The implications for natural history– and the possibility of life elsewhere, given harsh Terran conditions 3.7 billion years ago– are significant.
By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard that SpaceX founder Elon Musk hopes to establish a colony on Mars. Eric Mack of Cnet argues that the plan is insane but not impossible, while TheVerge’s Elizabeth Lopatto finds Musk’s plans implausible, but notes that they may lead to other important discoveries.
Assuming the first flights ever get off the ground, they’ll be dangerous one-way trips.
Who wants to sign up?
Or ask additional questions?
As reported earlier, a probably earth-like planet does indeed orbit Proxima Centauri at a distance that could sustain life as we know it. That is as close to next-door, in galactic terms, as it gets.
Is anyone home?
Although Hawking has expressed concern about the consequences of alien contact, he nevertheless has thrown his support behind Starshot. The near-future project wouldn’t take us to Alpha Centauri, but would use laser tech and light-sails to send iPhone-sized ships to our stellar neighbor.
With investments from Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerberg, among others, we just might send the ships and receive the results within our lifetime.
By now, most of you have heard that Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has confirmed gravity waves, the existence of which was predicted by the General Theory of Relativity. Varying levels of explanations for what this means may be found here, here, here, and in the videos, below:
Pluto (briefly once known as Planet X—indeed, once known as a planet) has made the news all week with New Horizon‘s arrival in its distant system. Links to reportage and photos appear in this text; a compilation of video follows.
(and let’s not forget the ongoing study of Ceres by Dawn)
The Philae lander, from the Rosetta Spacecraft, has made its historic landing on a comet’s (67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko) nucleus, though the lander’s status, as of this post, remains uncertain.