1000 Years Into the Future: Terraforming Other Planets

8 months ago

You were lucky to find that 6 by 6 foot apartment, after all. None of your friends own one: they mostly live in capsule modules where it’s only possible to sleep without turning and tossing much. The price for what they call “a mansion” today is obscenely high, and you still can’t fully accept it.

Tomorrow you gotta sign that contract and make the down payment. Actually, you had the chance to buy it only because you won that chance in the lottery. This is how you live in 2999 — you and the other 100 billion people.

Some people though invest in numerous “New millennium apartment blocks” on other planets. The latest real estate trend is to downshift somewhere on Ross 128b, Mars, or even Saturn. You were thinking about it too, but you just love the Earth’s atmosphere and nature too much.

While you’re sipping your morning coffee, a pop-up advertisement hologram instantly fills all the space in your capsule, and it just won’t disappear. “Dear Earthen! Don’t miss out on the chance to change your life once and for all! Check out the newest apartment blocks on Ross 128b, Mars, Europa, and Saturn! Invest in your new housing and brand-new life! Bus tours available daily!”

Suddenly, you realize this spam might be your chance. You still have some time before signing that contract. You’ve got nothing to lose. It’s just a one-day tour. After all, 11 light years from Earth to Ross 128b aren’t a big deal now — just a couple of hours on that space bus the agency provides. You’ll go there and see that there’s no place like Earth — just to make sure you’ve made the right choice.

You rush to the space bus station, and you’re just in time. Three, two, one, go! The bus pulls off and two hours later you’re already there, on Ross 128b. Wow. It looks a bit like the old-fashioned Earth you’ve seen in scientific presentations at University. The surface is rocky with some green spots — these must be the forests and meadows scientists are trying to introduce.

It does have an atmosphere, although artificial. The real estate agent says it’s actually good: no unpredicted weather anymore. Everything is controlled by the dwellers, the only inconvenience is that the better the weather is, the heftier bill you’re gonna get next month. UV protection is essential on Ross 128b. Its index is 38% higher than on Earth, so regular sunscreen turns out pretty helpless.

They say this planet is like the Earth twin, but you kinda disagree. There’s some vegetation, but it all looks so weird you feel like you’re in a computer game. Next to the apartment block, there’s an orchard and a small farm producing organic food for the locals, so you decide to pop in and check how it works.

The fruit and vegetables look so odd there. You realize this must be an apple tree, but it has microchips instead of flower buds, and the fruit is cubical. There are apples of all the rainbow colors. You go forward and stumble on a small rock — one of the few things that belong to this planet originally and weren’t imported from Earth. A butterfly lands on the tip of your nose. You wanna touch it, but as soon as your fingers reach it, the insect disperses in numerous pixels.

The real estate agent runs up to you helping you stand back on your feet. She says all the fauna on the planet is still represented in the form of holograms, because transferring it all from Earth doesn’t seem possible at the moment. All the fauna elements are tightly connected together, and even the smallest butterfly can make a dramatic difference. With the money you have for the down payment on Earth, you can afford a two-story apartment on this planet.

The only problem is tiring commuting to work every single day. “Come on y’all! Mars is ahead, we still have a lot of apartment blocks to show you!” Ah, that’s the real estate agent calling you. You hop on that bus and some time later you land on Mars. By 2999, it looks just spectacular, but a bit too sandy.

The scientists still can’t bring liquid water to this planet, even though the atmosphere’s completely fine. The planet’s too warm now because they tried to make it habitable. Even though there are glaciers, all the water instantly turns to gas because of the heat. You spot some large machines up in the sky.

The real estate agent says these are some essential pieces of equipment that trap the gas water up in the sky to make Martian pouched water. She hands one pouch to you to try it out. Looks like an air balloon, weird. You inhale it and... You’ve never tasted anything like this before, and you still can’t understand how that gas quenched your thirst.

The main plants on Mars are cacti of all forms. They adapted perfectly to its atmosphere, and scientists even managed to blend other plant genes with those of cacti. These tall plants are a Martian type of maple, you can tell it by looking at the leaves. Look, here are some pears growing on that large cactus, and you also see mangoes, avocados, and fruits of all kinds.

They seem to be thriving: the Sun’s shining, and they’re surrounded by water in the form of gas. It almost feels like home here. While Ross 128b still has to be developed, it’s been over 200 years since the first ranch on Mars was made. The real estate is pricier here though, so you can only afford a nice studio apartment. Looks like a bargain, but it’s time to visit another planet.

You’re heading to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. You’ve been to this planet last year on vacation, and you loved it a lot. One thousand years ago, scientists thought there was water under its icy crust, and they were right! The crust melted forming a huge ocean twice the size of Earth’s world ocean, and the planet itself has been undergoing various changes over the last millennium.

All the cracks it had on its smooth surface formed many small continents. All of them were named after European countries, but you have enough time to visit only one of them — Italy. The continent is surrounded by azure water and there are endless fragrant lemon trees. People cook pizza with freshly grown tomatoes, though they’re as large as Earth’s watermelons — one tomato is enough for two pizzas.

You look through the Europa brochure to get more information about other continents. In Norway, there are mountains looking very much like Norwegian fjords, in France, there are endless lavender fields, and on the continent of Greece, there are large farms with olive trees. You close the brochure realizing that real estate here is almost as pricey as back on Earth — no wonder, too many people wanna live there.

Time’s up, you’ve got one more planet ahead. The bus is about to land and there’s an announcement: “Welcome to Saturn! Put on your swimming masks and dive in to see our ultimate apartment block!” The scientists spent over 250 years trying to solidify Saturn, but it was in vain. In the end, they decided to try making the first settlements back in the 2980s when you were a kid.

The gravity on Saturn is a bit stronger than on Earth, which allowed scientists to construct large complexes under domes for people to dwell there. In the depths of Saturn’s gas oceans, there’s a wide variety of fauna: jellyfish, octopuses, even sharks! They look a bit different, trying to adapt to their life on another planet.

Their fins look way larger to help them handle incredibly strong winds of 1,100 mph. But the most incredible part is the flora. Saturn’s algae come in at least 3,000 different colors, at least the brochure says so. You can also regulate their intensity and shade with a remote.

Two hours later, you’re back in your capsule. You keep tossing in your bed, it’s the last night here. Tomorrow is the big day, but you’re still in two minds. You saw that studio apartment on Mars in your dreams, you ate Martian pancakes topped with cactus-maple syrup.

The alarm clock goes off. “Congratulations! You’re now the owner of your own apartment on Earth! Very few people can make it in 2999, Mr. Sanders!” You’re holding a set of keys in your hand.

A notification beeps on your phone: “Lease your apartment on Earth and move to Mars! You won’t ever have to work again!” You can’t help it, and begin to smile.

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