Scientist Suggests Humans Could Settle "Megacity" in Space Within 15 Years

If you're getting sick and tired of Earth, you might not need to wait much longer for a trip off-planet. One recent study published by Finnish astrophysicist Pekka Janhunen says it'd be possible to settle a floating megacity on Ceres, a dwarf planet that floats about in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Not only did Janhunen lay down his plan on how a megacity could be constructed, but he suggests it could start taking shape in the next decade-and-a-half.

According to the journal entry (via New York Post), Ceres was chosen due to its similar gravitational qualities, even though it resides approximately 325 miles from Earth. In layman's terms, NASA sent the space probe Dawn there in 2007, and it didn't arrive until 2015.

"We select Ceres as the source body because it is more likely than C-type asteroids to have sufficient nitrogen," Janhunen wrote. "Nitrogen is a critical element because it is needed for the settlement atmospheres. We use a a disk geometry for the megasatellite because its symmetry eliminates tidal torque so that reaction wheels are not needed to maintain attitude. The habitats are illuminated by natural sunlight. The sunlight is gathered onto the disk by two planar mirrors inclined at 45 degree angle and concentrated to desired intensity by parabolic mirrors."

His plan for the megacity includes a habitat built of thousands of cylindrical structures, with each one hosting upwards of 50,000 people. These structures would then slowly rotate and create artificial gravity on the surface of the satellite.

Using "space elevators" built into the habitat, people who live in the megacity would then be able to mine metals found within Ceres to build further structures.

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"The utility value of the megasatellite becomes apparent if we compare it with traditional surface settlements. It would be technically possible to colonise the surface of Ceres by centrifuge habitats," the astrophysicist added. "However, then the magnetic bearings would have to carry the weight of the habitat. The weight is 34 times less than on Earth but many orders of magnitude more than in the megasatellite's microgravity conditions."

Cover photo by Xue Bing/VCG via Getty Images