Science & Technology

The Final Frontier Within the Final Frontier


The online world Second Life has a built-in feature where your avatar, or virtual self, can fly over the landscape. So it's only natural the the final frontier within Second Life is being colonized at a fast clip.

NASA reps and other space geeks can meet and greet at Space CoLab Island, pictured above. They can discuss project already underway like "floating launch pads, mini-planets, space shuttles and an international space station." Or they can talk about future ventures to create "environments that look and feel like the moon, for instance, or simulated lava tubes that could help researchers build real-life bases on the moon or Mars."

Second Life is "a natural test bed for building scientifically accurate representations of other worlds, based on data flowing in from interplanetary probes." Said one NASA Second Lifer: "Imagine your online 'avatar' standing beside a rover as it makes its way across the Martian surface — in real time."