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? asked in Science & MathematicsAstronomy & Space · 10 years ago

Why stopped space colonization?

History of space human settlements.

4 Answers

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    The reason is simple: money, and motivation, we have neither. Right now, space flight is only good for the occasional experiment, fixing a satellite or telescope, or super-high-end tourism. All of which are useful or have their place, mind, but which have mostly very different goals from colonization. This may change with the obvious increasing advancement of private spaceflight (Virgin Galactic, for instance), or if public mood changes, but right now, experimentation and exploration are more important to the public, their governments, and scientists, than explicit plans to colonize anywhere.

    Back during the Cold War, the Space Race was one of many competitive ventures we waged against the Soviets, something that notably helped to bankrupt and eventually collapse the USSR; back then, with what we knew, it seemed a lot more feasible that we could have bases on the Moon and Mars. But in fact, in particular with Mars, the more we learned, the more we realized we needed to be cautious.

    For instance, there is still, quietly, a lot of debate over whether there is or could be some life on Mars (the Viking probes had several results that contradict each other or were otherwise difficult to confirm, but some of which indicated positive for microbial life); if there is, terraforming (making the planet Earth-like) would be considered unethical by current treaties, because it would destroy non-Earth life, which most of the major spacefaring nations in the world agreed not to do. That said, terraforming - hell, even surviving without illness - would be difficult on Mars because of the following factors:

    *Thinner, non-oxygen-rich atmosphere. The atmosphere on Mars is made mostly of Carbon Dioxide (which would suffocate us), and while it's hypothetically feasible to convert the gases in the atmosphere to more Earth-like conditions, the thinness still screws things up on its own. See, Mars, despite being technically "larger", is actually less dense than the Earth; this is why you would weigh less on Mars than you do on Earth, and it's also why it can't hold on to an atmosphere as thick as ours. Ours already lets in a fair amount of radiation from the sun and other non-terrestrial sources (check out all the warnings against not using sunblock, right?), but we're better-adapted to the radiation levels on Earth than we are to Mars'; in fact, the ones on Mars stand a high chance of doing cellular damage (think cancer) to most terrestrial life, including humans.

    *Lack of water. We cannot live without it, but the little water Mars still has is probably locked up underground or in the polar caps; in other words, difficult to get to.

    *lack of heat. We would need constant heating to live on Mars, because we're not adapted for the cold, particularly of Martian nights, that is the result of Marts being further than us from the Sun.

    *Distance. It would take at least a year and a half to get there, and even then, you have to wait until it's lined up conveniently, or the costs of fuel and difficulty in aiming towards it go up exponentially. In this time, you would have to protect your settlers from radiation in space, from starvation, from dehydration, from meteorites that could punch through the ship, from muscular atrophy (you'd have to have exercise equipment to help stave off some of the effects of microgravity) and of course, boredom (you don't want them going crazy and killing each other, ya know?). This distance also means that any colonists would have to be completely on their own, with little if any help from Earth; it takes several minutes just for radio or light (lasers) to travel and transmit information between the two planets even when they're properly lined up.

    This isn't to say that NASA and others aren't hoping someday to at least visit Mars, but right now, there's a lot of things to consider and a lot of kinks to work out, and they have to do all of that while dealing with budget cuts, too, especially after going through a pretty much worldwide recession. There's some things (such as water recycling techniques) that look promising, but again; it's something that is not going to happen overnight.

    Of course, the argument that "there aren't any truly Earth-like planets to go to" is a silly one, since the point of searching for those isn't really to find a second home for humanity, it's to find other possible life in the universe; Mars isn't very Earthlike anymore, but not only is it possible (amazing, but still possible) that some extremophile microbes could be surviving on it, we could also adapt it using technology to create self-contained habitable structures.

    The difference is, we're a lot farther from developing both those structures and the means to get there efficiently and safely, than we would have hoped back in the Cold War.

    Source(s): Hard SF Yahoo Group (Mars colonization was a discussion topic there in recent months), various science specials, watching the more recent Mars probe landings (I remember noticing how when one got stuck, it took several minutes for them to get it instructions on how to get unstuck, just because of the time lag), and I read a LOT of geeky books and magazines, including "13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time" by Micheal Brooks (this is where the stuff on the Viking Probes comes from), plus a bit from interviews I've seen with Neil deGrasse Tyson (the astronomer who wrote "The Pluto Files").
  • 10 years ago

    Because nowhere else in the universe than Earth is known for certain to be habitable.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    There was never any space colonization.

  • 10 years ago

    We never started it.

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