Thinking differently about space colonization

| October 11, 2007

This posting over at Colony Worlds argues that we’d be better off colonizing Ceres (the asteroid) before we colonize Mars:

Ceres however is located within the “mineral field of dreams,” dancing around the sun between 2.5-3 AU (or astronomical units). This places the icy world in the heart of the metal rich zone, the majority of which can be found orbiting our star between 2 and 3.5 AU.

Its prime location gives it an enormous advantage over the red giant, as well as a motivation for both national governments and companies to visit this lonely dwarf planet.

Ceres also has a lower gravity well than either Earth or Mars, making rocket launches off of the asteroid king very inexpensive. Boasting 3% Earth gravity, Cerian colonies would be able to easily transport precious metals back to our home world (from other asteroids) without the need for large amounts of rocket fuel.

The apparent presence of water ice on Ceres makes the lack of atmosphere not an issue — oxygen can be easily extracted via electrolysis. Ironically, the low gravity may present a greater problem for colonization, given the various human health complications from microgravity. But it is an interesting thought, and if NASA’s Dawn probe is successful, Ceres may get a new look as a second human base (following the Moon).

Nice to see someone thinking outside the box. Plus I was always a sucker for stories and games about asteroid miners. ..bruce..

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Category: Main, Science, Space

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

Comments (1)

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  1. bhenderson says:

    Several of my favorite Science Fiction novels have had the colonization of asteriods moved to high earth orbit as a theme. When you think about it, it makes a huge amount of sense. Real exploitation of space will only start when we can make money by doing so. At present it is only because we are spending money on exploration.

    Capturing mineral rich bodies that can be mined and exploited will open new doors for man’s journey into space.