Bases on Mars? What's the holdup?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by HGVonGalten, Apr 2, 2008.

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  1. HGVonGalten Registered Member

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    I've read of the possibilities of going to Mars. Scientists say it would be the most likely planet for a colony.

    The way I see it is like this. We are limited not by a vehicle that could make it there. We can get there and have. The problem is getting something other than a robot there. It takes too much energy and time to send a rocket from earth to an orbit above earth. Some have mentioned to possibility of a space elevator, a stationary platform that could haul loads up into an orbit, where they could later be sent to supply our people on Mars. But we can't do the elevator yet, because we'd have to have a very strong substance in which to make a cable how ever long (maybe 120 miles up?) They speak of a substance called "buckycarbon" but getting large quantities is far off right now.

    This leaves us with the "high-g" catapult. The problem with this is that the escape velocity has to be about mach 11. I can't recall where I read that, but that is so high that it just might burn anything up. But we have to give this catapult a try.

    The main thing limiting us from space, is our ability to get things up there quickly. We must move away from the idea of a propelled take off approach. We should push engineers to produce the "high g sling" Sort of a one way roller coaster. Imagine, we'd need several nuclear reactors to power it, but if we could shoot things into space, we could establish bases on mars and then eventually the asteroid belt. But yes, robots will have to go to mostly everywhere first.

    Does anyone know more about these high g slings? Or catapults as they are sometimes called. I'm really interested in these possibilities as I think that practically they are the only way.

    Thanks,

    -HG
     
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  3. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    The limiting factor is the expense of a return trip.

    Generating large quantities of carbon nanotubes is being done today, but it's much more expensive than it's weight in gold.
     
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  5. HGVonGalten Registered Member

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    By "nanotubes" are you referring to the material for a space-elevator? And as for the "return trip" if there is any liquid on Mars, maybe the base could be located there. That way, it could be supplied as reaction mass for the engines. Water is good but it isn't exactly necessary. Couldn't they use nitrogen?

    Additionally, a sling would have to built on Mars...and that would be easier than earth's, as there is no resistance from air particles (I think), just the gravitational pull I believe?

    -HG
     
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  7. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, the space elevator. I know someone in the field of nanotubes, and he laughs off this idea as akin to a Dyson Sphere.

    I have earlier referenced a suggestion to make it a one-way trip.
     
  8. Enmos Staff Member

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    Money mostly.
     
  9. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    Like Enmos say's, it's Money mainly.

    After all going to Mar's is a scientific request rather than a need. Since Mar's doesn't have life and likely has NEVER had life, it would suggest that there is no Oil (Fossil Fuel). without Oil deposits obviously financial backing is scarce.

    Creating a base located on a "dead" planet with no real resources obviously isn't going to be a priority, unless of course our world becomes overpopulated and over-polluted. With war and our inability to deal with all the pollutants, overpopulation will NEVER be a problem.

    Obviously it makes sense to start by placing a base on the moon if we want to colonise since it's closer which means problems can be resolved easier. After all having a ship take approximately 3 1/2 years to reach Mars (when it's launch at during the period that Mars is closest) is a lot of time to maintain a self-sufficient vessel. It would obviously have to be done in stages, perhaps creating refuel drops on the route prior to launch.

    Then you've got the problem of when you reach the destination, how to create a colony. Those giant "Domes" that are usually hypothesised aren't the most viable option, considering all Glass and materials would require transporting from earth and then of course assembly.

    What's more viable is large Drills similar to that used when cutting the Channel Tunnel. Drill into the surface of the planet and create seals at set intermissions. Place Solar panels on the surface for power, then place Hydroponic systems below ground. Occasionally venting a little of the air within the tunnel system into the atmosphere, in return for bringing some of the atmosphere from the surface into the tunnels air supply would eventually allow the surface atmosphere to change.

    In essence it would aid in terraforming by altering the Gas composition of the atmosphere. The planetlife grown within the hydroponics systems would also eventually adapt to the surface atmosphere slowly.

    The funny thing is that if this was done for decades/centuries, eventually everything can move to the surface, as for the hyroponics belowground... well leaving the plants to decompose below ground would be the start to creating fossil fuels.
     
  10. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    A mars direct or semi-direct plan could do done at ~50 billion, so it is not that expensive, I think the real problem is people just don't care like they use too.
     
  11. MetaKron Registered Senior Member

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    Cargo ships can be a lot cheaper, a lot larger, and lift at a much higher acceleration than man-rated ships. The future in colonization will be in cheaper launch methods that lift supplies and parts for the Mars ship. There is no reason why pilot and passengers have to ride up with the ship. Split it between a cheaper human-rated passenger flight and a cheaper cargo-rated lifter.
     
  12. sly1 Heartless Registered Senior Member

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  13. draqon Banned Banned

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    the key to space is in new physical theories and to be precise in the united equation linking gravitation to all other forces.
     
  14. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

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    We don't know that.


    We don't know that, either.
     
  15. weed_eater_guy It ain't broke, don't fix it! Registered Senior Member

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    If you think about it, colonists had it easy, they came to a land with oxygen, food, water, easy compared to what space colonists would have. They wouldn't have any inate ability to survive in a place if all their stuff broke down, they'd simply be dead. Manned space missions are among the riskiest endeavors man has taken, adding to the risk by having people live in contained environments for extended periods might be downright dangerous, especially for long-term settlement. Perhaps what we need is more than better transportation and artificial ecosystem technologies, but rather technologies that advance ourselves physically to be more able to withstand the drastic environmental differences of space such that we don't need to rely so much on those kinds of technologies, and thus improve the risks associated with space travel. Genetic or nanotech modifications of a human to let them withstand a wider range of temperatures, higher radiation, perhaps prolonged exposure to hard vacuum, who knows? Yes, I know it's an idea nobody likes because the technologies will need centuries to develop (maybe), but hey, who knows, might how it has to be feasible and safe to colonize space. Sort of a reinterpretation of "maybe it isn't the world that has a problem, maybe it me", ya know?
     
  16. kmguru Staff Member

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    Are we searching for that mystery particle like electrons that can create a gravity field like magnetism?
     
  17. orcot Valued Senior Member

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    try 35790 Km/1,6 for miles
    actualy mars has almost all those things, it's only a matter of refining them.
    but sometimes yes you loose a colony.
     
  18. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    You don't know that. I do

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!



    Quite simply there are ways to use satellites to scan the surface to a particular depth. Such methods have been used here on earth while looking for oil deposits, the same method can be used on Mar's Surface and indeed has been to an extent to find water. However I doubt they found pockets of crude, Oil was a by product of organic waste from millions of years, so if life had existed on Mars and doesn't now there would be evidence in the form of crude oil, or coal beds, Heck even diamonds.
     
  19. EntropyAlwaysWins TANSTAAFL. Registered Senior Member

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    1. Diamonds......:bugeye: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond#Formation
    Diamonds form naturally.

    2. Absence of proof is not proof of absence.
    Its still possible that there are/were micro-organisms on Mars.
    Its a bit premature to say definitively that there never were ANY living organisms on Mars.
     
  20. phlogistician Banned Banned

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    Even if we can get out of Earth's gravity with less of a fuel cost, each leg of the trip to Mars, stay, and return are at the length of current endurance records, except there is no respite in between. There is also no resupply option, so everything has to be taken, but even if there were a usable form of energy on Mars, that would mean delivering the equipment to extract it too, and robot missions do not have a good success rate, let alone manned missions. So a Mrs mission requires us to smash endurance levels, and significantly improve our success rate with probes. If we could do that, we would do, we haven't been because it's dificult. We can't even get to the Moon and back, so Mars is a long way off.
     
  21. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

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    Yes, I believe that you think you know.


    Quite simply, eh?

    Actually, it’s not as simple as you are pretending at all. The various Mars orbital probes are not the same functionality as the terrestrial satellites you are referring to. They have not scanned for oil and I doubt they are capable of doing so. Hence, we do not know whether there is oil on Mars, and we do not definitely know whether there is or was life on Mars. Quite simply.
     
  22. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    What if by 2030 or so when we "plan" to send humans to mars, AI has improve enough that AI could do more science return per price then people?
     
  23. HGVonGalten Registered Member

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    I'm told Mars doesn't generate a magnetic field like earth, thus its atmosphere has slipped away. Can anyone tell me for sure what - if any - atmosphere Mars has? I don't see how it can contain any liquid on the surface if it's in hard vacuum.

    -HG
     
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