Colonizing Mercury would involve similar challenges as the Moon as there are few volatile elements, no atmosphere and the surface gravity is lower than Earth's. However, the planet also receives almost seven times the solar flux as the Earth/Moon system. Geologist Stephen Gillett has suggested this will make Mercury an ideal place to build solar sails, which could launch as folded up "chunks" by mass driver from Mercury's surface. Once in space the solar sails would deploy. Since Mercury's solar constant is 6.5 times higher than Earth's, energy for the mass driver should be easy to come by, and solar sails near Mercury would have 6.5 times the thrust they do near Earth. This could make Mercury an ideal place to acquire materials useful in building hardware to send to (and terraform) Venus. Vast solar collectors could also be built on or near Mercury to produce power for large scale engineering activities such as laser-pushed lightsails to nearby star systems.
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