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Thread: Let's colonize Titan

  1. #31
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    Titan looks to have a great pile of useful chemicals on its surface. More so than Io. Out that far, medium to long chain hydrocarbons might be hard to find.
    So, if we get out there, Titan might be worth considerable effort. Starting robotic is probably the way to fly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squink View Post
    Titan looks to have a great pile of useful chemicals on its surface. More so than Io. Out that far, medium to long chain hydrocarbons might be hard to find.
    So, if we get out there, Titan might be worth considerable effort. Starting robotic is probably the way to fly.
    A great source of resources, yes. Not such a great residential neighborhood. Automated industrial bases, sure, but why colonize the surface?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    A great source of resources, yes. Not such a great residential neighborhood. Automated industrial bases, sure, but why colonize the surface?
    I listed the major reasons here.

    https://forum.cosmoquest.org/showthr...57#post2486457
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    You listed reasons for Callisto. Titan is a different and more complex beast.

    As for gravity, O'Neill also suggested rather prominently that an orbital habitat with spin can get up to full Earth gravity. With moons and planets, what you get is what you're stuck with. (Yes, surface centrifuges, but I am not convinced that could be practical for full time living conditions other than on paper.)

    Shielding can just as easily be made of water or regolith, as of gasses. Put an arbitrarily thick (non-rotating) shell around a hab. Again, O'Neill wrote more eloquently and knowledgeably about it than I ever could. Also, if we can develop working artificial magnetospheres, so much the better.

    In open space, solar collectors can be arbitrarily large. Heat rejection, while not simple, takes place under stable and predictable conditions. No weather, no quakes, no volcanic activity. Need to move? Adjust your orbit.

    Titan's a great resource. Titan orbit is a great place to live while you work there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    In open space, solar collectors can be arbitrarily large. Heat rejection, while not simple, takes place under stable and predictable conditions. No weather, no quakes, no volcanic activity. Need to move? Adjust your orbit.
    I do agree with you on this, and I'm sure many others do. I wonder if it might be a good idea to have a new topic (if there isn't one already) where we can discuss the challenges that need to be worked on for orbital habitats, since they would be applicable to a variety of places.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I do agree with you on this, and I'm sure many others do. I wonder if it might be a good idea to have a new topic (if there isn't one already) where we can discuss the challenges that need to be worked on for orbital habitats, since they would be applicable to a variety of places.
    There's a thread called Space colonization, in general. Maybe there?
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    As long as we are colonizing Titan, we can colonize Triton, too, but admittedly there's not much known about Triton. But if we're going to Saturn, then go to Neptune as well.

    https://www.wired.com/story/neptune-...lanet-lets-go/
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
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  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    As long as we are colonizing Titan, we can colonize Triton, too,
    I'll ask the same question: Why? What's the curb appeal?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I'll ask the same question: Why? What's the curb appeal?
    Because it's retro man..

    back to Titan, isn't breathable air a lifting gas at Titan conditons?

    Floating cities of Titan I hearby claim as my idea and I want any royalties on useage of the concept

    Dunno if floating habs could get high enough in the atmosphere to have a view of Saturn, my feeling is not..

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    Quote Originally Posted by ciderman View Post
    Because it's retro man..

    back to Titan, isn't breathable air a lifting gas at Titan conditons?

    Floating cities of Titan I hearby claim as my idea and I want any royalties on useage of the concept

    Dunno if floating habs could get high enough in the atmosphere to have a view of Saturn, my feeling is not..
    No, an oxynitrogen atmosphere is denser than a nitrogen one at a given temperature and pressure. And there's no reason to go to such effort to avoid the surface of Titan, which is no more hostile an environment than any part of the atmosphere and has most of the useful resources that would be a reason to settle there.

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    My (continual) point is that colonizing a world with approximate lunar gravity might be healthier in the long run than creating high-population space colonies that lack protection from radiation and meteoroids. It might be that gravity, whether for a space colony or a planet/moon, can be taken care of with short-arm centrifuges and a daily spin or two for each colonist. However, a (forgive me) "massive, passive, gassive" atmosphere of nitrogen or carbon dioxide, though not breathable, will automatically shield against many forms of radiation including galactic cosmic rays and solar flares/wind, plus smaller and medium-size meteoroids. It might be possible to make the atmosphere self-sustaining, as on Titan.

    A world is safer than a space colony in the long run. Heat is a big problem, I agree, and from Mars outward the solar mirrors get really big and subject to long-term micrometeorite damage. So, I don't have any immediate cures for the heat issue (other than nuclear power), but there might be a way.

    If the long-term survival of humanity is the issue, then safe, sustainable places are needed to base large populations (> 100,000). This is my basic thesis. Space colonies can and should exist in conjunction with world-based colonies; I would much rather have both, for the many advantages that would provide. (For space colonies I also mean asteroid- or comet-based colonies as well as things like O'Neill cylinders.)

    In the outer Solar System, Callisto, Titan, and Triton are the main possibilities for world-based colonies, with Ganymede a solid doubtful "maybe" if there was some way to deflect radiation worldwide, like boosting its magnetic field enormously.

    My two centavos.
    .
    Last edited by Roger E. Moore; 2019-Jun-18 at 01:19 PM. Reason: nuke power add
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  12. #42
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    I am not arguing against space colonies, but a straightforward view of the science shows that it might be worth making large moons habitable.
    Last edited by Roger E. Moore; 2019-Jun-18 at 01:18 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    ...and has most of the useful resources that would be a reason to settle there.
    Useful resources are a reason to mine there. Useful resources are a reason to have industries there.

    Those things will be doable without direct settlement, by the time we can plausibly establish them on Titan. So why not have an orbital hab to direct the robots on the surface?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    My (continual) point is that colonizing a world with approximate lunar gravity might be healthier in the long run than creating high-population space colonies that lack protection from radiation and meteoroids. It might be that gravity, whether for a space colony or a planet/moon, can be taken care of with short-arm centrifuges and a daily spin or two for each colonist. However, a (forgive me) "massive, passive, gassive" atmosphere of nitrogen or carbon dioxide, though not breathable, will automatically shield against many forms of radiation including galactic cosmic rays and solar flares/wind, plus smaller and medium-size meteoroids. It might be possible to make the atmosphere self-sustaining, as on Titan.

    A world is safer than a space colony in the long run. Heat is a big problem, I agree, and from Mars outward the solar mirrors get really big and subject to long-term micrometeorite damage. So, I don't have any immediate cures for the heat issue (other than nuclear power), but there might be a way.

    If the long-term survival of humanity is the issue, then safe, sustainable places are needed to base large populations (> 100,000). This is my basic thesis. Space colonies can and should exist in conjunction with world-based colonies; I would much rather have both, for the many advantages that would provide. (For space colonies I also mean asteroid- or comet-based colonies as well as things like O'Neill cylinders.)

    In the outer Solar System, Callisto, Titan, and Triton are the main possibilities for world-based colonies, with Ganymede a solid doubtful "maybe" if there was some way to deflect radiation worldwide, like boosting its magnetic field enormously.

    My two centavos.
    .
    A world* is generally safer than a space habitat. A world is less safe than many space habitats, because they can alter their orbits to avoid danger. And because their conditions are more controllable than a planet with storms and ground quakes. Also, 1G beats 1/3 G.

    * Not every world. Some worlds. Mars, Earth, a few ice moons. Not Titan, any more than Io or Mercury are good places to live.

    I am not arguing against space colonies, but a straightforward view of the science shows that it might be worth making large moons habitable.
    Please show the science, then. What statistics support your argument? Have studies been done?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Useful resources are a reason to mine there. Useful resources are a reason to have industries there.

    Those things will be doable without direct settlement, by the time we can plausibly establish them on Titan. So why not have an orbital hab to direct the robots on the surface?
    Cost? Why would you put your settlement in orbit when all the resources are on Titan?

    People don't settle in random hard-to-access locations with no local resources. They never have, and there's no reason to expect them to start when they settle the solar system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    A world* is generally safer than a space habitat. A world is less safe than many space habitats, because they can alter their orbits to avoid danger. And because their conditions are more controllable than a planet with storms and ground quakes. Also, 1G beats 1/3 G.

    * Not every world. Some worlds. Mars, Earth, a few ice moons. Not Titan, any more than Io or Mercury are good places to live.
    ???
    Titan's likely the safest of the ice moons, with a thick blanket of atmosphere protecting against radiation and impactors while providing an excellent heat sink for power generation and waste heat rejection, things that are going to be significant problems in orbit. It has weather, but there isn't the solar energy input out there for it to be particularly hazardous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    Cost? Why would you put your settlement in orbit when all the resources are on Titan?

    People don't settle in random hard-to-access locations with no local resources. They never have, and there's no reason to expect them to start when they settle the solar system.
    Wrong, neither random, nor hard to access.

    The resources on the surface can be gotten telerobotically. Operate the robots from the orbital, using satellites to link them. And the Saturn system has lots of local resources to work with.

    Orbital habs are something we can and will build all over the Solar System, so by the time we get around to permanent settlements around Saturn we'll have had plenty of experience making them right. OTOH, it'll be a potentially deadly learning curve to create human-habitable conditions on Titan. So, no good reason to colonize the surface, and good reasons not to.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    ???
    Titan's likely the safest of the ice moons, with a thick blanket of atmosphere protecting against radiation and impactors while providing an excellent heat sink for power generation and waste heat rejection, things that are going to be significant problems in orbit. It has weather, but there isn't the solar energy input out there for it to be particularly hazardous.
    By the time we get out there in large numbers, either those will be solved problems, or we won't be living in space at all.

    ADDED: I accede the point about weather. But we have barely examined the surface enough to know what hazards there will be.
    Last edited by Noclevername; 2019-Jun-19 at 02:25 AM.
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  19. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post

    Please show the science, then. What statistics support your argument? Have studies been done?
    I think he's basically brainstorming and trying to come up with ideas. Speaking for myself, I find them interesting, if very speculative, and don't want him to give up just because he can't show what scientific work has been done...
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    I am not arguing against space colonies, but a straightforward view of the science shows that it might be worth making large moons habitable.
    Yes, understood that you are not saying that space colonies are a bad idea, but are trying to come up ways to make it possible to inhabit large moons. As I wrote earlier, this discussion will probably be useful for SF writers who are looking for ideas.
    As above, so below

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    I didn't think of this earlier, but the thick atmosphere of Titan would be a steady source of wind power, assuming there is any atmospheric movement at all. The dense atmosphere would turn a turbine even at fairly low speeds.

    From here, it appears that wind speeds are low, but there may be storms at certain times of year.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_Titan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I think he's basically brainstorming and trying to come up with ideas. Speaking for myself, I find them interesting, if very speculative, and don't want him to give up just because he can't show what scientific work has been done...
    I don't want him to "give up" either, I just disagree with him on some specifics.

    Anyway, I'll let him speak for himself.
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  23. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Please show the science, then. What statistics support your argument? Have studies been done?
    A tricky question. The problem at this time is that we have no real "space colonies" against which to compare living on Earth. Earth, by its existence, proves that living on a planet or planet-like body with an atmosphere and gravity is definitely safer than being anywhere else in the cosmos that we know of, so far as humanity is concerned. Life's been here for billions of years. Safe enough.

    The closest we have ever gotten to having a real space colony would be the past examples of Mir and the ISS, which as someone else mentioned are more like research bases in Antarctica than real "colonies". (Not counting short-term space stations with crews of 3 or less, like Salyut and Skylab.) Future versions of space stations capable of supporting large populations do not yet exist; they are super expensive and unproven in engineering terms. The history of each past major space station is riddled with sudden reversals of fortune, from bad toilets to spacecraft crashes and onboard fires. (One Salyut had mold growing in it, and a cosmonaut became mentally unbalanced and had to be evacuated.) Micrometeorite and debris impacts are a constant worry for our largest space stations, as are outbursts of radiation and having to avoid the lowest parts of the Van Allen Belts. Plus they are expensive and the ISS will have tourists just to help pay its expenses.

    I would turn the question around to you, to prove that space colonies will be inherently safer than planetside colonies, but no evidence exists for that. We cannot prove that building a giant gravity wheel on a space station, as in the movie "2001", will actually work and be safe for astronauts. We have not done it yet. Engineering and medical problems remain to be conquered. We have not even tried out the little bitty short-arm centrifuges in space, but at least they work well on Earth so far. Remains to be seen if they will work in space as we hope they will.

    Neither one of our arguments is better than the other at present. I might claim an advantage because, at the moment, living in Earth is definitely safer than being in space, but that's sort of cheating.

    You and I can argue in favor of our particular pet theories, but we're in the same boat as far as the future is concerned. Not in the mood to argue which side will win, as I suspect both will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by eburacum45 View Post
    I didn't think of this earlier, but the thick atmosphere of Titan would be a steady source of wind power, assuming there is any atmospheric movement at all. The dense atmosphere would turn a turbine even at fairly low speeds.

    From here, it appears that wind speeds are low, but there may be storms at certain times of year.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_Titan
    I'm thinking that mild weather might be part of living on a small world, unless the heat suddenly goes up a lot, in which case everyone is screwed. Hope we find out more about actual weather conditions on Titan, putting a little station there or something.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Please show the science, then. What statistics support your argument? Have studies been done?
    If I were to do this, you are asking for evidence that atmospheres block radiation and meteorites, and gravity is good for humans? That's it?
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    So, no good reason to colonize the surface, and good reasons not to.
    I'm not necessarily arguing that it would be better to colonize the surface, but I don't see it quite as absolutely as you do. One reason that does give merit to being on the surface is that you have resources nearby. The ISS is really dependent on resources from the earth, and there is quite an infrastructure that is necessary to provide it. Of course, if you can have a totally recyclable environment or if you have very advanced transportation from orbit to the surface it might solve that problem, but that's based on assumptions about what we will be able to do. If we were to do it today, it might be more practicable to use the surface. And note, I am saying "may", not "would." I am not trying to argue that the surface is better, just that there is actually room for discussion, that it I am not absolutely convinced that orbit is the only way to go and that considering the surface is absolutely wrong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I am not trying to argue that the surface is better, just that there is actually room for discussion, that it I am not absolutely convinced that orbit is the only way to go and that considering the surface is absolutely wrong.
    I think there are good reasons to have space and planetary/satellite colonies, but I allow that some worlds are not going to be worth colonizing. The ones under discussion don't seem to have an automatic "no-go" for colonization, they're not covered in lava etc., so exploring that idea is a good idea.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    I think there are good reasons to have space and planetary/satellite colonies, but I allow that some worlds are not going to be worth colonizing. The ones under discussion don't seem to have an automatic "no-go" for colonization, they're not covered in lava etc., so exploring that idea is a good idea.
    If someone writes an SF story based on this, great, but I'm not coming up with a lot of original stuff here, try as I am. Just hoping something clicks. You never know.

    WHOOPS accidentally attached this to a new post, was trying to put it on the previous one. Whatever.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    If I were to do this, you are asking for evidence that atmospheres block radiation and meteorites, and gravity is good for humans? That's it?
    Well, I'm asking about Titan, specifically. This isn't a thread about living on Earth.

    ADDED: If you get into gravity, remember, it's Titanian partial gravity vs. Hab full spin.
    Last edited by Noclevername; 2019-Jun-20 at 01:52 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Well, I'm asking about Titan, specifically. This isn't a thread about living on Earth.

    ADDED: If you get into gravity, remember, it's Titanian partial gravity vs. Hab full spin.
    IF it works to build a spinning 1g space station. Not yet proven or built.

    As for the first series of articles pointing out the good features of colonizing Titan...

    ===

    https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1707/1707.00365.pdf (full paper)

    Energy Options for Future Humans on Titan
    Amanda R Hendrix and Yuk L Yung (06/2017)

    QUOTE: "We review the possibilities for in situ energy resources on Titan for use by future humans, including chemical, nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower. All of these options, with the possible exception of geothermal, represent effective sources of power. Combustion of methane (after electrolysis of the native water), in combination with another source of power such as nuclear, is a viable option; another chemical source of energy is the hydrogenation of acetylene. The large seas Kraken and Ligeia potentially represent effective sources of hydropower. Wind power, particularly at altitudes ~40 km, is expected to be productive. Despite the distance from the sun and the absorbing atmosphere, solar power is (as on Earth) an extremely efficient source of power on Titan."

    ===

    https://www.universetoday.com/128532...saturns-moons/

    Universe Today article on terraforming Saturn's moon, including Titan

    QUOTE: "...there are several reasons why Titan is a good candidate. For starters, it possess an abundance of all the elements necessary to support life (atmospheric nitrogen and methane), liquid methane, and liquid water and ammonia. Additionally, Titan has an atmospheric pressure one and a half times that of Earth, which means that the interior air pressure of landing craft and habitats could be set equal or close to the exterior pressure. This would significantly reduce the difficulty and complexity of structural engineering for landing craft and habitats compared with low or zero pressure environments such as on the Moon, Mars, or the Asteroid Belt. The thick atmosphere also makes radiation a non-issue, unlike with other planets or Jupiter’s moons."

    ===

    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com...olonize-titan/
    Scientific American

    Let's Colonize Titan: Saturn's largest moon might be the only place beyond Earth where humans could live
    By Charles Wohlforth, Amanda R. Hendrix on November 25, 2016

    QUOTES: "The idea of a human colony on Titan, a moon of Saturn, might sound crazy. Its temperature hovers at nearly 300 below zero Fahrenheit, and its skies rain methane and ethane that flow into hydrocarbon seas. Nevertheless, Titan could be the only place in the solar system where it makes sense to build a permanent, self-sufficient human settlement.
    We reached this conclusion after looking at the planets in a new way: ecologically. We considered the habitat that human beings need and searched for those conditions in our celestial neighborhood."

    "On Earth, we are shielded from GCRs by water in the atmosphere. But it takes two meters of water to block half of the GCRs present in unprotected space. Practically, a Moon or Mars settlement would have to be built underground to be safe from this radiation. Underground shelter is hard to build and not flexible or easy to expand. Settlers would need enormous excavations for room to supply all their needs for food, manufacturing and daily life. We ask why they would go to that trouble. We can live underground on Earth. What’s the advantage to doing so on Mars?"

    "For protection from radiation, Titan has a nitrogen atmosphere 50 percent thicker than Earth’s. Saturn’s magnetosphere also provides shelter. On the surface, vast quantities of hydrocarbons in solid and liquid form lie ready to be used for energy. Although the atmosphere lacks oxygen, water ice just below the surface could be used to provide oxygen for breathing and to combust hydrocarbons as fuel.
    It’s cold on Titan, at -180C (-291F), but thanks to its thick atmosphere, residents wouldn’t need pressure suits—just warm clothing and respirators. Housing could be made of plastic produced from the unlimited resources harvested on the surface, and could consist of domes inflated by warm oxygen and nitrogen. The ease of construction would allow huge indoor spaces."

    ===

    https://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/20...o-live-on-mars

    Confession Of A Planetary Scientist: 'I Do Not Want To Live On Mars'
    October 16, 2017 - 12:44 PM ET - Amanda Hendrix

    QUOTES: "I am a planetary scientist and once astronaut candidate finalist (read: space nerd). But I have something to confess: I do not want to live on Mars.

    "While certainly interesting scientifically (e.g., seasonally-varying polar caps; transient methane plumes; permafrost), Mars is not particularly compelling as a long-term human destination.

    "But there is another place in our solar system where conditions are right for a self-sustaining, long-term human settlement: Saturn's moon Titan.

    "Why Titan? To start with, let's make clear that Titan is a moon that, in many ways, acts more like a planet. It has a thick atmosphere, with about 1.5 times the surface pressure of Earth's atmosphere. None of the 177 other moons in the solar system has such an atmosphere. Plus, Titan is the only place in the solar system, other than Earth, with stable surface liquids: Titan has lakes and seas on its surface. So Titan is a remarkable, and very Earth-like, world."

    ===

    Cited earlier...

    http://www.spacetechasia.com/why-tit...eyond-earth/2/

    Why Titan is the best place for Humans in the Solar System beyond Earth
    By Thomas Jestin - August 30, 2018

    QUOTE: "The 14 reasons why Titan is the best place to colonize beyond Earth..."
    Last edited by Roger E. Moore; 2019-Jun-20 at 03:19 AM.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

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