KEY POINTS

  • Humans are in danger of getting wiped out by natural disasters
  • Scientists are planning to establish a space colony to prevent human extinction
  • Traveling to a new home planet could take thousands of years

To ensure humanity’s survival, a group of scientists is preparing for a long journey to a planet outside the Solar System. However, due to the duration of the trip, the scientists admitted that the cycles of birth and death will have to take place on the ship.

Threats such as climate change and asteroid impacts are some of the things that could wipe out humans from the planet. But even though there’s a chance that humans can survive and even prevent these catastrophic events from happening, there is one natural disaster that cannot be avoided.

As predicted by scientists, the Sun is expected to die and expand in about three to four billion years. Once this happens, Earth will be rendered totally uninhabitable.

In order to prevent humans from going extinct due to the Sun’s death, a team of scientists is planning a long voyage into a new star system in the hopes of establishing a space colony. The new system that the scientists are targeting is the star Proxima Centauri, which is being orbited by an Earth-like planet known as Proxima b.

“We know that people can live in isolated areas, like islands, for hundreds or thousands of years; we know that in principle people can live in an artificial ecosystem,” Andreas Hein of the non-profit organization Initiative for Interstellar Studies said, according to Washington Latest.

“It’s a question of scaling things up,” she added. “There are a lot of challenges, but no fundamental principle of physics is violated.”

Unfortunately, Proxima b is 4.35 light-years away from Earth. Even if humans are able to develop a spacecraft capable of conducting interstellar travel, a vessel big enough to carry hundreds of colonists would take thousands of years before it reaches Proxima b.

The trip’s duration is one of the concerns scientists have regarding the proposed voyage. According to them, those who will agree to join the trip will eventually give birth and die on the ship. Hopefully, their children will be the ones who will thrive on the human colony on Proxima b.

“A generation ship can work only if most of the children born aboard can be trained to become the next generation of crew,” Neil Levy of the Macquarie University in Sydney said.