Man has long guessed that nothing lasts forever under the sun. In the middle of the last century, it turned out that our eternity did not last forever. After 5.5 billion years, it will begin to expand slowly, and its surface – to cool … The coming cataclysms do not promise anything good to our planet.
Calculations show that after several billion years, in the phase of maximum expansion of the Sun, the current orbit of the Earth will be inside its plasma ocean. The fate of the Earth is not so clear, but nonetheless tragic.
Since the Sun during its transformation into a red giant will lose about a third of its mass, its gravity will greatly weaken. It can be expected that the radius of the Earth’s orbit due to this will be extended by about 60 million kilometers and the Earth, most likely, will not fall into the solar furnace. However, its surface will heat up to at least 2000 degrees – with all the obvious consequences. According to another model, later tidal forces will slow down the Earth and it will dive into the atmosphere of the Sun.
It seems that these forecasts should not bother us – there are closer dangers. Since the birth of the Sun, its luminosity has been steadily increasing. Already after 1-2 billion years, the oceans will evaporate and the surface of the planet will be unsuitable for life (in fact, serious troubles will begin much earlier). But, let’s say, our distant descendants will somehow cope with this threat. The question arises: will they have to build space squadrons sooner or later in order to get out of their native planet, or can they save it from burning in a solar furnace?
It turns out that such opportunities exist and are even being discussed. One of them, was proposed in 1982 by M. Taube, a nuclear technology specialist from the Zurich Polytechnic Institute. He recommends turning our planet into a gigantic spaceship and, without waiting for disaster, to go on a long journey beyond the orbit of Pluto. Taube believes that this can be done by maintaining the daily rhythm of the Earth’s rotation, the change of which would entail global geological cataclysms.
How so? Taube proposes to put 24 gigantic bundles at the equator at the same distance from each other, including hundreds of missiles with 30-km nozzles. Each missile system must be switched on once a day half an hour before noon local time, and it should work for an hour. As a result, a reactive force, directed along its radius vector in the direction opposite to the Sun, will continuously act on the Earth. This will allow the Earth to move away from the Sun (naturally, without parting with the Moon) along a slowly unwinding spiral trajectory, which will gradually lead it out of Pluto’s orbit.
Taube thought out all the details. The energy for such a flight will be provided by thermonuclear reactors – nothing better is yet to be expected. Each rocket during operation and for every second, will throw into space 100 tons of super-hot hydrogen flying out of its nozzle at a speed of 300 km / s. Calculations showed that not so much time will pass from the start of the trip to its finish, only several tens of thousands of years. Naturally, maneuvering the Earth in space will not work, and therefore, it will be necessary to destroy or move the asteroids that may be in its path ahead of time.
Will humanity have enough resources to realize such a daunting task? The right amount of hydrogen is 10% of the mass of the Earth. Where does it come from if the total amount of this element in our planet is much less than one percent? Taube proposes to produce hydrogen either on Jupiter or on another giant planet, where it is in abundance.
The Zurich prophet took care of satisfying the energy needs of earthlings at the end of the journey. At first they will be heated by the swollen Sun, but what about when only a shriveling white dwarf remains from it? One of the possible solutions is to extract deuterium on Jupiter and transport it to the surface of the dwarf in order to support fusion reactions that occur with the release of energy. Taube estimated that such an artificial star would provide our descendants with heat and light for a hundred billion years.
In 2008, Taube slightly modified this plan. In particular, he proposed to stretch the Earth’s journey to the Kuiper belt for 10 million years and put it into orbit around the artificial Sun created by the merger of a couple of tens of gas giants confiscated from other stars. So our descendants have many opportunities. But will there be a desire?