Man is working hard to colonize space, but it will not join an armada of shining spacecraft. We will proceed cautiously.
Mankind is supposed to colonize space. But what will happen when we can’t travel faster than the speed of light? We are referred to our own solar system because it would take too long to travel further into space.
Just the idea of building thunder-spacecraft that transport colonizers to various habitable planets and leave them there to cope there without the opportunity to communicate with the earth because of the distance seems crowded.
Yet it is cherished by a large number of science-fiction writers. The result of those fantasies is that there are spheres of power formed by outsiders who have forgotten the earth or hate the earth that left them in the lurch, or they die out due to lack of resources. It is an unsustainable and overbearing strategy.
In order for humans to survive on a foreign planet, there must be enough colonizers to cover losses and they must take in sufficient amounts of underlying technology and machinery and be able to grow their own food to cope in the event of a crisis. And then there must be historians who cherish the memory of the fashion planet. We’re talking about millions of people.
More and more habitable planets
There seem to be as many exoplanets as possible. With both ground and space-based telescopes, thousands of thousands have been discovered to date. If you extrapolate those numbers, you can assume that there is about one planet around each star, which would mean at least 100 billion planets just in the Milky Way.
In addition, there are trillions of free-floating planets that do not orbit any star. That’s almost how you think a new, Earth-like planet should be discovered this month.
Around each star there is a habitable zone called the Gold Lock Zone (because it is neither cold nor too hot), where human life could exist if there is only one planet of the appropriate size there. It is conceivable that there are approximately 40 billion Earth-sized planets in different habitable zones.
The European Southern Observatory (Eso) has begun the construction of a giant telescope, the European Extremely Large Telescope, with a 40-meter diameter mirror, which will help us find even more exoplanets.
E-ELT is intended to be so powerful that it can see the planets directly, even see what they have for the weather. The usual method of detecting a new planet is otherwise to try to see when a planet lies in the path of its sun and shadows it, causing distant stars to flash in a characteristic way. Then you can determine approximately how big the shading planet is, its rotation time around the star and possibly also which substances are included in its atmosphere.
But it only works for planets that go in orbit that is aligned with the Earth. With E-ELT, you instead expect to be able to see the planet directly, even if its orbit would not accidentally obscure the star. This gives us significantly more opportunities to find exoplanets than before and the number of known, habitable worlds will increase further.