Professors urge one-way Martian colonization missions

Oct 19, 2010
Mars, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA

For the chance to watch the sun rise over Olympus Mons, or maybe take a stroll across the vast plains of the Vastitas Borealis, would you sign on for a one-way flight to Mars?

It's a question that gives pause to even Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a Washington State University associate professor, who, with colleague Paul Davies, a physicist and from Arizona State University, argues for precisely such a one-way manned mission to Mars in an article published this month in the "Journal of Cosmology."

In the article, "To Boldly Go: A One-Way Human Mission to Mars," the authors write that while technically feasible, a manned mission to Mars and back is unlikely to lift off anytime soon – largely because it is a hugely expensive proposition, both in terms of financial resources and political will. And because the greatest portion of the expense is tied up in safely returning the crew and spacecraft to earth, they reason that a manned one-way mission would not only cut the costs by several fold, but also mark the beginning of long-term human colonization of the planet.

Mars is by far the most promising for sustained colonization and development, the authors conclude, because it is similar in many respects to Earth and, crucially, possesses a moderate surface gravity, an atmosphere, abundant water and carbon dioxide, together with a range of essential minerals. It is the Earth's second closest planetary neighbor (after Venus) and a trip to Mars takes about six months using the most favorable launch option and current chemical rocket technology.

"We envision that Mars exploration would begin and proceed for a long time on the basis of outbound journeys only," said Schulze-Makuch. "One approach could be to send four astronauts initially, two on each of two space craft, each with a lander and sufficient supplies, to stake a single outpost on Mars. A one-way human mission to Mars would be the first step in establishing a permanent human presence on the planet."

While acknowledging that the mission would necessarily be crewed by volunteers, Schulze-Makuch and Davies stress that they aren't suggesting that astronauts simply be abandoned on the Red Planet for the sake of science. Unlike the Apollo moon missions, they propose a series of missions over time, sufficient to support long-term colonization.

"It would really be little different from the first white settlers of the North American continent, who left Europe with little expectation of return," Davies said of the proposed one-way Martian mission. "Explorers such as Columbus, Frobisher, Scott and Amundsen, while not embarking on their voyages with the intention of staying at their destination, nevertheless took huge personal risks to explore new lands, in the knowledge that there was a significant likelihood that they would perish in the attempt."

The authors propose the astronauts would be re-supplied on a periodic basis from Earth with basic necessities, but otherwise would be expected to become increasingly proficient at harvesting and utilizing resources available on Mars. Eventually they envision that outpost would reach self-sufficiency, and then it could serve as a hub for a greatly expanded colonization program.

The proposed project would begin with the selection of an appropriate site for the colony, preferentially associated with a cave or some other natural shelter, as well as other nearby resources, such as water, minerals and nutrients.

"Mars has natural and quite large lava caves, and some of them are located at a low elevation in close proximity to the former northern ocean, which means that they could harbor ice deposits inside similar to many ice-containing caves on Earth," said Schulze-Makuch."Ice caves would go a long way to solving the needs of a settlement for water and oxygen. Mars has no ozone shield and no magnetospheric shielding, and ice caves would also provide shelter from ionizing and ultraviolet radiation."

The article suggests that, in addition to offering humanity a "lifeboat" in the event of a mega-catastrophe on Earth, a Mars colony would provide a platform for further scientific research. Astrobiologists agree that there is a fair probability that Mars hosts, or once hosted, microbial life, perhaps deep beneath the surface and Davies and Schulze-Makuch suggest a scientific facility on Mars might therefore be a unique opportunity to study an alien life form and a second evolutionary record.

"Mars also conceals a wealth of geological and astronomical data that is almost impossible to access from Earth using robotic probes," the authors write. "A permanent human presence on Mars would open the way to comparative planetology on a scale unimagined by any former generation… A Mars base would offer a springboard for human/robotic exploration of the outer solar system and the asteroid belt. And establishing a permanent multicultural and multinational human presence on another world would have major beneficial political and social implications for Earth, and serve as a strong unifying and uplifting theme for all humanity."

Although they believe the strategy of colonizing Mars with one-way missions brings the goal of colonizing another planet technologically and financially within our reach, Schulze-Makuch and Davies acknowledge that such a project would require not only major international cooperation, but a return to the exploration spirit and risk-taking ethos of the great period of the Earth's exploration.

They write that when they raise the idea of a one-way colonization mission among their scientific colleagues, a number express an interest in making the trip.

"Informal surveys conducted after lectures and conference presentations on our proposal, have repeatedly shown that many people are willing to volunteer for a one-way mission, both for reasons of scientific curiosity and in a spirit of adventure and human destiny," they write.

And yes, Schulze-Makuch offered that he too would be prepared to "boldly go" on a one-way mission to the Red Planet. But he hedges just a bit, holding out the single caveat that he would want the launch to wait until his young children have all grown into adults.

Explore further: Italy's first female astronaut heads to ISS in Russian craft

More information: The complete article from the 2010 Volume 12 issue of the Journal of Cosmology is available online at journalofcosmology.com/Mars108.html

Provided by Washington State University

4.7 /5 (46 votes)

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jwalkeriii
4.1 / 5 (9) Oct 19, 2010
If only we had the same moral compass as the 18th century slave traders, opportunists, or peasants fleeing the tyranny of their homelands. If only there were heathens to convert on Mars... I'd go.
Pete83
4.5 / 5 (6) Oct 19, 2010
Any mission to Mars would have to be one way anyway given our current level of technology. It shouldn't be hard to find people of a high enough education level willing to go. I would consider it myself, although the necessity to self medicate due to 50 hours a week of work and idiots everywhere in our society has taken such a toll on my body that I probably wouldn't survive take-off.
Quantum_Conundrum
3 / 5 (4) Oct 19, 2010
I've been saying this pretty much ever since I joined this web site.

It should theoretically be far easier to build a one way ship with dozens or even hundreds of passengers, than to make a two way voyage with just a few passengers.

However, enough basic technology and manufacturing infrastructure must be sent along to give the colony maximum technological retention.

We could always send up more ships, but Mars is a planet, after all, landing a few degrees away from another ship is still tens or scores of miles, and might be too great a distance to travel by foot or rover over rought terrain before cities and infrastructures are made.

If given the opportunity to be part of this, I think I would gladly volunteer at this point in my life.

Well, things change though. If I was married and the wife didn't want to go, no worries, I'll stay put.
TheWalrus
2.3 / 5 (12) Oct 19, 2010
Flying Spaghetti Monster, no! It sounds like a recipe for sadness and madness. Who'd want to live in a hostile environment lacking any life, where death is a constant, very real threat? It might be fun to spend a couple of weeks there, but I'll bet that even then, the blue marble would seem like a paradise after just a few days. You wouldn't be able to go outside except in a cumbersome suit, you'd have to observe all kinds of regulations to prevent contamination of the Martian environment, and the human habitats would probably make a Motel 6 seem like the Ritz. Forget it!
LariAnn
2.1 / 5 (11) Oct 19, 2010
That is, unless conditions on Mars are a little different than indicated by the scanty information that has been released for public consumption . . .
NickFun
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 19, 2010
Hey, if there's a nice hotel and maybe some hot springs I'm game!
jamey
3.8 / 5 (5) Oct 19, 2010
@Quantum_Conundrum - This is not shooting darts at a target. This is going there, settling into an orbit, and then setting down at the appropriate time. With humans at the controls to adjust the computer-controlled descent (though a radar beacon will make even that almost redundant), it would be amazing if the landers landed 100 feet from their target, much less 100 miles. And remember most supply capsules can be landed a lot harder than human-carrying capsules would need to be. Also, cargo capsules don't need to be sent on minimum-time orbits, they can be launched at any time, though we'd naturally pick minimum *ENERGY* orbits for that purpose. Human capsules could be launched about ever 18 months, cargo capsules nearly any time, really. I say send an initial run of 4-6 human capsules with 6-8 people in each, and a couple of dozen cargo capsules, the first cargo capsule laying down a radar transponder for the rest of the stuff to home in on.
Quantum_Conundrum
3.2 / 5 (5) Oct 19, 2010
Jamey:

It becomes much more practical a few decades from now when computers are fully miniaturized, aeroponics is mastered, and robotic mining and construction and other self-assembling technologies are mastered.

The problem we have right now with a one-way human colony is sustainability. We don't know enough about Mars to know how good the ore deposits and other resources are for construction and advanced technologies, or how to find biology related resources such as nitrogen along with sodium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and other essential elements and trace elements in life.

We need a few more comprehensive un-manned missions with the ability to take deep core samples and possibly do some decent geology such as seismology to determine what resources are really available on the planet, and how they can be adapted to self-contained environments to support humans, and the robots to help mine resources faster, and build these environments.
deatopmg
2.2 / 5 (6) Oct 19, 2010
This is the ONLY sane thing to do!

The risk of returning to Earth with alien micro-organisms is much too high to be allowed until we, i.e. ALL of us, not just NASA and associates, have a complete understanding of what is really there.

but, BUT.....we can't rule out the possibility that we're not wanted.
nuge
5 / 5 (4) Oct 19, 2010
Shotgun!!!!! Where do I sign up??

I think they should send 50 or so on the first mission, though, to build a decent-sized base. Like in Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson.
Caliban
5 / 5 (9) Oct 19, 2010
I'm on- I don't even care about the details, really. This has been my number one dream since childhood- to get out there! A lifetime's worth of exploration(even if cut short by misadventure), and being the first to see what there is to see on Mars would be far and away superior to any workaday reality tv existence here earthside.
If I can take my books and music, so much the better!!!

I'm already working on my ipod Mars exploration mix...

jamey
5 / 5 (4) Oct 19, 2010
@Quantum_Conundrum - We'll never do it if we keep waiting for just those few things that will make it easier, safer, cheaper, etc.

Go look on the Project Gutenberg site for a story by Alan Edward Nourse called Martyr. He nailed this problem more than 50 years ago.
DamienS
4.5 / 5 (8) Oct 20, 2010
Yeah, this would be a one way mission alright, because it would be a suicide mission. People that compare space exploration with early Earth explorers and settlers to far-away, unknown and harsh lands forget that fact that people can live off the land here and survive even under adverse conditions. They can't do that on Mars and with our current technical and fiscal realities, it would certainly be a suicide mission if undertaken today or the near future. If you're talking mid to far future, then I suspect by then, better alternatives would be available.
Hoodoo
4.9 / 5 (8) Oct 20, 2010
Hell, even if you called it The Painful&Lonely Space Suicide Mission you'd be utterly swamped with applicants wanting to go. There is zero chance of not finding enough people to go, and a vanishingly small chance of not finding enough of the "right" people to volunteer (ie. clever, healthy, qualified and stable)
I want this so bad it hurts like lost love already, and I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this way.
Start with a reality-TV-show selection process where people can vote for candidates by SMS and the whole thing will probably pay for itself.
ShotmanMaslo
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2010
Its not like the colonists would go unprepared. I dont think mission to Mars will resemble missions to Moon in this regard. Mission to Mars will be more like building the ISS. Launch the Mars habitat and the infrastructure first, then when it is confirmed to function properly on Martian surface and producing air, water and food from local resources, you can launch one-way colonists along with a continuous stream of cargo from Earth to support them.

It would also serve to avoid "been there, done that" cutting NASA budget after the flag on Mars is planted, like after Apollo. For once, with a colony to support it would be the easily bored public and not us space enthusiasts that would be screwed.. :p
Birger
4 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2010
Since some vertebrates have the ability to freeze without forming damaging ice crystals in their tissue, it should in principle be possible to emulate them, once the chemistry is solved. Those who become disenchanted with Mars could thus enter cryogenic storage until return is technically possible...
Husky
3 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2010
I would invest instead in molecular nanoassembler technology, after this matures, send a seed and nuclear reactor for the initial energy and have it build your colonist guestrooms from scratch dirt and thin air
DamienS
5 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2010
Mission to Mars will be more like building the ISS. Launch the Mars habitat and the infrastructure first, then when it is confirmed to function properly on Martian surface and producing air, water and food from local resources, you can launch one-way colonists along with a continuous stream of cargo from Earth to support them.

But if you're going to go to that scale of commitment and expense, then what's the point of having one-way missions? With that level of investment you could do a two-way mission. None of what you've outlined there is trivial.
ShotmanMaslo
3 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2010
But if you're going to go to that scale of commitment and expense, then what's the point of having one-way missions? With that level of investment you could do a two-way mission. None of what you've outlined there is trivial.


Mission to Mars itself is not trivial, either. Unless one-way mission means that the astronauts will plant the flag and die on the surface. Long term living on Mars would be even more expensive in the long run, the point is that it would be technically simpler if you dont have to worry about return, and the cost would be stretched over longer time, so lower yearly budgets are feasible.
bluehigh
2.4 / 5 (5) Oct 20, 2010
besides being unsatisfied with our blue marble, exactly why would we want to go to a freezing, poisonous, barren and hostile planet? The tax man will still get you.
CreepyD
5 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2010
It's in human nature to survive and reproduce at all costs. Going to Mars is just that, spreading our seed so we have more chance of surviving anything thrown at us. It's a mission for humanity.
This mission is essential and must be done at some point, when to go for it is the question.
We have the tech now, but it will be very costly.
If we wait, there's always better tech just around the corner. That arrives, and then there's even better tech on the way so you wait some more - You end up never going.
Quantum_Conundrum
3 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2010
I would invest instead in molecular nanoassembler technology, after this matures, send a seed and nuclear reactor for the initial energy and have it build your colonist guestrooms from scratch dirt and thin air


Yup.

Probably a few decades before we get that kind of technology though.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.2 / 5 (10) Oct 20, 2010
largely because it is a hugely expensive proposition, both in terms of financial resources and political will.
It's less expensive than supporting two wars and world wide empire.
jplur
2.8 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2010
Robots do a better job. The purpose of manned missions seems to be getting the public hyped with space programs. I'd rather see another Cassini type mission or satellite arrays for hunting exo-planets.
Shootist
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 20, 2010
Any mission to Mars would have to be one way anyway given our current level of technology.


No, you are incorrect.

If we had to go to Mars, HAD to, mind you, we could build NERVA and be on our way. Also a Daedalus (nuclear pulse) style craft is buildable if cost and pollution is not an object. And we have plenty of el bomba grande.

Finally, Vasimr offers hope, in the near term, of a 14 day trip to Mars with a 23 day return mission.

However, I agree with the writers; we should first explore with probes, followed by sending supplies, followed by sending One Way colonists/scientists/engineers.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 20, 2010
If we had to go to Mars, HAD to, mind you, we could build NERVA and be on our way. Also a Daedalus (nuclear pulse) style craft is buildable if cost and pollution is not an object. And we gots plenty o' bombas.
Even more simple than that, we can create current chemical based rocket fuel from the atmosphere of mars over time.

Mars Direct, Robert Zubrin et al., had the whole deal worked out for a 2 year exploratory mission to Mars. The rovers confirmed the chemical and physical apparatus would function without issue and provide plenty of fuel in a period of 6 months rather than 2 years.
Shootist
3 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2010
@Quantum_Conundrum - We'll never do it if we keep waiting for just those few things that will make it easier, safer, cheaper, etc.

Go look on the Project Gutenberg site for a story by Alan Edward Nourse called Martyr. He nailed this problem more than 50 years ago.


_Transit of Earth_ (Sir Arthur Clarke) is even better.
Shootist
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 20, 2010
Mars Direct, Robert Zubrin et al., had the whole deal worked out for a 2 year exploratory mission to Mars. The rovers confirmed the chemical and physical apparatus would function without issue and provide plenty of fuel in a period of 6 months rather than 2 years.


That gets them home but says nothing about getting there.

The most difficult part of getting TO Mars is getting to Earth Orbit. Once in orbit, you're half way to anyway in the Solar System, to paraphrase Mr. Heinlein.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 20, 2010
That gets them home but says nothing about getting there.
Standard medium lift chemical boost rocket can get us there. We have about 10 of them sitting around collecting dust that would suffice.
El_Nose
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2010
Wow... I agree with the theory and even the prospect of sending hundreds of ships at one time ... but only if you can get over the factor of hey this planet has no magnetic feild. None... there is no protection from cosmic or solar radiation on this world... and the equipment that could produce those tiny but effective magnetic fields around areas would take truely massive power sources... or a lot of radiation shielding which is a lot of added weight.

I hope one day we do this... but I say send hundreds of ships with bacteria and lichen first to help change the atmosphere wait a hundred years send robots .. send probes and then send humans.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.4 / 5 (7) Oct 20, 2010
None... there is no protection from cosmic or solar radiation on this world... and the equipment that could produce those tiny but effective magnetic fields around areas would take truely massive power sources... or a lot of radiation shielding which is a lot of added weight.
that's kind of a ridiculous caveat to bring in to the conversation for two reasons.

1) We wouldn't stay ON the surface, we'd stay under the surface. The lack of substantial atmosphere makes incomming micrometeorites catastrophically deadly. It'd be like living on a shooting range unless we dug in.

2) We have easily reproducable metamaterials that weigh less than a decal that can provide shielding from specific bands of ionizing radiation. Simple mass production is all that would be needed.
otto1932
5 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2010
I hope one day we do this... but I say send hundreds of ships with bacteria and lichen first to help change the atmosphere wait a hundred years and then send humans.
We should know first if there is any life there already, which might be of more benefit to us... before we kill it off.
None... there is no protection from cosmic or solar radiationon this world
Robotics for any work on the surface, with living space underground in existing caves per the article; or created with nuclear-powered borers and plowshare-style nuclear excavation.

Fissionables are the most valuable materials this civilization has yet created- essential for survival in a pinch, they could not have been stockpiled without that great contrivance, the cold war, to make it necessary. Weve been testing autonomous nuclear-powered vehicles (subs) in extreme environments for decades, in prep for colonization; again, courtesy of the sham threat of attack. USSR/US; 2 sides/1 coin
seb
5 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2010
If you are into sci-fi, the Red/green/blue mars novel has an interesting take on how doing it this way might work out.. excellent story full of technical details related to mars colonization anyway...
Sanescience
2.3 / 5 (8) Oct 20, 2010
THIS IS ALL *WAY* PREMATURE!

Come on people, even getting to mars right now represents a lethal dose of radiation for a normal human.

There isn't enough gravity either, normal human physiology doesn't do well in low gravity. Normal humans would have to build underground centrifuge-like habitats to escape radiation, meteorites, and have enough "gravity" to survive. There is no way such habitats could be build quickly enough for the first, or probably even second, wave of humans to survive. Plus their performance would be so degraded half way to dying, that they would be using poor judgment and making costly mistakes.

Until robots are developed that can build habitats before humans arrive, there will be no settling off Earth for normal humans.

Or, we bio-engineer some new humans that can survive space. Good luck getting that approved!
ShotmanMaslo
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2010
Sanescience - with proper funding, there is nothing preventing humanity from Mars mission. All the problems are mostly engineering and risk management, I dont see any showstopper. That includes radiation and lack of gravity, there are plenty of ways to solve those. Of the top of my head:

- radiation shielding (including fuel, water)
- artificial magnetic field
- medication to help repair radiation damage or bone strenght loss
- shorter trip times ( about 2 months are realistic with VASIMR)
- artificial gravity

But also, lets be realistic. We are not going to Mars with current and proposed budgets, and in the times of crisis, I dont have much hope for more money thrown at space exploration. Moon or near-earth asteroids are actually doable with what we have. Lets concentrate on that.
Thrasymachus
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2010
That "with proper funding" is a hell of a caveat. Who on Earth is gonna take a couple dozen billion dollars and plant it on Mars, without some sort of guarantee of a return? Governments that could afford to do it, won't, without some sort of contingency return plan in case things go wrong. It's all well and good to say these first settlers would be taking the risk for themselves, but how many of us would be base enough to repeat those words as we're watching those first settlers die of starvation/oxygen deprivation/dehydration/radiation poisoning/etc/ over the course of a week or two?
jamey
5 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2010
@Shootist - The advantage of Martyr is that it's legally available free, on the web. As well, it's not the same theme at all - Martyr talks of the dangers of trying to improve things to where there is no risk at all, where Transit talks of one of the risks faced on Mars. Nor does Transit discuss the kind of expedition discussed in this article. Great story - Clarke's usually are, but *not* the same point at all.

And QC played a nice bit of switch-the-argument on me - first it was that we couldn't aim everything to land near each other, then it was that we need to develop all of these technologies first.

Question for anyone who has an idea - how much of the ISS life support is coming from systems that would actually be used in a closed-loop environment?
Shootist
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2010
That gets them home but says nothing about getting there.
Standard medium lift chemical boost rocket can get us there. We have about 10 of them sitting around collecting dust that would suffice.


OH? That's why the remaining Saturn Vs were scraped and the blueprints, plans and tooling destroyed? We don't need heavy lift capability? We don't need low-cost access to Earth orbit?
ShotmanMaslo
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 20, 2010
Recently approved NASA bill has building a brand new heavy lifter as its priority. It will be shuttle derived rocket with 70-110 metric tons of capacity to low Earth orbit. It should be ready for use in 2016.

http://www.nasasp...0/D5.jpg
bg1
4 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2010
I would NOT want to live on Mars because the gravity is too weak. The weak gravity would result in weak muscles and bones, with follow-on effects of these.
DamienS
5 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2010
Mars? Heck, we can't even fund a mission to get back to the Moon, let alone building self sustaining habitats - and that's on a body that's just a stone's throw from Earth!
Sanescience
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2010

- radiation shielding (including fuel, water)
- artificial magnetic field
- medication to help repair radiation damage or bone strenght loss
- shorter trip times ( about 2 months are realistic with VASIMR)
- artificial gravity
But also, lets be realistic. We are not going to Mars with current and proposed budgets...


Um, every thing mentioned above we don't have yet.

Shielding against the two types of radiation (SPE & GCR)is tricky because we don't fully understand all the issues yet, and GCR can be so energetic that no shielding is possible.

Getting to Mars quickly is the best way, but VASIMR isn't up for the job any time soon, nor do we have a power supply even close to feed it for those speeds, nor can it operate until we have something that can get it into space. Ad Astra was supposed to put a test one on the ISS soon, but I think delays has pushed it past the final shuttle flight.
ShotmanMaslo
4 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2010
Fascinating diagram of ISS life support system:

http://upload.wik...ycle.svg

As you can see, H2 and CO2 are currently vented overboard. This should be fixed for a truly closed loop system. Or at worst, at least burn it in VASIMR engine..
jamey
5 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2010
That is fascinating - and horrifying. Note - there is no link from CO2 removal to O2 generation - sure, it takes power, but - they *HAVE* it. They're in space for cryin' out loud! Notice, they don't show Waste Mgt. as being released overboard - but it's either stuffed in bags to be returned via the Shuttle, or literally tossed overboard in a manner pretty much set to have it burn up.

As close as possible to having EVERY single atom lifted, should be stored away, for a future time when we'll actually have something up there worth calling a space station, and the piled-up "waste" will be called a "goldmine".

Suggested reading of the comment: Tank Farm Dynamo, by David Brin - available free on the Internet.
Sanescience
2 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2010
As you can see, H2 and CO2 are currently vented overboard. This should be fixed for a truly closed loop system. Or at worst, at least burn it in VASIMR engine..


"Closed loop system" is impractical as the astronauts themselves constantly interject carbon and hydrogen (reacted with oxygen) from their bodies into the system.

I think the preferred "fuel" for a VASIMR is argon. Hydrogen has been mentioned but it is corrosive, difficult to store, and has the lowest molecular weight of any element (more is important for imparting inertia) However, if it is already on the station (in necessary quantity?) then maybe they will build for that.
Skeptic_Heretic
4 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2010
OH? That's why the remaining Saturn Vs were scraped and the blueprints, plans and tooling destroyed? We don't need heavy lift capability? We don't need low-cost access to Earth orbit?
We need heavy lift. We need low cost orbit access, but neither is required for Mars. Did you even see the Senate hearing on the topic? I'd recoomen you look up Zubrin's various lectures on the topic or the Congressional hearing minutes. There may even be broadcasts online of it. He went into very deep detail. Med boost can do it no problem.
but how many of us would be base enough to repeat those words as we're watching those first settlers die of starvation/oxygen deprivation/dehydration/radiation poisoning/etc/ over the course of a week or two?
I'd go through all that just to see the Earth from Mars at night once.
jamey
5 / 5 (3) Oct 21, 2010
Closed loop is not impractical - the CO2 should be being recycled via plants into food and O2. H2 is being injected in *VERY* low amounts - it's usually coming out as H2O.
Newbeak
5 / 5 (1) Oct 23, 2010
I'll wait for plasma rockets,which would cut travel time to Mars to 39 days from 6 months using conventional rockets:http://www.physor...552.html
A_Paradox
4.7 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2010
I like Douglas Adams' idea best: send an advance party of all the hair dressers, celebrities, stockbrokers, real estate agents, and ....
marjon
3 / 5 (2) Oct 23, 2010
Aldrin Mars Cycler:
http://buzzaldrin...-cycler/
"The Cycler system alters the philosophy behind a Mars program. It makes possible the dream of regular flights to the Red Planet and a permanent human presence there. That’s the only way we’ll ever succeed in taking mankind’s next giant leap: a subway-in-the-sky between our planet and our future second home."
Husky
4 / 5 (1) Oct 23, 2010
i would think the moon is a better bridgehead to for staging future space colonization for several reasons:
- closer lifeline to earth for remediation of unforseen accidents
- easier to resupply crews and logistics, not cheap, but less expensive than mars
- eventually a selfsustained colony that has mastered living of the land in spaceon has the experience, the know-how and is out of the earths gravity well to launch much more costeffective and higer proballity of succes to colonize mars by real colonists.

Also, once moonmining gets serious, earth can benefit from its returns and you get something of a space economy, mars is a far away to get an early payoff
nada
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2010
closer lifeline to earth for remediation of unforseen accidents


That's the problem. If we are going to wait until its reasonably safe to go to mars - we'll never get there.

Think about it. If you even apply that thinking to your own life - when would you have moved out of your parents house? - never.

It really NEEDS to be a one way trip to mars. Without people of the caliber for a oneway trip - its all just planned failure.
eachus
4 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2010
On the subject of waiting until costs come down. Space Elevators for the Moon and Mars are now technically easy enough and cost effective. We probably could build an Earth to orbit space elevator with current technologies. We are at a point, however, where the basic research for much, much cheaper space elevators for Earth will take a few more years of technology development.

Nanotubes in epoxy can get to ridiculous strength to weight ratios. Currently though the longest nanotubes made are a few centimeters long, and you want them bumpy or with chemical binding sites to minimize the amount of epoxy needed. Get the nanotubes up to meters in length, and all other issues are easily managed.

Does this mean that round trips to Mars would be feasible? Sure, but it also means that colonist style missions would be much more cost effective. Plus it allows real people, not just scientists to participate. Growing food, recycling and maintenance are going to be just as important.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Oct 23, 2010
It really NEEDS to be a one way trip to mars.

Why? What is the rush?
If same process the Europeans used to explore the world is followed for space, privateers will lead the way and they will want to return to earth with their profit.
ShotmanMaslo
2 / 5 (4) Oct 24, 2010
If same process the Europeans used to explore the world is followed for space, privateers will lead the way and they will want to return to earth with their profit.


Well, their profit would not come from Mars, but from public payments. There is not much to import from Mars.
ultrasnow
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 24, 2010
If it does not happen in our lifetime then it's a life not worth living
So don't delay this
Quantum_Conundrum
3 / 5 (6) Oct 24, 2010
Well, their profit would not come from Mars, but from public payments. There is not much to import from Mars.


you have no way of knowing that.

We've sent a handful of decent orbiters and landers, and you declare there's nothing worth importing from Mars.

The crust of Mars may be packed full of rare earth minerals.

We don't know what ores and minerals are in Mars' crust, because zero geology has been done on Mars.

This is why we need a mission that does seismology surveys with man-made soundings, with at least several tens of stations to study internal structure of Mars at the surface and in it's mantle and core.

candidates for ore deposits would be the hundreds of meters of crust beneath the small and medium sized craters, as these should be filled with melt rock from the crust and remnants of any metal meteorites, which probably would have sorted naturally by density.
Quantum_Conundrum
2.3 / 5 (4) Oct 24, 2010
The Russian and European space agencies are supposed to send up a system of tens of landers over the next several years to land on Mars and act as a network of weather stations, to take better measurements of Mars' weather. I'm not sure what each station will have, but it appears they will all be solar powered, with non-volatile computer systems. They will take all the standard atmospheric measurements of an earth weather station, and probably more with visible and infrared cameras, etc, and then relay this info back to earth. So then they would eventually be able to track hgh and low pressure systems, fronts, moist or dry air masses (perhaps relative to water, or perhaps relative to CO2 or some other compound,) etc. If successful, this is probably going to be the most comprehensive mission to Mars by humans as of the time it happens.

We need a geology survey of the same scale and complexity, which is going to be difficult to do using only remote control robots.
ShotmanMaslo
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 24, 2010
Well, their profit would not come from Mars, but from public payments. There is not much to import from Mars.


you have no way of knowing that.

We don't know what ores and minerals are in Mars' crust, because zero geology has been done on Mars.


Oh, there may be precious minerals and ores. But importing it to Earth and make a profit? Thats another matter entirely.
Quantum_Conundrum
1.3 / 5 (3) Oct 24, 2010
Oh, there may be precious minerals and ores. But importing it to Earth and make a profit? Thats another matter entirely.


Depends on how you define "profit".

If you define profit as paper money in a bank account, then perhaps not.

If you define profit as maximizing human technology, then any cost in paper money would be worth it in the long term.

If we have X amount of rare earths here, then our technology and standard of living can never advance beyond that which uses X. But if there is another 0.5X worth of these resources on Mars, then our technology and standard of living could advance to 1.5X.

From that perspective, the entire civilization profits, whether or not anyone makes "dollars" off the endeavour.
yyz
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 24, 2010
"We don't know what ores and minerals are in Mars' crust, because zero geology has been done on Mars"

Oh really. Where have you been?

http://www.google...ie=UTF-8
jamey
3.5 / 5 (4) Oct 24, 2010
*LAUGHS* If you think space surveys, and rovers that have explored perhaps a dozen square miles all told (while the two current rovers have driven a long way, they've also only explored a narrow strip along that route) are any significant proportion of the geology to be done on Mars, I've got some investments I'd like to interest you in. Good, conservative million-to-one shots.
yyz
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 24, 2010
"*LAUGHS* If you think space surveys, and rovers that have explored perhaps a dozen square miles all told (while the two current rovers have driven a long way, they've also only explored a narrow strip along that route) are any significant proportion of the geology to be done on Mars, I've got some investments I'd like to interest you in"

So those "space surveys and rover" missions equals zero geology? *LAUGHS* You're as misinformed as QC.
marjon
1.3 / 5 (3) Oct 24, 2010
All past explorations were conducted for economic reasons. Why shouldn't Mars be as well?
As close as the moon is to earth it is only recently significant water has been discovered.
Also, significant mineral deposits have been discovered in Afghanistan.
Mars should have significant deposits of all sorts of minerals, just as the earth has. Especially near all the volcanic regions.
Will they be worth flinging back to earth? Depends upon the cost.
yyz
5 / 5 (3) Oct 24, 2010
"We don't know what ores and minerals are in Mars' crust, because zero geology has been done on Mars"

It appears other creationists DO know about Martian geology: http://creation.c...-geology

However, I prefer a scientific approach to the geology of Mars as found here:

http://www.lukew.com/marsgeo/
http://en.wikiped..._of_Mars

and illustrated(USGS): http://www.lpi.us...dex.html

Of course, ignorance of the geology of Mars would allow one(QC) to hold the (false) belief that Martian meteorites (on Earth) don't exist - http://www.physor...firstCmt

(all those pesky, measured, elemental abundances, you know)

This is what happens when you try to reconcile creation cosmology and reality. o_O
ShotmanMaslo
3 / 5 (5) Oct 25, 2010
Depends on how you define "profit".

If you define profit as paper money in a bank account, then perhaps not.

If you define profit as maximizing human technology, then any cost in paper money would be worth it in the long term.


The topic was profit for privateers, and privateers do things in exchange for government money. Without government, Mars mission will not be profitable, because it is going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars, at best.

All space exploration to date with the exception of commercial sattelites was done primarily by public money. Mars mission will be the same, because short-term and medium-term it is a huge waste of money, period.

It could become profitable in a hundred years, but that is science fiction currently.

ShotmanMaslo
2.3 / 5 (4) Oct 25, 2010

All past explorations were conducted for economic reasons. Why shouldn't Mars be as well?


Plenty of exploration was conducted for curiosity, fame and coolness, and not for any economic reason. Space exploration is definitely one of those. Thats why the pinnacle of private-only space "exploration" is commercial communication sattelites.
YawningDog
not rated yet Oct 25, 2010
If I lived in Pullberg I'd be looking for a way out too, even if it involved a one way trip to Mars.
marjon
1.8 / 5 (4) Oct 25, 2010
Plenty of exploration was conducted for curiosity, fame and coolness, and not for any economic reason.
Name some major expeditions.
Skeptic_Heretic
4 / 5 (4) Oct 25, 2010
Plenty of exploration was conducted for curiosity, fame and coolness, and not for any economic reason.
Name some major expeditions.
Byrd's Expedition to the Pole.

Quantum_Conundrum
3 / 5 (2) Oct 25, 2010
yyz:

Testing a few scoops of dirt, or drilling to a depth of 1 or 2 meters and studying fuzzy satellite photographs with 1km resolution, or a rover's photo of a fault or crater wall is pretty much insignificant compared to what I'm talking about.

Laugh it up, but that's basicly zero geology in terms of what is actually useful for locating the best ore deposits.
Grizzled
1 / 5 (2) Oct 25, 2010
To come back from geology to "practicalities" of the idea. What about medicine? To stand even remote chance of success they will have to have at least a couple of people capable of open cavity surgery for instance. Otherwise the first inflamed appendix case will turn deadly. And they will need support. And it must be redundant of course so you will need at least two full teams there. Err, excuse me, are we still talking about just 2-3 people going?
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Oct 25, 2010
Plenty of exploration was conducted for curiosity, fame and coolness, and not for any economic reason.
Name some major expeditions.
Byrd's Expedition to the Pole.



"Byrd reasoned that if he could fly to the South Pole and back in one day in relative comfort and accomplish what the old explorers had taken weeks or months to do that this would gain great publicity for aviation and incidentally for himself. So this was the reason for the South Polar flight. Today we say, oh, everybody flies to the Pole. You go over the Pole when you're on your way to Japan, for example. What's the big deal about flying over a Pole? But in those rickety airplanes of the 1920s it was a very big deal. Flying over the South Pole was a tremendous accomplishment. "
http://www.pbs.or...s04.html
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Oct 26, 2010
"Byrd reasoned that if he could fly to the South Pole and back in one day in relative comfort and accomplish what the old explorers had taken weeks or months to do that this would gain great publicity for aviation and incidentally for himself.
Right, so it was for
curiosity, fame and coolness, and not for any economic reason.
Just as SMM stated.

Going to apologize for being a douche?

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