Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Colonizing Mercury

(Note: this is a continuation of the The Space Colonization Series)
I'll be honest; a colony on Mercury is out there--waaay out there. Many would naturally assume that Mercury could never be colonized or that even if we could it would be highly impractical. Right now I would most definitely agree with that statement but, in the future, as we expand our horizons and colonize our solar system that first rock from the sun may prove to be one of the key locations for supporting a space-fairing civilization.


What Does Mercury Have to Offer?
Image of Mercury orbiting around the Sun. Source: NASA.gov
Quite a few benefits actually. One of the biggest is solar energy. The close proximity to the sun could allow for Mercury to be a potential location for harvesting solar energy. The solar constant near Mercury is 9.13 kW/m² or 6.5 times that of the Earth or Moon. Now, with this extra energy it would be possible to power mass drivers (similar to a maglev launch system) and launch folded up solar sails carrying any sort of cargo or mined resources from the planet. Once deployed into space and unfolded, the solar sail would receive an added boost from the stronger solar constant--6.5 times the thrust to be specific. Mercury could also be used as the starting point for either interstellar travel or simply travel into the outer solar system using the added solar boost to speed the process along.

Launching mined materials from the planet could prove to be lucratively advantageous considering the composition of it. Mercury is the second most dense planet (behind Earth). As a result it indicates that anywhere from 60-70% (by weight) of the planet is composed of metals with the rest primarily being silicate. In addition, it is theorized that Mercury may have some of the highest concentrations of several valuable minerals and metals of any surface in our solar system and in extremely concentrated ores on top of that. Other predictions include the possibility of the soil containing a large quantity of helium-3--an essential ingredient in a future fusion power plant.

Lastly, due to Mercury's prime location near the Sun, it could provide an excellent site for monitoring solar activity. A base could warn any traveling ships, other various colonies, or even Earth that a solar flare is approaching or a burst of solar radiation could make a certain area dangerous for the time being. A constant close-up watch of the Sun would definitely help us learn more about it and perhaps allow us to forecast any solar activity. Learning more about the Sun is definitely important and Mercury is the closest place to it.

How Could it be Done?

Colonizing and creating the necessary infrastructure would likely be both very difficult and very dangerous. This is not to say that it can't be done though. Long days (176 Earth days), no real atmosphere, and a lack of organic materials/elements requiring importation make it difficult but not impossible. This is because of the relatively static climate of the polar regions. It would avoid the extreme variations of temperature that are hot enough to melt lead during the daytime and the nighttime bone-chilling lows of -180 degrees Celsius. In fact, the polar regions may also harbor the ever essential water-ice in permanently shaded regions inside craters.
Magnetic field of Mercury. Source: NASA.gov
Mercury even limits a couple of other major, ubiquitous problems involved in space exploration and colonization. Perhaps its most important advantage towards allowing for a habitat is its magnetic field. Though only about 1% of the strength of Earth's own magnetic field, Mercury's field deflects solar wind about 1000 km from the surface and this may be more than enough protection for colonists. The strength of Mercury's gravity is also another asset that places like the Moon or asteroids can't provide. At about .377 g's, Mercury has twice the gravity of the Moon and approximately equal to that of Mars. This is especially important because some scientists believe that .33 g's is all that is necessary to be acceptable to the human body over an extended period.

As a colony establishes itself the non-polar regions of the planet may end up providing more room for habitats and mining operations. Underground bases could potentially insulate itself from the extreme temperatures on the surface above. Traveling outside of the underground base could easily be accomplished during times of twilight. Due to the planet's very slow rotational period the window of time for exiting or exploring the surface would also likely be significant.

In the end I do believe that the colonization of Mercury is inevitable. Whether it is used to support some lucrative mining operation, outsource power, be the starting point of journeys to the outer solar system and beyond, manufacture anti-matter with fusion reactors, as a futuristic Alcatraz/Australia, or some combination of all them, it definitely holds a future and purpose for mankind. How long that is before it is I can't answer you but, regardless, it's still fun to imagine it. Personally, I think it would just be fun to watch a giant sun rise above the horizon during the Mercurian morning. What do you guys think?


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13 comments:

Simmons said...

"A base could warn any traveling ships, other various colonies, or even Earth that a solar flare is approaching or a burst of solar radiation could make a certain area dangerous for the time being."

Would colonists be able to get the message out? Wouldn't a solar flare be even more powerful on Mercury?

Pat said...

During the time of a solar flare there is not much warning (about 15 minutes) but if they are able to closely monitor the sun they could perhaps better forecast the activity and provide warnings akin to tornado warnings of today.

As for flares hitting Mercury, the magnetic field should provide ample protection for those on the surface but orbiting craft would likely need to get out of the way. Magnetic fields on planets aren't very common and that gives Mercury a big advantage over many other places. (Only Earth, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, Saturn, and Ganymede have magnetospheres)

Unknown said...

I really like this idea, and would think it is perfect for a mining colony. But couldn't we just send robots at that time to do that, some that don't need to worry so much about extreme temperatures?

I too have pondered seeing the big sunrise. Truly a sight to behold, I'd imagine.

Pat said...

Sending robots will likely be important and necessary first steps in establishing an infrastructure on Mercury but inevitably humans will be required to maintain this system. I personally believe that humans will always be needed to at least oversee such complex operations as mining Mercury. There are too many variables to account for for a simple program to react to. Of course this is all speculation but I'm sure you could see the possible shortcomings of AI.

Also, with the need for a human presence and Mercury's relative distance from the rest of civilization, operators will be required to stay for long periods of time. There is no doubt that operators would work for timed shifts but, with the time being so long it will essentially serve as a colony. Workers could bring family along and this would set up the need for schools, hospitals, and a local market. I'd imagine that the colony would be similar to living in a company community (i.e. Hershey, Pennsylvania).

Unknown said...

What about tidally locking Mercury to the Sun? Theoretically, if you had an object with enough mass pass close enough to Mercury in a counter-rotational vector enough times the net gravitational effect would be enough to slow down and eventually stop Mercury's rotation. I seem to recall that the Magellan probe did just that when it passed by the Earth on it's way to the outer solar system. It's mass was just enough to slow the Earth's rotation by a second or so.

Once Mercury's rotation is stopped a mirror or series of mirrors could be set up in orbit to raise the temperature of the dark side to habitable levels. Even without a mirror network, tidally locking Mercury to the Sun would likely create a ring of habitable temperature around the planet.

Of course any civilization on Mercury would have to be subsurface or structure-bound in nature because a sustainable atmosphere would still be impossible to maintain. In addition, a Mercury colony would likely still lack many of the basic compounds necessary to support life. But once a habitable temperature is achieved Mercurian colonization may one day be commercially viable.

Thoughts?

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Anonymous said...

Sorry, but that sunrise might not be so impressive. The sun as veiwed from the earth is the same size as a ping pong ball 13 feet away, whereas from Mercury it would be about 5 feet away. Try it! . Another way if you live in the Midwest is tovisit the Michigan Space Center in Jackson,MI. They have an outdoor display of the innermost 4 planets as seen if the Sun was near the size of a Basketball. Either way, you quickly realize the sun doesn't appear much larger from Mercury than it does from Earth.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye. Thank you very much.

梁爵 said...

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梁爵 said...

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梁爵 said...

2020.05.04酒店工作因為一名酒店S女公關的確診,造成全台酒店、舞廳無限期停業,收入靠酒客的酒店上班坐檯小姐頓失每月數十萬元的收入,紛紛開始找副業度過難關。據八大行業透露,不少酒店小姐轉行當foodpanda(空腹熊貓)、Uber Eats的外送員,因收入不夠支出,還會再兼職當傳播妹,上月底有酒客到台中市KTV時,找熟識、現在酒店PT失業的酒店小姐外送到包廂坐檯,該酒店打工小姐進包廂時,還穿著熊貓制服,也讓酒客莞爾,小姐致歉兼撒嬌「工作難找啊!」知名八大行業酒店經記梁曉尊說,他旗下有130多個坐檯小姐,這次「被停業」後,小姐急著找副業拚經濟,有人當起超商店員,有人花了兩千多元跟熊貓買了相關的制服、設備,兼差當起美食外送員,還有人變成網拍業者,忙著拿貨,上網拍賣,擔心一個不小心就喝西北風,但也有人乾脆當放長假休息,不過每天都會有小姐打電話詢問「老闆,什麼時候要開工?」。梁小尊說,這次停業對酒店業造成的影響真的很大,他有個小姐是高雄人,年紀才20多歲,2年前才到台中工作,當酒店小姐的收入不錯,每個月都有10幾、20幾萬,今年初才剛買千萬的房產,準備在台中定居當台中人,每月要繳的房貸要5萬多元,現在突然沒工作,只能趕快找兼差,期待政府趕快想開,宣布讓酒店等特種行業復業。酒店經紀梁小尊/梁曉尊說,現在不少酒店的坐檯小姐都轉行當傳播妹,外送到各個知名KTV,因為此次政府宣布停業的是酒店、舞廳跟有男女陪伺的視聽業,一般的KTV不受到影響,不過酒客沒了酒店,還是要喝酒,有包廂的KTV就變成最好的去處。梁曉尊/梁小尊說:上月底才跟朋友去台中市一家KTV唱歌,因為知道認識的酒店小姐沒工作,打電話聯絡小姐到包廂坐檯,小姐出現在包廂時,他跟朋友看到都笑出來,因為小姐已經兼差當起熊貓外送,沒空換上漂亮的禮服就衝到KTV,擔心客人找別的小姐,所以連衣服都不換,趕緊衝到包廂內上工。

梁爵 said...

2020.05.16酒店小姐的基本介紹跟工作內容如果妳沒有接觸過酒店這八大行業,【酒店經紀梁曉尊】我在酒店上班的日子相信包括妳在內,很多人對這行業的第一個想法一定是:「酒店裡面酒店小姐一定有S?一定是龍蛇混雜,裡面 八大行業是哪八種行業呢?的人都是黑社會吸毒!打架、暴力脅迫女生陪睡…」等等電視上看來的畫面。
其實這跟【酒店經紀梁曉尊】所接觸的職場須知 【酒店PT 】酒店的實際情況有很大的出入。梁曉尊在酒店這行業已經有多年的經驗,到是從來沒有在如此黑暗的酒店工作過,或許妳聽人說到「酒店打工的小姐,如果客人看上了酒店小姐想帶小姐出去,公司就一定會強迫小姐出場!」而事實上就算是十幾年前的老酒店業也很少有這個情況更不用說當今Google資訊如此發達的年代,而且酒店小姐的來源幾乎掌控在酒店經紀人的情況下,如果有酒店以如此方法對小姐施以逼嚇之手段,一定會讓酒店經紀人對這家店嗤之以鼻,為了保護旗下小姐,沒有人會帶經紀小姐去那種店上班,酒店當然不會笨到為了一個小姐出場強迫小姐做她不想做的事而導致店方得罪酒店經紀人,沒有經紀人要帶小姐來這家酒店,導致這家酒店沒小姐來吸引客人,沒客人的結果就是關門大吉!
所以酒店小姐出場的方式皆是小姐的個人意願,客人想要帶小姐出場時,訪檯幹部都會問清楚客人要帶小姐去哪裡並告知小姐,只要小姐不想跟客人出去,酒店沒人能逼妳!有些酒店規定小姐出場只需陪客人到客人想去的地方,也不可能要求小姐跟客人出去就一定要S。
當然也會有小姐因為想賺取更多的收入,而跟客人私下交易自已接S,這就屬於小姐個人行為了。所以酒店小姐到酒店上班出場接S完全屬於小姐個人之行為,不必擔心說到酒店上班就一定要出場或接S的。
畢竟酒店是酒店,客人來酒店消費是要談生意、應酬、好友聚會高興一下!要的是喝酒微醺後忘記煩惱的感覺,如果他只是想解決生理問題,說真的大陸妹還比較便宜呢!!
如果妳要來酒店上班,梁曉尊是建議妳是要思考三點:
1.妳心理準備好到酒店上班了嗎?很多人誤信(也可能是自己騙自己帶著僥倖心態)網路/報紙上店家或酒店經紀人所刊登的廣告說:「免喝酒輕鬆月入數十萬…」。而事實上天底下沒有這麼好的事,如果真的免喝酒,輕輕鬆鬆就可以月入幾十萬,那我想要來酒店上班可能要抽籤決定妳有沒有這個福氣呢!!酒店經紀人也不用為了酒店一直缺小姐而努力應徵小姐的。再來是要說明一點,酒店雖說沒有這麼複雜,但是畢竟是客人來尋歡的地方,很多男人抱著花錢是大爺的心態竭盡所能在言語上汙辱妳、毛手毛腳,以灌妳喝酒為樂的客人也大有人在,這些都是酒店小姐工作上所需面對的,妳心理上做好準備了嗎?
2.有沒有找到真正專業又正派的酒店經紀人?雖然酒店這行已經透明化,不會讓妳上班時感覺像是被賣掉一樣,但是網路/報紙上偶爾還是出現有不肖酒店經紀人用毒品、放高利貸等等方式來控制小姐的新聞事件發生!所以妳有沒有找到一位正派的酒店經紀人是妳要入這行的一個重要起步!再來就是妳找的酒店經紀人有沒有足夠的酒店經驗及專業知識或者可以透過Google搜尋經紀人名稱是否有相關事業,這是妳尋找酒店經紀人有沒有能力幫妳處理事情的關鍵所在!如果妳的經紀人只會帶妳上下班、送飲料、幫妳領檯費,其它的一問三不知,就算是他人再好,我們還是要為了自己早日賺到錢脫離這行來著想,所以趕快換個經紀人吧!
3.了解自己適合哪種性質的酒店!基本上酒店可分為禮服店、便服店、制服店三種,其中的禮服跟便服都是不脫的,制服店才有在脫衣服跟秀舞。如果妳的條件不適合便服店就不要去制服店;明明是適合上便服店的條件,就不要硬要去制服店上班。
好好跟妳的酒店經紀人溝通,雖然便服店的尺度小,但是對於外貌身材是有一定的要求;而制服店雖然賺得比較多,但是妳也要尺度有到那。了解自己,明白酒店性質,跟酒店經紀人好好聊一下,妳才可以在酒店工作的這段時間裡如魚得水!。