Dutch reality show to offer one-way tickets to Mars

Aug 12, 2012 by Nicolas Delaunay
Handout photo from Mars One shows an artist's impression of a capsule landing on Mars. As the world marvels at the latest US Mars landing, a Dutch start-up is aiming to beat NASA at its own game by landing four astronauts on Mars by 2023, seven years ahead of the US space agency's target.

As the world marvels at the latest US Mars landing, a Dutch start-up is aiming to beat NASA at its own game by sending the first humans to the red planet -- and film all as a reality show.

The big hitch: it's a one-way trip.

Fact, fiction or publicity stunt from the land that launched reality TV?

The start-up, called " One", says it is dead serious about landing four astronauts on Mars by 2023, seven years ahead of the 's target, and plans to start the search for volunteers next year.

Experts are sceptical, but "Mars One" has won backing from none other than Dutch Nobel laureate Gerard 't Hooft, who won the 1999 prize for physics.

"My first reaction was: 'this will never work'. But a closer look at the project convinced me. I really think this is possible," 't Hooft told AFP.

No one has yet tried to put man on Mars and scientists question whether radiation exposure would even allow humans to survive the trip.

As for agencies' attempts since 1960 to land , only about half have succeeded, with the US in the clear lead.

And though six missions did make it to Mars -- including NASA's Curiosity rover that set down Aug 5 to hunt for signs of past life and prepare for a possible human mission -- scientists have no way, yet, to get spacecraft back.

Sound discouraging? Not to the man behind "Mars One", mechanical engineer Bas Lansdorp, 35.

He estimates its pricetag at a hefty $6 billion, more than twice the $2.5 billion for Curiosity, NASA's biggest mission yet, and said the idea for financing came after talks with Paul Romer, one of the Dutch creators of "", the first reality show in 1999 that was a smash hit and spawned versions, and big profits, worldwide.

"Funding will be made possible through the media spectacle built around the adventure," he told AFP.

For Lansdorp, "the conquest of the is the most important step in the history of mankind," even if he concedes that many aspects of "Mars One" are still uncertain.

Among these are the ethics and legality of asking people to finish their lives in outer space, under TV scrutiny.

Other critics say "Mars One" seems more focussed on the monetisation -- rather than the feasibility -- of the project.

Under Lansdorp's plan, choosing and training the astronauts, their months-long space journey and their lives on Mars would all be televised -- along the lines of "Big Brother" where a small group was isolated in a house and constantly filmed by TV cameras.

Handout photo obtained from Mars One shows an artist's impression of a settlement on Mars. As the world marvels at the latest US Mars landing, a Dutch start-up is aiming to beat NASA at its own game by sending the first humans to the red planet and film all as a reality show.

-- 'Possible, in theory' --

The Dutch engineer, who previously worked in the field of wind power, has teamed up with a physicist, an industrial designer and a communications specialist. They would run the operation, he said, and technical aspects like building a space ship and living quarters on Mars would be outsourced to companies that were "most qualified".

He has even drawn up a schedule. Selection and training of astronauts is set to start next year, then modules for the space station, food and robotic vehicles would be sent between 2016 and 2022.

A first group of four men and women would set foot on Mars in April 2023, Lansdorp told AFP, with others to follow until there was a colony of 20 people a decade later. They would mainly conduct scientific experiments, notably looking for signs of life, like Curiosity.

On a planet with an average temperature of minus 55 degrees C (minus 67 F) whose atmosphere mainly of carbon dioxide, Lansdorp said oxygen would be produced from water found below Mars' surface.

For Chris Welch, an engineering professor at France's International Space University in Strasbourg, getting oxygen this way was "possible in theory" but highly uncertain.

And "landing a person on Mars -- why not?" he said. "But landing four people and keeping them alive on one spot -- that's much harder.

"From a technical standpoint, I'd say it's fifty-fifty -- but it's still a courageous try," said Welch, who also questioned whether $6 billion could be raised "via television".

At the European , Jorge Vago, an expert on its Mars exploration project "ExoMars", said turbulence on the planet made it virtually impossible to land two craft at the same place, as foreseen by "Mars One".

"If the robot vehicle which has to build the living module lands 100 kilometres (62 miles) or even 20 kilometres away, it will be very difficult."

He also said eruptions from the sun that release ionised material into space could "burn" astronauts and damage their ship.

Despite the doubts, a firm note of support has also come from the Netherlands own Space Society, the umbrella group for Dutch companies working in the space industry.

Its chairman Gerard Blaauw called Lansdorp's plan a "visionary idea to combine media and aerospace", in comments on the "Mars One" website, saying "this merger...alone means Mars One is worth watching!"

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Vendicar_Decarian
4.2 / 5 (15) Aug 12, 2012
If realized, this would constitute the longest running snuff film in history.
tziuname
Aug 12, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Mayday
5 / 5 (9) Aug 12, 2012
I really love the idea of using our cultural obsession with trashy voyeurism and personal embarrassment to help drive the accomplishment of (or a the very least, the extremely heightened interest in) something that could move our spacefaring dreams forward. Imagine the average TV viewer becoming obsessed with an adventure like this instead of Jersey Shore. Although after looking at their drawings, I think the mission needs a serious re-think. But I'd sign up if they'd take me (I'm not young & tattooed, but I can work on my abs).
arthur_kaske
Aug 12, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
basilv
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2012
As far as danger, look at what people do on this very planet. I hope that upon safe landing they find all the natural resourcess that will deem them their own country that consists of an entire planet. Aguirre, The Wrath Of God Part Deux

PS what did they say about Christopher Columbus' "ill fated journey". Something about falling off the face of that flat planet earth?
axemaster
2.2 / 5 (17) Aug 12, 2012
Sounds like a big waste of time. Also, I can't imagine a more depressing way to get to Mars. It won't be the courage or ingenuity that got us there - it'll be the vapid money grabbing tentacles of Hollywood.

There's only one word for this: grotesque.
Mayday
4 / 5 (12) Aug 12, 2012
I hope they find some brains that can actually help them do this. Their current ideas are non-starters. My 2 cents: they'll need to get underground and fast. Develop digging/tunneling tech and land where they can get into a lava tube. Use inflatable habitats(underground) to build atmos pressure and warmth. Develop small and fast all-terrain rovers to locate and bring back landed supplies and crew. Vastly over-estimate the amount of water and oxygen you'll need by many, many factors. Begin development of the sequel: "MarsMissionII:Rescue."
Nicotian
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2012
I have waited my whole life for an opportunity EXACTLY like this!!!

You have NO IDEA how excited I am that someone else thought of it, but at the same time 'depressed' because technology has been SO 'retarded' by superstition and other human conditions. Yeah, in another dimension I am young enough to participate in such a wonderful adventure.
MrVibrating
2.8 / 5 (10) Aug 12, 2012
Sounds like a big waste of time. Also, I can't imagine a more depressing way to get to Mars. It won't be the courage or ingenuity that got us there - it'll be the vapid money grabbing tentacles of Hollywood.

There's only one word for this: grotesque.

That was the first word that occurred to me, until i read that there'll at least be some attempt to keep them alive there.

I've heard tell, plenty of real, existing astronauts would jump at the chance of such a one-way trip... so why not train up a bunch of dizzy exhibitionists? It seems ethically no different to me..
krundoloss
3.3 / 5 (8) Aug 12, 2012
This is interesting, solving the problem of extreme cost by making a tv show out of the project. I do feel however that we should wait and build our technology to a point where most of the problems have been addressed. We should maybe start with the moon, perfect our habitat construction and resupply methods, and go for Mars when we are ready! Also, i feel if the reality show Mars mission was created, it would be a sickening spectacle, as someone would surely go crazy on the way! Who could mentally handle being sent to a red planet with little hope of return, then having to think about it for 6 months while you are trapped in a small spacecraft with other people in the same situation? crazy!
Kafpauzo
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 12, 2012
Yeah, in another dimension I am young enough to participate in such a wonderful adventure.


I doubt that you have to be young. Actually, I'd bet a large proportion of applicants will be have reached or be near retirement age. People who feel that they have lived a great life but would love to and a truly wondrous adventure.

If you really love the idea of participating in this adventure, then go for it! I bet it will be wonderful for those with the right adventurous spirit.

But, obviously, think it through carefully. Once you're on your way to Mars, there's no turning back...

Their website is here: http://mars-one.com
Mayday
3 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2012
So many questions. How are they landing the pods inches apart? Are they taking into account the statistical likelihood that half of the missions may fail? Are they prepared legally for live death, or worse? Isn't this show a lawsuit magnet in the extreme? Will the post-failed-mission legal battles be televised live as well?
Kafpauzo
2 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2012
Who could mentally handle being sent to a red planet with little hope of return, then having to think about it for 6 months while you are trapped in a small spacecraft with other people in the same situation? crazy!


The participants would prepare during ten years of training, which would include many months similar to the space trip: Enclosed in tightly confined spaces with their future fellow travellers. During this time I think they'll discover how they'll react to this situation.

I checked their website some time ago. It looks like a really fascinating adventure.

But leaving my loved ones behind? Forever? I doubt that I'll ever apply.

But who knows. In many ways I find it very, very attractive.
pianoman
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 12, 2012
They should have landed in Hale Crater not Gale Crater-- Why??--check for yourself---European Space Agency Mars Hale Crater video
xNico
4.3 / 5 (6) Aug 12, 2012
Am I the only one that thinks sending a bunch of idiots like the cast from jersey shore to Mars is a stupid idea? I mean, those degenerates will die in 1 week.
Kafpauzo
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 12, 2012
They should have landed in Hale Crater not Gale Crater-- Why??--check for yourself---European Space Agency Mars Hale Crater video


Sorry to disappoint you, but the patterns in that image are no structures of civilization on the surface of Mars.

The patterns are simple, very ordinary artifacts of JPEG compression. You'll see similar patterns on any JPEG image of a similar surface with a somewhat low JPEG compression quality setting. Make the same brightness and contrast adjustments and you'll see roughly the same patterns.
Kafpauzo
2 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2012
Am I the only one that thinks sending a bunch of idiots like the cast from jersey shore to Mars is a stupid idea? I mean, those degenerates will die in 1 week.


I don't think this idea will attract people who primarily want to be in front of a camera. I think it'll attract people who love space and adventure.

They'll feel that the constant filming is a major nuisance. But if that's what it takes, they'll endure it.

(I'm guessing here that Jersey Shore is some reality show. Jersey Shore is unknown where I live.)
Nicotian
not rated yet Aug 12, 2012
But, obviously, think it through carefully. Once you're on your way to Mars, there's no turning back...

LOL, if they could allow for the 40 pounds of Copenhagen snuff (assuming that it is still a two year journey) I would be quite content with my decision. Just think of the wealth of knowledge that would be gained from such an endeavor, to me it makes the danger insignificant, but that is coming from an old adrenaline junkie (many high-risk/high-pay jobs). ;) I feel that I have already lived the equivalent of two lifetimes, and that people in general move too slow...and too safe. :)

pianoman
Aug 12, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Kafpauzo
2 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2012
I feel that I have already lived the equivalent of two lifetimes, and that people in general move too slow...and too safe. :)

You seem to be precisely the kind of people that I've imagined would apply for this experience. Having had a full life, loving to experience life, and seeing a Mars trip as a fabulously wondrous experience to make a full life even fuller.

but that is coming from an old adrenaline junkie

And that's the main problem. Conflicting needs.

Through the years, life on Mars will become too quiet, too unchanging. There's so much more you can do on Earth, so much more limited possibilities in a tiny colony consisting of cramped quarters.

Of course, someone who knows how to live fully will find ways, will find adventure. But the possibilities will be quite limited. There's not much adrenaline in fetching yet another geologic sample, and soaking it in yet another reagent.

Who am I kidding? The more I write, the more I want to go there. I'd find ways...
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2012
(assuming that it is still a two year journey)


Hmmm... Is this a misunderstanding? It's not a two-year journey, it's a lifetime journey.

You go to Mars, then you live on Mars for years and years, for the rest of your life.
Telekinetic
1.3 / 5 (14) Aug 12, 2012
The perfect candidates for this trip are the sad lot who are cleaning the Fukushima reactor sites. Speaking of Japan, remember the Japanese company with the space ladder proposal that was a ploy to get the 14 billion in reactor clean-up money? This plan stinks of the same motive- get a bunch of capital thrown at the project that never happens. C'mon- how would advertising revenue come close to covering the 6 billion dollars expended? Brought to you by the same folks who gave us the Tulip Trade.

b

Kafpauzo
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 12, 2012
The perfect candidates for this trip are the sad lot who are cleaning the Fukushima reactor sites.

I didn't know that reactor cleaners were exceptionally fascinated by space and adventure.

If they are so fascinated and enthusiastic, how can they be sad at the same time? ;-D

C'mon- how would advertising revenue come close to covering the 6 billion dollars expended?

The show would be international. If done well, it could become popular in a huge number of countries for many years. With a sizable audience in lots of countries for years and years, it seems to me that money won't be a major problem.

But there's one big problem. Reality shows don't last forever. They tend to end after a number of years. When this happens, the project will need to find some other way to finance the perpetual stream of supply ships to Mars.

Either that, or everybody in the colony dies.

Or could the colony become self-sufficient that soon?
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (9) Aug 12, 2012
They're good candidates because what's a little more radiation to them? They've volunteered to do what others won't because going into Fukushima is a suicide mission. Our ability to shield people from radiation from space travel is in the Dark Ages. A jet plane trip across the country exposes you to more radiation than is healthy, so the levels on the way to Mars are off the scale. If you think a windmill engineer and friends can pull this off, I'd like to interest you in some shares in a bridge that's being built to Mars.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.1 / 5 (23) Aug 12, 2012
Am I the only one that thinks sending a bunch of idiots like the cast from jersey shore to Mars is a stupid idea? I mean, those degenerates will die in 1 week.
They will get drunk and eat each other.

Hey if they use vasimr engines they could get there in one episode.
Hmmm... Is this a misunderstanding? It's not a two-year journey, it's a lifetime journey.

You go to Mars, then you live on Mars for years and years, for the rest of your life.
-Or until we start making regular runs to and from the planet. 20 years?
Kacela
not rated yet Aug 12, 2012
My multiple failed back surgeries have made it so the only substantial relief I can get is when I'm in water. It's been almost 8 years of agony.

Mars gravity is only 38% of that here on Earth. Sounds like heaven. Sign me up. I'd live out my life in comfort.
la7dfa
not rated yet Aug 12, 2012
If they are concerned of radiation, they should definately avoid sunspot maximum (occurs sometime during 2022-24). They could not have chosen a much worse time.
HealingMindN
1 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2012
Personally, I believe the truly brave heroes of our time should undertake such a courageous mission, so let's start by sending Obama and Romney up there.
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (6) Aug 13, 2012
My multiple failed back surgeries have made it so the only substantial relief I can get is when I'm in water. It's been almost 8 years of agony.

Mars gravity is only 38% of that here on Earth. Sounds like heaven. Sign me up. I'd live out my life in comfort.


Sorry to hear that. I suggest you investigate prolotherapy, it involves only injections of natural sugars (not table sugar) but it works by triggering your own body's healing mechanisms. I know the best M.D. who administers prolotherapy treatments.
Thrasymachus
1 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2012
I have doubts that a reality show will generate the kinds of financing necessary to fund such a venture, even one-way. Training and preparing for space travel isn't exactly riveting stuff, and "exciting" people are rarely the kind you'd want manning a space craft and surface base. You really think NASA wouldn't be running a reality show starring their astronauts if it were a consistent money-maker with some of the directors they've had? The occasional documentary, maybe even a show that could be stretched into a full season I can see.. Something big enough to fund a trip to Mars? $6 billion? Has any reality show ever even grossed $1 billion?
blazingspark
3 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2012
Also, i feel if the reality show Mars mission was created, it would be a sickening spectacle, as someone would surely go crazy on the way! Who could mentally handle being sent to a red planet with little hope of return, then having to think about it for 6 months while you are trapped in a small spacecraft with other people in the same situation? crazy!

I think an important part of the payload will be lifetime doses of anti-anxiety meds and anti-depressants.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 13, 2012
Think B-Ark.

"Am I the only one that thinks sending a bunch of idiots like the cast from jersey shore to Mars is a stupid idea? I mean, those degenerates will die in 1 week." - Kalamazoo

vlaaing peerd
not rated yet Aug 13, 2012
In the year 2003 of the show "big brother" de Endemol company already grossed 1 billion Euro. This was before it was sold abroad, so probably this show has already made multitudes of it by now. So in that perspective, I think it's a good idea to use those turnovers for something useful.

Yet another stupid idea of my fellow countrymen, I'm still waiting for the 1,5 Km high mountain to be built in the Netherlands (if it was planned for 2018 we´d better start building already). Nevertheless going to Mars is so insane it has something appealing.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2012
I'd rather we'd first send robots to dig a habitat (even if it's only a long, sealed tube) and check out the viability of having a self sustainable ecosphere.

We've been failing at building this type of structure on Earth (c.f. Biosphere experiments) and if we want to keep people alive on Mars (and not just send them there and watch them die slowly over the course of 1-2 years) then we'll have to figure this one out.

Bringing them back would probably be less of a technical challenge. (second season?)
SatanLover
1 / 5 (3) Aug 13, 2012
send those european goldman sachs officials. they obviously are intelligent enough to go seeming how they whipped entire europe under their controll.
azippay
5 / 5 (5) Aug 13, 2012
Only thing for certain is the average IQ of both planets will increase.
SoylentGrin
not rated yet Aug 13, 2012
How about a character that people love to hate, or hate to love?
They could have a trainer determining who gets to go. The trainer will have already given up their life, dedicated to living out the rest of it in isolation in the training habitats. They would have new human contact with every wave of recruits, but having an edge of professional bitterness; sacrificing their life for the cause, but not getting to go themselves.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (20) Aug 13, 2012
I have doubts that a reality show will generate the kinds of financing necessary to fund such a venture, even one-way. Training and preparing for space travel isn't exactly riveting stuff, and "exciting" people are rarely the kind you'd want manning a space craft and surface base.
Perhaps exciting people could take along some volumes of 'the ethics of morals' or 'the epistemology of metaphysics' or 'the will and the brown fox' to keep them stimulated.
We've been failing at building this type of structure on Earth (c.f. Biosphere experiments)
Instead, think nuclear subs which often remain submerged for 6 months a mission. We have been training for space travel for a long time.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2012
Instead, think nuclear subs which often remain submerged for 6 months a mission.

They don't produce their own food.
We could send a food package to Mars every six months (and probably a bit more often to account fo the occasional failure) but that would be very costly.
Initially we'll probably have to do that, anyways, if we want to keep these people alive.

In the end I still think the low gravity is going to do anyone in who stays on Mars for a prolonged time. Still, it's something we should at least try. But the do-and-die reality show-format seems somewhat ugly way to get there.

It's not like internationally funded (or even nationally funded) Mars missions would so costly as to tax a budget to its limits - at least compared to all the frivolous things these budgets contain at the moment.
rubberman
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 13, 2012
See you at the party Richter.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.1 / 5 (19) Aug 13, 2012
They don't produce their own food
If they were bigger they could. Think Antarctic stations. And hydroponics is pretty well understood. Biosphere experiments were PR stunts to secure funding. You know like most big-ticket science projects to varying extents.

But it WOULD be a good way of forcing the development of reliable transit systems (What? You're not just going to let them STARVE up there are you??!?)
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2012
Think Antarctic stations

They don't produce their own food, either.

And hydroponics is pretty well understood.

Yes they are, they're also pretty damn hard to set up (requiring considerable space to continuously feed even a very small group). If we're sending that much material then a return vehicle is probably a less costly addition.
Hydroponics require nutrients which we aren't currently sure are all available on Mars. They also require a lot of water (something we are also not sure is readily available on Mars)

Biosphere experiments were PR stunts to secure funding.

This allegation is based on what evidence?

I still think it would be best to get a habitat there before we send people (preferrably one tested here on Earth and found to be working). Not just send people and see if it works out.

Small steps - not giant leaps. That may be less thrilling, but has shown to be the way to go in space.
Deathclock
2.5 / 5 (8) Aug 13, 2012
As far as danger, look at what people do on this very planet. I hope that upon safe landing they find all the natural resourcess that will deem them their own country that consists of an entire planet. Aguirre, The Wrath Of God Part Deux

PS what did they say about Christopher Columbus' "ill fated journey". Something about falling off the face of that flat planet earth?


No, they will die, this is nothing at all like Columbus.
Scientist_Steve
2.7 / 5 (7) Aug 13, 2012
I'd have to agree with Deathclock.
Drawing a line on a map of the Ocean and saying beyond that, there be dragons is drastically different then then sending a group of people to a place with no oxygen or food. I am all for Mars, but as Antialias says, we aren't ready for a leap of this kind yet.
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (6) Aug 13, 2012
The only way this journey can happen is if a consortium of nations pools resources to pay for it. Cost overuns and new technology development will surpass what a T.V. show can rake in, particularly now with globally reduced advertising dollars. There's also an issue of liability. Astronauts know what they're in for, and are psychologically screened for dangerous missions. Real space organizations weigh the consequences of a manned launch, and if there is a question of readiness, they won't do it.
Kafpauzo
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 13, 2012
I still think it would be best to get a habitat there before we send people


That's what they plan to do at Mars One:

2016 -- They send supplies to Mars.
2018 -- They send a large rover to Mars.
2020 -- They send a habitat, more supplies, and a second rover.
2020-2023 -- The rovers robotically prepare the habitat and supplies, making everything fully ready for humans.
2022-2023 -- The first humans travel to Mars.

(preferrably one tested here on Earth and found to be working).


It would surprise me immensely if anyone considers using systems that haven't been tested and found to work. That would be very weird indeed.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 13, 2012
There's also an issue of liability. Astronauts know what they're in for, and are psychologically screened for dangerous missions.


If we are to believe their website, their selection process should take care of that. They say:

"The astronauts that will go to Mars will be the best of the best, selected from millions of applications. They will be smart, mentally stable, physically healthy people."

One can't fault them for lacking optimism. "Millions of applications."
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2012
Through the years, life on Mars will become too quiet, too unchanging. There's so much more you can do on Earth, so much more limited possibilities in a tiny colony consisting of cramped quarters.

[...] the possibilities will be quite limited. There's not much adrenaline in fetching yet another geologic sample, and soaking it in yet another reagent.

I've had second thoughts about what I wrote there.

People who apply for this will be people who like a major, life-changing adventure. This probably means that they are resourceful and enterprising, and like to see action and things happening.

They won't spend every day collecting yet another sample and mixing it with yet another reagent.

They'll quickly feel a need for more living space. Being resourceful, they'll start building large caves. In these caves they'll create parks and small forests. They'll struggle with the problems and difficulties that this involves. They'll be very busy doing lots of interesting things.
Deathclock
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 13, 2012
"parks and large forests..."

Yeah, okay... They'll be too busy trying secure enough air to breathe and water to drink while maintaining their physical health in low gravity and keeping their sanity in isolation to worry about parks.
flashgordon
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 13, 2012
I havn't read everyones comments; so, sorry if someone has mentioned this already.

Considering how many comments there are, looks like they money will be made.
GSwift7
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 13, 2012
We should maybe start with the moon, perfect our habitat construction and resupply methods, and go for Mars when we are ready!


That wouldn't draw a large enough audience. The "one-way trip" is probably the key to drawing enough funding. As for funding, American Idol (the most profitable show in history), was making over a billion per year at its best. Assuming you could do the same with the above program, you would still have a problem. American Idol was something like 70% profit. Even if the above show happens, and if it makes a billion/year, that's just barely enough to cover expenses. And another thing: the expenses would be all front-loaded. You would need to come up with the bulk of the costs before you had anything people would want to watch. Then again, would people want to watch people dying of radiation poisoning at all?
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2012
There's also an issue of liability.

Since no one really has any jurisdiction on Mars (or in space for that matter) I'm not sure if anyone could make a case stick.

consider 'death tourism' where sick people go to another country so that doctors may help them die. They are subject to the laws of the target country. Mars has no law - so: no foul.
SoylentGrin
5 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2012
Since no one really has any jurisdiction on Mars (or in space for that matter) I'm not sure if anyone could make a case stick.


Telling law enforcement that they have no jurisdiction because the rocket you strapped a person has carried them beyond man's ability to punish you isn't going to fly very far.
I'm not saying that a person's family would have a case, especially when the person strapped themselves to your rocket, but when has common sense prevailed in bringing lawsuits?
GSwift7
2.8 / 5 (9) Aug 13, 2012
I'm not saying that a person's family would have a case, especially when the person strapped themselves to the rocket, but when has common sense prevailed in bringing lawsuits?


Technical hurdles will prevent that ever being a problem.
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (7) Aug 13, 2012
There's also an issue of liability.

Since no one really has any jurisdiction on Mars (or in space for that matter) I'm not sure if anyone could make a case stick.

consider 'death tourism' where sick people go to another country so that doctors may help them die. They are subject to the laws of the target country. Mars has no law - so: no foul.

I know lawyers that would make mincemeat out of any "ironclad" waiver or contract. The surviving families will wind up bankrupting the whole operation. It's a legal nightmare without the imprimatur of a government-sanctioned enterprise. We have laws here at the place of origin. Remember Dr. Kervorkian?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.1 / 5 (25) Aug 13, 2012
They don't produce their own food, either.
So why does otto always have to look stuff up?
http://www.spacer...id=13724
This allegation is based on what evidence?
Why the very excellent evidence I presented in this thread:
http://phys.org/n...iew.html
This allegation is based on what evidence?
Strong inference.

Biosphere 2:
"Others called it "New Age drivel masquerading as science".[33] The Institute for Ecotechnics, which awarded Margret Augustine and other Biospherians their science credentials, was shown by a CBC documentary to be nothing more than an art gallery and café in London.

"Marc Cooper wrote that "the group that built, conceived, and directs the Biosphere project is not a group of high-tech researchers on the cutting edge of science but a clique of recycled theater performers that evolved out of an authoritarianand decidedly non-scientificpersonality cult"."

Etc.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 13, 2012
"parks and large forests..."

Yeah, okay... They'll be too busy trying secure enough air to breathe and water to drink while maintaining their physical health in low gravity and keeping their sanity in isolation to worry about parks.


I said small forests. Big difference.

If this is to work at all, then the life support services of air and water must be essentially automatic. Without that, you don't have a functioning habitat, and can't send people.

If that's taken care of, then the way to preserve both sanity and physical health is to have goals and projects and hard work. Not by sitting around feeling sorry for yourself because you're isolated.

Being resourceful, I expect they'll quickly find goals and create projects and have things to do that are meaningful and interesting for them. I know that I would -- and I can say that with certainty, from experience. Yes, this includes long-term isolation (due to illness). A resourceful person finds goals and joy.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2012
Why the very excellent evidence I presented in this thread:

The small detail you missed is who funded the Biosphere2 experiment. Not taxpayer money. There was no motive to 'secure funding' here as you alleged.
Stop pulling stuff out of your behind.

Biosphere2 failed in various regards, but it was the best shot at a closed ecosystem to date. This is why I think we should revisit closed ecosystems before we shoot people to Mars. get the fundamentals straight - then make the big step.
Winging it is not a promising strategy.

Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 13, 2012
Regarding radiation, it turns out that the habitats will be shielded by several meters of soil:

http://mars-one.c...adiation

Is there anyone here who knows about radiation and can comment on the information on that page?
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (6) Aug 13, 2012


Is there anyone here who knows about radiation and can comment on the information on that page?

I can only reiterate what P.T. Barnum once said.
Kafpauzo
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 14, 2012
I can only reiterate what P.T. Barnum once said.


Waht did he say? I'm Swedish. P.T.Barnum's sayings are not part of Sweden's traditions and folklore.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2012
Is there anyone here who knows about radiation and can comment on the information on that page?

Radiation is tricky stuff. I'll try to fit a short sumary in this (and probably the next) post.

You can't really shield from radiation absolutely as it's a stochastic effect (X meters of shielding will reduce radiation by half. 2X meters of shielding will reduce radiation not fully but just to a quarter etc. )

There's different types of radiation. Alphas (helium nuclei), betas (electrons) and gammas (photons) which have various biological efficiencies (measured in Sieverts) at various energies and are variously hard/easy to shield from. Alphas are big, therefore carry lots of momentum (i.e. are very dangerozus), but easy to shield from (a piece of paper will mostly do). Ingesting them is bad news. These are not a problem for our Mars explorers.

cont.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2012
Betas are a bit more tricky. You can shield from them with a few mm of lead or aluminum. This is doable for spacecraft. The tricky part is that when you catch high energy electrons that way they may create secondary (gamma or beta) radiation.

(Fun fact: you can actually INCREASE the damage done to someone standing behind a radiation shield by the shielding itself if the material is ill chosen. It goes like this: You hit the shield with radiation in an energy range that would have low biological efficacy. The radiation gets absorbed and produces lower energy secondary radiation with high biological efficacy (efficacy is what's called 'radiation dosage' measured in Sieverts). By this method you can increase the chance of damage as opposed to not shielding at all).

Gammas are (high energy) photons and are hard to shield from (they are the reason nuclear reactors have meter thick walls of concrete). These will be the most troubelsome for our astronauts.

cont.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2012
Gammas are the reason why they should go underground rather than have a surface structure to protect them.

Summary:
Three types of radiation with different characteristics
Each have different effects (which may vary by their energy)

To get a better idea it's often helpful to look at the units used when talking about radiation

Becquerel: number of decay/radiation events per second (does not take account of type or energy)

Gray: absorbed energy per (body) mass (J/kg). While this gives you an idea of the energy input it gives you no idea of how damaging that input is. This can vary by radiation type, energy, and type of body tissue involved (knees can handle a lot more radiation than eyes for example)

Sievert: Same as Gray (J/kg) EXCEPT it measures chance of cancer per dose (i.e. it takes account of tissue type).

Mars is way more hazardous in terms of radiation than Earth.
Kafpauzo
2 / 5 (4) Aug 14, 2012
Thanks, Antialias, very interesting.

On their radiation page they claim that "Just five meters of soil provides the same protection as the Earth's atmosphere (1,000 g/cm2)." (They give no reference for this claim, even though the rest of the page has lots of references.)

I see quite a few engineering challenges here (and elsewhere, of course!). They need to get their rovers to somehow pile up five meters of soil on top of the habitats in the two years between habitat arrival and astronaut arrival. Designing rovers that can do this kind of work autonomously will not be easy.

What's more, it's heavy work. You need energy. Curiosity has only as much power as two ordinary light bulbs consume, Opportunity has much less. Even if vast solar panels are shipped, the power will be quite limited. Can you move so much soil in two years with so little power?

Maybe it would be more realistic to shield with water pumped up from an underground aquifer. Then the mechanics become much simpler.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
They need to get their rovers to somehow pile up five meters of soil on top of the habitats in the two years between habitat arrival and astronaut arrival

There are probably easier ways to get a habitat done. The most basic way I could envision is to get a 2 meters diameter drill to Mars and drill into the martian soil at an angle. Then either spray the sides with some plastic or just dump a plastic sleeve in there (like a large condom) and inflate it to make the walls airtight.
Then segment the sleeve (think of how sausages are made) to create individual segments/chambers and an airock at the entrance.

Condensation/fungal growths will be a problem in such a hermetically sealed structure (much like it is a problem on the ISS) but as a starting point it should be sufficient to create a shielded habitat space.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
Can you move so much soil in two years with so little power?

You can do a lot in 2 years of continuous, albeit slow, work (if you limit yourself to a very small habitat). Solar panels will probably not be an option for underground work. the risk of having leads from the surface to some underground bot would be high. A nuclear source (about ten times the size opf that used on Curiosity) seems more promising.

Mars bedrock composition is not well known so the risks/chances of success are hard to estimate.

Maybe it would be more realistic to shield with water pumped up from an underground aquifer.

before we rely on that we should first send a mission to check whether Mars even has those (which seems doubtful).

Digging seems easier to me than putting up a structure that can support heavy shielding - even in the low gravity of Mars. From a risk standpoint a building is certainly less risky.

We'll see what the emgineers come up with.
DarkHorse66
1 / 5 (4) Aug 14, 2012
"Solar panels will probably not be an option for underground work."
As current technology stands, they might not be such a good option for above-ground either. They don't tend to work below a certain level of luminosity (I think dark clouds during a thunderstorm might even be enough for them to cut out, somebody else might be more up on the tech specs.) even during the daytime. And Mars is quite a bit further away from the sun than we are, so its W/m^2 from the sun will be quite a bit less than that hitting earth.
Best Regards, DH66
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
I think dark clouds during a thunderstorm might even be enough for them to cut out

There's various types of solar panels. Some do work well in ambient light (though these always do have much lower overal efficiency than the best monocrystalline silicon cells. usually in the range of 3-5%)

Thunderstorms/cloud cover aren't much of an issue on Mars (dust storms only very infrequently).
From Spirit and Opportunity we know that solar panels can work for years (at decreasing efficiency due to dust buildup).

It'll really come down to how much energy can be produced per kg sent and what are the risks. A nuclear/thermoelectric device can create more, is less risky, but is a lot heavier (and produces power the entire sol, whereas solar panels only produce for half a sol and require heavy batteries for storage to keep vital systems alive at night)

And Mars is quite a bit further away

Solar constant for Mars is about a third to half of that of Earth.
Telekinetic
1.5 / 5 (8) Aug 14, 2012
Waht did he say? I'm Swedish. P.T.Barnum's sayings are not part of Sweden's traditions and folklore.
P.T. Barnum and The Greatest Show on Earth, a traveling circus in America, said a number of things regarding human gullibility-
"Every crowd has a silver lining"- P.T. Barnum
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
While I think solar reflectors or orbital solar powerplants are completly stupid for Earth they could be a solution for a very limited Mars mission where all you need to do is power a bot to dig a hole.

The antenna for receiving the energy can be very simple/lightweight and one would not need to get the large reflector/collector down to the ground.

For the modest power needs (a few kW) of a slow borer the size of the collector would also not have to be overly large - even at the greater distance of Mars to the sun.
DarkHorse66
3 / 5 (6) Aug 14, 2012
Thanks Tk. I was wondering as well. I have a sneaking suspicion that the majority (if not, then close to) of us posters are NOT from North America, so quite a few of us are not going to be familiar with every last piece of americana that you US guys might grace us with. LOL So if any of you are presenting something that is specific to your culture (but not to the rest of the world), you might like to give the info needed so that it makes sense to the rest of us. That would apply to any of us, with regard to our own respect societies and countries.
Best Regards to all, DH66
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2012
Maybe it would be more realistic to shield with water pumped up from an underground aquifer.

before we rely on that we should first send a mission to check whether Mars even has those (which seems doubtful).

Well, I hope they don't just send people to some random spot expecting that by random chance an aquifer will exist at that very spot! :-D

It turns out that I remembered incorrectly. They plan to extract water by heating soil until moisture evaporates, then cooling this vapor for condensation. In that scenario, using the resulting water for shielding certainly seems more roundabout than just using the soil directly.

The most basic way I could envision is to get a 2 meters diameter drill to Mars and drill into the martian soil at an angle.

Interesting! But it sounds like heavy equipment requiring much power, and difficulties when the drill gets stuck and the nearest engineer is on another planet. Intuitively, I'd think explosives would be easier to manage.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2012
Solar panels will probably not be an option for underground work. the risk of having leads from the surface to some underground bot would be high.

If you use solar panels at a stationary base, I'd expect that you use large stationary panels that not only charge stationary batteries for the base's needs, but also charge some rover batteries. A rover would pick up a charged rover battery, and leave behind its depleted battery for charging.

The rover might also pick up batteries to be carried to other machines. This might include a battery for a two-meter drill.

I'm not saying that this is better than nuclear, I don't know that. I'm only saying that if you do use solar, then long cables are not necessarily required.
Telekinetic
1.5 / 5 (8) Aug 14, 2012
" The greatest constraints to extraterrestrial drilling are (1) the extreme environmental conditions, such as temperature, dust, and pressure; (2) the light-time communications delay, which necessitates highly autonomous systems; and (3) the mission and science constraints, such as mass and power budgets and the types of drilled samples needed for scientific analysis. A classification scheme based on drilling depth is proposed. Each of the 4 depth categories (surface drills, 1-meter class drills, 10-meter class drills, and deep drills) has distinct technological profiles and scientific ramifications. Astrobiology 8, 665706."

This is a comprehensive study regarding drilling on Mars, but for core samples, not for burying shelters. The technology for that is a long way off. The rest of the paper will cost you 350 USD. (USD is for you non-North Americans)
DarkHorse66
2 / 5 (4) Aug 14, 2012
Question for everybody:I just re-checked my average ranking page to see who had rated my latest comments and I found that my average score had dropped from 4.1 to 3.8 - in the space of a couple of minutes.The more individual ratings that one receives over an extended time period, the harder it is to vary someone's overall average.It takes a lot more than 1 or 2 "1's" to push an average down that far and that fast.The only two new ratings were good ones and there is no way that they could account for it. I also checked a number older pages (subscribed) that were no longer visible in the activity page and sure enough, I found a number of "1's" where previously there had been no ratings and I also found other marks that had gone down. It would seem that someone is trying to hide their identity by rating only that which can't be checked anymore, so that they can maximise their trolling.Has anyone else had this happen to them? And how does one find out who this particular sockpuppet is?DH66
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2012
P.T. Barnum [...] said a number of things regarding human gullibility

I suppose everybody is well aware that this could be some far-fetched ruse to extract money from gullible financiers.

But if every daring project were stopped and abandoned, without any engineering analysis, just because this can be suspected, then we'd still be living in caves. It's not useful or helpful to discard a project, sight unseen, just because its engineering problems will be difficult.

In large projects, quite often the financing is the first and most difficult challenge that needs be tackled. Because of this, entrepreneurs tend to tackle financing first, while expecting or hoping that engineers can take care of the engineering.

Mars One is necessarily a hugely complicated project. We can't expect the entrepreneurs to present solutions to all the engineering problems on the first day.

While we should perhaps be wary that it might be a con, we can't judge the project on that awareness alone.
Kafpauzo
3 / 5 (6) Aug 14, 2012
Question for everybody:I just re-checked my average ranking page to see who had rated my latest comments and I found that my average score had dropped from 4.1 to 3.8 - in the space of a couple of minutes.

I strongly suggest that you ignore the ratings that you get here on Physorg.

On this site there's an amazingly large number of very childish people obsessed with accusing each other of sockpuppeting, discussing who is a sockpuppet for whom, calling each other retard, appending "tard" to usernames, giving meaningless comment ratings, complaining about ratings, and so on and on, ad infinitum and then another infinitum.

They make no sense, and there is no way to make them make sense. Seeing how childish they are, it's a lost cause.

Just ignore them, is my recommendation.
DarkHorse66
1 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2012
@Kaf: I know. They (the trolls) are like a nasty infestation of head lice that just won't go away. (As for the rest of the nasty, I just try to keep out of it.) It's just that I haven't seen them (the trolls) use this particular tactic before and nobody has ever said that they had. I only noticed it because I was curious and happened to check twice within about 10 minutes. Physorg doesn't seem to care much about being vigilant about them. Pity. Best Regards, DH66
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (7) Aug 14, 2012
@kafpauzo:

An excerpt from my previous post:
"Without invoking any mysticism, exploration is mankind's destiny. From the earliest travels of Polynesians, Greeks, and Vikings up to today's ventures into space, it is almost "written in the stars" that we follow our instincts into the unknown."

I was thrilled as a boy to watch launches from Cape Canaveral, and retain the same enthusiasm today. Being a bit wiser than I was then, I can smell hucksterism from a mile away, and these guys reek of it.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
In that scenario, using the resulting water for shielding certainly seems more roundabout than just using the soil directly.

It also seems quite energy intensive because we'd be talking 5-10 meters thick walls of water enclosing the entire habitat - and the water extracted via evaporation from rock is tiny. The amount of rock you'd need to process to get this much water would be enormous. And you couldn't just do it in one spot. Either you'd have to dig and carry that much rock to the processor or have a huge/mobile processor.

such as temperature, dust, and pressure

Temperature and pressure aren't really a problem on Mars. Dust may be. But given Earth drills they don't seem to have too many problems with dust. We'd be talking about a very sloooow drilling process in any case - so dust may not be a problem at all.
Kafpauzo
2 / 5 (4) Aug 14, 2012
I was thrilled as a boy to watch launches from Cape Canaveral, and retain the same enthusiasm today. Being a bit wiser than I was then, I can smell hucksterism from a mile away, and these guys reek of it.

Glad to see that you retain the enthusiasm!

But what makes you smell a scam with such certainty? Lots of projects run for a long time before their engineering is solved.

Suppose Mars One sells their TV show world-wide for a few years, and then the show's audience shrinks, and therefore the project is abandoned. In the meantime, the show gives both entertainment and revenue. The financiers don't necessarily lose their money. Where's the great loss?

I'd worry if they sent people to a likely death on Mars, due to inadequate engineering solutions. But I can't see that happening. Not while they're under the world's very watchful scrutiny, thanks to their highly publicized TV show. The debate would kill the project long before anyone leaves for Mars.
GSwift7
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 14, 2012
It also seems quite energy intensive because we'd be talking 5-10 meters thick walls of water enclosing the entire habitat


I'm not sure how much science you could do on the Martian polar ice cap, but if you landed there, you could cut blocks of ice and use them to build.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
Here's an idea.
Digging into the polar icecap might actually be the best way. Fairly easy to do (all you need is heat and a pump) and the makeup of the material poses little risks of hitting insurmountable obstacles. No building required at all.

Plus you're close to the only sure water source out there.
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (7) Aug 14, 2012
" Surface temperatures have been estimated from the Viking Orbiter Infrared Thermal Mapper data; this gives extremes from a warmest of 27 C (81 F) to -143 C (-225 F) at the winter polar caps."

That's a lot of extreme temperature.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
It's going to be rather cold wherever you land on Mars. Good insulation will be necessary.
Aerogels could give excellent insulation quality for very little weight. Otherwise siding with vacuum insulation will have to be transported to Mars.

Initially the landing module will have to be part of the habitat, anyhow. And that will certainly be able to cope with the temperature extremes (since it already will have to during the trip to Mars).

Tip it on its side and stuff it into the ice tube?
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2012
Nuclear power may be problematic:

http://www.newsci...nch.html

In summary, a radioisotope thermoelectric generator requires plutonium-238, and there's a very limited supply. Producing new Pu-238 would entail several problems, among them a very high cost, and a need to handle neptunium-237, which is weapons-grade material (Pu-238 is not).

(To read the above article you probably need to register, but registration is free. The article is only accessible for 10 days with the free registration, counting from today.)

Thus, solar panels may be greatly preferable.

Then, going to one of the poles would mean that the sunlight for the panels gets filtered through much more atmosphere. Is this a big disadvantage? Or does the very thin atmosphere of Mars have little filtering effect, even at the poles?

Intuitively, I'd expect this to be a big problem, much worse than on Earth, due to the dust in Mars's atmosphere.
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (7) Aug 14, 2012
First send rover, equipped with ground penetrating radar, to find underground caverns suitable for habitation, then try to hit the spot with your lander. Make sure you aren't encroaching on someone's home, though.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2012
Make sure you aren't encroaching on someone's home, though.

Indeed! And then pray that our technology will be up to the task of determining whether it is someone's home.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2012
What kind of reactors are used in nuclear ships and submarines? Would that kind of reactor be a suitable solution for a Mars colony?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
What kind of reactors are used in nuclear ships and submarines? Would that kind of reactor be a suitable solution for a Mars colony?

Maybe. They are rather complex pieces of machinery and not something that is "drop on Mars and let operate" for a few years to power bots before people arrive.
They're also very heavy (since you require complex cooling mechanisms and heavy containment units), so the cost of putting something that massive needs to be weighed against putting ligher power producing methods on Mars (and at first we should consider if that much power is even needed)

And then pray that our technology will be up to the task of determining whether it is someone's home.

Install a mechanical hand that knocks first.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.1 / 5 (21) Aug 14, 2012
The small detail you missed is who funded the Biosphere2 experiment. Not taxpayer money. There was no motive to 'secure funding' here as you alleged. Stop pulling stuff out of your behind.
"Edward Perry "Ed" Bass is a businessman, financier, philanthropist, and environmentalist who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. He financed the Biosphere 2 project"

-AA are you saying that this money WAS NOT WORTH SECURING?

"Dr. Ghillean Prance, director of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, designed the rainforest biome inside the Biosphere. In a 1983 interview, Prance said, "I was attracted to the Institute of Ecotechnics because funds for research were being cut and the institute seemed to have a lot of money which it was willing to spend freely. Along with others, I was ill-used. Their interest in science is not genuine. They seem to have some sort of secret agenda, they seem to be guided by some sort of religious or philosophical system.".

-You are batting zero.
cont>
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.2 / 5 (20) Aug 14, 2012
"Biosphere 2, the glass-and-steel dome begun in 1987 that is equal parts New Age glitz and struggling science...

"Ed Bass, who has bankrolled the $150 million experiment-cum-tourist-attraction. He asked a federal court in Ft. Worth to dissolve the partnership between the financial arm of Biosphere 2, which he controls, and its managing arm, run by the controversial team of Margaret Augustine and John Allen. In an affidavit Bass states, "Though conceived as a PROFIT-MAKING VENTURE, Biosphere 2 ... is currently requiring substantial cash funding."

"...others blamed Allen and Augustine for blocking legitimate science in Biosphere 2...We couldn't form a community inside because of intervention from Margaret and John [outside the dome], who tried to run everything, including our lives."

-Etc. And so my original assertion
Biosphere experiments were PR stunts to secure funding.
-is true. To make Bass a profit. Not science, hollywood.
cont>
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.2 / 5 (20) Aug 14, 2012
However if you were less occupied in pulling epithets out of your butt and more interested on doing a little research, you might find that some real science has been done on this sort of thing.
http://www.biosph...sia.html
http://en.wikiped...i/BIOS-3

Heres one:
"Abstract: This paper presents a design overview for a prototype Mars Base, which will simulate a long-term inhabited Mars mission on Earth to determine the feasibility of maintaining humans in a self-sustaining system providing food, air, and water regeneration. The system, called Mars On Earth®...be constructed in the Great Sand Sea region of Egypt" 2002 (note the copyright - more disneyland for fun and profit?)

-It IS from the biosphere 2 website-
http://www.biosph...cles.htm
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.1 / 5 (19) Aug 14, 2012
More earth habitat research:
http://en.wikiped..._Station

Speaking of out of your butt
There are probably easier ways to get a habitat done. The most basic way I could envision is to get a 2 meters diameter drill to Mars and drill into the martian soil at an angle.
-Or we could find out what scientists are considering:

"[Bulldozer rovers] like these may also play a role in establishing a space outpost for eventual human occupancy. They may be used to create buried habitats or utility trenches and to excavate resources to support life."
http://www.scient...velop-bu

-Easy to dig a trench and doze soil over an inflatable habitat.

But as far as mining and cavern-creating, this is proven tech:
http://farm4.stat...9fb0.jpg

-Robotic, nuclear-powered, and set to work against a scarp or crater wall. Some think they have been at work for decades beneath our feet. See Taos Hum.
Telekinetic
1.5 / 5 (8) Aug 14, 2012
Preparation is key, because there may be some unpleasant encounters-

http://www.youtub...x8XlJUWc
GSwift7
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 14, 2012
Digging into the polar icecap might actually be the best way. Fairly easy to do (all you need is heat and a pump)


No pump required there. Liquid cannot exist for long in that atmosphere. Just melt it and it evaporates instantly.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 16, 2012
There's also an issue of liability.

Since no one really has any jurisdiction on Mars (or in space for that matter) I'm not sure if anyone could make a case stick.

consider 'death tourism' where sick people go to another country so that doctors may help them die. They are subject to the laws of the target country. Mars has no law - so: no foul.

I know lawyers that would make mincemeat out of any "ironclad" waiver or contract. The surviving families will wind up bankrupting the whole operation. It's a legal nightmare without the imprimatur of a government-sanctioned enterprise. We have laws here at the place of origin. Remember Dr. Kervorkian?

Death of astronauts and death of civilian travellers has happened before. I think this is valid legal precedent. The legal stuff should work out largely in the same way.

Mars One's country should have jurisdiction over Mars One's operations on Earth, maybe with extensions to Mars until the colony becomes a sovereign country.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Aug 16, 2012
I know lawyers that would make mincemeat out of any "ironclad" waiver or contract. The surviving families will wind up bankrupting the whole operation.

Really depends on what jurisdiction the company is under. If they are situated in the Cayman Island (or on an off shore drilling platform in international waters) then that lawyer will be shit out of luck. Lawyers aren't magicians. (My brother does international law for a big tire company).

They can only work with the law that is relevant to the place where the alleged crime happened and the jurisdiction the involved parties are under.
And most likely the participants will have to sign any number of waivers up front - so chances are slim that a lawsuit would be successfull.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 16, 2012
No pump required there. Liquid cannot exist for long in that atmosphere. Just melt it and it evaporates instantly.

I was thinkingh that, too, at first. But the polar icecaps have to come from somewhere. At those low temperatures the evaporated water would instantly refreeze/precipitate (at the very leastonce you get down a bit and the vapour comes incontact with the walls)
So we'd probably need a (heated) pipe to the outside. At the digging speed envisioned a garden hose would be already overkill. But it would need to be isolated from the ground to preven the water from freezing in the pipe.

Alternatively a small container in the bot may be an easier solution and just go back and forth and dump the water/icecube every now and then. (But we'd better make sure the bot doesn't spill anything and freeze itself to the floor)
Kafpauzo
2 / 5 (4) Aug 16, 2012
Intuitively, I'd think boring through the ice, or patiently scraping and hammering, would consume far less energy than melting the ice.

In Mars polar conditions you can probably think of water ice as another solid, similar to rock, a kind of rock or mineral.

One great advantage of water ice over rock is that ice tends to be porous and far more brittle than rock. However, that's the ordinary ice that I've seen here on Earth. I don't know if this applies under Martian polar conditions.

Another nice advantage of water ice is that if the bore gets stuck, you can free it by heating it until the ice melts, if you have a powerful heater in the bore.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 16, 2012
Intuitively, I'd think boring through the ice, or patiently scraping it, would consume far less energy than melting it and pumping it out.

Probably. But the point why I think melting would be best is that there are very few moving parts involved (any moving part is a risk. And part that wears down significantly is a no-go).

In any case we'll be talking about a bot that would need to be working for years uninterrupted, on very low power, and without any kind of technical assistance/maintenance.

I'm not sure whether a drill (or a scraper) on a mechanical arm would be able to withstand that type of stress - especially since drilling and scraping require application of force (whereas melting doesn't).

Drills wear out (or get stuck). Scrapers get dulled.
I feel a heating element would be far less risky.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 16, 2012
Several good points.

Then the question is if enough energy can be collected at the pole, or shipped there.

Another issue is that once the colony is embedded in the polar ice, there may be very little that it can do there. There's only a vast expanse of ice. After they have studied the ice and the atmosphere for a couple of Martian years, there's very little left to learn, and very few new things to do. They might as well live buried in the Antarctic.

Depending on how dirty the ice is, there may also be a great scarcity of minerals that can be collected or mined.

If they have sufficient supplies, the polar colony can function as a starting point for colonization of places outside the polar ice cap. That would be very valuable indeed! But it would require substantial resources. For instance, for people to travel to the end of the ice cap, they'll need some kind of car with radiation shielding and a very capable life-support system, perhaps with a complete biosphere system.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 16, 2012
Then the question is if enough energy can be collected at the pole, or shipped there

For the bot a nuclear/thermoelectric generator would be best (no maintenance). For settlers: They will probably want to have something more massive. A small solar reflector in space would be my best idea, but a small nuclear unit (like on submarines) may be feasible for that big haul.
Again: the more complex the machinery the higher the risk. And with remote places I'm always for "going Africa style": Simple, unbreakable technology is best.

Another issue is that once the colony is embedded in the polar ice, there may be very little that it can do there.

Survival will keep them busy. The guys/girls in Biosphere 2 didn't complain of boredom. And even in places like Neumayer station in the arctic there's stuff to do (and they don't even need to worry about feeding themselves)

If everything fails: Make them prepare places for more settlers. Let 'em keep digging.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 16, 2012
Survival will keep them busy.

Sure, but what's the point of going to another planet if you could do exactly the same thing in the Antarctic?

People will not want to go if the only goal is ice and hard work. There should be discovery of a new planet involved. Preparing places for more settlers should be a primary goal, not a last resort.

Maybe a solution would be to somehow find a spot where the ice cap is 20-30 meters deep and the ground below contains useful minerals. You melt-build a habitat at the bottom. The colony mines the ground below.

They also remotely melt-build a new habitat several kilometers away, in the direction away from the pole. Once that habitat is ready, some (or all) colonists move there. They remotely melt-build another habitat. Step by step you get more and more small habitats, thinly spread along a line.

As the ice gets thinner, you start boring into the ground, or heaping soil on the habitats. This becomes more realistic when humans are nearby.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (16) Aug 16, 2012
Here's an idea.
Digging into the polar icecap might actually be the best way. Fairly easy to do (all you need is heat and a pump) and the makeup of the material poses little risks of hitting insurmountable obstacles. No building required at all.

Plus you're close to the only sure water source out there.
Reading posts and then doing research can be fun because it gives one a sense of smug superiority:

http://www.space....ter.html
http://www.lpi.us...sm01.pdf

Ice in bulk would no doubt be mined and processed like any other mineral. Ice reflects heat which makes melting it in situ problematic. It could be processed much like urban snow is:
http://www.youtub...l_nETs8U

-Robotic excavators would do the work of uncovering and mining.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 16, 2012
Sure, but what's the point of going to another planet if you could do exactly the same thing in the Antarctic?

Figuring out if we can survive under continual low gravity would be interesting - especially if we ever want to visit the other possible places in the solar system (IO, Ganymed, Titan, Europa). Each of these poses very similar problems: high radiation environment and only ice to hide under. Mars is rather 'benign' in that respect so could be an ideal testbed.

but as I have said elsewhere - I have serious doubts that human settlements are viable in such low gravity environments as Mars. Human physiology doesn't do well in low gravity.

Then there's the CHONPS issue. C, H, and O are not a problem on Mars with enough energy (and Fe is also abundant for building stuff). P seems to be present in the soil, too. That leaves N and S. Especially without Nitrogen there's no sustainable basis for food plants, which means: game over.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (17) Aug 16, 2012
settlements are viable in such low gravity environments as Mars
Well we simply dont know yet.

"Space medicine researchers have theorized on whether the health benefits of gravity rise slowly or quickly between weightlessness and full Earth gravity. One theory is that sleeping chambers built inside centrifuges would minimize the health problems. The Mars Gravity Biosatellite experiment was due to become the first experiment testing the effects of partial gravity, artificially generated at 0.38 g to match Mars gravity, on mammal life, specifically on mice, throughout the life cycle from conception to death. However, in 2009 the Biosatellite project was cancelled due to lack of funds."
That leaves N and S. Especially without Nitrogen there's no sustainable basis for food plants, which means: game over
No, postponed. These are abundant elsewhere. N2 can be drawn from titans atmosphere. '2312' deals with this. CHON asteroids are the most common type. Plenty of S on Io.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 16, 2012
Figuring out if we can survive under continual low gravity would be interesting

Yes, but I'm thinking of this in the context of the article, where people go on a one-way trip.

They'll want a _substantial_ reward, in the form of experiences and discovery. Going there solely for the purpose of struggling hard for the barest survival for the rest of their lives, while monitoring their health, that's not attractive.

I could perhaps imagine applying. But only if there are attractive experiences to be expected. Martian landscapes (even if rarely due to the radiation). If it's limited to something I could experience here simply by covering all my windows and living in isolation while working hard, I could just as well do that here on Earth. And I choose not to, of course.

No matter how good the engineering is, if it doesn't lead to attractive experiences, it isn't a solution for this kind of project.

So to me it looks like we're back to shovelling soil on top of the habitats.
Kafpauzo
2 / 5 (4) Aug 16, 2012
but as I have said elsewhere - I have serious doubts that human settlements are viable in such low gravity environments as Mars. Human physiology doesn't do well in low gravity.


It seems to me that it should be possible to compensate for low gravity by wearing some kind of stiff structure that resists your movements mildly, with some elastic components compressing spine and legs from shoulders to feet. You'd wear this most of the time, but relax away from it for a couple of hours every day and while sleeping.

I can't recall ever reading about anything like that being tested, but it sounds so obvious that I suppose it has been tested, even though I've never heard of it. If so, do you happen to know about it and why it didn't work?

That leaves N and S. Especially without Nitrogen there's no sustainable basis for food plants, which means: game over.


I suppose the missing stuff will be recycled with very great care, and imported to replace what's lost.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2012
One theory is that sleeping chambers built inside centrifuges would minimize the health problems.

That's surprising. I think I've read somewhere that you can get problems similar to those of weightlessness simply by lying in bed for a few months.

But I don't know where I read it, so it could be very unreliable.
FainAvis
3 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2012
I will try to get my wife interested in volunteering.
sirchick
5 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2012
I think we should send all reality TV shows to Mars, and make sure they never return lol
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 18, 2012
That's surprising. I think I've read somewhere that you can get problems similar to those of weightlessness simply by lying in bed for a few months.

A group I was working alongside with is doing those studies (they're called "bedrest studies"...very original, I know). the aim is to simulate what weightlessness will do to your bones and how it may be alleviated.

Sounds pretty fun: get payed (not much) to stay in bed for a month or three and have a few tests done on you. But it's actually quite grueling, since you have to lie with your feet elevated, aren't allowed out of bed to go to the bathroom or even take a shower. They also poke you about every day to get blood samples and whatnot.

Results are also used in osteoporosis research (e.g. what types of excercises can be done to mitigate bone mineral density loss).
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 18, 2012
It seems to me that it should be possible to compensate for low gravity by wearing some kind of stiff structure that resists your movements mildly

Bone remodeling (via bone resorption by osteoclasts and bone builindg via osteoblasts) goes on all the time - but osteoblast activity is seriously diminished in low g environments. It seems that(like with muscle excercise) there is a limit to the stress you have to put on your bones before they start doing their normal remodelling shtick.

This is why the group I mentioned is trying to get a vibration plate onto the ISS. Here's a link to some info from NASA and the partner university in the US
http://science.na...02nov_1/

The vibro plates seem to be able to generate these short (high g) shocks that could be enough to get bones to work. It doesn't reduce bone loss to zero (this is why I'm still sceptical - and there are other organs as well that react to changes in gravity besides bones) .
dschlink
5 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2012
"Isn't this show a lawsuit magnet in the extreme?"

The obvious solution is to not include any Americans.
Mayday
not rated yet Aug 18, 2012
After reading this thread, it seems like we definitely have the technology and ideas to make this feasible. The thing I'm less sure about is if they have the ideas to make this into successful television. It needs to be competitive, interactive (like voting and rooting for individuals from home), and above all, it needs to be sexy. Space travel is way, way cool, but the sexy factor needs a real lift before I would put any investment into this thing.
Mayday
not rated yet Aug 18, 2012
Here's a thought to make it work. Launch three parallel missions: one all female, one all male, and one mixed gender. Home audiences vote on predictions of outcomes and talk live about their choices and reactions. Great "water cooler" material. Each crew has a weekly "ground crew" that can win big money based on predicted outcomes. IMO, the mixed crew has the best chance of arriving with insanity intact. :-)
Moebius
1 / 5 (4) Aug 18, 2012
So many stupid people, so many stupid comments. History is full of real and imagined one-way exploration trips, they are called explorers. Chances are the first planned 2-way trip to Mars will be one-way anyway and they won't have a problem finding a volunteer for a one-way trip.
technodiss
not rated yet Aug 19, 2012
it would be more practical to start the lunar colony construction this way. at least they'd make it back. a one way ticket to our red neighbor just sounds like a set up for disaster... who will be next to die from radiation, cancer, or explosive decompression? Tune in next week for the dramatic conclusion!
Kedas
1 / 5 (3) Aug 19, 2012
So we are going to have a space race to Mars.
That's going to be 'fun'.
Markmj
not rated yet Aug 19, 2012
FFS only 6 billion a trip to Mars and the US government spends trillions on weapons and banks bailout....
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 19, 2012
istory is full of real and imagined one-way exploration trips, they are called explorers.

But explorers never expect to die when they set out.
This will be a suicide trip.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.6 / 5 (17) Aug 19, 2012
istory is full of real and imagined one-way exploration trips, they are called explorers.

But explorers never expect to die when they set out.
This will be a suicide trip.
No they expect to live out their lives in a new land. They're not going to mars to die but to live. And sooner or later they will have company.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 19, 2012
A group I was working alongside with is doing those studies (they're called "bedrest studies"...very original, I know). the aim is to simulate what weightlessness will do to your bones and how it may be alleviated.

Sounds pretty fun: get payed (not much) to stay in bed for a month or three and have a few tests done on you. But it's actually quite grueling, since you have to lie with your feet elevated, aren't allowed out of bed to go to the bathroom or even take a shower. They also poke you about every day to get blood samples and whatnot.

Very interesting. Thanks for the explanations and link.

For these studies to be complete, I think they also need to imitate the heavy workload and loud noises, with no privacy and too little rest. That's my impression of what an astronaut's workday is like. And stress hormones have a surprisingly strong negative effect on the body's systems for recovery, regeneration and immunity.

Do you know if this is also included in the studies?
Kafpauzo
2 / 5 (4) Aug 19, 2012
No they expect to live out their lives in a new land. They're not going to mars to die but to live. And sooner or later they will have company.

That is indeed so. The plan is that new settlers will arrive and make the colony expand approximately once every Mars year. That's approximately once every two Earth years.

And if the colony is successful, and grows and thrives through the years, maybe in two or three decades we'll have travel in both directions.

That's the vision. And I think this vision is the decisive thing that can attract settlers. Settlers will not want to go to Mars only to create a tiny colony that stagnates and forever depends on Earth. They'll want to found something great and lasting.

They'll want to found a colony that will eventually grow into a sovereign nation on another planet. They'll want to participate in the next giant leap for mankind.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 19, 2012
I can smell hucksterism from a mile away, and these guys reek of it.

Despite my willingness to see the project in a good light, here's one thing that does reek of scam.

The habitats will be shielded from radiation with meters of soil. Despite this, their pictures show habitats standing free in the open.

Also, the habitats are spread over a very wide surface. If you're going to pile five meters of soil on top, you'll want them close together.

They also say the following, among descriptions of what the settlers will do:

The first crew in particular will need to devote a lot of time to the settlement, to make their new home into a comfortable place to live. They will install the corridors between the landers,

You can't add corridors if the landers are buried in soil.

A friendly interpretation is that the initial visionaries made a _very_ rough draft, where all the engineering remained to be solved. And that's what they show us, plans that are still very far from mature.
sirchick
not rated yet Aug 19, 2012
It will be a sad day for science if the first man on Mars is part of a reality TV show and not for scientific adventures.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 20, 2012
Sirchick, the project is so tremendously difficult that it becomes quite impossible if it is "not for scientific adventures".

The engineering and science will necessarily be the first and topmost priority, even the obsession, of everyone involved. The TV show will have to be relegated to a much lesser role.

I'm sure the project people understand this, because it's inevitable.

For instance, it would be quite impossible to have the typical reality-show games that create conflicts and hard feelings. The cohesion of the colony will be difficult enough as is.

And there won't be any need for such artificial conflicts. There will be quite enough drama and adventure in the project as such, without artificially created relationship problems.

If the settlers have time for the frivolity of games, the games will have to be of the kind that enhance friendship and group cohesion. Games that contribute constructively to the project, by relieving tension and boredom.

Cont.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (2) Aug 20, 2012
Cont.

I'm also confident that the settlers won't be exhibitionists who just want fame, or who just want to add a cool something on their Facebook pages. Such people wouldn't want to spend their life in a tiny colony.

The settlers will necessarily be people who have a very strong motivation for adventure, and for participating in the next giant leap for mankind. You don't volunteer to risk your life, and to spend the rest of your life in cramped discomfort, unless you're very strongly motivated by visions and goals like these.

The TV part is just a money source! If the settlement project isn't completely serious and professional, it just can't get anywhere.

-- Me, I'm thrilled if civil society can find ways to create colonies away from Earth!

Government funding is a very limited funnel. The more possibilities there are for creative people to invent and try different interplanetary settlement and tourism projects, the greater the chances that some will achieve long-term success.
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Aug 20, 2012
There may be a much better solution for radiation protection than those discussed so far.

A few large holes are known that may be cave entrances, 100-250 meters wide:

http://en.wikiped...rs#Caves
http://en.wikiped...ntrances

(And there are probably glaciers in this region!)

If those are not suitable, Mars has had lots of volcanism, which means lava tubes are likely: http://en.wikiped...ava_tube

If a focused effort is made to look for suitable, protective caves, finding them might be easier and more reliable than shovelling many meters of soil or boring large holes.

The ideal would be a cave with a horizontal entrance going some distance into a mountain, and then veering to a side, with a large cavity out of sight from the entrance. In this protected cavity you'd erect the inflatable habitats.

But many other cave configurations would be usable.

I'm assuming that the radiation can't bounce around corners. Is this correct?
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Sep 06, 2012
Mars One is now getting funding from sponsors:

http://www.space....ors.html

Let's hope they're legit and will do a good job. If so, I wish them success and good luck!
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Sep 06, 2012
I'm assuming that the radiation can't bounce around corners. Is this correct?

Not entirely. Radiation is photons and as such described by a probability wavefunction. Radiation does 'bend' around corners (that is why, whe you put a lamp behind a slit you still see light coming through the slit no matter at what angle you look at it. Most if you look directly into it. But if you look form the side there is still some.)

It's also why a lot of doctors get pretty decent radiation exposure because they (wrongly) think that 'standind out of the path' of an x-ray tube is enough to not be exposed. (While the exposure is low it adds up over the number of X-rays they take per day)

And yes: there are also scattered radiation.

But to get back to the point: Getting into a cave drops the radiation exposure rapidly. You would not have to go deep to get to a tolerable level (and since you'll want to seal it off in order to create an atmosphere for a habitat that will add to the shielding).
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Sep 07, 2012
Very interesting.

By analogy, if I turn on a single light bulb in one room, and then go to an adjacent dark room, leaving the door open, then I'll get enough light through the door to see things in the dark room, although I may not see all details and colors.

But as I understand it, this is overwhelmingly due to light bouncing from surface to surface with diffuse scattering. In this case I think the probability wavefunction effect plays very little role.

From your description it sounds like the problematic radiation spreads differently.

Getting into a cave drops the radiation exposure rapidly.

I suppose this depends on the shape of the cave. Some of the seven known caves may be vertical holes straight down and nothing more. You'd be straight below the sky, so radiation would come straight down from the sky. Is that OK?

Or did you mean that a straight but horizontal cave gives enough protection, since radiation coming from the horizon has gone through much more atmosphere?
Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Sep 07, 2012
My idea is that you don't seal the cave, you leave it open. The rover simply carries the inflatable habitats into the cave, to a spot where there is little problematic radiation, and inflates the habitats there.

This seems far easier than having the rover do massive construction work under remote control from another planet.

Also, I'd be very reluctant to bet my life that the cave-wall rock can never fracture and leak. Stone tends to be brittle!

Once the first settlers have arrived, they can supervise and service machines that do heavy construction work. These machines can build more habitats inside the cave, and/or coat the cave walls with thick sealants that aren't as brittle as stone, and/or bore holes that become new caves for new habitats.

If the cave's initial radiation level is a bit high, you might first send settlers who are old enough that they are unlikely to see any effects from the radiation in their lifetime. They can supervise machines that improve the protection.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Sep 07, 2012
In this case I think the probability wavefunction effect plays very little role.

Difraction also depends somewhat on the frequency of the radiation.

You'd be straight below the sky, so radiation would come straight down from the sky. Is that OK?

It would certainly limit the angles of exposure somewhat (you're not getting expose over the full 180 degrees as in the lander pictured). Radiation is tricky stuff. It's not really the total amount of energy that you get but what type of radiation and what energy levels of the individual photon.

For more info:
http://en.wikiped.../Sievert

This seems far easier than having the rover do massive construction work under remote control from another planet.

The thing is that you can't control a rover from Earth when it's in a cave. The chance it gets stuck is just too big. If you dig yourself you have it all under control (and I'd have it dig in ice - not rock).

Kafpauzo
1 / 5 (3) Sep 07, 2012
To keep in contact with a rover in a cave, you let the rover drop a little radio-relay unit at every turn in the path. These units relay all communications.

Note that the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers never have a direct dialogue with people on Earth. The rovers send their data in the Martian evening. During the Martian night, the people on Earth analyze the data and prepare instructions. The instructions are sent in the early Martian morning. The rover is on its own until the next Martian night.

If anything happens that is not covered by the rover's programming, it just stops, waiting for new instructions to arrive in the next Martian morning.

I imagine that our rover just carries the habitats into the cave and drops them. The habitats automatically self-inflate. No construction work.

The risk of getting stuck in the cave is essentially the same risk as outside, assuming a benign cave layout. Digging probably carries much higher risks of getting stuck, of tools jamming, etc.