Will we be able to colonize the exoplanet
The sharp deterioration of the climate and frequent environmental disasters make humanity more serious to think that in a short time to live on Earth will be impossible. One of the most radical, even seeming yet more fantastic solution to this problem - move to another planet. But first you need to find a suitable alternative. What is the probability of finding a new Earth, experts tell the program "How the Universe" on Wednesdays at 22:00 on Discovery Channel, and we're trying to figure out what to do if this happens.
When it comes to the colonization of other planets, the goal of our research can be summed up in one sentence: "We are looking for a second Earth." The human body adapted to life in certain conditions, and adapt to the existence would be at least very difficult in a radically different environment, and in most cases - and even impossible. Therefore, the requirements for a potential new home a lot.
Firstly, the planet must be of suitable size, mass and density, it depends on, for example, gravitational force and ability to retain the atmosphere. Secondly, it is necessary that it is in the habitable zone, that is the right distance from its star that the surface temperature was sufficient to maintain water in a liquid state. It is important the presence of biomarkers - chemicals, indicating that biological processes occur on the planet. Total five of such markers: water, carbon dioxide, methane, oxygen, and ozone. The next point - the chemical composition of the heavenly bodies. Live on a planet composed mainly of gas or fluid species, people are unlikely to succeed. Next on the list of requirements - the presence of a global magnetic field, which protects against radiation and will not allow the solar wind blow away the atmosphere. Finally, the planet must revolve around the "good" stars as violent outbursts can suddenly destroy life on nearby planets.
In the solar system the Earth, according to scientists, it is the only planet suitable for life (although the possibility of living on Mars has long been haunted by earthlings, but we'll come back to this). In this regard, the increasing interest of researchers call exoplanets that are located in other planetary systems, and revolve around other stars. Some of them actually have a high enough Earth Similarity Index (ESI). This indicator takes into account all the factors mentioned earlier. As the standard adopted by the Earth itself, and its similarity index is equal to 1. The closest to the "ideal" close exoplanet Kepler-438 b - its similarity index of 0, 88, and Gliese 832C is similar to the Earth by 81%. However, even with such high rates of ESI these planets are uninhabitable.
Therefore, we continue to explore the boundless space in the search for a second Earth. When it is difficult to say how high our chances of success: some scientists believe that we will meet with the amazing life forms, and some believe that the universe we are alone. Their opinions are divided and the experts of the program "How the Universe", which goes on the Discovery Channel on Wednesdays at 22:00. Along with leading the new season - Fedor Bondarchuk - they discuss the most intriguing mysteries of the universe: the characteristics of the life and death of stars to the secrets that hide the black holes and neutron stars.
A huge step for mankind
Suppose one day our quest to succeed. What do people do when it turns out the same "second Earth" in front of them? If you believe the fantasy film - go to the planet Research detachment to collect all available information, including microflora samples, all carefully consider and then, if you're lucky, and you can send the first colonists to settle. However, all the same movies have taught us that the expedition could end the invasion to Earth terrible virus which is a couple of months will destroy the entire population of the planet. The script may be a little dramatized, but the essence of it passes right. Even if at first glance no different from planet Earth, this does not mean that it does not inhabit a potentially dangerous bacteria. The same can be said about the earthly organisms: can not exclude the possibility that, once on a strange planet, they completely destroy its ecosystem. But at least the sad scenario, one single bacterium can cause irreparable damage. To make contact with alien organisms, the local environment forever lose its original appearance. As a result, scientists will not be able to get a full idea of what life was like on the planet before our arrival.
Prevent biological contamination on Earth and other celestial bodies to help the planetary protection methods. They are engaged in the development Commission on Space Research, or COSPAR (a portmanteau of COSPAR -. Committee on Space Research), created specifically for this purpose in 1959.
So, in theory, all the objects that come into contact with the surface of celestial bodies - including spacesuits astronauts - must be absolutely sterile. In reality, to achieve such a result, even with the most aggressive treatment until it is impossible, therefore, COSPAR experts have established the maximum permissible level of "population" objects visitors bacteria. When landing on Mars, for example, should be no more than 300,000 bacterial spores on the surface of the descent module. For comparison: in a cubic centimeter of soil inhabited by a few millions to billions of bacteria.
Sometimes the danger of earthly bacteria celestial body infection exists even if the landing is not planned for it. In such situations, the decision to destroy the spacecraft for mission completion. Such a fate awaited "Cassini" space probe, for 13 years investigated Saturn. On the two satellites of giant planets - Enceladus and Titan - presumably there are all conditions for the development of life. Thus "Cassini" could encounter after complete fuel production with one of them and bring earth elements microflora. Before this happens, the probe broke apart in the atmosphere of Saturn.
Not less serious measures are taken to protect the earth's ecosystem. For example, after the moon landing, the crew "Apollo 11", led by Neil Armstrong spent three weeks in quarantine. All this time the astronauts were in a sealed room and communicated with the outside world through a glass window.
No Man's Land
The likelihood that people will be able to find an exoplanet, so similar to Earth that we can settle it without harm for themselves, and for the local ecosystem, is extremely small. But if this happens, a new problem - the problem of the possession of the planet.
The fact that the heavenly bodies (as well as space in general) are not eligible for the award of a single country or nation. This is one of the basic laws prescribed in the "Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies". The document was adopted by the UN General Assembly resolution in December 1966, and a month later it was signed in Moscow, Washington and London. To date, over 100 countries are parties to the agreement.
And now is the time to return to the issue of development of Mars. Many scientists tend to believe that people will be able to arrange a settlement on the red planet, if it performed first terraforming, that is, so to change the climate so that they are suitable for the life of terrestrial plants and animals. Specific plans for terraformed Mars, too, are already being developed. For example, Elon Musk offers to arrange a nuclear explosion at the polar poles of the planet. This will create a greenhouse effect, which in turn will lead to compaction of the atmosphere and its warming. In the end, after 100-200 years, Mars will be ready for colonization.
"Outer Space Treaty" stands in the way of implementing this idea. Since Mars, as well as any other celestial body does not belong to a single State, the decision to intervene in its ecosystem should be taken at the international level. In addition, the agreement prohibits the use of weapons of mass destruction in outer space. And although it is more about the conduct of military operations of the cosmos, the law is not clarified. The rules prescribed in the agreement apply to exoplanets, regardless of whether there is life on them or only the conditions for its maintenance, live bacteria or whether there is a reasonable creature. Any action in relation to the celestial body can be made only after a discussion at the global level.
Thus, the possibility of colonizing other planets confronts mankind a lot of questions. Do we have the right to interfere in the course of evolution? Are you ready to risk the lives of our own planet? And how far we are willing to go in an attempt to find a new house? the inhabitants of the earth will look for answers together.