Ceres, which has a diameter of 590 miles (950km), is the largest object in the asteroid belt – a ring of space rocks situated between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. A team of scientists have now proposed building an orbiting “megasatellite” around Ceres which could home humans. The researchers, from the Finnish Meteorological Institute, state that the materials needed to build the satellite could be mined from Ceres itself.
The team acknowledged the abundance of nitrogen on the dwarf planet which could be used to create an Earth-like atmosphere. Earth’s atmosphere is made up of 78 percent nitrogen.
The researchers stated in their paper, which was published on the pre-peer review site arXiv, that a disc-shaped megasatellite could be created, and would be composed of smaller spinning satellites.
All of the bodies would be attached through magnetic tethering, the researchers said.
To create gravitational conditions similar to Earth, these spinning satellites would have to orbit Ceres in just 66 seconds.
The team also said that a space elevator would be needed to transport materials from Ceres to the human-made station.
There are several benefits to building a base around Ceres, the researchers argued.
Firstly, they state that away from Earth’s conditions, there will be no natural disasters.
There would also be more space for the growing human population.
“The motivation is to have a settlement with artificial gravity that allows growth beyond Earth’s living area, while also providing easy intra-settlement travel for the inhabitants and reasonably low population density of 500/km2.
“Because intra-settlement travel can be propellantless, achieving this goal is possible at least in principle.
“Lifting the materials from Ceres is energetically cheap compared to processing them into habitats, if a space elevator is used.
“Because Ceres has low gravity and rotates relatively fast, the space elevator is feasible.”