A series of automated probes to search out planets with the atmospheric possibility of sustaining life, which are then seeded with microbes and… see what happens! Intriguing…
What sort of limits controls should be in place for an effort like this?! Obviously it would take millions of years to evolve, but what would be the appropriate mix of lifeforms, and how would they interact with whatever is there already, whether we know it exists or not?
Imagine a series of planets used to create supercultures:-
- A planet where the fungi are in charge, allowed to roam and grow to their maximum extent like http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141114-the-biggest-organism-in-the-world
- An ultra brewery planet, where the yeast run the show and compete to make the best real ale lakes – the trappist yeasts evolve the most complex Tripel fermentation processes, and the tactical nuclear penguin yeasts would increase their resistance to alcohol to develop the strongest of all brews. The temperance yeasts see alcohol as the environmental poison that will eventually end the world (a la CO2 here on earth) – Will they develop policies to minimise fermentation or to accept their boozey planet as a lost cause and send a series of automated probes to spray far off planets with yeast cells 😉
- The ultimate forest planet, with the untamed evolution of trees – giant redwoods, baobabs and unchecked forest fires, droughts and glaciers to keep the whole thing balanced.
As the article points out, the opportunity is there for humanity to start to make Active contributions to the universe, building on millenia of our passive observations of space.
Its such a blend of science, biological engineering and science fiction and art, that I half wonder if this is an elaborate back plot for an old Star Trek series – giving a future Kirk a bunch of exotic worlds to explore – and maybe, just maybe, a great excuse for a new series of Red Dwarf 😀