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A German theoretical physicist has proposed a modification to the first-ever interstellar spacecraft that would allow it to decelerate enough to orbit an exoplanet and potentially seed a second Earth. However, the 12,000-year-long transit time could make garnering support for the mission difficult.

For the past 30 years, popular opinion about where in space humans should go next has swayed between a new mission to the Red Planet and a return to the Moon. Considering the smorgasbord of problems we’ve made for ourselves on planet Earth, from ecological to economic, such goals of exploration and colonization can have an egoistic, even selfish, root — we may need to find a new home due to the aforementioned problems and a litany of unmentioned ones.

However, even the most optimistic colonization estimates are measured in decades, and there’s no guarantee that we’ll survive the rest of this century, let alone long enough to effectively expand humanity throughout the galaxy. But what if, right now, we could start the process of seeding life on other worlds? Humanity may not survive, but some form of life could.

Claudius Gros, theoretical physicist at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, thinks we should consider it. He believes seeding life throughout the cosmos takes precedence over human colonization, and he also believes this process of intentionally seeding other planets in the universe with life, more succinctly known as deliberate panspermia, is within our technological capability.

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Category: Science