Should We Fix Earth Before Colonizing Other Planets?

Zo be sure, it’s not difficult to observe Earth is facing some big problems – overpopulation, epidemics, and asteroid strikes to name a few. But before we flee this planet like an action hero jumping out of an explosion, let’s think about this for a second. Sure, it’d be great to have a backup civilization somewhere in case asteroids wipe out all life on Earth. But before we flee this planet like an action hero jumping out of an explosion, let’s think about this for a second. Sure, it’d be great to have a backup civilization somewhere in case asteroids wipe out all life on Earth.

And it would be one of the most exciting things humankind has ever done. But what would it actually require?Should we fix Earth before colonizing other planets? If we really want to find the perfect home away from home, we could look to other star systems: with billions of planets in the Milky Way, there’s a good chance some will have water, land, and breathable air. But so far we haven’t found Earth’s twin, and our telescopes don’t have the kind of resolution that could tell us in detail what an exoplanet is like. Also, it would take hundreds of years to get there, and if those passengers don’t die along the way, they’d likely evolve into a new species before they even got to their new planet.

 

“If we really want to thrive on another planet, we’ll probably have to adapt the environment to suit our needs.”

 

NASA’s missions to Mars will likely only carry as many as six people at a time to the red planet. SpaceX wants to develop an Interplanetary Transport System to deliver 100 Martian settlers at a time, but at the moment it is nothing more than in the concept stage. The interstellar route is even more challenging, because we don’t even have an imaginary spacecraft capable of supporting thousands of people for hundreds of years on an interstellar journey. And in either case, there’s always the politically charged question of: who goes and who stays?

Do poor and disadvantaged people get left behind on a hellish world? If we really want to thrive on another planet, we’ll probably have to adapt the environment to suit our needs. Sure, we might be able to terraform Mars, but it would take about 100,000 years for its atmosphere to become breathable. Hope you’re not in a rush to go outdoors without a gas mask anytime soon. And exactly who would pay to colonize Mars? Why would the U.S. government spend all that money to sustain a colony? What would we get out of it, besides better chances for the survival of our species?

Will the Martian colony produce valuable exports, besides the (obviously awesome) scientific discoveries that would come out of it? Are we destined to continue to advance humanity beyond Earth? Some say if we can figure out how to survive on a completely alien world, then we can figure out how to survive in our own home—possibly a lot more easily and cheaply than the alternative. What Do You Say ?

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Popular Science. The original item was written by Sarah Fecht. Materials may be edited for content and length.

http://www.popsci.com/stephen-hawking-human-extinction-colonize-mars

Image: Adrian Mann