Monday, August 06, 2007

Jupiter's Callisto: Gateway To The Gas Giants

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If scientists are unable to develop faster than light or wormhole technology by the 22nd Century, humanity may find themselves using gravitational assistance in order to travel throughout our solar system.

But in order to reach these distant gas giants alive (or at least moderately healthy), humanity may need a way station to resupply on food, supplies and oxygen.

Since the Jovian king (aka Jupiter) has been frequently used to fling satellites across the gulf of space, establishing a colony inside its domain may be the next logical step for conquering the outer solar system--with Callisto being the key.

Callisto orbits its Jovian parent at a distance of almost 2 million kilometers. Unlike its bigger brother Ganymede, Callisto lacks a well defined magnetic field, having to instead rely upon "daddy Jupiter" for protection.

Orbiting well beyond the wrath of Jupiter's radiation belts, Callisto lies in a relatively quiet radio zone. With its surface lacking some of the more "interesting" features such as volcano's and enormous mountain ranges, this tranquil world provide a stable (and safe) habitat for future colonists. Callistian residents would also be in the position to settle Ganymede, as well as establish scientific outposts upon the ice world Europa.

Callisto also harbors water and CO2 ice upon its surface, which would enable future colonies to not only grow food and create fuel for not only themselves, but also for way faring space travelers. This would allow future explorers to easily replenish their supplies, and then use Jupiter's gravity to slingshot towards other planetary systems.

Having a similar scenario as Mars, Callisto's location in the solar system would enable this lunar world to establish itself as an interplanetary pit stop, ensuring a vital economy based mainly on trade instead of vital resources.

Conquering this heavily cratered moon would provide yet another stepping stone for humanity, allowing our species to slowly (but surely) spread our population throughout our "tiny" star system.




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2 comments:

  1. Michael Welford8/10/2007 9:21 PM

    I'd like to share some thoughts on the idea of using Callisto as a base for a Jupiter gravitational slingshot to distant solar system destinations.

    First it's not clear to me that you can get enough juice out of a slingshot effect to compensate for Callistos position inside Jupiters gravity well.

    However, we can send our spacecraft into a sequence of orbits around Jupiter which approach the big moons using them to create small slingshot effects to give our spacecraft orbital energy before finally doing a Jupiter slingshot to the outer solar system. Better yet, it may be possible to do this using low energy transfer orbits. These orbits take advantage of chaotic instabilities near Lagrange points to minimise energy expenditure at a cost of increased travel time. Using Lagrange points of Jupiter and its moons in this way would only add weeks to travel time.

    A wilder idea would be to use these low energy transfer orbits within the Jupiter system to set up an approach to a Sun-Jupiter Lagrange point, resulting a low energy transfer which would set up an eventual Jupiter slingshot to the outer solar system. I don't know if this is actually possible.

    Wikipedia has an introduction to the low energy orbits here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interplanetary_Transport_Network

    One good article is:
    New methods in celestial mechanics and mission design
    http://www.ams.org/bull/2006-43-01/S0273-0979-05-01085-2/home.html

    Another article which deals specifically with the Jupiter system is:
    Design of a Multi-Moon Orbiter
    http://www.esm.vt.edu/~sdross/papers/AAS-03-143.pdf

    I hope this helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Michael Welford8/10/2007 9:40 PM

    Sigh!

    I said it wasn't clear to me that you could benefit from a slingshot starting from Callisto. I forgot about powered slingshots.

    But the rest of the stuff I wrote still stands up.

    I hope.

    Sigh!

    ReplyDelete

You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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