Could We Live on Jupiter?

When humans finally travel into space, where will we live? Will we ever be able to colonize gas giants like Jupiter?

NASA and Elon Musk have plans to get your ass to Mars.

It’s not impossible to imagine humans living and working on the Red Planet. Maybe they’ll be crusty asteroid miners making their fortune digging precious minerals out of the inexhaustible supply of space rocks. Pray they don’t dig too deeply. We should go ask Kuato, that creepy little guy knows everything! Except he’s always trying to get you to touch his funny little hands. Pass.

Venus looks like it’s a pretty great place to live, if we stick to the clouds in floating sky cities, plying the jet streams in our steampunk dirigibles. It’ll be fun, but first, does anyone know how to attach a cog to a top hat? Venus, here we come!

We should stay away from the surface, though, that place’ll kill you dead. We’re guessing a crispy shell holding in a gooey center, at least for the first few moments. Once we sort the living in space deal, is there anywhere we won’t be able to go?

We could create underwater cities on Europa or Ganymede, in the vast oceans with the exotic hopefully unarmed, peaceful, vegetarian Jovian whales.Like Jupiter? Could we live there?

Jupiter is the most massive planet in the Solar System. It has a diameter of almost 140,000 kilometers and it’s made mostly of hydrogen and helium; the same materials of the Sun. It has more than 317 times the mass of the Earth, providing its enormous gravity.

If you could stand on the cloud tops of Jupiter, you would experience 2.5 times the gravity that you experience on Earth. Then you’d fall to your death, because it’s a gas planet, made of hydrogen, the lightest element in the Universe. You can’t stand on gas, rookie.

If you tried to bring your Venusian Vernian exploratorium ballooncraft for a jaunt across the skies of Jupiter, it would sink like a copper bowler with lead goggles.

The only thing that’s lighter than hydrogen is hot hydrogen. Let’s say you could make a balloon, and fill it with superheated hydrogen and float around the cloud tops of Jupiter suffering the crushing gravity. Is there anything else that might kill you?

Did you leave Earth? Then of course there is. Everything is going to kill you, always. You might want to write that on the brass plaque next to your ship’s wheel with the carving of Shiva in the center there, Captain Baron Cogsworth Copperglass.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot and Ganymede's Shadow. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center)
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and Ganymede’s Shadow. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center)

Jupiter is surrounded by an enormous magnetic field, ten times more powerful than Earth’s. It traps particles and then whips them around like an accelerator. This radiation is a million times more powerful than the Earth’s Van Allen belts. Our big human meat roasting concern during the Apollo days.

If you tried to get near the radiation belts without insufficient shielding. It’d be bad. Just picture jamming your copper and brass steamwork fantasy into a giant microwave.

Is it possible there’s a solid core, deep down within Jupiter? Somewhere we could live, and not have to worry about those pesky buoyancy problems? Probably. Astronomers think there are a few times the mass of the Earth in rocky material deep down inside.

Of course, the pressure and temperature are incomprehensible. The temperature at the core of Jupiter is thought to be 24,000 degrees Celsius. Hydrogen is crushed so tightly it becomes superheated liquid or strange new flavors of ice. It becomes a metal.

The moral, we’re not equipped to go there. Let alone set up shop. So, let’s just stick with fantasizing your adventures as Emperor Esquire Beardweirdy Brassnozzle Steamypantaloons.

In his classic book 2001, Arthur C. Clarke said that “all these worlds are yours except Europa, attempt no landing there”. Well that’s crazy.

Europa’s awesome, we’re totally landing there, especially if we discover alien whales. So, Europa first. Besides, it’s just a book. So, Jupiter is the worst. Do not navigate your airship into that harbour.

What’s the worst possible environment you can imagine to try and live on? Tell us in the comments below.

12 Replies to “Could We Live on Jupiter?”

  1. Cool but you need to read Clifford Simak’s “A Choice of Gods” – see

    In it humanity lands VR capable robots on Saturn’s “core” and it turns out the experience is so intoxicating we build robots capable of housing our personalities and we leave Earth – and leave a sentient robot on the surface watching successive intelligent life evolve on the planet.

    I wont give away the end of the story but it turns out humanity wasn’t just the people that went to Saturn….


  2. The weirdest possible place to locate would be on a T-class Brown Dwarf. It would provide all the heat energy we could possibly use while giving use a very long term place to habitat. This type of place is not absolutely beyond our technology to habitate. The 800 to 1,880 degrees Fahrenheit is not totally unrealistically hot to establish platforms to hold cities on. And when other stars start to go out in the Universe and star creation ceases, this may be the only option for long term human life.

    1. Not to many materials for ‘platforms’ could withstand 1800 degrees F. For the few that could, they’d make a nice hot plate for frying humans.

      1. Your thinking that maybe we could not vent heat off or out of the city with an unlimited energy supply? The trick is to make the platform in layers with plenty of ventilation in any air spaces. Huge city wide air conditioners would take excessive heat out of the air and pump it up out of the city. Water supply will come from any comets or other bodies that are primarily ice. Recycling will be a must.

    2. I’m wondering how you would make use of that heat energy, given the laws of thermodynamics. The heat has to flow down a gradient of some sort, so you would need a big radiator that can send your waste heat into space. Challenging.

      1. This is a non-issue. Pulling heat out of the city means you’ll have higher than 1,880 degrees Fahrenheit heat exiting the city wide air conditioner. Why? Because 1,880 degrees Fahrenheit heat will always be trying to get into the city. Pumping it out will be the primary job of it’s citizens. Inspectors, engineers, tool makers, metallurgists, they will all be dedicating themselves to keeping the primary and all secondary air conditioners running. When you think of air conditioners, you are thinking of small window mounted units in your home. That remove 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit out of the air (about 20 to 30 total degrees) to leave the air at 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course the exhaust will leave you wondering about how to get it out of the city. But the city wide air conditioning units will be pumping 1,880 degrees Fahrenheit worth of heat out of the air to make the temperature near 70 degrees. More than enough heat just to vent outside the city.

  3. Forget for a moment about the weirdest places to support human life in space. There are some cities throughout our own world that seem less hospitable than the surface of Mars. At least on Mars, there aren’t people shooting at you.

    1. Really? Do you have some example or are you just blindly recklessly hatemongering against human life?

  4. “all these worlds are yours except Europa, attempt no landing there” actually comes from 2010:Odyssey two by Arthur C. Clarke not 2001 ^_^

  5. It’s a BIG universe. Imagine that practically anything and everything you can or ever will imagine about alien lifeforms is probably a reality and is happening somewhere out in the apparently infinite expanses of our universe? How about, beings that feed on high energy x-ray or even gamma ray radiation? How about beings whose bodies are composed of plasma? After all.. there is flat out NO WAY there could already be life on Jupiter… maybe.

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