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I Can we colonize the Kuiper Belt?

  1. Mar 10, 2017 #1

    Al_

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    There is much sci-fi and techie talk of colonising Mars, or the Moon, and giant space habitats as far as the Asteroid Belt. But as you venture further out the Sun's power diminishes proportional to the square of the distance, and the solar panels that power all this life become extremely inefficient, and green plants struggle with low light levels. But is there a conceivable way to live, and thrive as a human colony, in the long term, way, way, out there in the Kuiper Belt and even beyond?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2017 #2
    It wouldn't be possible to collect any useful amount of solar energy, so any such venture would require a different source of power, probably nuclear,
    Other than that there no reason why it couldn't be done, although also there is no reason I can think of why anyone would want to do it.
    It's a very long way from Earth and the biggest objects out there are Pluto sized (marginally larger than the Moon), and frozen solid.
     
  4. Mar 10, 2017 #3

    Al_

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    But couldn't you have large reflectors made of thin metal foil to concentrate the sun's light?

    What kind of nuclear power?
    How about the dusty plasma fission rocket? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fission-fragment_rocket#Dusty_Plasma
     
  5. Mar 10, 2017 #4
    At that distance the Sun would appear as just another bright star, it would require something in the order of hundreds of square km of collectors.
    As for nuclear options, fusion would probably be best, but reactors would need to be massively scaled down compared to the present generation of experimental reactors.
    We don't know yet whether that can be possible/
    I suppose you could have a scenario where large reactors were setup on Pluto or similar producing enormous electrical output that could be stored in some as yet unknown kind of battery.
    Ships could go there to recharge periodically
     
  6. Mar 10, 2017 #5
    bit cold out there
     
  7. Mar 13, 2017 #6
    I don't see why not, but why would we? If we have the technology to get people out that far, we probably have the technology to live without a planet. I would suspect that most beings at the top of the evolutionary ladder have left their planets long ago.

    I see no reason to need a star to produce energy for a civilization like that. Stars are just fusion machines (and terribly inefficient ones at that.) The same can be done with technology.
     
  8. Mar 14, 2017 #7

    Al_

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    Sure, but you would need raw materials, even if you live on a space station. A space station would be like a ship moving from one low-gravity minor planet to another, maybe using ion drives, and when it arrives it sends down the robot miners to prospect and dig.
     
  9. Mar 14, 2017 #8

    Al_

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    But that could be just as thin as alu foil. Reflecting the light as a parabolic dish to concentrate it onto regular voltaic panels, or in through a window.
    In zero g it could be supported on a very light frame.
     
  10. Mar 14, 2017 #9

    Al_

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    If you found a asteroid that was made from the core of a minor planet smashed apart in a collision, it might have lots of Uranium or Thorium and you could have your own reactor.

    Once we build space stations that are comfortable places to live, it wont matter much where they are. They can just follow the raw material resources as far out as we like.
     
  11. Mar 16, 2017 #10
    Which is not a problem if you are a cyborg :)

    Space-faring humans can hardly escape the fate of starting to change themselves.
    Today we see modest beginnings with prosthetic robotic limbs and artificial hearts; and with gene therapy in its infancy. The progress is not terribly fast but inexorable, since there are always people who are willing to pay for these things.
    What these two areas will achieve in, say, 500 years?
    Rad-tolerant human?
    Zero-G tolerant human?
    Prosthetic everything except the brain? (a "cyborg")
     
  12. Mar 17, 2017 #11

    Al_

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    Why not make the brain prosthetic too - then the cold, the radiation, and the vacuum are not a problem.
    Have a snowball fight on Pluto or build a snowman on Sedna!
     
  13. Mar 17, 2017 #12

    russ_watters

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    Staff: Mentor

    OK, this thread is too unserious. Locked.
     
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