Want to go to Mars? Your going to have to wait a couple of years for that. How about instead we “telepresence” you there?
Telepresence is the alternative technology Seth Shostak, an astronomer at the SETI Institute, writes about in the linked NYT article. He argues that we already have the technology to explore outer space without being there and the way to accomplish this is using the data collected by unmanned spacecrafts and microbots. From the article:
These microbots would supply the information that, fed to computers, would allow us to explore alien planets in the same way that we navigate the virtual spaces of video games or wander through online environments like Second Life. High-tech masks and data gloves, sartorial accessories considerably more comfortable than a spacesuit, would permit you to see the landscape, touch objects and even smell the air.