Surface of Ceres, showing the salt residue of a salt water cryo-volcano. Source NASA

Study Proposes Orbital Ceres Colony

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Ceres, once considered an Asteroid but now classified as a dwarf planet orbiting between Mars and Jupiter, may harbour a significant under surface liquid water ocean. Scientists believe it would be a useful way station for exploring the rest of the solar system.

Scientists Propose Permanent Human Habitat Built Orbiting Ceres

It’s like something straight out of “The Expanse.”

VICTOR TANGERMANN
JANUARY 7TH 2021

A group of Finnish researchers are proposing a permanent human habitat in the orbit of Ceres, a massive asteroid and dwarf planet in the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter.

According to the team, this “megasatellite settlement” could be built by collecting materials from Ceres itself.

If that sounds familiar to fans of the popular sci-fi book and TV series “The Expanse,” that’s because in that fictional universe, Ceres Station plays a pivotal role as one of humanity’s first human off-world colonies. In the series, however, the space rock itself was spun up to create a crewed habitat on its surface with artificial gravity.

In a paper uploaded to the prewrite repository arXiv this week, the team argues that Ceres would be prime real estate because it has nitrogen, which could enable the creation of an Earth-like atmosphere.

In fact, they argue that the environment could even be “better than Earth,” since there’s no adverse weather or natural disasters, and plenty of living space to grow into.

Read more: https://futurism.com/permanent-human-habitat-orbiting-ceres

The study is available here.

The biggest issue I see with Ceres as the first permanent off-world habitation is getting there is not a 3 day mission. The overwhelming advantage of a moon base is if you had to launch an emergency mission to help the colony correct a critical problem, you could get to the moon relatively quickly, in weeks rather than months.

Once we gain experience with a moon base, we can ditch the training wheels and try for something more ambitious.

Having said that I understand why scientists are getting excited about Ceres. Its low gravity, high rotation rate, and abundance of useful and not aways readily available raw materials, suggests that Ceres will play a very important role in our future expansion throughout the solar system.

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Pauleta
January 13, 2021 10:03 am

We should be set to colonize it around the time average temperature is +6C. So, quite soon. And we have the technology, if it wasn’t for Trump as president in the last four years we would already be there.

Trust me, I am a scientist.

Reply to  Pauleta
January 13, 2021 10:07 am

1st rate SARC!!!

Bryan A
Reply to  tomwys
January 13, 2021 6:52 pm

I’m in the process f designing the Fusion Engines that will allow for colonization of Ceres within weeks. Functionality is a mere 10 years away

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Bryan A
January 13, 2021 8:23 pm

In The Expanse, the Epstein drive as the fusion-driven propulsion system is called was a critical invention to colonizing The Belt. They conveniently never explain how an Epstein drive works to be so efficient though.

Mickey Reno
Reply to  Bryan A
January 14, 2021 4:18 am

Bryan, you clearly are ignoring the style guide for all items depending on Fusion. Fusion power is always TWENTY years away, not TEN. That’s because first graders, who are quite impressionable, might hear and remember and wait for an event that occurs when they are 16, but by time they turn 26, they will have largely forgotten the little pipe dreams sold to them, like Jetson’s flying cars, by their political betters when they were ignorant children. Some children may retain their memories longer of course.

Ps. where the hell is my Jetson’s flying car, dammit?

Vuk
Reply to  Pauleta
January 13, 2021 11:49 am

Aah, Ceres the bountiful goddess of the breakfast Cereals, ideal place for moving to the excess of hungry third world population from this overcrowded planet.

Bryan A
Reply to  Vuk
January 13, 2021 6:53 pm

Start with the Dumbocrats

john
Reply to  Pauleta
January 13, 2021 12:42 pm

The democrats will find a way to ruin that too. Trust me, Joe Biden’s bridges to nowhere will get them there first!

Last edited 13 days ago by john
Scissor
Reply to  john
January 13, 2021 5:23 pm

High speed rail.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Scissor
January 13, 2021 5:40 pm

High speed rail gun!

Bryan A
Reply to  Gunga Din
January 13, 2021 6:54 pm

Fusion drive is just 10 years away

John Tillman
January 13, 2021 10:17 am

Radiation is a problem getting to Mars, let alone Ceres.

Reply to  John Tillman
January 13, 2021 11:09 am

I suspect that the travel time issue will be solved sooner than you think. Things like the tic-tac video are strong existence proof that manipulating space-time for the purpose of propulsion is possible, and once you can do that, travel time within something as small as a solar system becomes a moot point. If the tic-tac is ours, we already have the technology, and if it’s not, you can bet that a lot of people are trying to figure whose it is and how it works. The reason this kind of propulsion has been considered at the lunatic fringe, is that many didn’t think it was possible. That rationalization is no longer valid.

John Tillman
Reply to  co2isnotevil
January 13, 2021 2:20 pm

I could tell you what the Tic Tac was, but I’d have to kill myself before doing so.

David A
Reply to  John Tillman
January 14, 2021 1:47 am

Or you could look it up.

David A
Reply to  co2isnotevil
January 13, 2021 7:35 pm

Tic Tac is legit military release of radar locked UFO, off the coast of San Diego, doing impossible maneuvers like going from 5000 plus feet to 50 feet in .76 seconds.

John Tillman
Reply to  David A
January 14, 2021 8:27 am

IR sensor, not radar.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  co2isnotevil
January 14, 2021 7:07 pm

I rather think what they saw was something like this: https://hackaday.com/2020/05/18/plasma-ghosts-may-help-keep-future-aircraft-safe/

Also, check out the video embedded in this above story: https://youtu.be/GNoOiXkXmYQ

It’s a much simpler explanation.

Andrew
January 13, 2021 10:29 am

But despite what’s probably a modelling estimate on emissions reductions global CO2 didn’t change in the slightest

mcswell
January 13, 2021 10:35 am

“In the series, however, the space rock itself was spun up to create a crewed habitat on its surface with artificial gravity.” Curious about this (and I realize of course it’s scifi). IIUC, Ceres’ surface gravity is about 3%, which obviously is pretty low for humans. But spinning it up to create artificial gravity would induce a gravity vector pointing *away* from the center of Ceres. Wouldn’t that cause rocks and dust on the surface to fly off? Particularly near the equator. (The artificial gravity would decrease with higher latitude.)

I was going to say if you wanted to land a rocket on it, you’d need to match velocity with the motion of the surface, and that it would be difficult to hold your rocket down after landing. But I guess if you landed at or very near to one of the poles, that wouldn’t be a problem.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  mcswell
January 13, 2021 11:24 am

In the story, they tunneled into Ceres and now live on the inside.

mcswell
Reply to  Paul Penrose
January 13, 2021 1:02 pm

Understood, but what’s to prevent stuff on the surface from flying off into space? If the artificial gravity in their tunnels is near 1g (or even 1/2 g), then the gravity on the surface is at least that much. If you put a rock up against your ceiling on Earth, it would fall down; rocks sitting on Ceres’ equator would “fall” up, or for that matter anywhere except near the poles. Maybe if the surface were solid rock (as opposed to rocks and “dirt”), it might stay there, but it certainly wouldn’t be stable; you’d probably have constant ceresquakes.

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  mcswell
January 13, 2021 7:10 pm

Just a thought. What would be the escape velocity at the “equator”? Would it be possible to jump upwards, and not come down?

mcswell
Reply to  Tombstone Gabby
January 14, 2021 7:29 am

Yes, that’s my point: the surface gravity on Ceres is 0.029g (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceres_(dwarf_planet)), and if the artificial “gravity” induced by spin was anything greater than that, you wouldn’t even have to jump; you’d just let go of whatever you were holding onto, and the spin would throw you off at > the escape velocity.

TonyG
Reply to  Tombstone Gabby
January 14, 2021 9:01 am

Given the rotational velocity that would be required to provide a reasonable “gravity” on the interior, you wouldn’t have to jump – you would be thrown off the surface immediately.

RayB
Reply to  mcswell
January 14, 2021 12:32 am

You would need to have your ship spin on it’s axis, or maybe the platform could spin as to keep a relative zero spin for the ship. But as soon as you go down that spinning motion would not help in keeping your lunch in your stomach….

Tom Abbott
Reply to  mcswell
January 14, 2021 9:49 am

They would be better off putting their human habitat in orbit around Ceres, rather than spinning Ceres’ rotation rate up.

They could put two habitat modules of whatever size they prefer, into orbit around Ceres, and connect those two habitats by a strong cable one mile long, and then rotate these habitats around the center at a rate of one revolution per minute (rpm) and this will produce artificial gravity (centrifugal force) inside the modules equivalent to the gravity on the surface of the Earth.

They can cover their habitat modules with a one-meter thick coating of water ice which will protect them from the radiation in space.

Spinning up Ceres is the wrong way to go. Not that we are anywhere near doing such a thing. It’s a thought experiment.

We are a lot nearer to building habitats in Ceres orbit, than we are to spinning up Ceres.

NASA ought to be testing out using centrifugal force in space to provide artificial gravity, as part of the Moon mission.

mcswell
Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 15, 2021 10:59 am

Yes, although at that point (two habitats connected by cable) I’m not sure I see the advantage of orbiting Ceres.

I was going to ask how strong the cable would need to be given your numbers (1 rpm at 1 mile separation), but I guess it’s obvious, given the 1g artificial gravity: strong enough to suspend twice the mass of such a habitat in Earth’s gravity. The current ISS is just under a million pounds, so a tensile strength sufficient to hold 2 million pounds. I was looking for the tension of the catenary cables on the Golden Gate Bridge–one site said 200 million pounds, but I’m not sure that site is reliable. This site:
https://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/bridge-construction/top-6-types-of-long-span-bridges/94276
has an example of a smaller suspension bridge: “A suspension bridge having a main span of 100 metres has a cable sag of 10 metres. Calculate the maximum tension in the cables…”. (I assume this is a practical bridge.) The tension comes out to just under 7000 kilonewtons, or about 1.6 million pounds. So I guess your idea is doable, from an engineering standpoint! assuming we can get several million pounds plus a mile long cable out into interplanetary space…probably have to build the cable in space. At least you don’t have to worry about rust :).

Tom Abbott
Reply to  mcswell
January 15, 2021 9:41 pm

Here’s an interesting item. There is currently an American company actively working on using artificial gravity in Earth orbit.

https://www.universetoday.com/149551/gateway-foundation-gives-a-detailed-update-on-its-voyager-station-concept/

Artificial gravity in space is the future.

As an elementary school project, some years ago, our Young Astronauts came up with using 100 Space Shuttle External Tanks connected together, end to end, to form a rotating, circular space station like the one in the movie, “2001: A Space Odyssey, that would be one mile in diameter, and when rotated at one revolution per minute, would generate artificial gravity on the space station equivalent to the gravity on the surface of the Earth.

I think the shuttle program lauched 113 External Tanks before it was halted. NASA said they had better uses for the space shuttle than launching External Tanks into orbit (I’m not so sure), so our dreams of a large Von Braun rotating space station went up in smoke. Our opinion was that NASA needs to think bigger. 🙂

Hans Erren
January 13, 2021 10:36 am

who volunteers for life in a permanent lock down status?

Tropical Lutefisk
Reply to  Hans Erren
January 13, 2021 11:05 am

Better to volunteer for it than be subjected to it.

Hans Erren
Reply to  Hans Erren
January 13, 2021 10:06 pm

So why are there no permanent sea bottom colonies mining manganese nodules?

Richard Page
January 13, 2021 10:38 am

This is nothing new. There have been serious and not so serious proposals centred on Ceres as a base for exploration and exploitation of the asteroids since at least the 60’s. Some day maybe but there’s a lot of steps to take between where we are now and where we’d need to be in order to colonise Ceres. One of them involves ditching this silly thermageddon religion.

ResourceGuy
January 13, 2021 10:39 am

Add this to the list of recommended (certifiable) uses of carbon tax revenue. All are welcome.

ResourceGuy
January 13, 2021 10:45 am

Not sure but it looks like Finland.

Vuk
Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 13, 2021 12:13 pm

I thought I could see Boris Johnson fallen flat on the ground during one of his 7m bike rides. Finland is a bit to far to be considered no 10’s ‘local’.

MikeW
January 13, 2021 11:07 am

There will never be a lunar colony, nor a Mars base, nor a Mars colony, nor a Ceres base, nor a Ceres colony. There may be a periodically-occupied lunar base, if enough people are dumb enough, but it will eventually be abandoned. If people are not too dumb, it will be abandoned before a gruesome accident makes them leave frozen corpses behind.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  MikeW
January 13, 2021 11:31 am

If you don’t mind, I’ll just add to your “never” list of predictions:
There will never be a practical reusable rocket.
There will never be a manned mission to the moon.
There will never be a rocket powerful enough to reach the moon.
There will never be an aircraft that can fly faster than the speed of sound.
There will never be a heavier-than-air flying vehicle.

And the list goes on. All wrong, of course. I wonder how MikeW’s will fare over time? Depending on his age, he might just seem them fail in his lifetime.

“Predictions are hard to make, especially about the future.”

James Binkowski
Reply to  Paul Penrose
January 13, 2021 12:02 pm
Richard Page
Reply to  Paul Penrose
January 13, 2021 1:45 pm

Don’t forget that travelling over 50mph will cause people to lose consciousness and women’s uteruses to fly out!

MikeW
Reply to  Paul Penrose
January 13, 2021 5:32 pm

Paul, there will never be a chemical process that will convert lead into gold. There will never be a perpetual motion machine. There will never be an anti-gravity flying car. There will never be a faster-than-light rocket ship. Mechanical robots will never take over the world. Some limitation predictions are true. A non-existent Ceres colony is one of them.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  MikeW
January 13, 2021 8:40 pm

I’m with you MikeW on this one.

500 years ago European men were lured to set out on rickety wooden sailing ships in search of spices and exotic locales and probably exotic women to take as sex slaves. They had seen to possibility of returning to Europe with ships loaded down with “Spices from the Orient.” Their greed lured them to become names now written in history. Columbus, Balboa, Magellan, Cook, Vasco De Gamma, francis Drake, and others.

People and history remembers the name Neil Armstrong as the first to walk on the Moon, but few people could name the other 11.

To think that extended stay colonies would offer something similar to what the European adventurers felt leaving for the New World and sailing to the Indies and Orient in search of treasures is ludicrous.

An extended stay Lunar colony, a Mars colony, a Ceres colony all offers nothing but the deadly vacuum of space on a long voyage, intense cold, and cancer, blindness and dementia-causing radiation, and instant catastrophe never more than a micro-meteoroid away.

Richard Page
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 14, 2021 2:55 am

As you say, people remember the names written in history but for every one name their were thousands that died on those perilous sea voyages – it was an insanely risky undertaking and yet there were always people willing to accept the risks and go anyway. People will do this as well.

Tim Crome
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 14, 2021 5:32 am

Very many of the first colonists in America died quickly, new ones arrived due to the riches possible from tobacco cultivation, see https://www.amazon.com/Big-Chief-Elizabeth-Adventures-Colonists/dp/0374265011

What will incentivise people to set up residence on the moon or further afield?

Kpar
Reply to  Tim Crome
January 14, 2021 8:44 am

Not just tobacco, also sand- used to make glass.

Tennhauser
Reply to  Tim Crome
January 14, 2021 1:40 pm

How about, let’s see, freedom? Curiosity? Science? Wanting a fresh start? Something new? Romance? Danger? To be famous? To get away? To have a life of meaning? Imagine everywhere you go being the first person to be there? Every mountain you climb being a first ascent?

People crave adventure and danger. Something available in abundance amongst the stars.

How about access to unlimited resources with no pollution controls or concerns? Is there no gold, silver, uranium, etc. on the moon? On Mars?

I don’t think it will be huge numbers. But a few thousand brave souls is all you need.

Kpar
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 14, 2021 8:43 am

I refer you to Robert A. Heinlein’s short story, “Columbus Was A Dope”.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  MikeW
January 14, 2021 9:26 am

Never is a long time. If you mean instead, “in my lifetime”, then you are likely to be correct. But as a practical matter, this disagreement can’t be resolved because we are both mortal, so there’s no point in arguing about it.

Rebecca Moonbat
Reply to  Paul Penrose
January 14, 2021 4:57 am

Earth. Luna. Mars. Ceres. Which of these is not like the others? Earth.

Enginer01
January 13, 2021 11:33 am

OPM
(other people’s money)
I’m sure that the trillions of dollars we’ve spent on the space effort has paid great benefits, and made many nice millionaires, but I’m not sure of the cost/benefit ratio. Oh, well, all ideas are welcome as long as it’s OPM. Good that the US Government is dropping out of the Space Race.
(Oh, I forgot the Space Force…..)

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Enginer01
January 13, 2021 8:42 pm

The US should drop out of the Manned space race. The robotic space race on the other hand should be full steam ahead.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 14, 2021 10:06 am

Musk won’t drop out of the human space race, even if NASA were to give up on human space.

The Space Race is, for all intents and purposes, out of the hands of government, barring totalitarian activity sufficient to put a halt to it. Which is certainly possible in our current world.

The next step to human freedom is to become free of the Earth-bound totalitarians. It’s going to be a close race. The totalitarians are closing in, and they don’t want private enterprise controlling anything to do with human space. They want to reserve that for themselves.

Bezos and Musk need to get busy and put up the first “Gerard O’Neil Habitat” in space. One large enough to hold thousands of people in Earth-like conditions. Then declare your indepedence from Earth (after you become self-sufficient, of course, or Trump gets re-elected, whichever comes first. Trump will make sure you have supplies.).

That ought to be fun! We might have lots of little O”Neill Kingdoms and their accompanying Kings and Queens ,floating around the solar system.

Habitats in space is the future of the human race. Otherwise, eventually, humans will have no future.

MikeW
Reply to  Enginer01
January 14, 2021 4:55 am

Enginer01, we do have some cost/benefit data on manned space bases. The ISS so far has cost about $100B. Benefits from the ISS have been roughly – uh – zero. A manned lunar base would cost two to three orders of magnitude more than the ISS. The benefits would be about the same or less, so roughly – uh – zero. The cost/benefit ratio of a lunar colony would be too ridiculous to calculate. The costs/benefits of a Mars or Ceres base or colony would be like the Spaceballs spaceship going from ridiculous speed to ludicrous speed. (As I recall, they went plaid.)

TonyG
Reply to  MikeW
January 14, 2021 9:12 am

We could always use a manned lunar colony to dump nuclear waste. There was another TV series about that…

Mr. Lee
January 13, 2021 11:41 am

Given the prejudice and persecution dwarves have suffered over the centuries. I do believe they deserve their own planet. Good for them!

James Binkowski
January 13, 2021 12:39 pm

I scanned the 27 page report looking for the business plan and couldn’t find it. Who would invest in one of these “space cadet” proposed “off earth colonies without seeing a return on investment?

Richard Page
Reply to  James Binkowski
January 13, 2021 5:21 pm

People give money to things without seeing a return on investment. Some use it as a tax write off, some see it as a philanthropic enterprise and others will use it as an ego trip (the Bill Gates Mars colony anyone?). Hell the green blob makes a very good living off of it so there must be a fair amount if it could be channelled into different projects.

Intelligent Dasein
January 13, 2021 1:33 pm

There will be no “future expansion throughout the solar system.” Life only has and only will ever exist in Earth, and you had better get used to it.

Richard Page
Reply to  Intelligent Dasein
January 13, 2021 1:51 pm

In which case we’d better start digging a mass grave for the human race and prepare the way for the next species to take over. If there is one thing that studying the universe has shown is that it’s a harsh unforgiving sort of place and putting all your eggs in one basket (or one planet) is a recipe for disaster. We need to move out of this basket and into other baskets as it were.

John Tillman
Reply to  Intelligent Dasein
January 13, 2021 3:43 pm

Please get used to rational thought.

The most reasonable conclusion is that lots of planets in our solar system have life.

The chemical compound constituents of life abound in the universe. Our galaxy contains hundreds of billion os stars. Based upon surveys so far, sure to undercount, stars on average have one planet. Many stars are in the galactic core, where radiation might be too intense for life. So stipulate for the sake of argument that only 10% of planets exist outside this area (it’s actually more.) Minimum of 10 billion. Then apply the present knowledge of planets with life in our own solar system. Call it one in ten. That yields an estimate on the order of a billion planets, to say nothing of moons or other bodies, with life just in the Milky Way.

But even if at this point in time, Earth be the only planet in our galaxy with life, what of the estimated 200 billion to two trillion other galaxies?

Life is probably inevitable where conditions permit its existence at all. But mainly microbial.

Richard Page
Reply to  John Tillman
January 13, 2021 5:10 pm

Your speculation is valid but probably overly optimistic given there’s usually only a small habitable zone in a solar system that’s capable of sustaining life. Just please don’t start slinging round the pseudoscience Drake equation.

David A
Reply to  Richard Page
January 14, 2021 1:50 am

We keep expanding the conditions life can exist in.

MikeW
Reply to  David A
January 14, 2021 4:48 am

David, actually the most recent astrophysical research is greatly limiting cosmic habitable zones, especially for complex life.
A Limited Habitable Zone for Complex Life – IOPscience
Space Weather Affected Habitable Zones Around Active Stars – NASA/ADS (harvard.edu)

John Tillman
Reply to  Richard Page
January 14, 2021 8:37 am

Life doesn’t require a habitable zone.

Liquid water probably exists under the icy crusts of many moons. At the rocky floors of these deep seas, energy sources driven by gravitational tidal heating likely erupt.

But if not in the solar system, then around other stars.

Chris Hanley
January 13, 2021 3:20 pm

Believing in UFOs is no crazier than believing that after four and a half billion years the global average temperature was finally perfect in 1950.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Chris Hanley
January 13, 2021 3:31 pm

Oops, wrong fred.

Peter Fraser
January 13, 2021 4:24 pm

In the future space exploration will be done by robotics and AI. Humans are too delicate for useful space exploration. The life support systems they require add lot of add weight not needed by robotics. Already robots have done more for lunar exploration than the Apollo program did.

John Tillman
Reply to  Peter Fraser
January 14, 2021 8:39 am

Apollo brought back Moon rocks. We’ll see what China’s Far Side lander returns.

yirgach
January 13, 2021 4:27 pm

A simulation of walking on the CERES surface:

M__ S__
January 13, 2021 4:38 pm

Hmmm. Ceres. Sounds like a good place tp send congress.

January 13, 2021 6:10 pm

Water, water, everywhere. Where does the water come from? Why are there copious quantities of water on the dwarf planet Ceres? Why does the moon have such substantial volumes of water ice? Mercury has surface water, Pluto too. Pluto’s moons, Nix and Charon, have water ice on the surface. Nix is 49 km long. This is a very short list BTW. Water is everywhere in the solar system and it can’t be there from the dawn of time because the physical characteristics of water, i.e. vapor pressure, etc. If it is on these very small planetary objects it got there recently.

Perhaps the planetary objects in our solar system orbit in a flux of small comets like the earth does. Small comets have been observed constantly entering Earth’s atmosphere. No one has ever disproven Louis Frank’s discovery. They are still there, hundreds of them, daily entering our atmosphere.

http://smallcomets.physics.uiowa.edu/

Last edited 13 days ago by William Abbott
Reply to  William Abbott
January 14, 2021 7:35 pm

The farther you get from the sun, the more water, usually in the form of ice, you find. Cheers –

January 13, 2021 7:20 pm

I love this humor section of WUWT.

This is a big discussion of how to build the space colony with no mention of why. The authors appear unaware that world fertility is dropping with no end in sight as income and education increase. Future improvements in contraceptives might send it even lower (eg, a male pill).

Most real raw material prices are flat or falling over long time scales, with little obvious need for extra-terrestrial sources.

If we want to live in underground caverns or similar enclosed structures, underground mines on Earth can be expanded. Low travel times at low cost to Earth’s cities! Air and water easily available! Buy them now, before the rush begins!

griff
January 14, 2021 12:23 am

Was it Ceres on which Heinlein set his classic ‘Farmer in the Sky’?

Kpar
Reply to  griff
January 14, 2021 8:48 am

It’s been decades, but I think it was on Titan.

David Wright
Reply to  Kpar
January 17, 2021 8:33 am

It was Ganymede, circum-Jupiter

gbaikie
January 14, 2021 12:32 am

“The biggest issue I see with Ceres as the first permanent off-world habitation is getting there is not a 3 day mission.”

From Earth, Ceres takes longer to get to then getting to Mars. And from Earth Mars requires a lot less delta-v to get to it. Why not have “first permanent off-world habitation” in Mars orbit?
Say, Mars L-1.
Their idea uses some thing like space elevator. Space elevator or stuff like it work well with Ceres. And would be much harder to do with Mars {though Mars is better than Earth and Moon is better than Mars}. I think main problem is using Ceres as the “first permanent off-world habitation”.

One can barely get things into Earth orbit with a cannon, but fairly easy from Mars surface to Mars orbit [a lot easier from the Moon]:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_gun
In Project HARP, a 1960s joint United States and Canada defence project, a U.S. Navy 410 mm (16 in) 100 caliber gun was used to fire a 180 kg (400 lb) projectile at 3,600 m/s (12,960 km/h; 8,050 mph), reaching an apogee of 180 km (110 mi), hence performing a suborbital spaceflight. However, a space gun has never been successfully used to launch an object into orbit or out of Earth’s gravitational pull. …
A rocket can be used for additional boost, as planned in both Project HARP and the Quicklaunch project.”
But wouldn’t need the addition boost with Mars, Moon, or Ceres.
And could also use rail gun [using electrical power}. But acceleration is in a relatively short distance, so you have a lot gees {not good for humans- but rather for raw materials and water} though something like a longer Mag Lev track could get passengers to orbit. I like space elevators to get stuff to planet {or Moon} ie, use a space elevator to get
water to the Moon {water from Ceres or space rocks} and gain electrical power with falling mass {hydro dams in space}.
Problem with Moon surface as settlement is it doesn’t have enough water, but it might have plenty water if using water to make lunar rocket fuel. And Moon eventually could get lots of water if there is robust market for water in space {and get a lunar “space elevator”}
Not sure how long it takes to get from Earth to Ceres, but seems it would take shorter time
and less delta-v if starting from Venus orbit. And from Mars to Ceres, it seems takes longer than from Earth.
If we get to point of mining lunar water, Mars settlements will more viable.
Though if it starts with Mars settlement, one will be mining the Moon. But have Mars settlements, one going want use Venus orbit. And for Earthlings wanting to go to Mars or beyond, it better to first go to Venus.
Venus orbit is better hub, than Earth or Mars.

Gregg Eshelman
January 14, 2021 1:03 am

Nitrogen is what would be most needed to terraform Mars. There’s plenty of oxygen out there, often bound up with hydrogen as ice and possibly water. The 20% carbon dioxide for an Earth-mix atmosphere is also very plentiful, as are various other gasses we wouldn’t need much if at all. But nitrogen, as the bulk of Earth’s atmosphere, would be the big brake on making Mars’ air breathable without being a fire hazard.

Nitrogen is very important here on Earth. Not only is it a critical part of the biosphere, it’s an important component in most explosives. Internal combustion and jet engines wouldn’t work as they do without nitrogen.

Internal combustion piston and jet engines should really be called hot nitrogen engines. The fuel burning with the oxygen fraction of air heats and expands the 70% that is nitrogen. It’s the expanding nitrogen that does the majority of the piston pushing and exhaust thrusting. Without the nitrogen, those engines as they are would not work, unless the nitrogen were replaced with some other gas – but that other gas wouldn’t be useful for the plant part of the biosphere.

ResourceGuy
January 14, 2021 5:50 am

Let me know when they set up the Tesla dealership there….with more tax credits of course.

Kpar
January 14, 2021 8:49 am

I support this plan, if it helps me get out of Illinois.

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