Mother Earth is dying, at least if the late-1990s environmentalist propaganda is to be believed. A slightly dubious claim considering that the entire planet would be extremely difficult to make uninhabitable, but we still seem to be giving it a good go. It was once stated, forcefully and often, that if humans do not get our act together we could just go and find another planet on which to live. Like an errant teenager who has missed curfew one time too many. That really is what our species comes down to in some ways.
The juvenile delinquents of the universe. Chin up fellow travelers and stiffen those upper lips for it does appear that while Mars is something of a bust, no matter what the late David Bowie might inquire, there is hope for our lives continuing in the universe in a new place we might not wreck. For the first few centuries of habitation at least.
It’s a gas
A second runner-up may have been Jupiter, the gas giant having a solid rock core at the center, similar to a baseball once one gets through all the leather and twine. The only real drawback here would be the dense liquid hydrogen over a scant 90% of the planet’s surface. According to planetary scientist and professional worry wart, Robert Pappalardo from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, anyone who set foot directly on the core of Jupiter “would be crushed by the weight of the liquid hydrogen above.” As though that were some kind of challenge for the species that invented the light-bulb, Velcro and Teflon.
From Earth to the moon
If one is the type to split hairs, it is not technically a planet but a moon that might be able to live up to the daunting challenge of accommodating a species such as ours. Europa to be exact, one of the many, many moons surrounding Jupiter. They won’t mind, they have lots.
The main drawback of colonizing Europa, as it would be with anything in Jupiter’s neighborhood, is getting there which would in no way be half the fun. There is also the issue of acclimatization to take into account, as with Europa being an ice moon and most people starting to moan if the temperature dips below minus 10.
If people were successful at colonizing Europa, it would have to be peopled almost entirely by Canadians, Russians and Scandinavians, anyone else would shiver too hard to get anything done. Over in the positive column, it is thought, though not yet confirmed, that under all that ice is a vast ocean, allowing for both breathable oxygen, water being made up of two parts of the stuff, which would reduce the likelihood of any potential settlers dying of dehydration -which is always a plus.
On the road to colonizing Europa
The possibility of getting there is closer than ever as Pappalardo and others are hard at work on concepts for an Europa Clipper mission, which would involve a probe going on 45 flybys of Europa to see if trying to land humans there would be extremely dangerous or only somewhat dangerous. Only time will tell.