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This question is along the same vein as Venus vs Mars for colonization but without the person at the table.

Is Mars better than Titan which to me seems a more realistic option for colonization?

With things like radiation, temperature, and many other factors unknown to me I would like the pros and cons of these two places.

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  • $\begingroup$ Last one for a while. $\endgroup$ – Muze Mar 1 at 2:33
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Some advantages of Titan are:

  • abundant nitrogen,
  • a thick atmosphere that will protect against radiation (the extra distance from the Sun also helps)
  • Lower gravity (and atmosphere) makes access to and from nearby space easier
  • Thicker atmosphere and lower gravity makes aircraft and helicopters an easy and effective way to move people and cargo around Titan
  • More things in relatively nearby space to explore/mine
  • Easy to cool machinery etc to the atmosphere
  • Possible subsurface ocean -- not quite sure what this is good for, but its interesting

Some advantages of Mars are:

  • Abundant iron and other heavy elements
  • Usable solar power
  • Gravity closer to Earth's (may be relevant for health, we don't know yet)
  • Much warmer -- and less heat loss to the thinner atmosphere
  • Three to six months from Earth using about 4-5 km/s of delta-V (from LEO) versus 3-5 years to Saturn system and about twice the delta-V
  • Radio takes a few minutes instead of an hour or so.

Both have abundant water ice it seems, and carbon (CO2 on Mars, methane on Titan). Mars seems like a more plausible short-term prospect due mainly to its nearness, but Titan may ultimately be the more valuable long-term option due to its nitrogen and its radiation protection.

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    $\begingroup$ Need to add that a leak of oxygen (e.g. from spacesuits, reservoirs, engines, ...) might lead to explosive mixtures on Titan. $\endgroup$ – Everyday Astronaut Mar 1 at 10:17
  • $\begingroup$ @EverydayAstronaut and vice-versa $\endgroup$ – Eth Mar 1 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ @EveryDayAstronaut Titan's atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, with just a little methane. It's also very cold. I doubt even pure oxygen would burn. The methane is present mostly as a liquid on the surface. $\endgroup$ – Steve Linton Mar 1 at 12:24
  • $\begingroup$ It's also raining methane. So definitely something one should consider. $\endgroup$ – Everyday Astronaut Mar 2 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ One more suggestion for pro-Titan: methane (and even hydrogen) can be used to re-fuel rockets. “only“ need to figure out how to get the oxidizer $\endgroup$ – Everyday Astronaut Mar 2 at 20:15
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The biggest obstacle of living on Titan is bound to be it's insane cold. People say space is cold, but space is a vacuum. A thermos bottle uses a vacuum as insulation. So wearing a space suit in a vacuum, in the shadows, it's not that hard to retain heat. There is no convection and conduction only happens on contact. However in an atmosphere that is only about 100 degrees above absolute zero you would have constant conduction and convection sucking away heat. -290F or -179C are really cryogenic temperature. I wonder if any fabric or rubber could be flexible at that temperature to even make a suit out of.

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