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Planets for Humanity






Home Sweet Home:

The Solar System Planets

Terraforming other worlds in our own star system may seem a daunting challenge, but without faster-than-light (FTL) transport, modifying planets in our own home system may be our only chance to see other habitable worlds. Making other worlds more like our own may ultimately be feasible, but may remain prohibitively expensive for decades, if not centuries, to come.

Taming the "Red Planet"

What would it take to make Mars into a habitable world? Mars is outside of the colder limit to Sol's eco-zone. This limit is, however, a conservative estimate. With the right technology, conditions may be enhanced sufficiently to reach the proper warmth. The red planet is relatively light-weight compared to Earth. Surface gravity is only 38% that of our home planet — someone weighing 150 pounds here would weigh 57 pounds on Mars. This poses a problem in atmosphere retention. In its favor, Mars is farther from the sun, and the decreased insolation (Solar radiation received) makes it easier for the red planet to hold onto a highly energized upper atmosphere.

The planet Mars needs a great deal more atmosphere. Some have proposed increasing atmospheric density by releasing oxygen from oxidized minerals, and from melting carbon dioxide and water ice. This could prove woefully insufficient on a planetary scale. Others have suggested nudging comets into collisions with Mars. Gasses and water ice found in comets could do the trick, but future terraformers need to use caution. Some comets contain poisonous compounds.

Arguably, Mars seems the best candidate for terraforming in the Solar system, excluding perhaps our own world. "Terraforming" Earth may one day be necessary, if pollution and other ecological factors get out of hand.

Too Hot to Handle?

Venus may be a goddess, but the planet of the same name is a pretty scary place to visit. With crushing atmospheric pressure, and seering 900° Farenheit temperatures, terraforming this would be twin of Earth could prove a much harder task than that of taming Mars. Also working against Venus as a candidate, the planet has a very slow, and backwards rotation. Something would have to be done about reversing this tidal braking effect.

Inhospitable Rock

Terraforming our own moon is a veritable oxymoron. Luna is far too lightweight to hold an atmosphere of any but the heaviest gasses. Perhaps if one could find enough xenon, harvest it, and transport it to our moon, we might have an effective meteor barrier. However, any oxygen in such a mix would quickly be lost to the Solar system at-large, while xenon could prove to be narcotic to breathe even when mixed with oxygen. The moon's long "day" is another monumental barrier to effective terraforming. Because our moon is tidally locked, with one side always facing Earth, our satellite's day is roughly equal to one of our months. And, naturally, that's where our word, "month," comes from (the Moon-th).