Friday, September 24, 2010

Fantastic Future Friday: Icy Worlds

So far in my Fantastic Future series I’ve written about terraforming the inner solar system. It is a nice start to expanding human civilization, but the inner solar system really only gives us (if we terraform Mercury, Venus, and Mars) a little more than one and a half extra Earths. If we distributed the Earths population across the inner solar system it would still be as crowded as pre-World War Two Earth. In order to really expand we need to look at the outer solar system.

The gas giants themselves can’t be colonized or terraformed but they all have complex systems of moons. Jupiter has Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto which all would be considered at least dwarf planets if they were in there own orbit, Ganymede is 8% larger than Mercury.

Unfortunately it is a bit chilly out there, -261.67 ° Fahrenheit and these worlds are within Jupiter’s magnetosphere making the surface have high radiation.

The advantage of these worlds is the gas giants have nearly unlimited amount of energy that can be gathered from the upper atmosphere in the form of Helium 3 for use in fusion reactors.

Using that unlimited energy instead of trying to live on the surface colonists could burrow down about a mile under the ice and set up tubes in the underground oceans of these worlds.

Here on Earth the pressure at a depth of one mile would crush anything we could make, but on these worlds the gravity is one-sixth of what is on Earth so the pressure would be considerably less.

Even if it turns out the pressure at that depth is too great, the unlimited amount of energy supplied by Helium 3 fusion reactors could warm up the oceans until the ice layer was thin enough to place a habitat that wasn’t under that much pressure, but still thick enough to keep the water from being exposed to the vacuum of space.

By expanding human civilization to the outer solar system we could easily have the equivalent of 11 to 12 Earths. That is enough room for every human to spread out and never have to worry about scarcity again.

And that will lead to a Fantastic Future.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts


Shakespeare said...

Reminds me of Orwell's Time Machine... with half the people living below the earth...

Not sure how I'd feel about never seeing sunlight, though. I'm pretty tied to my diurnal clock.

Project Savior said...

With stronger materials being made like buckypaper 5,000 times as strong as steel and the small horizon Ganymede's horizon would only be a few miles. It would be possible to make habitats underwater that had diameters greater than the horizon so inside you wouldn't be able to see the other side. In something like that you'd need artificial rainstorms from time to time to keep dust down. Artificial lighting could be set to a 24 hour pattern. Other than the gravity you'd never know you weren't on an island on Earth.