Over the past week, there has been a lot of discussion concerning renowned scientist Stephen Hawking's suggestion that humans should soon begin Colonizing The Moon, Mars and other further planets, and abandon this one. Hawking believes that humanity will ultimately destroy the earth and themselves in the next couple of hundred years. Hawking's suggestion, while sobering, does raise the question as to how humans will go about reaching other planets in The Future.

Solar sails

The hope for fast and effective space travel relies on a deceptively simple idea: Sails.

While the idea is still being tested it does provide a potentially revolutionary and creative solution for increasing the speed of space travel. These are not quite sails like those often seen on boats. Instead of wind, these sails would use photons. The Planetary Society reported that they" successfully completed a test flight in June 2015 (and this) paved the way for a second, full-fledged solar sailing demonstration in 2017."

The explanation for how it would work is complicated and still under discussion, but basically, it would use the energy and momentum from photons of light to push against sails on a spacecraft. The sails would also be reflective, allowing the photons of light to increase with speed exponentially each time they hit the sails.

Thus the spacecraft would go extremely slowly at first and then speed up immensely. Some speculate that it could allow a spacecraft to reach a tenth or even a fifth of the speed of light. This would change space travel forever as humans would be going faster than we had ever thought possible, in an almost fantastical way with steampunk style.

Colonizing Mars

If this new solar sail technology works, there would be an immense demand for it concerning the potential colonization of Mars. If humans are to truly reach and then colonize Mars, then humanity needs a faster and more efficient form of space travel.

Many different people have been calling for missions to Mars along with colonization.

The Obama administration speculated reaching Mars by around 2040, while the Trump administration hopes to go sooner. Elon Musk has even proposed figuring out ways to colonize Mars before the American government does, calling for a Martian city with one million residents.

While Musk and Trump may overlook a few things, scientists have brainstormed ways to make the atmosphere of Mars hospitable for humans. With all of the aspirations and ideas forming around colonizing the Moon, Mars or even some other planet, the practicality of colonization may be pinned to the idea of these solar photon sails.

Ultimately all of this raises the question as to whether humans should go colonizing other planets. The question, while potentially irrelevant at the moment, may soon be of the utmost importance.