We’ve got 1.75billion years before the planet becomes uninhabitable for humans, say scientists.
That will give our descendants plenty of time to work on the real-life Star Trek technology — and relocate humanity to another planet.
It may mean that moving to Mars will be our best chance of survival, according to a study by the University of East Anglia in Norwich.
Andrew Rushby, from the university’s school of environmental sciences, said: ‘We estimate Earth will cease to be habitable somewhere between 1.75billion and 3.25billion years from now.
‘After this point, Earth will be in the “hot zone” of the Sun, with temperatures so high the seas would evaporate.’ Well before this, he said, conditions for humans and other complex life would become impossible as a result of man-made climate change.
‘We would be in trouble with even a small increase in temperature, and near the end, only microbes in niche environments would be able to endure the heat,’ he explained.
The team of astrobiologists looked at distant planets to find which were best placed to support life.
Recently discovered Gliese 581d could be warm and pleasant for up to 54.7billion years — ten times longer than our solar system. But reaching it would take hundreds of thousands of years with current technology.
As a result, Mr Rushby believes Mars is probably our best bet. ‘It’s very close and will remain in the habitable zone until the end of the Sun’s lifetime — 6billion years from now.’
Now you understand the interest in terraforming Mars, from a more practical point of view.