The mercantile value of Jupiter, my perfectly legitimate claim, as well as a business proposal. All one!
Photodissociation is this physical phenomenon whereby a high energy photon passing by a molecule energizes a component (usually, a Hydrogen) enough that it... takes off. The broken ex-molecule is left behind, to fend for itself as best it can.
Photodissociation is very common on Earth, even if not at all common anywhere you'd go. In the outer layers of the atmosphere, water especially is dissociated in this manner at a steady rate. All it takes is for a water molecule to wander that way, which the hussies do with gusto, and there to meet prince charming Ray, which the Sun is pumping out like they were little sperms. Next thing you know they're in love, and... well...
You'll be left to deal with the consequences, and there's not that much you can do : water is essential for anything like a livable planet (not just because you drink it, but also because, for instance, earthquakesi), Hydrogen is not something that can be produced, end of story. Having the precious supply of Hydrogen your planet was born with blown away results in a strictly untenable situation.ii
It is for these reasons perfectly conceivable that at some point in the (more distant, or not so distant) future, an advanced civilisation (not necessarily, not even likely this one) will find itself in desperate need of Hydrogen. Which, ironically, is by far the largest fraction of the universe by mass, 99.whatever% of everything that is is Hydrogen ; nevertheless it is either so diffuse or so hot it may pose significant problems to the would-be poacher. Yes the Sun is a large ball of (mostly) Hydrogen, but it also happens to be in fusion, 6`000 degrees or so. Taking some means getting close, cooling a star to where it can be harvested for parts does involve that pesky cooling part, which even though we don't really know how to do (no, there's not enough ice-cubes in the tray, sorry) still likely has a cost, even for those much more advanced that'd know how.
The diffuse Hydrogen floating through empty interstellar space, everywhere, a part per trillion or thereabouts is... well, trawling for it also has quite the cost associated, it's not exactly free.
Which leaves Jupiter : a valuable natural resource, concentrated Hydrogen not massive enough to fuse and therefore get hot nor diffuse enough to take forrrrever to get together. Just what the doctor ordered!
I therefore lay claim to it, as my own property, by right of discovery. Being the first one to identify its value in inter...something trade, I am entitled to this claim by ancient precedent, as well as because I say so. I expect to realise great profits from exploiting the differential between the minimum between whatever costs to cool a more conveniently located star and whatever it costs to trawl for Hydrogen on one hand and the more modest costs of showing up, taking some Jupiter, and going the fuck home.
Also, I would like to point out, it is universally cheaper to have whatever it is you want delivered, than to have to drive there, load it, and return home. This is why water (the original font of this, as all other problems, if you remember) is piped to the consumer, in lieu of the previous mechanism (which consisted of water being half-assedly driven to the consumer's street, like ice-cream trucks work today). Hydrogen is probably in the same position, those interested in buying it would possibly be willing to pay way the fuck more if they can receive it for the asking than if they have to drive all the way over here to load up. Plus it'll save on bodyguards and whatever else'd be needed to maintain marketplace discipline once the Jupiter supermarket gets going in earnest and there's a queue around the solar system reminiscent of La Guardia.
It is then perhaps possible to further refine all this, by installing some sort of Hydrogen delivery system on Jupiter, such that it is... I don't know, perhaps shot towards the beneficiary according to mutually-advantageous, afore-established terms ? I leave the matter open to the unlimited ingenuity and etcetera allegedly existing in an old man's fancy of a place that's long gone, that really was only subsisting in fumes long before he was born.
Because why not, you know? You'll certainly get your fair share of this bounty if you contribute meaningfully to its bringing about, I'm a fair owner after all.
- I'm too lazy to find where exactly on Trilema I explained why the only way you can have tectonics on a planet is if there's water to lubricate the chunks, and what the drawbacks of no-tectonics are for a planet. Find it yourself! [↩]
- Helium, much less essential, is suffering very similar lossage over time. Though I'm also too lazy to find where in the logs we discussed the significant strategic risks involved in the continued nonsense. [↩]