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To continue Insano's point, finding life on another planet will shock the world. Even if it's small, like bacteria, it is an alien life form and will transform our perceptions of our world and its relationship with the universe with proof. Therefore, those uninterested in the "scientifically interesting" missions will become more interested, thus funding the practical ones. Because if something else can live on another planet, maybe we could as well.

well actually if its the size of a great lake then thats huge. You could support a million people on that amount of water alone, and this is without accounting for recycling water. Lake Ontario is a small Great lake, but thats 712 miles of lake with a surface area of 7,540 sq miles and a depth of 802 feet. That 1,638,095,457,398,147.5 liters. 15 figures. Thats a shitload of water.

Mars (and the Moon for that matter) will never be terraformed. Its core is too cool and is unable to produce the electromagnetic fields required to shield an atmosphere from the sun. Localized habitats may be possible if a cheap source of power can be discovered and harnessed.

Europa would be interesting, though again atmosphere calls the likelyhood into question. The water can be converted into hydrogen and oxygen, but we need nitrogen, possibly helium depending on the pressures under the ice.

I think I'm in a bad mood today. I feel like I'm raining on someone's parade.

Look, once we have the energy resources necessary to be even to reasonably send people to Europa, I'm sure we'll be able to find more Nitrogen or whatever gases we need. We might even be making making them at that point, if nuclear fusion is ever perfected.

Take your rain elsewhere.

Well, if we had infinite energy to work with, we'd be better off using it to make Venus habitable, since it's the only object in the solar system of comparable size to Earth, and therefore the only one with comparable gravity.  We "just" have to push it farther away from the sun and make it spin faster.  No colony on any other space rock would be very useful for the purpose of saving the human race from, say, a supernova powered X-ray beam killing everything on the planet, because the people living there wouldn't be able to support their own weight upon return to Earth.  You can't repopulate the planet if your bones are too frail to withstand sex at 1g.

Of course, in the absence of infinite energy, space colonies of all sorts and sizes would be excellent learning opportunities along the road to all that lovely science fiction technology.  Europa's too distant for that, though.  And if there's a chance of finding life there that didn't come from Earth in the first place, we'd better keep our filthy paws away from it to avoid contamination, or nobody would ever believe it.


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