Skip to main content

View Diary: Tito 2018 Mars Mission Update: Good News & Bad News (116 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Compared to the rest of the solar system (7+ / 0-)

    Mars is by far the easiest place other than Earth for humans to live.  It's not merely a stepping stone, launch pad, or outpost the way that the Moon may be: It's the New World for the next two centuries.  That means any step toward bringing humanity there is hugely important - as important, in fact, as the genetic changes that ultimately allowed life to crawl out of the water on to land.  The rationale is that fundamental.

    The question of "Why not robots?" massively misses the point.  We don't go to Mars to explore.  We explore in order to help us some day go to Mars.  There will be other places, and later expansions into more distant reaches, but Mars is the Next Step in human civilization.  The only reason we haven't done it already is that the NASA was just a beard for military-industrial interests who, after Apollo, preferred to make their money with as little public interest and scrutiny as possible - i.e., with as little actual ambition or risk as possible.

    I figure they go for male + female bonded pair because, yes, it's 501 days in relatively cramped quarters with no privacy.  Two men would have a much greater risk of killing each other, and with a non-bonded male-female pair there would be risks of sexual aggression no matter how psychologically solid the male is.  Two women might work, but studies I've hard of (but don't take this as authoritative) suggest it's not the most effective team composition in a situation of continuous stress and practical struggle.  There are exceptions to every statistic, but you have to take what you can get with a mission like this.

    How can it be a "free" market if you're forced to work for it?

    by Troubadour on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 01:21:45 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  yeah (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey, Neuroptimalian

      I just wondered if its wise to send a couple out there who then need to discuss their relationship?
      (Although that could be something to talk about during all the time in which machines would simply sleep contentedly)

      joking aside, what is there that is not sufficient on Earth? Why do we need to go to mars next tuesday? We have been on earth barely six thousand years (as anything resembling a civilization) and are at the brink of squandering it. Mars isnt going to go away anytime soon. The Next Step, if you call it so, for me, would be to try and learn to live on Earth in a way that we are secure and don´t have to expect overshoot and collapse within one generation. Let´s get through the crisis on hand first. If we manage that, then we´ll also be much better equipped (mentally) to learn to live on Mars - that may be the relatively nicest place out there, but it´s still much less nice than nearly anywhere here, where we havent yet figured out how to live stably.

      In the meantime, as you seem to agree, we can proceed to explore ... with probes.

      It´s easier for humans to colonize the bottom of the North Sea than Mars, yet no one would suggest that we need to do that now. We might do that, in due time to come, if we manage to hang on. Similarly, we might eventually get to Mars. But we need to hang on first.

      Therefore, for now, at the current state of things, this seems to me to be so magnitudinally precocious (to talk about the step to Mars) as, say, to talk about how the coming communism will look like. If you allow the metaphor. Yes - if we survive - we´ll get there. But we´ll better concentrate on getting past ten thousand other things first or we´ll get nowhere.

      •  You're so wrong I don't know where to begin. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DanceHallKing, groversald, Mortifyd
        what is there that is not sufficient on Earth?
        What is there that wasn't sufficient in your mother's womb that you decided to leave?
        Why do we need to go to mars next tuesday?
        What's this "we" shit?  Nobody invited you, and nobody's expecting you to pay anything for it.  Why does it bother you that someone else sees a larger purpose than you do?
        We have been on earth barely six thousand years (as anything resembling a civilization) and are at the brink of squandering it.
        In which case a larger perspective would be beneficial - not retreating into parochialism and petty material exigencies.
        The Next Step, if you call it so, for me, would be to try and learn to live on Earth in a way that we are secure and don´t have to expect overshoot and collapse within one generation.
        How is that contrary to having manned space exploration, which drives solar panel and recycling technology through sheer necessity while inspiring people to work toward better futures?  Your idea of "secure" is bizarrely primitive - i.e., that being aware of and willing to work on a higher level somehow magically invites disaster.
        It´s easier for humans to colonize the bottom of the North Sea than Mars
        No, it isn't.
        But we´ll better concentrate on getting past ten thousand other things first or we´ll get nowhere.
        And yet instead of focusing on those ten thousand other things, you're here talking about this because someone else might do something bigger than you're used to.  Interesting.

        How can it be a "free" market if you're forced to work for it?

        by Troubadour on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 02:03:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thats an excuse not to do stuff (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, Mortifyd

        and potentially a self fulfilling prophecy.

        I'm not willing to risk staying on Earth for exactly the same reasons you dont want to risk leaving.

        Hematite is gone, taconite is next, we have to develop the resources, experience now. Or we may never go.

        Establishing space based infrastructure is vital to relieve environmental pressures on Terra Firma.

        SO youre saying humans are not mature enough, we need to learn to live on earth first......

        What evah

        ...... Social Security blogathon March 25th thru March 29th. #HandsOffmySS FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:28:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  colonize the North Sea? What tripe........ OMG (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        ...... Social Security blogathon March 25th thru March 29th. #HandsOffmySS FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:29:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The climate crisis can be handled and (0+ / 0-)

        people can go to Mars. It doesn't seem that difficult to me.

        relax relate release

        by terrypinder on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 06:56:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, no. What's the Moon - green cheese? (0+ / 0-)
      Mars is by far the easiest place other than Earth for humans to live.

      There's no such thing as a free market!

      by Albanius on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 01:57:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No atmosphere, radical temperature extremes, (4+ / 0-)

        barely any water, clingy dust with the microscopic structure of asbestos, and a two-week night.  The Moon is easy to reach but hard to grasp.

        How can it be a "free" market if you're forced to work for it?

        by Troubadour on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 02:15:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Significantly less gravity is a consideration, as (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour, Alumbrados, tekno2600

          well. Long stays there would compromise skeletal structure.

          As far as the rest, there's more water than we realized until recently and building underground or ground sheltered buildings decreases the problems with the temperature range. I think that LaGrange stations are a better idea, especially in the short term, but the Moon could be doable and should be in the mix somewhere.

          Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
          ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

          by FarWestGirl on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:42:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Moon has enough water to sustain colonies (4+ / 0-)

            in some locations at the poles, which are also good to mitigate the temperature extremes between night and day, but other than that it's a nightmare.  You could have cities in Shackleton and a few other places.  But the Martian supply of water is far more extensive, and global.  Because there are erosional forces at work, the dust isn't nearly as abrasive and toxic as moondust.  And lower latitudes often experience Earthlike temperatures.

            How can it be a "free" market if you're forced to work for it?

            by Troubadour on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 03:55:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Good points. LaGrange stations or colonies would (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tekno2600, Troubadour

              be much more practical and manageable with fewer variables to compensate for. They could spin for adjustable gravity, be shielded with water and regolith and, eventually, soil. Much easier to make independent, too, and a better platform for manufacturing and expansion.

              A better first step towards Mars, IMO, much easier to control the variables and stays within reach. More stable platform to do research towards colonisation of Mars. I agree we need to go there and establish a foothold. If we last here long enough to get the effort off the ground.

              Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
              ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

              by FarWestGirl on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 04:13:33 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  LaGrange stations require a power source (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Troubadour

                Something like Polywell fusion. And to avoid lifting it to orbit, consider capturing asteroids for mining, and you'd need spaced based industry to do that.

                And that means practical thermonuclear fusion, something like Polywell.

                Maybe before I die.

                ...... Social Security blogathon March 25th thru March 29th. #HandsOffmySS FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                by Roger Fox on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 06:19:40 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually, I remember an experiment that was done (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Troubadour

                  where they reeled out a huge length of copper wire and used the solar wind to strip electrons and generate electricity. There was a glitch up in the reel, so they couldn't completely deploy it, but the results proved the concept. Between that and solar, hopefully there would be some way to manage.

                  The LEO refueling stations would probably be necessary to make any sort of stations/mining/manufacturing or colonies feasible.

                  Maybe before we off our biosphere.

                  Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
                  ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

                  by FarWestGirl on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 07:10:12 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Polywell fusion can use He (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Troubadour

                    Lunar regolith is full of He.

                    Polywell can be a rocket engine or generate electricity.

                    Maybe before we off our biosphere.
                    Yes indeed.

                    ...... Social Security blogathon March 25th thru March 29th. #HandsOffmySS FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                    by Roger Fox on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 04:34:07 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Actually, the lunar surface is easier than (0+ / 0-)

                free-floating stations as a matter of settlement.  Any environment that provides something for free is better than having to transport and engineer it, so there's substantial gravity and building/shielding/insulating material on the lunar surface.  An EML station would have to fully protect itself against radiation and meteoroids, while a lunar installation could just dig into the ground.    

                A Lagrange station would basically just be a more expensive version of ISS (albeit with spin gravity) a lot farther away from rescue and resupply - at least until it becomes fully supported by asteroid-based material and manufacturing infrastructure, which is a ways away.  We could make it more efficient by cultivating its own food, but still - you're talking about a lot more work, and much higher operating costs even if the cost of getting there and leaving is much cheaper.      

                How can it be a "free" market if you're forced to work for it?

                by Troubadour on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 10:52:22 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  Venus' cloud tops easiest place other than Earth (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        Venus is "downhill", closer to Earth, and has much more frequent launch windows.  While we all know how brutal Venus's surface is, believe it or not, but 50 miles above the surface you have sea level air pressure, Earth-like temperatures (0-50 deg C), and lots of solar power.  You wouldn't need a pressure suit to go outside, just an acid suit and scuba gear.  Breathable air is a lifting gas in Venus' dense atmosphere, so an inflatable habitat module could support its own weight plus a little extra for the crew; add a hydrogen balloon for extra weight.  Lightweight inflatable integrated photovoltaic (IPV) solar concentrators would also carry their own weight, and Venus' clouds are so bright you could point them downward and still get plenty of power.

        The square-cube law is an airship's best friend, so there's a great deal of incentive to build BIG on Venus: volume for lifting gas would grow faster than the weight of the structure.  Buckminster Fuller figured out how to make a mile-wide rigid-framed hot air balloon float here on Earth with only 1 degree of temperature difference; something similar could be built on Venus.  I imagine some kind of gigantic Hoberman sphere that could strike a balance between payload volume and habitat volume.

        •  Clouds? Really? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour

          Sure you could put habitats there, but where are the resources?  Unless you posit nanofactories that can rejigger atmospheric molecules into usable materials I don't see how you build a civilization there.

          On Mars you wouldn't need to import literally everything required to build and expand a technic civilization.  Mars has everything required for large scale expansion without speculative technologies.

          There would certainly be a large need for imports early on, but bulk resources are readily available to support industrial activities, and unlike the clouds of Venus you wouldn't need to construct complex structures just to house your farms.

          Plus, Mars can be much more easily terraformed and in a relatively short timescale as well.  To a certain extent it would be a natural byproduct of colonization, food production and industrial activity.  

          It is unclear to me how such terraforming synergies occur on Venus, where the goal would be to remove heat and atmosphere as opposed to adding them.

          •  how about plants? (0+ / 0-)

            What got me interested in Venus was the possibilities of large-scale habitats in and of themselves: lots of people and elbow room.  I could see people building communities there rather than just research or mining outposts.   It's the cramped tin cans on Mars or the Moon that always struck me as dead ends: few people and little for them to do.

            Venus's atmosphere is almost entirely CO2.  Plants convert CO2 (plus plentiful solar energy) into lots of useful materials: wood, fibers, oils, etc.  Since you want to build big on Venus to exploit the square-cube law, I imagine us having the space for lots of plants as food, life support, waste processing, psychological atmosphere, and useful goods.  A self-sustaining colony is going to be easier than shipping anything back to Earth.  Carbon fiber rods and textiles from atmospheric CO2 using all that solar electricity and imported catalysts?  There's your core terraforming technology right there.

            Venus has four times as much nitrogen in its thick atmosphere than Earth does, despite the percentage being much lower.  Sulfur compounds: what can you make with them?

            •  They wouldn't stay "cramped tin cans." (0+ / 0-)

              And what do you think floating Venus installations would start as?  You're not going to arrive in the clouds with Lando Calrissian's city ready-made.  It would just be a tin can the size of an apartment hanging from some modularized balloon arrays.  Then you'd need to send more of them and assemble them into a station with mid-air rendezvous - a delicate operation in winds the reach triple-digit speeds, even if they're not turbulent.  A Mars colony would develop much more quickly due to having immediate access to all necessary resources.

              How can it be a "free" market if you're forced to work for it?

              by Troubadour on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 11:09:03 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  You'd be living in a dome/underground bunker (0+ / 0-)

            for a long, long, long time on Mars. Terraforming would not be fast, if it really works at all. You might as well live in an orbital colony first. You could create artificial gravity, be protected from radiation, and use materials from asteriods or the moon to get things started. Mars is a much heavier lift. I think we should be starting closer to home.

            Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

            by tekno2600 on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 09:24:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  "Downhill" doesn't matter in orbital mechanics. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ender

          Starting out from Earth, you have a certain orbital momentum that you have to input energy to bleed off in order to move inward toward the Sun, and it's no different than if you wanted to move up the solar gravity well by the same gravitational increment.  

          However, you are right that it is easier to reach Venus - but that's because it has a shorter orbital period than Earth, giving more optimum launch window opportunities than Mars; also because its orbit comes closer to Earth than Mars, and Venus having stronger gravity than Mars allows for easier orbital capture.

          I'm aware of the possibility of cloud cities in the Venerian atmosphere, and of the environmental advantages over, say, the Moon or free space.  However, every last bit of infrastructure for the economic core of such a settlement would have to be sent in from elsewhere in the solar system.  I suppose it's possible to mine the surface remotely using robots and then just ascend the materials via balloon, but basically all you're talking about are lava basalts - i.e., metal-poor.  You'd have to keep importing asteroid materials.  The upshot is that it's vastly easier to colonize Mars.

          How can it be a "free" market if you're forced to work for it?

          by Troubadour on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 11:04:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

  • Recommended (134)
  • Community (62)
  • 2016 (52)
  • Environment (41)
  • Elections (38)
  • Media (36)
  • Republicans (36)
  • Hillary Clinton (32)
  • Barack Obama (30)
  • Jeb Bush (30)
  • Iraq (29)
  • Law (29)
  • Culture (28)
  • Climate Change (27)
  • Civil Rights (26)
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership (26)
  • Labor (21)
  • Economy (21)
  • LGBT (17)
  • Science (17)
  • Click here for the mobile view of the site