Feeds

'Now that we have a map, let's start colonizing outer space' - expert

Only women willing to read maps invited

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

For proof that man will soon live in outer space, you need only look at Christopher Columbus. Or so said space whiz and senior SETI astronomer Seth Shostak during a lecture last night at NASA Ames.

Shostak presented, for the first time, his ideas on the parallels between ocean going explorers and today's space pioneers. The explorers, he argued, moved from setting out on their first voyages to creating rather accurate maps of the continents in a span of about fifty years. From that point on, naval powers focused on colonizing the new lands they had discovered.

Astronomers have mimicked the discovery portion of this journey over the past fifty years by producing a map of the Solar System, Shostak said. Next up, we'll set out to colonize space.

"The big picture comes when you step back and realize this is the one generation making the atlas of the solar system," Shostak said. "That is what's happening."

Columbus "discovered" a "new land" in 1492 and kicked off a flurry exploration made possible by innate human wanderlust and improved technology. Columbus, however, didn't really know where he had traveled and didn't add a tremendous amount of mapping knowledge. But over the next 50 years, the likes of Magellan, Vespucci and Verrazano would deliver a pretty solid picture of most of the major land masses.

"The basic globe was there," Shostak said. "One generation did that. All we have done since then is refine that globe."

With a decent map in hand, the European powers set out to fund the colonization of the new world.

A similar practice of mapping the solar system started in 1965 when Mariner 4 sent back much improved pictures of Mars, Shostak said.

Since that time, astronomers – with the help of high-powered telescopes and various exploration vehicles and probes – have delivered stunning pictures of most of the planets and their moons. The quality of these images coupled with our knowledge has made it possible to target not one or two but several places where we might find life or where it might make sense for humans to set up shop.

"Before 1965, if you asked, 'Do you think there is life elsewhere in the solar system?' most scientists would have said, 'Yes' and said Mars and Mars only as the likely candidate," Shostak said. "Since then, we have learned Mars is still a candidate and maybe the best, but it is not the only candidate by any means"

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.