Written by: Anam Ahmed, Mawara Saif, Manahil Durrani
Space colonization is a concept about human habitation on planets other than earth. Typical reasons for this may include the earth’s decreasing levels of fuel energy and increasing environmental pollution. To make other planets, like Mars, habitable for humans, Terraforming of planets is an important consideration. Terraforming means the deliberate change of temperature, pressure, surface topography, and ecology, etc of a planet to make these conditions similar to those of earth, so that they can support life ideally like earth. It is a future program that aims to make sure the life of humans and other on other planets in case of environmental disasters and resource demolition of earth. Interstellar space travel still does not have very possible and fast methods to be executed and this shortcoming has led to the presenting of various alternatives. The most important of these two are ‘’Sleeper Ships’’ and ‘’Embryo Space Colonization’’.
Embryo Space Colonization (ESC)
Embryo space colonization is a theoretical concept about transportation of frozen human embryos (developed from zygote, from 5th week to 11th week of pregnancy) or creation of human embryos using various biological technologies. This transport of human embryos from earth to other extra solar planets, following points are most important.
Various methods are in use for the preservation of human embryos. Freezing of an embryo is mostly done using liquid nitrogen and temperature is set at 310F below zero. This liquid N2 keeps the contents of an embryo frozen. Once, the N2 seeps out of a tank, the temperature of the tank decreases, so the tank is refilled with liquid N2. Embryo cryopreservation involves a cryoprotectant solution like Sucrose or Propylene glycol which inhibits the formation of crystals by drawing out of moisture. Then an embryo is preserved in a freezer at -1800 Thawing of frozen human embryos also has biological methods which involves the solution that removes the cryoprotectant solution.
The biological means to create embryos from sperm and egg cells need to be carried to such planets.
Fully developed robots should be built for the growing of food and Terraforming of a target planet for the settlement of embryos there.
The artificial uterus is also developed for a certain period.
The concept of embryo space colonization has an advantage over the sleeper ships and the generation ships as the later two need larger spacecrafts. Such ships may need a very large amount of resources. In contrast to this, spacecrafts for the ESC are lesser in space and weight. In addition, hibernation of adult human being is a very much complex i.e. sleeper ships than the embryo cryopreservation, etc. another difference between ESC and other colonization technique is, humans from sleeper ships could have the technical norms while humans that would lack all of the information and education.
The development of robotics that is optimally active for ESC is unclear, so it offers a bigger challenge. An artificial uterus is still a technology on which much scientific research is required. Very reliable computers in range of several thousands of years are required. Selection of exoplanet is a problem still not solved and requires much more research. There is a risk of DNA damage by cosmic rays on target planets. Many microbes, like gut flora, are required for proper biological and immunological functioning. Such microbes are acquired by babies from mother. So in case of ESC, an embryo may lack these microbes. Many ethical issues are also present about ESC.