There are plenty in the science community who believe mankind is the result of Anthropocene. They think that the biological materials that resulted in life as we know it on our home world arrived accidentally as hitchhikers on cosmic intruders like comets or meteors. There are even a few who consider the possibility of one of these comets or meteors being purposely seeded with the materials and then manipulated by an advanced civilization in outer space so that the celestial object’s newly adjusted path would cause it to collide with Earth.
Now there are scientists who want to do a bit of human-directed Anthropocene toward other planets throughout the Universe. However, they don’t intend to shoot comets or meteors their way. They plan to create automated laboratories that will arrive peacefully and set up shop to terra-form an inhospitable world into a place we humans can call home.
Frankfurt, Germany’s Goethe University has an ambitious professor, Claudius Gros, who is the mastermind behind The Genesis Project of the University’s Institute of Theoretical Physics. His plan is to create life on other planets with a fully-automated genetic laboratory. By being able to skip that pesky early-infant planet stage, scientists can jump ahead by nearly 4 billion years to a more higher developed stage where a planet can support at least a single-cell organism. Dead planets could advance billions of years as the laboratory creates the conditions of a Precambrian era, the earth age when animals began appearing.
The gringa finds this fascinating and is a bet envious of those scientists working on the project who get to choose what organisms will be introduced. I am certainly hoping there are no sadists on the team who would insist on adding to the list something like mosquitoes or cockroaches or fleas. Surely an ecosystem does not need such revolting creatures to be balanced and thriving.
It seems that there are millions of stars with suitable planets orbiting their systems. It is a formula of planet size and distance from its sun that will determine which planets to weed out and which ones are keepers. But what about oxygen? Water? Surely researchers aren’t just planning to make a deposit and hope for the best. With all the money invested in a project with a long-term goal of 100 years to launch, the gringa highly doubts they want to leave anything to chance. How will scientists know the planet’s environment will support the seeds of life? They send a probe.
The crazy thing about scientists, however, is that despite how most people see them as people locked into strict systems of yes or no, cause and effect, truth or fallacy, facts and absolutes, sometimes they are simply motivated by hope and inspired by a future achievement that they will never live to see realized. Although a Genesis laboratory may be ready to launch in about a century, even if we launch a probe today the results from its findings may not return to Earth for about one thousand years! So, the process would go something like this:
- Launch a probe today that would analyze the environment of a potential Earth twin planet somewhere in the distant Universe.
- 100 years later launch an automated Genesis laboratory to the same planet the probe was sent to analyze (hoping for the best).
- Perhaps a few hundred years later launch another probe to analyze the progress of the Genesis project.
- A thousand years after the 1st probe launch Earthlings receive its telemetry informing us if the planet would support the life contained within the Genesis laboratory.
- A few hundred years later receive telemetry from the 2nd probe and see if any Earth life is flourishing on the other planet.
The gringa appreciates the faith and hope involved in such a prospect. It would be my hope that within the next 100 years, before the Genesis laboratories are completed, we would have developed the technology to render a one thousand year wait for planetary details obsolete. But, who knows if we’ll all even be here in another hundred or thousand years! So, why not launch? What does any of us have to lose other than a few kazillion dollars invested in a fancy automated Anthropocene space gadget?
Image Credit: inspirescience.wordpress.com