As a planetary scientist, just thinking about it gives me a thrill.
By the time our first spacecraft—probably robotic—head for the nearest stars, we’ll already have an enormous amount of information from ground-based and space based-telescopes about their panoply of planets.
Whether those stars harbor Hot Jupiters, Super Earths, or icy outer ocean worlds like those in our own solar system, we are certain to be dazzled by the diversity we encounter.
Wouldn't it be incredible if the first pictures beamed back of a distant Earthlike planet showed city lights stretching along an alien ocean shore? Unlikely, perhaps—but why not dream?
Here's how Planetary Society Members answered...
Click through to read the full submission and comment.
What do you want to see next in space exploration?
Jim, I’m 91 years old and have been a reader of “science fiction” since before the term was invented………….grew up with all the early writers, and was captivated by all the romance, adventure and visions. As I have grown older and become more seriously concerned with what we are doing to our home planet, I find myself wondering if the earth is heading towards the conditions which are evident on ... more »
Could you imagine a newspaper with a header like this? "We are not alone, life outside Earth!" I am waiting for this for a long, long time... Are the humans alone in the univers? I don't really believe, do you? When will we have an evidence?
I feel that the next big steps in human exploration of space are in the making as other countries like China and India join the race to the Moon and Mars. While the US will continue with its ambitious Mars programe, it seems to be relying more and more on private enterprise to explore the Moon. Better equipped telescopes will further push exoplanetary science forward. It will allow us to ... more »
An oxygen atmosphere is observed on a relatively nearby exoplanet in the habitable zone. The SETI program is made aware of the discovery and points its resources at the planet and there is clear evidence of a technological civilization, but apparently only slightly behind current capabilities. Over the next century a large spacecraft is constructed to send an emissary to the planet to explore and make contact with the intelligent ... more »
Standing on a white plain of immense brilliance; shifting slightly and stepping almost imperceptivity backward, we gaze in dumbfounded bliss at the cracked and stretched orange sprinkled landscape. A strange blue-yellow binary entertains us directly above as a barely noticeable atmosphere throws a shallow haze over the ice-cold landscape. The surface is barren; dotted only by fissures of orange-white descending into dark blue and black chasms. Two weeks ago, this ... more »
What I imagine to be waiting for us are the answers we may, or may not, be ready for. We will be tested as to what we are prepared to take in given the fact that other planets, just as real and diverse as our own, will have their own beliefs ( should they be populated ) and unique realities. They will be very different from our own. What awaits ... more »
Before the probe is launched there will be extensive observations of the exoplanet from earth based, spaced based and moon based large telescope arrays. It will be determined that there is no life communicating via electromagnetic waves. Therefore no intelligent life is expected. There is oceans and dry land and oxygen in the atmosphere. We have already risked beaming both RF signals and laser beams of various wavelengths with no ... more »
Venturing beyond the solar system would not only provide information on planets in other solar systems but it would provide a wealth of information on interstellar space. The forces at work there and the physical bodies encountered would expand our knowledge of the workings of the universe. How thilling! And then there are the wonders of the planets to be explored. The scientific community is continually amazed by new knowledge ... more »
My vision is that when we will be able to travel to new stars there will be a new renaissance for Humanity, as when was started in 1500-1700 exploration of overall world from Europe. It was not important if we will found immediately new living species and intelligence race, but will be important to move from claustrophobic single planet to an infinite grassland.
The mankind will find strange and bizarre worlds such as the diamond planet which has been found already. We will find huge gas giants which are almost stars. Other hot gas giants may harbour bizarre life in their atmospheres. But surprisingly among those billions of exoplanets there will be several new Earths with carbon based microbial life. They are like virgin Earths. These findings will have profound effects on human ... more »
I would like to see more emphasis put on ‘World Security’ from NEOs whenever solar system exploration budgets are discussed with our contrary Congress. Much funding is awarded from bogus fear-mongering; but there is nothing ‘bogus’ about the threat of NEOs. If NASA’s budget is increased for finding NEOs [before it’s too late for us to be proactive in preventing a catastrophic impact], other exploration should benefit from the increased ... more »
Ladies & Gentlemen, I am not an astronomer but a Theoretical Physicist and therefore my visions tend to sound a bit far fetched in a world where the core body of Quantum Physics itself sounds loony. But, that said, to reach our ultimate goal, that of moving Earth's population to safer quarters, effort in my area and yours must be devoted to the discovery, advancement and implementation of space/time warp ... more »
As we expand our search to include planetary systems orbiting red dwarf stars, we may find planets in far older, more stable environments than ours, yet capable of supporting life. If these life forms evolved into intelligent, self aware beings, and then further evolved into artificial life forms, the planets may host a highly advanced race of machine-like intelligence. If so, we may find indications of enormous-scale energy conversions in ... more »
We have had enough issues recognizing life on Planet Earth, that I am not sure we would recognize life on other planets even if it looked right at us. I have hopes that on other worlds we will find evidence that the building blocks of life on our planet exist elsewhere in the cosmos. Finding DNA, RNA, an amino acid or a simple protein on some of these distant worlds ... more »