Mars pioneers should stay there permanently, says Buzz Aldrin

Oct 23, 2008
Mars

The first astronauts sent to Mars should be prepared to spend the rest of their lives there, in the same way that European pioneers headed to America knowing they would not return home, says moonwalker Buzz Aldrin.



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holoman
1.3 / 5 (20) Oct 23, 2008
Wouldn't need to if world had near light speed
space craft.
deatopmg
1.5 / 5 (15) Oct 23, 2008
will we be allowed to go there? stay there?
Modernmystic
3.8 / 5 (13) Oct 23, 2008
He's actually got a pretty valid point.

What we need is incentive. Political freedom (yes like it or not no matter what country you live in at the moment, the fact is you could do with a little more freedom) was the incentive in the past. I don't think things are bad enough for this to be sufficient motivation at this time, maybe I'm wrong. Are there other incentives sufficient for such a commitment?
Velanarris
3.7 / 5 (11) Oct 23, 2008
He's actually got a pretty valid point.

What we need is incentive. Political freedom (yes like it or not no matter what country you live in at the moment, the fact is you could do with a little more freedom) was the incentive in the past. I don't think things are bad enough for this to be sufficient motivation at this time, maybe I'm wrong. Are there other incentives sufficient for such a commitment?


Economic incentives.

If they found rare minerals or other types of elements on Mars I bet you'd see a lot of corporations start planning their own colonies and excursions to Mars.
zbarlici
4.4 / 5 (13) Oct 23, 2008
...you cannot compare apples to oranges. When the european pioneers headed to America they knew food and water and air was available there also. You`d have to GUARANTEE a lifetime supply of those things on mars(one way or another), before you can compare...
MGraser
4 / 5 (5) Oct 23, 2008
I agree with zbarlici, and I was discussing this very thing with my wife the other day (I actually discussed the concept of pioneers). The difference, of course, is that our pioneers were either forced to head elsewhere, or had the prospect of a better life. Space holds nothing tangible (except the thrill of discovery) for them at the moment.

Also, you could head out west with a wagon and some supplies. Meanwhile you could hunt. Travelers from Europe to America were short on food and water, but they knew it was temporary (ok, some of them died, but that doesn't help my analogy!). What do you do on Mars? Whatever it is would be vastly more difficult to attain. You'd be going knowing that life would be extremely difficult to say the least. Obviously they'd be hand picked scientists that have passed psychological testing for compatibility as well as being able to handle extreme change. And, what about childbirth? Given Aldrin's 30 year time frame - it's going to happen, unless the women scientists agree to sterilization. There are many issues with long-term stay.

That said, having people on the planet will give us far more data than an unmanned mission.
TMo
4 / 5 (6) Oct 23, 2008
I agree with zbarlici, and I was discussing this very thing with my wife the other day (I actually discussed the concept of pioneers). The difference, of course, is that our pioneers were either forced to head elsewhere, or had the prospect of a better life. Space holds nothing tangible (except the thrill of discovery) for them at the moment.


I think there is a very real force for pioneers to head elsewhere, maybe not for a better life, but at least for the preservation of civilization and the human race. Though our technology is progressing at an ever accelerating rate, we currently cannot predict with accuracy and in turn prevent global catastrophes from occuring (global warming, NEOs, super volcanos, etc). There is no doubt we will eventually need to expand into space and until we have pioneers to pave the way, we will be stuck in a moral or financial dilemma of whether we should do so or not.

Though I agree in the most part with your statements, I think you need to think a little more outside the box in terms of humanity and where we are heading.
earls
3.3 / 5 (6) Oct 23, 2008
Um, duh. And I support this idea to the extent I'd be willing to go.

"Space holds nothing tangible (except the thrill of discovery)"

A statement of pure ignorance.

Holoman, you're right. But uh... Where is it?!
PieRSquare
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 23, 2008
Although I have enormous admiration for Buzz, I must respectfully disagree. Many of the first explorers of new regions have gone and come back before settling. If they hadn't come back then how would the others have known to follow?
Not enough is known about the issues that will be faced in such a hostile environment such as dust, radiation and long-term effects of reduced gravity that we should ask people to commit to permanent habitation at the beginning. After the first visitors explore these issues and ways of dealing with the problems are refined, then we can look at colonization.
Yogaman
4 / 5 (7) Oct 23, 2008
If the need for on-the-Martian-ground intelligence is the justification, let's let robots do it. Moore's law and a few more decades of autonomous vehicle development will offer us incredibly sophisticated intelligence to put on Martian soil by the time that humans could reasonably expect to land there. The cost will be a small fraction, and the lives at risk will be zero.

Consider the timeline: GM can have driverless cars ready for the road in 2018 (http://tinyurl.com/26ze4n), but we can't get people to Mars before the 2040's (Wikipedia).

And, although the curve isn't as steep, there is a declining cost of spaceflight similar to Moore's law, so the longer we wait to build the Martian manned spacecraft, the cheaper it should end up being.

Society has recently written down a few trillions of (your favorite currency). But even if it hadn't, shouldn't we invest our science dollars intelligently?

As far as Mars being a place for humans to escape to in case we foul our planet? Bah! (a) If humans can't survive on the planet they were optimized for, what makes us think we can make a wasteland like Mars work for the long term? (b) A much cheaper, faster way to get the data that might be useful in such a centuries-long endeavor is to let the robots do it. Before Mars could be ready for mass colonization, we'll need to figure out how to deal with super-human machine intelligence anyway.
Velanarris
3.7 / 5 (6) Oct 23, 2008
Although I have enormous admiration for Buzz, I must respectfully disagree. Many of the first explorers of new regions have gone and come back before settling. If they hadn't come back then how would the others have known to follow?
Not enough is known about the issues that will be faced in such a hostile environment such as dust, radiation and long-term effects of reduced gravity that we should ask people to commit to permanent habitation at the beginning. After the first visitors explore these issues and ways of dealing with the problems are refined, then we can look at colonization.


One thing you have to consider:

The first pioneers hadn't harnessed the power of communication via electromagnetic waves.

If you want to compare the pilgrims to the martian landers than you're missing a very very key aspect.

Early pioneers had to come back to their point of origin because the only way to convey the message was either

a) a bottle in the ocean and cross your fingers
b) send some people back to report

We're not in that situation. Yes it will take minutes or in some cases hours for the message to come through but you won't see periods without communication streching into weeks, months, years. Having a group of people stay on Mars won't put them far out of contact with Earth for long. Getting supplies to them is the logistical problem. In either event we need to afford ourselves a luxury we didn't have pre-industrial revolution and gather more intel on where we're going. At that point I'd agree with Buzz.
TMo
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2008
Yogaman, as far as the argument you make regarding the cost of spaceflight, I think that is a little besides the point. Although many in the situation of allocating those funds may not know what scientists and engineers are talking about (government), it just comes down to finding the right approach.

Just look at the early spaceflight where we had the dedication and inspiration to send pioneering folks to the moon with little more than what is found in today's programmable calculators - and we haven't done anything manned in 40 years despite the astounding advances in science and technology. I, as would Buzz I would imagine, believe that we have or will very soon have enough information to tackle problems such as dust, radiation, etc. in order to make living sustainable on the red planet. Either way, I think we have an obligation to push the limits to continue the progress of mankind.

I also hold the conviction that Earls has in that I would also go, as would countless others. With committments such as these the I think the moral objections to preserve life are negated by the courage required to take on such a daunting and dangerous task.
Nivlac
3.8 / 5 (4) Oct 23, 2008
I don't believe that the potential value of a manned Mars mission is currently high enough to make it a better choice then sending more unmanned probes. Currently, it's impossible for us to really know what the odds would be for a manned craft to reach Mars successfully, but it's very likely that an aborted Mars mission would have serious negative economic consequences.

We should put off the human Mars mission until our technology is at a point where we can clearly see what real incentives await us, and reach them without gambling with the morale of the human race.
Yanarix
3.3 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2008
Well theres a few things at work here: is it worth going to Mars? I think it will be in time, once we understand enough about the enviroment that we would be able to grow something. even if it were just a moss or fungus that could spread on its own and create a soil, that would be something.

unlike previous expansions though, we would have a greater difficulty getting back: no oceans to splash down in on mars so more fuel is spent landing, no life means no ancient subterrainian lakes of hydrocarbons to drill. sure we might be able to do things with solar or nuclear energy for electricity, but you just cant launch a spacecraft with batteries.
MGraser
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2008
To earls and TMo, I appreciate your comments. I am not downplaying the value from a business perspective or "good of humanity" perspective (I've read much SF and am able to think inside that box as well as within my own box - haha). However, the original pioneers weren't doing so for any global good, but rather for themselves (or again, under force). So, what I intended was an understanding that there is no personal motivations for these individuals other than the thrill of discovery (which is, in fact, reward enough for some people). They are not personally going to get great freedoms (an alien settlement would clearly be a highly structured life) or great riches (what do they spend it on on Mars?) or a better life (their lives would center mostly around their unchangeable tasks). That won't have the same broad appeal as original pioneering had.
Yogaman
2 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2008
TMo - Thanks for your comments, but if cost were besides the point, the NASA budget would need to swell to keep from competing with unmanned science and resources missions. I think that's unlikely.

The early space race started from fear of Ivan dropping instant death on our helpless selves, then came the pride, then came canceled Appollo missions when Congress decided that manned missions are too expensive. Do we need to repeat the learning experience?

It is disingenuous, I think, to suggest that developing the necessary techniques and subsystems for unmanned space exploration is not going to "push the limits to continue the progress of mankind."

I'm not sure what exactly you're saying about courage and moral objections. It seems to be an emotional argument, though, not a rational one.

Just wondering: Could Antarctica suffice as your isolated, uninhabitable outpost in which to spend the rest of your life with Earls? It'd cost the rest of us a whole lot less, and your lives could be spent perfecting techniques and gathering valuable data for a future manned mission to Mars, maybe when ion engines are cheap.
MGraser
1.5 / 5 (2) Oct 23, 2008
Oh, I should have thrown in a quote for earls:

"An ignorant person is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
--Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)
holmstar
3 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2008
Economic incentives.

If they found rare minerals or other types of elements on Mars I bet you'd see a lot of corporations start planning their own colonies and excursions to Mars.


I doubt it. Do you realize how expensive it is to get there??? Even if you were mining rhodium at $2k per ounce I seriously doubt you would be able to make a profit.

Think about it: Currently it costs about $10k per pound to get something into orbit. About twice that to get to geostationary orbit. I suspect you need to double that again to escape the earth entirely. So lets say the cost to get to mars is $40k per pound. So now we need to get mining equipment and a return vessel out there. Lets say that works out to 100 tons total, which would cost $8,000,000,000. That would mean that you would have to mine 125 *tons* of rhodium just to break even. Good luck getting that back to earth in your little space-ship, let alone off the surface of Mars.
Yogaman
3 / 5 (4) Oct 23, 2008
One more thing about a 40-year confinement of manned space activities to earth orbit (and btw, the ISS isn't exactly a bargain):

The Vikings reached Canada in the 10th century; the southern Europeans didn't send an expedition west till the 15th, and colonies didn't get going until decades later, even though there then were recognizable commercial incentives.

Why the rush now?
TMo
3 / 5 (2) Oct 23, 2008
Well played comeback about Antartica, Yogaman. Although I do not want to get into a back and forth argument on an article comment board (nor do I want to be confined in a desolate place for no reason with someone I do not know), I am not in a rush to get to Mars, nor is Buzz. I think that perhaps my statements were misinterpreted to you thinking that everything is in line to go to Mars right now. No one really knows how things will be when these prospective missions roll around. I believe that pushing the envelope of technology is the real driver of advances and developments (space race with Russia, war, etc) and an undertaking such as this would be no different.

On the point of the moral objectives to putting lives in danger, I was saying that we have plenty of people already prepared to face the risks associated with such a mission. Especially with those prepared for such situaions (http://www.univer...ll-go/). The question is did the Vikings, Columbus, and other pioneers really believe that it was possible they were going to fall off the edge of the flat world? Whether they did or didn't, their courage drove them to be pioneers in their endeavors. Though we will be falling (or launching) off the world, I do not think that those that would be stationed on Mars for such a mission like this would be left to rot. With technology advancing the way it is (in a parabolic fashion), we may not even be discussing wheter or not to go to Mars by 2030 or 2040 - we may be talking about jumping much bigger hurdles than that.
Yogaman
2.8 / 5 (5) Oct 23, 2008
Agreed that this two-party discussion should end.

Agreed that there will be plenty of volunteers for courageous or other reasons.

My main issue, shared with others, is that human spaceflight drains all other space activity budgets resulting in the cancellation of valuable programs. A very bad thing.

Mr. Aldrin's proposal to reduce the cost of a manned Mars mission by stranding the "pioneers" - which you do not like, apparently - does not make the drain significantly less. Better, but still too expensive imo.

Regards,
OregonWind
3.3 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2008
I can't imagine the psychological impact on the astronauts with the objective of staying on Mars permanently, even when they are "trained" for that type of life and task. They better take some psychologists with them and a lot of Prozac.

Actaully, that would make a great sci-fi movie.
Modernmystic
2 / 5 (6) Oct 23, 2008
My main issue, shared with others, is that human spaceflight drains all other space activity budgets resulting in the cancellation of valuable programs. A very bad thing.


Meanwhile we're worring about how to flip over rocks with a billion dollar hunk of junk when a human could do it all day long.

You, sir, are entitled to your OPINION on this matter, just as others are.

The FACT of the matter however, is that priorities about space exploration are totally subjective (except those which are of economic concern). You lobby/vote for how you want your tax dollars spent, and I will do the same. DON'T pretend that your vision of space exploration is any MORE (or less for that matter) valid than anyone else's.
Mayday
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2008
The amount of resources the crew would need to take with them to sustain themselves on Mars for any length of time would quickly offset the cost of returning. And of course, an emergency escape(return) system would likely be included in the load.

But the fact is, we (the USA) are not going to Mars any time soon (a generation, at the very least). The political will is not there and shows no signs of ever re-developing in this country.

If you want to go to Mars, you had better start learning to speak and read Chinese, my friends.
Modernmystic
1.7 / 5 (7) Oct 23, 2008

If you want to go to Mars, you had better start learning to speak and read Chinese, my friends.


Unfortunately you are probably right. It's sad too, I had a vision of space being a new frontier for freedom as well as exploration...not a glorified gulag.

Who knows though, maybe they'll revolt and get a better system than we have (at this point it could hardly be much worse).
Mayday
3.3 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2008
Let's look at the facts of human habitation:
Self-sustaining habitation requires the ability, with minimal effort, as there are other things to do[like raise children], to obtain an EXCESS of resources for food(including water), shelter and general repair and renovation via agriculture(and forestry), animal products and synthesis through technology.

We are not close to being able to do this anywhere but on Earth. Not close. If you want to live off the planet(in space, on the moon or Mars) this is the basic equation that you need to re-write. And I dearly hope someone out there gets started with the task!!

I ask all of you to look around yourself right now, consider your living over the past 24 hours, and consider attempting ANY of that off-Earth.

Good luck. The trip to Mars is very, very long, I'm afraid. And I think we should get started.
Mayday
4.7 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2008
The secret to Mars is underground, in the lava tubes. Even a cursory look at photos of the surface tells us that the planet is girdled with empty lava tubes and caverns, some quite large.

And the signs that some methane may be leaking out into the atmosphere tell me that something quite interesting may be going on down there.

We're crawling around on the dry and lifeless surface right now. But the folks that can get underground will have a field day.

I pray I live to see it. And can translate their broadcasts!
Jayman
2 / 5 (4) Oct 23, 2008
Imagine living on Mars! All houses will have million dollar views. NOT! Buzz, why don't you volunteer to spend the rest of your life on Mars?
PieRSquare
1.7 / 5 (3) Oct 24, 2008
One thing you have to consider:

The first pioneers hadn't harnessed the power of communication via electromagnetic waves.

If you want to compare the pilgrims to the martian landers than you're missing a very very key aspect.

Early pioneers had to come back to their point of origin because the only way to convey the message was either

a) a bottle in the ocean and cross your fingers
b) send some people back to report

We're not in that situation. Yes it will take minutes or in some cases hours for the message to come through but you won't see periods without communication streching into weeks, months, years. Having a group of people stay on Mars won't put them far out of contact with Earth for long. Getting supplies to them is the logistical problem. In either event we need to afford ourselves a luxury we didn't have pre-industrial revolution and gather more intel on where we're going. At that point I'd agree with Buzz.


Sorry, I wasn't clear with my point. All I was trying to say is that the normal pattern of exploration and colonization is to check things out first and settle when the new territory and the challenges it poses are understood. Of course being able to send probes and rapid communication is a big advantage but the new territory is also more dangerous in this case (North America at least came with air, easy water and food). Some practice with in-situ resource utilization wouldn't hurt either if you want to make a real go at a colony.
out7x
1 / 5 (5) Oct 24, 2008
Any Mars "pioneers" will die of cosmic radiation if they live on the surface. Lava tubes may save them, but not such a good view.
panther_1504
1.3 / 5 (4) Oct 24, 2008
AFTER SEEING ALL REVIEWS , ONE CAN SAY THAT IT IS PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE AT PRESENT TO SEND PEOPLE PERMANENTLY OVER THERE , BUT IT IS ADVISABLE TO DO SO ! THE POINT THAT INDUSTRIES WOULD DEFINITELY GO THERE IF THERE IS FOUND EXISTENCE OF SOME OTHER RESOURCE . ALSO WORLD NEEDS A BETTER PLACE FREE FROM TERRORISM , HE HE ..

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO FIND OUT IF WE CAN REPRODUCE THERE , IF YES THEN WE MUST GO FOR IT !
DGBEACH
not rated yet Oct 24, 2008
I say we send prisoners there, who are serving life-terms...an interstellar penal colony...and have them build the infrastructures for eventual human colonies...those that refuse to work get sent "outside" :)
Roach
not rated yet Oct 24, 2008
I bet the latency on WoW would be horrible... I wonder how long it would take to get the first gaming server going on Mars. As silly as it sounds, setting up the air recycling, agriculture, water, utilities would only take a finite amount of time, and you won't be going swimming in the lake or hiking outside for a picnic. The limited options would likely lead to problems with the 30 inhabitants.

As far a resources go, if they launch with metal refineries and machining and manufacturing facilities and go to a high orbit transport craft between the two planets, then you have a sudden iron mine. Yes it's not as pricy as rhodium yet, but the demand here is ever increasing.

One additional problem, 30 people, mostly scientist, say 5, 3 doctors for redundancy, 10 maintenance staff, 5 agriculturalist, 6 utility operators, 4 janitorial staff, 2 communications speciallist, manufacturing, general labor, those will be some very busy 30 people, and it might take more than 5 years to train/crosstrain them. That said, I'll volunteer just to meet a firefighter/janitor/MD/farmer.
TMo
not rated yet Oct 24, 2008
One additional problem, 30 people, mostly scientist, say 5, 3 doctors for redundancy, 10 maintenance staff, 5 agriculturalist, 6 utility operators, 4 janitorial staff, 2 communications speciallist, manufacturing, general labor, those will be some very busy 30 people, and it might take more than 5 years to train/crosstrain them.


And a partridge in a pear tree?

I like the idea though. With several different disciplines specialized in their areas with plenty of emphasis on dealing with the challenges of the Martian terrain and situation, I think this has a very good chance when this idea eventually floats. BTW - people have been preparing for this including the psychological issues already - http://en.wikiped..._Society
trigeiablog
1 / 5 (2) Oct 24, 2008
When your passion is "Discovery" I don't believe that any of these men or woman will have a problem going to mars and staying for the sake of their passion

Trigeia Twinz

http://www.TrigeiaBlog.com

Whats Your Passion ?
bobwinners
not rated yet Oct 25, 2008
Was good old Buzz volunteering?
menkaur
not rated yet Oct 25, 2008
i'm in. where to sign?
__o
1 / 5 (1) Oct 25, 2008
who the hell is he to decide how long someone should stay anywhere? many of those Europeans traveled back and forth, what's it to him?
la7dfa
not rated yet Oct 25, 2008
Average temperature on Mars is minus 53C, and it is very windy and dusty. Hardly a place for humans until the sun start expanding or perhaps it can be terraformed.

Actually looking for other planet systems and building better spacecrafts could be the most realistic future for mankind.
deatopmg
1 / 5 (1) Oct 25, 2008
All of the posts above offer interesting opinions, some better thought out than others. I suggest there is more to the agenda to returning to the moon and to sending humans for a lifetime stay on Mars. Extensive supplies may not be needed.

The circumstantial evidence is quite compelling that it is close to the time we, global WE, be allowed to enter or be invited into an even larger community. (this sounds as crazy and wacky to me seeing it written down as to you)
Start here;
http://www.marsan...ence.htm
Then follow the threads and spend years searching for the extensive, though circumstantial, evidence still available to us, throwing out what clearly doesn't make sense to you but setting aside for possible future clarification the ones that might make sense. Be very selective, very very critical but open minded. (NASA, ESA too, has obviously been doctoring every single one of the photo's taken of celestial bodies since day 1. They are clearly hiding something they just don't want us to see what it is.) After a while, the answer may stare you in the face as a - Holy Crap!
Ashibayai
not rated yet Oct 26, 2008

Inflaton
not rated yet Oct 26, 2008
Wouldn't we need at least 150 people on a start- up Mars colony for it to be viable?
Unless of course we shipped loads of genetic material there....
NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (1) Oct 26, 2008
There's no reason to make them spend their whole lives there unless you're setting up a penal colony. Philip K. Dick wrote a novel "clans of the Alphane Moon" about a colony where all of Earth's mental patients are shipped to a moon in another solar syatm. Arthur Clarke had an even worse idea, sending all of the religionists to a colony on a moon in our solar system- A gulag in 3000. One of the Aline movies was set on an extraterrestrial penal colony.
Maybe we could make Mars an outpost for asteroid busters, rockets to destroy asteroids threatening the Earth and Mars.
NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (1) Oct 26, 2008
Average temperature on Mars is minus 53C, and it is very windy and dusty. Hardly a place for humans until the sun start expanding or perhaps it can be terraformed. Terraforming is an interesting idea. There seems to be no way to do it in a human lifetime.

Actually looking for other planet systems and building better spacecrafts could be the most realistic future for mankind.
la7dfa
not rated yet Oct 27, 2008
Terraforming is an interesting idea. There seems to be no way to do it in a human lifetime.

Humans still have plenty of time until the earth becomes too warm. It does not matter if terraforming takes 10.000 years really.
On the website howstuffworks dot com there is an article describing a few ways to terraform. Unfortunately it seem to take ages and require lots of energy.
spacecadet
5 / 5 (1) Oct 27, 2008
I see several misconceptions in this blog %u2013 things I think I can clear up.

First, about the time requirements for a Mars mission. Using Hohmann transfer orbits for minimum propellant/energy requirements, a Mars mission is a roughly two-year commitment: six months from Earth to Mars, one year waiting for a Hohmann transfer orbit launch window to open for the return trip, and six months from Mars to Earth.

Ion/plasma propulsion could stretch launch windows by two to three months in either direction, once the technology is mature enough to be "man-rated", as they say, but there is a risk involved with going faster: You create more chance of overshooting your target. "Lost in Space" may make a good name for a sci-fi show, but it is a lousy result for a real mission. NLS (Near Light Speed) technology is a seductive idea, but the distances between Earth and Mars are too short for it %u2013 even if we had it as a mature technology. NLS does not change the fundamentals: You still have to speed up and slow down in the real universe, at acceleration forces that humans can survive.

Assume a minimum two-year trip. Based on that, I agree with Aldrin. We need to get resources from Mars while we are there, whether we establish a permanent settlement or not. We may as well put in the work for a permanent settlement, since it is only a little more than the work for basic survival.

If we carry along all of the materials needed for consumption, each human adds four tons of supply-mass to the mission. A better solution is closed-ecological-loop life support systems (CELLSS, for short). Using highly efficient algae genetically engineered to be a complete food and for maximum efficiency in photosynthesis, each person would need roughly the mass of their own body in supplies for the entire mission, including for backup reserves.

People also have expressed concerns over environmental hazards, including radiation exposure, cold, wind and dust. There are good answers for all of these. For radiation on the trip between planets, a radiation shield can be relatively light %u2013 if it is unidirectional and aimed at the Sun, which is the main source of radiation problems. At Mars, underground, a colony can be well-protected. This works for cold, wind and dust, too. During initial setup of a ground-based colony, the inside of a crater provides a natural, omni-directional shield protection against wind and dust. In extreme cold conditions, insulation is the first key to survival; hang on to whatever heat you have. Various technologies that can produce power can help with the cold %u2013 the most convenient would probably be nuclear batteries.

Mars has abundant iron and silica resources that can be used for on-site construction, provided we arrive with good techniques and equipment for pursuing this. Rammed earth and other concrete-like options are possible, as is glass, adobe and more advanced ceramics like amorphous metal sheeting. Once we have things started, we can grow plants to provide more building materials. Bamboo is fast-growing and an excellent material for frameworks %u2013 likely even better in the 0.39 Earth-standard gravity on Mars. Natural latex could also be harvested from rubber trees (or other latex-producing plants, but rubber trees give predictable chemistry and quality). Most plants can be converted to plywood with enough pressure. Natural fiber sources for fabric could also be grown.

The bottom line is that if we think like pioneers before anyone even goes, we can devise good, reliable and flexible solutions to every problem likely to arise. Mars has too much wind? Good! Build high-altitude wind-power systems, like some of the kite-based ideas people have floated lately. Generate electric power to run electric heating elements, and generate the power above where the dust hits.

The other bottom line %u2013 cost %u2013 can be reduced with careful planning using every technological trick we have. Besides, Apollo was the greatest bargain the American public ever got; the U.S. government paid to launch the electronics industry that defined America's economy for decades.
deatopmg
1 / 5 (1) Oct 28, 2008
I see several misconceptions in this blog %u2013 things I think I can clear up.

First, about the time requirements for a Mars mission. Using Hohmann transfer orbits for minimum propellant/energy requirements, a Mars mission is a roughly two-year commitment: six months from Earth to Mars, one year waiting for a Hohmann transfer orbit launch window to open for the return trip, and six months from Mars to Earth.

Ion/plasma propulsion could stretch launch windows by two to three months in either direction, once the technology is mature enough to be "man-rated", as they say, but there is a risk involved with going faster: You create more chance of overshooting your target. "Lost in Space" may make a good name for a sci-fi show, but it is a lousy result for a real mission. NLS (Near Light Speed) technology is a seductive idea, but the distances between Earth and Mars are too short for it %u2013 even if we had it as a mature technology. NLS does not change the fundamentals: You still have to speed up and slow down in the real universe, at acceleration forces that humans can survive.

Assume a minimum two-year trip. Based on that, I agree with Aldrin. We need to get resources from Mars while we are there, whether we establish a permanent settlement or not. We may as well put in the work for a permanent settlement, since it is only a little more than the work for basic survival.

If we carry along all of the materials needed for consumption, each human adds four tons of supply-mass to the mission. A better solution is closed-ecological-loop life support systems (CELLSS, for short). Using highly efficient algae genetically engineered to be a complete food and for maximum efficiency in photosynthesis, each person would need roughly the mass of their own body in supplies for the entire mission, including for backup reserves.

People also have expressed concerns over environmental hazards, including radiation exposure, cold, wind and dust. There are good answers for all of these. For radiation on the trip between planets, a radiation shield can be relatively light %u2013 if it is unidirectional and aimed at the Sun, which is the main source of radiation problems. At Mars, underground, a colony can be well-protected. This works for cold, wind and dust, too. During initial setup of a ground-based colony, the inside of a crater provides a natural, omni-directional shield protection against wind and dust. In extreme cold conditions, insulation is the first key to survival; hang on to whatever heat you have. Various technologies that can produce power can help with the cold %u2013 the most convenient would probably be nuclear batteries.

Mars has abundant iron and silica resources that can be used for on-site construction, provided we arrive with good techniques and equipment for pursuing this. Rammed earth and other concrete-like options are possible, as is glass, adobe and more advanced ceramics like amorphous metal sheeting. Once we have things started, we can grow plants to provide more building materials. Bamboo is fast-growing and an excellent material for frameworks %u2013 likely even better in the 0.39 Earth-standard gravity on Mars. Natural latex could also be harvested from rubber trees (or other latex-producing plants, but rubber trees give predictable chemistry and quality). Most plants can be converted to plywood with enough pressure. Natural fiber sources for fabric could also be grown.

The bottom line is that if we think like pioneers before anyone even goes, we can devise good, reliable and flexible solutions to every problem likely to arise. Mars has too much wind? Good! Build high-altitude wind-power systems, like some of the kite-based ideas people have floated lately. Generate electric power to run electric heating elements, and generate the power above where the dust hits.

The other bottom line %u2013 cost %u2013 can be reduced with careful planning using every technological trick we have. Besides, Apollo was the greatest bargain the American public ever got; the U.S. government paid to launch the electronics industry that defined America's economy for decades.

EXCELLENT!!!!! However, the Governments (US, EU and probably Russia)know MUCH better than we do how to survive there. Buzz Aldrin is likely in the know too. It's readily apparent.
see my previous post.
Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Oct 29, 2008
With our present technology, "mining" mars would never be economical.

indeed, it is actually far, far cheaper to move huge portions of the civilization to mars to where those resources are, rather than to try to mine mars and bring back any "rare" resources.

====

Colonization is nigh to impossible in our current economic situation.

Our governments and citizens have shown themselves unwilling to embark on the development of the arcology-like technologies that would be needed to colonize mars in any of our life-times.

Without bio-domes with multiple backup systems, colonization of mars would be completely impossible, short of terraforming.

At the distance mars is from earth, the amount of Solar power available is about 1/4 that of earth per square meter. This means solar power would be completely useless.

Any colony on mars in the near future would require fusion power plant technology, this used to generation electricity to power gadgets, but most importantly, heat to maintain livable conditions inside the bio-dome. The power plant would sit on top of an ice cap and melt the ice, turning it into steam to turn turbines.

Additionally, you would need heat to melt the water-ice to have something to drink. The Biodomes could be constructed in a modular manner so that they can connect together via tubes. All of this constructed from ultra-resilient materials, and perhaps reinforced with carbon nano-materials. These prefabricated buildings could then be further reinforced with aggragate materials on site to shield against the wind and static electricity of the dust.
Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Oct 29, 2008
The most obvious method of colonizing mars, to me, would involve something straight out of science fiction:

The World Devastor.

Basicly, it is a concept from Star Wars.

You have a giant robitic factory which also has several humaniod robots accompanying it.

Instead of shipping biodomes to mars, you ship one of these robotic factories. The robots proceed to mine the materials right on the planet, and construct the biodome from available materials.

The factory would be large enough to house every needed manufacturing technology. The first order of business would be for it to copy itself a few times, with help from the androids, to speed things up.
spacecadet
5 / 5 (1) Oct 29, 2008
EXCELLENT!!!!! However, the Governments (US, EU and probably Russia)know MUCH better than we do how to survive there. Buzz Aldrin is likely in the know too. It's readily apparent.
see my previous post.

Thank you for your feedback on my post. I agree that there has been a lot of good research on this topic by space agencies in various countries. I see two problems in much of this research. First, it is all government research. In the United States, at least, this does not mean that efficiency was a driving principle. Second, various space agencies do not put much effort into learning from each other. Especially NASA.

The United States imagines it has a monopoly on good ideas. This is why France has a national health care system that works . . . and we are reinventing the wheel. It is also why CANDU nuclear fission reactors from Canadian engineers have provided safe, clean energy with minimal waste . . . and America still thinks oil is all there is (well, except for a few radicals who think solar energy might be a good idea some day).

If we look around, we can find good ideas in lots of places. JAXA has been planning on using inflatable modules for manned space efforts, when Japan's economy allows development in that direction. Bigelow has already tested two such modules in Earth orbit, with good results. Inflatable modules can increase available living and work space in Earth orbit, on the voyage, in Mars orbit and on the surface of Mars . . . as long as we do not forget to have a hardened emergency shelter at all times, just in case.

The Command Module pilot on Aldrin's historic Moon-landing flight, Michael Collins, has written a couple of excellent books on manned space efforts. The first, Liftoff, looked at NASA's manned history in space up until the Challenger disaster in 1986 (and the follow-up investigation headed by Sally Ride). The second, entitled Mission to Mars, looked at practical considerations for the kind of manned missions people are now seriously considering. Collins was very thorough. One important point I got from his work is that there is no way to rescue a Mars mission, unless you build rescue capability into the mission. If the mission is split between an orbiting station and a landing site, one can rescue the other from almost anything imaginable.

I have gathered information on the requirements for manned efforts in space for a lot of years and from a lot of sources, always with a focus on the minimum requirements, followed by how to build in the best margin of safety without excessive weight and cost increases. I have concluded that private enterprise, well-funded, will probably get us farther into the Solar System than NASA given the same amount of time and the fluctuations in public opinion in America.

For some reason, we think space is too expensive, big science in general is too expensive . . . but war is necessary, no matter what the cost. Hmm. Over$2 trillion for a war (just one war). $700 billion to save the rich from their mistakes. Hmm. $100 billion for the Apollo program sounds like a bargain, especially with spinoff technologies fueling the American economy for decades after. A new effort on the same scale, with the goal of permanent human presence on the Moon and Mars could fix a lot of problems.

My biggest concern with a manned mission to Mars is the possibility that there may be life there already. A human presence could not help but contaminate it. If Mars truly has no indigenous life at all, human efforts there get a lot easier, because Mars has good conditions for terraforming.

Earth's polar oceans are home to an interesting group of one-celled algae called diatoms. This group, by itself, accounts for about 40% of all photosynthesis on Earth. When climate scientists started wondering why Earth's atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were not climbing as fast as models predicted, they found that one-celled algae in the oceans (mainly dinoflagellates and diatoms) were taking up most of the excess. This is good news for us, that Earth has one-celled life forms that can clean up after our stupidity. Trouble is, we are quickly poisoning their home.

Diatoms are the perfect terraforming tool for Mars. They photosynthesize in cold, low-light conditions. Instead of starch, they produce oils to store energy. The oils act like antifreeze, too. Diatoms have auxiliary pigments to aid photosynthesis over a broader range of the visible spectrum, allowing them to make the most of available light. Their silica (glass!) cell walls serve as lenses to focus light directly onto their chloroplasts. They have a protective pigment to prevent damage from ultraviolet light, sure to be abundant on a planet with no ozone layer.

A while back, I did the math: The thin Martian atmosphere provides more available carbon dioxide for photosynthesis than the partial pressure of carbon dioxide on Earth. Add in the extreme cold of Mars slowing down life processes, and diatoms should be able to thrive there, even over night. The only remaining challenge is making sure that they have enough water, but a simple and inexpensive variant on ages-old greenhouse technology can fix that, too. Put the whole setup inside a crater, shielded from wind and dust, and you have an instant, "shake-and-bake" oxygen bubble. Just add food and colonists.
spacecadet
5 / 5 (1) Oct 29, 2008
With our present technology, "mining" mars would never be economical.

indeed, it is actually far, far cheaper to move huge portions of the civilization to mars to where those resources are, rather than to try to mine mars and bring back any "rare" resources.

====

Colonization is nigh to impossible in our current economic situation.

Our governments and citizens have shown themselves unwilling to embark on the development of the arcology-like technologies that would be needed to colonize mars in any of our life-times.

Without bio-domes with multiple backup systems, colonization of mars would be completely impossible, short of terraforming.

At the distance mars is from earth, the amount of Solar power available is about 1/4 that of earth per square meter. This means solar power would be completely useless.

Any colony on mars in the near future would require fusion power plant technology, this used to generation electricity to power gadgets, but most importantly, heat to maintain livable conditions inside the bio-dome. The power plant would sit on top of an ice cap and melt the ice, turning it into steam to turn turbines.

Additionally, you would need heat to melt the water-ice to have something to drink. The Biodomes could be constructed in a modular manner so that they can connect together via tubes. All of this constructed from ultra-resilient materials, and perhaps reinforced with carbon nano-materials. These prefabricated buildings could then be further reinforced with aggragate materials on site to shield against the wind and static electricity of the dust.

I agree that mining Mars to return anything to Earth would not be economical, but likewise, sending any more mass from Earth than absolutely necessary would not be economical. It is imperative that we find ways to use the resources of Mars to settle Mars. Colonization is the cost of a one-way trip and the resources to stay alive while developing the existing resources of Mars and starting closed ecological systems similar to greenhouses.

I also agree that terraforming must begin with enclosed ecologies (whether bio-domes or some other form). The sunlight should be nearly half as bright as on Earth (my calculations, based on the inverse square law came to about 45%). Add in the perfectly clear skies that prevail in the absence of dust storms, and the potential for solar power is not bad. NASA%u2019s rovers have worked fairly well, except when seasonal changes on Mars have required shutdown. Mirrors could help some, insulation could help some (as in arcologies), and nuclear fission batteries could help as well. Much of the rest of the requirements for viable Mars colonization I have addressed in previous posts. Our technology is not far from being up to the task, if we are creative with it.

Cairns
1 / 5 (1) Nov 04, 2008
I think more advanced robotics is a better idea than a manned mission. Imagine what robotics will be able to do in 20 years (proposed date for a manned mission). Given the progression in complexity, those machines would be just as capable as people, and we could sent a LOT more of them rather than just a few humans. Ultimately robotics is just going to get more done in less time compared to using people.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Nov 04, 2008
I think more advanced robotics is a better idea than a manned mission. Imagine what robotics will be able to do in 20 years (proposed date for a manned mission). Given the progression in complexity, those machines would be just as capable as people, and we could sent a LOT more of them rather than just a few humans. Ultimately robotics is just going to get more done in less time compared to using people.


In 20 years you might be right, then again in 20 years we may have a revolutionary propultion system which makes the cost of manned vs unmanned missions moot.