After watching all of the Star Wars installments, one can’t help but wonder if such a galaxy is possible. Is it possible, or advantageous, to colonize multiple planets? Supposing we were capable of doing so, what problems might we encounter? Considering the many elements that go into the colonization of a planet, how could we evaluate all of them and come to a conclusion? The best way for us to do so would be to use colonized planets present in Star Wars as starting points and comparisons. By using the examples portrayed in the films, we can use those as vantage points to see if such planets are feasible. Through this process we will not only see the importance of the colonization present in Star Wars but we will also answer the questions originally presented to us.
In Star Wars there are hundreds, if not thousands, of colonized planets. Presently we are aware of only our Earth as a possible habitable celestial body. Could there really be a time when we would have as many systems as Star Wars? What does it take to make a planet livable? For the most part “the Universe is too cold, too hot, too dense, too vacuous, too dark, too bright, or not composed of the right elements to support life” anywhere else in the universe. The spectrum of the planets in Star Wars is a wide one, but they all have commonalities. Even though the planets of Star Wars may be very brutal, such as the harsh temperatures of Tattooine, or the massive precipitation of Kamino, the planets are still within reason to live in and that is because they contain five main requirements:
- ( 1 ) at least trace amounts of carbon and other important life-forming elements
- ( 2 ) water on or near the surface
- ( 3 ) an appropriate atmosphere
- ( 4 ) a very long period of stability during which the mean surface temperature has allowed liquid water to exist on its surface
- ( 5 ) a rich abundance of heavy elements in its core and sprinkled throughout its crust and mantle regions.
These are the factors of which the Earth is based on. The Earth, and what makes it livable, are having those five factors, and it would make sense to assume that any other planet would require those same factors in order to provide the essentials of life.
Our hero, Luke, begins his journey “on the remote desert planet of Tatooine”. Obviously this is a livable environment for humans. Even though they are forced to live beneath the surface to whether the winds and heat, they still are capable of making a good living condition out of the elements provided. The same goes for Kamino. The Kaminoans find the conditions in Tipoca City to be hospitable enough to live there for an extended amount of time. These two worlds are the first to come to mind when we think of planets that would be difficult, yet possible to colonize. It’s fairly obvious, if scientists today were to discover a planet such as Naboo or Coruscant, there would be a great deal of interest, as well as assurances of extraterrestrial life. These are conditions which we are used to seeing civilizations develop. Regardless of the makeup of these different planets, the inhabitants of them find it comfortable enough to continue living there. The Gungans felt in necessary to live beneath the sea for defense reasons, but they are still comfortable enough to stay where they are. Basically, what it comes down to is that a planet must “supply all of the physical requirements of human beings and provide an environment in which people can live comfortably and enjoyably”.
Now we must use what we’ve established in the Star Wars realm, and apply it to our real world situation. Is there a possibility of colonizing another planet? Is it worth our time to investigate any possibilities? As far as we know “there are currently 105 known planetary systems other than our own, with 120 Jupiter-like planets orbiting them. Two of these systems contain three known planets, 11 contain two and the remaining 92 each have one”. Those are simply the terrestrial bodies that we know of, none of which have proven any possibilities of supporting life.
Even if we were to colonize a planet, we would eventually have to turn the colonization into a self sustaining inhabitation. A colony must survive “without dependence on materials brought from other planets”. The Kaminoans trade the clones they create for supplies that aren’t present on Kamino. We can’t use this as an example of when such a situation would work however. We have no idea what the necessary life essentials are for the Kaminoans, they may be far less than the humans. For humans, we can’t have a situation where a planet is dependent on another for support. Only a colony that would some day form into a self sufficient environment would be advantageous.
Assuming we were to colonize a planet, how can we assure ourselves that such a colony would evolve into a permanent settlement? According to Cavelos, there are three ways in which we could accept the environment in which we settled. First, we could genetically alter the inhabitants of the colonization to survive in the environment of the planet. This raises questions of feasibility, morality, and consequences of doing so, not the best option. Second, the colonists could “alter the environment” to a level where they could live in it for extended amounts of time. This is more reasonable than the first option, but the downside is that this would be very expensive, and not cost effective in any way. Third, Cavelos provides a final solution that seems the most possible. Provide the inhabitants with “artificial aids when initially arriving on the planet but gradually becoming accustomed to the new surroundings”. Those would be the possible solutions to our scenario. The gradual change would be the most acceptable one, requiring the least amount of help from the original planet.
Why would we want to colonize anyway? What’s in it for us? To begin with, we must take into consideration how much longer Earth can provide for us. If Earth were to become inadequate, we must colonize another planet to ensure the survival of our kind. Also, just as the ”New World” was discovered in the 1400s if we were to go to another planet, there would be many minerals and resources ready to be tapped and used for our civilization. Any encounters with another race currently living on these habitable planets would be revolutionary as well.
The only thing stopping us from these benefits, is the rarity of a habitably planet existing. Not only are the terrestrial planets known in small numbers, there are many other factors that have to be right as well, such as “rate of rotation, inclination of equator to plane of orbit, … and the relative ‘sphericity’ of massive aggregates”. There are other issues to deal with as well. Just as the westward expansion which resulted in the creation of a new nation, there was a huge war resulting in the expansion and colonization of new places. That could quite possibly happen again, should we expand to another planet. Also, there are many issues surrounding supporting a colony until they are ready to be self sustainable, and how it could hurt the economy of our current systems.
Considering the permanent settlements portrayed on planets such as Naboo or Coruscant, apparently the originators of the Star Wars universe got it right. When watching the films, there is never a time when the viewer finds impossible that someone would actually live at that location. Whether it be the tree forts of Endor, or the bunker bases on Hoth, Lucas has shown an environment that we, the viewers, would be comfortable with. Even in Bespin, a gas giant that provides a home for the mining community Cloud City, the thought never crosses our mind of how impossible it would really be to establish a community like that.
In order to decide whether expansion, and settlement, of colonies on other planets would be an effort we should pursue, we must weigh the benefits against the feasibility and problems caused by colonization. Although, even if the latter would outweigh the prior; we would have no choice but to pursue the route of colonization if our civilization could no longer survive on this planet. A civilization such as the United States would “eventually, after several thousand years,… exhaust the power of a planet, and will derive their energy by consuming the entire output of their sun's energy, or roughly a billion trillion trillion ergs per second”. If that situation were to present itself, we must colonize another planet, for the basic survival of our kind.