“I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand years unless we spread into space”Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking was one of the greatest minds to have lived in the 21st century. His research and knowledge about this universe was unparalleled. He believed that it is imperative for humans to search for life beyond this planet but how feasible is it? How close are we? Do we have the technology and resources to find or create life on another planet? Is it even possible for us to be living on another planet? Let’s take a deeper look at the facts.
The galaxy as we know it
For now, the planets we are aware of are known as part of the solar system. Ironically, none of the planets are able to support even the slightest form of life. Scientists have been able to locate some exoplanets – stars beyond our solar system that are in a ‘habitable zone’. Unfortunately, right now we don’t have the technology that could enable us to reach there.
To put this into perspective, the fastest spacecraft ever built, the New Horizons probe, took 9.5 years to reach Pluto, which is 4.7 billion years away. The nearest exoplanet is ten-thousand years beyond that. This means having a ship with generations of humans on it with enough supplies to reach those planets, and then wait for more resources in a place we know nothing about. The prospects are not promising!
Life on other planets
In light of what we know, we have to rule out the possibility of travelling to a planet beyond the solar system in our lifetime or even that for a few generations to come. So, what about the planets orbiting around our sun? Unfortunately, we have not been able to completely explore all of them. Here’s everything we know about the ones we have:
- Jupiter: The planet is just a mass of gases with no solid surface. That’s an immediate elimination for obvious reasons.
- Venus: Our neighboring planet does have a solid surface, but the atmosphere is mostly CO2 which is harmful to humans. Average temperatures on Venus are 460oC.
- Mars: The last option we know about is Mars. Sad to report though but since NASA’s curiosity rover landed on the planet in 2012, we have not been able to find any promising signs to support life on the planet. While a manned expedition could be possible, the planet’s air so too thin and the temperature doesn’t allow water to exist on it in a liquid state.
What the experts are saying
For now, experts from NASA and other leading institutes in the world are skeptical about life on other planets. What about the possibility of living on another planet? While expeditions to Mars are a possibility that is being explored, there is no way to sustain humankind on the planet. Researchers believe that we will be able to develop the technology that could help expand our reach beyond the solar system but for now, Earth is all we have.
So, is it possible for us to be living on another planet? As gloomy as it may sound, at the moment, there is only one habitable planet within our reach. However, at the rate at which it is deteriorating, it is difficult to imagine the possibility that it will survive for the next 1000 years.