Ganymede Part 2

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Jupiter is similar to a device called a unipolar generator. It generates a vast domain dominated by Jovian magnetic fields see figures. When Jupiter rotates, its ionized upper atmosphere, the ionosphere, moves relatively to the planet's dipole magnetic field. This makes the poles negatively charged and the regions closer to the equator become positively charged.

This has to get balanced, and somewhat weirdly, some of that happens by running currents between the moons and the poles, making a beautiful aurora. Ganymede, Europa and Io have satellite auroral spots, the footprints of their magnetic field lines connecting their ionospheres with the ionosphere of Jupiter. Those glowing spots develop because the co-rotation of the plasma is slowed in the vicinity of moons. The brightest spot belongs to Io, which is the main source of the plasma in the magnetosphere. Europa's and Ganymede's spots are much dimmer, because these moons are weaker plasma sources.

With surface gravity of 0.

Ganymede Hypothesis Parts 1 & 2 (H264 improved audio)

Think of it as like the Arctic, with the Sun a mere small hot dot in the sky. But in that thick atmosphere you can also fly —with an Earth atmosphere pressure, and some extensions on your arms, you can ride updrafts with ease. Both Heinlein and those who followed knew that inevitably, as humanity opened the Solar System to exploration and commerce, it would be cheaper in energy to tug small asteroids in from the orbits between Mars and Jupiter than to lift them with mighty rocket engines from Earth. So I began constructing a future history that led to Farmer in the Sky and beyond.

There we left our colonists with some crunched gravel and grit, but had not really introduced biology. But I have the advantage of sixty years of progress, and have even started some biotech companies myself Genescient, LifeCode. Once a tiny fraction of the ice plains were melted into vapor, a greenhouse effect began to take hold. Sunlight striking the ice no longer reflected uselessly back into space; instead, the atmosphere stopped the infrared portion, trapping the heat.

Once this began, the fusion-crawlers were a secondary element in the whole big equation. The fresh ammonia streams and methane-laced vapors were deadly to Earth-based life.

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They had made an atmosphere worth reckoning with. Ice tectonics adjusted to the shifting weight, forcing up mountains of sharp shards, uncovering lodes of meteorites, which in turn provided fresh manufacturing ore for yet more fusion-crawlers. The first rains fell. A slight mist of virulent ammonia descended on the Zamyatin Settlement.

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It collected in a dip on the main dome, dissolving the tenuous film on it. After some hours, the acid ate through. A whoosh of lost pressure alerted the agriworkers. They got out in time, scared but unshaken. The only solution was to change the atmosphere as it was made.

Further rains underlined the point — it became harder to work outside because the vapors would attack the monolayer skinsuits. The fusion plants were no help. They were hopelessly crude engines, chemically speaking, limited to regurgitating vapors that had been laid down three billion years before, when the moon formed.

They could not edit their output. As they burrowed deeper into the ice fields, the situation worsened. Io, the pizza planet, had once enjoyed a more active stage. The result was a harshly acidic vapor plume, condensing to fierce yellow rains that seared whatever they touched.

Fifty-seven men and women died in the torrents before something was done. The fusion-crawlers had been a fast and cheap solution because they were self-reproducing machines. The answer to bioengineering of the atmosphere lay in a tried-and-true method: self-reproducing animals. But these creatures were unlike anything seen on Earth. The central authority on Ganymede, Hiruko Station, introduced a whole catalog of high-biotech beings that could survive in the wilds of near-vacuum and savage chemicals.

This began as a program in controlled mutation but rapidly moved far beyond that. Tangling the DNA instructions together yielded beings able to survive extreme conditions. The interactions of those genes were decidedly nonlinear: when you add a pig to an eel, flavor with arachnid, and season with walrus, do not expect anything cuddly or even recognizable.

There were bulky gravel gobblers, who chewed on rocky ices heavy with rusted iron.

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  • They in turn excreted a green, oxygen-rich gas. The scooters came soon after, slurping at ammonia-laden ice.

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    These were pale yellow, flat shapes, awkward and blind on their three malformed legs. They shat steady acrid streams of oxy-available mush. Hiruko Station said the first plant forms could live in the bile-colored scooter stools. They roved in flocks, responding to genes that knew only two imperatives: eat and mate. They did both with a furious, single-minded energy, spreading over the ice, which was for them an endless banquet. Hiruko Station liked the results, and introduced a new form — rockjaws — that consumed nearly anything, breathing in the ammonia-rich atmosphere, and exhaling it back as oxygen and nitrogen.

    Rockjaws could scavenge far more efficiently than the gravel gobbler, and even bite through meteorites. Metallic jaws were the key.

    The high-biotech labs had turned up a method of condensing metal in living tissues, making harder bones possible. Rockjaws were smart enough to stay away from the Settlements unlike the others, who constantly wandered into greenhouses or tried to eat them. The rockjaws were too smart. They were genetically programmed to think the loathsome methane ices were scrumptious, but they also saw moving around nearby even more interesting delicacies: gravel-gobblers.

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    And they were smart enough to hunt these unforeseen prizes. Hiruko Station later excused this miscalculation as an unfortunate side effect of the constant proton sleet, which caused fast genetic drift and unpredictable changes. Hiruko Station pointed to the big inflamed warts the creatures grew and the strange mating rituals they began to invent — none of this in the original coding.

    The scooter flocks were showing deformities, too. Some seemed demented though it was hard to tell and took to living off the excretion of the gravel-gobblers, like pigs rooting in cow manure. First Hiruko Station tried introducing a new bioengineered animal into the equation. It was a vicious-looking thing, a spider with tiny black eyes and incisors as big as your finger. It stood three meters high and was forever hungry, fine-tuned to salivate at the sight of any mutation of the normals. This genetically ordained menu was quite specific and complexly coded, so it was the first thing to go wrong with the ugly beast.

    Pretty soon it would hunt down and eat anything that moved — even humans — and Hiruko Station had to get rid of it. That led to a surprising solution to other rising societal stresses. The only way to exterminate the spiders was by hunting them down. Many men and women in the Settlements volunteered for the duty. After some grisly incidents, they had grudges to settle, and anyway it gave them a reason to get out of the domed regularity of their hothouse gardens and manicured fields. Thus was revived a subculture long missing from Earth: the Hunt, with its close bonding and reckless raw life in the alien wilderness.

    These disorderly bands exterminated the spiders within a year. Hiruko Station found it was cheaper to pay the hunters a bounty to track down and destroy aberrant scooters, rockjaws and gravel-gobblers, than it was to try for a biotech fix.

    Resistive MHD simulations of Ganymede's magnetosphere 2. Birkeland currents and particle energetics

    The Settlements were tradition-steeped societies — internal discipline is essential when an open valve or clogged feed line can kill a whole community. The Hunt provided an outlet for deeply atavistic human urges and pressures, long pent and fiercer for their confinement. The atmosphere thickened. Hiruko Station added more mutant strains of quick-breeding animals to the mix, driving the chemical conversion still faster.

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