Well, we all know the earth is the only planet that has life. We don’t need any technical stuff to live here. We have everything; the water, air, land, the ecosystem, and the atmosphere. So, If you’re living comfortably on the earth, and one day you have to leave from here. Do you think you can live in outer space? Or will you be able to survive on any other planet? Simply, no.
So, do you think we will be able to colonize outer space? Well, before coming to that point, ask yourself, Why do we need such colonization? If we already have a planet to live, then why we want to colonize any other planet instead of making the earth a better one?
Elon Musk and late physicist, Stephen Hawking both said that space colonization is need for human survival. Musk wants space colonization for human survival in case of a massive asteroid strike, a nuclear war, a pandemic, or climate change. Even Stephen Hawking also said that there has usually been somewhere else to colonize. The earth is running out of space, and the only places left are other worlds.
Coming back to the point, first of all, we have to choose the nearest one for colonization. We have the moon, Venus, and mars for this. What do you think about which one will be the best choice?
Venus as a choice for the space colony
Venus is much closer to the earth than any other planets, which means less cost, lesser fuel, and easier to reach. The round trip to Venus can be 30-50% shorter than mars, which is a plus point for a man-mission.
Since it is closer to the sun, it has more solar energy, even four times more than the earth. We can utilize this solar energy as fuel for civilization. Also, Venus can provide us the better protection from harmful radiations as it has a thicker atmosphere layer. The plenty of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a boon for the plants. Also, we can extract oxygen from carbon dioxide. The gravitational acceleration of Venus is 0.9g, which is good for civilization.
So, what is the problem with Venus?
The problem is with the surface. We need land to colonize, and unfortunately, we can’t even land on it. It is because of the surface temperature. Venus has a temperature of 450 degrees Celsius, which is even more than the melting point of lead (320 degrees Celsius). If we can’t land on it, then we can’t think of colonizing it.
Another negative point is the barometric pressure. The barometric pressure over Venus is 90 times the pressure on the earth, which is the same as the diving 1 kilometer under the sea. Therefore, we are not able to colonize on Venus surface.
But, above 50 km, the temperature drops to 70 degrees Celsius, and the pressure drops to nearly earth’s one. So, we can make Venus colonize with the cloud cities. High Altitude Venus Operational Concept – HAVOC is NASA’s vision of colonizing the Venus. NASA has a plan to send piloted, helium-filled airships to the Venus skies. However, establishing cloud cities also have their technical challenges that need to overcome, but the NASA team is ready to take up those challenges.
The moon as a choice for the space colony
Well, the moon is the closest celestial body to the earth, which we can colonize. Fortunately, we have the technology and current estimates to go there. It will cost us 20-40 billion dollars, which is similar to the budget of the International Space Station. Moon has the resources for the new technologies to develop there.
Despite this, the moon is not an ideal place for human survival. One day in the moon is like spending 29 days on the earth, which is a long time. Also, the temperature difference between the sunlight and the shaded region is more than 300 degrees Celsius.
The worst thing is the absence of the atmosphere. The moon doesn’t have the atmosphere to protect us from meteorites and cosmic radiations, which is dangerous for human life. Surprisingly, the moon has 42% of the oxygen but present in the form of oxides.
So, what scientists need to do for a colonized moon?
First of all, astronauts need to set up the first moon base to the lunar surface. Buy, why only the lunar surface? It is because the lunar surface has ice, which they can use to extract water. Since we have the technology, we can complete the first moon base within a decade. It’s expensive to send the rockets with heavy-base to the moon.
At first, a crew of 12 members will deploy somewhere on the moon with natural shelters like caves (underground lava tube tunnels) or craters near the poles where the days are long as months. The crew of scientists and engineers will study the composition of the moon and conduct several experiments to get the way of using the moon’s resources.
They will purify the lunar ice and extract water from it for human use. This water will be for agricultural activities. Hydrogen fuel cells will store power through the long night. Water can split into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel, which will be beneficial for us to get things off the moon into the orbit.
Well, the lunar surface has everything for our benefit, but the challenges are also blocking our way to the moon. If we will be able to colonize the moon, then it will become easier and cheaper for us to colonize Mars as well.
Mars as a choice for the space colony
The idea of colonizing mars has gained so much attention from both the public and private space agencies. Well, the first question is why it gained so much hype? In 2007, Dr. Joel Levine from NASA and his team researched and came up with a list of 150 scientific reasons to choose mars.
One of the reasons for getting into mars is the detection of life on Mars. If we find life on the mars, an indigenous life on the mars, then it will benefit all of us. It will help us to learn biochemistry and the molecular structure. It will provide information about the human body and how to treat the diseases that we couldn’t think about.
Another reason to get into the mars is to find the reason for its climate change. Mars is different from its past. The early Mars was like the earth. It has a thick atmosphere, rivers, lakes, and oceans. But today’s Mars has no chances for life. It has a thin atmosphere, which means no clouds, no rains, and no protection from the harmful radiation.
Also, mars have 0.1% of the oxygen, and it is mostly carbon dioxide but not in the atmosphere. The Martian surface is radioactive, having no water, just bare land full of dust. The atmospheric pressure on the mars is very less at which the people cannot survive without pressure suits.
Can terraforming the mars be a possible solution?
To terraform the mars, we need to look for a possible solution to vaporize the carbon dioxide present in the Martian surface. The carbon dioxide will reach the atmosphere, thicken its layer to provide better protection from UV radiation. Also, the amount of carbon dioxide gas will increase the greenhouse effect, which will warm the Mars.
The carbon dioxide and ice locked in the polar ice caps can be blasted in such a way that the carbon dioxide will rise above the surface and distribute evenly over the martial surface. Thus, the temperature will increase, which will unlock more carbon dioxide from the soil. The water vapor will condense to form oceans, lakes, and rivers. Thus, we will be able to colonize Mars.
But Bruce Jakosky said that we don’t have the technology to terraform the Martian surface. Carbon dioxide and water vapor are only greenhouse gases that are likely to be present on Mars. Unfortunately, these are insufficient to provide the required greenhouse effect to warm Mars. Most of the carbon dioxide is not accessible now. It is not possible to terraform Mars with the present technology.
Elon Musk has a different plan for the mars colonization. Even SpaceX is working for the possible colonization, and if they will be successful, we will able to live on Mars. Mars will be the first outer planet for human civilization.
The SpaceX will send two cargo ships to Mars by 2022. If this gains success, then they will send two more cargo ships and two crewed ships to Mars. The goal of this mission is to find the best source of water. The second goal is to build the propellant plant.
So, we will, with the six ships, have plenty of landed mass to construct the propellant depot, which would consist of solar panels. Then, mining and procedure for refining the water will take place. It will be followed by the extraction of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and then create and store the methane and oxygen.
Soon, they will build the base with one ship, then gradually increase their set up with the multiple ships, then building up the cities, then making even bigger. The company will use its BFRocket to launch humans from the earth.
Sounds interesting! Well, this is going to be the most expensive project in human history so far. Also, it is going to be the most challenging. But, human loves challenges, and the space teams are working hard to achieve colonization.
“To make outer space colonization a reality, for now, we have the plans but not technology and budget. We have humans with such visions to make this possible. Maybe, within a few decades, we will be able to colonize any one of them and become the interplanetary species. Maybe, the future generations will live on clouded cities of Venus, or the moon, or Musk’s civilized Mars.”