Friday, February 11, 2011

Can mankind really find a new planet to live on in a hurry if "we" have to? "Voyage to Pandora" looks at the question

If mankind loses its home, Earth, with some advance notice, could it move to a new planetary home?
A 20-minute film on Youtube by SpaceRip, written and directed by Dave Brody, looks at this question. It’s “Voyage to Pandora: First Interstellar Space Flight” looks at that question.

It supposes that Pandora, in James Cameron’s “Avatar”, really exists as a habitable moon around a gas giant circulating Alpha Centauri, actually a binary star system with two Sun-like stars about 4.37 light years from Earth.  Astronomers haven’t found any gas giants around the planets (which orbital mechanics may make difficult), but smaller worlds could exist as primary planets around one or the other. (The two stars are as far apart as Earth and Saturn.)   But if so, why haven’t we detected them if we can detect small planets around Gliese 581, a red dwarf 20 light years away.

In fact, the film points out that there are 22 stars within 12 light years of Earth, many of them red dwarfs, whose planets would likely have small orbits and face the same side toward their sun, with an annular habitable zone and a “termination barrier” on either side. That could make for politically interesting worlds.
But with current technology it would take almost 100000 years to reach Alpha Centauri.  But the film discusses the idea that anti-matter engines could enable us to build huge spaceships in space capable of reaching the system in less than 10 years.  In any case, a closed society would have to live for that time, probably not in hibernation as in Cameron’s film. People in such an environment would not have the social freedoms we have come to take for granted today.  Maybe the interior would look like what Arthur C. Clarke envisioned in his novel “Rendez-vous with Rama” which may finally become a film in 2013.

My review of "Avatar" is on my movies blog, Dec. 18, 2009.