Colonising another planet, what do you need?

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by alexb123, Apr 13, 2010.

  1. alexb123 The Amish web page is fast! Valued Senior Member

    If we found another planet almost the same as earth and we sent 500 people to colonise it, what other things would they need to build a modern society?

    Naturally, space is highly limited, maybe less than 100 tons. What would be the most important things to take?
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  3. Spud Emperor solanaceous common tater Registered Senior Member

    Pliers. I'd take pliers. No, wait..multigrips.

    And condoms. Overpoulation is not pretty.
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  5. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Duct Tape.
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  7. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    I'd bring along something that would be able to take me back home if things didn't work out.
  8. jmpet Valued Senior Member

    We would need so much to colonize another planet that it is impractical to discuss it. The space ship itself would have to be the size of Los Angeles and weigh a million tons- and that's step #1.
  9. Omega133 Aus der Dunkelheit Valued Senior Member

    A mini-gun. Let's see those aliens dodge that!
  10. Omega133 Aus der Dunkelheit Valued Senior Member

    In all seriousness, food, water, and building supplies would be the bare neccesities, and therefore needed. Maybe communcations would be handy. And a Playstation for when you're bored.
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Rather depends on what the other planet looked like, wouldn't it?
    I don't recall the early European settlers of America needing a floating ship the size of LA?

    If there are absolutely no natural resources (for construction / food etc) then it would increase the size of the transported materials. But then it would also beg the question of why colonise such a planet.

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    Bear in mind that a ship supporting 500 people for the trip to such a planet would already need to be large - and if designed correctly could be landed and act as the initial dwellings. And if so then food rather than shelter becomes paramount - as I think they would need sufficient food to last until a rescue ship could be sent for and arrive.

    Just my thoughts.

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  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    It depends on what you mean by "almost the same." Do you mean just like earth but with no people? That's a tall order.

    The most important factors are a breathable atmosphere and comfortable temperatures, otherwise we'd need to build a dome and stay inside it.

    This is about all we could reasonably hope for, and I don't think it's enough. Terraforming a world, in the micro sense of rendering the soil capable of growing plants we can eat, is probably an experiment we will need to try several times before we get it right. And I don't know if everything we need to accomplish that will fit in a hundred-ton payload.

    It would be great if it had DNA-based life that provides all the nutrients we need. We could subsist by hunting and gathering and immediately set about cultivating the native plants and domesticating the animals. We could start building an agricultural village right away and that would put us in the Neolithic Era upon landing. But that's a lot to hope for. We have no idea how many other kinds of life might exist in the universe, and how many of them are edible. We don't even know if there is life anywhere else at all.

    We'd be lucky if it has any kind of carbon-based life, so we could at least turn it into food and get our daily calorie intake. We would have to grow earth food to get our protein, vitamins and minerals, and there's no telling whether the soil would support our crops. I doubt that we could carry breeding stock for even small meat animals like chickens, so you can count me out.

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    If the local life is not edible, then the soil will probably not support our crops. We'd have to terraform it, one acre at a time, using the bacteria and minerals we brought in that payload. And hope we get it right before we run out. I suggest that this would be the biggest deal-breaker.

    So the premise has to be: a world like the Europeans discovered in America, but without the Indians. Lots of natural resources including food ready for the taking. And at this point I think we're in the realm of pure science fiction. Finding a world like that within the tiny volume of space that we can reach with foreseeable spacefaring technology is pretty unlikely.

    In other words, it really has to be "just like earth, but without the people."
  13. Dredd Dredd Registered Senior Member

  14. fedr808 1100101 Valued Senior Member

    That silly blogger neglects to mention that won't happen for what is it now? 6 billion years?

    That's assuming we last that long, the oldest species are around 500 million years old.
  15. jmpet Valued Senior Member

    No, it wouldn't depend on what the destination is- it would have to be one big assed ship. Any such seed ship would almost defiantly have to be a generational ship, which means you'd have a population of 400-800 people. Then there livestock. And oh yeah- about a million pounds of soil and 100,000 square feet of greenery for food, feed, and oxygen.

    I suppose you expect people to live their entire lives mid-journey (being born in space and dying in space with never seeing either Earth or Earth 2) in a tuna can.
  16. siledre Registered Senior Member

    almost the same as earth so there's plenty of raw material correct, the only thing you would need are the machines to set it all up.
  17. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    400-800 people would still not need a ship the size of LA.
    It would also depend on the quality of life-style you want for passengers and how long the trip will take.

    Generation ships are pointless - especially if they get nowhere near light-speed... as the rate of technological increase would mean that half-way through their flight or so they would get overtaken by a ship that left much later than them.

    And if you manage to get ships travelling any decent high-fraction of "c" then relativistic effects would significantly reduce the actual food requirements etc for the passengers due to cutting down the time experienced by those on board. At 0.8c it would appear to an external observer for the ship to take 125 years to travel 100LY. On board ship it would only take 75 years (if i've calculated correctly).

    Even if you decide to have a ship of 400-800 people chugging along at non-relativistic speeds - the ship still need not be as vast as you think. Oxygen can be effectively created through algae, and food could also be wonderfully based on the same algae-gloop... bit of flavourings etc.
    Yes - space for a farm / vegetation would be good - but again, 500 people do not require that much space.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2010
  18. jmpet Valued Senior Member

    I'm sorry- I forgot about warp drive.
  19. John99 Banned Banned

    Good genes.

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    Send me and one or two other people.
  20. MarkitScience Registered Senior Member

    let's see...

    assuming that after landing the spacecraft it could be used as living quarters, here is a list of some important supplies:

    - organic seeds
    - soil
    - chickens, pigs, cows
    - water (if there isn't any on the planet)
    - fire (flint rock, kindling)
    - antibiotics
    - weapons (only distributed to those in charge of "homeland" security)
    - some means of establishing alternate energy sources (perhaps wind turbines)
  21. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    A library and an effective educational system.
  22. MarkitScience Registered Senior Member

    thankfully with our massive storage devices i'd guess that most books or paper-material would be kept digitally. i've always imagined the colonization of a new planet to be the start of a digitized humanity.

    and you're right, would definitely need some educational system there, some of the 500 people would need to be recruited academics. I think it would need to be a very specified academic program though, one especially geared towards survival on the planet, increasing understanding of the new environment...

    i think it would also be important to divide the 500 people in groups to manage different departments, what could some of these be? any ideas? i'll start with:

    1. research scientists- collecting & analyzing data and samples, this group would work closely with researchers back at earth, likely sending things back & forth frequently)

    2. security & policing- you never know what will happen. the planet is probably uninhabited, but they'd always need to be prepared. also there is a high chance that some individuals of the 500 would become psychologically unstable after making such a shocking move from earth to another planet. maybe they would lash out at the colony.

    3. agriculture & farming - somebody needs to figure out the optimal conditions and protocol for growing vegetables on a mass scale in these new conditions. assuming that gravity would be different, how would you house animals like chickens?? wouldn't want them going for a flight into nothingness.

    4. education
  23. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Who's mentioning warp-drive? I merely mentioned that travelling at a high fraction of "c" significantly reduces the actual time needed for travel - compared to how long it might seem to an observer not on the ship. Apologies if this somehow offends your sensibilities. :shrug:

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