a water return, as in it is less crowded, but the desert SW can be equally barren. And the Russians have figured out and perfected the last tenths of a second retro rocket firing to slow the capsule down a lot before it hits the ground.
Now Boeing has designed a capsule that is capable of a land return and carries 6 astronauts. My vote is for Boeing. It is nearly ready for testing this year.
Okay, my turn. I would have a larger vehicle to stretch the astronauts legs and it would be reusable and stay in orbit either around the Moon or Earth and the departure point would determine where it would be parked. It would also stay in orbit around the target planet or moon in order to allow the lander vehicle described next to land.
I am not convinced I would have a “capsule” as such; more like a fueled landing pod. To do a return to Earth the vehicle would have a disposable aeroshell for high speed atmosphere travel and after most of the speed is burned off the shell can be dumped, perhaps recycled. The protocol is to use rockets to land, but parachutes are planned as backup. The orbital unit will be large enough to hold required fuel and extra aeroshells.
For other planets or moons most likely the rockets will suffice. The vehicle will require large landing legs and pads to ensure the lander doesn’t tip into a crack or hole. By this time of building an AI will be used for flight control so stability will be good and environment safe.
This ship system will use exploration drones on the different planets and moons; use different types for different environments.
That’s my idea, just need to flesh it out. I need about $20 billion from NASA (maybe less) and we can go.
EDIT: About parking the larger crew transit activity vehicle or whatever it should be called.
Probably should park all future space stations and vehicles such as this around the Moon until we get a handle on space junk around the Earth.

The Future Yet to Be

What was envisioned didn’t happen and what wasn’t envisioned happened instead – and it was better.

We humans are a hopeful bunch, the civilized ones among us.
We dream of a wondrous future and stop not to realize we have now what wasn’t predicted at all.
Here is a list of items I see for the near future. You may be surprised or may even disagree, but these are very realistic expectations.

  • Do not expect we’ll terraform Mars and establish settlements there. Do expect more orbiters and robotic machines and equipment in space to discover more about who we are and where we came from.

  • Do not expect AI to lead us to self aware thinking machines. Do expect amazing advancements in tech we cannot presently imagine.

  • Do not expect intelligent alien life to be discovered or that ancient aliens once visited Earth. Do expect an ongoing search for evidence life may have evolved elsewhere.

  • Do not expect conspiracy theories to go away. Do expect science to advance our understanding of the universe around us.

How can a Mars or moon habitat be made economically productive?

We can do a much finer exploration of Mars and the other planets/moons if we spend the money on advanced robotics, and not on the unnecessary human.

Unfortunately not only can neither a Mars nor a moon habitat be made economically productive, no Mars or Moon habitat will ever be built.

I know the non-scientific public think we are going to do all these things in the future, or even that we are right on the verge of doing it now. As such, my answers to these questions may not be popular, but they are the truth. We have been brainwashed by space movies.
No one is going to terraform or colonize these places. We will continue to send robots, rovers and orbiters to these places to study them. That’s it. If a robot dies it’s no big deal. If a human dies it’s a big deal. Sending robots is more cost effective, safer and will continue. Human space travel is an entirely unnecessary expense.
Professor Richard Muller, a physicist from UC Berkeley and author of “Physics for the Future Presidents” has stated it like this:

Most of the universe out there is pretty bleak. The planets and their moons look like exotic but very severe places to visit. They wouldn’t be much fun to explore, except remotely. Unlike the exploration of the New World in the 1500s and 1600s, will be completely dependent on the resources of a major country or company just to survive. It will be a totally artificial survival.It is far easier to create a living quarter on the floor of the Pacific, maybe even in a deep trench, than to live on the surface of Mars. We are not running out of space on Earth. Even Antarctica is far more benign than any planetary surface other than that of the Earth.

I once invited Wally Shirra to speak at a meeting on the exploration of the planets. I had no idea what he was going to say, but as someone who had “been there” I knew it would be interesting. When he spoke, he said that he knew what it was like in space, and that it was awful. Yes, you get some nice views, but space is constantly trying to kill you. He said he had no interest in going back; been there, done that, and it was exciting but exceedingly difficult. He suggested that the best way to explore the universe was with robots, like Voyager, not with people.

I agree. We can do a much finer exploration of Mars and the other planets/moons if we spend the money on advanced robotics, and not on the unnecessary human.

What are the most depressing things about space exploration?

It is far easier to create a living quarter on the floor of the Pacific, maybe even in a deep trench, than to live on the surface of Mars.

by Richard Muller
Richard Muller is Prof. Physics UC Berkeley and author of “Physics for Future Presidents”
Most of the universe out there is pretty bleak. The planets and their moons look like exotic but very severe places to visit. They wouldn’t be much fun to explore, except remotely. Unlike the exploration of the New World in the 1500s and 1600s, will be completely dependent on the resources of a major country or company just to survive. It will be a totally artificial survival.
It is far easier to create a living quarter on the floor of the Pacific, maybe even in a deep trench, than to live on the surface of Mars. We are not running out of space on Earth. Even Antarctica is far more benign than any planetary surface other than that of the Earth.
I once invited Wally Shirra to speak at a meeting on the exploration of the planets. I had no idea what he was going to say, but as someone who had “been there” I knew it would be interesting. When he spoke, he said that he knew what it was like in space, and that it was awful. Yes, you get some nice views, but space is constantly trying to kill you. He said he had no interest in going back; been there, done that, and it was exciting but exceedingly difficult. He suggested that the best way to explore the universe was with robots, like Voyager, not with people.
I agree. We can do a much finer exploration of Mars and the other planets/moons if we spend the money on advanced robotics, and not on the unnecessary human.
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Wayne Boyd
Professor Muller, thank you for your refreshing take. I have a blog and express my opinions here on Quora reiterating your views of space and Mars. People call me crazy and send me hate mail. Truth hurts sometimes.

What happens when we plant tree on Mars?

Mars is one of the most habitable planets in the solar system besides Earth. But don’t let that fool you — that says more about the rest of the planets in the solar system than it does about Mars.

By Matt Lever
Nothing.
“But… but Mars has CO2 in the atmosphere, soil, and sunlight!” I hear you reply.
Mars has an atmosphere, sure. But it’s atmosphere is so incredibly tenuous in comparison to Earth’s that it may as well not be there at all, at least so far as a respirating organism is concerned. Partially thanks to this, it is also perishingly cold, particularly at night. Siberia would seem like Tunisia in comparison.
And yes, Mars has soil. It’s dead soil, though. Not only is it not going to be nutritious to a burgeoning plant baby, but it would also be toxic. To say nothing of how frigid and dry it is.
And it may well receive sunlight, but only about half as much as we get on Earth. Contrariwise, Mars lacks an effective magnetosphere, so much more radiation gets down to the surface. So even if that first shoot somehow forced its way out of the toxic, perishingly cold, infertile soil, and somehow managed to suck out some CO2 from that tenuous, dry atmosphere, it would be starved of light and irradiated.
And then blown away by ferocious winds and torn apart by sandstorms.
Mars is one of the most habitable planets in the solar system besides Earth. But don’t let that fool you — that says more about the rest of the planets in the solar system than it does about Mars. As it stands now, planting a tree there would just be a seed funeral.