Thursday, 1 February 2018

Secret Colonies Beween the Stars

We tend to think of human colonies beyond Earth as being located on planets or moons around stars. The abundant energy resources at such locations certainly make such thinking logical and sensible.

But such locations are also the most visible and desirable. And that makes those locations the most likely places where we may encounter a competing and hostile civilisation.

While we should certainly colonise other star systems, we should also consider colonising deep interstellar space. We should create clandestine colonies; ones that limit contact with the star-bound colonies. Those clandestine colonies would need to be large and self-sustaining, and most importantly  they would need to be 'silent', with no emissions, including light, detectable from even just a single light-year away.

A clandestine interstellar habitat under construction. A rogue asteroid is used to provide the resources required.

Such colonies would be our insurance. They would passively monitor the surrounding human colonies, watching and listening for signs of distress. They would ensure our continuation as a species should our star system colonies suffer natural or unnatural catastrophes.

In an earlier article titled 'Living on Rogue Planets' I explored how life could evolve on planets between the stars, how humans could colonise them and reasons why such planets would be safe from various threats. But finding such worlds would be difficult, and they would be unlikely to be in the right locations. It would be better to create our own rogue worlds in exactly the locations we want, and where they would not drift close to star-systems for millions of years.

Simply put, the clandestine colonies must be located in the right places to be able to remain hidden essentially forever.

But how could such remote colonies be created and sustained?

One possibility would be to create generation starships that would intentionally 'stop' in the void between stars. Such spacecraft would,  of course, need to have very efficient and self-sustaining ecosystems and the means to provide appropriate energy generation. This could be fusion-based, or even antimatter-based. This would provide enough energy to create the light and warmth for growing food to maintain a significant human colony.

Resources would be required for manufacturing replacement parts, new equipment and topping up air and water supplies. Comets from the very outer reaches of star systems (such as the Oort Cloud in our Solar-System) could be redirected to pass close enough to the clandestine colonies to be easily mined.

A comet in the Oort Cloud is moved closer to the clandestine human colony nearby. It's resources will help sustain and grow the colony for centuries or more.

Such redirection would be relatively easy as objects in the Oort Cloud are very loosely bound to the sun due to their vast distance. Those objects are essentially just a nudge away from being truely interstellar.

Of course, the Oort Cloud itself is about one to three light-years from the sun, which puts it in interstellar space. This would enable some interstellar colonies to remain shrouded in darkness and secrecy while having access to a sparse but relatively abundant set of resources.

The Oort Cloud in relation to the rest of the Solar-System and its closest neighbouring star-systems. It would be an ideal location for secret human colonies, with relatively easy to find resources from the mass of comets in that interstellar region.

If such clouds of objects are common around most stars it would make setting up such colonies much easier. It should be an essential component of any interstellar colonisation missions that humans embark upon.

Creating sustainable colonies between the stars will be a formidable task, but it is a crucial one. Those colonies will be our backup, and the skills learned by those surviving (and hopefully flourishing) there will be invaluable as the human species spreads throughout the galaxy and beyond.

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