TO COLONIZE A PLANET
The items on this list were developed while considering a high
school curriculum that would require students to plan the colonization
of a planet that was assumed to have a breathable atmosphere.
Items red are idea notes/questions
specifically for Ralph.
- Link with home for questions - can link
up with us (ISECCo) for questions
- Do the students/classroom have web access?
- Students could submit questions through
you and you choose which to send to us.
- We may develop this into a unit for publication,
include a web page address for students to address questions to
us and a page for teachers to receive online help for questions.
Questions to consider:
- Import food vs. Grow food
- Grow food
- Less time for research and exploration.
- Still need a reserve, how much?
- Bring food
- Possible trouble with transportation and suppliers
- Still need a reserve, how much?
- Mechanized vs. Manual Labor
- Prone to break downs
- Parts to repair must be brought along and would eventually
run out, so would need manual tools and repair knowledge as well.
- Fuel supplies
- (All involve a weight penalty.)
- Manual labor
- Protection from Radiation (esp. ultraviolet)
- Other ways to protect crops and people
- How much hard radiation reaches the ground?
- National Health and Safety Administration recommends no more
that 0.5 rad/year for most people (5.0 rad/year for people working
around radioactive materials).
- (Comment: 9 day Apollo mission received 1.1rads; get rest
- On land vs. On water
- Geological stability (earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.)
- Climate and weather variables (storms)
- Natural resources
- Fresh water
- Building material
- Landing site
- Soil suitability
- Dangerous wildlife
- Minerals (Availability and how easily mined)
- How easy is it to get around? (e.g. build trails and roads
- very marshy areas very difficult, deserts easy)
- Length of daylight day over period of year
- Length of year and seasons (If year is 4 Earth years long,
winter may be 2 Earth years long.)
- How do you decide?
- Long term weather observations
- Located from orbit
- Surface exploration
- ??? (Blind luck = poor planning = short lives for colonists)
- How many sites?
- Increases odds of surviving disaster
- Could spread resources too thin
- Prefabricated vs. Ready to construct vs. Start from scratch
- Fast construction
- Bulky in weight and size
- Very difficult to modify
- VERY expensive to transport
- Ready to construct
- Expensive to transport
- Less bulky
- Still difficult to modify
- Start from scratch
- Time and labor intensive
- May (or may not) be able to use native materials.
- Easily modified and specialized
- Vegetarian vs. Omnivore diet
- Requires less crop area per human
- Some concern about long term lack of certain protiens
- More variety in diet
- Less concern about certain proteins
- If native grasses are edible, livestock can easily graze.
- Less crop area
- Possibly less work managing stocks
- If native grasses are not useable
- Need much more crop area (1 lb of crop = 1/6 lb meat from
- Planning for disasters
- Crop Failure
- This is important for all decisions (Grow vs. Import and Vegetarian
- Imported pest infestation
- Local pest infestation
- Not enough water
- Too much water
- Missing nutrients
- Wrong wavelengths
- Temperature too hot or cold
- Seed failure
- Pollination difficulties (Need bees or local insects for many
- Competition with local wildlife and/or vegetation (Pesticides
may be difficult to develop.)
- How much?
- How to store it?
- What to store?
- How much crop diversity?
- If you plant all potatoes and potatoes fail, you're in trouble.
- Alternative Crop technologies which may be less prone to failure
(or at least different failures).
- Advanced Technologies that can synthesis foods (science has
a Long way to go yet).
- Natural Disasters
- Weather related
- Geologically related
- Sun related
- Solar flares
- Variable energy output (too much = too hot; too little = too
- Local flora and fauna related
- Other Disasters
- Sanitation related
- Breakdown of community structure
- Poor planning
- Equipment failure
- Power failure (e.g. Solar panels don't produce as much as
expected due to different solar radiation qualities.)
- Resupply failure
- Escape plan in case of completely inhospitable environmental
factors or catastrophe
- Size and Social structure
- Very small colonies can survive with informal structure.
- Very large colonies must have formal structure.
- The ship that brings you
- How many ships?
- As with colonies more ships provide a better chance of someone
getting through, but also require you to spread your resources.
- More ships means a greater chance of ship mechanical/crew
- What type of ship?
- Generational ships (Only the great-great-grandchildren of
original participants actually colonize planet.)
- Time compressional (At just below the speed of light, it seems
to you, that time passes very slowly due to relativistic effects.
e.g. You age one year, while Earth passes a decade) (This is why
dull lectures take so long, and your great date is over so quickly.)
- FTL - Faster Than Light ships (which no one knows whether
we will be able to invent or not) .
- Will ship remain?
- Keep operational or use for materials?
- Leave immediately
- Currently there is no known way of communicating across interstellar
distances without waiting years for a reply.
- Are you going to allow for the possibility
of large leaps in technology? (e.g. Subspace communications that
are nearly instintaneous across interstellar distances.)
- Energy Sources
- Arrival priorities
- Survey planet from orbit
- Find location for colony
- Build a construction base
- Build a landing field