Cosmo_Ken

Why a colony on Mars, rather than on the Moon?

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I think it is mostly to do with the "romantic" idea that Mars is a lot more hospitable than the moon and that we could eventually Terra-form Mars into a Second Earth, where it would be a wonderful place to live. Mars has long had a special place in our imaginations.

 

I don't think that most people realize that Mars is almost as inhospitable as the Moon, i.e. that the atmosphere is very thin, that on the surface of Mars we would have to wear pressurized spacesuits, that we would have to live in pressurized habitats, that the surface is bombarded by solar and cosmic radiation, and that most of the planet is below freezing all of the time.

 

Mars being so much farther away than the Moon increases the logistical challenges immensely. The only plus I can think of for Mars is that there appears to be vast quantities of frozen water ice just below the surface.

 

A colony on the Moon would be easier and a lot cheaper, but I guess it all comes down to what the long term purpose of the colony is.

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I think the difficulty of making a colony on either the Moon or Mars is relatively the same. Some of the differences are distance, gravity and atmosphere. The moon wins on distance, but Mars does have a CO2 atmosphere, which is important to making return fuel. And, the gravity of Mars is closer to that of Earth; although, still much less. Since gravity is important for human bone growth, Mars may offer a slight advantage over the Moon. But, I think one main reason for exploring Mars is to try to find native life.

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A colony on the Moon would be easier and a lot cheaper, but I guess it all comes down to what the long term purpose of the colony is.

 

A colony on Mars gives us most of what we'd get from the moon in terms of experience and knowledge, plus it's closer to the metal-rich asteroid belt, where we can source materials for further colonization.

 

If we do that though, Ceres might be a better choice.

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And you can grow potatoes with human waste.

( what do you mean, its just a movie ? )

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Pros:

Mars has an atmosphere, even thought it is tenuous.

Mars has stronger gravity than the moon. This could be good from the POV of health.

Mars seems to have a much more active history whereas the moon has been essentially dead since not long after its formation.

Mars doesn't have the Mother Planet staring at you, day in and day out. I think that might be important psychologically.

Mars has a day-night cycle almost the sames as ours.

Mars does not have the extremes of temperature found on the moon.

We've never been to Mars, we have been to the moon. Adventurers seek novelty.

 

Cons:

It would be less expensive to set up on the moon.

It would take less time to get there.

Radiation risks are much less in transit.

We already have the experience of getting there and back safely.

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Colonising ventures are underwritten and funded because they are expected to provide tangible, ie economic, returns to those investing in them. Colonies survive by trade, or by self sufficiency but the latter simply won't apply because of the high cost, high tech minimum requirements. Those would strain the wealthiest and most technologically capable nations. Trade requires a cost effective system of transport. Neither seems a reasonable prospect for either the moon or Mars. Unlike the Earthside historical examples that made use of well established low cost transport and trade infrastructure, space colonisation requires a huge pre-investment in technologies that are essentially hypothetical. It makes fantastic (literally) fiction but it's not a sound business venture.

Edited by Ken Fabian

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It would easier to colonise Antarctica than the Moon or Mars...

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It would easier to colonise Antarctica than the Moon or Mars...

We have already done that.

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We have already done that.

 

 

A few people being rotated in and out on a regular basis is not a colony...

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A few people being rotated in and out on a regular basis is not a colony...

 

My wife has relatives who claim to be South Polish.

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Bender - Tourism seems unlikely to be a viable economic basis for a space colony even if it might play some minor supporting role. Just like the entertainment value of selling "reality" TV rights. But entertainment is a fickle industry and may continue to find the fantasy version, with CGI, more suited to their budgets and tastes. I suspect the more real space tourism there is the more vulnerable the illusions the fantasy/SF version perpetuates will be to being blown. If the economic transport infrastructure to support trade between planets is a huge hurdle, that for tourism, with the comfort and luxury the wealthy expect, must be at least as problematic.

 

And no, we haven't colonised Antarctica - we have scientific bases on Antarctica, that are supported and funded by the wealth and technology of nations elsewhere.

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There is absolutely no reason to actually live on Antarctica, a base is all you need for any exploitation or study you want. It cannot even serve as backup in case something happens to Earth.

  • Downvote 1

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Bender, I don't think there is any real reason to live on the Moon or Mars. I've never been convinced about ultimate survival of the human race as a realistic motivation for colonising space; if the more mundane motivations, like profitably exploiting resources by outposts of a healthy and wealthy Earth economy are insufficient I doubt the willingness of the majority to sacrifice their futures funding the preservation of a select few would would do it. In any case the nuclear powered bunker probably works better for most global disaster scenarios than colonies on Mars or the Moon.

 

For any space colony to succeed in a lifeboat scenario role a greater than 100% technological self sufficiency would be needed. I don't know how many distinct specialisations would be the minimum for tech dependent survival beyond Earth but I suspect enough that a largish population and diverse economy would be required to sustain them. Perhaps some forms of virtual expertise and a base technology optimised for ease of endless reproduction and resistance to downhill degradation of capabilities could stand in the place of the pool of actual, working experts at the leading edge - the sort that only large populations and wealthy economies can sustain. I don't see that we could do so with what we currently have.

Edited by Ken Fabian

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There is absolutely no reason to actually live on Antarctica, a base is all you need for any exploitation or study you want. It cannot even serve as backup in case something happens to Earth.

 

 

Yes but the conditions in Antarctica are far better than the conditions on the Moon or Mars. Yet no one is really interested in homesteading at the south pole...

 

If we do colonise space it makes far more sense to build colonies orbiting the sun in and around the asteroid belt or even in the Kuiper belt. Rotation of cylinders and torus type structures to generate a feeling of gravity. They can be made quite large and cab be moved around the solar system as you wish on very slow time scales.

 

Great video discussing the topic:

 

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The harder it is to travel to a region of exploitation, the more facilities you need locally, and the closer you need to get to actual colonisation.

 

I'm not saying it is going to happen soon, but given the human tendency towards exploration and colonisation, it is bound to happen at some point. I don't think we even need rational reasons. 200 000 people spontaneously applied to go to Mars as it is. Even if no government or company wants to do it, our increasing productivity will reach a point where those people can pay for it themselves or do a crowdfunding for the whole operation.

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Posted (edited)

Spaceships powered by nuclear fusion are really interesting,

and the Moon'd be a good place to test them without air.

Moon at first

Edited by harlock

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