Is anybody out there?

In fact, had a giant asteroid not killed off the dinosaurs, homo sapiens might never have evolved. If it weren’t for that chance cataclysmic encounter from space, Earth might even now be ruled by dinosaurs.

By Wayne Boyd

In the early days of Hollywood and television, we used to think that life on other planets was common. Science fiction movies about invasions from the planet Mars or Venus were normal. HG Wells wrote War of the Worlds which later became a radio show and still later several big screen adaptations and it was about Martians invading Earth.

Even as our imagination thrived our knowledge of the cosmos grew. We sent probes and rovers throughout the solar system and beyond. We gazed into the stars with our space telescopes. We took images from non-visible light and radio waves. Great minds like Einstein and Hawking churned it over. Finally, after all that, we came to a startling if not disappointing realization: Planets other than Earth that support life, if they exist at all, appear to be the exception rather than the rule. There is no warmongering Martian civilization waiting to invade Earth. There are no lovely ladies lounging around on Venus. It’s true not only for our own solar system, but for all the exoplanets we’ve detected so far.

Our understanding of distances in space developed, especially between stars. Distances, it turned out, were vast. The more we knew the less likely it seemed anyone would go star hopping. That not only applies to us, but the aliens as well, if any extraterrestrial sentient beings exist at all! There will be no warp drives, no faster than light travel, and no light speed travel. It just isn’t possible. We can’t go there and they can’t come here.

Recently, there’s been some reports of UFOs in the news, and that’s always been there from the 1950s on. There is no evidence that unidentified flying objects are extraterrestrial in origin. It is unlikely for the simple reason that to travel from one star to the next would take tens of thousands of years. Sadly, and perhaps fortunately, no one is traveling from star to star. The best we can hope for is that we can visit other planets in our own solar system. Maybe one of them might at least have some microbes.

Once we figured out that there wasn’t much chance of advanced, intelligent life elsewhere within our own solar system, then we hoped we would find it on planets around other stars. Remember the movie Avatar? Supposedly that took place around Alpha Centauri, one of our closest group of stars. So if we can’t find life here then for sure it’s going to be on the closest star!

Yet, as we peered into the solar systems of other stars we came to a new understanding: most planets that we’re able to detect outside of our own solar system are hostile environments. There’s something weird about almost all of them, and so the prospect of finding life orbiting on a planet near our closest star is kind of unlikely. There’s no “Avatar” on Alpha Centauri.

Intelligent alien life is not impossible. The universe is a big place. The point is that we now know it to be rare. So rare, in fact, that it might exist nowhere other than here. At least as far as we can see so far.

In fact, had a giant asteroid not killed off the dinosaurs, homo sapiens might never have evolved. If it weren’t for that chance cataclysmic encounter from space, Earth might even now be ruled by dinosaurs.

Therefore, even if a planet were in an ideal goldilocks region around it’s star, and even if on the off chance single cell organisms had developed there, we have no reason to suspect that a homo-erectus kind of being might have developed there.

We really could be the only ones out there.

Will we find evidence Human-Like species once lived on Mars?

Will we find evidence Human-Like species once lived on Mars? Personally, I highly doubt it. I’m not even sure we will find evidence of ANY kind of past life on Mars, even microbial. If we even found evidence of a fossil of an extraterrestrial microbe on Mars, or for that matter on a meteor or anywhere else that originated somewhere other than Earth, it would completely revolutionize science and religion and be a huge culture shock for millions of people.

Would Elon Musk be the most important person to have ever lived if he successfully colonized Mars with 1 million people?

If Elon Musk did colonize Mars with 1 million people, would he be the most important person to have ever lived?

I would then think of him like maybe Christopher Columbus, or the Pilgrims from England that started populating North America. Outside North America these people are not seen as important (or even known). Schools in other parts of the world don’t teach much about this.

Here in America, however, we have Columbus day to remember the crossing of the Atlantic in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, and Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts to remember the first landing of the Pilgrims who came from Plymouth, England. We have Thanksgiving to remember a mutual celebration between the Pilgrims and the local Native Americans after the Pilgrims had their first successful growing season.

So I would say that to the people of Earth Elon Musk would not be the most important person to have ever lived, but to the people of Mars he would be the most important person for the first few generations, but as time passed he would be seen from an historical point of view and remembered on future Martian calendars by the people of Mars.

Here on Earth he would be remembered in history books, too, but so many people have come and gone in the history of mankind. Many people in the past have been very transformative, but overall are not seen as the most important persons. People like Alexander the Great, Issac Newton, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, George Washington, Queen Victoria, ad infinitum, have all been very important in the history of mankind, but none stand out over time as the most important person to have ever lived. So will it be with Elon Musk even if he did colonize 1 million people on Mars.

What will be the main economic gains of colonies on Mars, or the Moon?

You don’t want me to answer this question. You are looking for a great, positive answer that will make the future look bright not only for colonies on these places, but an economic base for those colonies.

Meanwhile, I’m going to say I don’t think there’s much justification even for people walking on Mars when our robots can do it more safely and less expensively and achieve the same or better results…. what to speak of “colonies.” I think it’s almost laughable and mostly just science fiction dreaming.

People may or may not one day walk on Mars at great risk, and some will probably die in the attempt. There is little reason to go there from a scientific point of view other than to say we did, just like we walked on the moon and then went away.

In the meantime, a safer, cheaper way is send our machines to go.

You see, what this is all about is finding life. What scientists want to do is prove that life can evolve elsewhere than Earth – a so far unproven theory. We want there to be life elsewhere because we want to prove that life was not “created” on Earth alone, but life naturally develops from matter when conditions are ideal.

We don’t need “colonies” or economic bases in space to prove that. We just need to find some germs under some rocks or on some moon around some planet in our solar system. For that we just need space vehicles and robots like the Mars Rovers.

Whether we find life or not is anyone’s guess, but it is still science fiction thinking we will colonize anything off planet.

What are we missing logistically to be able to colonize on Mars?

Great question: “What are we missing logistically to be able to colonize on Mars?|

  • A breathable atmosphere.
  • Nitrogen in the soil to grow stuff (there is none)
  • Temperature range (presently it goes below a hundred degrees below zero).
  • Lack of an organized magnetic field to protect people from the sun.
  • A thin atmosphere equivalent to living way above mount everest on Earth.
  • It’s a long, long far far away. The moon is better.

Why do you think we should even consider colonizing Mars? We can’t even colonize our own planet successfully what to speak of Mars!

Why should we focus our “space efforts” on Venus, instead of Mars?

Well, in my opinion we should focus on the Moon.

As for Mars vs. Venus, both have unbreathable atmospheres. Mars is very cold, hundreds of degrees below zero cold. Venus is hot, melt stuff in a few minutes hot.

Mars doesn’t have rain or surface liquid water.

Venus also doesn’t have liquid water on the surface, but it does rain. The problem is it’s raining sulfuric acid.

Any probes we’ve tried sending to Venus have become dysfunctional within minutes.

Did we “accidentally” bring new bacteria to the moon or Mars via our space exploration programs?

Probably, and that’s why terraforming is a bad idea. Inside the scientifically minded community, there are two distinct ideas.
  1. Don’t contaminate. Leave whatever planet it happens to be in the original pristine condition so we can study it. (This is the predominant, tree hugging concept.)
  2. Screw number 1. Terraform the planet. Make it livable for humans, existing organisms, if they exist at all, be damned.

That being said, we do try all we can not to contaminate planets we send probes to even though some microorganisms may have made it through.

At present, and probably rightly so, NASA does not want to introduce organisms to other planets – or visa versa – introduce to Earth organisms from other planets on Earth. We may have already failed, but we still try.

How many satellites are there, and which are there on each planet?

If you count all the little nuts, bolts, loose wrenches and pieces of demolished satellites as satellites, then there’s a whole lot of junk floating around Earth. Thousands of pieces that pose a hazard.
spacejunk

Around the moon we have about three functioning spacecraft but have launched far more than that that have, over time, gone dead – perhaps crashed to the surface of the moon. Then we have the odd Juno spacecraft around Jupiter, the voyagers I and II and so on. We’ve put more space junk up there then anything else. This is a fairly accurate artist’s rendition of space junk around Earth.

The Russians have put several probes on Venus, the Americans and Europeans put a probe on Titan, we have probes on Mars, we flew a probe by Pluto and orbited Saturn for a long while before crashing deliberately. We presently have, as mentioned, the Juno spacecraft around Jupiter. We have hundreds of functioning satellites in orbit around Earth.

What would happen if NASA had the U.S. Military's budget?

We spend 600 billion dollars every year on the military. What would happen if NASA had that kind of money? Here’s a very cool YouTube video that I love to watch!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chLOgj8xjx8&w=854&h=480]