The fifth planet out from Sol, and the largest in the system, Jupiter has long fascinated humanity with its dramatic surface and miniature solar system of moons. The gas giant was an early target for human colonization during the “new space race” and remains a major settlement for humanity in the 25th century, with several billion people calling the various moons orbiting Jupiter home. The vast majority of the planet’s population lives on these moons, with only a brave (or foolish) few opting to make their lives in orbital habitats on the “surface” of the gas giant.
Life on Jupiter
Life in the Jovian System varies greatly depending upon which moon one originates from. For example somebody from Callisto is different than somebody from Europa, who is different from somebody from Ganymede and so on and so on. It is due to this reason that the moons of Jupiter are, in official Sol Alliance documents, recognized as four individual entities with their own representation rather than one administrative subject with four districts.
The one entity that stands out in the Jovian System are the so-called Jupiter Surfacers that ply their trade on the "surface" of the gas cloud. A haphazard assortment of scientists, profiteers, explorers, and adventurers these "Surfacers" life in aerostats and vessels that float on the upper levels of the gas giant - outside the reach of its massive and incredibly destructive storms, but close enough to easily reach the massive storms to conduct research or whatever dealings they may desire. There is only one major corporate facility on Jupiter's "surface," the Einstein Engines operated Facility 580 - a massive gas refinery that siphons up fumes from the clouds of Jupiter and processes it into fuel. Facility 580 is regarded throughout Einstein Engines as the absolute worst place in the corporation to be stationed. Due to their lack of a significant population, or any permanent population more generally, the Surfacers remain a mostly unrepresented group.
Population Distribution of the Jovian System:
- 75% - Callisto
- 18% - Ganymede
- 5% - Europa
- 1.5% - Other
- 0.5% - Jupiter "Surfacers"
There is no true unified "Jovian culture" due to the nature of the Jovian population: several billion humans scattered across a variety of moons. The moons of Jupiter tend to get along with one another, but remain culturally distinctive from one another.
When most Solarians, or other denizens of the Orion Spur, imagine "Jovian culture" they generally picture the cosmopolitan citizens of Callisto - a moon that serves as a major transit and trading hub for the entire Sol system. However, the true culture of Jupiter and its moons is far more diverse than most outsiders realize.
The Moons of Jupiter
The vast majority of the Jovian System's population lives on the moons of Jupiter, the most populous of which are Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Settlements outside of these moons are generally quite rare, but not entirely unheard of.
Early scouting probes launched by the Sol Alliance revealed a remarkable discovery: life and oceans were both trapped under the Europa ice sheets! The life in Europa’s underwater seas ranges from masses of bioluminescent algae-like plants to “shrimp” that thrive in the low-light conditions of the Europan Sea, can be as long as to a meter, and subsist off of this algae - though many organisms doubtlessly remain undiscovered in the black depths of the Europan Sea. Europa is the second-most populated of Jupiter’s moons due to the massive tourism industry that has developed on the planet, as well as the presence of many scientific facilities.
Europa’s surface is dotted by massive “cryogeysers” that spit water from its sea into its atmosphere. These geysers can extend hundreds of meters into the air due to their size, and are sometimes visible from other moons of Jupiter. The cryogeysers are a major tourist attraction on Europa, and many of them feature vacation resorts built around them - one facility, the Idris Incorporated Galileo's Pearl, is regarded as one of the best vacation spots in the Sol system. There are also facilities built into the ice and, remarkably, even underwater. One of these facilities, the Idris Incorporated Jovian Jewel, a partially underwater casino/aquarium/fine undersea dining facility located closer to the south pole of Europa, is widely acclaimed for the aforementioned functions. The shrimp there are often served with the many other ingredients grown with hydroponic equipment present. Among the casino functions, it has well-watched biannual poker tournaments, and Jupiter's Red Storm themed roulette wheels.
The research side of Europa is less famous than its touristic side, but no less valuable to the Sol Alliance and Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals, the primary research corporation on the moon. Research into the flora and fauna of the Europan Sea has brought Zeng-Hu many valuable and well-regarded discoveries, which has in turn motivated Zeng-Hu’s researchers to travel further and further into the massive Europan Sea. There are some whispers from the submariners of Zeng-Hu that far below the tourist and research facilities on the Europan Sea, there dwell bizarre and horrific creatures unlike anything humanity has ever seen before. Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals has vehemently denied all rumors of "Europa sea monsters" that have emerged from the planet, and no solid evidence has emerged to support such animals existing. For now, these submariner's tales simply remain tales.
The fourth-largest moon in the Sol system is a hotbed of volcanic activity, so much so that it is the most volcanically active object in the system. This has made Io a lucrative planet for geothermal energy despite its incredibly dangerous environment, and the difficulties encountered with early surveys of the moon due to its extreme volcanic activity and thin atmosphere. Due to this the first colonization efforts on Io were made later than Jupiter’s other moons, and only began in the mid 2200s. This late start has, however, not stopped Io from becoming one of the main producers of energy in the Sol system: it is estimated that upwards of 15% of energy consumed in the system originates on Io, a remarkably high amount for such a small galactic body.
There are no official permanent settlements on Io due to the extreme nature of its volcanology, and teams are cycled in and out of geothermal facilities on a monthly basis due to the extreme danger working on the moon poses. The hardship of life on Io has, despite its lack of permanent settlements, led to a kind of culture emerging in the crews that work on the geothermal facilities on its surface. This culture tends to revolve around the camaraderie shared between the men, women, and rare IPC placed in such danger and the belief that the engineers of Io are the best anywhere in the Orion Spur. In the eyes of a worker from Io, nobody else could work in such a dangerous environment and hope to last a day.
Workers from Io are prized throughout the Orion Spur for their engineering abilities, and are highly sought-after by corporations such as Einstein Engines, Hephaestus Industries, and NanoTrasen.
Due to its lack of a significant atmosphere, Ganymede was long laid mostly unused by humanity. However, in the mid-2200s the Sol Alliance opted to utilize the moon for a purpose well-suited for a moon without much of an atmosphere. Ganymede is now the site of the largest telescope in the Sol system, and perhaps the largest telescope in the Sol Alliance or even the entire Orion Spur. The truly massive Hubble II telescope facility covers as much as a third of the moon’s surface and is renowned throughout the Orion Spur’s scientific community for its ability to produce high-quality images of extremely distant objects. Hubble II has even managed some commercial success, with Idris Incorporated producing a licensed year calendar using its images of major planets.
The massive underwater oceans of the moon - by some estimates, larger even than Europa’s seas - are home to some of the most significant population centers on Jupiter’s moons. While not as prominent as Callisto, the Ganymedian underwater cities below its crust house upwards of a billion residents - most of which are involved with Ganymede’s massive scientific community in one way or another. While Hubble II remains the planet’s primary employer due to its sheer size and scale, there are a multitude of other scientific ventures on the planet - a scientist on Ganymede can, if they do not want to work in Hubble II, find themselves instead conducting oceanic or geological surveys of the planet. Ganymede is additionally home to a multitude of hydroponics facilities, and has a reputation as one of the Sol System's major food sources alongside the donut aerostats of Venus.
Ganymedian culture is, as a result, focused around scientific pursuits and excellence in all things they do. Ganymedians are often viewed as very efficient, goal-oriented people due to this focus on excellence and are viewed as very desirable scientists and research directors by megacorporations.
Callisto was originally founded by colonists of the United Orbital Enterprise in the early 2100s. The moon was acquired by the Sol Alliance following the collapse of the UOE and was eventually auctioned wholesale to Einstein Engines during the Second Great Depression. Einstein Engines has since turned the moon into the main point of entry and exit from the Sol system due to its excellent location and multiple warp gates in orbit. The low radiation levels of Callisto mean that the moon features several permanent settlements and orbital facilities, and the moon has gained significant wealth from this trade. Despite the recent proliferation of bluespace drives and engines, Callisto remains the main point of entry for most vessels leaving or entering the Sol system due to the comparatively cheaper cost of a warp gate. Callisto is also one of the main producers of water in the Sol system, due to its significant underground saltwater oceans.
Culture on Callisto is a dynamic thing due to the amount of people coming and going from the planet due to its status as a major trading and transit point in one of the Orion Spur’s wealthiest systems. Callistians, as they like to be called, are regarded as one of the most cosmopolitan people in the Sol system (perhaps in the whole Alliance) and pride themselves on their renowned reputation for friendliness. Nonhumans are not an uncommon sight on Callisto, and most Solarians from the moon find themselves more comfortable around nonhumans than other Solarians. Two common holidays on Callisto are Founding Day (22 July), which celebrates its recognition as a member state of the Sol Alliance and Warp Day (5 November), which celebrates the first successful warp transit.
Workers from Callisto often find employment with Einstein Engines in a variety of positions due to the dominance of the megacorporation over the planet. However, the cosmopolitan nature of Callisto means that a Callistian can end up almost anywhere in the Orion Spur.