Here's how we could build a colony on an alien world

February 26, 2016 by Matteo Ceriotti, The Conversation
Out of this world. Credit: NASA

If the human race is to survive in the long-run, we will probably have to colonise other planets. Whether we make the Earth uninhabitable ourselves or it simply reaches the natural end of its ability to support life, one day we will have to look for a new home.

Hollywood films such as The Martian and Interstellar give us a glimpse of what may be in store for us. Mars is certainly the most habitable destination in our solar system, but there are thousands of exoplanets orbiting other stars that could be a replacement for our Earth. So what technology will we need to make this possible?

We effectively already have one space colony, the International Space Station (ISS). But it is only 350km away from Earth and relies on a continuous resupply of resources for its crew of six. Much of the technology developed for the ISS, such as radiation shielding, water and air recycling, solar power collection, is certainly transferable to future space settlements. However, a permanent space colony on the surface of another planet or moon adds a new set of challenges.

Unnatural habitat

The first requirement for a human settlement is a habitat, an isolated environment able to maintain air pressure, composition (the amount of oxygen), and temperature, and protect the inhabitants from radiation. This is likely to be a relatively large and heavy structure.

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Launching large, heavy objects into space is a costly and difficult job. Spacecraft since the Apollo missions, which comprised several modules that had to separate and dock, have been sent up in pieces and assembled by astronauts. But given the impressive steps forward we are seeing in autonomous control, the pieces of a colony habitat may be able to assemble themselves. Today, manoeuvres similar to the Apollo docking are performed completely automatically.

The alternative would be to carry a minimal "toolbox" from Earth and manufacture the habitat using locally-harvested resources. Specifically, 3D printers could be used to turn minerals from the local soil into physical structures. We've actually already started looking at making this possible. Private firm Planetary Resources has demonstrated 3D printing using raw material from a metal-rich asteroid sample found on Earth in an impact site. And NASA has installed a 3D printer on the ISS to show it can be used in zero-gravity, potentially as a way of making spacecraft components in space.

Liquid lifeline

3D printed housing. Credit: NASA/Team Gamma

Once the habitat is built, the colony will need continuous supplies of water, oxygen, energy and food to sustain its inhabitants, presuming the colony wasn't built on an idyllic Earth-like planet with these resources in abundance. Water is fundamental for life as we know it but could also be used to make propellant or .

An initial settlement would need to carry a certain amount of water and recycle all waste liquids. This is already done on the ISS, where no drop of liquid (washing, sweat, tears, or even urine) is wasted. But a colony would also likely try to extract water, possibly from underground supplies of liquid – as may exist on Mars – or ice, as can been found under the surface of certain asteroids.

At least there are no clouds. Credit: NASA

Water also provides a source of oxygen. On the ISS, oxygen is generated by using a process known as electrolysis to separate it from the hydrogen in . NASA is also working on developing techniques to regenerate oxygen from atmospheric byproducts, such as the carbon dioxide we exhale while breathing.

Energy farming

Producing energy is probably the technological aspect of starting a colony that we are best prepared for thanks to photo-voltaic solar panels. But depending on the location of the colony planet, we may need to improve this technology much further. At Earth distance, we can obtain about 470W of electric power for each square metre of solar cells. This value is lower on the surface of Mars because it is 50% further from the sun than Earth and has a thick atmosphere that partially shields the sunlight.

Hydroponics. NASA

In fact, Mars's atmosphere is subject to periodic sand storms, which are notoriously problematic as the sand further limits the amount of received light and can also collect on and cover the panels. But we have already started to deal with these issues in the design of our current rover missions to Mars. For example, NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity were designed to last about 90 days but after more than 12 years, they are still operational. And we've discovered that Martian wind periodically cleans the dust from the panels.

A colony needs to be self-sustained so – without a Star Trek-style replicator – farming will be essential for producing food. Crops can also be used to convert carbon dioxide in the air back into breathable oxygen. Growing plants on Earth is relatively easy because the environment is what they have been adapting to for thousands of years, but growing fruits and vegetables in space or in another planet is not as simple.

Temperature, pressure, humidity, carbon dioxide levels, composition of soil and gravity all affect the survival and growth of plants, with different effects on different species. Several studies and experiments are currently ongoing to try to grow plants in controlled chambers that mimic the environment of a space colony. One potential solution that has already been proven on Earth with radishes, lettuces and green onions is hydroponic farming, which involves growing plants in a nutrient-enriched fluid without any soil.

Climate change

Here's how we could build a colony on an alien world
Could we put life on Mars? Steve Jurvetson/Flickr, CC BY

The final requirement for a space colony will be keeping the climate habitable. Atmospheric composition and climate on other celestial bodies are very different to Earth's. There is no atmosphere on the moon or asteroids, and on Mars the atmosphere is made mainly of carbon dioxide, producing surface temperatures of 20°C down to -153°C during winter at the poles, and an air pressure just 0.6% of Earth's. In such prohibitive conditions, settlers will be limited to living inside the isolated habitats and strolls outside will only be possible using spacesuits.

One alternative solution may be to change the planet's climate on a large scale. We're already studying such "geo-engineering" as a way to respond to Earth's climate change. This would require huge effort but similar techniques could be scaled and applied for example to other planets such as Mars.

Possible methods include bioengineering organisms to convert in the atmosphere to oxygen, or darkening the Martian polar caps to reduce the amount of sunlight they reflect and increase the surface temperature. Alternatively, a large formation of orbiting solar mirrors could reflect the light of the sun on specific regions such as the poles to cause a local increase in temperature. Some have speculated that such relatively small temperature changes could trigger the climate to take on a new state with much higher air pressure, which could be the first step towards terraforming Mars.

Explore further: Growing plants on Mars

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TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (8) Feb 26, 2016
I've been following the curiosity rovers trek on mars. It just passed near some impressive black dunes
http://marsmobile...p;s=1194

-Landing modules nearby, perhaps in a crater and covering them with sand might be a very easy thing to do with robotic excavators.

I still think that sustainability means thinking big. Nuclear-powered earth borers could be launched from Earth to create miles and miles of pressurized, habitable tunnels re the yucca mountain repository.
http://www.yuccamountain.org/

-And huge habitable voids could be created quickly with nuclear explosives re the operation plowshare gnome shot.
https://en.wikipe...ct_Gnome
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (6) Feb 26, 2016
Yucca mountain and the gnome shot may have actually been engineering experiments designed to test the feasibility of this.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Feb 26, 2016
Wasn't the nuclear explosion thing part of the storyline in the most recent "Time Machine" movie?
In the movie, it didn't turn out so good for humans. ESPECIALLY the ones on the Moon...:-)
ogg_ogg
5 / 5 (2) Feb 26, 2016
New Phys.org readers should know that a lot of its content is from The Conversation. Which is not a reliable factual, well-balanced source. I always check the authorship of articles posted and take TC posts, in particular, with a bucket of salt. This post seems well intentioned, but written by someone who was obviously not a science major (at least in spirit). The speculative claim that Mars is "most" hospitable to life in our Solar System is speculation. There may be more "habitable" places - say in the oceans under the ice on one of the gas giants moons. Mars atmosphere is 99.4% hard vacuum, hardly an improvement over the Moon's "atmosphere". It does have water and CO2. There are, logically, 3 phases of "colonization". 1. Exploration, 2. Outposts, and 3. Colonization where 2 & 3 differ in that 3 requires self-sufficiency. Its been estimated that up to 1 million jobs are needed for a stable modern economy, we don't know for sure and technology may be reducing that (we're not sure).
ogg_ogg
1 / 5 (1) Feb 26, 2016
Based on our current technology, we can NOT establish a (self-sufficient) colony ANYWHERE else. The most likely spot isn't Mars, the economics demand that since there is water on the Moon, that the Moon is the currently most feasible. Supplying a growing colony of up to 1,000,000 people on Mars is not possible economically - I doubt it's even possible to support that many people in Low, or High Earth orbit, or the Moon, but it's less ridiculous. Just getting replacement parts to the Moon is exhorbitantly expensive. Of course, once our technology advances to the magic wand stage, we'll just wave one of those and POOF, teraforming will just "happen". No magical thinking here!
Anyway, the major flaw in the article is the silly way he addresses the TECHNOLOGY required to establish a colony. "We'll someday have 3D printers to do that." is specious. It's more likely that we'll design a sentinent "life" form which is able to survive in places we can't, imho. This is called Science Fiction.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (4) Feb 26, 2016
Wasn't the nuclear explosion thing part of the storyline in the most recent "Time Machine" movie?
In the movie, it didn't turn out so good for humans. ESPECIALLY the ones on the Moon...:-)
Perhaps it will help us get to mars faster
https://youtu.be/uLAsBzOOhLQ

I don't think we wasted all that effort to produce 6-8000 tons of fissiles for that silly MAD nonsense.

Fissiles are freedom. They give us the opportunity to spread ourselves around the solar system in a big way.

We couldnt do this without them. We need them for propulsion, power, and construction. They are the only way to protect planets from impactors.

I think there were actually many very good reasons for the cold war sham. It created the stability necessary for the development of many dangerous technologies which would have otherwise posed a grave threat to the world in a pre-20th century sociopolitical environment.
jimbo92107
1 / 5 (1) Feb 27, 2016
Let's wait until March 16th. Then we'll find out how easy it is to colonize and terraform other worlds.

http://www.e-catworld.com/
javjav
not rated yet Feb 27, 2016
It would be less complex to terraform the moon than Mars. Think on Titan which can support a thick atmosphere. It is certainly more massive, but at least comparable to the moon (less than double the mass). The moon is well centered in the habitable zone, and compard to Mars it is at walking distance. And it has daily temperatures well over 0 celsius, up to 100 celsius or a bit more. Much colder in night side but once you have circulation and pressure it could keep water vapour and liquid water in stablrnbalance and without being frozen, not easy but less complex than Mars
thingumbobesquire
5 / 5 (1) Feb 27, 2016
This is perhaps the most ridiculous nonsense yet on this site. (And that is saying something.) The Chinese have plans to mine the moon for HE 3, the fuel of future nuclear fusion reactors: http://www.dailym...sis.html Solar panels? Come off whatever you guys are smoking!: http://inference-...reaction
Dug
4 / 5 (1) Feb 27, 2016
All this assumes that we have unlimited critical resources on earth to fuel (energy, critical nutrients for food production), and additionally a supportive economy for space colonization in its initial stages. Unfortunately, the human species has already consumed most of several of the most limiting peak resources (oil, phosphates, copper, rare earth elements). Basically, unless technology provides an almost free energy source to pay for more the more expensive production of ever dilute critical resources, pay to recycle current peak resources and we get the current overpopulation of humans under control - we aren't going anywhere that we can't walk to.
Dug
not rated yet Feb 27, 2016
All this assumes that we have unlimited critical resources on earth to fuel (energy, critical nutrients for food production), and additionally a supportive economy for space colonization in its initial stages. Unfortunately, the human species has already consumed most of several of the most limiting peak resources (oil, phosphates, copper, rare earth elements, etc.). Basically, unless technology provides an almost free energy source to pay for more and more expensive production of ever diluted critical resources, pay to recycle current peak resources (currently not economically feasible) and we get the current overpopulation of humans under control - we aren't going anywhere that we can't walk to.
Dug
not rated yet Feb 27, 2016
Apparently and unfortunately, Phys.org apparently can't afford to hire a competent IT person so that their comment edit section can function reliably.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (5) Feb 27, 2016
Let's wait until March 16th. Then we'll find out how easy it is to colonize and terraform other worlds
How long after Edison did it take to get stop lights? Even if Rossi has the momentous discoveries he claims, how soon before real scientists and engineers are able to figure out how to apply it at such scales?

I'm thinking 10 years before it's in widespread domestic and small-scale industrial use. Ecat and ecat x need competition to force maturation.

Hey dug - take a little while and figure out how not to double post instead of blaming it on someone else.

You probably hit the quote instead of the edit button.
Captain Stumpy
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 27, 2016
I'm thinking 10 years before it's in widespread domestic and small-scale industrial use
yep... but this happens after there is a working functional object that can be used

Hey dug - take a little while and figure out how not to double post instead of blaming it on someone else.

You probably hit the quote instead of the edit button
not likely- then it would be a different colour font, right?
slow connections or computers with limited or high use resources tend to hang when submission happens in certain circumstances, making the user click a second time thus double submission with the same timestamp.

@Dug
check your resources and connection. (running AV in the background,,, busy servers, etc)
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Feb 27, 2016
yep... but this happens after there is a working functional object that can be used
Uh which he has? The 1 year commercial trial is almost up which whatsisname was referring to above.

Also US patents, almost impossible to get for LENR. Rossi has them.

Also a whole lot more evidence which you're apparently not privy to and are not interested in accessing.
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (3) Feb 27, 2016
Apparently and unfortunately, Phys.org apparently can't afford to hire a competent IT person so that their comment edit section can function reliably.

If nothing appears on your end after you click the submit button, then refresh the page manually in your browser to check before trying to re-post your comment. It usually happens when others are posting to the same thread at the same time (within the 3-minute edit window), I think.
szore88
4 / 5 (4) Feb 27, 2016
Seems to me a space elevator and fusion reactor would be game changers in all this!
Captain Stumpy
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 27, 2016
Also a whole lot more evidence which you're apparently not privy to and are not interested in accessing
or awaiting validation
Uh which he has?
and i am awaiting validation

hey, don't pull a gkam, man... i was just adding content

i posted that to build upon the point you made here

.

It usually happens when others are posting to the same thread at the same time (within the 3-minute edit window), I think.
@proto
yup. busy time and servers
high traffic on the PO servers and usually local servers too
szore88
1 / 5 (1) Feb 27, 2016
I've been following the curiosity rovers trek on mars. It just passed near some impressive black dunes
http://marsmobile...p;s=1194


Shadows, perhaps?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 27, 2016
or awaiting validation
He has validation. I linked the latest from MFMP a day ago.

Plus the peer-reviewed third party published validation which I gave excerpts from and links to.

Like I say you don't know what you're talking about.

I do, and I'm still skeptical.

What's your excuse? Indigestion? Rheumatism?
Osiris1
not rated yet Feb 28, 2016
Would not recommend nuke explosives to 'create voids'. More is the possibility of cracks from 'voids' to outside or wherever. 'Outside vent' leads to air loss. "Wherever crack" may lead to a gas pocket or worse, like a huge hidden cavern below. Better to use fission or fusion power system. Another system would be photovoltaics manufactured from local materials and 3d printed where possible. Should use both for redundant backups. Use any system to charge batteries or fuel cells to power borers. Would not do to have a cave in compromise a borer if nuke borer. Best to have major power systems underground in separate underground tube connected and safely bulkheaded area. All underground pressurized for 'shirtsleeve workers' to maintain and repair...and protect from harsh outer environs. This system could also be used on larger asteroids for mining and/or research. hdroponics/infrared ag systems a must also underground.
Captain Stumpy
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 28, 2016
I linked the latest from MFMP a day ago....What's your excuse? Indigestion? Rheumatism?
intentional ignorance... or call it selective ignorance

I tend to ignore your posts when you throw up a Rossi or Mills link...


TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 28, 2016
Would not recommend nuke explosives to 'create voids'. More is the possibility of cracks from 'voids' to outside or wherever. 'Outside vent' leads to air loss. "Wherever crack" may lead to a gas pocket or worse, like a huge hidden cavern below
Ah - another radiophobe
https://en.m.wiki...iophobia

-And why do you think that cracks are an inevitable result of mining operations?

The nuclear option is not my idea. It has been the subject of many studies and field tests.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 28, 2016
And... what makes you think that finding large habitable subsurface caverns and lava tubes would be a bad thing?
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (2) Feb 28, 2016
And... what makes you think that finding large habitable subsurface caverns and lava tubes would be a bad thing?

Actually, that would be fortuitous...
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Feb 28, 2016
If the human race is to survive in the long-run, we will probably have to colonise other planets.

Just a thought: If we can go into space why not just stay in space? It's not like a planet's surface (other than Earth) is any more hospitable than space. You'll need full enclosure for living and suits for outside activities in any case.

Resources are to be had in the asteroid belt aplenty (and more easily accessible than on any planet to boot).

Seems to me a space elevator and fusion reactor would be game changers in all this!

Fusion is certainly a sine qua non for going into space for an extended period of time. Space elevators (or at least space hooks) would be nice to have. But a reasonably small fusion powerplant could be enough to get something into orbit under its own power.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 28, 2016
Well yeah.

Here are some links
https://en.wikipe...bterrene
http://projectcam...54ms.pdf

-Some think that these machines have been in operation under our countries for decades, building self-sustaining, interlinked, fully-populated habitats with little or no contact with the surface.

This would have been the only alternative to the 'all our eggs in one basket' problem of extinction in the event of catastrophe.

Google 'Taos hum'
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Feb 28, 2016
Just a thought: If we can go into space why not just stay in space? It's not like a planet's surface (other than Earth) is any more hospitable than space. You'll need full enclosure for living and suits for outside activities in any case
Well let's see...

The potential for 1000s of sq mi of pressurized habitable space underground

Radiation protection

Access to unlimited resources without the need to drag it around the solar system

Protection from impactors

No need for artificial gravity

The ability to create a self-sustaining economy without dependence on outside sources

-you know, all of this
https://youtu.be/uk4pS5DXihs
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (2) Feb 28, 2016
Well yeah.

-Some think that these machines have been in operation under our countries for decades, building self-sustaining, interlinked, fully-populated habitats with little or no contact with the surface.

Google 'Taos hum'

So THAT's what that is, chugging away when I'm trying to sleep. Shoulda known...
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Feb 28, 2016
The potential for 1000s of sq mi of pressurized habitable space underground
You need to build it just like in space
Radiation protection
Hollow out a small asteroid. Makes you mobile and affords you the same radiation protection.
Access to unlimited resources without the need to drag it around the solar system
If you're mobile why drag anything around?
Protection from impactors
Checked the desity of Mars atmosphere lately? That's not gonna protect anything from anything.
No need for artificial gravity
Bones need a stress above a certain level or they grow osteoporotic over time. The gravity of Mars isn't enough (as bedrest studies have shown). You'll need the same excercise regime there as on the ISS. And in space you do have the option of gettinng full 1g. On a planet (other than Earth) you don't.
The ability to create a self-sustaining economy without dependence on outside sources
Works in space just as well.
Mark Thomas
1 / 5 (1) Feb 28, 2016
szore88: "Seems to me a space elevator and fusion reactor would be game changers in all this!"

Agreed. So let's give Kim Stanley Robinson a little credit here as both were feaured in his famous Mars trilogy from the 1990s. As I recall his fusion-driven spacecraft could carry 1,000 people from Earth to Mars, riding space elevators at both Earth and Mars. If you missed the books, i understand they will be the subject of tv series in 2017.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Feb 28, 2016
Well, let's see;
The potential for 1000s of sq mi of pressurized habitable space underground
Radiation protection
Access to unlimited resources without the need to drag it around the solar system
Protection from impactors
No need for artificial gravity
The ability to create a self-sustaining economy without dependence on outside sources
-you know, all of this.

Why not hollow out an asteroid?. Sorry AA, I was typing this when you entered it as an option. (love the "Edit" button....)
And - what the heck was that link at the end when I hit the quote button to respond? Hats Aalrak?!?

Captain Stumpy
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 28, 2016
No need for artificial gravity
Actually, there should be more said about this:
not only would you require artificial gravity in space, but likely on any planet we land on that isn't earth... for reasons AA_P mentions

now, we may well adapt or mutate the ability to survive in space or in low G... but that will take time, and time is a major factor in survivability when we enter low-g... the physical effects of going back down the gravity well after long term exposure to micro-gravity are harsh and can cause long term problems (not fully studied yet for long term effects)

so if we want to remain terrestrial creatures, we would need to have artificial gravity regardless of where we settle- space or on a planet/moon, etc
On a planet (other than Earth) you don't. [have the option of 1G]
Actually, you do... but it would require the same mechanical engineering as in space... and it would not be comfortable given the effects of planetary gravity
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (6) Feb 28, 2016
now, we may well adapt or mutate the ability to survive in space or in low G.

Either is tricky because it would require selection (i.e. "let maladapted people die"). I don't see this working unless we make some rather serious changes to our current set of ethics.
With some genetic engineering it might work, but we are nowhere near that stage.
And once we are at that stage I see no reason why we shouldn't engineer ourselves to survive under zero g rather than just low g.

the physical effects of going back down the gravity well after long term exposure to micro-gravity are harsh

True, but if you're really "zero g tolerant" - what would be the point of going down a gravity well?

Actually, you do... but it would require the same mechanical engineering as in space

i think that would require constant energy on a planet and very tricky mechanical setup. In space you spin it up once and that's it.
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (4) Feb 29, 2016
True, but if you're really "zero g tolerant" - what would be the point of going down a gravity well?
@AA_P
yeah... a good point... it seems we want our cake and to eat it too
... we want to be able to survive a gravity well while also being space explorers... as you note this will require adaptation via either selection or engineering

the evolution of a new zero-G species is probable over time
or possibly the hybridization between machine and human
(or even, as Otto has noted in the past, the advent of AI and the machine future)
i think that would require constant energy on a planet and very tricky mechanical setup
absolutely... not only engineering would be tricky, but our biological makeup would be affected by the motion and G both... motion sickness bags all around!
LOL

Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Feb 29, 2016
True, but if you're really "zero g tolerant" - what would be the point of going down a gravity well?

Wouldn't it be cooler to be "every G" tolerant? Then you could actually explore the places you happened upon...

i think that would require constant energy on a planet and very tricky mechanical setup. In space you spin it up once and that's it.

You'd prob'ly have to kick it once in a while to keep it going...

If the planet didn't spin, would the Gravitational effect be the same?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Feb 29, 2016
or even, as Otto has noted in the past, the advent of AI and the machine future

I think this the more likely way to go. If I had to guess I would think that AI arrives earlier than unlimitedly sustainable ecospheres.
For interplanetary exploration stable/fully contained ecospheres may not matter, as you can always harvest some matter from the outside. But for interstellar exploration it would be a 'must have'. Sending an AI would be a lot easier and more robust.

Wouldn't it be cooler to be "every G" tolerant?

Yes. That is what I meant. (I just wanted to point out that beyond scientific curiosity there's no point in going to a planet's surfaces after you are zero g tolerant. Settling on planets becomes a moot point, then)
viko_mx
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 29, 2016
Science fiction writers figured out this long ago. Physicists and engineers are confronted with physical laws and limitations set out in human nature, and stalled for decades in one place. Sleek packaging is not a fundamental progress. We live in a time of glossy packaging with poor content.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Feb 29, 2016
You'd prob'ly have to kick it once in a while to keep it going...

The thing is:
- If you put it up vertically then you have a different g values between top and bottom (top is centrifugal force minus G, bottom is centrifugal force plus G, where G is the surface gravity of the planet. It'd be like constantly being on a roller coaster)
- If you put it up horizontally then you are constantly falling to the side due to G.

You can work this out by having individual cabins and having them on a swivel rail attached to a horizontally spinning setup...But that is mechanically tricky and you can't easily get on/off. In a space you just climb "up" to the axis and float to another part of the station (cf. 2001: A Space Odissey)

If the planet didn't spin, would the Gravitational effect be the same?

Trick question. Gravitational effect would be the same. However, on Earth the value of g is about 0.5% different between equator and poles due to centrifugal force.
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 29, 2016
You'd prob'ly have to kick it once in a while to keep it going
@Whyde
no, no, no... do what NASA does! Use a Hammer! (no joke!)

http://www.cracke...nts.html

@AA_P, you will like that link too

.

stalled for decades in one place
@v-the strobe bot
yeah, right... because everyone knows no real scientists would ever consider the implications of FTL travel and try to figure out how to do it, right? i mean... seeking to figure out how to build a warp drive is all science fiction, right? and no modern physicist "stalled for decades in one place" could conceive of one! [sarc/hyperbole]

http://arxiv.org/.../0009013
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (4) Feb 29, 2016
If I had to guess I would think that AI arrives earlier than unlimitedly sustainable ecospheres.
@AA_P
you know... humans want to build an AI... but they also want to maintain control. in all honesty, i think that (given our predispositions to control and our predatory nature) we will likely attempt to integrate with AI first.

Now, that isn't to say AI will not eventually win out and continue the exploration... but IMHO, it seems that the best method of space exploration (if humans want to be involved and in control) would be by developing the cyborg using the best of machines with our brains.

of course, the cheaper option will be by remote (like we are doing now)... so that means, by default, it is likely AI will eventually win out simply because of cost... but if we could develop a means of structurally reinforcing the skeleton and limiting atrophy... we would be in big business

for now, that is (local exploration only)
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Feb 29, 2016
we will likely attempt to integrate with AI first.

Yes. I think that would be a lot smarter than to send out a fragile ecosphere.
Though I'm more envisioning it as a transfer of human thought into another substrate (sort of a slow migration from squishy brain to something more 'space proof') rather than a hardening of our biology. The amount of points where our biology is dependent on...erm...environmental factors is staggering.

For the really long range stuff (other stars) I see little alternative to AI or human-in-a-substrate unless someone does figure out how to get the huge amounts of negative energy needed to make a warpdrive work.
OdinsAcolyte
not rated yet Feb 29, 2016
All things pass away.
Mankind included. Be thankful.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Feb 29, 2016
You need to build it just like in space
We have centuries of mining experience and decades with tunnel borers. Tunnel borer tech is no more complicated than nuclear subs.

Conversely, we have no idea how to build megastructures in space.
Hollow out a small asteroid. Makes you mobile
Well now you're cheating. Asteroids are in the same category as planets, moons, moonlets.
if you're mobile why drag anything around
First off, even small asteroid habitats are very heavy. As KSR described them in his books, they would be locked into solar or planetary orbits.

And space habitats would be dependent on resupply of vital resources from mining and manufacturing ops elsewhere. Mars for instance can provide most all of this including N2. And uranium.
impactors
I was thinking more of the protection from living 100 meters underground.

TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Feb 29, 2016
Science fiction writers figured out this long ago. Physicists and engineers are confronted with physical laws and limitations
Yeah. This from the institution that told us that the earth was flat, and burned us for heresy if we sailed out into the atlantic.

Gutless religions set our limits, not human nature.
All things pass away.
Mankind included. Be thankful.
No, life evolves. And we began forcing it to adapt to serve us long ago.

We ourselves are the product of domestication. And it's becoming more obvious that lower gravity, like lower temps or lower pressures, can be accomodated artificially.

Only godders would think that jebus would punish us for trying.

They've been artificially selecting for irrational believers for millenia. How long is it going to take to fix THAT?
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) Feb 29, 2016
We live in a time of glossy packaging with poor content.
Oh no, not like the church with its incense-filled cathedrals and tabernacles and robed priests and bejeweled reliquaries and gold leaf domes and marble statuary and immense choirs and pipe organs, and teeming congregations, all meant to serve as hard evidence that there just HAS to be life after death.
https://en.wikipe...lica.JPG

-And let's not forget the millions of dead martyrs who would have all died for nothing if it weren't true.
viko_mx
1 / 5 (3) Mar 01, 2016
"No, life evolves. And we began forcing it to adapt to serve us long ago."

I do not care about your profesional mantras. I am intereseted of scientific explanations accompanied by facts which can support them. I am 100 % sure that you can not explain how fictional evolution must work complying with the laws of physics.

No one evolutionist can explain how evolution process must works in datils. Just because can not rely on scientific facts. Because of this these people rely ot masive repearting of the same mantras again and again.

TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (5) Mar 01, 2016
So you buy the idea then that Adams sons already had domesticated plants and animals to raise and grow, and further they knew exactly how to raise and grow them, even though they were only the 2nd gen of people on earth?

For that matter where did their wives come from?

Forget that - sheep and cows and dogs and corn are domesticated. It took time to change them. We know how long it takes because we are still doing it today.

We also knew enough about domestication to continue changing them to suit our needs, while ignoring zebras and giraffes and white-tailed deer.

How did we know all these things? Divine intervention? Nephelim?

Or more likely, 100k years of experience while living in a godless world and figuring things out for ourselves?
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2016
I do not care about your profesional mantras. I am intereseted of scientific explanations accompanied by facts which can support them. I am 100 % sure that you can not explain how fictional evolution must work complying with the laws of physics.

Once again, demanding information which you refuse to accept, anyway...

No one evolutionist can explain how evolution process must works in datils.

One person can't, no. It's a massive undertaking requiring thousands - no millions, maybe even billions - of data points to be explored.

Just because can not rely on scientific facts. Because of this these people rely ot masive repearting of the same mantras again and again.

You're putting the cart before the horse...
We're at the beginning stages of developing that explanation in scientific terms. Of course, you want answers NOW...
And you accused me of arguing like a woman?!?


Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2016
And once again, Viko, you attempt to derail the actual topic of an article...
Zzzzzzzz
3 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2016
Comments about micro g lead to thoughts already expressed in science fiction - development of a splinter species that cannot return to gravity environments. Of course there may also be economic/genetic manipulative forces at work pushing in that direction.....
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2016
I am intereseted of scientific explanations accompanied by facts which can support them
@v
no you aren't, because otherwise you would have refuted my LINKS
No one evolutionist can explain how evolution process must works in datils
[sic]
LENSKI, Dr. Extavour, etc etc etc... ignoring evidence is the only thing you do, so how can anyone "prove" anything to you when as soon as you get the evidence you simply ignore it and say "it doesn't prove anything"????
Because of this these people rely ot masive repearting of the same mantras again and again
this is exactly what you are doing now
you will NOT address the evidence that i've given you time and time again
you will NOT accept any evidence that you are wrong
nor will you accept anything SCIENTIFIC as it doesn't comply with your beliefs

but you continually repeat that no one can prove anything, they can't blah blah blah

it is called religious fanaticism and conspiracist ideation
big_hairy_jimbo
5 / 5 (3) Mar 01, 2016
While I'm ALL for the exploration and colonization of space, I think the article tried to justify it incorrectly. This sentence "Whether we make the Earth uninhabitable ourselves or it simply reaches the natural end of its ability to support life, one day we will have to look for a new home." REALLY??? Could we make the Earth less habitable than the MOON or MARS???? I'm sure if we applied SPACE colonies RIGHT HERE ON EARTH, it would be far cheaper and easier to continue life HERE than on the Moon!!!!
Don't get me wrong, I still think we NEED to move into space, and have Humans living elsewhere. Not just for an "insurance" policy, but to also challenge humankind. WE need to keep striving forward, or humans get bored, and start wars!!!!
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (3) Mar 02, 2016
Could we make the Earth less habitable than the MOON or MARS????
Sure. Think for a minute. A well-engineered pandemic could make the surface uninhabitable and everything on it poison.
I'm sure if we applied SPACE colonies RIGHT HERE ON EARTH, it would be far cheaper and easier to continue life HERE than on the Moon!
-which is why it is very believable that nuclear-powered borers have been at work carving out habitable space below the surface of THIS planet ever since it became feasible decades ago.

The accounting of fissiles production is far less accurate than you might believe. I do not have a link but I do recall reading some time ago that perhaps 1000 tons may be unaccounted for worldwide.

This material could have been diverted for power, fuel, and cooling of space far below ground.

And more of it could be mined, refined, and converted in breeders in subsurface facilities we know nothing about.
Phys1
5 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2016
@viko_mx
[q[]I am intereseted of scientific explanations accompanied by facts
No, you are not.
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2016
REALLY??? Could we make the Earth less habitable than the MOON or MARS????
Depends on who you mean by "we" … but yeah, the potential for it is still very real.

See for example "Consequences of a large nuclear war" from nucleardarkness.org.
Mark Thomas
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2016
"I still think we NEED to move into space, and have Humans living elsewhere. Not just for an "insurance" policy, but to also challenge humankind. WE need to keep striving forward"

Good points. Lazy sci-fi writers often use some self-imposed disaster as the reason for colonizing space. How about getting out there because we are maturing as a people and ready for bigger challenges.

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