Huge buildings could be built in space using radio waves to move the pieces into place. Radio-controlled construction would make it unnecessary to move heavy construction equipment into orbit. It would also eliminate the need for space-walking construction workers. Engineer Narayanan Komerath got the idea from “acoustic shaping,” in which sound waves are used to build solid objects in weightless environments.

Sound waves don?t travel through the airless vacuum of space, so he needed to find some other way to do hands-off construction in space. Komerath decided that electromagnetic waves should also be able to create a force field that can push objects around. He says it should be possible to assemble rocks that are brick-sized or bigger into any given shape in several months time.

To test his theory, he wants to send solar-powered radio transmitters to the Earth’s asteroid belt to blast one of the rocks into small pieces. Radio waves from the transmitters would then shape the resulting debris into any desired structure. Individual parts could be fused together using focused sunlight or a more conventional adhesive, creating a space where astronauts could live and work shielded from radiation.

Humans will definitely visit Mars one day, but not for hundreds of years, says Apollo astronaut David Scott, who was the seventh man to walk on the Moon, as mission commander of Apollo 15 in 1971. “Is the technology available to go to Mars? The answer is yes,” he says. But he doesn?t think NASA will be willing to spend the necessary money for a long time to come. “The adventure is what will drive us in the long term,” he says. “The long term will be hundreds of years.”

Colin Pillinger, who helped develop the Beagle 2 Mars lander, thinks space tourism will inspire NASA to go to Mars sooner and says, “It’s going to make space exploration go much faster.” And NASA and the Russians aren?t the only ones exploring space?the European Space Agency has planned missions to the Moon, Mars and a distant comet for next year.

When we finally colonize Mars, will we meet ETs there?or have they already visited us? According to Nancy Red Star, Native Americans have a long tradition of interacting with them right here on Earth, click here.

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