Deep winter is a model for astronaut – cosmonaut training. You suit up with insulated boots, hooded parka, tuque, and thick gloves before hitting the pressure lock and going out-of-doors. Close to the poles, winter days are short, and it is often dark out there.
Thick boots cushion you from the salt and pellet ice pack, fresh snow, and melting slop. Headsets for music and phone calls keep the modern ‘Boreanaut’ plugged in. The cold can be tolerated, but the real test is the wind, which when cold, makes everything difficult.
As the last great city on the northern edge of the America’s two giant megalopolis, winter is the harsh reality of living on the edge of the habitable zone. Geography and meteorological constraints keeps population density from moving further toward the pole.
Regular winter temperatures below -20 C push the tolerance threshold of most people. If it were any colder, we’d be on the moon is a common expression.
Touch the Sky
The association of latitude and altitude tells me that were I to live at the equator, my biome / habitation zone would be at 3000 – 4000 metres above sea level. Up in the higher latitudes and altitudes, one is naturally closer to the sky, closer to space, closer to the cold. Aurora at the poles are that eerie quiet, pulsing light that keep your gaze up.
The cold makes metal more brittle, and fine motor skills slower. Any project in winter requires extra preparation and accommodation. Anything that needs to be done in space must be proven in winter.
It came as no surprise to learn that scientists use Antarctica as a test harness for space sciences. Yes, you can drive a rover over rocks in climate deserts, but if you want to know how it’ll perform on the moon or Mars, drive it around the -50 degree temperatures of the polar regions.
Northern Space Colonies
We’ve had years of the space stations, and the cosmonauts who have provided decades of science to our understanding. The model could be taken to other cosmic bodies to be a mining community.
This northern city has winter in a large metropolitan, technically advanced setting. You can imagine beyond a cosmic mining camp cluster. Walking downtown streets and tunnels in the blizzard, and looking at the vibrant manmade bustle, it’s possible to see humans are soon ready to build a well-developed off world colony.
The Earth as the cradle of life is a warm drop in the vastness. Living at its edge, the cold of winter and space challenges us to adapt and adopt. The perimeter of Earth’s bubble is the training ground for life to move beyond our aquarium.
It is here that we search how to further integrate life into the cosmos. We seek ways by which life becomes a common & changing force beyond Earth, similar to how life has become ingrained into the fabric and chemical forces of Earth.
Extra terrestrial mandate
The biosphere of Earth has invested heavily to create the sentient, curious, able-bodied and extremely adaptable species that is human. We are burning through the biomass as we advance our capabilities to mold our world. Now our species is on the cusp of our true mandate; to take life off this planet and establish it elsewhere. That ability will help us bring this biosphere to balance.
Cover image : Halley VI
2017-07-12 – last updated –