Discussion What would you like to see happen by 2050 in space flight?

PhantomCruiser

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We may NEVER find proof of extraterrestrial life. Space is just too damb big. The Milky Way might have millions of civiliazations and we might never find proof of their radio signals due to how much a signal can degrade over time and distance.

Even if we did manage to intercept a signal, locking on to it and tracking it over time wouldn't be easy (think about how fast the earth rotates, rotates around the sun, and the solar system rotates around the galaxy). The speeds are mind numbing.

Now imagine we do figure out how to thwart Einstein. The distances are still crazy. If we do find an advanced civilization, what are the odds that they are still around by the time we get there?
 

Unstung

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We might have detected it already: KIC 8462852.
That's jumping the gun.

We may NEVER find proof of extraterrestrial life. Space is just too damb big. The Milky Way might have millions of civiliazations and we might never find proof of their radio signals due to how much a signal can degrade over time and distance.

Even if we did manage to intercept a signal, locking on to it and tracking it over time wouldn't be easy (think about how fast the earth rotates, rotates around the sun, and the solar system rotates around the galaxy). The speeds are mind numbing.

Now imagine we do figure out how to thwart Einstein. The distances are still crazy. If we do find an advanced civilization, what are the odds that they are still around by the time we get there?
There is more to the search for extraterrestrial life than SETI. One day, the technology will be available to characterize the atmospheres of rocky exoplanets in their star's habitable zone via spectroscopy. Maybe some exoplanets have oxygen-rich atmospheres as a result of a process similar to photosynthesis. Maybe there are other planets with an increasing amount of carbon dioxide in their atmospheres.

In the far future, it could be practical to create a virtual mirror in space so large that it can resolve surface features of nearby exoplanets.

There are plenty of potentially habitable worlds in the Solar System that have not been studied with instruments that can detect life. Instruments that can detect life are being developed. They would ideally be used at Europa, Enceladus, or Mars. Other potentially habitable destinations include Titan, Ganymede, and several other moons of gas giants.

SETI's capabilities could increase greatly in the near future. The Square Kilometer Array may be able to "detect an airport radar at 50 to 60 light years".
 
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birdmanmike

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. . . or that we're still around when "they" get here? And 50 years we're talking about :2cents:
 

Keatah

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Some sort of political and organizational stability so that long term projects can succeed despite the change in administration.

Then we can get down to business!
 

PhantomCruiser

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@ unstung;

I dig what you are saying, but any characterization of the spectrographic analysis of a planetary body will only be relevant for the time that particular light was reflected in our direction X many light years ago.

I can look at Andromeda and am resonably certain that somewhere in that galaxy is a form of intelligent life, or at least there might have been 2.5 million years ago when that light began it's journey. There might still be life there for all I know. But not the same as the light we see right now.

Those are only the stars and planets we think we see. We actually see ghosts. What was. We've no clue as to what is now.

That number will fall off as tech is developed, I'm sure. But for now. :shrug:
No reason to stop looking though, that's for sure.
 

TMac3000

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Until at least 2100, we won't have the technology to find them, so no luck unless they come to us.

And until at least 2300, I don't think we would be ready, emotionally or psychologically. This would really screw up a lot of peoples' world view. I don't think there would necessarily have to be an interstellar war or anything, but are we sure humanity would really know how to handle the consequences and ramifications of alien contact? I fear it for the same reason I would fear my hypothetical 15-year-old daughter having sex.
 

Urwumpe

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I fear it for the same reason I would fear my hypothetical 15-year-old daughter having sex.

Trust me - nothing in the world prepares you for THIS. :rofl:

Just had a friend going shopping for clothes with her daughter for the first time in the regular department and no longer in the children department. It was far too soon for the mother.

It won't be easier with aliens. Even if you know from day one that it will happen, you won't be ready for it, when it happens. You will be ready for it, after it happened and the dust settled.
 

TMac3000

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No doubt...but with enough time I think we could be less bellicose as a species and have more thought about what to do when the time comes.

What it is that I'm worried about is not something I can really put into words...
 

Urwumpe

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No doubt...but with enough time I think we could be less bellicose as a species and have more thought about what to do when the time comes.

Dream on. :lol:

We will likely always nearly wipe ourselves out to the point that we are too weak for even hauling insults at each other - only to come back again, rebuild everything and invent ourselves new.

And I have serious doubts, that any alien species will be largely different there. As much as this means danger, it likely also means a chance: Why should a civilization of aliens be easier to unite than a civilization of humans? Even bee hives have opposition and coups, as we know now.

Of course a species instilled with the instincts to survive will have also the ability to wipe out any possible threat or difficulty - including humanity. We could do the same. But we also can cooperate for survival. Not just with our species. And if it is no longer about survival and existential needs, we also have always made use of both options (Including fighting for self-realization)

We will likely never meet a species that is so extremely different in their behavior, that we will no longer see a part of ourselves in them. Because either extreme - extremely pacifistic or extremely belligerent, will mean an intergalactic Darwin Award.

We should just prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
 

TMac3000

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Agreed.

But there is one thing we must do...and this is the big thing:

Throw away everything we know.

We think we have some idea of what an alien species would be like--look at our science fiction. We don't. We're not even close.

Our bodies are based on carbon. Theirs might be based on silicon, or lead, or uranium.

We have two eyes. They might not even have eyes. They might not even have physical bodies.

And that's not even considering differences in thinking. We're not talking about people from another country here. This goes a whole universe beyond learning a different culture, language, or legal system. Anything we do or say could be considered a hostile act. Anything we don't do or say could be considered hostile. Or it could be considered friendly, but make them think something about us that is completely wrong, since they might not be able to put aside everything they know about themselves either.

When we can unlearn all this Spock, Ewoks, Moties, and Greys business, and think about aliens in a truly open-minded way, unclouded by assumptions, I think we will be ready. Until then, I find myself really terrified by the idea of a first contact.
 

richfororbit

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Well the recent finding last year of Kepler 452 is in the Cygnus constellation, 1,200 light years. So a shuttle stack would take, hmm, I don't know. A module? That little engine won't get far even if with unlimited fuel to the nearest star or even further away. Better off in a shuttle, but then again neigher vehicles are designed for meteors and bits and pieces from the galaxy.

But to centauri it would take nine centuries at the distance of 4.3 light years.

The whole idea of other life seperate from our own can really be only found in our Solar system. The former Lunar Module pilot Mr Mitchell believed that there are you know other beings, but none of his colleagues have ever shared that view, and I agree with them.

I think he took the words of former pilots far too literally.

The universe is billions of years old.

But as another user he expressed, travelling to somewhere would require a small amount of speed of not going faster than the speed of light. So ten percent to the nearest star, with a probe will take decades. But that still is a challenge to do, no doubt.
 

Urwumpe

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Throw away everything we know.

We think we have some idea of what an alien species would be like--look at our science fiction. We don't. We're not even close.

Our bodies are based on carbon. Theirs might be based on silicon, or lead, or uranium.

We have two eyes. They might not even have eyes. They might not even have physical bodies.

Wrong, especially because of what we know. We should not forget it. Evolution, Chemistry, Biology. All that Jazz. Could a Uranium based life-form exist? Maybe. But regarding how rare Uranium actually is in the universe, it makes no sense to expect it even just statistically. And that does not include how unlikely it is that such a life form would have a chance against lifeforms based on more common elements.

A lot of what we can expect from aliens is limited by boring science. Of course they must not have five fingers. Or fingers at all. Or eyes. But they must have been developing long enough from simple organisms to become as smart as we are or smarter. And for getting that far, they must have been winners. They must have found food, where other species failed. Or been robust enough to prey on other species.

Even if you consider that a hostile species of Uranium-based apex predators with nuclear fire feeding them is attacking us for stealing our nuclear fuel (PLEASE COME!)... based on our economics, even the Vatican State could out-multiply them like rabbits.
 

Lmoy

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Our bodies are based on carbon. Theirs might be based on silicon, or lead, or uranium.

The reason our bodies are based on carbon is because carbon is capable of bonding in a massively diverse number of ways, and is capable of forming large and complex molecular chains, which forms the basis of biochemistry. Silicon, while the closest to carbon in terms of this diversity, is far less diverse than carbon, and if life formed with a silicon base rather than a carbon base, it's likely that such life would be extremely limited in scope. We would almost definitely not see anything more complex than the simplest of microbes. Lead and uranium are even more limited in terms of organic chemistry than silicon, and it's pretty much impossible for such elements to form anything resembling organic compounds, which means we can safely rule out such life.

If we do find complex, intelligent life, it's extremely likely that it will use carbon as its biochemical base, because like Urwumpe mentioned, aliens are going to be limited by the same scientific principles and laws as we are. But that's not to say they won't be distinctly "alien" like you said. It's entirely likely that communication or understanding may be impossible to establish with an alien intelligence. Even given that though, I think striving to discover and learn about alien life is hugely important in expanding our knowledge and understanding of the universe, and there's no such thing as "too soon". The faster we learn and discover, the faster we'll adapt and advance.
 

Urwumpe

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I would not generally exclude anorganic life right now... since Chemistry is extremely limited in that knowledge right now. But it does not look like natures knowledge in such chemistry is much better.
 

TMac3000

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If we do find complex, intelligent life, it's extremely likely that it will use carbon as its biochemical base

Fair enough:yes: We can use science to make some assumptions, since like you said, they will not be magical, but limited by the same laws of science we are. For example, they are likely carbon-based; maybe silicon.

But I have to maintain my argument that, beyond what the laws of physics can tell us, we have to understand and accept that we would have no idea what to expect. When we can shed our preconceived notions about extraterrestrial species, we will be better able to approach a first contact with an open mind--although I have no idea exactly what an appropriate contact procedure would look like.

In my opinion, such a large swath of humanity is just not able to do that right now. We would be preparing for little fuzzy teddy bears, only to be greeted by a floating blob of pebbly green flesh that communicates telepathically in a language that doesn't even register in the human brain--or God only knows what else:shifty:

---------- Post added at 01:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:36 PM ----------

I'm going to open a separate thread to continue this...
 

N_Molson

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- Manned Mars Landing (and safe return).
- Automated submarine probing the ocean below Europa's ice crust (I can't even dream of a sample return given Jupiter's SOI...).

or God only knows what else

Intelligent probes ? Would make some sense, as we humans always send a strong vanguard of probes before actually getting out of LEO... But it would probably be hard to tell if they would be robots or slaves... :hmm: :hailprobe:
 
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Unstung

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@ unstung;

I dig what you are saying, but any characterization of the spectrographic analysis of a planetary body will only be relevant for the time that particular light was reflected in our direction X many light years ago.

I can look at Andromeda and am resonably certain that somewhere in that galaxy is a form of intelligent life, or at least there might have been 2.5 million years ago when that light began it's journey. There might still be life there for all I know. But not the same as the light we see right now.

Those are only the stars and planets we think we see. We actually see ghosts. What was. We've no clue as to what is now.

That number will fall off as tech is developed, I'm sure. But for now. :shrug:
No reason to stop looking though, that's for sure.

On our only data point, Earth, life has existed for billions of years. So the window to spot life on any habitable planet could be pretty large. But, like most variables in the Drake equation, we really don't know how long life, especially intelligent life, tends to endure, as you said.

I would be satisfied with finding any evidence of life, past or present.
 

Linguofreak

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My dream project would be a long-baseline stellar parallax project. Launch several probes on solar escape trajectories in wildly different directions and have them start taking parallax measurements of stars. In a decade or so they could be 30 AU out, giving you a ~60 AU baseline for parallax.
 

Kyle

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IMO, I'd like us by 2050 to be able to regularly finding life on other planets as common as we find exoplanets now by observing the types of molecules in an exoplanet's atmosphere.
 
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