Originally posted by twhitehead
I don't think we should get ahead of our selves. We should send robotic probes to the nearest star systems as soon as technologically reasonable - its worth waiting for the fastest drives or a next-gen ship will over take an older one.
We should explore all the local planets and moons robotically.
We should seriously consider terraforming Mars or Venus ...[text shortened]... raforming. However, all early missions for feasibility and preparation should be fully robotic.
Again why should we seriously consider thermoforming Venus or Mars?
Terraforming a planet will take a huge amount of time and vast resource application before
you see any benefit, you destroy any extant local life forms and much of the potential useful
scientific information you could gain from studying it and at the end of the day you get at
best about 1.5 times the earth's worth of extra living area both of which coming with a
string of extra complications (high radiation from sun due to lack of magnetic feilds, non-standard
gravity and day length ect ect) and after taking all the time and effort to get out of earth's
gravitational well you are dropping straight back down another one.
On the other hand building space habitats out of asteroids clears up asteroids that might otherwise
threaten earth, starts benefiting us immediately with asteroid mining and due to the small size (comparatively)
of space habitats they start becoming habitable much sooner than a planet would.
They can be spun to produce any desired gravity and lit with mirrors for any desired day length.
They have no significant gravitational well so travel between them is vastly cheaper and easier and
there is conservatively enough materiel available in the solar system for Trillions of people to live
in comfort as opposed to the few extra billions we get by terraforming Venus and Mars.
Given that any terraforming operation is almost certainly going to need to build space habitats and
stations anyway as part of the terraforming process my question is why bother to go to all the trouble
of terraforming planets and destroying their current landscapes and all that we could learn from them
in the name of making extra living space that will be harsh and uncomfortable for any non transhumanist
living there when we can accommodate far more people faster in space habitats?
Particularly as self sustaining space habitats basically just need engines stuck on the back to become
Terraforming strikes me as being a pretty bad idea on a cost benefit basis when compared to building space