Saturn, the Methan Queen

If Jupiter was the king of the stars of Solsys, Saturn remains the queen. Magnificent, and undeniably of feminine principle, it is a giant of helium and hydrogen, 120 million km at the equator, turning on it at an infernal rate of 10 hours, like Jupiter, which causes crushing of its poles by centrifugal force. On the equator, moreover, the winds turn close to 500 m / second, which makes the management of gas extraction stations difficult. As for the rings, these marvelous concentrations of ice blocks ranging from icebergs several hundred meters thick to that of grains of dust forming concentric rays in perpetual recreation, they have led to the creation of a space hotel for wealthy tourists from 2100.

The human presence "on" Saturn was marked by the construction of three major stations, including one in the rings, and an extraction infrastructure was set up. The advantage of the low mass of the planet was the possibility for extraction stations (dixit "gas mines"), to stay in low orbit without triggering the thrust of its corrective reactors. Fortunately, by the way, because the very strong presence of hydrogen was likely to cause a massive conflagration of the area concerned.

2221: "Saturnest", contraction of "Saturn" and "Nest", for "nest", vast vessel removable and transformable on the principle of Joveye was on the spot. The vast majority of the stations which were placed during the following centuries were located in the exosphere, 1300 km of layers of gases in very fast and low density displacement. From there, their tubes sank into the stratosphere, with some vertical pipelines plunging nearly 2500 km into the atmospheric layers at high pressure, just above the layers of liquid hydrogen. The Saturnian population settled in 2890 around 25 360 settlers spread over more than 142 bases, stations and gas mines. Life is hard, accidents are legion. But a cohort of LNG carriers service these warehouses (liquefied gas tanks) in high orbit daily and the traffic is already calculated in billions of tons of liquefied gas. In 4566, the record number of 1,266,230 settlers spread over 956 sites around and in the outer layers of the star. Daily production was in the tens of billions of tons. Some asteroids in the outer belt became sites for the construction of giant propellant tanks, a requirement for many ships leaving for more distant worlds.

The arrival of Saturnest in 2221 is at the origin of the most advanced study on its own system. Saturn has a number of satellites of varying importance, only one of which can be measured against Jupiter: Titan, a singular planet with a dense atmosphere.

Titan is the largest satellite in the solar system after Ganymede. Unlike the latter, it has a gaseous appearance. Indeed, it is the only one to have such a thick atmosphere in the solar system, proportional to its size, greater than that of Mercury. Its intriguing atmosphere for scientists is 300 km thick composed of mixtures of nitrogen, methane, ethane, acetylene and ethylene, hydrogen cyanide and oxides and carbon dioxides. Below is an ocean of liquid methane and ethane lakes on a surface of rocks and ice at -182 ° C. It is a dead planet, the planetary residue of the materials found in the "soup" corresponding to the building up of Saturn, during its youth.

A base was established in 2163, after the sending of probes and automated exploration bases since the end of the 21st century. Since then, the easy extraction conditions of the Titanian atmosphere have quickly led to the construction of fixed gas mines, decomposing, recombining and compressing the gases of the atmosphere and liquefying them before sending them into space through Intermediate ramps oblique launches magnetic repulsion. Recovered by small vessels in low orbit, the containers are then parked in the deposits of stations in high orbit before being stored on the LNG carriers. The atmospheric pressure higher than that found on earth (1.6 times) and a manageable temperature as well as a low but real gravity, greatly facilitated the life of the settlers: In 3560, there were 136 mines and bases hosting some 795 000 settlers. Despite the measurements made, no beginning of creation of complex living molecules was ever observed. Indeed, since the twentieth century, it was suspected that such a "prebiotic" medium, according to Miller\'s famous experiment, had the ideal conditions for the birth of singular living organisms, but the absence of an acceptable temperature permanently deprived him of it.

Pan, Atlas, Prometheus and Pandora: These four irregular planetoids are present in the outer rings of Saturn, which they follow as massive objects. With a size between 55 and 113 km in size, they served as a base, dug in their center through heated peaks, because their heart is made of ice.

Epimetheus: This planetoid (140 km by 100) floats at the edge of the main system of saturnian rings. It too was dug and used as a versatile base. Janus: Larger than the first, (220 Km by 160), it orbits on the same trajectory as Epimetheus. It also served as a multipurpose base but was partially destroyed in 3213 due to an accident.

Mimas: Large regular planetoid (418 km in diameter) made of rocks and ice, this external satellite to the ring system is immediately recognizable thanks to its formidable impact crater covering almost one third of its surface and finished in its center by a needle resulting from the force of the explosion. Some bases reside there, and a major warehouse for liquefied gas tanks in activity from 2960.

Enceladus: Large planetoid regular (512 km in diameter), it has a recent geological activity, responsible for the recovery of its surface, almost deserted impact craters. It is very clear and remains the most visible satellite of Saturn. It was colonized in 2510, and since then more than 22 bases and depots have been built there as well as 5 mines. Its population was around 26,000 colonists in 3380, spread over "cities" and bases using a new technique to overcome the low local weight, that of "horizontal wheels", recreating a gravity land through their rotation.

Rhéa: Large regular planetoid (418 Km in diameter) made of rocks and ice, this external satellite with the system of rings is immediately recognizable thanks to its formidable crater of impact covering nearly one third of its surface and finished in its center by a needle resulting from the force of the explosion. Some bases reside there, and a major warehouse for liquefied gas tanks in activity from 2960.

Telesto: Very small satellite (29 km, irregular) sharing the Thetys orbit and serving as a warehouse. Calypso: Like Telesto, this small satellite of ice and rocks (33 km) served as an arsenal and space shipyard, completely hollowed out from the inside, it had a breathable pressurized atmosphere.


Thetys: Very large planetoid (1070 km in diameter). The most remarkable sites with regard to the dimensions of this planet are the crater Odysseus 400 km in diameter, and the valley of Ithaca Chasma, 2000 km long and 100 wide in depth. Its recent geological activity gives it a look similar to that of Enceladus, with few craters in places. It served as a supply base and space project for Saturn, and housed more than 458,000 settlers devoted solely to the agricultural activity within pressurized domes on its surface, to provide food bases and saturnine stations.

Dione: a small planet (1120 km in diameter), largely endowed with craters exceeding 100 km in circumference, which for the most part served as a natural reception structure for the giant pressurized domes intended for breeding and agriculture intended to supply Saturn with food . Dione is recognizable by its greenish-white appearance, its low or no cratered plains and giant craters (some 200 km in diameter).

Helene: Small irregular planetoid (36 Km by 30), hollow in its center to serve as arsenal. Rhea: Small planet (1528 km in diameter), reserved for heavy industry (mines of siliceous materials) and with the agricultural and piscicultural domes. Its population in 4550, before its decline, was around 660 000 settlers. It is recognized by its many craters and its reddish color.

Titan: (Second satellite in size of the solar system - 5150 Km.) Seen above.
Hyperion: Very Large Asteroid (irregular small planetoid of 410 by 260 by 220 Km.), Used as construction site and arsenal, but also hosting mines and a small industry. Main city base: Loekhem. Population: 12,000 settlers.


Iapetus: Large planetoid (1436 km in diameter), became the main political and economic center of the Saturnian system. Alone to possess vast oceans and lakes of cyanolate oxide and carbon black as jet, it also has a surface of frozen methane and few rocks, as well as a tenuous atmospheric presence of ammonia. Numerous extraction stations were established there and in the space of three centuries, nearly 85% of the black surfaces so characteristic of Iapet were pumped and packaged for export. The surfaces thus cleared were free for the implantation of bases and agricultural domes. The Japanese population in 3890 had 1,860,000 settlers. She never exceeded that number.

Phoebe: An irregular small planetoid of 220 km, it was an ancient emanation of Iapetus resulting from an asteroid impact. Its surface is almost entirely covered with cyanolate oxide, and especially carbon making its surface extremely dark. For this reason, it was the subject of implantation of pumping stations. Iapetus: Large planétoïde (1440 Km in diameter), located on the borders of the Saturnian system, at 3,560,000 Km of Saturn, and used as advanced base and general deposit.

Other moons

-26 far asteroids have been identified with the 21st century exploration missions. With smaller dimensions, most of them at 25 km, and usually made of water ice and methane, they have been used as natural fuel reserves for space transport and most have been implanted with a mine. refinery. It was in 2755 that the first of these so-called "autonomous" stations was built on S / 2003-5. They were the work of the consortium Satgencie, future heavyweight of the colonization of inhospitable worlds.

Such a station included a few buildings intended to give him a life of more than three months with 2000 men and women staff. It consisted of a look and a philosophy inherited from the offshore oil stations of the old land, a main building used as a small town, including private accommodation and collective dormitories, a multi-purpose living area, a sports center with a pool, a hospital, a maternity and a clinic, a main kitchen and several dining halls, multi-purpose recreational and rest rooms, a large warehouse, an educational center, a library, a morgue, a workshop and reserves. Underneath was directly the operating center with pumping station, heating peaks, and control of transits. Above it was the landing platform of the cargo shuttle that was serving from the big satellites, including meat and fish.

Next to this massive main unit, there was a transparent structure to filter and accentuate the natural sunlight, relayed by an artificial lighting system. Established on inclined planes themselves orientable on their base, they allowed the cultivation of fresh fruits and vegetables. A small unit could also be used for breeding rabbits and poultry and there were often fishponds. Finally, large solar panels made it possible to produce some of the energy from the edge, the rest being provided by a battery of cold fusion cells confined in a building away from the station, as well as a large automated refinery. and vats. Every ship had to be able to dock at a terminal in orbit to receive compressed oxygen and propellant from its tanks, the purpose of this base. The asteroid was equipped in several places with thrusters, giving it an impulse sufficient to cause artificial gravity. Each of these bases was completely removable and storable in a specially designed cargo ship.