6 Space Projects That Will Guarantee Aliens Will Hate Us
Let's try a thought experiment. Imagine you're the leader of an intelligent alien species. Like all civilizations, you have your share of pros (for example, your society is at peace and everyone's immortal) and cons (every single member of your race is Count Dracula). Now imagine that you, World President Dracula, have sent a team of brave (and entirely identical) Dracunauts from Planet Transylvania on a mission to our Solar System in a Space Coffin with no windows. (Okay, this hypothetical's flown off the rails; please picture yourself as a regular boring-ass alien now.) You, Regular Boring-Ass Alien King, have sent a UFO to Earth for a mission of scientific inquiry and friendship. What will Earth look like to you, a benevolent extraterrestrial emperor?
The answer is "A planet full of Darth Vaders hopped up on bath salts." That's because ...
Earth's Space Wars Are Right Around The Corner
Let's return to the scenario in which you're the alien leader. You've emerged from hyperspace, warped in, or puckered out from some wormhole in the vicinity of Earth's orbit. But instead of preparing a team to take samples and probe a hillbilly or two, the first thing you're compelled to do is order all hands on deck to man the battle stations, because holy shit, this blue-green marble is completely surrounded by hostile space droids.
Hopefully, they came equipped with some sort of gigantic interstellar can of Raid.
We're not talking about the accumulating space debris situation, which is rapidly getting out of hand and could easily be mistaken for the aftermath of some kind of cataclysmic robot war. It's the fact that war in space is quickly becoming a reality. And orbital conflicts won't feature plucky farmhands behind the controls of agile starfighters -- it will involve unmanned craft firing missiles and unleashing laser and/or microwave arrays on each other.
Some even more unsettling scenarios could see space ships sneaking up on satellites to spray paint over their optics systems, or physically wrestling them into submission like a T-800 left unsupervised around a naive "I just want to be friends" Johnny Five.
Johnny Five was technically never "alive," but he's sure as shit dead now.
In a surprise twist to exactly no one, China and Russia are apparently at the forefront of "counterspace" technology. And that fancy word is simply a less terrifying way of saying that they're spending a fortune on hardware that's specifically designed with the intention of "destroying, damaging, and interfering with the enemy's reconnaissance ... and communications satellites," and to "blind and deafen the enemy." And in case you're confused, the "enemy" they're referencing is "all you guys in the Uncle Sam Fan Club."
Cons: All that. Pros: No more talk radio.
It isn't a stretch to imagine a not-too-far-off cosmic future in which hundreds of metallic orbiting contraptions are alternately trading fire and getting into flanking position to physically pummel one another like they're a bad Hugh Jackman movie. And while this sort of situation may indicate to outside observers that our species is capable of intelligence, it may also be viewed as the type of intelligence that tends to get unanimous "Yea" votes during intergalactic extermination tribunals.
We're Planning To Terraform Mars By Creating A New Species
Eventually, the day will come to pass when we humans are going to have to make a fateful decision: either leave the planet for good in an attempt to survive as a species, or invest in some heavy jackets for when the Sun farts out.
Forward-thinking scientists have already been preparing for the former, and you've probably heard of some of the concepts they're working on, such as terraforming. Part of the plan to both bend the cosmos to our will and tinker in God's domain in one fell swoop includes genetic engineering and "synthetic biology." Long story horrible, this means that the military is hard at work cooking up new plants, bacteria, and algae to unleash on the Martian surface to make it habitable to humans. And if possible, they hope to one day conjure up even more complex creatures that are able to survive in extreme environments, while hopefully avoiding that part of the genome that instigates an evolution towards predatory hive-forming and fang-filled secondary jaws.
"Gorilla-sized eels that wear rectums as hats! Visit Oceanus Borealis today!"
If any of this sounds familiar, it's because we're also describing the process of creation used by the Engineers in Prometheus, who seed Earth itself with the microbial foundations of the human race. Or better yet, Little Shop Of Horrors, in which an alien race of blood-sucking monsters attempt an Earth takeover by posing as innocent Venus flytraps.
"And I would've gotten away with it, if it weren't for those meddling focus groups!"
Terraforming a planet with human-friendly bacteria sounds great in theory, but how exactly do we plan to eventually move into these new outposts and colonies after we've coated the surface in armor-clad, presumably ravenous space worms? Seriously, how many sci-fi/horror movies have seen the same scenario play out with tragic results?
And if we won't listen to cheesy direct-to-DVD flicks, what will we listen to?
And keep in mind that the first impression that an alien intelligence may have of us may not be from a face-to-face meeting, but with the monsters we've been Johnny Appleseeding across the known galaxy. If you were in their shoes, could you really see yourself not calling for reinforcements from their version of Starfleet Command to address the menace of the human race?
A Famous Crazy Guy Is Hoping To Create Two Artificial Suns Over Mars
There are some who suggest that famed entrepreneur Elon Musk has all the hallmarks of a budding supervillain. But that's exactly how many visionary geniuses are perceived in their lifetimes, right? In actuality, people like him are usually noble benefactors who seek nothing but to advance the cause of knowledge and innovate new ways to benefit mankind. It's not like the man is planning to nuke Mars and instigate the creation of new suns.
Did we say "supervillain"? The correct term may in fact be "environmentally-conscious galactic tyrant."
Musk has already gone on the record in regards to his unhealthy fascination with Mars, and how he's sure that we'll eventually settle there (likely amongst the aforementioned mutant abominations). What separates Musk from the vast herd of stargazing dreamers, however, is that fact that he is devising a plan of action. Or reaction (in the fission sense), since it will involve the launching of massive nuclear bombs to expedite the global warming process.
He doesn't want them to impact the planet's surface, though. The theory goes that if several "very large by our standards, but very small by calamity standards" fusion bombs were to go off in the vicinity of Mars' poles, it would result in the creation of tiny, "temporary" pulse suns. This unprovoked attack would theoretically result in a greenhouse effect taking place on the planet's surface, but with a possible side effect of raising DEFCON 5 alarms from any "hostile species outbreak" surveillance systems put in place by an ET version of the United Nations.
When Lance Ulanoff of Mashable asked Musk if he was excited about the discovery of water on Mars during a recent event in Manhattan, Musk's response was "yeah, that's good," and he followed up with a detailed description of his doomsday -- er, terraforming -- strategy for the red planet. We're not sure if his quotes can be taken verbatim from this conversation, as it's understandably difficult to follow a complicated train of thought when the subject of your interview is presumably rubbing his hands together constantly, refusing to blink, and frequently pausing to cackle.
Instead of a fluffy cat, he prefers to fondle a terrifying robotic fuel snake.
When Musk shared his plan with a packed crowd at that same event, he was met with a thunderous round of ... stunned silence. Undeterred, he went on to explain away the panicked apprehension by pointing out how "a lot of people don't appreciate that our sun is a giant fusion explosion." Well, that may be all well and good, Imperial Grand Moff Musk (we're going to start calling him that to stay on the safe side), but we'd appreciate it if you focused more on electric cars for a while, on the off-chance that one of your bright ideas turns downtown Palo Alto into a "giant fusion explosion."
We're Dispatching A Space Spider Army
Once you've successfully strapped a satellite to a rocket and put it into orbit, that's generally the end of the story. Well, if you don't count the periodic rain of death via fiery metallic debris. Satellites are pretty much a "fire and forget" sort of device, seeing as how it's not realistic to expect maintenance crews to undertake a task so monumental on a Pipefitters' Union salary.
And that's why we've begun the development of robotic space spiders.
If that's too unsettling of a description, you can go ahead and call them "galactic techno-squid."
More specifically, these arachnid-like droids are called "SpiderFabs," and will do the work of constructing and repairing satellites for us up there in the wild black yonder. This means we'll be able to launch the equivalent of an erector set package, and the spiders will construct or 3D print whatever we want in the lawlessness of space. In other words, according to their creators, we'll be able to "launch the process, not the product" Obviously, the SpiderFabs could be put to use constructing things other than satellites, and it's probably best that we not dwell too much on how they seem to have purposefully named the components (KRAKEN arms, spinneret extruders) in the most ominous ways possible.
"Service in the Interplanetary SpiderCorps guarantees citizenship. Will you do your part?"
And if you were hoping that you'd be long dead before the days of the fabricating insecto-droids (not to mention the submersible robot worms we're planning to send into the oceans of Saturn's moons) were upon us, we have some unfortunate news: We're already building them. Here's that CEO we quoted earlier, Rob Hoyt, along with one of his creations, which might one day help him to achieve another one of his dreams: to "capture an asteroid for study by enveloping it in a giant bag and towing it to lunar orbit."
And later, presumably, to find a way to pinpoint the location of the elusive rebel base on Hoth.
We're Building A Goddamn Space Shotgun
The Death Star didn't happen overnight. Surely, there must have been countless prototypes and failed experiments before the Empire acquired the capability to inexplicably level an entire planet that didn't have a single Ewok or Gungan living on it. Something like ... let's see ... maybe a space shotgun?
In a move that was clearly inspired by Marvin the Martian, a robotics company is developing a gun for use in studying asteroids. The logic is that we need to learn about space rocks for future missions, but retrieving samples is the worst. We can't tell how big and heavy they are from afar, or if they're made of squishy gelatinous substances that we'll call "space jam" for now. So before we capture one and cut it up while screaming "You'll never Armageddon / Deep Impact us!" we need a decent idea of the material we're looking at.
A refund for paying to look at that material wouldn't hurt, either.
Enter the space shotgun. This thing will shoot three different kinds of projectiles into a rock to figure out what kind of rock we're dealing with. Adorably, the first pellets look like paintballs. If they crack open and splatter paint all over the target, that tells us something about how hard the rock is. Then, the robot shotgun will try shooting a bouncy ball. The velocity of the ball's rebound will tell scientists something about how strong the rock is. And finally, they shoot it with a bullet, supposedly so we can get information about the asteroid's density. But we all know better. Somebody wants to shoot guns at space rocks, and they've figured out the perfect excuse to pull it off.
For now, the gun can't blast asteroids into smithereens, Atari-style. But who are we kidding? We know what's coming. It's only a matter of time before there are secondary systems put into place which are fully capable of vaporizing slow-moving, saucer-like targets of opportunity for a quick 200 points.
In space, no one can hear you bum-bum-bum-bum-BWA-WA-WA-WA-WA.
Oh, and let's not forget that we aren't totally sure that asteroids aren't water-free zones yet. Which means we could be shooting our space guns at someone else's Earth. And speaking of which ...
The Way We Look For Alien Life Forms Is To Kill Them First
We've been poking around on Mars for some time now, and the rovers we've sent up there are constantly searching for signs of life. Chances are slim that anything wriggling or pulsating we might run across will be intelligent, though. So maybe it's no big deal that we go about searching for these organisms by sauteing the soil like shrimp scampi.
"We come in peace!"
According to a report from NBC, the Curiosity rover is behaving in a way that's less inquisitive than it is ... homicidal. It seems that one of the primary targets the rover is after is a mineral called jarosite, which can be an indicator of the presence of organic life forms. And in order to find this mineral, the Curiosity conducts tests by "flash heating" the soil -- which is widely recognized as not being too conducive to maintaining life. In other words, "the testing method could eliminate what it's looking for in the process."
NASA is well aware of this quandary, but they figure that the process won't kill everything, so maybe we'll eventually run across something we haven't flame-broiled yet. And if that doesn't work, there's always the LIFE Project, which proposes that we take the hardiest (and arguably most disturbing) creatures from our own neck of the woods and fire them off into the unknown to see what happens.
We'll send the ones Mother Nature already blessed with a hazmat suit, just in case.
You might recognize that little fella as the tardigrade, or water bear -- a species which can survive in environments so extreme that they could make a cockroach's head explode. These minuscule monstrosities are slated to be crew members on the LIFE (Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment) Project, which intends to test the "transpermia" hypothesis by seeding the heavens with them and other insidious microorganisms. You know, to see if life can migrate from planet to planet. This is basically the same way Invasion Of The Body Snatchers probably happened.
The one and only explanation for why dogs end up looking like their owners.
In 2012, the LIFE project got their plan off the ground, getting a biomodule full of bacteria on one of Russia's three-year missions to a Martian moon. The Universe disagreed that this was a good idea, and the Russian mission never left Earth's orbit before it plunged into the Pacific.
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