The beautiful Google Earth program has gone Martian. The planet Mars is now explorable in full 3D (not just an overlay).
See Olympus Mons rise above the distant horizon or fly down Valles Marines in a full 3D projection. You can even follow the landers progresses, and view some of the panaromic high resolution shots just as the rovers Spirit or Opportunity saw them.
This video from the official “unoffical” Google Earth blog clearly shows of some of the best features:
The trip to Mars can be made much safer with the realisation of a “Force Field”. This will drastically cut down the problems the solar wind can cause, especially when a solar storm occurs.
The high speed particles flowing from the Sun during a Solar Storm can cause serious medical problems for the astronauts, so using technology developed during Fusion research it was found that a “magnetic bubble” can be used to envelope the spaceship and all and protect them in the same way the Earth is protected from the Solar Winds.
More information can be found here: http://www.physorg.com/news145004546.html
A planet which is suspected to be the closet resemblance to Earth has been seen, and its a neighbour.
Just 20 light years away (almost in touching distance) around the star Gliese 581 is a planet not much bigger than Earth (1.5x). It orbits much closer to its star than the Earth does to the Sun, and takes only 13 “Earth” days to orbit. However, the star Gliese is much smaller and weaker than the Sun so a planet orbiting that close would actually have temperatures very similair to Earth, in fact within the temperature limit that would allow liquid water to exist on the surface.
All this has been estimated from the slight wobble of the star seen from Earth, which is created when a something large orbits around, although the effect is very small.
This would make an ideal candidate for the upcoming planet hunting space telescopes, designed to image planets around stars – unfortunately, we still have to wait several decades for this to be achieved…