O'er the smooth enameld green, Where no print of step hath been, Follow me, as I sing And touch the warbld string; Under the shady roof Of branching elm star-proof Follow me.
John Milton, from Arcades
FAR above the emerald green seas that served as passageways through the Mediterranean, the Polynesian Pacific and to the New World, far above the tremulous canopies of the elm forest and beyond the finest wisps of Earth's life-giving atmosphere sits the Interplanetary Frontier. In crystal clarity, telescopes and space probes have returned photos of the strange environments of other solar-system worlds. Where in nearby space might human settlements best be established and how might humans and their descendents live in these strange new environments?
Broadly speaking, other than the Earth, there are three different types of environments within our solar system that will be of interest to early space pioneers. There are small, airless worlds such as our Moon, marginally habitable places such as Mars, and mountain-sized asteroids or comet nuclei. From the point of view of future human pioneers and settlers, each has advantages and disadvantages.
We omit from consideration such places as torrid Mercury and Venus and giant worlds such as Jupiter. Although far-future humans or their descendents might learn how to terraform Venus into a more clement, Earth-like world, or disassemble the gas giants to construct hordes of space cities, realization of such speculations lie very far in our future.
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