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 Post subject: Dwarf Planets
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:15 am 
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An very interesting article summarising our current knowledge of the dwarf planets and large Kuiper Belt Objects on the fringes of the solar system:

How many dwarf planets are there in the outer solar system?

According to the article, as of Fri Aug 12 2011 there are:

  • 8 objects which are nearly certainly dwarf planets,
  • 26 objects which are highly likely to be dwarf planets,
  • 48 objects which are likely to be dwarf planets,
  • 107 objects which are probably dwarf planets, and
  • 428 objects which are possibly dwarf planets.

That's a lot of potential dwarf planets!

I wonder whether it might be possible to borrow some ideas from Paul McAuley's novels The Quiet War and Gardens of the Sun for a setting where there are human habitats this far out - maybe political or religious dissidents? This might work well in games such as Eclipse Phase or GURPS Transhuman Space.


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 Post subject: Re: Dwarf Planets
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:35 am 
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Assuming they're catalogued, they'd be easier to find I guess (since people would know where they are). Of course, maybe the point would be to chance upon a smaller KBO with an uncatalogued orbit, so that you're not easy to locate ;).

Pretty much any asteroid or KBO would be good for habitats, though I guess out there one problem would be that it would take a long time to resupply the habitat.

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 Post subject: Re: Dwarf Planets
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:54 am 
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EDG wrote:
Pretty much any asteroid or KBO would be good for habitats, though I guess out there one problem would be that it would take a long time to resupply the habitat.


True. I wonder how much of the colonist's needs could be synthesized locally from available raw materials?

I suppose that the remote location might be attractive to people who want to avoid attention, so I presume that they wouldn't want to be too dependent upon external supplies.

The option of habitats on dwarf planets near the edge of a solar system has some possibilities for more traditional SF games too - if there are this many KBOs in a typical star system, they might provide an interesting location for a pirate base or a secret research installation.


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 Post subject: Re: Dwarf Planets
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:06 am 
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One thing that's not entirely clear right now is whether KBOs are common in all systems. Our own system (according to the Nice Model) had a bit of planetary musical chairs going on early in its history - Uranus and Neptune formed closer to the sun and were pushed out by gravitational interactions with Jupiter and Saturn, which threw a lot of debris that was around 20-30AU into longer orbits to make the Kuiper Belt we see today (and possibly the Late Heavy Bombardment recorded in craters on bodies in the inner solar system).

I'm wondering if this would necessarily happen in other solar systems, particularly if they don't have jovians, or if they migrated in the wrong direction. I guess there's the fact that the debris was there between 20-30 AU to start with, so maybe it just means that one might expect extrasolar kuiper belts to be closer to the star in solar systems where the scattering didn't happen.

Oh, welcome aboard BTW ;)

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