Interplanetary Colonization: the state at the beginning of the 21st Century

Presented at 33C3 (2016), Dec. 29, 2016, 9:15 p.m. (30 minutes)

The long term survival of the human species requires that we become an interplanetary species. But we must answer two big questions: where are we going, and how do we get there? We explore what scientists know (and don’t know) about humanity’s potential future homes both inside and outside the solar system, and then we’ll dive into the technological challenges of (and potential solutions for) getting humans to and colonizing a new planet. Long the realm of science fiction, interplanetary colonization is now taken more and more seriously by scientists and space agencies alike as technologies come within reach. We will evaluate obstacles and solutions by looking at two topics: Where to go? and How to get there? Part 1 explores the options that humans have in expanding to new planets. There are now 3,439 exoplanets in 2,569 planetary systems confirmed. We’ll discuss how astronomers find planets, and how they learn about the conditions there. How do we pick a colonization target based on the data we can gather when there is no way of sending probes there and getting information back in reasonable time like we do in our solar system? Part 2 gives an overview of technologies currently available to get humans to other planets, and what that means in terms of humanity’s expansion. We'll also talk about the technology advancements necessary for truly interstellar colonization.


  • Peter Buschkamp
    After studying Experimental- and Laser-Physics in Bielefeld, I received a PhD in Astrophysics from the Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics. I build research instruments for astronomy by day to use them at night. In between, I like to discuss and mull over implications of natural and computer sciences for society, hike the alps and help building the Munich Freifunk backbone.
  • Liz George
    I am an astrophysicist and astronomical instrument builder. I have spent my career pushing forward technologies to build some of the world's most sensitive instruments for studying the universe.


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