NASA Dreams of an Interplanetary 'Second Life' for Mars Crew

If NASA's virtual world gambit seems like a pipe dream, there's no doubt that astronauts traveling to Mars, or returning to the Moon, will enjoy a wealth of tech communications options that the Apollo crews couldn't have imagined.

Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, says that with high-resolution videocameras, podcasts and web forums, the first Mars invaders could stage the ultimate reality show, with some becoming super-icons back on Earth.

Just knowing that their every move is being watched by a rapt audience at home could help the Mars voyagers find the strength to solider on in the face of "long-term conditions of isolation, privation and psychological stress," says Robert Zubrin, author of The Case for Mars and founder of The Mars Society.

"The psychological boost enjoyed by Mars-bound astronauts of knowing that they are 'golden people,' celebrated as heroes by millions on Earth, cannot be overstated," says Zubrin.

NASA's Laughlin, though, is committed to giving astronauts a more interactive experience. They might even be able to tap the internet from Mars to order Christmas gifts from e-Bay or cards from for delivery to friends still on their home world, he says. Or they might download the latest singles from iTunes or e-books from

Of course, with a single interplanetary TCP handshake clocking in at 12 to 60 minutes, the Mars mission will probably want to use One-Click.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Firefighters rescue a woman who got stuck in a chimney in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Ventura County Fire Department
PHOTO: Up in Ash: Mount Sinabung Erupting
Tibt Nangin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
PHOTO: Defendant Jodi Arias testifies about killing Travis Alexander in 2008 during her murder trial in Phoenix, Feb. 20, 2013.
Charlie Leight/The Arizona Republic/AP Photo
PHOTO: Attendees gather during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts, Sept. 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images