Colonization of exoplanets: is it possible?

Hyperaxion May 13, 2020

Right now, there are thousands of astronomers continually looking for new planets, including one that is very similar to ours.

These exoplanet hunters would love to find a new unknown planet analogous to Earth, with the same habitability characteristics: liquid water on its surface, a potentially breathable atmosphere, an active and durable magnetic field (essential protection), a stellar neighborhood without the imminent threat of sterilizing supernovae and a comfortable distance in a stable orbit from its host star.

Colonization of exoplanets: is it possible?
(Credit: Thomas BudachPixabay).

The bad news is that we haven’t found a perfect planet like that yet, and in fact, we still don’t even have the technology for detection with this level of accuracy. Exoplanets are very far away from us and are very difficult to observe directly. We look forward to the next generations of ground and space telescopes to help us in this search.

And if it is already difficult to detect and characterize the details of these Earth 2.0 candidate planets, imagine going there personally. Interstellar travel is still science fiction. In order to go to the nearest star, the Proxima Centauri, we would take more than 6,500 years in travel, assuming the speed of the fastest spacecraft that exists today – the Parker Solar Probe, which will reach 692,000 km/h (430,000 mph), 0.064% the speed of light, by 2025.

The Parker Solar Probe
The Parker Solar Probe. (Credit: NASA).

If that were possible, it would be a one-way trip. If something went wrong on the way, there would hardly be a way to organize a rescue in time. Apart from all the problems of dangerous radiation in space that these travelers would be subject to. This excessive radiation could trigger a series of deadly diseases, since they would be without the protection of a magnetic field.

Therefore, we are still a long way from having an Earth-like planet to which we can move one day. Mars is a decent option for exploration, and it already plays a very important role in research and advances in this type of space operation. But life there will be very different from what we have on our planet – and probably very difficult too. If we want to colonize other planets without living miserably, we need to speed up technological progress.

Mars, the Red Planet.
Mars, the Red Planet. (Credit: Pixabay).

As Carl Sagan said in Pale Blue Dot: “The Earth is the only world known so far to harbour life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit? Yes. Settle? Not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.”

Related topics:

exoplanets Mars

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