Let's terraform Jupiter!

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gladiolas
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Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby gladiolas » Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:44 pm UTC

Okay, it doesn't have to be specifically Jupiter, but the title seems cooler if I name names.

I've read that Earth's early atmosphere was similar to Jupiter's present day atmosphere. So obviously one can become the other. (I'm not saying it's easy! :D )

I can guess some of this.

First, we stock up on antimatter. We fire it at a nearby neutron star; the explosions on the surface hypothetically makes it change its path, so it passes by a nearby gas giant. We do that to induce it to enter an orbit around the gas giant we want to terraform. The tidal forces will slow down the rotation, making the magnetic field weaker, but not too weak. (I'm not doing the math on this.)

We seed the atmosphere with genetically engineered microorganisms which convert the hydrogen into biomass and the organisms begin stocking up on helium, as well as the heavier elements.

Internal heating is going to warm it up quite a bit, so it should be some distance beyond what we'd consider the habitable zone. How much further, I don't know. But eventually, a solid surface forms, and it's starting to get oxygen in its atmosphere.

It's going to have far more water than Earth, so maybe it can be either locked up in ice caps or shot into space to form some extra moons. We'd like plenty of land surface area.

We assume there's no native sentients anywhere in the solar system to get mad at us.

Is this a totally silly waste of time? Does anybody have any further suggestions? Thanks.

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PM 2Ring
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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri Oct 10, 2014 1:25 am UTC

Neutron stars may be small, but they are massive. True, they are the remnant of a huge star that's exploded, but they still compare in mass to a typical star; Wikipedia says they can have a mass of a few solar masses. So it would take a lot of energy to modify the galactic orbit of one. And once you get it to the neighbourhood of your gas giant, the planet's going to be orbiting the neutron star, not the other way round. And of course it will modify the orbit of the gas giant's parent star, too.

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby Meteoric » Fri Oct 10, 2014 6:44 am UTC

gladiolas wrote:But eventually, a solid surface forms

From what? Isn't Jupiter 90% hydrogen?

As long as we're doing megaengineering, maybe you could drop a rocky planet into it?
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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby scarecrovv » Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:04 pm UTC

gladiolas wrote:genetically engineered microorganisms which convert the hydrogen into biomass

On the composition of Jupiter:
Wikipedia wrote:the atmosphere is approximately 75% hydrogen and 24% helium by mass, with the remaining one percent of the mass consisting of other elements.

On the composition of the human body, which can be taken as an approximate chemical formula for life originating on Earth:
Wikipedia wrote:

Code: Select all

Element   Fraction of mass
Oxygen    0.65
Carbon    0.18
Hydrogen  0.10
Nitrogen  0.03


Therefore, the mass of hydrogen that can be practically sequestered by biomass will be approximately 17% of the total mass of oxygen in Jupiter, which is itself less than 1% of the planet.

gladiolas
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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby gladiolas » Sat Oct 11, 2014 1:43 am UTC

scarecrovv wrote:Therefore, the mass of hydrogen that can be practically sequestered by biomass will be approximately 17% of the total mass of oxygen in Jupiter, which is itself less than 1% of the planet.


That doesn't look good for my idea. We'd have to spew most of it into space, but at least it'll make lovely rings, and such an advanced civilization can make lots of oddly shaped moons with odd orbits for the locals to look at.

So instead of bothering with the neutron star, shall we simply fire antimatter directly at the nearby gas giant?

From Wikipedia
HD 82943 c
Constellation Hydra
Distance 89.56
Spectral type G0V
Mass 2.01 times Jupiter's mass
Distance 0.746 AU
Eccentricity 0.359
Period 219 days

HD 82943 b
Mass 1.75 times Jupiter's mass
Distance 1.19 AU
Eccentricity .22
Period 441.2 days

B is the one in the habitable zone.

*Now* I'm willing to do a bit of math, for these two planets...and by my calculations it would take about 1e25 grams of antimatter to move 82943 c to 82943 b's orbit. I have a feeling my advanced civilization would rather do something more useful with their antimatter. It doesn't matter how much off that figure is, it doesn't look encouraging.

But, I persist anyway. Does anybody have any other ideas for slowing down b's rotation, and/or weakening its magnetic field? It might be easier to genetically engineer the organisms, and the colonists, to tolerate the magnetic field.

Jupiter's magnetic field is about 4.3 gauss, about 10 times Earth's. So the colonists might be able to tolerate an 8 gauss field. So they might communicate with magnetism, they'd have an excellent sense of direction and the locations of things, their technology would be strange...what else?

Thanks.

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Oct 11, 2014 3:00 am UTC

If you have godlike powers and are okay with genetically engineering your colonists, then terraforming is redundant to begin with.
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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby cjameshuff » Sat Oct 11, 2014 1:33 pm UTC

Apart from the hydrogen excess, "stocking up on helium" is biologically improbable, it's an inert gas that diffuses readily through many materials. Attempts to sequester the atmosphere in place also just make the surface gravity issue worse.

gladiolas wrote:But, I persist anyway. Does anybody have any other ideas for slowing down b's rotation, and/or weakening its magnetic field? It might be easier to genetically engineer the organisms, and the colonists, to tolerate the magnetic field.


Jupiter's magnetic field is many orders of magnitude too weak to have any harmful effect on life, and people live in regions on Earth with months-long days and nights, so I don't see why a 10 hour day is such a problem, particularly given the use of artificial light that would be needed for growing crops in 1/25th the sunlight. The high surface gravity would be a far bigger issue: if you strip away the hydrogen, helium, and other excess volatiles, you end up with a rocky body of around 12-45 Earth masses.

As for moving a neutron star into the solar system, apart from the other problems mentioned, it'd be vastly cheaper to just dismantle Jupiter completely and construct a dozen or four Earths, or habitats with billions of times more habitable volume. You could even dismantle the sun at lower energy cost. Or if you were to insist on moving stars, it'd be far cheaper to move the sun and whatever planets you want to keep, because the smallest neutron star will outmass the entire solar system, having at least 1.44 solar masses.

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby Xanthir » Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:09 pm UTC

Nuts to Jupiter, just put a balloon around Saturn and live on the surface - it's roughly Earth gravity at the top of its atmosphere, and its rings are way prettier than Jupiter's.
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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby cphite » Mon Oct 13, 2014 10:07 pm UTC

Just move Europa into orbit around Mars, and then use carefully placed explosives to cause the ice to break up and fall onto Mars.

It sounds crazy, but compared to that neutron star thing it'd be downright easy.

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby Who » Tue Dec 30, 2014 9:44 pm UTC

Mars has too low a surface gravity.

How about we go do something with Venus instead? I mean, ok so it's Hell, but we could change that far more easily than we could fix Jupiter or Mars.
Or just use the balloon idea and live in the upper atmosphere. But that's actually semi-realistic.

gladiolas
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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby gladiolas » Fri Jan 09, 2015 10:37 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:If you have godlike powers and are okay with genetically engineering your colonists, then terraforming is redundant to begin with.


I wouldn't say it's redundant, I just thought it was a cool idea. Okay, I'm sorry it wasn't as great as I thought, but...not "redundant"....so I'm trying to save face by disagreeing with one teeny little thing...
:) :lol: :P :oops:

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby twinsen » Tue Mar 10, 2015 11:33 am UTC

I agree, lets terraform it.

Here is how we do it:

1.We pick all atoms.
2.Split them in piles with mass ~ earth mass.
3.Then in each pile we create the syntize the elements on earth
4.Like LEGO we construct shitload of earth like planets.
5.Find shitload of sun-like stars.
6.Place 1 planet to each sun, at exact distance.
7.Plant stuff, wait to grow.
8.Plant people.

Im gonna help you with planting people, just find me females 18-35 , who have nice looking ass.

Much better alternative ( actually can be done easier )

1. Decode DNA sequances of all living stuff and realise what it does.
2. Here is the tricky part: Develop a similar code, that uses another kind of materials as base, building blocks and protocols, while trying to keep most of the logic.
3. Put and "off switch", I suggest something like virus that runs "shutdown -r -t 5" command, in case they become violent toward us.
4. Plant them on the planet.

And another alternative:

1. We stick HUGE pillars into jupiter.
2. Make a frame attached to it, that it looks like a sphere around jupiter, and the gravity on wich is bearable.
3. Put some dirt on the frame.
4. Plant people.

you will have:
fffff
..../.fff
.../......fff
./..........fff
J----------- fff
.\ .........fff
..\....... fff
....\ ffff
ffff

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby peregrine_crow » Tue Mar 10, 2015 1:30 pm UTC

twinsen wrote:Here is how we do it:

1.We pick all atoms.
2.Split them in piles with mass ~ earth mass.
3.Then in each pile we create the syntize the elements on earth
4.Like LEGO we construct shitload of earth like planets.
5.Find shitload of sun-like stars.
6.Place 1 planet to each sun, at exact distance.
7.Plant stuff, wait to grow.
8.Plant people.


Wouldn't you be better off finding a shitload of stars that already have planets with earthlike weights (which is most stars I believe) and tow them to the correct locations? Then you can skip steps 1, 2 and 4 while 3 and 6 become a hell of lot more doable. Sure, you wouldn't be terraforming Jupiter anymore, but at the point where you are reconstructing new planets atom by atom I don't think you can really call it terraforming anymore.

It did get me thinking though, how many planets could we stuff around the sun at earth like distances? We obviously can't just put a planet at every point on the sphere with radius 1 AU from the sun because the orbits would collide. Can we just put a planet at every point in the current earths orbit with sufficient space between the planets so that the gravitational forces between the planets don't cause them to collide?
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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby speising » Tue Mar 10, 2015 1:41 pm UTC

peregrine_crow wrote:It did get me thinking though, how many planets could we stuff around the sun at earth like distances? We obviously can't just put a planet at every point on the sphere with radius 1 AU from the sun because the orbits would collide. Can we just put a planet at every point in the current earths orbit with sufficient space between the planets so that the gravitational forces between the planets don't cause them to collide?

on that topic, i'd like to quote Ra:

... behind the horizon, occupying all of it, is a day-lit parallel Earth.

"No way..."

And behind and above the second Earth, there is a third Earth.

And behind the third are thousands and thousands more. The chain stretches up into the sky for as far as Anil can follow it, displaying a recognisable repeating pattern of sideways South Americas.

[...] Looking up still further, he follows the chain of Earths until it disappears behind the Sun. On the other side of the sky, the chain returns, descending to a final parallel Earth hidden behind the house.

"No way. Un-goddamn-real."

[...]
Humans like living in reality, on hard Earths, under real light. When the first one was full, more were built. There is an upper limit to how many planets will fit in the Goldilocks belt and humans are aiming for it. They are shell-Earths, authentic duplicates down to a depth of a kilometre, beneath which is a scrithlike bedrock layer and billions of cubic kilometres of pitch-dark vacuum.

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:57 pm UTC

One interesting point to consider is on Earth, dying organisms often sink to the bottom of their substrate and serve as a food source for scavengers.

That's a lot trickier on Jupiter. Though who knows, maybe there's some turbulent murky depth where organic matter is buoyant, and it's just a MESS of detrivores.
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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby sevenperforce » Tue Mar 10, 2015 3:11 pm UTC

peregrine_crow wrote:It did get me thinking though, how many planets could we stuff around the sun at earth like distances? We obviously can't just put a planet at every point on the sphere with radius 1 AU from the sun because the orbits would collide. Can we just put a planet at every point in the current earths orbit with sufficient space between the planets so that the gravitational forces between the planets don't cause them to collide?

Well, you can put a shit-ton of planets in Sol's habitable zone in quasi-stable orbits. You could even put multiple planets at 1 AU; we could have three or four or a dozen or a thousand planets all at 1 AU orbiting in sync as long as they were evenly distributed around the orbit.

The problem is not whether gravitational forces between planets will make them immediately fall out of orbit, but whether gravitational perturbations will work them out of sync and end up wrecking the whole business. Gravitational perturbation is super complex; we don't even know for sure that the current set of planetary orbits is stable in the long-term. Over the next billion years, it's entirely possible that Jupiter and Saturn could manage to tug Mars into an increasingly elliptical orbit with runaway perturbation until it eventually crosses Earth's orbit and a collision happens, or a slingshot event happens, or any other number of nasty outcomes.

Basically, the more bodies you have dancing around your central mass, the more opportunity you have for something to go haywire. The question is not "how many planets can be in a stable habitable orbit" as much as "how many planets can remain in stable habitable orbits for 100,000 years?" or any other period you want to investigate.

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby Neil_Boekend » Tue Mar 10, 2015 3:36 pm UTC

If we ever become capable of placing a dozen Earth sized objects in an 1 AU orbit around the sun we can probably use that same technology to control perturbations.
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sevenperforce
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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby sevenperforce » Tue Mar 10, 2015 4:11 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:If we ever become capable of placing a dozen Earth sized objects in an 1 AU orbit around the sun we can probably use that same technology to control perturbations.

A fair point.

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby SlyReaper » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:15 pm UTC

Isn't this a catch 22? If we ever develop the power to terraform a gas giant, we would have no reason to ever contemplate terraforming a gas giant.
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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby speising » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:52 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:Isn't this a catch 22? If we ever develop the power to terraform a gas giant, we would have no reason to ever contemplate terraforming a gas giant.

if we're that far, we won't need no stinkin' reason. we'll do it for fun.

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby sevenperforce » Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:32 pm UTC

So why exactly were we going to try and terraform Jupiter, specifically?

And so far we haven't actually gotten to the point of terraforming. The neutron star business at the beginning was apparently intended to reduce Jupiter's magnetic field, but since we don't really need to do that at all.......

How do we get Jupiter to a "livable" state? Preferably using less technology rather than more technology.

Our first two major problems will be energy and gravity. The diffuse surface of Jupiter has nearly three gs of gravity, which really isn't survivable on any long-term basis by humans, so simply putting a floating habitat on the surface won't work. And at 5.5 AU, Jupiter receives only 3.4% as much energy from the sun as Earth (per square meter, at least). Granted, Jupiter produces more energy than it receives, but only enough to kick that percentage up to 8% or so.

The would-be Jovian settlers will either freeze to death or be crushed to death. Probably both.

So for starters, we should work on getting livable surface gravity and an energy source...ideally using the same mechanism. If we can do that, then we can at least begin to think about dropping some balloon habitats on the surface and moving forward from there.

What kind of gravity is manageable? Well, we know that being overweight kills you pretty fast on earth, but that's mostly due to things like coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. However, there are a few things that do have to deal specifically with weight, like osteoarthritis and high blood pressure. Our Jovian settlers can take drugs for high blood pressure if they need to, but osteoarthritis will be a real problem in any extended-duration high-g environment.

It's unknown how much of the link between obesity and ostoarthritis is mechanical and how much is metabolic, but we know that anyone much over eight feet in height will typically have some degenerative disk disease from mechanical overloading. An 8' male with a BMI of 23 will be roughly 300 pounds, so that should probably be our upper limit for the weight of our Jovians. Since we can select our initial settlers to be under 180-190 pounds, that means we need to reduce the gravity on Jupiter to about 1.6g at maximum, about 63% of what it is right now.

How do we do this? Well, here's one idea: as a gas giant, Jupiter isn't particularly solid. If we spin up its rotation significantly, it will become more and more oblate. At 126% of its current radius, the surface gravity would fall to 1.6g, which is in the range we want...though I'm not quite sure how fast it would have to be spinning in order to accomplish this. Because Jupiter isn't solid, there won't be any centrifugal benefit from the spinning from the perspective of someone on the surface.

Could this also solve the energy problem? Well, yes. As it spins faster, its core will also be stretched into a more oblate shape, which should serve to increase the flow of energy from the hot center to the cold outside. With a 26% increase in radius, it should have enough increased heat flow to provide for livable temperatures at the equator. Once we have a livable surface temperature and a livable surface gravity, we can start dropping in our settlers in floating habitats, and they can go from there.

Any ideas for how fast Jupiter would need to be spinning to be that much more oblate, or how to increase its spin somehow?

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby speising » Tue Mar 17, 2015 10:04 pm UTC

You can apply any momentum to jupiter by lighting up a fusion candle [highly scientific source]. which, btw, also is nicely warm.

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby BlackSails » Wed Mar 18, 2015 2:25 am UTC

Just nuke the atmosphere off of venus, and then seed it with bacteria to make a new one that isnt the worst.

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby SDK » Wed Mar 18, 2015 1:18 pm UTC

In that same vein (except on-topic), why don't we just harvest Jupiter for a few millennia? Hydrogen presumably will be a useful substance in the future, since I doubt we'll be so advanced to make fusion obsolete. Pull mass off of Jupiter until it becomes livable in the "I'm inside a zeppelin" sense, then continue pulling mass until you've arrived at the (presumably) rocky core. It's going to pretty much be an ice world at that distance from the sun, but if you've planned ahead, there should be plenty enough energy in that hydrogen you fused to move the planet into a more pleasant orbit.
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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby NerdNumber1 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 11:02 pm UTC

Gas giants like Jupiter are among the hardest planets to terraform. Some moons of gas giants might be promising, as could Mars and even Venus (at least the upper atmosphere). Even then it would probably be necessary, or at least practical, to genetically modify ourselves as well to fit the planet Alternatively, we can upload our minds into artificial bodies built to whatever specifications we need.

Jupiter is 2.5 times the mass of all other planets in our solar system combined, so any attempt to significantly change the composition of Jupiter to the point that it is even close to habitable is likely to take more raw materials that we are going to easily be able to find in this solar system. The gravity, pressure, and winds are all terrifying. Remember the giant storm that is large enough to fit our entire planet several times over?

I'm not saying that it is COMPLETELY impossible to terraform Jupiter, just that it is one of the hardest bodies in our solar system outside the sun to make habitable. Heck, dragging Mercury into the Goldilocks zone (or part of Mercury) and steering comets into it sounds easier (note, terraforming Mercury like this is NOT a good idea either).

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby KarenRei » Mon May 04, 2015 12:53 pm UTC

I had a concept for terraforming Venus which should work for any planet with too thick of an atmosphere (and indirectly, those with too thin of one): floating solar chimneys (similar to solar chimney proposals for generating power on Earth, but for a very different purpose).

Picture, if you will, a Very Large(TM) funnel of greenhouse material whose wide base is somewhere within the atmosphere of a planet, and whose tapered narrow end reaches out past where the atmosphere becomes thin. Being made of a greenhouse material, the gas beneath gets heated up by sunlight as normal but can no longer effectively radiate infrared to space, and thus increases in temperature. The funnel shape will constrain the rise into an increasingly narrow, increasingly high velocity channel. Due to the fact that it is Very Large(TM), surface friction losses will be essentially irrelevant, but exert enough lift on the funnel to hold it up. By the end of the funnel, the gases are moving at many kilometers per second, and thus, escape velocity.

You don't provide the power source to get the gas away; the sun does.

The funnel can of course be controlled for stationkeeping purposes via small gimballed jets fuelled by the same rising gas force.

One can even be selective as to which gases to jet away from the planet, to some degree. For example, to terraform Venus, one would want to keep light gases (water vapor, nitrogen, argon) and vent heavy gases (carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, etc). This could be accomplished by choosing a geometry that induces a rotation in the rising gas stream, thus centrifuging the lighter gases to the exterior of the funnel. At the exit, the funnel would flare briefly outward, robbing velocity from the outermost gases of the stream - enough to keep them from reaching escape velocity. More complex arrangements could allow for selective release or retentions of specific gases.

This doesn't just benefit the planet in question, however. For example, Mars and the Jovian moons could take advantage of carbon dioxide vented from Mars to provide heat. Venus could use hydrogen from Jupiter to make water via the Sabatier reaction. Etc. These interplanetary exchanges of gases could be accomplished by means of aiming the output of each funnel at a correct angle and velocity to reach an intercept trajectory for the target.

That said, you really don't want to get rid of Jupiter's atmosphere. Our solar system is balanced to a rough steady-state that involves heavy forces from Jupiter, leaving many bodies in an orbital resonance with it. Do you really want them running into each other, and potentially Earth? And really, aren't there enough rocky bodies in our solar system already? Wouldn't Jupiter's gases be more useful for mining than just tossed into the sun? I don't endorse this plan ;)

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Re: Let's terraform Jupiter!

Postby KarenRei » Mon May 04, 2015 12:59 pm UTC

My long-term future view for Jupiter actually sees it more as an antimatter factory. ;) As it stands, it's a natural particle accelerator, the biggest in the solar system. One could further magnetically funnel the ions it accelerates to even higher speeds and collide them against targets for capture of desired products such as antimatter. But if one was willing to and had the technology to terraform the Jupiter system, surely they could enhance the rate of high energy collisions and thus antimatter production by orders of magnitude, be it through changing the densities of gases at different heights and so forth, perhaps even adjusting the orbit of Io (say, by injecting gas into its orbit for drag). But even without any such "terraforming", it's already a major particle accelerator as it stands.

Seriously, though, how else are we ever going to produce starship-quantities of antimatter other than using accelerators the size of planets and focusing the energy of a massive cross-section of ions thrown off by a star? To make antimatter you have to run E=mc² in reverse and have efficiencies on the order of 0,01%. That sort of thing isn't going to happen in Fermilab.


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