Scientists Propose Permanent Human Habitat Built Orbiting Ceres
A group of Finnish scientists has proposed establishing a permanent human settlement in the orbit of Ceres, a huge asteroid and dwarf planet orbiting between Mars and Jupiter in the asteroid belt.
This “megasatellite settlement,” according to the scientists, could be developed by gathering materials from Ceres itself.
If that sounds familiar to fans of the popular sci-fi novel and TV series “The Expanse,” it’s because Ceres Station is one of humanity’s first human off-world settlements in that fictional universe. However, in the series, the space rock was spun up to create a crewed habitat with artificial gravity on its surface.
The team claims in a study published this week on the prewrite repository arXiv that Ceres would be ideal real estate because it has nitrogen, which might allow for the construction of an Earth-like atmosphere.
They even contend that the environment is “better than Earth” They even claim that the environment is “better than Earth” because there is no bad weather or natural disasters, and there is plenty of room to flourish.
They suggest a large disk-shaped megasatellite made up of a number of smaller rotating satellites connected by magnetic tethers. The huge tower could be spun around Ceres to create artificial gravity that is roughly equal to that of Earth.
To sustain the artificial gravity, such a colony would have to rotate around the dwarf planet in just 66 seconds.
Maglev train-like vehicles would connect each habitat, providing passengers with a weightless ride.
“When first encountered, weightlessness causes nausea and vomiting for some people,” the paper reads. “However, in a settlement where people experience occasional weightlessness from childhood, it is plausible to think that they can tolerate it well during short trips.”
The colony could also serve as a gateway to other parts of the solar system.
“The motivation is to have a settlement with artificial gravity that allows growth beyond Earth’s living area, while also providing easy intra-settlement travel for the inhabitants and reasonably low population density of 500/km2,” the abstract states. That’s about New Jersey’s population density.
The researchers claim that a “space elevator” might be built on Ceres due to its low gravity and fast rotation, making it possible to carry materials from the planet to other settlements without using much fuel.
What about the dangers of space radiation and meteorite impacts? Those dangers have also been considered by the team. They suggest a system of huge cylindrical mirrors that can capture sunlight and transmit it to the habitat while also blocking submeter-scale meteoroids.