Scientists Say We've Figured Out How to Send Humans to Exoplanet Proxima Centauri b
The hunt for exoplanets is not just about charting a map of the universe for astronomers to hang on their walls. At some point in the future, we will be able to send a crew of Earthlings to another inhabitable planet to establish a colony.
Nearby star systems like Proxima b are high on the maybe list, but given our current technology, it would take many lifetimes to get there.
So how many crew members would we have to send for a healthy establishing colony to make it?
A team of French researchers has done the math, and we're gonna need a bigger ship.
In a study soon to be published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, astrophysicist Dr. Frederic Marin and particle physicist Dr. Camille Beluffi considered the speed capabilities of upcoming probe missions, fusion rockets, and space travel concepts to establish a baseline.
"This purely and entirely rely on the technology available at the time of the mission," Marin told Universe Today via email.
"If we would create a spacecraft right now, we could only reach about 200 km/s, which translates into 6,300 years of travel."
The duo then conducted a series of Monte Carlo simulations with numerical software that Dr. Marin created.
"It is a stochastic Monte Carlo code that accounts for all possible outcomes of space simulations by testing every randomized scenario for procreation, life and death," he explained.
"By looping the simulation thousands of times, we get statistical values that are representative of a real space travel for a multi-generational crew."
According to the study, the minimum number of people needed for the mission to ensure a 100 percent success rate is 98.
Without restrictions on inbreeding and the number of offspring that breeders could produce, the minimum for the simulations was smaller but so too was the success rate.
With the restrictions in place, Marin says that the results show that a healthy population could be maintained "indefinitely."
The technology for such a mission does not currently exist, so sadly there is no breeder sign up sheet just yet. May be something worth setting a Google alert for though.