Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

January 2, Salon, Terraforming

Sue Blom's Salon met as usual on the 2nd, the topic being "Terraforming," or how we might transform the other planets in our solar system to be homes for humans. We started of course by considering Mars, taking into account especially the books by Kim Stanley Robinson as discussing most of the likely means, but assuming that the novels were overoptimistic on the amount of available water present without doing things like bombarding the planet with ice from Saturn's rings, as other writers have proposed.

Considering Venus, we felt that science had probably overtaken the old SF writer's plan to seed the clouds with blue-green algae, but wondered if certain other organisms such as those found in the deep-sea volcanic vents might serve a similar purpose to clarify the atmosphere. We also proposed an orbiting belt of sunshades to reduce insolation and put the planetary temperature down to habitable levels—the reverse of the "solletta" proposed by Robinson to concentrate sunlight and warm up Mars.

Moving out to Jupiter, I rose to the challenge by proposing suborbital habitats that actually flew in the atmosphere scooping gases for fuel, which met with amusement, but not derision. Acknowledging that we lacked the technology to compress and ignite Jupiter ala Arthur C. Clarke, we considered the possibilities of the Jovian moons and Titan, which lead us to the concept of "habit-forming," (habitat+forming) which, rather than making the worlds earthlike, concentrated on how humans might live there. In the
case of Io, we considered how its water and ice resources might be exploited to provide energy and organics, and on Titan, the methane atmosphere.

This was a fun session, Next time we will be discussing the "top 100" science stories of 2003.
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