On April 12th , we celebrated the 56th anniversary of the first man in space.
Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin held the rapt attention of the planet when he became the first individual to enter into space on April 12, 1961. During his 108 minute orbital flight in his space craft “The Vostok 1,” he changed the course of history forever.
Since that time, hundreds of intrepid astronauts have made the same journey and gone far beyond what we dreamed was possible back in 1961. This all leads us to the current question at hand – what are the best planets and/or moons for our next big leap toward colonizing another world and possibly even living in space?
This premise may seem far-fetched, but a whole new generation of astronauts and astronomers assure us that this is not too far from the scope of possibility. Here are the top five moons that scientists believe might be best suited for human inhabitation.
- Europa – Europa is one of Jupiter’s moons, and despite its thick ice surface many experts believe that a massive ocean lies just beneath. If this is the case, life may already exist on this moon; at the very least, it might have the water resources that we need to survive. Tests taken of its icy crust show that the planet may have a rocky core, a positive sign when it comes to the conditions possible for life. More data should be available by 2025.
- Titan – Saturn’s moon Titan definitely belongs on this list; scientists have been studying its “liveability” factor for years. While humans would still require breathing apparatuses and extreme cold weather protection (think -290 degrees F), we would not need pressurized gear. While there is no water on Titan, scientists believe that there is liquid methane, something that could already support alternative forms of life.
- Triton – Neptune’s largest moon has been mapped by the Voyager 2 spacecraft, and data collected in 1989 shows that Triton is comprised on rock and nitrogen ice. This might suggest the presence of liquid water, something that could make life for humans possible. That said, it is the coldest place in the known universe (-291 degrees Fahrenheit), so we would need to really bundle up!
- Ganymede – Ganymede has a very thin surface, making Jupiter’s largest moon relatively easy to penetrate. Many experts believe that liquid water may lie just beneath its surface. Ganymede is also the only moon in the known universe to have its own magnetic fields, and it also has a thin oxygen atmosphere. While that oxygen is too thin for us to breathe, it does give hope that this could be adapted for human use.
- Luna (aka the Moon!) – Yes, you read correctly. The sphere of rock that we call our moon might very well be the first place in space that humans colonize, owing to its proximity. While life on the moon would be difficult, its relative nearness could provide a good ‘staging ground’ for future missions further into the solar system and beyond.