Colonizing the Plutoids: The Key to Human Expansion into the Galaxy

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K. L. Roy et al. (2013), JBIS, 66, pp.318-327

Refcode: 2013.66.318
Keywords: Terraforming, space colonization, plutoids, orphan planets, brown dwarfs, island hopping

Pluto-type worlds (plutoids) are far more numerous in our solar system than initially thought with hundreds, maybe thousands, of them existing in the Kuiper belt and Oort cloud. Other stars are likely to also possess many such worlds. These worlds possess almost limitless quantities of water and substantial quantities of nitrogen, which are two limiting ingredients necessary for terraforming planets in the inner solar system. Assuming that faster-than-light travel is impractical, that artificial gravity is only possible via circular motion, that humans remain basically unchanged, and that humanity's expansion into the solar system and beyond is desirable, then exploiting the resources of, and establishing bases and even colonies on, icy plutoids may become essential for human expansion into space. Such colonies face problems involving gravity, radiation, energy supply and complex ecologies. This paper attempts to address those issues and outline what such colonies might look like. This type of colony offers humanity, and perhaps other species, the ability to establish settlements at otherwise undesirable locations, including red and brown dwarf stars. Such colonies could even be established in orphan planets in interstellar space, far from any star.

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