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Back to Planetary Terraforming And Colonization

Artificial sun

The first settlers might arrive to a planet even before terraforming begins. They might live there during all terraforming processes. But, the greatest increase in population will be after the point where the planet is terraformed.

Before the planet is terraformed Edit

The first people to visit a planet would be astronauts, pioneers and scientists. Maybe not the first time they visit a planet or moon, they will build a Research Station. The research is vital to know if and how a planet can be terraformed. Research phase can last for many years.

Then, as terraforming starts, there will be built a Terraforming Plant on the ground and/or a Terraforming Orbital Station. As terraforming is a long process, that might take from decades to centuries, some people will dedicate all their lives to their work.

In the same time, there could be people that would like to settle on a new world before it is terraformed. They will be pioneers that want to be the first. They will start building under domes, underground or in encased buildings.

When terraforming is done Edit

Terraforming usually requires the following steps:

  1. Creating An Atmosphere
  2. Adjusting Temperature
  3. Creating Oceans
  4. Ameliorating The Atmosphere
  5. Amelioration Of Geography
  6. Improving Soil And Ocean Composition
  7. Insertion Of Earth-like Life.

During the last phases, when the air has become breathable, people working at the terraforming plant will start walking in open air and will open their closed ecosystem. At the same time, pioneers that came here before, will start living in open air. This change will be gradually, as conditions on the planet will not change in an instant, but in a longer timeframe.

At some point, when life is advancing and conquering this new world and it seems like there is no force able to stop or reverse the process, those in charge with terraforming, will conclude that the planet or moon is terraformed. When this happens, settlers are welcome to come. That moment can be considered day zero for the new planet.

At that moment, the planet will still not be completely transformed. First of all, vegetation did not have enough time to reach maturity and conquer all the planet completely. Trees will still be young, there will be only a little layer of organic soil, (if at all) and animals will still be rare. Climate patterns will not be fixed. Air currents are not yet in equilibrium, unexpected storms and droughts can happen without explanation. Little adjustments in greenhouse gas concentration and other things may still need to be made. There will still be a time, at least 10 Earth years, when the terraforming plant will not be decommissioned and little improvements will be needed.

Terraforming has left something behind, that can be useful for humans: an infrastructure. Terraforming plants are equipped with powerful nuclear generators, which can provide energy for many cities. They also have large launch platforms which can be used as a skyport for the next cities that will be developed. Basically, a terraforming plant is a city, with all what it needs. Since many workers will leave the planet and others will try to settle, there will be many empty apartments for the first settlers. And the many complex buildings and facilities around a terraforming plant can become useful for industrial purposes.

Terraforming requests the usage of resources found on a planet for chemical reactions. In order to do this, technicians need to build transport routes first. Most probably, they have built railways, which are cheaper and can be fully automated. Also, they might have built docks to use the oceans as waterways, roads for limited use around railways and platforms for air transportation. These routes will start serving the settlers when they come. However, places with transport routes will not always be where people will want to go. Still, they will be very useful. Routes will be found almost only on one continent, all of them connecting the terraforming plant with former mining areas.

When first settlers will come, the planet is an endless wilderness.

Beginning of colonization Edit

From the moment when the planet became habitable, settlers will come in waves. Trade Routes towards the new planet start to develop under the form of scheduled and unscheduled ships, based on flight paths and planetary alignments. At least for Solar System colonization, when space technology will not be so advanced, there will be rare ships, traveling at hundreds of Earth days one from another. So, settlers will come in large numbers with each ship.

Adaptation Edit

Moving to a new planet is far more difficult then moving to a new continent. Everything is different:

Atmosphere pressure and composition is different. Some people will need time to adapt to this, others might never succeed. In some cases, you will need weeks to adapt to the new conditions.

Gravity is also different. Trying to walk on a Super-Earth is a hard task, the same will be for someone from Mars willing to settle on Venus. Adaptation to the new gravity will require time.

When astronauts landed on the Moon, in the first moments, they were learning to walk. On Moon, the best way to move around is by jumping. On Mercury, it will be by running. On small celestial bodies like Rhea or Iapetus, given the small gravity, it will be possible even to run on water.

On a high gravity planet, if you fall a bottle from your hand, it might injure your legs. However, on a planet with little gravity, drinking from a bottle is difficult, because the liquid will not flow as expected.

Radiations will also have a strong effect. Not all planets and moons are protected by a magnetosphere. People will learn to protect their skin with clothes and other things.

Climate is completely different.

Date and hour. Each planet and moon has its own date and local hour. See Time, Day And Year On Other Planets for more details.

There are many other things settlers will have to learn before going to their destinations. In some cases, people will have to wait weeks to adapt to the new environment.

Land Edit

How exactly will begin colonization? At first, there will be a large surface of land, opened for everyone. There will be different land requests. Some people will want to go somewhere and have their own parcels, like the pioneers in Wild West. Others will prefer to go to live in a town that will become a city. Other people will want to start a new business and will require more land or a specified type of land. At the beginning, there will be land for everyone. Probably, small parcels around towns and medium-size parcels in rural area will be offered for free, for the first one to settle there. However, large or special requests will be solved for money and under auctions.

Not all land will be for sale. There will be strips of protected land for transport routes, land reserves and environmental protected areas.

Some people will build and want to stay alone. Other people will like small communities, like villages, while others, will prefer larger settlements, like towns. Still, it is not the time to talk about a city.

The best way is to allocate parcels of various types in different areas, so that everyone will find what is the best. Free parcels will be small if closer and large if further away. Also, there will be larger free parcels for families with children. Prices for land will be calculated based on surface, distance to the land and type of land.

A village is a different kind of land. It consists of a central land area, divided in small parcels, for everyone to build a house, with slices of protected land for roads. There are larger private-owned parcels further away for growing crops, also separated by slices of protected land for roads. And there is land allocated to the community, but not divided. This kind of land includes pastures and forests, as well as recreation areas.

In case of a town, there will be parcels of land designed for trading, residential land and industrial land.

In case of isolated parcels, like farms, there must be slices of protected land that can become roads, to separate them and to allow access to them.

Energy Edit

The demand for energy will start from the first day when humans will step foot on the planet. Around the former terraforming plant, there will be energy available from its nuclear generators. It is possible that a limited power grid will connect the terraforming plant with a few quarries and mines and remote bases. However, this will only cover a very small surface of the planet and if the terraforming plant is decommissioned, there might be no more energy.

Settlers cannot turn towards fossil fuel. There might be Atomic Carbon on the planet, but we don't want to destroy the environment just after terraforming. So, we will focus on other solutions.

Since all the planet is an endless wilderness, there are many alternative sources of energy. Hydro energy will be the best option, since there will be many rivers with unnatural paths, with many lakes and waterfalls. Smaller or larger dams might rise from place to place. Some of them will provide power for a house or a family, while others will produce energy for a whole settlement.

Wind power can be an important source of energy if wind currents are stable both in direction and intensity. On a tidal locked planet, winds will be very predictable. We could imagine wind turbines working for every house or a large kite with many turbines using high-altitude currents.

Geothermal energy could be a solution later, but during early colonization it will not be a good option, since this sort of energy is scarce.

Thermal energy could be provided by burning wood and weeds, but still it has limited applications. Using of atomic carbon must be strictly prohibited.

Solar energy is also an option. Today, we see solar panels growing more efficient by the day.

However, in case of Outer Planet, where solar power is very low, air currents are very slow, rains are rare, rivers almost don't flow and plant life grows very slow, another option must be chosen. The use of pocket atomic generators could be the best and the only solution, even if we know the risks of such a technology.

Economy Edit

The development of states like the USA or Australia showed us that life in the first colonies is hard, but as soon as they increase in size and population, economy starts to appear. Newcomers look for jobs if they are not attracted by adventure. Also, many of them don't move away from cities. Also, many people come with revolutionary ideas and make the economy start going on.

The only thing a state needs to do is to maintain a free trade and non-aggressive policy in economy. All the rest comes just natural. Recessions and depressions will come for sure, but a free and natural economy will pass over all problems.

Industry will slowly grow, both in cities around the terraforming plant and far away in villages. So will agriculture.

Policy Edit

As settlers start to move in, the most important thing a state must do is to facilitate this, to help them come in.

  • Land policy is vital. If settlers know they will get free parcels, they will keep on coming.
  • Energy policy is the second in importance. Make green energy (like hydro power) tax free and all will work.
  • Transport policy is the third in importance. The state will not have money to build roads and railways, but can pay for them in land or can allow private companies to build for free transport routes, giving them land for construction.
  • Ecology is the 4th thing as importance. We must not destroy the planet we just terraformed. As population will increase, ecological concerns will be more and more important.

A booming economy requires lower taxes and a higher degree of freedom. A strong social policy will destroy everything.

Time to prepare the next steps Edit

What happens in the first moments after a planet is terraformed influences all what will happen there in the next centuries. What kind of government is established, how well is property right enforced, how much violence and how many crimes will happen, what will be the dominant religion, what will be the ideology, all these things will have an impact on the future.

New identity Edit

As terraforming process passes, a planet is changed beyond recognition. Some of these processes might completely alter the Geography. As a result, many of the well known Geographic features will vanish completely from the planet and other new features will replace them. As this happens, old names will no longer apply. Settlers will prefer their own names for various places. Things like rivers and oceans might have never existed, but now they exist.

Another thing that will happen very soon is that settlers will identify themselves as residents of the newly terraformed planet. They will require citizenship. And their children will have even patriotism. It is like the birth of a new nation.

The way we see time is strictly for Earth, with its own day length and subdivisions (minutes, seconds, adapted for Earth. The week, the month and the year are also connected to space movements visible only for Earth. Each planet will be different, see Time, Day And Year On Other Planets.

Astrology has no scientific explanation, but many people believe it. However, it works only for Earth. What will people on Ganymede think about it? The movement of other moons will lead to superstitions that will lead to a different type of astrology.

Themed planets Edit

There might be a planet with all the conditions for colonization, but if a violent incident emerges, with child abuse, not many people will want to come there. Also, if the planet is firstly colonized by a group (ethnic group, religious group or ideological group), people with similar orientations will move there, while people with different orientations will try to avoid that destination. Based on this, we might see:

  • Common planets - opened for everyone
  • Specialized planets - divided into many categories:
    • Corporate planets - terraformed and ruled by a company or corporation
    • Ethnic planets - inhabited in a larger percent (or 100%) by a distinct ethnic group, this might be the salvation for many endangered nations on Earth
    • Religious planets - places where a certain religion becomes a national law
    • Ideological planets - just as we had democratic states, communist states, but this time the first settlers will dictate the direction to follow

AS humans advance throughout the space and terraform more and more planets, there will be room for everyone. At that point, we can see every distinct group trying to build a themed planet. Sexual minorities might want planets for themselves, where a certain law will be respected. We might see even planets themed for music genre. Everything becomes possible at some point.

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