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Colonization of Ceres

Posted by: SteveXE - Thu Nov 12, 2009 7:12 pm
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Colonization of Ceres 
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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Thu Jul 28, 2011 10:57 am
First, I will make a hard statement: 30-40 years is much too quickly to imagine human colonization of Ceres. From I stand, the timetable is closer to 200-300 years as an optimistic projection. There may be stunt visits and research outposts considerably earlier than that (sometime in the 22nd century), but it takes time before a place becomes relevant to the wider economy.

Asteroid settlements will be able to survive on solar power, but it will be a grim struggle for them - some may have to augment their power with imported fissile material for nuclear reactors. I don't think they'd thrive or grow much during this period of development, and would function largely as waystations for human exploratory missions in the Belt itself and outward toward the Jupiter system.

The development of fusion power will change all that, making travel faster and allowing for unbounded power generation. I don't see that happening in this century, but I consider it highly probably in the next. At this point, Ceres will become a burgeioning island civilization surviving on traffic between the inner and outer solar systems.

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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:23 am
The United Federation of Ceres has a ring to it. :)

I unfortunately agree with you chronology estimate. unfortunately...

Mars vs Ceres transit-

You do get to take advantage of Mars' gravity and atmosphere for lower energy captures and aerobraking. That is a plus in its favor. Likewise Demos and Phobos make for ready made "LMO" stations.

Ceres is probably the core of a proto-planet that got pulled apart by Jupiter. As such it may be mostly heavy elements and radioactives that are readily accessible and rare in the belt.

Once the propulsion puzzle gets solved and socio-political pressures build up, I think you will see an explosion of colonization and Luna, Mars, and the belt will get developed simultaneously.

The only question is when.


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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:05 pm
I disagree with the 200-300 time limit. We had established research bases 50 years after the first South Pole expedition; it doesn't seem all that unlikely that we'll have a permanent manned Lunar outpost within the next couple of decades. That will spur the development of cis-Lunar infrastructure (read: fuel depots) which will allow for manned missions further out, to Mars and Venus, and potentially the establishment of bases (which develop into colonies) there. Under a worst best-case scenario for space colonisation, we will have small bases/colonies on Mars, Venus, and Lunar within the next 50 years. Once we're a spacefaring civilisation, it becomes a lot easier to expand further. Granted, native born Martians might not want to leave, because they already have a large wilderness in which to settle, but Terran colonists are another matter...

I find Ceres interesting as a Proteroforming (providing a "dense" [as in enough to allow stable bodies of surface liquid water] non-breathable but non-toxic [as in you only need a mask, or rather, don't need a sealed suit] atmosphere) target - to produce a 50-60mb CO2 atmosphere (enough for engineered plants) we might only need a few selected cometry impacts. CO2 has strong bonds which don't break apart easily under the UV radiation, and has a cooling effect on the upper atmosphere, so I think it should be able to retain such an atmosphere. It won't be habitable (unless you're a plant), but humans can live in pressurised homes (at 150-200mb, possibly under a lot of water) and farm crops on the surface. The place has a lot of water and potentially a magnetic field; an ozone layer may form quickly. Certainly, homes can be covered in a lot of water if need be.

Also, previous impacts may have left significant deposits of metals on the surface. It probably won't be able to compete with Lunar sources, but it could potentially give the Martians a run for their money. Certainly, if it does (and Dawn should give us more information on this), it could probably out-compete asteroid mining (somewhere to easily grow food, a tether for launch, aerobraking [if proteroformed]). They would at least allow to the Cerereans to be independent of the rest for their native industry.

Now Vesta, there's an interesting case, with it's Basaltic surface which would weather to a great soil...


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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:20 pm
Sorry to be pessimistic, but it's been a hundred years since the first exploration of the pole, and there are no colonists there. And the pole is both alot easier to get to and alot easier to live on then Ceres. You can breath the air there, for G-d's sake!

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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:23 pm
I think the best step that we can do right now, in preparation for colonization, is to send extremophiles to these potentially habitable planets and moons and let them start mutating and multiplying. Then we keep on going higher in the food chain until we get to us.

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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:19 pm
Well, there's an annoying little document called the Antarctic Treaty which affects colonising the place... the bases haven't been able to grow into proper colonies. That's not to say, if a suitable interior location with geothermal power was found, a self-sufficient base wouldn't be created, and the difference between a self-sufficient base and a colony is whether or not children are being raised there. We might end up in the odd position of almost having colonies out to Ceres and in to Mercury, with the only difference being that the crews rotate every 5-10 years rather than staying and raising families. That would be an unstable position, though, liable to tip over into colonisation if the supporting companies found it easier.


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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:49 pm
Lourens wrote:
Better skip Vesta though, so as to avoid the interstellar war :-).



Sorry, I'm missing the reference here! lol Can you explain? :)

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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:26 am
I dont understand how a planet cannot have a magnetic field?

And how this affects travels there?

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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Sun Oct 16, 2011 3:03 pm
The lack of a magnetic field increases the radiation dose on the surface, meaning more shielding is required. Ceres may or may not have a magnetic field, which would arise from the presence of a salty interior ocean (a moving conductor in an electromagnetic field induces an electromagnetic field). If it does, colonisation will be easier for that fact, as well as Proteroforming.

Re. the colonisation of Antarctica, the relevant treaty is here:
Article 7 wrote:
Prohibition of Mineral Resource Activities

Any activity relating to mineral resources, other than scientific research, shall be prohibited.

If it wasn't for this part, there would at least be the equivilent of oil rigs there, and only that limited because we no longer need towns to house the workers. I do note, however, that it doesn't prohibit a self-sufficient "Research Base" with room for families...


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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:25 pm
Terraformer wrote:
I find Ceres interesting as a Proteroforming (providing a "dense" [as in enough to allow stable bodies of surface liquid water] non-breathable but non-toxic [as in you only need a mask, or rather, don't need a sealed suit] atmosphere) target - to produce a 50-60mb CO2 atmosphere (enough for engineered plants) we might only need a few selected cometry impacts...



Umm. No. Ceres is tiny with only .028 G. It doesn't and can't retain any atmosphere, not to mention liquid water. Its mean surface temp is -150 F.
Its most likely a "cryoplanet" where water ice and other volitiles replace molten rock as tectoinic drivers.

Being in the belt, it probably gets regularly clobbered by meteors and is constantly peppered by micrometeors.

On the other hand, it has just enough gravity to be keep coffee in a cup, but still makes maneuvering to/from it cheap. It is made up of lots of useful materials, metals, ices, carbon compounds, etc.
But its no more hospitable than any other belt object, perhaps even worse if its cryo-volcanically active which will complicate sub-surface facilities.


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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:35 pm
Gygantar wrote:
Lourens wrote:
Better skip Vesta though, so as to avoid the interstellar war :-).

Sorry, I'm missing the reference here! lol Can you explain? :)

I was referring to a sci-fi TV series from the 1990's called Space: Above and Beyond. It followed a group of space marines fighting a rather desperate war against an alien race called the Chigs, that suddenly appeared and attacked our first off-world colonies. If I remember the pilot correctly these colonies were on places called Vesta and Tellus. They weren't asteroids though, but Earth-like planets. Regardless, better safe than sorry ;-).

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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:27 pm
Quote:
Umm. No. Ceres is tiny with only .028 G. It doesn't and can't retain any atmosphere, not to mention liquid water. Its mean surface temp is -150 F.
Its most likely a "cryoplanet" where water ice and other volitiles replace molten rock as tectoinic drivers.

What's it's temperature on a proper scale?

The fact that it's surface acceleration is only ~0.24ms^-2 wouldn't prevent it from possessing an atmosphere - note I said 50-60mb of CO2, which is significantly less than the 1000mb atmosphere we have on Terra. Even under the lower gravity, the atmospheric height is not going to be all that greater than that of Terra's. As for whether Ceres can retain an atmosphere, that's influenced by many factors, especially the escape velocity of 500m/s :) . Depending on the temperature of the upper atmosphere and the influence of a magnetic field, it may or may not be viable. But it can't be ruled straight out. I'll have to check what the average velocity of a CO2 molecule would be...

I eagerly await some decent information about it come 2015.


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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:49 pm
Expect it to be very similar to Jovian moons.

Quote:
What's it's temperature on a proper scale?


Really damned cold. :lol:


I think you are being excessively optimistic and not really appreciating just how incredibly inhospitable these places are.


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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:47 pm
Okay, so maybe terraforming Ceres is going to be harder than I thought at first - with an exobase temperature of 200K (which is realistic; Mars has one of 220K), a CO2 atmosphere is going to have a mean particle velocity of about half the escape velocity, so the upper atmosphere is going to escape quite rapidly. That either means atmospheric top up (though how long the atmosphere would last without it I do not know), or some additional way to hold the atmosphere. Bear in mind though that that's only upper atmosphere survival rates. Water, oddly, may have a higher survival rate, depending on the presence of a magnetic field.

If there's a magnetic field, then there's almost certainly a subsurface, salty ocean. The question then is, does it have enough energy to drive cryovolcanism? My guess is that Ceres will turn out to be quite an inactive world - it's hard to see what source could drive any activity. Now, capturing a moon into orbit for it to drive cryovolcanism...


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Post Re: Colonization of Ceres   Posted on: Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:38 pm
Ceres lives in a rough neighborhood. Anything as small as it is that can retain a spherical shape means it is pretty dynamic geologically. A cryogenic composition doesn't require all that much energy to push it around. A core of radioactives would be enough.

Or, its the biggest "rubble pile" (slush ball?) asteroid in the solar system.

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