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RE: starship-design: Numbers needed for Colonization

Hi Bjorn,

>And YES a planet is maybe NOT neccesary for the colony to survive, but 
>probably IS neccisary for the endevour to make "economic sense" even in
>the long run. (If the target star system doesn't have planetary bodies 
>wanna exploit, why go there???)
==> A very, very good idea...

>> Which brings us back to the need for survey. Without a good prior 
survey, we
>> won't have any idea what we need to colonize a planet with. Face it, 
>> amount of Terraforming is going to be necessary no matter how Earth 
like a
>> planet may seem. 
>Actually I disagree with this... It's probably MUCH more easy to adapt 
>colonists than the planet if the changes are small. For exsample with
>Vaccines, imunization or other "artificial" bio-medical solutions then 
>try to change the whole microbiological Eco-system of the planet. This 
>of course also have large social/moral/ethical concerns as well as
>practical problems. (For one thing, it might be inposible for "Earth"
>humans and "colony" humans to interact personally w/o risk of plagues.)
==> As a biologist, it seems rather strange to me how many people think 
of colonizing a terran world with it's own biosphere. In my opinion one 
of two things will happen:

1. The alien ecosphere and the genetic/biochemical composition of it's 
species is closely similar to ours; this is the worst case, for it means 
that the colonists will encounter millions of microorganisms and other 
small creatures AGAINST wich they don't have any resistancy, but FOR 
wich they are the most ideal place to start their own colony...
Look at Africa for similar scenarios and remember HOW LONG it might take 
to develope a vaccine even against a virus known in as much detail as 
And still on a terran world there is the possibilty of large (say 
T-Rex-sized) predators which don't make any racial difference in 
choosing their dinner...

2. If the alien biosphere is fundamentally different form ours (e.g. a 
planet with microbial ecosystems miles beneath the surface or a surface 
environment with a different temperature regime, much higher pressures 
or a different atmospheric composition) then there is no problem with 
contamination; but why should we found a colony on a world as 
comfortable to humans as the entrance to Hell??

In case of colonization, it seems much better to choose a Mars-like, but 
sterile Planet/Moon. I think its much, much easier just to warm a planet 
and install a thicker atmosphere than to fight against alien lifeforms 
every single day. You can still explore the aliens from your base on a 
terraformed world.


P.S.: in all other points, you are right.

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