Here lies father Jupiter
An angry, Jovian world
Orbited by his only son,
And three lunar girls.
~Darnell Clayton, 2007

(Image Credit: Windows to the Universe)

With the human race slowly (but surely) reawakening to the possibility of inhabiting other worlds, much of our species focus has been colonizing the surface of both the Moon and Mars.

Although these bodies will provide invaluable lessons to the human race, they may be tens of thousands of years away from becoming suitable homes for our young race, let alone for the rest of animal (and plant) kingdom due to space radiation.

Even though scientists are working on ways to provide shielding against this cosmic terror, unless humanity is able to develop a global magnetic field, any world we attempt to colonize will be at the mercy of the Sun (and other celestial objects).

Despite the fact that terraforming is at least centuries away from perfecting any world, Ganymede may hold the key towards providing a second home for hundreds of millions, if not billions of individuals in the not so distant future.

Unlike any of the 83 terrestrial bodies that orbit Sol (or a parent world), Ganymede is protected by two magnetic fields, one from its Jovian parent and the other hosted upon this icy moon. This dual layer of protection shields the icy moon from not only foreign radiation (via the Sun or beyond) but also domestic (via father Jupiter).

Water, whether in ice or liquid form, is a key ingredient to any future home off world. Fortunately Jupiter’s Ganymede is known to harbor water ice in abundance, with hints of an ocean a hundred miles beneath the surface.

With enough water to spare, future colonists will not only be able to use this invaluable resource for the day-to-day affairs of life (such as drinking, watering plants, etc.) but also as a potential energy source, not to mention oxygen as well.

Although Ganymede is not known to posses any major resources such as minerals or metals (at least in abundance), Jupiter’s asteroid Trojans and moons may provide the necessary building materials for a future colony.

(Image: Magnetic sail star ship, Credit: NASA)

Despite the distance of these space rocks from Ganymede (not to mention Jupiter itself) any star ship harnessing the power of magnetic sails will find travel to and from the Jovian system relatively easy. By using Jupiter’s enormous magnetic field as a boost, magnetic star ships could potentially haul precious minerals towards Ganymede’s surface, allowing future inhabitants to construct homes upon this frozen world.

Although well outside of the habitable zone, Ganymede could serve as humanities second home with colonists raising children, crops and animals within shielded biospheres. Colonists would be able to roam the surface of the world without much fear of the Sun’s or Jupiter’s wrath, with plenty of water resources around for nourishment and energy.

With metallic resources well within reach via magnetic sails, Ganymede may quickly find itself the envy of the solar system for centuries to come, second only to Earth in not only economic importance, but also habitation itself.

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