Combining this with the abundant energy and the advantageous combination of being low in the Sun's gravity well, this makes Mercury a prime location both for energy-intensive industry and export to the rest of the solar system. You see, the deeper in a gravity well you apply thrust, the more delta-v you get from it. Since the Sun is the biggest gravity well in the solar system, and since solar sails have their highest thrust near the sun, you get lots of highly-leveraged thrust for free, so the location is very advantageous for export.
I think one day Mercury is going to be in the business of packaging energy as antimatter and shipping it all over the solar system.
It's more cost-effective to build bigger collectors closer to Earth.
Mercury would be exporting high energy manufactured goods to the rest of the solar system excluding earth. The ground<->LEO energy loss would make lots of trade prohibitive. The rest of the solar system would be different.
Your ideas belong in a soft sci-fi story. The economics and orbital mechanics simply do not work out in favor of a Mercury colony.
We'd be exporting things/energy from Mercury, not to it, and the energy for the export would also be supplied by the sun through the use of solar sails.
If you need energy to produce goods, building power plants on Earth or Moon make much more sense.
Maybe. I can see how the difficulty of coping with being as close to the sun as Mercury would raise expenses. With selling antimatter, you wouldn't be selling energy so much as energy in a highly concentrated package. Economies of scale are going to come into play in an industry like that, and the ability to harvest more concentrated energy with mostly in-situ resources could be a big advantage. You'd have to bring resources up from the moon and from the asteroids to make the infrastructure to do that profitably in the vicinity of Earth. If you wouldn't have to do that for Mercury, it might be viable.
Longer: Oberth effect says you want to do the thrusting at max speed, not "deep in the gravity well". Often they coincide but they're not the same thing.
Even longer: If you want to use the Oberth effect, you want to go into a highly eccentric elliptic orbit with a low perigee. (Ie non-circular.) Then you do your thrusting at the perigee. Your apogee is still at high altitude. The perigee burn happens at high speed and actually raises the apogee.
You can think of it this way: if you shut down your engines right now, you are in an orbit that returns to the same point. So perigee burns can only raise apogee and apogee burns can only raise perigee. (If we talk about elliptic orbits.)
Mercury is in a low circular orbit. It does not really help to go to an orbit with a low apogee, with the ultimate goal of raising apogee!
You might use a sun slingshot by lowering your perigee but your apogee would still be at earth orbit. That would mean you would cross Mercury's orbit, but with a very high speed. You couldn't stop at Mercury (match speeds with it). Then you'd do a quick high thrust burn at high speed near perigee.
All this is in vain though since for 0.1 c magnitude velocities (30,000 km/s), if you had humans, you would have to thrust for weeks to keep acceleration below say 2 g and the gravity slingshot would be meaningless anyway as the speeds are so low, these are phenomena from totally different worlds. Earth's orbital velocity is 30 km/s and Mercury's 60 km/s. Thousand fold difference.
It's like saying building rocket launchpad on a 300 m high hill is useful since you're then closer to space.
The radiation must be horrific.
Obviously not where there's water ice. ('doh, Antidoh!) Click on the picture on this page to look at the configuration of the shadowed craters at the poles. (Yellow indicates a permanently shadowed region, also where water was found.)
In 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson describes Mercury settlements slowly rolling along huge crawlers.
But with the permanently shadowed craters, you wouldn't need them.
It isn't a surprise, the hypothesis has been around for a long time, this is just new supporting evidence.
>If the prevailing opinion in science is that life formed spontaneously on Earth because the required chemistry was already present, doesn't it follow that similar compounds would be found through out the solar system?
The big difference with Earth is position and the presence of a protective magnetosphere .
For me organic material is not that exciting. Such substances as methane seem to be everywhere in space.
Amazing what an atmosphere, or the lack thereof, can do for a planet.
Surely there is an astrophysicist in the house who could tell me if this is possible or just crazy talk.
Some impact events appear to have been a lot larger (and therefore presumably a lot more energy) than Chicxulub - e.g. the Vredefort Crater in South Africa