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Terraform the planets

Fans of Colin Maclntyre and the great starship Dahak should take a minute to stop in here for discussions about one of David's best-loved series.
Terraform the planets
Post by biochem   » Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:11 pm

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The bioweapon destroyed every trace of life on every other known imperial planet down to the last bacteria. However, those planets are still the right distance from the star to support life as we know it. So the Empire could start slowly terraforming the planets. They'd probably want to start with archaebacteria, which can survive the extremely harsh environments these planets have become. And over thousands of years add in the rest of the microbes as conditions permit. And 1000s of years after that start working their way slowly up the multicellular organism tree until, they can finally support human life again. There are 1000s of planets each of which has likely become inhospitable in a slightly different way than the others. So there is plenty of room for experimentation as to which is the correct mix (or mixes) of microbes would be. It would take generations but Colin has made it clear that he takes the long view. And in that long view humanity is going to need those planets to accommodate it's expanding population.
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Re: Terraform the planets
Post by JohnS   » Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:02 pm

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biochem wrote:The bioweapon destroyed every trace of life on every other known imperial planet down to the last bacteria. However, those planets are still the right distance from the star to support life as we know it. So the Empire could start slowly terraforming the planets. They'd probably want to start with archaebacteria, which can survive the extremely harsh environments these planets have become. And over thousands of years add in the rest of the microbes as conditions permit. And 1000s of years after that start working their way slowly up the multicellular organism tree until, they can finally support human life again. There are 1000s of planets each of which has likely become inhospitable in a slightly different way than the others. So there is plenty of room for experimentation as to which is the correct mix (or mixes) of microbes would be. It would take generations but Colin has made it clear that he takes the long view. And in that long view humanity is going to need those planets to accommodate it's expanding population.


For us, with Earth's history of civilizations rising and falling, a project taking thousands of years seems really unlikely. But given how long Dahak's civilization and its successor lasted, it's very plausible. Though it could use someone like Cohanna who combines great skill with a driving vision to give it the initial "sell" to the Imperial government.
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Re: Terraform the planets
Post by garfield   » Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:04 pm

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biochem wrote:The bioweapon destroyed every trace of life on every other known imperial planet down to the last bacteria. However, those planets are still the right distance from the star to support life as we know it. So the Empire could start slowly terraforming the planets. They'd probably want to start with archaebacteria, which can survive the extremely harsh environments these planets have become. And over thousands of years add in the rest of the microbes as conditions permit. And 1000s of years after that start working their way slowly up the multicellular organism tree until, they can finally support human life again. There are 1000s of planets each of which has likely become inhospitable in a slightly different way than the others. So there is plenty of room for experimentation as to which is the correct mix (or mixes) of microbes would be. It would take generations but Colin has made it clear that he takes the long view. And in that long view humanity is going to need those planets to accommodate it's expanding population.

I don't think it would be all that hard for a civilization with their tech base, because if you think of it the "Condition Red Two" on Dahak killed all life on board, and he was able to rebuild the bio environments on board with supplies he presumably had in storage.

So you could create "startup packs" similar to what Dahak used to rebuild his parks and set up several starter areas on each world, set up some kind of monitoring "park service" to keep things on track, and leave the green zones to spread naturally.
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Re: Terraform the planets
Post by biochem   » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:06 pm

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Planets will be more difficult than Dahak's internal hydroponics. He just has to re-seed an ideal environment. On planetary surfaces things will be much more complex. Weather and erosion will have stripped the topsoil. Think dust bowl on a planetary scale. Desert areas will have expanded. The atmospheric composition will change in the absence of oxygen producing / carbon dioxide using plants and carbon dioxide producing / oxygen using animals. Given that the time that has passed is rather short in geological terms I wouldn't expect the planets to revert to a pre-life atmosphere, but they should have moved toward that direction.

Rather than start with Dahak's land based packets, after the archaebacteria have taken hold. I would probably work on the microbes of oceans and lakes next. Water is going to be a little more hospitable towards new life than the barren rock/dust/desert the landmasses will have become.
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Re: Terraform the planets
Post by Garth 2   » Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:55 am

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It is possible a good idea to start planning it but it will be millennia until Humanity needs the space.

Given that Bita (Spelling) with no outside involvement managed to re-develop as a stainable planet from a 'seed pool of zoos' would indicate you don't need that much beyond a select bio-pool to start with.
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Re: Terraform the planets
Post by biochem   » Sat Jan 18, 2014 2:49 pm

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Given that Bita (Spelling) with no outside involvement managed to re-develop as a stainable planet from a 'seed pool of zoos' would indicate you don't need that much beyond a select bio-pool to start with.


I think Bita was in a little better shape than most of these planets will be since it hadn't been life free for as long. So while it does show that it is doable (as does the fact that the first empire did this once already), most of these planets will probably need more rehab.
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Re: Terraform the planets
Post by cralkhi   » Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:47 pm

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biochem wrote:Planets will be more difficult than Dahak's internal hydroponics. He just has to re-seed an ideal environment. On planetary surfaces things will be much more complex. Weather and erosion will have stripped the topsoil. Think dust bowl on a planetary scale. Desert areas will have expanded. The atmospheric composition will change in the absence of oxygen producing / carbon dioxide using plants and carbon dioxide producing / oxygen using animals. Given that the time that has passed is rather short in geological terms I wouldn't expect the planets to revert to a pre-life atmosphere, but they should have moved toward that direction.



The lack of topsoil would prevent them from going straight to forests and farmland, but it shouldn't really be a matter of terraforming, either. You'd start with the plants (pioneer species) that colonize areas burned down by fires, lava flows, etc.

Temperature, air pressure, and water availability will still be reasonably Earthlike. Water cycles will change some due to the lack of plant transpiration, and temperatures may change a little too, but it shouldn't be that dramatic.

The big question may be the effects of the higher CO2 level (after everything has rotted/burned and with no plants to replenish it) on the plants you add.

Still, there was a recent study where they got lichen to live in a simulated Martian environment, and these planets are going to be a lot more hospitable than that...
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Re: Terraform the planets
Post by crewdude48   » Thu Jan 23, 2014 4:28 am

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cralkhi wrote:
biochem wrote:Planets will be more difficult than Dahak's internal hydroponics. He just has to re-seed an ideal environment. On planetary surfaces things will be much more complex. Weather and erosion will have stripped the topsoil. Think dust bowl on a planetary scale. Desert areas will have expanded. The atmospheric composition will change in the absence of oxygen producing / carbon dioxide using plants and carbon dioxide producing / oxygen using animals. Given that the time that has passed is rather short in geological terms I wouldn't expect the planets to revert to a pre-life atmosphere, but they should have moved toward that direction.



The lack of topsoil would prevent them from going straight to forests and farmland, but it shouldn't really be a matter of terraforming, either. You'd start with the plants (pioneer species) that colonize areas burned down by fires, lava flows, etc.

Temperature, air pressure, and water availability will still be reasonably Earthlike. Water cycles will change some due to the lack of plant transpiration, and temperatures may change a little too, but it shouldn't be that dramatic.

The big question may be the effects of the higher CO2 level (after everything has rotted/burned and with no plants to replenish it) on the plants you add.

Still, there was a recent study where they got lichen to live in a simulated Martian environment, and these planets are going to be a lot more hospitable than that...


Well, nothing should have rotted at all. All of the biologics that would have caused rotting were busy being dead. I could see huge rolling fires after the dead trees dried out, but nothing rotten.
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Re: Terraform the planets
Post by cralkhi   » Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:44 am

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crewdude48 wrote:Well, nothing should have rotted at all. All of the biologics that would have caused rotting were busy being dead. I could see huge rolling fires after the dead trees dried out, but nothing rotten.


Ah, good point.

Still, after all the biomass on land is oxidized, the oxygen shouldn't deplete much more.

Surely there isn't THAT much rock on the surface of, say, Earth that's reactive to oxygen... it's mostly oxides. And the oceans already have oxygen dissolved in them. So where is it going in ~45000 years?
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Re: Terraform the planets
Post by Gallowglass3000   » Sat Mar 01, 2014 2:34 am

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First thing to do is to set up test plots, just to make sure that the planet in question is free of the virus. Once satisfied, then you can start to regenerate the planet, not terra-form it.

Basically just add the proper soil/water cultures and stand bak. There won't be any alien life-forms fighting your bio-forms and if you do it right, no diseases-imported or native.

Create huge farms like on the space station, then use the farms to spread the regenerated soil out. A small scale way to do this was written about in 'Farmer in the Sky'. With robots you can easily create huge soil farms. It might take a century or two to get a foothold but not human generations.
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