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June 16, 2006

The Least of Our Worries

If we should indeed leave earth for some other part of the cosmos, where should we go?

There's also an ethical problem. An Earth-like planet with an oxygen-rich atmosphere breathable by humans is already likely to have its own life. "You won't find an oxygen-rich planet without life," says Crawford. "What is being advocated is appropriating somebody else's planet. That will be ethically repugnant."

I’d have said that would be the least of our worries. A pretty simple "us or them" problem and we have recorded history to look at to tell us how people react in such situations. "Them" don’t really get much of a chance, unless they win, of course.

June 16, 2006 in Space | Permalink


Spot the underlying Groan traits:

[Mars, Cons]
· Two words: Beagle 2. Getting stuff to land safely on Mars isn't easy - it's not like landing on the Moon.

Another two words: Viking 1.
And another two: Viking 2.
And some more: Pathfinder, Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity.

Getting stuff to land safely on Mars is easy if you are an American, it's like landing on the Moon, which the Americans have done a number of times.

Woops, I mentioned America.

In fact Venus is a vision of hell. A runaway greenhouse effect (thanks to a 97% concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) means the temperatures on the planet's surface can soar to 450C

I mean anyone would assume being a lot closer to the sun with no albedo effect would probably explain surface temperatures, which might _cause_ a concentration of CO2 rather than be caused by it. But we have to get global warming in there somewhere.

Posted by: IanLondon | Jun 16, 2006 9:54:23 AM

Uhhhh, IanLondon: Venus is so hot because it has a huge greehouse effect. That's a fact.
He makes no claim about the cause and does not link it to global warming on earth.
Without a greenhouse effect earth would be unsuitable for human life, it would be too cold.

So, where does global warming come into this?

Also: yeah, the US has managed to land some probes on Mars, doesn't mean its easy. There have been failed US probes too.
Mars is not easy to get to and very expensive. It will get easier and less expensive in the future, I'm sure largely due to US programs.
Landing on the moon has also proven difficult at times, although it is easier.
The last lunar landing was the Soviet Luna 24 in 1976.

Space flight is difficult. The US has the most experience and the best people, but even they will not claim Mars is easy to get to.

Posted by: Tristan | Jun 16, 2006 10:51:22 AM


Getting stuff to land on Mars is a real pain in the ass. It's got about twice the gravity of the moon and there's an atmosphere to boot. As Tristan observes, NASA's not batting 1000 either.

Besides, one mission doesn't tell you a whole lot about the odds.

Posted by: P. Froward | Jun 16, 2006 12:54:01 PM

The track record of the human race in such voyages of discovery is well documented

Aborigines, n.: Persons of little worth found cumbering the soil of a newly discovered country. They soon cease to cumber; they fertilize.
Ambrose Bierce

The tricky bit would seem to be ensuring that the intended destination was not as far along the alleged evolutionary curve as ourselves, or the Betelgeuse IV bestseller lists would soon be featuring 'To Serve Man' and similar recipe books.
Not to mention the surge in in Terran frontier properties in their real estate market.

Posted by: Chuckles | Jun 16, 2006 1:45:34 PM

Planets are'nt a particularly good place to live. No weather control, large areas of desert & suchlike, breeding grounds for germs, impossible to move if about to be hit by a dinosaur killer meteor, heavy gravity that makes it difficult to get off & doesn't have the industrial possibilities of places with zero gravity & 24 hour sunlight. Only aboriginal people would want to live there.


Posted by: Neil Craig | Jun 16, 2006 2:36:42 PM

try link again


Posted by: Neil Craig | Jun 16, 2006 2:39:24 PM

Mr Froward,

They've managed to get stuff to land back on earth too. Also done by remote control.

Nine times the gravity of the moon and a really thick atmosphere, now that must be a bit of a bugger.


Posted by: The Remittance Man | Jun 16, 2006 2:46:33 PM

RM - it is, indeed, a bugger trying to land on Earth. Look what happened to Columbia, Voskhod 2 and Soyuz 1, just to pick three examples. Fortunately, we know quite a lot more about the Earth's terrain, atmosphere and weather, what with living here, than we do about those of Mars, where the success rate is still running at about 50%.

You remember the successes - what about Beagle 2, Mars Explorer, Mars Polar Lander, Mars Pathfinder, etc?

You're ignorant of planetary science, so I'll just point out that Venus has an albedo - quite a high one; that's how come you can, well, see it - thanks to its permanent cloud cover. Venus is hotter than Mercury thanks to its greenhouse effect, although Mercury is closer to the Sun and receives four times the insolation.

Posted by: ajay | Jun 16, 2006 5:02:00 PM


Posted by: auntymarianne | Jun 18, 2006 7:54:17 PM