10 Radical Ideas To Colonize Our Solar System


Eli Nixon Nov 18, 2015

What child hasn’t looked adult into a night sky and wondered, usually once, what life would be like on another planet? For all of tellurian history, it seemed as if a gigantic beauty of a creation could usually be overwhelmed by a imaginations. Never before has male set feet on a universe besides a own.

That’s substantially going to change someday in a subsequent 20 years. Mars hype is windy right now, and a initial chairman who walks on a fourth stone from a Sun expected will go down in story with a likes of Neil and Buzz. But while everyone’s saying red, we’re forgetful a other possibilities dim in a solar system.

10 Cloud Cities On Venus

Our sister universe Venus is a genuine ball-breaker. Its aspect temperatures normal about 500 degrees Celsius (900 °F), and a windy vigour on a belligerent is tighten to 92 times that of Earth. Its cloud cover also contains pockets of sulfuric acid, yet that’s not a vital regard given a feverishness would substantially kill we before a poison would have a possibility to melt your skin. And according to NASA engineers Chris Jones and Dale Arney, this vital ruin competence be one of a best shots during supernatural colonization.

They introduce building a cluster of airships that would boyant about 50 kilometers (30 mi) over a surface. Just like Earth, Venus’s atmosphere thins a aloft we go. At a tallness they’re suggesting, a windy vigour would be allied to Earth’s, and a feverishness would float right around 75 degrees Celsius (167 °F). For reference, a top available feverishness on Earth is 56.7 degrees Celsius (134 °F). It still wouldn’t be gentle outside, yet a temperature-controlled airships would be many easier to maintain. According to Chris Jones, a top atmosphere of Venus is “probably a many Earth-like sourroundings that’s out there.”

That’s a delicious explain for colonization fanatics, yet how would it indeed work? The early airships would be helium-filled zeppelins—a unresolved gondola underneath an arrogant balloon. That’s not accurately a insubordinate design, nonetheless a balloons would also be propitious with solar panels for harvesting a impassioned intent that hits Venus. These balloons would be launched in capsules into Venus’s top atmosphere, where they’d self-inflate and, hopefully, start floating before a unenlightened reduce atmosphere drags them down and kills everybody onboard.

9 Paraterraforming Ceres


Located in a asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Ceres is a dwarf universe with a hole of about 950 kilometers (590 mi). That gives it a aspect area somewhat incomparable than Argentina. It’s a big, icy stone smack-dab in a core of nowhere with hardly any sobriety (2.8 percent of Earth’s).

Why would anyone wish to go there? The meditative is that so far, Mars hasn’t incited adult any quite useful minerals, yet Ceres is right in one of a many mineral-rich regions of a solar system. It could be used as a height to collect gold and palladium, both profitable construction metals. Even better, there’s a good possibility that that little stone contains some-more uninformed H2O than Earth. That H2O could be harvested by colonists and incited into breathable oxygen and hydrogen fuel for rockets.

The usually approach it would be possible, though, is by something called paraterraforming. Since Ceres has such an minuscule atmosphere, astronauts would have to make a pure architecture on a surface. As a cluster grows, a inhabitants could supplement onto a architecture with additional interlocking domes, swelling out their bearable area until they cover a whole aspect of Ceres like a multifaceted eyeball of an outrageous space insect. Is it feasible? Probably not anytime soon, during slightest on that scale, yet researchers have been means to successfully emanate a self-sufficient architecture medium on Earth, so it’s unequivocally usually a matter of scaling adult a record and channel your fingers that zero will go wrong in a cold opening of space.

8 Concrete Homes On The Moon

The Moon
Nobody’s been behind to a Moon given a final Apollo lunar alighting in 1972. It’s cold, dusty, and unconditionally inhospitable, a lunar landscape in a many verbatim sense. But that doesn’t meant it’s not value returning to. According to a new investigate consecrated by NASA, a cost of sourroundings adult a permanent cluster on a Moon would be surprisingly inexpensive—a little $10 billion instead of a creatively insincere cost tab of $100 billion. In terms of NASA’s budget, that creates it a devise that they could start putting together right now.

The reasons for doing so are even some-more compelling. A bottom on a Moon would make both careful and logistical sense. It would be cheaper to launch long-range missions (think Mars) from a Moon, and many of a hydrogen and oxygen indispensable for rocket fuel could be mined directly from H2O during a lunar poles. Assuming we don’t run into any space Nazis, a Moon could be a golden sheet to a chocolate factory.

Where it gets crazy, though, is how we competence build such a colony. Ideas operation from inflatable pods wedged into lava tubes to space stations in lunar orbit, yet a many violent of all would also be insanely simple—concrete homes. In 1992, Dr. Tung Dju Lin, a materials scientist, began investigate a combination of a little square of Moon stone he’d borrowed from NASA. He found that a lunar aspect was already unwashed with all that’s indispensable to emanate concrete. Specifically, a Moon has an contentment of a vegetable called ilmenite, that contains both iron and titanium oxides. When Lin belligerent a garland of Moon stone to powder and ran steam by it for a few hours, he combined a chunk of petrify that he claimed was stronger than a conceivable counterpart. So as cold as it would be to live in high-tech Moon tubes, there’s a possibility that we competence usually get a bungalow.

7Kuiper Disk Cities

Kuiper Belt Objects
Freeman Dyson is possibly a leader or a crackpot, depending on how many you’ve been drinking. His certification are solid. He’s been a target of a Lorentz award and a Max Planck medal, as good as a Enrico Fermi Award, yet his ideas tend to tumble usually outward a ostensible systematic custom of receptive thought.

One of Freeman Dyson’s many famous ideas is a Dyson sphere, a megastructure designed to encapsulate a star, that would collect appetite for interstellar travel. But Dyson also had designs on other tools of a solar system, particularly a Kuiper Belt, a comet-dense segment over Neptune’s orbit.

In that region, comets mostly form heavily packaged swarms that could be tethered to any other to emanate a city colony. As Dyson put it, “A Kuiper Belt capital would substantially be a flat, disk-shaped collection of cometary objects, related by prolonged tethers and revolving solemnly around a core to keep a tethers taut.”

Even if they weren’t linked, away colonized comets would pass any other frequently, mostly within a million miles of any other, permitting colonists to bound from one meteor to another sincerely easily. As for light and feverishness out there in a cold Kuiper world, Dyson suggests that an array of mirrors 100 kilometers (60 mi) far-reaching would be means to yield 1,000 megawatts of solar energy.

6Bolo Habitats

Two Spheres
In 1975, NASA conducted a investigate on a feasibility of opposite “free-space” habitats, colonies that weren’t tethered to any sold body. One of a designs they looked during was so elementary that it could have been implemented right then—the bolo habitat.

Picture a fibre with a round during possibly end, and you’ve got a simple idea. Each “ball” would be a globe 22 meters (72 ft) in hole that could residence 10 people. The fibre in a core would be 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) long, and a whole thing would stagger once any minute, giving a people inside something tighten to Earth gravity. Pack a plain 5 meters (16 ft) of Moon mud around a outward of any globe for a deviation shield, and you’ve got yourself a down-and-dirty space home.

Bolo habitats were envisioned as birthplace colonies means of providing all a singular family would need. There would be room to grow food, solar panels for power, and a production pod in a core of a tether, a easy sourroundings to build some-more bolos. Just as settlers in a Old West stretched their homesteads to accommodate their flourishing families, pioneers in bolo habitats would be means to emanate whole cities of counterweighted, free-floating homes.

5Subsurface Ocean Pods On Europa


Europa has recently spin geek-famous as a many expected place in a solar complement to bay supernatural life. NASA’s holding a thought so severely that they’re prepping an unmanned goal that will circuit Jupiter and control 45 flybys of a moon to demeanour for revealing signs of life abounding in a tainted sea that’s ostensible to exist underneath a surface. They wish to get a goal underway someday in a 2020s.

But while it would be sparkling to find tiny, bacteriological aliens clustered around geothermal vents low underneath a aspect of a Jovian snowball, one private association doesn’t wish to wait for robots to do a unwashed work; they wish to get people there, and they wish to do it within a subsequent 50 years. Like Mars One, Objective Europa would be a one-way ticket, yet scapegoat is invalid unless we learn something along a way, and a devise is going to have to jump some vital hurdles to keep their astronauts alive prolonged adequate to empty their exam tubes.

Europa’s aspect temperatures strech lows of –170 degrees Celsius (–270 °F). It has no atmosphere (at least, no some-more than a pittance), and circuitously Jupiter bombards a moon with a fatal deviation sip of 540 rem on a daily basis. To overcome those problems, Objective Europa wants to keep their organisation underground. After substantiating a short-term aspect base, a organisation would have to cavalcade down by a ice membrane to strech a warmer temperatures of a sea below. There, or somewhere in a joining ice tunnel, they’d be means to settle an subterraneous bottom inside permanent atmosphere bubbles. Here’s a technical schematic of what it would demeanour like.

4Free-Floating O’Neill Cylinders

O'Neill Cylinder

An O’Neill cylinder is a vast tube, 32 kilometers (20 mi) prolonged and 8 kilometers (5 mi) in diameter, that rotates to copy gravity. Built in connected, contrasting rotating pairs, any cylinder would, in theory, be means to residence 10 million people.

This thought has been around given 1974, ever given physicist Gerard K. O’Neill summarized a judgment in an letter in Physics Today. Back then, of course, it was an thought resolutely confirmed in scholarship fiction. We’d hardly been to a Moon, so it was doubtful that we’d usually spin around and build a vast megastructure to residence millions of people. However, O’Neill’s thought sparked something in a systematic community’s common consciousness, and a judgment has refused to die.

O’Neill cylinders are still outward a technological grasp, yet as so mostly happens, scholarship is fast throwing adult to a fiction. According to a British Interplanetary Society, a organisation that likely a unsentimental lunar goal 30 years before a Apollo program, we could indeed build an O’Neill cylinder today. The usually genuine problem is removing someone to compensate for it. Most of a materials indispensable to erect a cylinders would be mined from a Moon, and a appearance of reduction costly booster like Reaction Engines’s Skylon would promote construction.

3Bigelow Aerospace’s Balloon Stations

As a singular many costly intent ever built and a largest synthetic satellite in circuit around Earth, a International Space Station (ISS) is a guide of tellurian swell that compulsory a team-work of dual dozen nations and over $160 billion in funding. Since 2000, a crews have conducted groundbreaking investigate in microgravity, vast radiation, biotechnology, and dim energy, usually to name a few.

When Robert Bigelow, a Vegas genuine estate tycoon, saw a ISS in action, he had usually one thought: “I can do better.” So he started Bigelow Aerospace with a $500 million stake from his possess slot to investigate and build blurb space stations for a fragment of a price. While a ISS was fabricated piece-by-piece in space over a two-year period, Bigelow’s B330 takes a easier approach: It’s a vast balloon pressed in a nose cone of a rocket. Once a rocket clears a atmosphere, a balloon inflates into a entirely satisfied space hire means of housing a organisation of six.

It’s a radical idea, yet is it crazy? Maybe not; Bigelow already has dual inflatable space hire modules in orbit, a Genesis we and a Genesis II, and skeleton are underway to launch a incomparable Space Complex Bravo in 2016. And Robert Bigelow isn’t interlude with a internal neighborhood. His prophesy for a destiny of his ballooning business includes lunar colonies, deep-space stations, and Martian outposts.


Long before Gerard O’Neill published a initial outline of his rotating cylinders, NASA scientist Dandridge Cole due a identical concept, that he called a “bubbleworld.” While O’Neill’s cylinders were built from blemish regulating materials scavenged from a Moon, Cole’s thought was many some-more metal.

First, we’d have to find an asteroid done mostly of metal, preferably one of a some-more ductile alloys like nickel-iron. That’s easy enough; there are thousands of them all around us. The subsequent step would be to cavalcade a hovel by a core of a asteroid and fill it with water, and afterwards use strong solar feverishness to compound a ends of a hovel closed. Dialing behind a solar focus, we’d afterwards solemnly alleviate a asteroid’s steel body, concurrently hot a H2O inside so that a steam would increase a asteroid’s malleable bombard and vale out a interior.

After it cooled, mirrors could copy intent into a vale interior, spin could be prompted to copy gravity, and people could live on a inside surface.

1Bioengineered Trees

Imagine an measureless tree flourishing out of a comet. Its roots fill a cracks and seams that run by a comet’s interior, a canopy forms a protecting powerful around a outside, and a vale case is filled with bustling tellurian colonists.

Welcome behind to a mind of Freeman Dyson.

In a 1997 letter for The Atlantic entitled “Warm-Blooded Plants and Freeze-Dried Fish,” Dyson summarized a devise to use bioengineered “greenhouse trees” to yield habitats for tellurian colonies in space. The letter reads like a child who dreamed of rocket ships and spaceflight finally grew adult yet forgot to stop dreaming. In a paper, he describes a stairs compulsory to inhabit a meteor with this method. As with many good things, mankind’s tour into a creation would start with a seed.

Once it strike a aspect of a comet, according to Dyson, this seed would grow into a huge, warm-blooded plant that would be bioengineered to tarry in subzero temperatures regulating usually a light from a apart Sun. There, a tree would grow vast adequate to form a warm, enclosed medium filled with oxygen from a healthy photosynthesis. By a time humans arrived, their home would already exist within a hothouse tree.

Eli Nixon is a author of Son of Tesla and Nightmare Machines. Follow him on Twitter.

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