Rain Making

The Cassini probe has found water on one of Saturn’s moons.

Mars, apparently, has been a water planet sometime in the distant past, but is now barren. There might be water there still, hidden, but life on the surface doesn’t look, for the moment, sustainable.

There’s only one thing to be done, here.

Mars is close, as far as these things go; less than 60,000,000 miles from your living room on a good day. Saturn is way, way too far away for a convenient commute at 1,200,000,000 kilometers. But people shop in the suburbs all the time. And the trick, like it is for any trip to Costco, is to go for the one big purchase. Get everything you need all at once, ship it back and put it in storage until you’re going to need it. Enceladus is a piddling 500 kilometers wide, less than a twelfth the diameter of Mars. And even though Mars is only about a tenth the mass of the Earth, Enceladus is far less than that. So Mars should be able to take the hit without so much as an orbital wobble. And besides, it’s the seventh furthest moon from Saturn, and nowhere near the largest. Saturn won’t miss it; it’ll have thirty moons and its rings left, that greedy bastard.

Even if it’s a bare one-quarter ice, that’s still more thatn 15,000,000 cubic kilometers of frozen water that won’t stay frozen – the heat of reentry and the dust storm from the impact is certainly going to bring the temperature of the surface up from the somewhat unpleasant -80 to 0 up a a few degrees, and fifteen or twenty above is not only liveable, but comfortable. That fifteen million cubic kilometers is a fraction of the Earths’s home amount, but this is just a start. And, don’t forget, there are other icy moons out there.

We don’t need that water yet, but we will; we don’t need that real-estate yet, but by God, we’re going to someday. It’s going to take a lot of effort, but it’ll be worth it. We’re making a long-term investment in the future of the human race, a future of cheap real estate and very fine red-sand beaches. The question is when, not if, we’re going to need that space.

4 Comments

  1. Sean Ross
    Posted March 10, 2006 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Since this is filed under lunacy, I naturally feel compelled to respond: I suspect that, by the time this would be required, humanity would have the capability to terraform via nanotechnology, in which case transporting foreign materials would be inefficient and unnecessary – you’d need only repurpose what’s already there.

    Ah, Science Fiction. My old master. How I’ve missed you.

  2. Oli
    Posted March 11, 2006 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I love the idea!
    Both terraforming and moon abduction are a little (ha!) out of our reach right now… and granted, the energy from collision and greenhouse effect on the dust storm will bring the temperature up to livable, but that boost in temperature will dissipate back to its base level at that orbit. There’s also the worry that if Mars used to be a water planet, where’d all its water go? It can’t have just decided to retire at the poles… (maybe it can, but whatever).. So, if Mars is currently subject to some effect that causes the water molecules to bleed off somewhere else (I’m thinking atmospheric dissipation from a lack of gravity), then the same fate’s in store for our little project. Anyway, I’m sure they’ll figure all that out by the time they’re even contemplating moonnapping… whatever. One thing they can do right now is calculate the trajectory of impact they’d have to apply with the moon to nudge Mars into a lower stable orbit.. that should be enough to bring the frosty -80to0 range up a couple notches permanently.

    While we’re on it, I’m also in favour of launching a moon-sized chunk of sodium hydroxide (or some other appropriate base) at Venus. A) for the light show, B) for the chemical reaction that would suck acid from the atmosphere and turn it into water, making it overall a little more hospitable.

  3. Posted March 16, 2006 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t comet redirection (ala MacLeod’s New Mars) a bit more sensible?

  4. Mike Hoye
    Posted March 16, 2006 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Sure, if you’re a pussy.