Mega-satellite orbiting Ceres would make “a great home” for humans. Ceres is a dwarf planet located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
While Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, looks at Mars, physicist and astrobiologist Pekka Janhunen of the Meteorological Institute of Finland is eyeing the dwarf planet Ceres.
Human beings living on other planets in the Solar System are no longer a science fiction theme. The Red Planet is the strongest candidate when we think of new homes for humanity.
The scientist’s idea is to build a “mega satellite”, made up of thousands of cylindrical spacecraft 10 kilometres long and radius of one kilometre. It would all be together, through powerful magnets, in a disk-shaped structure that would orbit the dwarf planet.
Janhunen further explains that each cylinder could accommodate up to 50,000 people and have artificial gravity and atmosphere.
Ceres is the astrobiologist’s choice because it fulfils several requirements: in addition to an average distance comparable to that between Earth and Mars, which would make travelling more comfortable, it also has a strong presence of nitrogen. As it makes up about 79% of the Earth’s atmosphere, this gas would be a crucial element in constructing the artificial atmosphere.
The radius of the dwarf planet is equivalent to approximately 1/13 of that of Earth. According to the scientist, space elevators would allow space elevators to transfer materials from the Earth to habitats and vice versa.
On the other hand, Mars has a significant disadvantage: the effects of low gravity, which could impair the development of muscles and bones of children born on the Red Planet.
Each cylindrical habitat would complete a rotation every 66 seconds, generating the centrifugal force necessary to create artificial gravity. The cylinders would be attached using magnets, and these points of interconnection would allow adding more habitats and expanding the colony.
As Ceres is a long way from the sun, large mirrors would be used to direct sunlight into the habitat and allow, for example, crops’ cultivation. The author further argues that “the level of difficulty in carrying out this project is probably similar to the colonization of Mars”.