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Old October 16th, 2005, 07:50 PM
Chaos Chaos is offline
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Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

I´d like you to share your thoughts on the topic if terraforming. On the off-chance that you haven´t heard that term before, it refers to any efforts aimed at making a planet more like Earth - specifically, improving its habitability by Earth life-forms, especially humans.

As far as I can tell, there are several factors that influence the habitability of planets:

1) gravity

Earth lifeforms are "optimized" for 1 g; much more or less will feel uncomfortable, at best, or produce all kinds of health problems and accidents at worst.

2) surface temperature

Fairly self-explanatory, I guess

3) temperature change during day/night cycle

The Sahara desert has an average temperature of about 15°C (55°F), which sounds fairly inviting until you realize that´s 50°C by day and -20°C by night...

4) temperature change during seasonal cycle

See above, too. A world that has Saharan climate during summer and Antarctic climate during winter is NOT my idea of a nice place to live.

5) length of planetary day

That´s probably not that much of a problem, but I included it anyway.

6) length of planetary year

This will mostly be a problem for "wild" animal and plant life. can wild animal survive a 40 months long winter live they do a 4 months long winter? Can plants grow during a 6 week warm season instead of a 6 month warm season?

7) atmospheric pressure

Too little - bad. Too much - bad. A habitable planet needs an atmospheric pressure with certain parameters at least at some point in its altitude range.

8) atmospheric composition

Oxygen is necessary for Earth life forms - I think a minimum of 13% for humans (our atmosphere has 20%, I think); also there are some things you do NOT want in your atmosphere - radioactives, for example.

9) stellar radiation

Getting too much UV or similar radiation is a VERY bad thing.

10) stellar activity (flares, sunspot cycles etc.)

Do YOU want to live on a planet that gets fried every few years?

11) climate (if applicable)

I guess something like the global sand storms on Mars would diminish a world´s attractiveness for colonization somewhat. Earth´s global weather patterns aren´t exactly what I would call "nice" all the time, either, but I guess you´ll have to settle for less than perfect.

12) tectonic and volcanic activity

Frequent severe earthquakes probably don´t make a planet uninhabitable, but the necessity of earthquake-proof construction, as well as the damage that is going to happen nonetheless, would pose a problem. Frequent volcanic eruptions also cause damage, and if they exceed a certain level, could release critical amounts of chemicals (sulphuric gases and such) into the atmosphere.


I am sure there is something I have overlooked so far. Forgive if this post is of somewhat poor quality, but it´s after midnight here and I wanted to post this before I forgot it. I am going to expand on this later.

Meanwhile, if any of you would like to add their two cents, feel free to do so. Especially on what to do to change these critical parameters...
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