Tag Archives: colony

Would You Move to Another Planet?

In my upcoming book, Knights of Ariadne, humanity has colonised a world outside of our solar system for the first time. I’m currently writing Journey to Ariadne, the web serial that sets up this world. Part of that story is the journey to the new planet. I also recently watched the movie Passengers, where they are doing the very same thing, traveling to another planet to colonise it. One of my favourite novels is Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson. It’s all about colonising Mars. This whole concept has me intrigued.

Reading about it is fun. I love reading books about people traveling to a new world to colonize it. But would I do it myself? It depends on my circumstances. If my life were totally different, and I had few to no attachments here on Earth, I absolutely would.

Some of the reasons I would do this are:

  • It’s an adventure.
  • A chance to make a difference in society.
  • The ability to establish a new society.
  • Exploring a completely new world.
  • Discovering new life.
  • Building a home and making a new life for myself.
  • The feeling of being one of the first people to experience this world.

Of course, it’s not going to be easy. The early years would likely be difficult. Food would be an issue. Would our crops grow on this world? Would this world provide food we could eat? Would there be any dangers from animals or plants on this planet? There’d be no help if there were a major emergency.

But the challenge would be worth it. Just the chance to experience a new world around another star and see previously unknown life would be incredible.

How about you? Would you do it? Let me know in the comments section.

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Crops on a Colony World

The most recent part of the A to Z Challenge has had me thinking about vegetable, fruit, and grain crops. If you were setting up a colony on another planet, what crops would you want to have so you had fresh food as quickly as possible? I’m not a gardener, and I could rely on internet sources, but is like advice from people who actual like gardening or farming. What food crops are ready quickly?

Colonising a World: Potential Risks

Imagine traveling through space in a large metal can at nearly the speed of light.  What can happen?  The ship can hit a small object, maybe only a few millimetres across, and it can rip through the metallic shell and cause major damage.  So, of course, there are some ways to protect.  Thicker walls, electromagnetic deflection system, or maybe even a kind of warp bubble will keep that kind of thing away.

But going ahead to the landing of the colony, what kind of hazards can colonists encounter on the planet?  Plenty.

Weather

The type of planet will indicate the kinds of weather-related hazards there are.  A dry world could have massive dust storms.  A wet world will have huge cyclonic storms.  Somewhere in the middle, you have something like Earth.  You can encounter anything from tropical cyclones, flooding, thunderstorms, blizzards, tornadoes, and landslides.  A planet with a more eccentric orbit can have wildly different weather depending on the hemisphere.  One hemisphere may be more stable, while the other has incredibly large fluctuations, such as a short hot summer and long cold winter.

Ariadne is in a rather favourable position, being somewhat like Earth in temperature and orbital eccentricity, as well as axial tilt.

Geology

A seismically active world will have earthquakes, volcanoes, thermal vents, and tsunami.  A seismically dead world will likely have little to no magnetic field, which spells a lot of trouble. The solar wind would be stripping the atmosphere and radiation would be higher.  Not a good situation.

Ariadne is seismically active with large mountain ranges, volcanoes, and earthquakes.

Animals

Presumably, a world with life will have animals, though it’s quite possible to have only plant life, or something completely exotic.  But if there are animals, some may be dangerous.  This can range from large predators to small parasites.

Ariadne will have animals.  I’ve mentioned it before, and there will be a large variety of alien animals.

Disease

Bacteria and viruses may develop on other worlds, but it’s quite possible something totally unique will evolve.  However, they may work in a similar way to Earth bacteria and viruses.  Whether they’re compatible to human biology or not remains to be seen.

Ariadne’s situation is inconclusive.

Sentient Alien Life

What if the colony planet is already home to intelligent life forms?  This can prove to be a major problem.  An advance survey of the planet should reveal a technologically advanced life, unless they all live underground.  It is entirely possible that a pre-industrial society may live in forests and be unseen by orbiting satellites.  But what happens if they’re advanced?  Would they allow humans to live on the world with them? Or would they defend their planet and try to kill or expel the colonists?

Ariadne’s survey does not reveal advanced technology or a pre-industrial civilisation.

Human Conflict

It’s inevitable that the dangers on the world would be from the colonists themselves.  Mob mentality often results in irrational behaviour and fighting.  Differing ideologies may result in friction between different groups, and then conflict.  It may be inescapable.  Rules can be set for how countries can be established, but will those countries behave in a civilised manner toward each other?  Hopefully, with an entire world waiting to be explored and settled, everyone can be satisfied with what they have.

On Ariadne, it remains to be seen, but as this is going to be a novel series, it’s obvious there will be conflict.

Do you have any ideas what can threaten a colony?  Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Colonising a World: Establishing Towns

After some time has passed, a colony needs to start spreading out.  It’s human nature to want to explore the land and set roots somewhere.  With a growing population, new settlements will be needed.  But where would they be established?

Water

Obviously, most towns will be founded along major waterways or on coastlines.  A major river system can support a large population, and also provide an easy way of transportation and trade between towns.  It provides the towns with drinking water and water for farms.

On Ariadne, the first settlement is next to a major river delta, while the second settlement is on a vast inland sea near a major river.

Resources

Towns will spring up where valuable resources are discovered.  These mining towns may continue to live on in the future, but may also become ghost towns.  But the longer they’re there, the more likely they’ll have connections with other settlements and a broader variety of industries.  On a colony world, metals will be valuable for electronics, construction, vehicles, and more.  Trees will also be valuable for construction.

On Ariadne, the first settlement has forest, though the main resource is water, as well as land for farming.  The second settlement is in a forested region with abundant minerals.

Trade Routes

Trade routes will undoubtedly encourage towns to spring up along the way.  The towns will provide travelers a place to stay, eat, and rest.  They will be kind of service towns, though they’ll also have their own industries.

On Ariadne, the route between the first two major settlements have towns along the way.

Climate

People want to live in comfortable climates.  Too cold and they’ll have a shorter growing season.  Too hot and dry, and they won’t have enough water.  Too wet, and there’s the risk of flood or unstable ground.

On Ariadne, the first settlement is in a subtropical zone with a comfortable climate that isn’t too hot, dry, or wet.  The second settlement is in a tropical rainforest that does get wet, but the growing season is all year.

Culture

Some cultures may want to form their own town.  They may look for an area that is comfortable for their way of life back on Earth.  People tend to gravitate toward their own culture and live with those who have the same values.

On Ariadne, this doesn’t happen until later.

Chance Discovery

Sometimes, there’s just something that fascinates people or gives them some kind of incentive to stay.  This may be a food source, an aquifer, a geothermal vent or hot spring, or beautiful scenery.  It could be anything.

On Ariadne, there is something that encourages one group of people to settle in a somewhat inconvenient location, but I can’t reveal that now.

Convenience

Everyone likes convenience.  Probably the most important thing that makes a town convenient is access to major population centres.  This can be close proximity to larger cities or being situated on a major transportation route.  These places can easily get goods regularly.

On Ariadne, this is a major factor, as remote locations are not exactly the best option for a young colony.

So, there are many things to consider when selecting a location for a new town.  These are just a few.  What would you consider when choosing a place for a settlement?

Colonising a World: Energy

Is electricity absolutely necessary?  No, but with a technological society, clean water, reliable light, and heat require power.  And if they want to travel anywhere without taking weeks, they need powered vehicles.  So, electricity is needed.

There are several options for generating electricity.  Considering that the colonists likely want to avoid using polluting fossil fuels, they’re out.  And on a world like Ariadne, there’s no guarantee that there is an adequate supply, as the world is only 3 billion years old.  Renewable sources are needed.

Hydroelectricity

Settlements near rivers can use the power of the water.  Large dams aren’t necessary, as the settlements are small.  A much simpler system could be utilised that would use the movement of the water to turn turbines containing magnets.  It’s clean, safe, and has low impact on the environment if small enough.  Larger systems can disrupt the local environment and harm aquatic animals, however.

Wind Power

Wind turbines can be used to generate electricity.  Small ones can power small devices, but large ones would be required for an entire town.  They can be rather unsightly, though.  Not only that, they could injure flying animals, and may be noisy.  They’re also unreliable when there’s very low wind.

Solar Power

Great for areas with abundant sunshine.  Solar panels can be placed on the roofs of buildings to power those buildings, but also a larger solar power plant could be constructed to power an entire town.  Low impact for the environment, as it doesn’t harm anything.  However, colonists must find the materials to make additional solar panels.

Geothermal

This is an excellent source of power, but only viable in areas that have hot springs or volcanoes.  Other areas can’t use it. It is low impact, and should be used in those areas.

Nuclear Fusion

In the time of the Ariadne colony, fusion was used widely on Mars.  Fusion is low impact, non-polluting, and does not produce radioactive waste.  It’s an amazing source of power that uses an extremely abundant fuel, hydrogen.  The trick is storing it and extracting it, especially if deuterium or tritium is used. Unlike nuclear fission, there are no runaway reactions resulting in meltdown, no uranium or plutonium.

So, what’s the best option?  In the early days of the colony, solar is a good choice, though a simple hydroelectric generator is a good option near rivers.  If there are fusion generators included in the colony’s manifest, these can be set up in the primary settlements.  And of course, in the seismically and volcanically active areas, geothermal is a great choice.

What would you choose for a source of electricity in a colony?

Colonising a World: Shelter

When establishing a colony, it’s very important to have some kind of shelter ready.  However, permanent shelter takes some time to build, so something temporary needs to be available from the beginning.  But for a colony of 15,000 people, how can it be done?

Assuming we’re using the initial settlement for Ariadne, it’s on a generally flat coastal plain with grasslands and forest nearby.  Building houses takes quite some time, but construction can start soon after settlement.  In the meantime, the colonists may have to camp.  One option is tents.  Depending on the climate and the possibility of extreme weather and dangerous animals, this may be a risky thing to do.  But in a stable situation, it may be the easiest.

The transport shuttles could also be converted into temporary shelter that could hold a few hundred people, albeit in cramped conditions.  They could be outfitted with kitchens that could feed everyone, though that may be a difficult thing to do.

Another option is to build large structures with easy to assemble prefabricated parts that were transported on the ship along with the colonists.  This may be the best and safest idea.  Although it would likely look like they live in big warehouses, they can be kept safe from the elements, have some conveniences such as industrial kitchens, washrooms with toilets and baths (once connected to a water supply), and some entertainment.  It may be like a huge dormitory, but at least they have a place to stay.  It’s temporary, though.

Over the first few months, a large amount of construction will be taking place, including housing, power facilities, water facilities, schools, hospitals, public gathering places, and more.  But the houses are something that people will really look forward to.

What would they make the houses with?  They could use local trees, though they wouldn’t know if they’re similar to Earth trees.  They could plant bamboo and use that.  It’s strong, fast-growing, and quite flexible, not to mention a source of food.  If the area is seismically stable, using stone or brick is another option.  As the settlement is located near a major river, clays should be abundant and very useful.

Larger apartments may also be constructed, and these would require strong metal frames.  Thankfully, iron should be abundant, and concrete should be easy to make.

In the 22nd century, construction techniques would likely be much better, more energy efficient, and use more environmentally friendly materials.  New technologies and materials may be developed for the colony, as well.  These may be an option, but it’s likely that early colonists will go with the simplest and easiest ways of building homes.

If you could build a house on another planet, how would you build it?

Colonising a World: Sex

Simply put, sex is one of the most important things to ensure that a colony is successful.  No, I’m not going to describe sex.  This post is safe for work.  What I’m talking about is maintaining a healthy population and sustainable population growth.

Let’s assume that the initial population of a colony is 15,000 people.  That’s not a lot of people to populate a planet.  But over time, it can result in millions.  In the beginning, everyone will be busy with setting up the colony, construction, establishing farms, and getting everything up to a comfortable standard of living.  But what about sex?  Of course, they’ll do it.  They need children.  But how many children per family?

My answer is however many they want.  Two children are required to maintain a population.  However, if they want the population to grow, and for people to spread around the planet, they need to have more than that.  It wasn’t so long ago that industrialised countries had a high birth rate, especially in the baby boom after World War II.  This contributed to a big boost in population.  A colony world needs a baby boom.  The population could easily double in a very short amount of time if every couple had two children.  But the death rate would be extremely low, as it’s unlikely that there would be many elderly people in the early stages of the colony.  As new communities are established, more children are needed to ensure future generations are able to maintain their towns and cities.

But what if people have ten children?  Is that too much?  They’d be spending so much time raising the children that it may be difficult for people to work.  Would this mean a return to more traditional stay-at-home parental roles?  I don’t mean women staying home.  Either the mother or father could stay home.  This would decrease the productivity of the population.  This would need to be resolved.  However, it’s unlikely that many families will have ten children.  In any case, it’s quite possible to have childcare specialists to take care of the young children until they’re old enough for school.

In today’s society, many parents are afraid of their children getting hurt or abducted by a stranger.  This is highly unlikely in the case of the colony.  It’s a close-knit community that is working together to take care of everyone.  Children are likely to have more freedoms, and so develop a healthy independence.  Older children can help taking care of the younger children, whether their own siblings or their neighbours’.

In the centuries after colonisation, this kind of population growth is unlikely to be maintained.  Societies should understand the impact of overpopulation, and try to maintain healthy population levels.  It’s essential in keeping the world’s environment healthy.

My question for you is this: How many children do you think each family should have?