Mars terraforming not possible using present-day technology

July 30, 2018 by Bill Steigerwald, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
This infographic shows the various sources of carbon dioxide on Mars and their estimated contribution to Martian atmospheric pressure. Credit: NASA

Science fiction writers have long featured terraforming, the process of creating an Earth-like or habitable environment on another planet, in their stories. Scientists themselves have proposed terraforming to enable the long-term colonization of Mars. A solution common to both groups is to release carbon dioxide gas trapped in the Martian surface to thicken the atmosphere and act as a blanket to warm the planet.

However, Mars does not retain enough that could practically be put back into the to warm Mars, according to a new NASA-sponsored study. Transforming the inhospitable Martian environment into a place astronauts could explore without life support is not possible without technology well beyond today's capabilities.

Although the current Martian atmosphere itself consists mostly of carbon dioxide, it is far too thin and cold to support liquid water, an essential ingredient for life. On Mars, the pressure of the atmosphere is less than one percent of the pressure of Earth's atmosphere. Any liquid water on the surface would very quickly evaporate or freeze.

Proponents of terraforming Mars propose releasing gases from a variety of sources on the Red Planet to thicken the atmosphere and increase the temperature to the point where liquid water is stable on the surface. These gases are called "greenhouse gases" for their ability to trap heat and warm the climate.

"Carbon dioxide (CO2) and (H2O) are the only greenhouse gases that are likely to be present on Mars in sufficient abundance to provide any significant greenhouse warming," said Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado, Boulder, lead author of the study appearing in Nature Astronomy July 30.

Although studies investigating the possibility of terraforming Mars have been made before, the new result takes advantage of about 20 years of additional spacecraft observations of Mars. "These data have provided substantial new information on the history of easily vaporized (volatile) materials like CO2 and H2O on the planet, the abundance of volatiles locked up on and below the surface, and the loss of gas from the atmosphere to space," said co-author Christopher Edwards of Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona.

The researchers analyzed the abundance of carbon-bearing minerals and the occurrence of CO2 in polar ice using data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey spacecraft, and used data on the loss of the Martian atmosphere to space by NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) spacecraft.

"Our results suggest that there is not enough CO2 remaining on Mars to provide significant greenhouse warming were the gas to be put into the atmosphere; in addition, most of the CO2 gas is not accessible and could not be readily mobilized. As a result, terraforming Mars is not possible using present-day technology," said Jakosky.

Although Mars has significant quantities of water ice that could be used to create water vapor, previous analyses show that water cannot provide significant warming by itself; temperatures do not allow enough water to persist as vapor without first having significant warming by CO2, according to the team. Also, while other gases such as the introduction of chloroflorocarbons or other fluorine-based compounds have been proposed to raise the atmospheric temperature, these gases are short-lived and would require large-scale manufacturing processes, so they were not considered in the current study.

The atmospheric pressure on Mars is around 0.6 percent of Earth's. With Mars being further away from the Sun, researchers estimate a CO2 pressure similar to Earth's total atmospheric pressure is needed to raise temperatures enough to allow for stable liquid water. The most accessible source is CO2 in the polar ice caps; it could be vaporized by spreading dust on it to absorb more solar radiation or by using explosives. However, vaporizing the ice caps would only contribute enough CO2 to double the Martian pressure to 1.2 percent of Earth's, according to the new analysis.

Another source is CO2 attached to dust particles in Martian soil, which could be heated to release the gas. The researchers estimate that heating the soil could provide up to 4 percent of the needed pressure. A third source is carbon locked in mineral deposits. Using the recent NASA spacecraft observations of mineral deposits, the team estimates the most plausible amount will yield less than 5 percent of the required pressure, depending on how extensive deposits buried close to the surface may be. Just using the deposits near the surface would require extensive strip mining, and going after all the CO2 attached to dust particles would require strip mining the entire planet to a depth of around 100 yards. Even CO2 trapped in water-ice molecule structures, should such "clathrates" exist on Mars, would likely contribute less than 5 percent of the required pressure, according to the team.

Carbon-bearing minerals buried deep in the Martian crust might hold enough CO2 to reach the required pressure, but the extent of these deep deposits is unknown, not evidenced by orbital data, and recovering them with current technology is extremely energy intensive, requiring temperatures above 300 degrees Celsius (over 572 degrees Fahrenheit). Shallow carbon-bearing minerals are not sufficiently abundant to contribute significantly to greenhouse warming, and also require the same intense processing.

Although the surface of Mars is inhospitable to known forms of life today, features that resemble dry riverbeds and that only form in the presence of liquid water provide evidence that, in the distant past, the Martian climate supported at the surface. But solar radiation and solar wind can remove both water vapor and CO2 from the Martian atmosphere. Both MAVEN and the European Space Agency's Mars Express missions indicate that the majority of Mars' ancient, potentially habitable atmosphere has been lost to space, stripped away by solar wind and radiation. Of course, once this happens, that and CO2 are gone forever. Even if this loss were prevented somehow, allowing the atmosphere to build up slowly from outgassing by geologic activity, current outgassing is extremely low; it would take about 10 million years just to double Mars' current atmosphere, according to the team.

Another idea is to import volatiles by redirecting comets and asteroids to hit Mars. However, the team's calculations reveal that many thousands would be required; again, not very practical.

Taken together, the results indicate that terraforming Mars cannot be done with currently available technology. Any such efforts have to be very far into the future.

Explore further: Sputtering: How mars may have lost its atmosphere

More information: Bruce M. Jakosky et al. Inventory of CO2 available for terraforming Mars, Nature Astronomy (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41550-018-0529-6

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TheGhostofOtto1923
2.4 / 5 (7) Jul 30, 2018
Nor will it be possible after the planet is inhabited for several gens of martians, living underground in their comfortable, spacious warrens and wholly dependent on surface operations such as mining, processing, manufacturing, transportation, energy production and distribution, waste management, recreation, and agriculture.

They will tell carpetbagger earthers who want to turn mars into another copy of their muddy, slimy, bug-infested world of hurricanes, tornados, forest fires, floods, pandemics, rust, mold, and dry rot, to shove it.

Go slime venus. Nobodys living there.
rrwillsj
3 / 5 (6) Jul 30, 2018
The Standard Military Doctrine "We had to destroy them to save them from themselves."

Anybody have access to the actuarial mortality tables for miners & mining communities? That "second-hand smoke" is lethal!

If all these problems were resolved? Human colonization of Mars would still be a failure due to the pervasive low-gravity field. Resulting in degenerative physiological disabilities.

Osteoporosis and all the other medical problems of losing bone and muscle mass. As low as the gravity of Mars? It would still be a sufficient gravity-well trapping the crippled colonists from fleeing without being killed by the necessary acceleration to escape into orbit.

If any do make it? Where will they go if Mars is too deadly a bug-motel? Certainly they will not be able to return to Earth.

At what point will Humanity mature as a global society? Put away the comicbooks with other fond mementos of our childhood? To finally, accept our responsibility to care for the Earth?
jonesdave
5 / 5 (3) Jul 30, 2018
For anybody interested in the concept of terraforming Mars, do a bit of Googling on NASA scientist Chris McKay.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Jul 30, 2018
At what point will Humanity mature as a global society? Put away the comicbooks with other fond mementos of our childhood? To finally, accept our responsibility to care for the Earth?
Right before we get hit by the big rock that extincts us all.

Hey willis I will tell you a funny joke. Humanity spends decades building a self-sustaining colony on mars but then it gets hit by an ASTEROID and everybody dies.

Haha get it?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Jul 30, 2018
The thing is also: Mars' current atmosphere is 96% carbon dioxide. IF (and that is a big 'if') we somehow miraculously could get Mars' atmosphere to human breathable densities then those 96% would already be enough to put that atmposphere at higher CO2 level that we have here on Earth (close to 1% as opposed to the 400ppm here on Earth).
High CO2 levels are unbreathable. You basically feel drowsy at around 1% and at around 7% you keel over and suffocate - no matter if there is sufficient O2 around.

I.e. if you want to terraform Mars you must not put any more CO2 into its atmosphere but *only* nitrogen and oxygen. (Needless to say there aren't viable sources for either on Mars)

Homsteading in the open air on Mars is a pipe dream (particularly since heating it up in any way would release a ton of CO2 from the polar caps putting the atmosphere well into the "not-breathable" spectrum).
Whys
5 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2018
How much atmo does a plant need? Build a GMO from something hardy on Earth. Problem is, all the solar energy is at the equator and all the liquid water is at the poles.
iversenj
5 / 5 (3) Jul 30, 2018
Phobos is in a declining orbit and before we create a habitat we should give phobos a shove right into mars, also any nearby comets or asteroids should also be pushed into Mars at high speed. I believe Mars core has cooled enough that it no longer creates a large magnetic field large impacts could jostle it loose. If not Phobos hitting the surface may be enough to liquify the surface, follow that with an impact by "16 Psyche" which may be magnetic enough on its own to create the shield we need. With a shield the atmosphere will increase in thickness on it's own. Also huge chunks of Mars will be flung into space which I call the sample return mission when some of those chunks hit Earth. How do we crash Phobos into Mars? We got a lot of nukes just sitting around... BOOM
KMacK
5 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2018
There is something that we have to provide if we want to Terraform Mars: a magnetic field around the entire planet. Failing to do this, all we would be doing is to finish killing this world as the atmosphere we create would be stripped away by normal solar activity. That's what happened to Mars' original atmosphere once the planetary magnetic field collapsed.
When we're capable of recreating that magnetic field (which would only need to be half that of Earth's) then we could make an atmosphere and expect to keep it. Currently, that capability is beyond us.
iversenj
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 30, 2018
I am going to just stop posting anything anywhere
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2018
No nitrogen on mars
"Since the Rocknest sample is a combination of dust blown in from distant regions on Mars and more locally sourced materials, the nitrates are likely to be widespread across Mars, according to Stern. The results support the equivalent of up to 1,100 parts per million nitrates in the Martian soil from the drill sites"

-Since its common in the system we should expect to find enough on mars to support colonies. We just have to locate source deposits.
jonesdave
5 / 5 (3) Jul 30, 2018
I am going to just stop posting anything anywhere


That would probably be a good idea. Learn some science. and then get back to us. Yes?
guptm
5 / 5 (4) Jul 30, 2018
We can't save our own planet from GHG, we are talking about transforming other planet...haha.
Transform your own planet first, then think more...
jonesdave
5 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2018
There is something that we have to provide if we want to Terraform Mars: a magnetic field around the entire planet. Failing to do this, all we would be doing is to finish killing this world as the atmosphere we create would be stripped away by normal solar activity. That's what happened to Mars' original atmosphere once the planetary magnetic field collapsed.
When we're capable of recreating that magnetic field (which would only need to be half that of Earth's) then we could make an atmosphere and expect to keep it. Currently, that capability is beyond us.


You are right. However, this could be overcome by producing more greenhouse gases than are stripped away. Centuries in the future, and not something that will happen in either my or your lifetime.
fireofenergy1
5 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2018
We don't even have the energy required to re-terraform Earth's atmosphere back to 300 ppm CO2!
Yet, there's people that think "oh yes, we can do Mars". Not to be against multi trillion dollar Mars colonization programs (just kidding) but to say that we need to invest in about 10,000 fast reactors to desalinate just a very small fraction of the astronomical amount of water we have, right here, so we can literally create new soil, right here, so it can suck up the excess CO2, right here.
Ya, the key is right here (for the time being).
Sorry folks, if you don't like fast reactors which are on the order of 100x as efficient (or molten salt reactors that are still "only" six times more efficient) than the LWR, then we will have to build an orbital ring costing perhaps slightly less than all them nuclear machines.
Orbital rings allow for space transport for hundreds or thousands (I forget) of times less than SpaceX. It's akin to a freeway compared to a rabbit trail.
fireofenergy1
5 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2018
Continued, The faster you spin the ring, using electric motors powered by solar (beyond just orbital vel for that height) the more weight you can add. More solar! cables made from just common steel would carry that solar (because 80 km isn't too long for powerlines). Add more spin for that extra weight, too.
Then we'll have the resources to do it all without nuclear! But in the meantime, since we're frying our biosphere, we need to use nuclear, OR cover about 2% of the land with solar (plus lots of wind, hydro, etc). And we're still not sure if the solid state battery will be cheap enough to store all that energy. Since Solar is 20% capacity factor, it might need 5x the buildup and like 4 parts of that storage. We'll need global powerlines, too, if we are to get the ENTIRE world up to par with living standards (so they can pitch in for all the solutions, too).
We'll eventually grow things on mars, but first, we must green the equivalent of about 2/3rds of the Sahara, to save Earth.
Thorium Boy
1.4 / 5 (9) Jul 30, 2018
Same people who think this ridiculous scifi fantasy is possible are the kooks believe in man-made global warming.
Captain Stumpy
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 30, 2018
For anybody interested in the concept of terraforming Mars, do a bit of Googling on NASA scientist Chris McKay.

here are some more links: https://www.unive...rm-mars/

https://www.unive...forming/

John Strickland
5 / 5 (4) Jul 31, 2018
The new paper by Jakowsky and Edwards is a serious analysis of the volatiles available ON MARS ONLY, and covers only "current technology". Using it to say that we cannot terraform Mars misses the point of the paper. Could the 13 colonies, with their "current" technology of 1790, been able to build the interstate highway system? Of course not.

The main issues that seem to present brick walls are the restriction to current technology and no large scale industry on Mars. With the melting of the existing frozen CO2 inventory on Mars, and with the addition of the right mixture of perfluorocarbon gases, the CO2 air pressure would be between 2 and 3 times higher, far below what is needed to get rid of the pressure suits, but it would decrease the surface radiation, and probably allow cold water to flow on the surface.
What Mars needs is Nitrogen gas for pressure. It is available in the outer solar system with Fusion propulsion. Yes we would need trillions of tons, but that is doable.
Mark Thomas
1 / 5 (1) Jul 31, 2018
AAP:
if you want to terraform Mars you must not put any more CO2 into its atmosphere but *only* nitrogen and oxygen. (Needless to say there aren't viable sources for either on Mars)


I think you are right in that relying heavily on additional CO2 to warm Mars up to Earth-like temperatures is probably a bad idea if we want to breath the atmosphere. We need different greenhouse gases. We should try to engineer some and that may work well. Otherwise, methane (CH4) is about 20 times as effective as CO2 and we can look to redirect methane-rich comets and other small objects in the solar system to impact with Mars or disintegrate in low orbit.

Comets like 45p suggest some are methane rich. Comets like 67p suggest some are oxygen-rich. Pluto may have been formed from nitrogen-rich comets.

If Mars doesn't have what we need, the rest of the solar system does. Let that sink in.
Mark Thomas
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2018
It is available in the outer solar system with Fusion propulsion.


Agreed, which is why it upsets me we are moving so slow with ITER. Consider this, what if comets 45p and 67p are representative of many movable outer solar system bodies? Perhaps Mars could be terraformed in decades instead of centuries or millennia! Once people get to Mars they will have de facto claims on at least a portion of the land and resources. Keep in mind that Mars is the only terraformable planet within reach. This will be the last great land rush in the solar system for the foreseeable future (Venus will be for another era). Eventually all this will dawn on the people in control and competition may force us to actually get serious about going to Mars and exploring the outer solar system.

Of course there are billions of terraformable planets in the galaxy. With a terraformed Mars under our belts, we might get motivated to boldly go where no one has gone before.
rrwillsj
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2018
ive, before hitting Mars with a bunch of big rocks? You might want to do the math for how much heat energy will be produced? For how many thousands of years will we be standing around twiddling our thumbs? Waiting for a molten surface to cool enough for stepping on.

otto my deer, as usual your humor is as sharp as a sponge.

TB, thank goodness those electric shock treatments you have endured have brought you to your senses. Enough to admit that Global Climate Change is effected by Human practices.

You all keep imagining that your childish desire to escape responsibility should be taken seriously.

Sorry no! You all suffer the same subconscious belief that when you get into trouble? That lighting the batsignal will bring superman to come rescue you.

I guess it is cruel of me to offer you a productive methodology to achieve some of your goals. Since you lack the grasp of logistics & methodical conservative planning needed to build an orbital infrastructure.
Mark Thomas
1 / 5 (1) Jul 31, 2018
You might want to do the math for how much heat energy will be produced?


Agreed, here are some tips as how to address this: 1. use icy comets impacting into icy polar caps, so this is ice hitting ice, NOT rocks hitting rocks; 2. adjust the impactor's orbit to barely coincide with Mars when Mars is heading directly away from the impactor to minimize relative velocity; 3. consider a decaying orbit to break up and reduce the mass of the impactor; and 4. limit mass of any chosen impactor so as not to liquefy the surface.

otto my deer, as usual your humor is as sharp as a sponge.


You got that right.

You all keep imagining that your childish desire to escape responsibility should be taken seriously.


You got that wrong.

That lighting the batsignal will bring superman to come rescue you.


That would be Batman reacting to the Bat-Signal, not Superman. https://en.wikipe...t-Signal :-)
jonesdave
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2018
@Mark,
Agreed, which is why it upsets me we are moving so slow with ITER. Consider this, what if comets 45p and 67p are representative of many movable outer solar system bodies?


I have no dog in this fight. However, we are surely a couple of centuries, at least, away from being able to redirect comets. From memory, the mass of 67P was 1 x 10^13 kg. What sort of energy would need to be expended, for how long, to shift it into a Mars impacting orbit? What about the expense? Why,,,,,, just why? Unless this planet rapidly becomes uninhabitable, then there is little to no benefit in doing such things.
A couple of mirrors above the poles might be a start, but even that................

antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2018
How much atmo does a plant need?

Really depends on what you want the atmosphere to do.
Shield you against the ubiquitous high radiation environment of space?
Allow plants to grow?
Allow humans to breathe?

The first one would probably not need that much (but it would be useless as you'd be forced to live underground/in shielding structures anyways)

The second and third require a minimum partial pressure of the various gases. Just having a 20/80 mix of Oxygen/Nitrogen isn't enough. If the pressures aren't high enough you still can't breathe it (go to the top of Mt Everest. Atmospheric proportions are perfect for humans - atmospheric pressure is not. So you die after a while.)

Build a GMO from something hardy on Earth.

GMO is not some magic wand. No plant is going to endure regular -100°C (GMO or otherwise). That's temperatures at which CO2 freezes!
Mark Thomas
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2018
we are surely a couple of centuries, at least, away from being able to redirect comets.


Then we better hope nothing is on a collision course with Earth for the next couple centuries or more.

My thinking is to land a power source like a fission or fusion reactor, then use the energy to heat up the local ices as rocket propellant.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 31, 2018
We should try to engineer some and that may work well. Otherwise, methane (CH4) is about 20 times as effective as CO2...


The entire idea of 'introducing green house gases' or 'steering comets into Mars' or whatnot ...Seriously? guys?
Look at the volume of atmosphere we'd need to create.

To give you a hint how much we are talking about: If we launched a rocket with 1 ton of atmo to Mars EVERY SECOND starting now ...then we'd be doing this for 50 times longer than the universe has existed before we get near a breathably dense atmosphere (well, after 0.3 times the duration of the universe our sun goes nova and ends the project - but you get my drift).

Anyone thinks 'crashing a comet' or getting a few cannisters of GHGs there is going to be more than a fart in a hurricane? Seriously?
Mark Thomas
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2018
MIchio Kaku is thinking along similar lines. Heck, maybe he got those ideas from me! Probably not, but even if he did, he is welcome to them. :-)

https://bigthink....orm-mars

Obviously, if you are going to terraform an entire planet you have to think BIG.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2018
Yah...but this "let's divert comets" crap... I mean what does he think comets and meteors are? Small pebbels?

Most people would agree that an aircraft carrier isa chunky piece of hardware. Can we divert something like an aircraft carrier that's going at a decent clip through space through space so much so that it hits Mars? No we can't. It's waaaaay too massive
This is not like diverting a smallish object to not hit the Earth. That takes microscopical adjusments which are STILL some ways beyond us. We're talking serious, serious delta v's here!

Back to an aircraft carrier. Get to grips that such a ship is basically air with a few walls (it floats on water!). Meteors/comets are friggin' SOLID. Do the calcs how many you'd need to get even a tiny, tiny fraction of the needed mass to Mars - its completely ludicrous.

Yeah...'think big' is all nice and dandy. But there's 'think big' and 'think stupid' - and he's definitely in the latter camp.
John Strickland
5 / 5 (1) Jul 31, 2018
The LAST thing you would want to do is to crash comets into Mars. Think of the space debris filling the inner solar system! The paper's Authors are correct in that we do NOT have fusion drives yet, but just a few days of fusion thrusting would send thousands of loads of up to 100 million tons of chunks of nitrogen ice or (later) water ice to Mars orbit, where they would intersect the ATMOSPHERE of Mars, NOT its surface. The sheer heat of such repeated atmospheric impacts turns the ice into gas and can melt vast amounts of ice cap without a single crater being formed.

What the Nitrogen is needed for is to stop the Galactic nuclei (cosmic rays) from reaching the surface of Mars and to provide pressure so you can get rid of your space suit. All you need then is an oxygen helmet. At that point, water will flow on the surface and you can build surface cities and huge domes,free of the radiation hazard. This can be accomplished in less than 150 years from the start.
Mark Thomas
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2018
This is not like diverting a smallish object to not hit the Earth.


In some cases it is. The comet Siding Spring probably could have been diverted relatively easily to a Martian polar cap. It almost hit Mars without our help.

This is high school physics that apparently you don't intuitively understand because the scale is too large for you. Impulse is imparted as a function of force and time. While chemical rockets only run for minutes because that is all the fuel they have available, nuclear reactors could vaporize and expel cometary ices for YEARS if need be.

Try looking at some of the ~58,600 hits when you Google "use comets and asteroids to terraform Mars" before you label as "think stupid."

https://www.theat.../340085/
Mark Thomas
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2018
Orbital transfer of very massive bodies from the outer solar system can be accomplished using nuclear thermal rocket engines using the asteroid's volatile material as propellant.


- From Technological Requirements for Terraforming Mars (1993) by Robert M. Zubrin. Pioneer Astronautics and Christopher P. McKay. NASA Ames Research Center.

http://www.users....brin.htm

Even worse than that, AAP, I saw it on Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005 in an episode (Terra Prime) written by Carl Sagan's son, Nick Sagan. So it has to be true! :-) :-)

More seriously, I find that when I figure something out independently, it either was discovered earlier or a few others pick up on it pretty quickly.
granville583762
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 31, 2018
Terra forming mars – Pointless, lack of sufficient gravity!

Fire nuclear missiles at mars
Divert all the local meteorites to cause a mars melt down sufficient to cause global warming planet mark II if the nuclear fallout failed
Mars atmosphere is protected by a solar induced magnetosphere so why did it not hold on to its atmosphere
More than likely - gravity at 3m/s* which makes all the above terra forming alternatives pointless

Plus we've evolved in 10m/s* are skeleton needs 10m/s*
granville583762
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 31, 2018
Listen to the guy
antialias_physorg> The entire idea of 'introducing green house gases' or steering comets into Mars or whatnot Seriously? guys?
Look at the volume of atmosphere we'd need to create

To give you a hint how much we are talking about If we launched a rocket with 1 ton of atmo to Mars EVERY SECOND starting now .then we'd be doing this for 50 times longer than the universe has existed before we get near a breathably dense atmosphere (well, after 0.3 times the duration of the universe our sun goes nova and ends the project - but you get my drift).

Anyone thinks 'crashing a comet' or getting a few cannisters of GHGs there is going to be more than a fart in a hurricane? Seriously?

We've got the only planet in the vacuum perfect for life and we choose a barren llifeles airless planet with insufficient gravity with red dust storms lasting years
jonesdave
not rated yet Jul 31, 2018
we are surely a couple of centuries, at least, away from being able to redirect comets.


Then we better hope nothing is on a collision course with Earth for the next couple centuries or more.

My thinking is to land a power source like a fission or fusion reactor, then use the energy to heat up the local ices as rocket propellant.


Again, how much power is that going to take, and how long is it going to take, and how many comets are you going to need? Sorry, we are talking sci-fi.
If it ever gets started it is likely to involve nanobots and mirrors. And will take an eternity.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 31, 2018
If Mars doesn't have what we need
Youre still thinking that mars will be 'yours' to manipulate by the time terraforming becomes possible.

IT WONT.

There will be millions of martians living there. It will be THEIR planet. And you WONT be fucking with it.

Do you understand?
jonesdave
3 / 5 (4) Jul 31, 2018
There will be millions of martians living there. It will be THEIR planet. And you WONT be fucking with it.


Bloody unlikely. Why the hell would millions of people head to Mars? How? When? Where would they live? What would they live on? Any colonists would be few in number, and massively dependent on Earth. For a very long time.

TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 31, 2018
Bloody unlikely
Extremely likely
Why the hell would millions of people head to Mars?
Because independent colonies are essential in order to ensure survival of the species.
How?
Multiple BFR-type vehicles by multiple companies.
When?
Far sooner than YOU would suspect.
Where would they live?
UNDERGROUND. Autonomous nuclear tunnelers will create cubic miles in no time.
What would they live on?
Stuff grown underground and eventually stuff engineered to grow on the surface.
Any colonists would be few in number
They would propagate. Read the bible. Perhaps they will be mormons.
and massively dependent on Earth. For a very long time
No they wouldnt.

This is all obvious.

You know whats not obvious? Why the rover is driving around in circles.
https://mars.nasa...eID=9550

The mountain is THATAWAY. The fossils are THATAWAY.
Mark Thomas
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2018
Orbital transfer of very massive bodies from the outer solar system can be accomplished using nuclear thermal rocket engines using the asteroid's volatile material as propellant.


- From Technological Requirements for Terraforming Mars (1993) by Robert M. Zubrin. Pioneer Astronautics and Christopher P. McKay. NASA Ames Research Center.

http://www.users....brin.htm

I am sorry, but Dr. Robert Zubrin and Dr. Christopher McKay know a great deal about Mars. The above quote is from their 25 year old paper and I provided a link. I also suggested using Google so you can do a little research.

Logically, if Mars is short on the necessary volatiles, like nitrogen, then you can quit or look elsewhere in the solar system for a source you can bring to Mars. Not sure why everyone is struggling with this other than the scale of the thing.

Go watch the Star Trek episode from 2005 that I mentioned on Netflix, it is one of my favorites, maybe that will help.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jul 31, 2018
'No matter what the public sentiment, it can be quickly and thoroughly changed by Events of sufficient magnitude.'

-Including yours.
Mark Thomas
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2018
Otto, even if what you say is correct, are your 5 million colonists too stupid to waterproof their caves? You are saying we have to give up the entire surface of the only terraformable planet in reach because your colonists are afraid of a little dripping water? Are you absolutely certain all 5 million of them would have zero interest in living on the surface? You are clearly not thinking this through. If people were thrilled about living underground they could do so on Earth and they rarely do when not compelled to.
Mark Thomas
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2018
Otto, just because you are a cave man does NOT mean you speak for the first Martians, not by a long shot.
rrwillsj
3 / 5 (4) Jul 31, 2018
Man, you just gotta wonder what failures people's lives are here on Earth? To compel them to run away and play naked-mole-rat on another planet!

Do any of these perpetually petulant pettifogging slackers actually have any accomplishments in their pitiful lives that would convince colonial administrators to accept their petition for immigration?

Do any of them have any skills or technical expertise to develop and maintain a Mars or Luna or Asteroid colony?

"Wishing and Dreaming Hoping and Praying" ain't going to get them out of their mommies basement. Huh, that explains the troglodyte fetish. These dim bulbs are so adapted to the dimness of video games, they can't take sunlight?
John Strickland
5 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2018
Can you tolerate a few numbers ? Take a mass of nitrogen ice broken into one thousand chunks, each 1000 tons or a million tons total. That's a cargo 10 times heavier than an aircraft carrier and it's NOT hollow. Now take a fusion powered tug with roughly the same thrust as a BFR, or 10,000 tons, but it can thrust for days or months. 10,000 tons of thrust pushing 1 million tons of mass gives one 100th of a G. This is an acceleration of 0.098055 meters per second every second, OR 5 meters faster every minute, OR 353 meters faster every hour, OR, 8472 meters faster every day OR 59,304 meters faster per week (60 kilometers per second). That's fast enough, as we do not want interstellar hypervelocity vehicles inside the solar system, and it has to slow way down to deliver the cargo anyway. With just 1000 such tugs, you could deliver 1 billion tons of nitrogen every few years, and you can make the tugs much bigger, say 100 million tons each! Mars Needs Nitrogen, not water.
Mark Thomas
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 31, 2018
Attaboy John S, give them some numbers! I think you might have to double check them though. Check me on this too, but F=ma or a=F/m Your force is 10,000 tons of thrust. That is going to accelerate a mass of 1,000 tons of cargo at 10 m/s2, because 10,000 divided by 1,000 is 10. This is more than 100 times faster than 0.098055 meters per second squared.

Another thing you are missing (I seem to recall, maybe) is that ~6 to 18 comets impacted into Martian polar caps will be enough to cause positive feedback in thickening the atmosphere and global warming, enough to drop the pressure suit requirement on the surface. This needs to be checked, but would make colonization a lot easier.

People have commented on Mars being short on nitrogen for decades, so no big surprise there. My four big deliverables would be Oxygen, Nitrogen, Water and Methane. Yes, I would hope to bring oxygen. A breathable atmosphere would make Mars look a whole lot different.
Mark Thomas
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2018
The mountain is THATAWAY. The fossils are THATAWAY.


Sounds like yet another conspiracy theory to me, but if you are right, eventually everyone will know about this. Assuming we actually get to explore Mars.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2018
If people were thrilled about living underground they could do so on Earth and they rarely do when not compelled to
They live in bldgs. Same thing. You want a breeze? Get a fan. You want sun? Get a skylight.
People have commented on Mars being short on nitrogen for decades, so no big surprise there
-until they found it. Try google. O2? CO2, H2O. H20? Gigatons of it. You warm mars, you will have slop everywhere.
John Strickland
not rated yet Aug 01, 2018
1000 chunks of nitrogen, EACH with a mass of 1000 tons, equals 1 MILLION TONS.
What we are after here is delivering very large MASSES of nitrogen ice or slush at relatively low speeds compared to interstellar speeds of thousands of kilometers per second.

Ideally, there would be replicators turning out the tugs and the mining equipment to fill the holds with nitrogen. Hopefully there would be NO demonstrators saying "do not mine nitrogen here". Such people would be anti-life, since the nitrogen deliveries would help bring Mars to life.

Comets actually hitting the surface of Mars would create a catastrophic amount of space debris around Mars orbit. Lets not do that. The entry heat from the nitrogen deliveries year after year will melt any amount of ice. A typical amount for a single delivery could be in the several hundred MEGATON range, like an H-bomb but with zero radiation. Deliveries would be high in the atmosphere to avoid any impacts and lessen acoustic damage.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2018
Otto, even if what you say is correct, are your 5 million colonists too stupid to waterproof their caves?
The only unwanted dripping would happen if idiots warmed the atmosphere and all that surface slop started rotting seals and leaking through airlocks, skylights, cable ducts, etc.

Elsewhere, cistern voids will fill from the water table.

Stop trolling mark it's getting tiresome.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2018
nuclear reactors could vaporize and expel cometary ices for YEARS if need be.

I'm not aware that we are even in the ballpark, let alone the region, let alone the continent of being able to put a functioning multi gigawatt nuclear reactor that uses zero maintenance and can actively steer its output into orbit...much less land and install it safely on a fast moving comet.

Does anyone know how massive nuclear reactors are? You don't just plonk down a bit of uranium and call it a day.

Take a mass of nitrogen ice broken into one thousand chunks, each 1000 tons or a million tons total.

Ya know how many of those you'd need? A billion.

I.e. for every single settler you eventually want to have on mars you'd be building one of these space missions. (oh...your reactor crashes to Mars too...dunno...seems like an environmental problem right there)

Does no one else find this ludicrous?
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 01, 2018
Sounds like yet another conspiracy theory to me
Maybe because you dont seem to like google?

"the rover found concentrations of zinc and germanium 10 to 100 times greater in sedimentary rocks in the crater as compared to typical Martian crust.

"On Earth, these elements tend to be enriched together in hydrothermal environments with hot water and sulfur, and these environments are teeming with a wide array of microbial life. Hydrothermal deposits are also ideal for preserving fossilized remains of such life."

-The higher up, the more advanced. Possibly.
jonesdave
not rated yet Aug 01, 2018
Multiple BFR-type vehicles by multiple companies.


And who is going to pay for them? Are the companies going to provide free passage? No; user pays. So, who will be the type of people who could afford such a trip? Only the very richest. Let's see - would you give up your city centre luxury penthouse, or your sprawling home in the country, to go live in a cave on Mars, eating potatoes fertilised with your own crap? Kind of doubt it myself.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 01, 2018
Does anyone know how massive nuclear reactors are?
uh I do.
https://phys.org/...wer.html
"Advanced SMRs range in size up to 300 megawatts electrical (MWe), employ modular construction techniques, ship major components from factory fabrication locations to the plant site by rail or truck, and include designs that simplify plant site activities required for plant assembly."

"Each NuScale reactor vessel is expected to be 9 feet diameter (2.74 meters) by 65 feet high (19.81 meters) and weigh 650 tons (590 metric tons). The modules would be pre-fabricated, delivered by railcar, barge or special trucks and assembled on-site. The units were designed to produce 60 megawatts of electricity each and require refueling with standard 4.95 percent enriched uranium-235 fuel every two years."

BFR "Payload to Mars: 330,000 lb/165 tons; payload bay 20'x80ft"

-so optimistically, 6 trips.

Pressurized, no shielding needed, only H2O and u235.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2018
And who is going to pay for them? Are the companies going to provide free passage? No; user pays
Who paid for the Manhattan project? Who financed the railroads and supporting industries when they were established in the US? How about the trans-siberian railway?

Money is no object when the future of the species is at stake.
Let's see - would you give up your city centre luxury penthouse, or your sprawling blah
A common misperception - wealth is a fixed commodity that you can take from one group and give to another. Taking wealth away from the wealth-makers only makes it disappear. A lesson learned in the russian revolution.

But funding for such projects is created. The king waves his scepter, the fed prints money, and it is shipped to banks for lending out to appropriate parties.

Wealth is a product of the will of authority. Dollars are really only pieces of paper arent they?
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 01, 2018
"Unlike the moon project, the building of the [transcontinental] railroad was undertaken by private interests, but only after Congress passed legislation to help finance the work."

"The leaders of both companies understood one guiding principle clearly: an unbuilt railroad through unsettled country would not do a profitable business for months, even years, after its completion. Money could be made on the venture not from the railroad itself but from its construction. To do the work, therefore, both groups formed separate construction companies..."

"The government bonds received for construction—the so-called subsidy—remained a bone of contention for another quarter century. Ultimately both railroads paid off their government debt in full. From the first, the government also received another payment in the form of reduced rates on its troops and freight carried by the roads. No one doubts that the transcontinental railroad cost far more to build than was necessary..."
Mark Thomas
not rated yet Aug 01, 2018
Does anyone know how massive nuclear reactors are?


Quit trying to prove your gut instinct is right with more gut instinct, and do some research.

http://www.users....brin.htm

Read up on nuclear thermal rocket (NTR) engines. They are NOT the size of your local power plant. The paper is talking about 5 GW NTRs that can fire for 10 years. This is a lot, but in 1968 we had a 4 GW NTR the fired for 30 minutes. After 50 years, maybe we can get a lot closer than they could. Besides, they were trying to move 10 billion ton asteroids and we could scale that back a bit, but move more than 4.

"The final (Phoebus) 2A test in June 1968 ran for over 12 minutes at 4,000 MW, at the time the most powerful nuclear reactor ever built."

https://en.wikipe...l_rocket

The Phoebus 1A NTR fit on the equivalent of ~1 railroad car:

http://homepages....mage.jpg
Captain Stumpy
not rated yet Aug 01, 2018
@Jonesdave
No; user pays. So, who will be the type of people who could afford such a trip? Only the very richest. Let's see - would you give up your city centre luxury penthouse, or your sprawling home in the country, to go live in a cave on Mars, eating potatoes fertilised with your own crap? Kind of doubt it myself
for the record: Not defending anyone

however, if we're talking colonization of a planet by humans as we are now, the first few waves will be. IMHO, made of more expendable people seeded with scientists and engineers willing to take the risk on the gov't dime, so that there are "workers" and thinkers to build the infrastructure

the most likely place to pull these workers from will be the Military services in the US as they've already agreed to a contract that allows the gov't to use them for the needs of the military

PS - some of us already gave up luxury for the isolation and hard work of a self-sufficient life: we would go in a heartbeat
just sayin'
MrBojangles
2.5 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2018
GMO is not some magic wand. No plant is going to endure regular -100°C (GMO or otherwise). That's temperatures at which CO2 freezes!


This is just a small snippet of the conversation on this article, but it does a good job of highlighting everyone's ignorance. People are on here spouting off about how X isn't feasible, or Y isn't possible, yet you all know nothing.

If someone told you about Gynaephora groenlandica, and you hadn't known its existence, you'd think it's impossible as well. And that is an animal that evolved NATURALLY - no additional input from humans. Who are you people with to say what is or isn't possible - especially when stacked against people that dedicate their lives to the study and theory of such things.
granville583762
3 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2018
Mar - courtesy of Vladimir airways at specially discounted rates on their one way trip

The space station is virtually reliant on Vladimir Putin's rockets, even over the centuries of building and the help of the now obsolete shuttle, the handful of occupants still live cheek by jowl with very limited resources totally dependent on Vladimir

Vladimir is rubbing his claws with glee at the prospect of any country foolish enough to set foot on mars as Vladimir has the monopoly on rockets - he's got everyone over a barrel especially when he flies them courtesy of Vladimir airways at specially discounted rates on their one way trip which they will find to their cost as he extracts every last rouble they own on threat of unforeseen delays in Vladimir airways with those vital supplies!
Mark Thomas
3 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2018
Vladimir has the monopoly on rockets - he's got everyone over a barrel


Don't worry granville, both SpaceX and Boeing will get the U.S. back into the manned launch game in less than a year. On top of that, SpaceX has successfully launched its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket in existence today.

https://www.busin...s-2018-6

Of course nothing today can match the awesomeness of the 'ol Mighty Saturn V. The fact that we cannot surpass a piece of technology used to send people to the moon in 1969 is telling us something about the tradeoff between technology and motivation. For example, we have had a sufficient level of technology to reach Mars for decades, but collectively we have lacked the motivation.
Whart1984
1 / 5 (3) Aug 01, 2018
Mars does not retain enough carbon dioxide that could practically be put back into the atmosphere to warm Mars
No problem, we could sequester the terrestrial carbon dioxide waste there so we would kill two birds with one stone. I'm gonna to patent the hose connecting Mars and Earth atmospheres.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 01, 2018
Quit trying to prove your gut instinct is right with more gut instinct, and do some research.

Yeah, yeah,yeah... I read all this stuff decades ago (seriously - this isn't new). They want to waste the precious resources at the poles and pump them into the atmopshere...creating an absolutley unbreathable atmosphere in the process.
They keep glossing over 'large scale' thiis and build huge factories that on Mars....but you actually have to look at the kinds of scales that would be required. The numbers become ludicrous pretty quickly. Planets are BIG.

Instead we should just plan around being underground on Mars and utilizing the available resources as efficiently as possible - particularly any water instead of blowing it off into the atmosphere along with the CO2. Wasting H2O in that way on Mars almost seems a crime.

(The day we can do "large scale mirrors" in space then we should do them here to keep solar out on Earth instead of trying to terraform Mars)
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Aug 01, 2018
When i find sentences in these articles that say
Now we don't know for sure if there are numerous asteroid size objects in the outer solar system, but there is no reason to believe that there aren't.

This reminds me of arguments for god. "Well, we don't know if there is a god but we also don't know that there isn't..so there must be one, right?"
They talk about getting stuff from the outer solar system that we haven't even seen yet. We have no single man made object that has gotten that far out yet. Ever. Much less one that would be the size and complexity needed. Talking like this is doable with tech of the foreseeable future (let's say that means until the end of this century) is ridiculous.
granville583762
3 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2018
Flying back home with all its passengers for another mars run in a couple of weeks!

If these rockets are successful https://www.busin...s-2018-6
Trial runs to the moon on a daily basis to the moon, landing - taking of, moon walks next year 2019 like having a new sports car on country side runs after tea will be a mundane novelty in practice for the proper journey to Mars landing staying a weekend leaving supplies and equipment and flying back home with all its passengers for another mars run in a couple of weeks
granville583762
2 / 5 (4) Aug 01, 2018
Depleting earth's precious resources won't terra form that airless barren wasteland

The cardinal sin and suicidal lunacy is taking billions of tons of Earth's precious resources to that lifeless airless barren planet with insufficient gravity with red dust storms lasting years

We've got the only planet in the vacuum perfect for life with only sufficient resources for earth's inhabitants
If the materials are not to be found on planet Mars to sustain Martians, not one ounce of Earth's resources are sufficiently spare to be wasted on that airless barren wasteland that is mars

It is like is for reasons that cannot be altered!
Mark Thomas
1 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2018
Yeah, yeah,yeah... I read all this stuff decades ago (seriously - this isn't new).


The basic idea is clearly not new, but there may be some new twists. The inventory of potential impactors appears to be expanding in some very interesting directions. In view of comets 45P and 67P, we may be able to select impactors based on the mix of volatiles we want to bring to Mars. The fact that there is even a remote chance of bringing oxygen ice to Mars is mindblowing. Imagine if the atmosphere on Mars were breathable (maybe with special breathing devices) in a century or two instead of 10,000 years? All these highly philosophical debates about colonizing Mars would be over much sooner than most of us think possible.
granville583762
3 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2018
Go on a weekend trip to mars and fly round mars in concord, get in your 4x4 and travel the terrain
pyhs.org> Mars does not retain enough carbon dioxide that could practically be put back into the atmosphere to warm Mars
Whart1984> No problem, we could sequester the terrestrial carbon dioxide waste there so we would kill two birds with one stone. I'm gonna to patent the hose connecting Mars and Earth atmospheres.

Then come home after your weekend trip and repeat seriously in the cold light of day what you are proposing and how you are going to reach your aims, at this present moment we can only land haphazardly Martian rovers never to return.
A hose connecting earth and mars will suck all earth's atmosphere into mars vacuous atmosphere then into outer space, good look with your patent, no one will be around to steal your idea - they were all sucked down the tube into mars vacuous atmosphere!
TrollBane
5 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2018
"The cardinal sin and suicidal lunacy is taking billions of tons of Earth's precious resources to that lifeless airless barren planet" That's quite the straw man you're attacking there. No serious researcher has ever suggested taking billions of tons of material from Earth to Mars. All serious terraforming suggestions involve mostly mass from Mars itself or from bodies with negligible gravity wells.
TrollBane
5 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2018
Mr. Bo Jangles, thanks for the moth link. I wasn't familiar with that species or its amazing adaptations to the high arctic. It doesn't prove a plant could withstand -100 degrees Celcius for long, but it does show how adaptable life is. Much could be done with GMOs in more mild conditions under domes.
John Strickland
not rated yet Aug 01, 2018
There are lots of places to mine water ice, even in the main belt asteroids, and there are places to mine nitrogen ice or slush out near Neptune and on Pluto which has huge amounts, but getting permission to mine it from all of the Pluto lovers might be tough! Out there it is doing little good for anyone or any thing.

However, it is VERY UNLIKELY that we would find a mine for Oxygen ice. Oxygen likes to combine with other elements, like in rocks, and rust. Oxygen for Mars will have to be generated from other materials, such as a slow addition of CO2 to Mars once the pressure is high enough for water to flow. Algae could convert the CO2 into oxygen and carbon. Alternatively, nanotechnology might be used to force the issue and speed up the creation of oxygen from water, CO2 or even oxides in rocks.

For early Mars bases, fission reactors would be needed to provide power for making propellants. You would need about 12 Megawatts of power to make 100 tons per month of LOX-LH2.
Mark Thomas
1 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2018
is VERY UNLIKELY that we would find a mine for Oxygen ice.


And yet . . . "Surprising discovery of molecular oxygen on comet 67P"

https://astronomy...met-67p/

I also read 3.8% of 67P is molecular oxygen, as opposed to the chemically combined oxygen you were referring too.
Mark Thomas
1 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2018
So 3.8% of 10 TRILLION kilograms is 380 billion kilograms of oxygen or 380 million metric tons. Sounds like we found our first oxygen mine.

https://rosetta.j...-67p/c-g

Since we have only had about a dozen missions to comets before we found 67P, it stands to reason a good percentage of cometary bodies are like this. What percentage? How about 1/12 = ~8% as a guess. People often estimate the number of icy bodies in the solar system in the billions or trillions, so odds are there is plenty of molecular oxygen around in the form of oxygen ice.
Mark Thomas
1 / 5 (2) Aug 02, 2018
Doing a little more math, I am wildly estimating it would take about 30,000 bodies like 67P to impart an Earth-comparable amount of oxygen into the atmosphere of Mars. So it is starting to look hopeless again, except, maybe in the distant parts of the outer solar system we can find bodies that are much larger and have a greater percentage of oxygen. If there are say 300 bodies each with 100 times as much oxygen, it is starting to get interesting again. Or if you prefer, 30 bodies each with 1000 times as much oxygen as 67P. In addition to O2, perhaps we can select impactors so that much of the remaining ices will be useful N2, CH4 and H2O.

To determine if this is a pipe dream or not, we need an inventory of exactly what is in the outer solar system. The only way to do that is to boldly go where no one has gone before. :-)
Mark Thomas
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2018
I reran the numbers and they came out a lot better, but I need to investigate further.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 02, 2018
You're not considering all the chemical chaos your rain of destruction would cause. Superheated steam in contact with the CO2 atmosphere, molten rock at the impact site and dissociation of water ice, and interaction with all the other mineral-bound chemicals already there.

This has already been done. Why dont you just look it up?
Mark Thomas
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2018
This has already been done. Why dont you just look it up?


Feel free to post a link or two of your own.

Two other factors that partially offset each other are the reduced surface area (28% of Earth) and the reduced gravity (38% of Earth).
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2018
I liked how Elon Musk responded, since he has mentioned that nuking the polar caps would terraform Mars. Faced with data he went full Elon and noted that 'the dust [more likely the putative deep carbonate layers] would release CO2 given enough energy'.

But no matter the future time horizon, Musk will always have the Boring Company for either habitat tunnels or deep mining.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2018
When i find sentences in these articles that say
Now we don't know for sure if there are numerous asteroid size objects in the outer solar system, but there is no reason to believe that there aren't.

This reminds me of arguments for god. "Well, we don't know if there is a god but we also don't know that there isn't..so there must be one, right?"
They talk about getting stuff from the outer solar system that we haven't even seen yet. We have no single man made object that has gotten that far out yet. Ever. Much less one that would be the size and complexity needed. Talking like this is doable with tech of the foreseeable future (let's say that means until the end of this century) is ridiculous.


I am not sure how you jump from astrophysics to theology. Asteroids are plenty in the debris disks and the inner system, so likely in the outer system. The automated BFR will be able to go there soon after starting on Mars (or we would not dream of terraforming). [tbctd]
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2018
[ctd] And I dunno why picking a century as time scale when every project suggested - except the pole nuking - has been spread over millenniums. As the calculations here suggest, that is the realistic time horizon.

Now for why you would want to do this, I assume it is the same reason why people want to colonize, "the horizon is over there, wonder how that looks?" So no rational reason, just the behavior that made us the dominant species on one planet already. Which coincidentally took 100 millenniums, if we want a comparison on planet scale projects. Maybe we can do it faster this time.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 02, 2018
Feel free to post a link or two of your own.
Why should I? Im not the one contemplating trashing a perfectly good planet. With a few million people already living on it.
But no matter the future time horizon, Musk will always have the Boring Company for either habitat tunnels or deep mining
Both, together. His Hyperloop transport tunnels will be operating at exactly mars surface pressure.

Hes already got energy storage. He took a shot at rooftop PV but lets see what power source he might come up with. Fusion?
Mark Thomas
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2018
torbjorn, I for one like your positive attitude. Nearly all the other commenters here have written off terraforming for a variety of weak reasons, e.g., it will cause water to drip in my descendent's caves on Mars, or I can't imagine finding the raw materials you need, or I can't image moving that much stuff. I say you have to think BIG to terraform planets and the closed mind response is I am thinking "stupid" or it is "nothing new." What a bunch of whining babies!

How about these facts? Earth's atmosphere only has about 1.2 trillion metric tons of O2 and Comet 67P has about 380 million metric tons of O2. Three objects roughly 10 times bigger in each dimension as 67P (1,000x volume) with the same composition would have as much O2 as all the air on Earth. New Horizons will be going by a Kuiper Belt object about that size in ~5 months.

If we are going to be terraformers we have to get creative and think BIG.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 02, 2018
Hey heres a hint

"In some instances the increase in ferrous oxide concentration of the early oceans followed major asteroid impacts, with likely erosion During these stages breakdown of iron-bearing minerals in the basalts and enhanced supply of FeO to the oceans were followed by oxidation and precipitation of banded iron formations"

-Right now the rover is transiting a hematite deposit. There is a lot of iron on mars. Will impacts of your O2 bursters create more Fe2O3? Most likely. Might skew your calcs yes?

What about all that perchlorate, potentially an important source of oxygen. Will your air bombs create more, or dissociate what is already there?

Hydrocarbons are everywhere in the system. Everywhere. So we should expect to find them on mars. Will your oxidizer packages be enough to combust methane or petroleum deposits? What else might combust if you add enough O2, especially with violent collisions? Magnesium? Phosphorous?
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 02, 2018
Not to mention your fireworks display hitting the CO2 atmosphere at 6 mi/sec. Describe please the chemistry involved in such a noteworthy event.

They could time it to coincide with martian independence day, when martians retaliated in kind by conducting similar experiments in earths own atmosphere. What a mess that would be eh?
https://youtu.be/qbTmTMW06oQ

Woohoo! Happy new year haha
Mark Thomas
not rated yet Aug 02, 2018
Will impacts of your O2 bursters create more Fe2O3?


One of your better questions. For many reasons, including this one, we should explore Mars thoroughly first, before terraforming. However, Mars is called the Red Planet for a reason, i.e., it is already heavily oxidized, so this probably won't be as big a factor as you think.

Not to mention your fireworks display hitting the CO2 atmosphere at 6 mi/sec.


The initial few impacts will be well above that velocity, the rest will be less. That way we can clear out all the troglodyte scum and prepare the planet for real colonization. Instead of gently impacting the poles when the planet is moving directly AWAY from the impactor, we should hit the trogs when the planet when it is moving directly TOWARDS the impactor. Instead of subtracting as much as 54,000 mph, we can add 54,000 mph! This will serve as a lesson to those who would stand against the Terran Empire. :-)
granville583762
3 / 5 (2) Aug 02, 2018
The Walrus and The Carpenter
Mark Thomas> Earth's atmosphere only has about 1.2 trillion metric tons of O2 and Comet 67P has about 380 million metric tons of O2. Three objects roughly 10 times bigger in each dimension as 67P (1,000x volume) with the same composition would have as much O2 as all the air on Earth. New Horizons will be going by a Kuiper Belt object about that size in ~5 months.
If we are going to be terra formers we have to get creative and think BIG.

For an ardent terra-forma who realises the dimension of the task is beyond rocket propellant

"The time has come, the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

It's time to think alternatives to rocketry propellant!
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Aug 03, 2018
"And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

-apt description of earther bombardment of our dear red planet.
Mars is god of war, do not forget. And it IS the high ground.
https://youtu.be/CLpCkGFff5I
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (2) Aug 03, 2018
MIchio Kaku is thinking along similar lines. Heck, maybe he got those ideas from me! Probably not, but even if he did, he is welcome to them. :-)

https://bigthink....orm-mars
@MarkT
Actually, it's more likely he got the idea from Asimov
I read his story "The Martian Way" a long time ago
https://en.wikipe...tian_Way

it uses existing Ices and water as a propellant in space and in lower gravity
using the fragment's ice as reaction mass
if you've not read it, I recommend the book "The Martian Way and Other Stories" (1955) or "The Best of Isaac Asimov" (1973)

I have both
Asimov is one of the rare fiction authors that I keep, though I preferred his non-fiction

rrwillsj
1 / 5 (1) Aug 04, 2018
I see repeated comments "We need to colonize Mars so we can escape the looming catastrophe of Human Extinction!"

So what makes your saggy butt more valuable than any other inhabitant of Planet Earth?

Pick a catastrophe:
K2 Redux large rock hits the Earth. Sparks fly!
Environmental Collapse You just couldn't resist buying that one final shiny toy.
Thermonuclear War Donny Trumpella finally discovers where Kelly has been hiding the 'real' Nuclear Code Keys.
Zombie Apoplectic You too can purchase a lab-kit that lets you perform DNA experiments at home. Amaze your friends and neighbors!

Seriously, if you truly feel threatened? Then why are you, personally, not doing anything to? Oh, I don't know? Actually doing something to prevent the catastrophe of your choice?

Plan Stepstool: Methodically develop an orbital infrastructure that not only reduces the chances of an asteroid strike? Would then provide the industrial resources for mass exploration of the Solar System.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2018
Actually, it's more likely he got the idea from Asimov . . . "The Martian Way"


Asimov was thinking about how to move them in 1952, five years before the first artificial satellite around Earth. Others like Zubrin and McKay were writing papers about using them to terraform Mars at least as far back as 1993. So if the ideas are so old and were further developed by noted Mars experts, why are so many here describing them as a stupid fantasy?
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2018
@MarkT
So if the ideas are so old and were further developed by noted Mars experts, why are so many here describing them as a stupid fantasy?
I guess, technically, it is fantasy at this point, isn't it?

IMHO - terraforming implies making it "like earth" in most people's view

so a lot of the back and forth above seems to be more about picking a specific definition of terraforming, building the image in the head and exploring the belief using modern technology and perhaps extrapolating a mite further into potential new tech

again, IMHO - I don't think it's plausible using current technology

however, it doesn't mean we can't explore the idea and discuss it using plausible extrapolations of tech, like Asimov

Plus, there is the impact of using different tech, especially comets, etc
Pun intended
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2018
My original terraforming epiphany came from the idea that comets may have brought water to a drier proto-Earth, thereby giving us our oceans. My idea was that we would simply be helping nature to repeat a natural process on Mars, as occurred on Earth, which seemed both logical and elegant. Of course impacts on Mars would have to be extremely carefully tailored for fast terraforming, but the basic idea of bringing missing materials to Mars seems just as sound today as it did decades ago. Keep in mind that we need to restore the northern ocean Mars once had too.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2018
so a lot of the back and forth above seems to be more about picking a specific definition of terraforming, building the image in the head and exploring the belief using modern technology and perhaps extrapolating a mite further into potential new tech


Sounds right to me. I am not sure how to improve on that much in this context, although you and I cite sources and some others don't. I would add that new discoveries about the inventory of useful frozen gases (67P and 45P) are changing the parameters of this thought experiment, if you will. For example, if we found a ball of oxygen ice 10 or 20 miles in diameter in the outer solar system, you can begin to see the powerful temptation to bring it to Mars.

Plus, there is the impact of using different tech, especially comets, etc


I like it. :-)
Captain Stumpy
not rated yet Aug 07, 2018
@MarkT
Of course impacts on Mars would have to be extremely carefully tailored for fast terraforming
defining "fast" using geological time, IMHO
That is one thing that I think will be limiting

We can consider terraforming, but time will be a parameter that stretches beyond some people's grasp as we're not talking a few years, let alone a decade (IMHO)
I would add that new discoveries about the inventory of useful frozen gases (67P and 45P) are changing the parameters of this thought experiment, if you will. For example, if we found a ball of oxygen ice 10 or 20 miles in diameter in the outer solar system, you can begin to see the powerful temptation to bring it to Mars
agreed

what would you lose in the insertion process?
has anyone worked something like that out?
a 10-20 mile ball of O2 will not land quietly...

what would Marvin say to that, I wonder?
https://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/08/07/article-0-146D5F6F000005DC-5_634x568.jpg

Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2018
defining "fast" using geological time, IMHO


Agreed. It might take a century or two just to get started and decades or even centuries after that to get it done. Unless we tip Earth into some kind of catastrophic global meltdown, even best case with getting super lucky finding good impactors and very aggressive going after them will take maybe a century. It will take a long time just to explore Mars, develop nuclear or better propulsion, inventory the outer solar system, agree on a series of impactors, probably including an initial test phase, and then move those massive objects millions of miles. Other than Elon Musk, the vast majority of people are not used to thinking in such long terms, so yes, fast in geological time. :-)

I would be thrilled just to see people make it to the surface for the first time.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2018
So you might ask what is the point about worrying about terraforming now when the process will likely take centuries?

I look at it this way. The human race is on a long journey of explanation, but now that the Earth is largely explored, many people argue we should stop and wait until things are perfect before going further into space. So we send some scouts way ahead and they report a glorious terraformed Mars could be in our future, but not if we stop exploring. And we keep going.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2018
@MArkT
So you might ask what is the point about worrying about terraforming now when the process will likely take centuries?
this type attitude is common among some because they can't comprehend the benefit of exploration or science

putting money into science always pays off
always
I would be thrilled just to see people make it to the surface for the first time
so would I
heck, I volunteered to go
Still waiting on NASA to reply to that letter
LOL

I would also like to see some exploration of Europa and some other larger moons capable of building outposts on
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2018
I would also like to see some exploration of Europa and some other larger moons capable of building outposts on


Completely agree. I also think we could learn so much with Cassini-type probes for Uranus and Neptune.

BTW, of the four Galilean Moons, only Callisto is outside of Jupiter's main radiation belt, which is a serious issue for people. Callisto also has some very diverse geology, 0.126 g, and a diameter nearly that Mercury's, making it the third largest moon in the solar system. I read an optimistic 2003 NASA paper about a Human Outer Planet Exploration (HOPE) mission to Callisto.

https://ntrs.nasa...5901.pdf
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 07, 2018
what is the point about worrying about terraforming now when the process will likely take centuries?
You STILL havent acknowledged the unacceptable disruption your little hobby would cause the few million martians who will already BE there by the time this becomes possible.

How come mark? You think eminent domain is going to cover it?
putting money into science always pays off
always
This would be an engineering project, because the science would have to be understood before it was undertaken.

And lots of engg projects prove to be wastes of time and money.
https://www.youtu...NXcKS-qM
https://www.youtu...kg-Z0I7k
https://www.youtu...qsW4W0mA
https://www.youtu...Jyn_vIMY
https://www.youtu...PEGDhxt4
https://www.youtu...myUGljIE

-and my personal favorite
https://www.youtu...7fLvjbzg

1) stay off chinese bridges
2) dont throw stones at mars
Mark Thomas
not rated yet Aug 07, 2018
You STILL havent acknowledged the unacceptable disruption your little hobby would cause the few million martians who will already BE there by the time this becomes possible.


Maybe you can explain why it is impossible to terraform in your scenario?

Pay attention Otto: 1. Use orbital mechanics and propulsion to reduce the RELATIVE velocity of the impactor to a surprisingly slow velocity by timing the impact so Mars is moving in roughly the same direction as the impactor; and 2. the mostly icy impactor would impact the mostly icy polar regions, thereby vaporizing mostly ice, to nobody's surprise except yours. I already told you this, and it was published decades ago, and even depicted in a Star Trek: Enterprise episode in 2005. Watch the episode and start simulating.

If our best science and engineering won't solve the problem, I also outlined a far more aggressive plan for dealing with Martian troglodytes that would make a nuclear weapon look like a $2 firecracker. :-)
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2018
@Otto
This would be an engineering project, because the science would have to be understood before it was undertaken.

And lots of engg projects prove to be wastes of time and money
About your vid's (5 bridge collapses, a construction fail and a glass bridge closure)

it only seems to be wasted time and money on the surface, IMHO
they're only a waste if no one learns anything from it
2) dont throw stones at mars
well, I would amend this to "be careful what you throw and know the consequences"

I would like to know if there is anything "living" on Mars before we hit it with anything at all, even nukes for underground living as you state above
https://www.scien...99963170

of course, that would mean coming up with a consensus definition on what "life" is, regardless of what @dfjohnsonphd claims
Mark Thomas
not rated yet Aug 07, 2018
Otto, this is oversimplified, but think of it this way . . . You are driving 30 mph in your car that you named Mars, in the fast lane of a road with two lanes in each direction. I enter the slow lane ahead of you while accelerating in my car that I call Impactor. As you catch up from behind me and I accelerate to your velocity we reach a point where we are both traveling in the same direction at the same 30 mph velocity right next to each other. You can imagine a small collision at that point would not be deadly, unlike a head on crash where the relative velocities add up.
Mark Thomas
not rated yet Aug 07, 2018
Another alternative that might be the best is a decaying orbit inside the martian atmosphere. The icy body simply erodes away in a very low obit and nothing solid touches the Martian surface. I don't have the tools and information to know if this is a practical alternative or not, but it should be carefully considered at some point

If we can make this work, all your troglodytes will experience is a thickening atmosphere and maybe a little rain. Again, Mars is the ONLY planetary surface available for colonization at this point, so we all need to try to get along.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2018
Maybe you can explain why it is impossible to terraform in your scenario?
That's not the question. YOU think a whole planet should be bombarded for decades just because YOU think the people there will want to eat their lunch in the open air. Why??? They will have open air parks underground where they can do this.
they're only a waste if no one learns anything from it
The science behind structural engg is well understood. We dont throw away millions and kill dozens of people to learn how to build bridges any more. We identify incompetent engineers and corrupt contractors and throw them in jail.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2018
Obviously, in the same vein, terraforming of a planet occupied by a few million people wont be attempted unless THEY know that nobody gets hurt and nothing gets destroyed. Unless caliphs or fuherers or maoists are running things by then.
Another alternative that might be the best is a decaying orbit inside the martian atmosphere. The icy body simply erodes away in a very low obit and nothing solid touches the Martian surface
-And what makes you think that guessing is of any value whatsoever?
Mark Thomas
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
Maybe you can explain why it is impossible to terraform in your scenario? . . . That's not the question.


Ya, it is, so answer the question. If the impacts are too gentle to even be noticed by the folks on Mars, why would they be a problem? Answer: It would not be a problem and most Martians would favor it to expand their presence and make their lives easier.

And what makes you think that guessing is of any value whatsoever?


You have not demonstrated otherwise. What makes you think you speak for all future Martians just because you are agoraphobic?
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
If the impacts are too gentle to even be noticed
Not noticed? Describe briefly the impact of thickening and warming the atmosphere and creating rivers and seas. Meteorologically and geologically speaking.

Use terms like megastorms and megafloods and mudslides and black sea-sized ice dam failures and blizzards and tornados and such and so forth. And REAL dust storms like in the movies.

Describe briefly how martians would not notice their genetically-engineered surface crops dying off, and their surface power plants and distribution networks and transportation etc being swept away and ruined.

Explain how it would affect getting goods and people onto and off of the surface.

Explain please what all that weather would do to a planet that had not seen weather in millions of years.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
Explain also what all that pressure and moisture would do to a technological infrastructure that had been designed and constructed to operate in a bone dry near-vacuum. How structures that had not been designed for wind and water and snow loads, suddenly had to deal with those things.

And explain how those millions of martians who had grown to depend upon that infrastructure for survival, would not notice.
Mark Thomas
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
Otto, you write as if all these Martians will not only exist, but somehow they will all be blissfully unaware that terraforming has always been the plan from day one! Look at the SpaceX illustrations of Mars being terraformed, you can see various stages of terraforming taking place:

https://www.flick...47492272

https://www.spacex.com/mars

By and large the problems you described are occurring on the surface, a surface we need to terraform. If your Martians are too stupid to understand this and design an entire society that will collapse in the face of inevitable terraforming, they have only themselves to blame. You need to get it into your head that Mars is the only potentially terraformable planet within reach, and the more Earth-like we can make Mars, the more useful and valuable it will become to humanity. If all your Martians want to do is to burrow into something, then the entire Asteroid Belt is available to them.

Mark Thomas
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
Otto, try streaming, The Expanse. The Martians are independent-minded, educated and motivated to terraform their world to be more of an equal to Earth. The (asteroid) Belters are plenty happy living inside asteroids and other artificial environments. Most of their work involves mining and surviving in the asteroid belt. If you had to choose, you would be a Belter, not a Martian or Earther, on that show. Lucky for you, the Belters are usually the heroes on The Expanse, so you might enjoy watching it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
terraformias if all these Martians will not only exist
Theyll be there. Why are musk and others building ships to get us there?
ng has always been the plan from day one!
WHY would anyone want to invest all that extra time and $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to weatherproof mars facilities? Why rustproof and waterproof fittings and seals if you dont have to? Why avoid flood plains if they may never hold water? Why install footings below the frost line if there will never be frost?

Plus much of the tech wont be cross compatible.
If your Martians are too stupid to understand this and design an entire society that will collapse in the face of inevitable terraforming, they have only themselves to blame
AGAIN you moron, it will be THEIR planet. NOBODY is going to come along and make them do something they dont want to do. You have no concept of property rights do you?

Youre just trolling me because you dont have anything better to do arent you?

Go binge watch the golden girls.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
Mars is the only potentially terraformable planet within reach
You dont KNOW that. No one does. The article says its not possible. Maybe venus or titan will be. There IS NO SCIENCE yet.
and the more Earth-like we can make Mars, the more useful and valuable it will become to humanity
Again, you dont know that. Ever been inside an abandoned mall? There may never be more than a few million people on mars due to our ever-shrinking fertility rate and increasing dependency on automation. That would leave you with a few million square miles of empty red mud flats and seas full of green slime.

Machines love mars. They hate earth. No rust, no mold, no mud, no roots, no clouds, no squirrels in the filters. No termites. No vegetation or topsoil to obscure ore deposits. No freeze/thaw cycles. NO WEATHER.

And plenty of natural isolation to keep infestations and contagions from spreading.

The rovers are the best examples of why mars should be left just like it is.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
Heres a good one
https://www.youtu...EhncQkJU

Another living concept that didnt quite work out
https://www.youtu...TU_uXLKk
TrollBane
not rated yet Aug 14, 2018
Isaac Arthur's episode on colonizing Mars: https://www.youtu...OBoy2MZ8
Mark Thomas
not rated yet Aug 15, 2018
Me: Mars is the only potentially terraformable planet within reach

Otto: You dont KNOW that. No one does.

Wake up Otto, that is clearly the answer given what we know today. Mercury is cooked by ridiculous sunlight. Venus is a mess with an awful day-night cycle, horrific chemistry, a ridiculously thick atmosphere and near double strength sunlight that probably takes it out of the habitable zone. The rest of the planets are even worse and we can't reach any exoplanets at this point in history. If warp drive is invented by humans tomorrow, then all bets are off, but until then, Mars is our only shot at terraforming.

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