My creative project has me looking into our solar system and terraforming. Along the way, to help me visualize things, I have run across multiple animations of our solar system at work as well as found some interesting resources on terraforming.

The first one is from Dynamic Diagrams (or try this) and is by far the most interesting (warning, if you’re at work turn off your speakers before going there). It’s by far the best done visually insofar as it looks pretty cool. Lain absolutely loves it. She’s transfixed by the planets spinning round and round. She likes to point at the moon on the lower left hand part. She’s also used to tablets where she can make things move with her fingers, so she tries to “catch” the planets to manipulate them. It has very limited options. You can either watch the planets go around the sun or use the old Earth-as-the-center model and watch the planets (and the sun) go around us. You can also speed up or slow down (or reverse) the process.

The second one, Solar System Scope, was actually more useful for my purposes because it showed the dwarf planets and their orbits that deviate from the elliptical plane. It also gives a better idea of the sorts of distances between planets we’re talking about. Though less pretty, it actually gave me more of the visualization that I needed. There are a lot of options. You can zoom in and out, change perspective, make the planets large or realistically proportioned, and add and remove orbits, object names, and so on. You can also, like the other one, speed things up and slow them down. You can also click on a planet and get more.

The third one, Solar System Visualizer, is the only one that includes Pluto as a planet. Either because it’s outdated or because they are conscientious objectors. The options are limited here to zooming in and out. For my interest in the non-planetary items it was pretty good. Specifically around the asteroid belt which the Scope more or less ignores.

The story I am drafting up in my mind involves the Solar System being terraformed by oddly benign aliens. They’re refugees from intergalactic wars and mostly want to settle on some place really far out of the way. Having had their own planets decimated, they actually (as far as we know) have little in the way of designs on us. They basically set up shop and start terraforming everything in site. This was supposed to be an oh-by-the-way aspect of the story, but it turns out there is a lot of information out there about terraforming and a lot of things to consider.

This is the most direct source with descriptions of the possibilities and what would be required in English that I can understand. I’m also using Wikipedia’s entry on rounded orbital objects to help me figure out where to look (since there are planets with 60+ moons, I can’t just up “moons”). Wikipedia’s entry on terraforming itself was interesting.

Category: School

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