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It seems like the stuff of dreams, the idea that humanity will one day venture beyond the Solar System and become an interstellar species. Who knows? Given enough time and the right technology (and assuming there’s not some serious competition), we might even be able to colonize the entire Milky Way galaxy someday. And while this seems like a far-off prospect at best, it makes sense to contemplate what a process like this would entail.
That’s what a think tank from the ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team (ACT) managed to do recently. As part of the tenth annual Global Trajectory Optimization Competition (GOTC X), they created a simulation that showed how humanity could optimally colonize the Milky Way. This was in keeping with the competition’s theme of “Settlers of the Galaxy“, which challenged teams to find the most energy-efficient way of settling as many star systems as possible.
Year - GTOC - May - June - Competitions
This year’s GTOC ran from May 21st to June 12th, 2019. As with previous competitions, it was hosted by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) Mission Design and Navigation section. The challenge this year was to contemplate a future where humanity had the necessary technology and the drive to settle throughout the Milky Way galaxy.
Specifically, the teams were challenged find ways to settle 100,000 systems that are considered suitable for settlement, in as uniform a distribution as possible while using as little propulsive velocity change as possible. This challenge (aka. “The Problem”) was defined as follows:
Years - Humanity - Counting - Years - Year
“In about ten thousand years from the present, humanity will reset its counting of years to zero. Year Zero will be the year when humanity decides the time is ripe for the human race to boldly venture into the galaxy and settle other star systems. One hundred thousand star systems in the galaxy have been identified as being suitable for...
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