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Vulcanoid

For other asteroid models, please go to Asteroids (theoretical models).

A Vulcanoid is an asteroid located close to its parent star. It is not known if such asteroids exist in Solar System, but for sure they must exist around other stars, since planets are known to orbit other stars in very close orbits.

Basic conditions Edit

A vulcanoid is located very close to its parent star. The first result of this is that the average temperature is very high. Also, the asteroid is exposed to strong solar winds. Because it is close to the star, we expect the year to be very short. There is a high chance that such a body will be tidal locked.

Geology Edit

On a vulcanoid, temperatures are very high. Depending on distance and nature of its parent star, temperatures can be even beyond 2000 degrees Kelvin. As a direct result, water should be absent or very rare. Water can be still found (probably brought from comet impacts) on the dark side if the asteroid is tidal locked. Since asteroids are small, a meteorite impact on a narrow angle is enough to make the asteroid rotate a bit or change its axis, exposing its dark side to light and heat.

At temperatures above 1000 K, many rocks should sublimate, including sodium and potassium. Other, heavier elements, will remain in higher concentrations.

Economy Edit

The main reason why a vulcanoid should be chosen for a colony is industry. Rich in heavy elements, they are the perfect destination for a mining company. Their low gravity makes transportation of minerals and ores more easy. Solar wind is strong enough to power a solar sail. In time, industrial centers can grow around a mining corporation, on the vulcanoid or further away on other asteroids.

With the help of solar wind, it is easy to send cargo from a vulcanoid to other destinations, however, it is hard to send materials from an outer asteroid to the vulcanoid. This is because a spaceship will have to decrease its speed. NASA experts know that a direct mission to Mercury needs more fuel then one to Pluto. When Messenger was sent to Mercury, its speed was slowed many times with gravity assists from Earth and Venus. So, bringing supplies to a colony near a vulcanoid is expensive. So, settlers will have to use whatever they find and limit their imports.

The colony Edit

Mining on the illuminated side of a vulcanoid is hard, if not impossible, for humans. For robots, this will not be too difficult. Solar winds and extreme temperatures are the top problems.

The colony will need to be on the night side of the asteroid. This way, it will be protected. Setting a base on the twilight is risky because of the solar winds and their interactions. It can be built inside a dome or underground (see Internal paraterraforming). Light can be brought from the illuminated side (by using glass fiber). Also, the illuminated side will provide enough energy with the help of a few solar panels.

The colony will have a central base for spaceships. It will include surface or underground apartments, maintenance buildings and a greenhouse. There, plants can be grown to feed the colony and to provide air. A good idea will be to create a central park, where settlers will relax and remember the world they have left to come to a vulcanoid.

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