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Thread: Could you 'terraform' Jupiter?

  1. #1
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    Could you 'terraform' Jupiter?

    Not the actual surface, but if you could build a shell around it?
    Formerly Frog march..............

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    A shell? You mean outside the atmo?

    That wouldn't exactly be terraforming Jupiter.

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    I mean a shell outside the planet, which could be built on, just using the shell for support, and Jupiter for gravity.
    Formerly Frog march..............

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    I suppose it could be a ring world.
    Formerly Frog march..............

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    There is a problem with all such structures. (Nevermind that they have to be made of magically-strong materials.)

    They are not stable. The shell - or ring - will not stay in position and will eventually brush the atmo and disintegrate.
    Last edited by DaveC426913; 2017-May-20 at 01:37 AM.

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    It would be relatively easier (though very beyond our current dreams of technology) to terraform any of the large Jovian moons.
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    Paul Birch discussed this (the OP idea) in 1991 - Supramundane Planets (2.7MB pdf). Birch supported them using orbital rings or dynamic compression members, rather than strong materials.

    Grant Hutchison

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    It's terraform, by the way. To teraform a planet would be to make it into a monster.

    Grant Hutchison

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    One real obstacle is that the gravity at the cloud tops would make you weigh more than twice what you weigh on Earth. This weight issue removes the idea of having a Zeppelin world at the altitude where temps and pressures are close to Earth-like. Maybe you could do it by having everyone spend their lives in swimming pools in the gondolas so the weight issue isn't so big a problem, but now we're talking about a huge amount of specific protective infrastructure, which is the opposite of terraforming (as noted above).
    Forming opinions as we speak

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    Quote Originally Posted by antoniseb View Post
    One real obstacle is that the gravity at the cloud tops would make you weigh more than twice what you weigh on Earth. This weight issue removes the idea of having a Zeppelin world at the altitude where temps and pressures are close to Earth-like. Maybe you could do it by having everyone spend their lives in swimming pools in the gondolas so the weight issue isn't so big a problem, but now we're talking about a huge amount of specific protective infrastructure, which is the opposite of terraforming (as noted above).
    But some people weigh twice as much as their healthy weight, and their muscles get stronger to compensate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frog march View Post
    But some people weigh twice as much as their healthy weight, and their muscles get stronger to compensate.
    Would you choose to spend your life in that condition?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    Would you choose to spend your life in that condition?
    I amquite heavy myself. You soon get used to it, and without the fat, it would be a doddle. If there was a reason for actually being there, yes otherwise there wouldn't be much point.
    Formerly Frog march..............

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    I don't see the point, I would think it would be easier to take advantage of Jupiter's large gravity well, magnetic field, and supply of hydrogen using a cloud of habitats instead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCoyote View Post
    I don't see the point, I would think it would be easier to take advantage of Jupiter's large gravity well, magnetic field, and supply of hydrogen using a cloud of habitats instead.
    +1

    Or, to do it the really slow and hard way, strip off Jupiter's atmosphere, let all the metallic hydrogen boil away, and terraform the resulting core.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    There is a problem with all such structures. (Nevermind that they have to be made of magically-strong materials.)

    They are not stable. The shell - or ring - will not stay in position and will eventually brush the atmo and disintegrate.
    As Grant points out, a shell world can consist of a web of dynamically supported https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_rings, basically a Lofstrom Loop bigger than Earth diameter. It would be built of conventional materials and pushed outward by a stream of superconducting magnets, like riding a beam of bullets.
    "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
    As Grant points out, a shell world can consist of a web of dynamically supported https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_rings, basically a Lofstrom Loop bigger than Earth diameter. It would be built of conventional materials and pushed outward by a stream of superconducting magnets, like riding a beam of bullets.
    You'd still need to secure it to Jupiter at two points (not sure how you secure to a gaseous body). Which would mean you couldn't build a shell. It would have to be a ring only.

    Well, I guess you could have multiple rings all secured at the same two points...

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    Isn't this a rather stupid question?

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    Quote Originally Posted by speach View Post
    Isn't this a rather stupid question?

    There are no stupid questions, but there IS decorum to uphold!
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    Ok when will rabbits have the technology to get them selves to the moon? Can you tell me why that isn't a stupid question if there are 'no stupid questions'?
    You don't like the word stupid then I'll change it to puerile.
    Last edited by speach; 2017-May-31 at 03:42 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frog march View Post
    I amquite heavy myself. You soon get used to it, and without the fat, it would be a doddle.
    No, it will not. High gravity is not the same thing as "overweight", everything in your body (the blood in your veins, the air in your lungs, the bones... everything) will be heavier.
    Just constantly pumping around heavier blood will put a non indifferent strain on the heart and circulatory system....
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  22. #22
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    Yeah, the pressure gradient between head and feet will increase in proportion to the gravity. Expect hypertension, frequent fainting and swollen ankles.
    Also more problems with all those things that gravity does to punish humans for standing upright - haemorrhoids, hernias, prolapses, varicose veins, sinusitis, disc protrusions ...
    And if you fall over, the acceleration due to gravity will get you to the ground faster and sooner - fall-related injuries will be much more common and severe than they are in the merely obese on Earth.

    ETA: And thanks to whichever mod fixed the spelling in the thread title!

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2017-May-31 at 09:41 PM.

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    Here's a partial shell world around a Jupiter-type planet in Orion's Arm; I made the image for this one based roughly on Paul Birch's ideas.
    http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-article/564de72a02e9a
    If you place the shell or ring far enough away from the planet, you can reduce the surface gravity to taste. Mind you, many gas giants have lower 'surface' gravity than Jupiter.
    You can compare my image with the one in Birch's original paper, here
    http://www.orionsarm.com/fm_store/Su...anePlanets.pdf
    The image in Birch's paper was by Ron Brocklehurst.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    You'd still need to secure it to Jupiter at two points (not sure how you secure to a gaseous body). Which would mean you couldn't build a shell. It would have to be a ring only.

    Well, I guess you could have multiple rings all secured at the same two points...
    No, the rings don't touch the planet at any point. They are basically maglev trains running at a little faster than orbital speed, and this process causes a constant outward pressure throughout the ring. Birch described it as a 'magnetically inflated balloon'.

    However, after thinking about this concept for a few years, I can see that there are numerous problems; firstly the 'inflation' of such a structure requires a constant input of energy. A supramundane shell around a gas giant would be a fantastically heavy structure, and require lots of energy to support; this would also mean lots of waste heat, making it difficult to cool the superconducting maglev rings.

    Another problem would be the magnetic field of the gas giant itself. These rings are supported by momentum acting against carefully controlled magnetic fields - but the rings are also embedded in a strong, naturally variable planetary field. I imagine them bucking up and down in the magnetic fluctuations, making seas slosh about and rivers to run backwards. Supermundane shells might be entertainingly dangerous places to inhabit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eburacum45 View Post
    No, the rings don't touch the planet at any point. They are basically maglev trains running at a little faster than orbital speed, and this process causes a constant outward pressure throughout the ring. Birch described it as a 'magnetically inflated balloon'.
    Unfortunately that will not make its position stable. The ring is free to drift around as it sees fit. The outward pressure will stabilize the shape of the ring, yes, but it will not keep it in position around Jupiter. The net gravitational force on such an object is zero.

    As a matter of fact, it is doomed to drift into the planet. Any imperfection in its position - such as one side dipping a mile below optimal, while the other side rises a mile up - will be magnified by tidal forces (the more the lower side drops, the more gravity will pull on it). It is a positive feedback loop, ultimately leading to its grazing the planet and disintegrating.

    By the way, there is no such thing as balancing it perfectly either. Dense storms, insolation by sunlight, etc. will cause local gravity to shift all over the place. Attempting to place it in any "perfect" position will only last as long as it takes for Jupiter to turn on its axis and heat a different sided, causing the atmo to swell. (Earth's atmo swells quite substantially the sun heats it. Also gravity is not consistent cross its face, as satellite gravity measurements will attest.)


    In case there was any doubt, Larry Niven - King of Ringworld - missed this in his first book. Fans flocked to point this out, and he realized his error. He wrote n entire sequel to correct (retcon) the problem, by adding attitude jets all around the ring to keep it artificially centred on its sun.

    Niven says that he never planned to write more than one Ringworld novel, but that he did so, in a large part, due to fan support...

    The first major problem was that the Ringworld, being a rigid structure, was not actually in orbit around the star it encircled and would eventually drift, resulting in the entire structure colliding with its sun and disintegrating. In the novel's introduction, Niven says that MIT students attending the 1971 World Science Fiction Convention chanted, "The Ringworld is unstable! The Ringworld is unstable!" Niven says that one reason he wrote The Ringworld Engineers was to address these engineering problems.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ringworld_Engineers
    Last edited by DaveC426913; 2017-Jun-01 at 01:08 AM.

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    BTW, this also affects rigid Dyson Spheres. They too are unstable.

    Dyson's original concept of a Dyson sphere was not a rigid object; it was myriad, unbound objects, all in independent orbits - enough to block out the sun. He did not have to deal with the positional instability of a rigid structure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    BTW, this also affects rigid Dyson Spheres. They too are unstable. ....
    Maybe. I think that the stellar wind might be stabilizing enough to keep the gravitational instability from being a problem, and also strong enough to keep the sphere inflated at the poles.
    Forming opinions as we speak

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    Unfortunately that will not make its position stable. The ring is free to drift around as it sees fit. The outward pressure will stabilize the shape of the ring, yes, but it will not keep it in position around Jupiter. The net gravitational force on such an object is zero.
    This is incorrect. You are confusing a dynamically supported orbital ring with a ringworld, which is a completely different concept. I'm quite aware of the instability problems with a ringworld, but they do not apply to a dynamically supported orbital ring.

    An orbital ring is supported by a stream of massive ferromagnetic pellets that are travelling faster than orbital speed. These pellets would normally tend to expand outwards until they reach the correct orbit for their velocity, but they are deflected inwards by magnetic loops. This inward deflection causes an equal and opposite force outwards on the ring - and this force is the active principle that supports the weight (and landscape, if any) of the ring. Since the mass stream is in orbit there is no tendency for the ring to drift, any more than there is a tendency for the ISS to drift into the Earth.

    Read Birch's original papers on dynamic rings here
    http://www.orionsarm.com/fm_store/OrbitalRings-I.pdf
    http://www.orionsarm.com/fm_store/OrbitalRings-II.pdf
    http://www.orionsarm.com/fm_store/OrbitalRings-III.pdf

    or for a quicker read see the wikipedia page.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_ring
    Last edited by eburacum45; 2017-Jun-01 at 07:33 AM.

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    I wonder what that might do with the global electrical circuit.

    Could you couple that with this?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superc...energy_storage

    A different way to have space solar power--direct fields--less surface area.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eburacum45 View Post
    This is incorrect. You are confusing a dynamically supported orbital ring with a ringworld, which is a completely different concept. I'm quite aware of the instability problems with a ringworld, but they do not apply to a dynamically supported orbital ring.

    An orbital ring is supported by a stream of massive ferromagnetic pellets that are travelling faster than orbital speed. These pellets would normally tend to expand outwards until they reach the correct orbit for their velocity, but they are deflected inwards by magnetic loops. This inward deflection causes an equal and opposite force outwards on the ring - and this force is the active principle that supports the weight (and landscape, if any) of the ring. Since the mass stream is in orbit there is no tendency for the ring to drift, any more than there is a tendency for the ISS to drift into the Earth.
    Unless the pellets are being shot from the planet (i.e. a connection between planet and ring), it makes no difference.

    A dynamically-supported ring structure is certainly being held rigid by the particles, but it is not being held stable to the planet.

    The pellets are not in orbit. They are restricted by the ring, so that they cannot be in orbit. And this is why they are not free to follow a stable, elliptical path, trading altitude for velocity and back again. Every push by a pellet on one side of the ring is canceled by the push of another pellet on the opposite side. That's what makes it a rigid structure. But it does not contribute to any orbital stability.

    It may seem like it should work at first blush, but the devil is in the details.

    Now, you have introduced something I alluded to - and perhaps that's what you mean when you say "dynamic".

    The ring could be kept artificially balanced over the planet by dynamically controlling the flow of the pellets. However, that's functionally identical to attitude jets (though far less efficient). It's still not stable, but can be kept in position through periodic tweaking.
    Last edited by DaveC426913; 2017-Jun-03 at 04:47 AM.

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