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Time for humans to start thinking about moving says Hawking

For many years humans have dreamed of one day colonizing other planets and moons.  Although research would be an important reason for the foreign bases, could the survival of the human race depend on whether or not we can colonize other planets?  World-renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking recently said that humans need to colonize a planet or moon because the Earth might face destruction -- A man made disaster -- global warming being a good example -- or natural disaster could potentially destroy the planet. 

Although he believes humans can colonize the moon within 20 years, and establish a sufficient base on Mars within 40 years, humans "won't find anywhere as nice as Earth," unless we visit another solar system.  The moon looks to be like an ideal place for a potential new colony.  Not only does it appear to have everything needed to sustain humans, ice has also been found at its poles.

Nations have been thinking about colonizing other planets for years.  DailyTech earlier reported that NASA is working towards a permanent moon base that would be a stepping stone to allow astronauts to explore Mars firsthand.  Swedish researchers are also studying different ways to have a self-sustaining colony on the moon.

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RE: moon base
By masher2 on 6/16/2006 3:51:30 PM , Rating: 2
> "hmmm..why the fixation on synchronous orbits?"

For the same reason they're so useful on earth. You can cover a larger area with a smaller number of satellites. Furthermore, a nonsychronous satellite requires the ground station to track a rapidly moving body...or else to broadcast (and receive) a far more powerful signal.

Certainly still possible, but you're talking about a much larger number of much higher power satellites. Much costlier. And again-- whats the point? You've already admitted such a system isn't needed on the moon...just to prove we can do it for some other planet?

> "Dont need synchronous orbits for that, they only need to be far enough away to see their "half" of the body"

I've explained this earlier. High lunar orbits are not stable, unless they're darkside only (which means they must be synchronous). The mass of the earth is 80 times that of the moon, meaning Terran gravity causes severe perturbations.

An orbit only a thousand or two km high would be stable, but that provides very little coverage. Remember, the moon is not perfectly smooth. Even on Earth, a satellite 35,000 km up is often occluded by terrain. Furthermore, the lower a satellite is, the faster it moves...complicating tracking tremendously.

> "yes we would need at least part of the system to be in place first before we start sending people"

No, you need no satellite whatsoever for a Nearside colony. They communicate directly with Earth.

> "2 for decent global surface coverage and polar orbital coverage, 3 for maximum"

Heh, no. Honestly, look up some basic orbital dynamics. Failing that, look up how many satellites the earth's GPS constellation requires (24, plus a few spares) which ARE at Geosynch height, and STILL don't provide perfect 100% global coverage, due to terrain occlusion. Hell, Sirius uses 3 satellites (also at geosynch height, though with a elliptical plane) just to cover the North American continent.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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