Should Mars be terraformed?

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by draqon, Jul 7, 2008.

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Should Mars be terraformed?

  1. We should not even venture into space...we should stay on Earth

    12.5%
  2. We should venture into space...Mars or not Mars...but later in 100 years or so

    9.4%
  3. We should venture into space in these 100 years but settle on the moon

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. We should venture into space before 2050, and colonize Mars

    9.4%
  5. We should venture into space as fast as we can and colonize Mars

    21.9%
  6. We should venture into space and colonize Mars and terraform it on a side

    6.3%
  7. We should explore space immedeately and terraform Mars right from the star

    6.3%
  8. We should terraform every habitat we visit, as long as it is in our power and as fast we can

    25.0%
  9. whatever NASA and space agencies decide...is were I stand

    3.1%
  10. other/none

    6.3%
  1. Nasor Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,221
    If you want to be cautious about it, you could probably do something like tow the comet into orbit and then add it to the atmosphere a little at a time. Maybe by cutting off lots of small pieces and sending them into the atmosphere one at a time, or perhaps by vaporizing it and sending the vapor toward the planet.

    But hitting the planet with comets to add water and other gases would probably be something you would do early on in the process before lots of people were living there anyway. Once the atmosphere thickens, it's basically there to stay as far as humans are concerned. Dealing with the atmosphere deteriorating from low gravity+solar wind will be a problem for hundreds of thousands or millions of years in the future.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2009
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  3. Enmos Staff Member

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    Maybe.. (although Draqon made a good point about the comets

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    ), but I think the atmosphere might leak faster than you think. Solar wind can strip the atmosphere off of a planet. The magnetic field prevents that from happening on Earth. It's not just gravity that keeps the atmosphere here.
    I must admit that I have no idea how fast the atmosphere would leak into space though.
     
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  5. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    It's not that hard to calculate; you can look up the relevant equations if you really care. There's some disagreement over exactly how fast it happens, but everyone agrees that it would take a looooooooong time.
     
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  7. Enmos Staff Member

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    Ok, lets assume that it does take a long time.
    How fast can we get a breathable atmosphere there? I understand it would take at least a hundred years before there is an atmosphere, let alone a breathable one. And that's probably starting off with all the needed materials.
     
  8. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    It would probably take a very long time to get a breathable atmosphere, since it would take a long time for enough O2 to build up. Probably thousands of years with any foreseeable technology. It would probably be relatively quick, however, to get an atmosphere that was warm and thick enough that you could go outside without any protective equipment other than an oxygen mask. Living on the surface would be far, far easier, since you would just need to build mostly-air-tight buildings/domes/whatever that would be at the same pressure as the outside air. Then you could simply open the door and walk outside without worrying about freezing, decompression, etc. Leaks wouldn't be a big issue, since there wouldn't be any pressure difference to force your inside air out and the outside air in.
     
  9. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Kim Stanley (Spider) Robinson's Mars Trilogy: Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars are well worth a read. Immensly thick science fiction novels but based heavily on real science and technology. The entire trilogy is about the terraforming and settling of Mars (and the politics of such).
    If it's been mentioned earlier, apologies

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  10. eburacum45 Valued Senior Member

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    1,297
    Well it depends who is doing the foreseeing. Here's Robert Freitas on the topic of self-replicating terraforming technology.
    http://www.rfreitas.com/Astro/TerraformSRS1983.htm
     
  11. eburacum45 Valued Senior Member

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    1,297
    A good idea, except fot the bit about 'bringing the comet into orbit'. That would require delta-vee to slow the comet down. Instead I recommend mining water from a comet without modifying its orbit, then sending that water in smallish parcels towards Mars which would enter the atmosphere and slow down by aerobraking. It is always advisable to use aerobraking wherever possible.
     
  12. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    6,221
    According to that link, it would take about 6E24 joules to generate enough oxygen to breath. If you could capture 100% of the solar energy striking Mars and convert it into oxygen with perfect efficiency, that would still take roughly ten years. In any remotely realistic scenario you're not going to be capturing anything even close to 100% of the solar energy striking the planet. Frankly, the idea of capturing even 1% with any sort of human-made solar collectors seems laughable.

    The most likely scenario would be waiting several thousand years for photosynthetic bacteria etc. to do the job.
     
  13. Grim_Reaper I Am Death Destroyer of Worlds Registered Senior Member

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    1,349
    I think we need to move as far and as fast as we can. We need to explore every inch we can and setup shop there. It is the way of a human to have a want to move faster and farther then the last human has moved.
     
  14. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    18,238
    I disagree, humans need to evolve first before spreading the plague around.
     
  15. eburacum45 Valued Senior Member

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    1,297
    Many schemes for terraforming include space mirrors to increase the amount of energy striking the planet.
    Such mirrors could take the form of a soletta, sunward of the planet around the L1 point; this would be like an open-ended cone of arbitrary size, concentrating light from the Sun onto the surface. Alternately the mirrors could be placed around the L2 point, to reflect sunlight onto the dark side.

    Or both.

    There are considerable problems associated with making thse mirrors, and with keeping them on station- but these problems could perhaps be solved if the extra energy were deemed necessary. Increasing the amount of energy falling onto the planet would also increase the ambient temperature, liberating water and other volatiles.
     
  16. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,631
    Terraforming Mars will be very difficuly, as the surface gravity is very low. The planet doesn't have the mass to hold a think Earth-like atmosphhere, so it ios not just a matter of dumping greehouse gases until the place warms up. You would have to be prepared to constantly tinker with the atmosphere, forever, or it would eventually return to the icebox it is right now.

    It seems o me that terraforming is more of a pipedream at present than a plan. Maybe in 100 years things will change.

    That also raises the issue of whether Mars is too Earthlike. If you terrform mars and move Earth species on to the planet, who's to say that you won't be precluding the birth of some truly Martian life form down the road? The ethics of the situation urge at least some caution. That we have not found life yet (based on our vast "attempt to two" to find it, is no reason to assume the planet is lifeless and becokoning to us.
     
  17. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    18,238
    Mars could sustain a N2/O2 atmosphere for some time, true over hundreds millions of years it would loss it all again. Considering how the sun is aging mars is actually going to get warming and the earth is going to become a hell.
     
  18. Grim_Reaper I Am Death Destroyer of Worlds Registered Senior Member

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    1,349
    Well if everybody thought that way then we would not have likely moved from the water to the Land a few years back now would we.
     
  19. Grim_Reaper I Am Death Destroyer of Worlds Registered Senior Member

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    1,349
    All the more reason to find new places to live right NOW as it would take EONS for everybody to move from a Dieing world.
     
  20. theyoung Registered Member

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    13
    Mars Point

    Until we figure out how to create a magnetic field around Mars there is no point in doing anything else. Without the magnetic field, cosmic rays will kill anything on the surface, including us. NASA will have to build underground on Mars to be safe.
     
  21. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    18,645
    It was pointed out earlier in a post that an atmosphere will take care of most cosmic rays.
     
  22. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah, people just post the same stupid crap over an over without bothering to check whether or not their "arguments" have already been addressed five times already. At least it's not as bad as the space elevator threads...
     
  23. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    6,221
    Huh? You're arguing that we could have some ethical obligation to hypothetical life that doesn't currently exist but might exist at some point in the future???
     

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