Callisto, Jupiter’s Moon

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At about four billion years old, it is the second-largest moon orbiting the planet and is the third-largest moon in the Solar System. It is 4,820 km across and orbits 1,880,000 km from the planet. This celestial object is no other than Callisto, one of Jupiter’s many moons, and a perfect place for a space settlement.

The purpose is to be able to allow astronauts to survive in a space settlement area. According to NASA, “Space settlement needs inexpensive, safe launch systems to deliver thousands, perhaps millions of people into orbit. If this seems unrealistic, note that a hundred and fifty years ago, nobody had ever flown an airplane, but today nearly five hundred people fly each year” 1. Much like the efforts of the Juno probe, the idea of a space settlement is for astronauts to explore more of the Solar System, but in order for them to survive and settle, the area of the settlement must be chosen wisely. 

It will operate by astronauts flying out to areas around the Solar System where they have chosen to settle, and since a space settlement is a home in orbit, astronauts will live inside a gigantic spacecraft. For the adventure on Callisto the moon, the spacecraft is roughly one half to a few kilometers across. It is especially engineered to tackle the unpredictable atmosphere that space may bring, and protect any unexpected rocks or flying objects from hurting anybody on the inside. This spacecraft will bring them to the moon where they will build the colony. There are questions, however, as to the moral consequences of engineering such a spacecraft.

It will operate based on a team of highly skilled and motivated astronauts. There will be a leader, pilot, and small groups broke up to divide the work and exploration that comes along with the journey. In total, there are twelve astronauts, five in each small group. Each astronaut has gone through years of training and is passionate about exploring more about space, and discovering more about Callisto and how space settlement could benefit future astronauts.

When the astronauts first reach space, let alone Callisto, the first thing they will realize is that orbital colonies are much different from Earth. According to NASA, “The Moon and Mars have a surface gravity much less than Earth normal. By contrast, orbital colonies can rotate to provide any gravity level desired, although it’s not true gravity. The Moon and Mars have a surface gravity much less than Earth’s normal.” 1 Astronauts will feel themselves floating around and not being able to stand still as you would on Earth. In space, the gravitational forces are very slight, and other objects such as food or supplies need to be tied down or else they will begin floating around as well. 

Callisto is a good size for a space settlement because it is the most heavily cratered object in the known solar system. It is only slightly smaller than Mercury but contains only one-third of its mass. It also has the oldest landscape, making it somewhat trustworthy, which is one of the many reasons the astronomy team chose to settle on this moon for their colony. According to Sea Sky, “Callisto is very different from other rocky moons in the Solar System. There are no mountains on Callisto. Astronomers believe this to be a result of movement in its icy surface. The entire surface of Callisto is covered in craters”. 2 Callisto is covered in ice and the craters have been smoothed out by the flow of the icy crust. Callisto’s interesting feature is known as the Gipul Catena, and it is a long series of craters arranged in a straight line. The astronauts park their spaceship near this collection of craters. 

Callisto has an atmosphere, although it is extremely thin, and is composed primarily of carbon dioxide. The astronauts record that the highest daytime temperature on Callisto is around -108C (-162F) and at night, temperatures reach an even more chilly -193C (-315 F).3 The astronauts should bring along with them custom-built tents for shelter, and extra spacesuits. According to NASA Science, “…evidence mounts for at least one and possibly two liquid oceans in the Jovian satellite system, scientists are cautiously optimistic that life could exist there.” 4 This means there can very well be life existing in the thin ocean underneath Callisto’s surface. In order to utilize the local environmental resources, the astronomers must first explore what has been discovered and not yet discovered on Jupiter’s moon, and utilize supplies wisely. Communication can be performed through satellites. When water is needed, astronauts could scoop up buckets of water from the ocean, and after inspecting whether or not it is safe to enter or touch their bodies, they can use it as drinking water or water to bathe themselves with. Solar power from the sun can easily and efficiently be used for electrical power. Astronauts can process lunar soil and asteroids with oxygen, metals and other useful materials from outer space and create sufficient mass to absorb most incoming radiation because cosmic rays and solar flares could be fatal to human life if not protected.

In order to keep residents alive and supplied with necessary resources, they have stored plenty of food and water inside the spacecraft, and the spacesuit keeps them warm and is equipped with specially processed heat resistant lining. For means of transportation, the two teams astronauts could each drive a spaceship back and forth from Earth to Callisto under emergency situations, and even bring extra spacecraft for safety purposes.

All in all, the astronauts have found a sense of true accomplishment on Jupiter’s moon, Callisto, and decide it is a great place to continue on with a space settlement because of its resources and wonderful old landscape. Especially after making a home for themselves in the colony on Callisto, 

Reference List

1. Globus, Al. ‘Space Colonization Basics.’ NASA. February 5, 2013. Available at: http://settlement.arc.nasa.gov/Basics/wwwwh.html#who. Accessed April 28, 2013.

2. Sea Sky. 1998. ‘Callisto.’ Available at: http://www.seasky.org/solar-system/jupiter-callisto.html. Accessed April 28, 2013.

3. Solar System Quick. 2010. ‘Callisto.’ Available at: http://www.solarsystemquick.com/callisto.htm. Accessed April 28, 2013.

4. NASA Science. October 23, 1998. ‘Callisto makes a big splash.’ Available at: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1998/ast22oct98_2/. Accessed April 28, 2013.