Origins of Science Fiction

How did science fiction begin?

Science Fiction

As long as humans have been capable of abstract thought, we’ve envisaged the future. What’s coming for us? How will we be different? Where might we go? What might we explore? Through this, different people have begun to prophesise, dream, and write about what this future might look like. That includes the different places we, as the human race, will visit, the other lifeforms that we’ll interact with, and how we’ll get to those places. This is where science fiction comes into play.

There’s the realm of science that attempts to hypothesise using facts, data, and historical information. This belongs to actual science and forecasting models. That is not of our concern today. Instead, we’re going to explore those who let their imaginations run wild. Those who might have been inspired by things they’d seen on Earth and imagined what those might be like on other planets. Those who looked at the sky and wondered what might be… then made it up. This is the realm of science fiction.

In order to explore science fiction, we’ll look into those most prolific of writers from recent history including H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Kim Stanley Robinson, and James S. A. Corey.

H. G. Wells

H.G. Wells Science Fiction writer

A personal favourite, H. G. Wells was the author of one of the original and greatest works of science fiction ever created, The War of the Worlds. Alongside Jules Verne, he is considered to be the father of science fiction as a genre. Whilst War of the Worlds (written in 1898) is, arguably, his most famous work, he also penned classics such as; The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), and The Invisible Man (1897).

Our favourite H. G. Wells fact? When a version of The War of the Worlds was dramatised for radio in 1938 mass public panic ensued when listeners didn’t realise they were listening to a work of fiction and genuinely thought Earth was being invaded by Martians!

Jules Verne

Jules Verne Science Fiction Writer

Jules Verne is another of the world’s great writers, responsible for works such as Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). Whilst the latter isn’t technically a work in science fiction, the other two greats were entirely science fiction even if they were Earthbound. Verne was a master of crafting fictional pieces of technology that inspired generations of science fiction readers. 

Interesting Verne fact: he’s still the second-most translated author of all time. 

Ray Bradbury

Most famous for his work Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury also penned many more pieces of work, including The Martian Chronicles. This science fiction short story fixup depicts the human race fleeing a dying Earth after war and atom bombs have devastated the planet and their colonisation efforts on the red planet. Bradbury goes into great detail regarding cultural clashes between the Martians who live there and the Earthlings who make their new home on already claimed land and takes on poignant topics such as colonisation, terraforming, racism, and sexism.

Kim Stanley Robinson

Having published no fewer than 19 novels that have been translated into at least 24 languages, Robinson is most famous for The Mars Trilogy. We’re particularly fond of Robinson for his works based around the possibility of terraforming other worlds (namely Mars). His trilogy offers viewpoints from that of colonists and gives great insight into what it might be like to live on a terraformed world. Thankfully, he tends to show this in a prosperous utopian light.

James S. A. Corey

Not one, but two authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. Using the pen name James S. A. Corey, the pair have written an extensive series called The Expanse. Their works are rapidly expanding, and they are regularly writing for great works of science fiction including the Star Wars universe and have collaborated with George R R Martin on other works. As far as modern day science fiction writers go, we strongly recommend checking out James S. A. Corey.

The Origins of Science Fiction

From humble beginnings in the late 1800s to modern day, science fiction will remain part of our lives forever. As long as there are places to discover, worlds to explore, and technology to create, the human mind will imagine and soar. Here’s to that!

The History of How We Think of Venus

Illustration of Venus

Everything you need to know about the history of Earth’s mysterious neighbour.

From being viewed as two distinct stars, to a planet inhabited by “Venusians”, to being considered the second planet Earth, human perception of Venus has evolved through the ages. 

Named after the Roman goddess of love, likely due to its bright appearance, Venus has sat quietly in the sky while we make our own assumptions as to what it might contain and represent. Only through recent scientific developments have we been able to bring some clarity to what our neighbouring planet is and isn’t.

Ancient civilisations used to believe that Venus was two distinct stars

Due to its proximity to the sun, the illusion created by sunlight fooled the ancient Greeks and Egyptians into believing that Venus was actually two separate stars, visible at sunrise and sunset. These were named the morning and evening star respectively, and became the subject of worship for generations. The disproportionately brighter light given from Venus even earnt itself a mention in the Bible, being compared to Jesus himself. It took a few hundred years before the Greeks realised that Venus was a single object moving within Earth’s orbit, in what must have been a sobering moment for all involved. 

UFO spotters believe that aliens belonged to Venus

In ‘ufology’, the study of extraterrestrial life, it became very convenient to ascribe aliens to Earth’s closest neighbour. Going as far back as the 1950s, alien sightings were claimed to be of “Venusians” who had arrived on planet earth to make contact with humans. While most of the photo and video evidence was investigated and debunked, this hasn’t stopped the fanatical imagination with Venusian life, and conspiracies can still be found in blogs and videos via a quick internet search. 

The idea of Venusians has also made its way into science fiction movies and comics, showing that they are not only a hit with theorists, but with the entertainment industry too.

Some people believe that Venus may be Hell itself

Image of Venus

The mystery of the unknown gives license for the imaginative mind to wonder. None more so than Dr Michael Santini, a former aerospace engineer who wrote a book detailing how Venus is the physical embodiment of hell itself. While the ancient Greeks had beliefs concerning the physical existence of religious places, Dr Santini’s book demonstrates that similar opinions still exist in society today, despite advances in astronomy.

People believe that Venus used to be another planet Earth

These days, due to the wonders of 21st century science, we can be more sure of what Venus is, as well as what it could have been in the past.

It’s boiling hot. 900 degrees Fahrenheit, to be exact. It also has 92 times the pressure of Earth, its atmosphere a veritable blanket of sulfuric acid which clouds its visibility. Thanks to this, the planet is difficult to examine and has therefore been able to maintain a degree of mystique.

Scientists believe that Venus used to boast a cooler climate, similar to that on Earth. This has led to speculation that Venus is presenting us with an insight into the fate of our own planet, as climate change takes hold. While conditions on our sister planet would certainly not be able to support life as we know it, there has been evidence that bacteria could be living in the clouds, where the atmosphere is cooler.

When will we know for sure?

As we can see, the beliefs and discoveries we make about Venus are ever changing. From scientific discoveries to new theories based on faith and opinion, the mystery behind Earth’s sister planet means it will always be a playground for the imagination.

The History of How We Think of Mars

From canals to Martians, we take a look at the history of the Red Planet.

Illustration of Mars

It’s easy to pass cheap judgement on the brilliant minds of the past when we explore the history of Mars. But you might be forgiven for believing in Martians when you are viewing the planet from more than 50 million km away through the world’s first telescope. What we know about our dusty red neighbour has increased parallel to developments in astronomy and space technology, and we are still making new findings to this day. 

The first recorded observations of Mars were around 400BC

And you won’t be surprised to hear that in those times not a lot could be said for Mars. It was known simply as a fiery red colour in the sky. As was typical during this time, the Greeks decided to give this coloured dot a name. They chose the name Ares, after their god of war. The Romans preferred the name Mars, after their own warmongering deity, and the name stuck.

Galileo was the first person to see Mars through a telescope

Galileo - viewed Mars

The father of observational astronomy, Galileo Galilei, was the first to magnify the image of Mars via telescope in 1609. By the end of the same century, ideas about extraterrestrial life on Mars are considered for the first time. Fast forward to the end of the 18th century and, through advances in telescopic technology, the vital statistics for Mars had been uncovered. Most notably, its distance being 54 million km from Earth, its day being 39 minutes longer than Earth’s, and its two neighbouring moons. During this time, Sir William Herschel also concluded that not only do aliens live on Mars, but also the sun. Clearly, further investigation was still required. 

A simple translation error sparks Martian mania

In 1877 Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli described the lines he could see on Mars through his telescope as “canali”, which translates to “channels” in English. ‘Canali’ was misinterpreted to mean canal by American astronomer Percival Lowell. Considering canals to be a man/alien made entity, Lowell dedicated his life’s work to publishing books which suggested that Martians had been busy constructing a complex water supply system on Mars. As a result, Martian mania was born. 

Adding fuel to the fire, a young Orson Welles produced a radio adapted version of “The War of The Worlds”. Presented in storytelling format, the broadcast unintentionally beguiled New York listeners into fleeing their homes, in the belief they were under attack from the inhabitants of Mars. 

The world of media got wind of the fascination with Mars, and the idea of Martians gave inspiration for comics, movies and music. Rest in peace, David Bowie. 

It took until 1965 to debunk the existence of Martians

In a blunt and conclusive manner, the NASA-launched Mariner 4 space probe broadcasted to Earth images of a dusty barren wasteland. There was a collective groan from the conspiracy theorist community, and Martian mania was as good as over. 

While the fantasists amongst us felt disappointment, others saw an opportunity for a new home for humanity. Curiosity, the NASA space rover, was sent to Mars in 2012 to inspect whether its conditions would be suitable for supporting life on the Red Planet. While we have proven the lack of water on the surface of Mars, there remains hope that dormant life may be present beneath the surface. That is all we need for our imaginations to run wild!

Phobos and Deimos: Two Little Martian Potatoes

This is the story behind the doomed neighbours of the red planet

Ok, they’re considerably bigger than the potatoes that you might find in your local supermarket. But, if you magnified those potatoes you would have the perfect comparison for the two moons, Phobos and Deimos, that circle the dusty red planet in our solar system. This article will explore exactly how far we have come in our exploration of these distant little moons.

Phobos and Deimos are tiny moons in comparison to our own moon

23km and 6km wide respectively, to be exact, with a gravitational pull not even strong enough to give them a spherical form. For this reason, they have a potato-like appearance. It is believed that they were once part of the asteroid belt, until they were kicked out by the gravity of Jupiter and towards the orbit of Mars. 

The two little potato-shaped moons were discovered by Asaph Hall in 1877. We might have thought that by this time the Romans and Greeks would have little influence over the name of the colourful objects in our sky, but Hall decided, in tribute, to name them Phobos and Deimos, after the sons of the Greek god of war. 

The doomed moons of Mars

Phobos and Deimos Moons

Phobos is closer to Mars than Deimos and is making its way towards the planet at a rate of 2 meters per year. Not something to worry about for now, but in 50 to 100 million years it may crash into Mars. This would destroy any life that may come to exist on the planet during that time. There is however, a chance that the gravitational pull of Mars could rip Phobos into millions of pieces. You could consider this to be a natural defence by the planet. There is evidence of debris impact on Phobos. 

Less than 6000 miles from Mars, it is believed that explosions on the red planet have thrown debris into the sky. This caused craters and avalanches to form in the moon’s surface. Not content with being a lifeless wasteland, the red planet seems intent on destroying anything that comes too close.

Unlike Phobos, Deimos is slowly saying farewell to Mars. The smaller of the two moons, Deimos will leave Mars within the next few hundred million years. Once it has been cast off into space, Mars will go from a planet with two moons to a planet with none. Maybe that’s what happens when a planet takes its moons for granted. 

Will we ever visit Phobos and Deimos? 

Phobos and Deimos moons

The two seemingly insignificant and unimpressive moons actually contain important information for us on planet Earth. Confirming exactly how the potatoes formed will allow us to understand how planets formed around our sun. Not least, it will solve one of the more enduring mysteries to the planetary science committee. 

There have been attempts to explore the moons of Mars already. In 2011, two spacecraft were sent by Russia, but failed miserably in their mission. One of them became stuck in Earth’s orbit and crashed back down onto home soil. 

The Mars Moons eXploration mission of 2024 aims to visit the two moons in order to collect samples that will be returned to earth. Perhaps then, we can discover exactly where these two little potatoes originated from. Until that happens, the misshapen moons remain unknown and mysterious in our magnificent solar system.

Planets and Their Moons: New Moon Rising

Ever wondered about all the different moons surrounding nearby planets? 

Our solar system is home to 8 major planets (sorry Pluto, we’re still hurting too) but that’s not all. The vast majority of these celestial bodies have their own moons as well. That’s right, we’re not special. Sure, we named our moon, The Moon, but that term simply means an object that is in permanent orbit around a planet.

That’s right. We’re not special. In fact, we’re relatively unusual in the fact that we have only 1 moon. So, in order to put ourselves in our place, let’s have a look at each planet and see what their moons have to say for themselves.

Mercury

That’s right, this is going to be in a logical order or distance from the sun. 

Mercury has no moons. Sadly Mercury is just too close to the sun to be able to hold a moon. Sad times for Mercury.

Venus

Once again, no moons. We’re starting to not believe that Earth actually isn’t special at this point. 

It is believed that Venus did, once, have a moon but that it collided either into Venus itself or a passing body.

Earth

1 moon. Also known, somewhat arrogantly, as The Moon. Previously thought to be home to The Man in The Moon and often referred to as being made of cheese. Thankfully these — frankly horrifying — concepts have been debunked. We’re all hoping Mr. Musk and NASA gang up soon and get mankind back onto the surface ASAP.

Mars

2 moons! Deimos and Phobos. Theorized amongst astronomers as potentially just being slightly larger asteroids that got caught up on Mars’ gravitational force.

Jupiter

Ok, now we’re talking. As we get into the first of the gas giants the number of moons begins to dramatically increase. Jupiter has at least 79 moons! That is quite the flex on those smaller planets within the asteroid belt!

For the purpose of this piece we won’t list every single moon, rather focus on the big 4 which are visible with the naked eye under dark sky conditions. The big 4 are Ganymede, Callisto, Io, and Europa. Because of their relatively larger size, these 4 have been considered by terraforming theorists as potential settlement bases.

Saturn

Image of Saturn - moons

Slightly less than Jupiter but still a huge number of moons, Saturn has 62 moons in orbit. Once again, there are 4 moons visible to the naked eye. Titan, Rhea, Iapetus, and Dione. 

Special mention goes to the relatively newly photographed Mimas. Mimas is an especially brilliant moon because it has a giant impact crater (called Herschel) on its northern hemisphere which makes it look exactly like the Deathstar from Star Wars. This was first spotted by Cassini back in 2010, and likely gave the observers something of a shock.

Uranus

Image of Uranus - Moons

27 moons here for Uranus. Obvious moon-ing jokes aside, there are 4 noticeably larger moons as with the other gas giants, but these aren’t visible to the naked eye. You’ll need at least an 8-10 inch telescope to see them. Titania , Oberon, Umbriel and Ariel are the largest. Another 4 bodies that have been considered for terraforming.

Neptune

Image of Neptune - Moons

The number reduces again, seemingly in conjunction with the further we get from the Sun, as Neptune rings in only 14 moons. Triton is the only moon of note, which is actually large enough to be considered a dwarf planet. In fact, astronomers believe it may have been captured after ejection from the Kuiper Belt. 

Bonus – Pluto

Image of Pluto - moons

Ok, we still feel bad, so Pluto makes the list. Even if we didn’t feel bad, there’s some merit to adding in Pluto, a dwarf planet stripped of its place in our Solar System, as it has not 1, not 2 but 5 moons! Sure, they’re so small and far away that they can’t be seen using any amateur telescope but that’s still impressive. One of the moons, Charon, is actually considered a dwarf planet itself and part of Pluto’s binary system… which calls into question – is Charon Pluto’s moon, or is Pluto Charon’s moon? The plot thickens… 

…we still heart you, Pluto.

How old am I on different planets?

Learn how to calculate your age on different planets.

How old are you right now? That age is going to be fairly integral to who you are as a person and how you identify yourself. They say that age is just a number; indeed, that number is completely different depending upon which planet you reside.

Sure, you might spend your entire life standing only on Earth, but as more and more people become terraformers and settlers of different planets, their ages will become more and more varied. In fact, you might have children older than you and grandparents that are younger! This is especially true if you’re all spread across the whole solar system.

Physically, your body will have spent the same amount of time existing — that’s a constant. But if you calculate your age based on days, or rotations of your planet’s axis, then you’ll find that the number is very different depending on where you call home. The same goes for if you calculate your age in years or the time it takes for your planet to revolve once around the Sun.

Because of this, it’s worth referring to your age in Earth years or Earth days. If we move or were to live on another planet within our solar system, our ages would be completely different. This is down to the amount of time that it takes for the planet to orbit the sun and for each planet to revolve on its axis.

In order to calculate your age on different planets, there’s a specific calculation that you can complete. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to make these calculations. First, we calculate our age in days on Earth. Let’s say, for instance, that you’re exactly 25 years old — that’s 9,125 days. You’ll then take this information and put it into a new formula dependent on which planet you’d like to live on.

Here’s a handy table with the formulas in place:

Planet Orbit time Age Formula
Mercury 88 Days Earth Days / 88
Venus 225 Days Earth Days / 225
Mars 687 Days Earth Days / 687
Jupiter 11.8 Years Earth Days / 4,307
Saturn 29.4 Years Earth Days / 10,731
Uranus 84 Years Earth Days / 30,660
Neptune 164 Years Earth Days / 59,860
Pluto 248 Years Earth Days / 90,520

Let’s take a group of people on Earth: Penny, Rich and Hayley. Penny is 35, Rich is 42 and Hayley is 56. Through a program of terraforming and planetary exploration, each of them have been posted to different parts of the solar system. Penny has been sent to Neptune, Rich to Mars, and Hayley to Mercury. Based on their new planets their new ages are now:

Penny (Earth Age 35): Neptune Age – 0.21 Years Old; a mere baby.

Rich (Earth Age 42): Mars Age – 22.31 Years Old; nearly 20 years younger.

Hayley (Earth Age 56): Mercury Age – 232.27 Years Old; well over two centuries old!

As you can see, heading for other planets will have a severe aging process… well, only in number. Physically, you’ll still be as old as you were on Earth.

How old are you on your favourite extra-terrestrial world?

How long are days on the different planets?

Does the length of a day change on each planet?

When it comes to exploring the solar system, there’s a reason that the amount of time spent in space is calculated in hours rather than days. That’s due to the reason that our measurement of time is directly related to our position on Earth and its relation to the Sun. A day on our planet is very different to a day on another planet.

If you’re here for the “too long, didn’t read” answer, then the table below will be helpful. We’ve put together the amount of hours that a day lasts on each planet. That is how long it takes for a complete rotation on the planet’s axis to complete.

Planet Hours to complete axis rotation (A Day)
Mercury 1,408 hours
Venus 5,832 hours
Earth 24 hours
Mars 25 hours
Jupiter 10 hours
Saturn 11 hours
Uranus 17 hours
Neptune 16 hours

The table might come as something of a surprise. It would be natural to assume that the length of days might increase or decrease depending on distance from the Sun but it appears that it is composition that has a major impact on day length. The gas giants clearly spin at an incredible rate compared to the smaller, solid based planets of Earth and Mars.

It’s also worth noting that the orbits of the planets aren’t perfectly circular and, in fact, Earth’s own elliptical orbit means that some days are shorter than others. Therefore, the best way to measure the length of a day is to use a measurement called sidereal days, or the amount of time it actually takes to complete a whole rotation. On Earth, that’s 23 hours and 56 minutes, rounded to 24 hours to make for easier time calculations.

Notable differences in days

Planets- different length of a day

Some of the planets rotations and orbits throw some interesting facts our way. Take Mercury, for instance — if the human race was able to successfully terraform the planet and create a sustainable settlement, day/night would have to become an artificial concept. In fact, over the course of one Mercurian day (sunrise and sunset), there would have been 2 Mercurian years (rotations around the sun).

Similar can be said for Venus, where the length of a day is longer than a year (by 18 days). Factor in Venus’ reverse rotation (compared to Earth) and those living in terraformed settlements would see only 2 sunrises each year — which would also happen with the sun rising in the west and setting in the east.

Looking for further unusual days and years, Uranus tops the class. Thanks to its tipped axis, only one part of the planet is pointed at the Sun over the course of each year. That means that the length of a day on the planet is matched with the length of a season. Terraformers would spend each “day” in a different season, making particularly interesting temperature challenges.

Each of the planets produce interesting and complex challenges when it comes to managing days, nights, seasons and years. It’s these challenges that terraformers will have to cope with when settling our solar system.

The Science of TerraGenesis: Lagrange Academy

The height of education at the Lagrange Academy

The Lagrange Academy is your terraformed world’s leader in education and development. In fact, more often than not it literally leads the world, but more on that later. The Lagrange Academy is an investment in your people, your scientists, your greatest minds and your faction as a whole.

This orbiting institution is accessible to only the greatest and most elite minds available but is also large enough to educate vast swathes of those people at once. They’ll be able to look down on the terraformed world beneath them from a fixed L4 Lagrange point in orbit. This might seem like a platform for solely scientists but that’s not the case. Public servants, entertainers, law makers, and even those regular citizens who reach the highest levels of education are able to work at the Lagrange Academy.

Through their education and development, these minds will be able to guide, craft and develop your whole factions culture and process. What used to be a traditional, set and fixed set of traditions can become a fluid, changeable culture.

Why Lagrange?

The name might sound like it’s simply named after a founder but there’s considerably more to it than that. A famous physicist and astronomer, Lagrange spent years developing an understanding of how objects orbit planetary bodies and other nearby celestial bodies too. Through this research he began to understand and then gave his name to a series of fixed orbit points.

The Lagrange points, put simply are points in the space around a planet where satellites are able to stick at a fairly fixed point between two different bodies. Take the example of Earth and the Moon. There is a certain point between the two bodies where their gravitational pull will be cancelled out and the satellite in question will remain at a fixed location in orbit, getting no closer or further from one of the other. 

The L4 point, where the Lagrange station is situated is an interesting case. Considered to be one of the most stable orbit points, the Langrange station and achieves this through a particular position whereby it orbits the larger of the two bodies slightly in front of the smaller body. In our example above the satellite orbits Earth slightly before the Moon’s orbit. This is where the motto of the Lagrange Academy, “Literally leading the world” comes from. 

Lagrange Academy Application

In TerraGenesis, the Lagrange Academy removes any cost to changing your culture. This means you can alter the economy style, eco-policies, governmental strategy and planetary values at the drop of a hat. Does that mean that you should? Well, of course you can alter this to your needs, but be wary of the ramifications. Large adjustments can seriously destabilise your world. For instance, your eco-policy can drastically reduce the number of habitations that your world has, leading to massive population shortages.

The Lagrange Academy allows a dramatic amount of freedom without cost, but should always be used with a calculated approach that its members would celebrate.

Terraforming Candidates in the Inner Solar System

What would terraforming look like for these inner solar system candidates?

Terraforming Mars is certainly the topic on the tip of space enthusiasts’ tongues, but are there other worlds humans can call home? The process of terraforming is explored within TerraGenesis with an increasingly difficult set of challenges. Each celestial body comes with a unique set of problems to overcome and wildly different characteristics. Let’s shed a little light on some of our nearby neighbors and see how tackling terraforming would be on each celestial body!

Terraforming Mercury

Image of Mercury - Terraforming

Let’s get straight to the point. Mercury is hot, seriously hot. Surface temperatures regularly reach 700K or 427°C. That’s not all. Due to the lack of a real atmosphere, the side of Mercury that isn’t facing the sun plunges to temperatures as low as -173°C. This makes for an interesting set of challenges when it comes to terraforming.

Sounds fairly impossible to have a regular colony on Mercury, but there’s one more set of facts that might make it possible. The north pole on Mercury is permanently shaded thanks to the low orbital period and the slow rotation of the planet. This would make it the best candidate for terraforming, maybe not an ideal one, but a potentially possible one.

The make up of Mercury seems similar to the Moon, but Mercury has been found to have an expansive core and pockets of ice found at the north and possible south poles. Whilst it might not be our first choice, the geothermal heat that can be extracted from below the surface and the potential water sources make it an interesting candidate.

Terraforming Venus

Image of Venus - Terraforming

Venus has a size and composition that is very similar to Earth, making it an (on the surface) ideal candidate for terraforming. Furthermore, its orbit is in what is referred to as the Goldilocks Zone, the area of our solar system that is easily habitable. Sounds like an ideal candidate? Well, of course, there are some challenges to overcome.

The atmosphere isn’t exactly welcoming. It’s well over 90 times thicker than Earth’s and the air is packed full of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid. The terraforming process, to counter this acidity, would be extensive. A key process within the terraforming process would be carbon sequestration or, as suggested by Carl Sagan back in 1961, introducing a genetically engineered bacteria that would transform the atmospheric carbon into organic molecules. That said, the sulfuric acid would make this difficult.

Looking towards an external solution, solar shades would be used to deflect the suns energy away from the surface and reduce temperatures. This, in turn, would reduce the greenhouse gases that have exploded throughout the atmosphere of Venus. This is all aimed at terraforming the surface. A further theory would be to ignore the surface altogether and develop entire cities that would float above the clouds of Venus thanks to the intensely dense atmosphere. These cities would then, in turn, act as solar shades for the surface.

Terraforming the Moon

Image of the Moon - Terraforming

When most people think of a colony leaving Earth, most will think of our closest body, the Moon. Since the dawn of the Space Age, mankind has been dreaming and theorizing the creation of a human settlement on the Moon. But domelike colonies are a long way from terraforming the entire body.

The challenges are similar to those outlined with Mercury. Little to no atmosphere and small or trace amounts of the key elements. The introduction of nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon has been hypothesized in various forms, but one popular way is to introduce them through crash landings. Crash landings of comets that is. The aim would be to introduce the elements whilst also creating more momentum and speeding up the lunar rotation. If we could speed the rotation to 24 hours then we would be in a far better position to adapt to life on the Moon.

As mentioned above with Venus, partial terraforming could take place in the Shackleton Crater. The reason for this particular area is that we have already found evidence of water (as ice) here. Starting small, the terraforming would focus on solar mirrors and dome like habitats which could create microclimates capable of sustaining life.

Terraforming MarsImage of Mars - Terraforming

Well, this is the one that everyone is looking forward to. NASA says that it’s impossible, Elon Musk disagrees. And when Elon disagrees it usually results in something incredible…

Mars remains a poster child for terraforming thanks to the relative proximity to Earth and the fact that scientists believe its atmosphere was once similar to Earth’s. Not to mention, we’re now almost certain that Mars has water supplies beneath its surface. Plus, the diurnal and seasonal cycle is remarkably close to Earth’s, where a day is only 40 minutes longer than on Earth.

When it comes to terraforming, the first step would be to work on the atmosphere, namely thickening it up to be able to maintain air pressure. Currently, at sea level, Mars’ atmosphere is roughly only holding 1% of Earth’s air pressure. Alongside the thickening of the atmosphere, Mars would need to be warmed to a temperature suitable for human life.

Mining volatile elements such as methane and ammonia, which could be mined from the icy moons in our solar system, and then impacting them into Mars could lead to the creation of an atmosphere. But that atmosphere would be CO² heavy, great for warming, not so great for breathing. The conversion to a 70/30 nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere could take centuries but a method suggested would be the introduction of photosynthetic life to complete the process naturally.

Terraforming the Inner Solar System

These are some of our options, and likely the best candidates when it comes to terraforming in the relatively near future. But why stop there? Expansion into the outer solar system and beyond can also be considered. A question that will inevitably will be; why are we even thinking about terraforming? What’s the point? Maybe it’s as simple as, because we can! But it could easily, and quickly, become “because we have to.”

Want to try terraforming the Inner Solar System for yourself? Download TerraGenesis today!

The Science of TerraGenesis Podcast: Christmas Magic (Bonus Episode)

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE:

Spotify | iTunes | Stitcher

Hey, folks. Today I’d like to share a post I made on the TerraGenesis Facebook page in December of 2016, just a few months after TerraGenesis was first released. I was sitting in a cabin on the North Island of New Zealand with my wife and my mom, enjoying the disconcertingly warm weather and dreaming of where this journey might take us in the years to come. Some of our oldest players may have read this post already on the Facebook page back in the day, but given the fact that the community was much smaller back then, and the fact that mathematics NEVER goes out of style, I thought I’d share it again. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas or believe in Santa, I hope you’re having a wonderful day, and as usual, happy terraforming!

So, I don’t think it’s going to come as a great galloping shock to hear that the guy who single-handedly designed and created a science-based planet simulator app is a bit of a math nerd. But what you may not know is that I also happen to be a HUGE Christmas nerd. I look forward to it all year, and it holds a very special place in my heart.

So, in honor of one of my favorite days of the year, let’s do a bit of holiday number crunching!

Finding Santa

In December of 1990, SPY Magazine published an article written by Bruce Handy and Joel Potischman called “Santa Math.” In it they calculated just how fast Santa Claus would have to travel to visit every child’s home on Earth in a single day. Their conclusion was a staggering 650 miles per second. In TerraGenesis we use metric, so that’s 1,046 kilometers per second. 

But of course, this is TerraGenesis, and we don’t care about boring-old Earth. We want to hear about Mars.

The Math

On average Earth and Mars are about 225 million km apart, so at that rate Santa would need to fly at his top Christmas-speed for 215,105 seconds (or almost 60 hours) just to get to Mars. Venus would be 45 hours away, the Moon would be just 6 minutes away, and the moons of Uranus would be just over a month of hard flying for Rudolph and the gang.

Of course, a Martian day isn’t the same length as an Earth day. It’s close, but it’s about 40 minutes longer, or about 3% longer than an Earth day. That means Santa has more time to work once he gets there, albeit not much: instead of going 1,046 km/s he’d only have to go 1,015 km/s. I suppose every little bit helps.

Except, Mars is also a lot smaller than Earth: surface area 145 million square kilometers, as opposed to Earth’s 510 million. That’s only 28.4% the amount of ground to cover, meaning that between the smaller surface and the longer day, Santa would only have to go about 27.5% as fast to get the job done on Mars (about 288 km/s), for a similar population.

Santa Math

But then, why assume a similar population? The original “Santa Math” article assumed 91.8 million households eligible for a visit from Santa. In 2015 the average American household included 2.54 people. What’s the population of your Mars in TerraGenesis, divided into households of 2-3 people, relative to that number on Earth? Use this formula to figure it out:

[PopulationRatio] = ( [PlanetPopulation] / 2.54 ) / 92,000,000

Then you can figure out how fast Santa would have to go on your particular Mars using this formula…

[SantaSpeedKm/s] = 288 * [PopulationRatio]

Share your Santa speeds on Facebook and Twitter and see how they compare! And for bonus points and super-nerd cred, look up the surface area of the world you’re currently playing on and the length of its day, and use those in your calculations. Pro-tip: a day on Venus is longer than a year on Venus, so Santa has all the time in the world to glide through those sulfuric acid clouds.

Anyway, I’m just saying, math is cool. And if you happen to still be in school, you have my permission to tell your math teacher that the creator of the greatest app ever says that if they’re not teaching class by calculating the trajectory of reindeer across semi-spherical objects in space, they’re doing their job wrong.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a quote from the once-great Billy Mack: Christmas is the time to be with the people you love. Well corny as it may sound, I love all you folks. It’s no exaggeration to say that this community has changed my life, and I wake up grateful every day to be able to do this, and talk to you, for a living.

So whether you celebrate Christmas in your own home or not, just know that you’re getting good wishes and holiday cheer sent to you direct from Edgeworks Entertainment. I know some people get worked up about the whole “Happy Holidays” vs “Merry Christmas” thing, but to me a big part of the joy of this season is that almost every culture in the world has sensed the beauty of this season, and everyone has something to celebrate. So to everyone out there playing TerraGenesis all across the Earth and beyond: Season’s Greetings, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Midwinter, Glückliches Yule, Happy Kwanzaa, Feliz Posadas, Happy New Year, Jolly Boxing Day, Joyous Soyal, and a very, very Merry Christmas to you all.

That’s it for this bonus episode of The Science of TerraGenesis. 

Be sure to subscribe for more episodes, and in the meantime you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Discord, YouTube, everywhere really. You can also check us out at EdgeworksEntertainment.com and TerraGenesisGame.com, and don’t forget to leave a review for the podcast, it really does help!

And if you haven’t played it yet, be sure to check out TerraGenesis, it’s a free download on iOS or Android, and coming soon to Windows.

Oh, and one more thing: take a moment to check in on your worlds on Christmas Day. You might find a few unusual things waiting for you…

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