In recent years, astronomers have considered the possibility of humans moving to another planet more seriously. We can easily see this from the amount of private companies out there like SpaceX, which is trying to enable us to colonize the planet Mars.
Mars is the closest planet to us outwards of the Sun, and it’s pretty obvious we can’t move inwards because of the Sun’s fierce temperature, making Venus and Mercury both impossible for us to live on. But what if we look further out from Mars, to the other planets beyond it?
Out of the planets beyond Mars, none of them are suited for sustaining life on them. This is especially true for Neptune, which is the furthest planet out from the Sun. But why isn’t Neptune a good planet for us to live in? Let’s look at some of the reasons why this is the case.
Could we live on Neptune?
The answer is that we couldn’t live on the planet Neptune for a few reasons. It’s far too cold, there’s no oxygen and it’s primarily made up of ice! So, it’s not going to be suitable for colonization by humans any time soon, even though it is within our solar system.
Neptune is very far from the Sun, which is the first obstacle that stands in the way of us living there. As you’re aware, the Sun gives off heat, and as a general rule – the further away from the Sun the planet is, the colder that it gets. The only exception to this is Venus, which is further away from the Sun than Mercury, but still hotter thanks to its atmosphere.
But back to Neptune – a planet that we know a lot more about now than we did decades ago before the Voyager 2 passed by the planet. Let’s take a look in a little more detail why we couldn’t live on the planet Neptune.
Neptune’s Ice Mantle
As I’ve just said, Neptune is primarily made up of ice, which is why we refer to it as one of the ice giant planets. Although there is a lot of gas surrounding Neptune (its atmosphere), the planet itself is largely made up of ice and doesn’t have a solid surface for us to stand on. So, this is one major reason that humans could not live on the planet Neptune.
Whilst in the past we may have referred to Neptune as a gas planet or gas giant due to its composition, you’re more likely to hear it called an ice planet in the modern day. As a distant planet from the Sun, it makes perfect sense that an object in the outer solar system would be subject to supersonic winds and ice cold temperatures.
Neptune’s Cold Temperature
Surprisingly enough, it turns out that Uranus has actually had colder temperatures on its planet, even though it is closer to our Sun than Neptune is. However, this is likely due to the fact that Uranus has a strange rotational orientation. It’s also thought that the rotational pattern of Uranus, caused by a collision, may have caused the planet to form a thin shell that traps the heat inside, making it even colder.
Anyway, Neptune is still extremely cold, where average temperatures are lower than -200°c. So, unless you think you’d be able to cope with this kind of temperature (if you’re Alaskan you might be able to!), then this is another reason why we won’t live on the planet Neptune.
Neptune’s lack of Oxygen
One of the reasons that we’re able to live on the planet Earth is that its atmosphere is made up of a lot of oxygen (approximately 20%). No other planet has this, including Neptune, which only has trace amounts of oxygen. It has a hydrogen, helium and methane atmosphere. So, it would be impossible for us to breath on the planet Neptune, which is another obstacle for humans living there.
As an example, people hiking up to Mount Everest have to take extra oxygen with them to be able to breathe properly. So, can you imagine the difference on another planet entirely? We would have to use a spacesuit and oxygen canister permanently on Neptune if we visited the planet.
We know that the atmosphere has no oxygen like Earth’s does, but how else is it different to Earth’s? Well, the winds on the planet Neptune are far more severe than the winds on Earth.
They can reach speeds of more than 2,000kmh, which is more than 9x the speeds of winds on our planet. These winds and storms would make it a nightmare for humans to live on this planet. You may have heard of the Great Dark Spot, which was essentially a massive storm on the side of Neptune that was spinning at speeds of more than 1500mph!
So in conclusion, there are many reasons why we could not live on the planet Neptune. The weather is absolutely awful for humans, and even if we could endure the impossible weather, it doesn’t have a hard surface for us to land on anyway!
However, there is the possibility for us to colonize another planet, Mars, which would be far more suitable for humans to live on. But for this to happen, we still have a lot to do to even make this possible, which we will see develop over the next few years.