Colonization of Jupiter

Colonization of Jupiter

The colonization of Jupiter refers to having a permanent human presence on Jupiter. Jupiter could be the site of airborne colonies such as floating cities, assuming the radiation and gravity issues in traveling to and from the atmosphere are properly addressed. Jupiter has an atmospheric depth with the same pressure as Earth sea level, where there is also a blue sky, though it is colder than on Earth; further down, Jupiter has an atmospheric depth that is the same average temperature as the surface of the Earth, where the pressure is about eighty bars. However, even here, airborne colonies such as floating cities would be unlikely, because Jupiter has a surface gravity of around 2.4 "g" near the surface of its atmosphere, as well as massive wind currents that may prove hazardous to a floating colony.

Hydrogen and helium isotopes are relatively plentiful in Jupiter's atmosphere. Because the atmosphere is dominated by hydrogen, however, any leak of an oxygen atmosphere or a liquid oxygen bipropellant would present a significant risk of catastrophic explosion.

The radiation and gravity well issues are likely to make Jupiter persistently infeasible relative to the more distant gas giants as a source for mining helium-3. However, its gravity is a considerable advantage in providing a spacecraft with a gravitational boost to shorten its trip time to those outer gas giants. The advantage of its gravitational boost could make it economical to operate a way station, with Callisto the likeliest spot, and allow spacecraft that have had maintenance or re-supply on a Callisto station to take off for one of the outer gas giants, with the gravity boost more than making up for the delta-V lost in stopping in the Jovian system. Provided that short-term radiation shielding is provided for electronics and any crew on board a spacecraft, expending six km/s of delta-V - feasible with today's chemical rockets - while skimming 7,150 km above the cloud surface, can be leveraged into a departure speed of 24 km/s, i.e. 5 AU/year.

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