Humans Way More Superior To Intelligent Aliens In Space Travel: Study

The presence of physical limitations on certain planets may hinder even intelligent species from embarking on space travel. Published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, the research delved into the potential existence of alien civilisations on other worlds and the factors affecting their capacity to explore space. The study focused on how a planet’s escape velocity could determine whether a species could initiate space exploration within the Solar System.

Earth’s escape velocity, at 11.2 km/s, equates to over 40,000 km/h, representing the speed required for a rocket to break free from our planet’s gravitational pull. Recent research indicates that super-Earth planets, identified as potential hosts for alien life by scientists, possess higher masses and gravitational forces in comparison.

The planets, with more than 10 times the mass of Earth, are expected to exhibit higher escape velocities, posing challenges for any intelligent alien civilisations residing on them. Elio Quiroga, the study’s author and a professor at the Universidad del Atlántico Medio in Spain, highlighted this possibility, stating, “It could therefore be the case that an intelligent species on these planets would never be able to travel into space due to sheer physical impossibility,” as reported by Science Alert.

In the study, Dr Quiroga computed the estimated escape velocity required for certain planets outside our solar system and introduced a metric known as the Exoplanet Escape Factor (Fex). The research indicated that space travel would be improbable on a planet with a Fex value of 2.2.

“Values of Fex greater than 2.2 would make space travel unlikely for the exoplanet’s inhabitants,” the study claimed. Dr Quiroga said, “They would not be able to leave the planet using any conceivable amount of fuel, nor would a viable rocket structure withstand the pressures involved in the process, at least with the materials we know.”

For such extraterrestrial beings, not only departing from super-Earths but also re-entry of spacecraft would present significant challenges.

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    first published: February 29, 2024, 12:10 IST

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