Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Which Worlds Should We Colonize First?

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Our race is indeed blessed to inhabit a fertile world that orbits our favorite star, Sol. With 83 colony worlds dancing around our yellow sun, one can only imagine all the possibilities of our brave race inhabiting them all.

Of course, reality has a way of correcting our fantasies, and just as humanity refuses to dwell near or upon certain mountains, canyons and islands, so our young species may opt to skip over certain worlds in order to inhabit others.

So which worlds hold the promise of housing tomorrows children?

The first (and probably most obvious) world earth's kids may call home is the moon (aka Luna). The moon will be humanities first stepping stone way from Earth, and will most like jump start our journey into space, as its soil may contain valuable resources that can pay for all the fancy equipment needed to survive off world.

Skipping Earth's nearest neighbor would probably be disastrous, as our sensitive public is barely able to handle any "boo boo's" that happen in the solar abyss, much less a fatality. If terraforming ever became a reality, the moon would be a prime candidate for another Earth, as it already inhabits the "Goldilocks zone."

Journeying outward, our dusty neighbor Mars would come into play. Despite lacking resources of its own to attract businesses upon its crimson soil, Mars does hold an abundance of water which would make a human settlement somewhat possible upon its rusty surface.

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(Video: A visual of what Mars would look like if a large portion of its ice water melted and flooded the planet. Credit: NASA)


Mars is also conveniently located near the asteroid belt, which could help turn this barren world into an industrial paradise. Although other worlds (such as Earth) could always mine the asteroid belt with their own ships, it may be easier (and cheaper) to outsource that task to the Martians, the way many American business outsource their "sneaker and jacket making" to China.

Expanding further throughout the solar system, dwarf world Ceres would come into play. Thought to hold an abundance of water beneath its surface, Ceres could easily serve as a way station, supplying crews with water and fuel in the middle of the asteroid belt.

Entering the realm of the Jovian giant Jupiter, humanity would probably end up settling on Callisto. Not only does this heavily cratered moon harbor life necessities (such as CO2 and water), but it could also serve as a gateway towards the other gas giants.

Although Callisto may play a crucial role in our quest to colonize our star system, its bigger brother Ganymede may end up becoming the Jovian favorite, and perhaps even the prime world of the gas giants.

Entering our last stop would be Saturn's Titan, a world believed to contain multitude of methane lakes. Although Titan's methane weather cycle may be worth billions, its unique environment may become the attraction of the solar system, as its air pressure may make life very interesting for sports enthusiasts, artists and even musicians.

Of all the worlds that orbit our star system, these six worlds will probably be illuminated by the lights of future cities upon its surface.

But what about the other 76 worlds that grace our star system? Are not they worthy of being called home by future residents?

Unfortunately many of these other worlds will probably not be settled due to various reasons (at least voluntarily), although you will have to wait until next week to find out why most of these worlds will probably be skipped by our human race in our quest to colonize the stars.

Note: Due to lack of time images (and video) will be added later.

Update: Added video and images, as well as broke up last paragraph.




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3 comments:

  1. Eh. I'm not sold on most of the planets you name as significant colonies. Despite all the good sci-fi about inhabiting and terraforming Mars, and cities on the moon, I expect the gravity problem is intractable. We know the health effects of zero-g (they're bad), and I expect that small fractions of g will also be bad, even if the problems take longer to surface. As a simple for instance, I'd need to see a couple dozen generations of pigs procreate and give birth without complications before I considered letting my wife get pregnant while on the moon.

    That being said, I expect spinning space colonies to be fairly successful. They can be even closer to the asteroids, or they can orbit the smaller worlds to mine them for resources.

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  2. I suspect that the health effects of low gravity can be overcome as medical science gives us a better understanding of what is going on. many of the health effects are similar to symptoms of other diseases so treatments developed for them could provide useful for space living. The first lunar colonies will be "permanent" but not have permanent residents; they will be staffed with rotating tours of duty or like the way seasonal resorts function on earth so we will learn a lot about this problem in a controlled setting before we move on to Mars with better gravity. Interestingly, the weaker a body's gravity is, the cheaper it is to get to orbit where spinning stations can serve as a higher gravity rest and recuperation center.

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  3. @ Brock: Gravity will indeed be a major problem for future settlers, and your idea of using pigs to procreate on Mars is a good idea.

    Perhaps we should test this on the Moon first (as it contains 1/6th Earth gravity).

    @ Snake Oil Baron: Crew rotation is probably what NASA has in mind, although we are going to have to find a medical breakthrough (hopefully in the next decade).

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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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