Could we live on Jupiter?

May 15, 2015 by Fraser Cain, Universe Today
A “true color” image of the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa as seen by the Galileo spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

NASA and Elon Musk have plans to get your ass to Mars.

It's not impossible to imagine humans living and working on the red planet. Maybe they'll be crusty asteroid miners making their fortune digging precious minerals out of the inexhaustible supply of space rocks. Pray they don't dig too deeply. We should go ask Kuato, that creepy little guy knows everything! Except he's always trying to get you to touch his funny little hands. Pass.

Venus looks like it's a pretty great place to live, if we stick to the clouds in floating sky cities, plying the jet streams in our steampunk dirigibles. It'll be fun, but first, does anyone know how to attach a cog to a top hat? Venus, here we come!

We should stay away from the surface, though, that place'll kill you dead. We're guessing a crispy shell holding in a gooey center, at least for the first few moments. Once we sort the living in space deal, is there anywhere we won't be able to go?

We could create underwater cities on Europa or Ganymede, in the vast oceans with the exotic hopefully unarmed, peaceful, vegetarian Jovian whales.Like Jupiter? Could we live there?

Jupiter is the most massive planet in the solar system. It has a diameter of almost 140,000 kilometers and it's made mostly of hydrogen and helium; the same materials of the sun. It has more than 317 times the mass of the Earth, providing its enormous gravity.

If you could stand on the cloud tops of Jupiter, you would experience 2.5 times the gravity that you experience on Earth. Then you'd fall to your death, because it's a gas planet, made of hydrogen, the lightest element in the universe. You can't stand on gas, rookie.

If you tried to bring your Venusian Vernian exploratorium ballooncraft for a jaunt across the skies of Jupiter, it would sink like a copper bowler with lead goggles.

The only thing that's lighter than hydrogen is hot hydrogen. Let's say you could make a balloon, and fill it with superheated and float around the of Jupiter suffering the crushing gravity. Is there anything else that might kill you?

Did you leave Earth? Then of course there is. Everything is going to kill you, always. You might want to write that on the brass plaque next to your ship's wheel with the carving of Shiva in the center there, Captain Baron Cogsworth Copperglass.

Jupiter is surrounded by an enormous magnetic field, ten times more powerful than Earth's. It traps particles and then whips them around like an accelerator. This radiation is a million times more powerful than the Earth's Van Allen belts. Our big human meat roasting concern during the Apollo days.

If you tried to get near the radiation belts without insufficient shielding. It'd be bad. Just picture jamming your copper and brass steamwork fantasy into a giant microwave.

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and Ganymede’s Shadow. Credit: NASA/ESA/A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center)

Is it possible there's a solid core, deep down within Jupiter? Somewhere we could live, and not have to worry about those pesky buoyancy problems? Probably. Astronomers think there are a few times the mass of the Earth in rocky material deep down inside.

Of course, the pressure and temperature are incomprehensible. The temperature at the core of Jupiter is thought to be 24,000 degrees Celsius. Hydrogen is crushed so tightly it becomes superheated liquid or strange new flavors of ice. It becomes a metal.

The moral, we're not equipped to go there. Let alone set up shop. So, let's just stick with fantasizing your adventures as Emperor Esquire Beardweirdy Brassnozzle Steamypantaloons.

In his classic book 2001, Arthur C. Clarke said that "all these worlds are yours except Europa, attempt no landing there". Well that's crazy.

Europa's awesome, we're totally landing there, especially if we discover alien whales. So, Europa first. Besides, it's just a book. So, Jupiter is the worst. Do not navigate your airship into that harbour.

Explore further: Image: Jupiter's cratered moon, Callisto

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standfast18
not rated yet May 15, 2015
Simple answer to the problem of finding another place close by to live. Shift Venus out of it old orbit by ramming a large chunk of water Ice into it.
point 2-- don't try to live on Jupiter. Mine it's atmosphere for the basic raw material for every thing else.
Jeffhans1
not rated yet May 15, 2015
Simple answer to the problem of finding another place close by to live. Shift Venus out of it old orbit by ramming a large chunk of water Ice into it.
point 2-- don't try to live on Jupiter. Mine it's atmosphere for the basic raw material for every thing else.


The amount of energy needed to alter the orbit enough to matter would also shatter the planet into so many pieces that the asteroid belt would look invisible in comparison.
cantdrive85
4 / 5 (4) May 15, 2015
Somebody actually pays this guy to write this shit...
Urgelt
5 / 5 (1) May 15, 2015
Might want to take a look at Dr. Robert Forward's novel 'Saturn Rukh.' Forward (died in 2002) was an astrophysicist and writer who, among other things, did some interesting calculations about Saturn - the actual planet, not its moons - as a destination for human spacefarers. At an atmospheric level where the pressure is about 15 times Earth's atmosphere and roughly at room temperature, an astronaut would experience about 1G in gravity, he wrote. In this layer, water can exist both as droplets and vapor. Assuming organic molecules are present - they likely are - life is possible (though nobody but a crank would say it's a sure bet).

So while we can rule out Jupiter as an appealing destination for humans (though its moons remain awfully interesting), a dirigible might fare rather well on Saturn, assuming a generous supply of power to get there, operate and return.

He also describes a unique and hair-raising method of descending into the atmosphere from orbit. Fun stuff.
Mimath224
5 / 5 (1) May 15, 2015
Just a simple question...if Jupiter's moon's are more attractive would we WANT to live on Jupiter?
dbsi
not rated yet May 17, 2015
In his classic book 2001, Arthur C. Clarke said that "all these worlds are yours except Europa, attempt no landing there". Well that's crazy

It was 2010. It appears the writer neither red 2001 nor 2010 (or saw and understood the movies). If he would and if he understood, then he would not call it crazy.
Are we entitled to go terraforming all around in our solar system and kill everything which might be there?

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