# How to protect a settlement on Mercury from solar flares and coronal mass ejections?

There is a settlement moving along the terminator line on Mercury: I can build it within $\pm 2^{o}$ of the terminator, that is, in the daylight side or the night side. There are going to be lots of solar flares, storms and coronal mass ejection to deal with. There will be dust storms as well, and space debris that may be oncoming. How should all of this be dealt with. I don't believe Mercury's magnetosphere is strong enough.

• Could there be some sort of plasma shield built around the settlement?
• Would a Faraday cage around the settlement work?

Please make suggestions—the year is 2085, so a lot of technology that might not be available now, or is currently in development, will be available then.

I would appreciate any and all comments on this.

• Does not qualify as an answer because I have done no research, but since you mention the magnetosphere, why not just use magnets? – Jake Jan 20 '17 at 16:09
• Interesting question (and welcome to the site). As it stands it is really broad and there are a few questions buried within. Can you narrow the focus a bit? – James Jan 20 '17 at 16:48
• Have you read 2312? – JDługosz Jan 20 '17 at 17:40

Simply place the settlement in the night side where it is shielded by the mass of mercury from any bad stuff coming out of the sun. Anything that needs sunlight can be run remotely.

You would most likely want to do this anyway just to keep temperatures somewhat reasonable. Daytime temperatures are around 430°C, at nigh time this drops to as low as −170°C.

For this reason I suggest you would place your settlement on the "sunset" side, constantly moving towards daylight but never reaching it. The settlement would try to remain in a region where temperatures have cooled enough to be practical to work in and with but not yet completely frozen.

Mercury has a radius of 2 440km, and a day 1 407 hours long. This gives a circumference of 15 330km. Your settlement would need to move at an average speed of just under 11km/h average speed to remain in the desired temperature band.

• In Robinson’s novel I think it is on the opposite side, running from the sunrise. This allows the heating of the track to push the city ahead of the hit part. – JDługosz Jan 20 '17 at 17:39
• The problem their is now your settlement is not really a settlement since it has to stay mobile. – John Jan 21 '17 at 1:15
• @John The OP explicitly specified the "settlement" is moving in his very first sentence. – Durandal Jan 21 '17 at 14:17

Dig

Rock and dirt are pretty good radiation shields, you would only have to dig down and build underground to protect from radiation estimates range from a dozen to a few dozen yards. Heat is a problem, so build at the poles where it is constantly cold (below freezing). Restrict surface operations away from the poles to the year long nights and you're fine. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/acmp/2014/609161/

• The question says the settlement is moving though... – Tim B Jan 20 '17 at 16:35
• millions of people move underground everyday. It's called the subway/underground/tube/Hyperloop :p – Alfwed Jan 20 '17 at 17:17
• @Tim B I think its Mainly due to the fact that temperature would be an issue, but that's taken care of they did go underground, then the terminator line becomes an operational window for surface projects. I.e. cleaning the solar panels. – Garrett Gaddy Jan 20 '17 at 19:33
• Not at the poles. In a depth of a few meters, you always have the average outside temperature. I'd go for something pleasant. 21°C perhaps. – Karl Jan 20 '17 at 20:44
• @Karl The temprature at the poles is consistent, cold but consistent. I know about about the averaging thing on earth but does hold true for mercury with its year long days. – John Jan 21 '17 at 1:13

To remain protected by from the Sun, and to create a livable space, I suggest a biodome on wheels. Mercury's low axial tilt means its polar regions are permanently shaded. Astronomers predict, using their orbiters, that there is up to 1 trillion tons of water ice. Place the biodome resources and construction robots close to the sunlit side of the planet. This will all the core temperatures of the robots to be sustainable with out being destroyed my the suns charged particles.

What you should make in this biomdome is pataterraforming. Essentially it requires a natural ecology, on Mercury this is much easier than on Mars. The container will be self-pressurized meaning it will have its own atmosphere. The ice water can be melted to create water vapor. The dome would have its own water and carbon cycle.

To protect itself you simply need to put this dome on the dark side- with wheels this will be easily accomplished-so that the suns charged particles hit the opposite side. http://www.universetoday.com/130109/how-do-we-colonize-mercury/

Yeah, moving it to remain in the twilight zone would help, but protecting the settlement from the sun would be imperative, even if it needs a mobile unit that can always move into the most protected position.

Clouds of moisture/gases could be pumped over the station to cloud it over, and a geostationary solar panel on the edge of the daylight/night side could extend a shadow or protect a colony from direct cosmic/sun/radioactive waves. A dense cloud around the colony could block most molecules, or if using exotic gases, they could adhere to the cloud's dense particles.

Or, build a big umbrella, or a dome, and fill the dome with water/liquid that would protect it from nasty gaseous output. Like the radiation from the Van Allen radiation belt, certain materials block rays and if engineered to a larger scale, it could protect an entire colony, much like a plastic bag holds water to keep a goldfish alive.

• Amusing style & ideas! 1+ – Karl Jan 21 '17 at 7:02
• There’s some good ideas in there, but you need things like paragraph breaks and organization to make them more findable. – JDługosz Jan 21 '17 at 22:01