Friday, August 10, 2012

Where to Live in the Solar System

If you were to establish a settlement in another planet/moon in our solar system, where would you decide to live?

Well, we had a discussion once in class and we had three choices: the Moon, Mars, and Europa (one of Jupiter's moons). We ended up choosing the sub-surface ocean of Europa in a nuclear submarine-like settlement for the following reasons:
  • All three do not have enough mass to hold a sufficient amount of atmosphere. The solution would to have an atmosphere generating environment within the structure of the settlement itself. However, without an external atmosphere you have to deal with the lack of pressure and meteors that don't burn up upon entry. Submerging to a particular depth in Europa can compensate for the lack of pressure. The ice crust (10-30km thick) would also stop meteors so no need for maintenance from micro-meteor damage, or sand storms for that matter.
  • Mars and the Moon have no magnetic field to protect it from the solar wind. Europa on the other hand is influenced by the vast magnetic field of Jupiter, and also has an induced magnetic field suggesting that the sub-surface ocean is salt-water.
  • The Moon is said to contain some amount of water, however it is not enough to provide for a settlement. Mars has its frozen ice caps and Europa its mineral rich ocean.
  • It may be possible to breed aquatic life for food in Europa. In the Moon and in Mars, you can only breed animals or grow plants within the settlement.
  • Mars and the Moon have no source of heat while Europa has tidal heating. This can also be tapped as a source of energy.

As always, the biggest problem for this scenario is getting there. But, you never know what advancement in space exploration might pop up in the years to come.
So how about you, where would you like to live in the solar system? :)

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