Terraforming Wiki

This is a simulation of what one would expect to find on a terraformed Jupiter, using formulas from Math And Terraforming. Please note that not even the supercomputers at NASA can provide us with a perfect simulation. The information showed here is only an approximation.

Basic data

Important: Jupiter is a gas giant. It has no solid surface that we can terraform. Still, some people suggested that Jupiter can be incased with a very strong material, placed above the gas layers. Currently, such a technology does not exist. In this simulation, we will discuss two theories that can allow us to build something on Jupiter:

  1. Encase Jupiter with an artificial surface, then build and terraform an atmosphere above it.
  2. Build floating islands that will roam in the upper atmosphere. This process will require the terraforming of all Jupiter's atmosphere.
  • Distance from Sun: 778.57 million km
  • Diameter: 139 800 km
  • Solar Constant: 0.073
  • Mass: 317.8 Earths
  • Mean density: 1.326 kg/l
  • Day length: 0.414 Earth days
  • Orbital period: 11.868 Earth years
  • Rotation axial tilt: below 10 degrees


See Atmosphere Parameters

Jupiter is a gas giant. Most of its mass is made by gasses, that form a huge atmosphere. Below a certain height, gasses are compressed into a hyperfluid state, followed by a place where pressure becomes so high, that even hydrogen is solid.

Jupiter's diameter is measured at the place where atmospheric pressure equals Earth's. Also, the place where atmospheric pressure equals Earth's at sea level is defined as Jupiter's zero altitude. For this simulation, we will split the atmosphere into two layers:

  • Functional atmosphere - above the zero altitude mark
  • Structural atmosphere - below the zero altitude mark.
  • Functional atmosphere stability for oxygen molecules:
    • Earth's gravity (15 degrees C): 4.116
    • Jupiter's gravity (15 degrees C): 0.765
    • Jupiter's gravity (-100 degrees C): 0.460
  • Functional atmosphere stability for water molecules:
    • Earth's gravity (15 degrees C): 7.320
    • Jupiter's gravity (15 degrees C): 1.359
    • Jupiter's gravity (-100 degrees C): 0.817
  • Functional atmosphere stability for hydrogen molecules:
    • Earth's gravity (15 degrees C): 65.88
    • Jupiter's gravity (15 degrees C): 12.23
    • Jupiter's gravity (-100 degrees C): 7.35

notes: A value below 10 means stability for over a million years, a value between 10 and 100 means stability between 0.1 and 10 millions of years, while a value higher then 100 means stability for less then 10 thousand years.

This calculation does not include solar wind erosion.

Conclusion: Jupiter will not lose its atmosphere ever. Even hydrogen will not reach escape velocity. The atmosphere of Jupiter is maintained in a defined composition because of high winds. If we somehow block these winds, hydrogen will accumulate in the functional atmosphere, making it unbreathable and extremely flammable.

The functional atmosphere will look like this:

Zero altitude average temperature: 15 degrees C

  • Surface pressure at sea level: 1
  • Atmosphere total mass (Earth = 1): 6.75
  • Atmosphere breathable height: 0.482 km
  • Atmosphere total height: 1.434 km

Zero altitude average temperature: -100 degrees C

  • Surface pressure at sea level: 1
  • Atmosphere total mass (Earth = 1): 5.22
  • Atmosphere breathable height: 0.374 km
  • Atmosphere total height: 1.113 km

Combined: Atmosphere total mass (Earth = 1): 6.0 Atmosphere breathable height: 0.5 km

  • Atmosphere total height: 1.3 km.

Basically, there will be two different atmospheric layers: below and above the greenhouse gasses. The lower layer will be hotter and will contain most of the air, while the upper layer will be cold and will compress the lower layer.

What catches the eye is that the functional atmosphere will be very compact. By climbing 100 m on Jupiter, it will be like climbing 1.68 km on Earth. This will have a huge effect on mountain climate and on air currents.

Terraforming models:

  1. Artificial surface model: The functional atmosphere surrounding Jupiter will be very small. Air currents will require a very long time to travel along the planet. This will strongly influence climate patterns. Any mountains will be able to block air currents.
  2. Floating islands model: The functional and structural atmospheres will continue to mix one with the other. In this scenario, greenhouse effect will be helped by the heat that Jupiter is radiating from inside. The atmosphere will be able to absorb all heat from the Sun, without significant temperature variations for each latitude.

Warning! In the floating islands model, we will need to do something to slow down the winds, or the islands will be destroyed. By doing so, the atmosphere will start to separate. Hydrogen will accumulate to the upper layers, making the atmosphere unbreathable and flammable. Greenhouse gasses, which are heavy, will tend to go downwards, in the structural atmosphere. A greenhouse effect can be maintained by a technology similar to Micro Helium Balloons, but there is no known technology that can keep hydrogen trapped down, close to the core.


Main article: Temperature.

The Solar Constant is low (0.073), compared to Earth (1.98). Greenhouse Gases are needed. The Greenhouse Calculator provides us with some useful values. The needed amount of sulfur hexafluoride is 0.189 kg/square meter.

In the artificial surface model, we can ignore the heat produced by Jupiter itself and consider only the functional atmosphere. However, in the floating islands model, where the two atmospheres mix, we have to take into account Jupiter's own radiating heat, forcing us to decrease the amount of greenhouse gasses.

Climate Simulation

Main article: Climate.

On Earth, the average temperature is +15 degrees C. By using greenhouse gasses we will try the best to get a similar value.

Jupiter has a larger diameter then Earth (10.960), a thing that will help air currents mix temperatures. The tight atmosphere will dramatically slow down air currents, creating higher temperature variations between altitudes.

Average temperatures for each latitude:

Artificial surface model, assuming winds with the same intensity like Earth's:

  • poles: 0 C
  • 75 deg: 1 C
  • 60 deg: 9 C
  • 45 deg: 15 C
  • 30 deg: 19 C
  • 15 deg: 23 C
  • equator: 28 C

Artificial surface model, with corrections for wind intensity:

  • poles: -57 C
  • 75 deg: -41 C
  • 60 deg: -7 C
  • 45 deg: 15 C
  • 30 deg: 32 C
  • 15 deg: 47 C
  • equator: 59 C

Floating islands model:

  • poles: 15 C
  • 75 deg: 15 C
  • 60 deg: 15 C
  • 45 deg: 15 C
  • 30 deg: 15 C
  • 15 deg: 15 C
  • equator: 15 C

Temperature fluctuations will occur when vertical currents bring heat from structural atmosphere. There will be hot and cold air masses. Unfortunately, there is no formula that can predict how this will work.

Day - night cycle variation:

Jupiter has a short day (0.414 Earth days). The greenhouse effect will make day-night variations be very small:

  • Daily temperature variation: 0.1 degrees C


Climbing 1 km on Jupiter will be like climbing 16.8 km on Earth. Any mountains will block air currents. Alpine climate can easily be simulated. At 45 degrees latitude, we will have glaciers at only 350 m high!


Jupiter has a very small axial tilt, so there will be no seasons.


For artificial surface model, Jupiter will be a world of contrast, with scourging heat at the equator and permanent ice caps at the poles. Temperature differences will cause strong winds to form. However, because of the large distances and because of the tiny atmosphere that will form, air currents will need much time to transfer heat between the equator and the poles.

For floating islands model, everything is unpredictable. Still, there will be hot and cold air currents.

Unlike the Galilean moons, which will have a Monoclime, Jupiter will experience significant climate variations. Because of this, the atmosphere will not be saturated with moisture, like on an Outer Planet.


See also: Geography, Artificial Surface.

Jupiter will have the Geographic patterns we want it to have, because any surface will be artificially built. Technicians will be very careful not to build mountains, which will block air currents.

Oceans. If we use the Artificial Surface model, we might need to create a global ocean. This is very important because:

  1. At the poles, temperatures will be always below 0 degrees C, forcing water to freeze. Ice will accumulate continuously, creating high glaciers, that will reach the upper layers of the functional atmosphere, where it is very cold.
  2. The atmosphere alone will hardly manage to mix temperature on the planet. Oceanic currents can help.
  3. If we don't have a global ocean but endorheic basins, water will evaporate from one basin, creating a depression that will absorb a significant part of the functional atmosphere, affecting climate on all other regions.

Continents. In order to avoid blocking air currents, technicians will avoid at all costs building mountains. Continents will be flat, large plains, with very small hills and paths for rivers. Also, large continents will not be practical. Smaller continents, followed by oceans, will allow water vapors to accumulate and fall on the ground. This way, we will have no deserts and no place with too much humidity.

Floating Islands. We don't know what these islands will be made of. Probably, they will be huge containers of hydrogen, very well insulated. At the bottom, they will have something heavy that will always keep them pointing down. The top will be a flat surface, able to support a town, a city or even a larger surface. Each island will have its own Geographic patterns.

The Sky

With a narrow atmosphere, Jupiter will allow settlers to see many of its moons and also other planets. Some moons will appear large enough to be seen as disks or crescents.

  • The Sun - 1.79 units
  • Almathea - 1.10 units
  • Io - 8.61 units
  • Europa - 4.65 units
  • Ganymede - 4.92 units
  • Calisto - 4.82 units.

To see how large a celestial body will look like, draw a circle of X mm on a sheet of paper and look at it from a distance of 1 m.

The following planets will be visible as stars:

  • Mercury: 3.2 to 3.6 magnitude
  • Venus: 0.2 to 0.8 magnitude
  • Earth: 1.3 to 2.2 magnitude
    • Moon: 5.2 to >6 magnitude
  • Mars: 4.2 to 5.5 magnitude
  • Saturn: 1.2 to 3.8 magnitude.

The small inner moons will also be visible, but none of the outer moons. The rings are too faint to be visible with the naked eye.

Human Colonies

Main article: Population Limit.

  • Population limit: 22 100 million.
  • Land population feeding capacity: 11 people fed from one square km
  • Largest city supported by environment: 55.3 million people

Assuming it will have similar types of terrain Earth will have, Europa can support a Population Limit of 22.1 billion people.

It is surprising to see that a terraformed Jupiter can host more people then the Earth. This is because of its very large surface. In fact, a surface-covered Jupiter can host more people then all other bodies in the solar System together.

The main problem is the huge gravity. Those who will live there will get birth to humans that will evolve into the heavy race (see Future races for details).


Jupiter will be able to support a high population density. In fact, because the atmosphere will be so narrow, industrial centers can be placed at some altitude, so that they can radiate heat into the cosmos, preventing dangerous situations like global warming. Jupiter can support large cities. Also, people will not fear too much about Pollution, because toxic waste an be dropped in the structural atmosphere and fall to unreachable depths.

Another advantage is that Jupiter produces enough energy that can be harvested from the structural atmosphere. This includes strong winds and thermal power.


Main article: Plants on new worlds.

Jupiter is far from the Sun. Plants receive enough light to survive, but Agriculture productions will be small. Settlers might wish to add artificial light.


Jupiter has a very powerful gravity, that will affect all ways of transport.

Ground transportation will be the cheapest and the fastest. Roads and railways will cross vast distances. Water transport will also be important.

If we consider the artificial surface model, air transportation is not feasible. The atmosphere is too narrow and will have big turbulences. However, if we consider the floating islands model, air transportation remains the only way for long distances. Planes will prefer lower altitudes, where the air is denser. If something happens to an airplane between two islands, it will fall until it will be crushed by the high pressure. To avoid this, planes can have balloons that will be filled with compressed hydrogen.

Jupiter has orbits for geosynchronous satellites, an important aspect for communications.

Spaceships will find very difficult both to land and liftoff, because Jupiter has a powerful gravity. Landing will be hard because the atmosphere will be too narrow for parachutes to slow down a ship. For liftoff, the escape velocity is 60 km/s, over five times higher then on Earth. This will dramatically affect commerce. Jupiter will find hard to both import and export goods.

There will be one or more bases. Most interplanetary ships will dock at Himalia, while cargo and passengers will be transshipped to Jupiter by smaller ships.


Jupiter will offer a very powerful gravity, making difficult for settlers to adapt. Still, it will be a place where some people will like to come, to strengthen their bones and muscles.

Wild Life

It is very interesting that a terraformed Jupiter will offer many types of climate. Basically, if we use the artificial surface model, we have all types of climate (without seasons) found on Earth, plus some hotter and colder types. The huge distances allow us to separate concurrent species and create habitats that can protect endangered Earth species.

If we consider the floating islands model, climate patterns are unknown. Still, islands will be separated between them by huge distances. Endangered Earth species can be protected very well on the islands.