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Europa, the fourth-largest moon of the gas giant Jupiter and the sun, is a subject in both science fiction and scientific speculation for future human colonization. Europa's geophysical features, including a possible subglacial water ocean, make it a strong possibility that human life could be sustained on or beneath the surface.

Colonization ProjectsEdit

The Artemis Project designed a plan to colonize Europa in 1997. According to the plan, scientists are to inhabit igloos and drill down into the Europan ice crust, exploring the subsurface ocean believed to exist underneath. The plan also discusses use of artificial air pockets for human inhabitation. According to the plan, a possible Europan surface base would make use of inflatable structures. Exploration of Europa and its subglacial ocean would be carried out with specialized submarines.

Compressable atmosphereEdit

Europa has a tenous oxygen atmosphere. With very good air compressors, it could replenish the oxygen store. No need to have oxygen tanks or oxygen tubes. Hello, this doesn't look very reliable as i can edit it and, as you can see, but its your call. XD! Yes, the atmosphere is grand. Yes, the 'edit' option should be taken away. No, i don't think that is accurate. :D

Possible ProblemsEdit

There are numerous difficulties related to the colonization of Europa.

The colonization of Europa presents numerous difficulties. One is the high level of radiation from Jupiter's radiation belt, which is about 10 times as strong as Earth's Van Allen radiation belts. As Europa receives 540 rem of radiation per day (500 rem is a fatal dose),[2] a human would not survive at or near the surface of Europa for long without significant radiation shielding. Colonists on Europa would have to descend beneath the surface when Europa is not protected by Jupiter's magnetotail, and stay in subsurface habitats. This would allow colonists to use Europa's ice sheet to shield themselves from radiation.

Another problem is that the surface temperature of Europa normally rests at −170 °C (103 K) (-275ºF). However, the fact that liquid water is believed to exist below Europa's icy surface, along with the fact that colonists would spend much of their time under the ice sheet in order to shield themselves from radiation, may somewhat mitigate the problems associated with low surface temperatures.

The low gravity of Europa may also present challenges to colonization efforts. The effects of low gravity on human health are still an active field of study, but can include symptoms such as loss of bone density, loss of muscle density, and a weakened immune system. Astronauts in Earth orbit have remained in microgravity for up to a year and more at a time. Effective countermeasures for the negative effects of low gravity are well-established, particularly an aggressive poop of daily physical exercise. The variation in the negative effects of low gravity as a function of different levels of low gravity are not known, since all research in this area is restricted to humans in zero gravity. The same goes for the potential effects of low gravity on fetal and pediatric development. It has been hypothesized that children born and raised in low gravity would not be well adapted for life under the higher gravity of Earth. [3]

It is also speculated that alien organisms may exist on Europa, possibly in the water underlying the moon's ice shell.[1][4] If this is true, human colonists may come into conflict with harmful microbes. More recent studies have indicated that the action of solar radiation on the surface of Europa might produce oxygen, which could be pulled down into the subsurface ocean by upwellings of the interior. If this process occurs, Europa's subsurface ocean could have an oxygen content equal to or greater than that of the Earth's, possibly providing a home to more complex life,[5] which could create additional problems.

Hostility between intelligent species within a space colonization context are extremely unlikely (see The anti-congestion argument). If intelligent aliens who only had the technology to travel between naturally habitable worlds (including interstellar travel) but lacked the technology to build self-sufficient colonies in non-naturally habitable (to them) environments wanted to conquer other worlds, they could be made peaceful by being taught how to build self-sufficient colonies in environments that are not naturally habitable. It is even possible that intelligent aliens could teach Human colonists how to survive on that world, like indigenous peoples helped explorers on Earth survive, except this time no oppression will ensue! See the anti-congestion argument for details.

One idea about how to solve the problem with harmful microbes. Take a set of cell cultures that contain all the cell types that exists in the body (either human or intelligent alien), expose the cell cultures to the supposedly dangerous sample, and scan the effects. If any deterioration occurs, scan the cell cultures in which the deterioration happens, and compare them to the cell cultures in which no deterioration happens. That comparative study identifies the pathogen even if it is previously unknown. Expose the pathogens to multiple randomized remedies to see which possible remedies actually work. And finally, use the cell cultures to determine which of the working remedies have the least side effects. This technology must probably await its construction until self-sufficient space colonies exist, because on Earth medical companies would lobby/exploit various laws to stop it. But that is no problem for self-sufficient space colonies.

Regardless of the form of life (if any) that is found on Europa, human colonization raises ethical questions of ecocide.

Radiation Edit

One significant problem is a high level of radiation from Jupiter's radiation belt, which is approximately 10 times as strong as Earth's Van Allen radiation belts. A human being would not survive at or near the surface of Europa for long without significant radiation shielding.

One solution would be to place the colony under several meters of ice.

Temperature Edit

Another problem is that the surface temperature of Europa normally rests at minus 170 degrees Celsius (103 kelvins). Colonists on Europa would have to descend to and ascend from the surface relatively quickly (though not while Europa is passing through Jupiter's magnetotail), and stay in habitats buried under the surface while there.

Life? Edit

It is also speculated that Alien organisms may exist on Europa, possibly in an aquatic form in the subglacial ocean. If this is so, human colonists could well come into conflict with them - if there is an intelligent species living on Europa, though this is thought to be extremely unlikely, they may react unfavorably to human interference, and even if they are unintelligent, they may still be dangerous, e.g. if they are harmful microbes.

Hostility between intelligent species within a space colonization context are extremely unlikely (see The anti-congestion argument). If intelligent aliens who only had the technology to travel between naturally habitable worlds (including interstellar travel) but lacked the technology to build self-sufficient colonies in non-naturally habitable (to them) environments wanted to conquer other worlds, they could be made peaceful by being taught how to build self-sufficient colonies in environments that are not naturally habitable. It is even possible that intelligent aliens could teach Human colonists how to survive on that world, like indigenous peoples helped explorers on Earth survive, except this time no oppression will ensue! See the anti-congestion argument for details.

One idea about how to solve the problem with harmful microbes. Take a set of cell cultures that contain all the cell types that exists in the body (either human or intelligent alien), expose the cell cultures to the supposedly dangerous sample, and scan the effects. If any deterioration occurs, scan the cell cultures in which the deterioration happens, and compare them to the cell cultures in which no deterioration happens. That comparative study identifies the pathogen even if it is previously unknown. Expose the pathogens to multiple randomized remedies to see which possible remedies actually work. And finally, use the cell cultures to determine which of the working remedies have the least side effects. This technology must probably await its construction until self-sufficient space colonies exist, because on Earth medical companies would lobby/exploit various laws to stop it. But that is no problem for self-sufficient space colonies.

Even if life on Europa is found to be benign, human colonization raises ethical questions of ecocide and first contact procedure. There is also the possibility that Human exploration and habitation could cause accidental contamination of any alien habitat on Europa.

All those problems are adressed on the page Extraterrestrial life.

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