Friday, March 26, 2010

Fantastic Future Friday: The mighty Jupiter

In this series I’ve talked transforming a couple planets into Earthlike worlds, Venus and Mercury, but just transforming those, and Mars, would only give us the equivalent of two more Earths. For the human race to really expand we will need something bigger. I don’t want to be accused of thinking small.

If you take away the Sun then the Solar System consists of Jupiter and some stray stuff. Jupiter has two and a half times the mass of the rest of the Solar System combined. So the logical place to expand the human race would be Jupiter, or more precisely the Jovian system of moons.

Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto are the large moons of Jupiter that have a liquid ocean underneath an icy crust. Ganymede is larger than the planet Mercury and has a surface area greater than the surface of the landmasses of Earth. Callisto is slightly smaller and Europa is about half that size.

Taken all together they have a surface area two and quarter the size of the landmasses of Earth and are within a million kilometers of each other.

The system offers resources that can’t be matched in the inner solar system. Jupiter has a vast amount of He3 an element thought to be essential for controlled nuclear fusion. It is almost non-existent on Earth and the Moon is thought only to have enough to supply humanity for 10,000 years. It also has sixty smaller moons and ring that can mined.

The major problem with these moons is they are in the magnetosphere of Jupiter so their surfaces have a very high level of radiation, so setting a colony on the surface would be tough. The solution is to bring the settlements under the ice, into the underground oceans.

Ganymede’s gravity is only one-sixth of Earths so going mile under the surface the water pressure would “only” be that of being 1,000 feet underwater in Earth’s oceans. This is the lower limit of military subs.

To build a underwater settlement like we build current subs would be way to expensive, however if the casing of the underwater settlements were made of something stronger like Buckypaper, which is 2,000 times stronger, the cost would go down.

As the Jovian system has nearly unlimited resources thanks to the many moons and nearly unlimited energy supplied by the He3 sweeping out the Jovian atmosphere by solar wind, the colonies there would soon be able to develop an industrial base that would dwarf anything we could build on Earth, or even the entire inner solar system.

By unlocking the riches of the Jovian system we could give humanity wealth beyond the dreams of Avarice, and that will lead to a fantastic future.

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