The comet is passing by the Sun which will give off a glare and will shine bright... pretty cool stuff.
Cola, where did you see that there are 17 billion earth sized planets in our galaxy?
Also, I think we should allow people to go to Mars, or at least the Moon, and live there. Sure, it'll probably mean a faster death, but if they choose to do so, let it happen! I wonder how much something would cost to set up... like say: A shuttle to the moon to build a base. lol.
One more reply... The suicide trip thing? I just can't accept reasons not to do it. Like with your example, or this private venture... We sure as hell have the technology to set up a permanent sustainable outpost. All you need are plants, water purification, and power. Boom. Likewise, the odds of some huge cluster**** happening the first or tenth time? One thing goes wrong, they're stuck and dead.
So one of two things: We either spend several times what a trip should cost that has a decent chance of success to put a billion safeguards in place and make it safer than driving on the highway. Or we accept exploration comes with risk, and worship the heroes among us who put their lives on the line for science and mankind while realizing they very well won't survive.
Kinda goes further down the road, but we *have• to get over this. Our destiny is the stars. Far as we know, we are the first lifeform in the universe to evolve enough intelligence and survive long enough to go to the stars. It is our obligation to do so. Past few years I've read a crapload about ideas for that first interstellar voyage. There are two thoughts: Don't do it, and don't do it. First is because they'd be idiots when twenty years later we master some new propulsion and their ancestors pass them by and say howdy. Second is because you aren't damning yourself, you're damning every last descendent for generations to live in maddening isolation.
It's upsetting that you've got people used to a quality of life who think they have a right to tell others what they can and can't morally do. Now suicide science is a huge no-no. I guarantee in today's climate even a private group couldn't pull off a suicide mission. Likewise, if not for the thousands who boarded a wooden boat for thar be dragons and death, and died doing it, none of us would be here today Literally, not a single one of us aside from a couple of UK posters. My idea is Event Horizon style. Wormhole leads to Hell and everyone dies before Morpheus blows that freaker up. In other words: Exploration demands accepting risk and death. The alternative is to stagnate and go extinct; right now we're doing a damn good job of that.
Going way off topic, but the only way around it is light speed travel, which just isn't ever going to happen. Then with the miracle of physics, traveling at the speed of light any passenger inside would travel light years in the time it takes to blink. Everyone they left home would be long dead, but they could go *anywhere* in the universe instantly, to them.
But it ain't gonna happen - because it can't. Accelerating a large enough mass to contain humans to light speed is inconceivable. Having them survive said speed is impossible. Sci-Fi and media whore quack physicists like Michio Kaku (Seriously, if you have but a passing interest in this stuff.. Has there ever been a human as desperate for fame and so incredibly successful at never getting it as that guy?) and his ilk advocating the feasability of wormholes are just as crazy. If we go, it's going to be long, slow, arduous and deadly. No way around it. Ripley style cryostasis, maybe...
I read a while back about nuclear detonation as a means for propulsion. Apparently before test ban treaties, they were convinced with the right shock absorption, a nuclear device detonated every three seconds for several weeks would get a vehicle a significant fraction of the speed of light. This was with 60s tech. If we could only put our fears aside, put concepts of military and nationalization behind us, what we could have already achieved would stagger the imagination. Instead maroons protested New Horizons and Curiosity because they had the ever so scary nuclear power sources onboard. We're destined to stay on this planet until technology reaches a point some religious terrorist in a cave can engineer a bioweapon with 100% mortality and a long enough incubation period to send us all to our 72 virgins.
And considering the exponential gains in genetics and biology, never mind what conceivable artificial nanotech could do, we probably won't leave this planet in my lifetime, but will be advanced enough for some nut in a cave or a cabin (Ted Kazynski (sp) Unabomber style) with a degree and a few million bucks to kill us all before most of us die.
And in closing, maybe that's exactly how it'll have to be framed for the faint at heart. It isn't science or exploration, those that leave aren't dooming their childrens childrens children - instead, they are ensuring their survival. If it happens in the next century, it'll have to be labeled as the Noah's Ark of space. Whether to Mars or the Moon, or to the stars... I'd bet decent money the vehicle that leaves is called the Ark or something to that effect. My vote is for the ISS Enterprise, but c'est la vie. (And to stave off condescending correction, yes, ISS now is IS Station. ISS with the final S for Spaceship in keeping with the USS theme)