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Martin or Nota

Terraforming Mars

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Mars,

as a place to visit isn't easy or attractive. Not even very survivable. It's at the bottom of a deep gravity well and hasn't got enough atmosphere to cushion or slow landing bodies, but we should by all means go to see if there was or is life there and what it's nature is. Are we cousins, or neighbors.

Having done that, should we colonize? Why? It's unpleasant, cold, dusty, dreary, deadly. Phobos could come crashing down onto Mars in a few million years, (busting any city domes we might build); we should make that fact part of our terraforming strategy instead of a reason to not proceed.

So build a base on Phobos where human activity will hasten it's collision with mars. Mine Vesta or Ceres (both) for materials to build thrusters. Push Phobos into Mars, see what happens. Triggers atmospheric regeneration> Yes/No? Probably not enough. Pilot Ceres into collision with Mars. See how that goes, have we added sufficient to Mars mass and volcanic atmosphere regeneration to foster support life eventually? Still probably not enough. Sacrifice the immense metallic value of Vesta and pilot/collide it into Mars as well, adding significantly to mars core mass. By now we should have greatly changed Mars potential to generate support preserve an atmosphere. Maybe we've even triggered a magnetically active molten metal core.

We've made a hot smoking outgassing volcanic mess, but it will cool. It will have an atmosphere that it will keep for a time. We can prepare it and ourselves for occupation. We've learned how to think big, to work in space while living there. We're free of earths gravity well prison and inherited all of space.

That's what I call terraforming. Not the silly, not even fractionally effective (so useless) methods I've heard proposed so far.

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I detect a couple of problems with your proposals, but first:

 

Having done that, should we colonize? Why? It's unpleasant, cold, dusty, dreary, deadly.

Unpleasant and dreary are subjective descriptions. It looks far from dreary to me. I'll grant you it's cold, but so is the Arctic and there are plenty of deadly places on the Earth. These are not sound arguments against colonisation, so it appears that you have selected them because they are easy to dismiss.

 

So build a base on Phobos where human activity will hasten it's collision with mars. Mine Vesta or Ceres (both) for materials to build thrusters. Push Phobos into Mars, see what happens. Triggers atmospheric regeneration> Yes/No?

 

Definitely not. Why do you imagine a Phobos impact would promote atmospheric regeneration? Have you considered the composition of Phobos?

 

As near as we can determine it approximates a carbonaceous chondrite. Some chondrites do contain significant water although the surface material is dehydrated. The low density points to a significant porosity and the possibility of substantial ice. However, the total mass, even if all those factors were at optimum, is miniscule compared with what is required.

 

You might get some benefits by running it into the south polar cap thereby releasing substantial volumes of CO2. This might raise surface temperatures sufficiently to complete melting of both caps, water and carbon dioxide. However, your plan seems to rely on the volatile content of Phobos alone. You are right to recognise that is not enough. I just don't think you have recgonised how much it misses the mark by.

 

Pilot Ceres into collision with Mars. See how that goes, have we added sufficient to Mars mass and volcanic atmosphere regeneration to foster support life eventually? Still probably not enough. Sacrifice the immense metallic value of Vesta and pilot/collide it into Mars as well, adding significantly to mars core mass. By now we should have greatly changed Mars potential to generate support preserve an atmosphere. Maybe we've even triggered a magnetically active molten metal core

 

You have now increased the mass of Mars by 0.2%. What makes you think that will make any difference to atmosphere generation or retention?

 

You mention "adding significantly to its core mass". As written you appear to think that Phobos, Vesta and Ceres, upon collision will somehow penetrate to the core of the planet. What's that about?

 

Why do you expect the heat pulse from the impacts to be sufficient to melt the core and reestablish a magnetic field? Have you done the maths? If so, let's see it. If not I recommend you do so now.

 

We've made a hot smoking outgassing volcanic mess

 

That's true. What is your estimate of the composition and quantity of volatiles likely to be expelled? How do you intend to convert these into an effective atmosphere. How do you intend to preserve that atmosphere against spallation by the solar wind?

 

If you really want to chuck things at Mars, then grab comets from the Kuiper Belt. If you synchronise their impact vectors you might even be able to spin up the rotation rate to get the Martian day even closer to ours.

 

I've been very dismissive of your proposal since you chose to be very dismissive of the carefully considered proposals that have been made in the past. If you had recognised their value I would have been prepared to look for the positive elements in yours.

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Mars,

as a place to visit isn't easy or attractive. Not even very survivable. It's at the bottom of a deep gravity well and hasn't got enough atmosphere to cushion or slow landing bodies, but we should by all means go to see if there was or is life there and what it's nature is. Are we cousins, or neighbors.

Having done that, should we colonize? Why? It's unpleasant, cold, dusty, dreary, deadly. Phobos could come crashing down onto Mars in a few million years, (busting any city domes we might build); we should make that fact part of our terraforming strategy instead of a reason to not proceed.

So build a base on Phobos where human activity will hasten it's collision with mars. Mine Vesta or Ceres (both) for materials to build thrusters. Push Phobos into Mars, see what happens. Triggers atmospheric regeneration> Yes/No? Probably not enough. Pilot Ceres into collision with Mars. See how that goes, have we added sufficient to Mars mass and volcanic atmosphere regeneration to foster support life eventually? Still probably not enough. Sacrifice the immense metallic value of Vesta and pilot/collide it into Mars as well, adding significantly to mars core mass. By now we should have greatly changed Mars potential to generate support preserve an atmosphere. Maybe we've even triggered a magnetically active molten metal core.

We've made a hot smoking outgassing volcanic mess, but it will cool. It will have an atmosphere that it will keep for a time. We can prepare it and ourselves for occupation. We've learned how to think big, to work in space while living there. We're free of earths gravity well prison and inherited all of space.

That's what I call terraforming. Not the silly, not even fractionally effective (so useless) methods I've heard proposed so far.

 

 

I have never been able to imagine how terraforming another planet could ever ever be cost beneficial. The cost would be staggering. I have read that the cost of each person being sent to Mars is the equivalent as if they were made of platinum. (for the moon back in '69 it was the equivalent of each of the astronauts weight in Gold.) Sol..yeah, do some quick math and see what, say, 160 lbs. of platinum goes for. Then add in all the materials and time and manpower. Yikes.

 

What benefit could possibly be worth it? Space has shown us it is totally hostile and does terrible things to our bodies. The ISS has provided little more than some good PR. In my opinion, by far the most vlauable enterprise we have engaged in in space exploration over the past three decades or so has been, hands down and wihtout a doubt, the Hubble craft. It taught us more than anything else did. Even the moon landing.

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Thank you for the responses.

I was just hoping to get the topic moving.

Of course Phobos impact would yield negligible results. The data alone would prove useful in gauging transfer of heat through kinetic energy. What velocity, what yield, what over all effects?

I'm surprised you didn't comment on the task of moving Ceres, and insuring that it impacted Mars. I couldn't begin to imagine doing the requisite math to show the heat released on Ceres Mars impact at the expected velocities.

Let alone how to build the thrusters required to do the job. I only know it'll be Huge. The contribution to Mars mass? Even I know it's nowhere near enough to replicate Earth mass. Vesta having a significant metallic core (which I am loath

to throw away on this project being far too valuable and easy to access for other more immediately rewarding purposes), I just threw in because it's much more mass, close at hand but similar in solution to the Ceres case.

Ceres to soften Mars up, Vesta to penetrate and add to the core. All to generate heat, induce vulcanization maybe even bring about plate tectonics. If it's not enough, we keep doing it.

My question to you is really this. What is the value of an additional livable world to our society, even a hundred thousand years or more off ? As an idea. What's the monetary value of our good earth? Which we seem set on destroying,

though we'll end up killing ourselves off and Earth will be just fine.

Please feel free to add your own ideas. What will work to produce a stable atmosphere on Mars? The real rewards will be attained in the endeavor.

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Of course Phobos impact would yield negligible results. The data alone would prove useful in gauging transfer of heat through kinetic energy. What velocity, what yield, what over all effects?

 

We could simulate that now, with a high level of accuracy. The experiment would not be required. Besides why destroy a very effective orbiting way station?

 

 

I'm surprised you didn't comment on the task of moving Ceres, and insuring that it impacted Mars.

Largely because removing the justification for the objective removes the need to work out a mechanism.

 

 

I couldn't begin to imagine doing the requisite math to show the heat released on Ceres Mars impact at the expected velocities.

Then you are not trying hard enough. I'm reasonably sure if you have studied physics to fourth year in secondary school you have everything you need to do an approximate calculation.

 

 

The contribution to Mars mass? Even I know it's nowhere near enough to replicate Earth mass. Vesta having a significant metallic core (which I am loath

to throw away on this project being far too valuable and easy to access for other more immediately rewarding purposes), I just threw in because it's much more mass, close at hand but similar in solution to the Ceres case.

This is just silly. Did you not read what I wrote. Mars is only 1/10th the mass of the Earth, so even if you collided four more Mars sized objects into the planet it would still only be half the size of the Earth.

 

Add Phobos and Ceres and Vesta and you haven't added 10% to the mass of Mars. You haven't added 1% to the mass of Mars. You have added a mere 0.2%. I ask you again, what practical effect on atmosphere retention do you think that will have?

 

Ceres to soften Mars up, Vesta to penetrate and add to the core. All to generate heat, induce vulcanization maybe even bring about plate tectonics. If it's not enough, we keep doing it.

So you seriously think that by impacting Mars with an overweight pebble you can actually have the pebble make its way to the core? If you hit it hard enough, it might make, but if you do that you'll break the planet apart and while most of it may reassemble and cool down with a nice crust after a million years or so, some of the chunks that don't will quite likely wind up paying us a visit down here.

 

Summary: Your idea is ludicrous. It reads like the plot for a SF "B" movie.

 

(Lexical aside - vulcanisation is not the process of inducing volcanic activity, but the treatment of natural rubber with various chemicals in order to create cross links between the polymers and thereby improve the mechanical properties of the rubber. )

 

Final observation - My criticisms of the mechanics of your proposal is that it won't work. The ideas you appeared to dismiss so cavalierly in your OP are superior. I am in general in favour of terraforming Mars, just not by your method.

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I think the two moons of Mars could in the long run be more use than Mars itself.

After all, what we are short of in space is raw material that doesn't have a huge price attached to it, in getting the stuff off a planet, or the Moon. And Phobos and Deimos have vast quantities of it. It may be limited in it's quality, but it's gigantic in it's quantity.

 

There may be smaller moons going round Mars too, that could be of use.

 

If the stuff of these moons can be used to build a space station on a truly useful scale, that can supply artificial gravity and grow food, and be effectively shielded from radiation, then people living permanently in space could become a reality.

Which could actually be an insurance against natural disasters on Earth.

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I have never been able to imagine how terraforming another planet could ever ever be cost beneficial. The cost would be staggering. I have read that the cost of each person being sent to Mars is the equivalent as if they were made of platinum. (for the moon back in '69 it was the equivalent of each of the astronauts weight in Gold.) Sol..yeah, do some quick math and see what, say, 160 lbs. of platinum goes for. Then add in all the materials and time and manpower. Yikes.

 

What benefit could possibly be worth it? Space has shown us it is totally hostile and does terrible things to our bodies. The ISS has provided little more than some good PR. In my opinion, by far the most vlauable enterprise we have engaged in in space exploration over the past three decades or so has been, hands down and wihtout a doubt, the Hubble craft. It taught us more than anything else did. Even the moon landing.

SpaceX (Elon Musk) engineers are working on a rocket and crew capsule to take 100-200 people to Mars in one trip with a cost of about $100,000. The reason we need people on another planet is to assure human survival if humanity is annihilated by either a natural or man made event. People on Mars could repopulate the Earth.

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I say we collect all our excrement, load it in a rocket and crash it on Mars.

At least we'll then be able to grow potatoes there.

( Jason Bourne doesn't lie )

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Mars,

we should by all means go to see if there was or is life there and what it's nature is.

 

Please forgive me for seeming pedantic. I know you mean sentient/biological life, but i've always thought that Life isn't ON things or IN things, but Life IS things, so Mars itself IS Life, simply by existing, so Life IS there. I think this applies to the whole Universe too, so that Life IS everywhere. Sorry; i'm not trying to be clever - it's just an observation.

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I think the point of colonizing space (be it Mars, or Lagrange point stations, or whatever, provided the community is self-sustaining) is not about improving the lives of specific individual colonists in a cost effective way. The cost is staggering, and you could improve the lives of a far larger number of people by devoting the resources to improved lives on Earth. Those immediate outcomes aren't the point.

 

The point is to spread the human species to other places. Let's say a plague or a nuclear war wipes out human life on Earth. If Earth is the only place we live, bye bye species. But if we live in other places insulated from those events by the distances of space then the human species would carry on. That's the point.

 

Not to mention the human penchant to explore and to do things simply because they can be done. Pull up the opening theme for Star Trek: Enterprise on YouTube - it's a great tribute to the audacity of the human spirit.

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I agree the cost is staggering, but, only in the short run.

In the long run, once you are getting your raw materials from places other than Earth or Mars, such as the Moon, then the costs will drop dramatically.

In space, energy costs will be very low, and space to live and expand is unlimited. And transport in space will be cheap. So once we master living in space, and living OFF space, in the very long run, it will be cheaper and better.

 

I don't think that Terraforming planets can compete with building giant space stations. Unless you can find a planet with about 1g of gravity. Space stations have all the advantages.

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Yes, I do think the costs would come down significantly once you no longer had to lift every single thing you needed out of Earth's gravity well.

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Mars,

as a place to visit isn't easy or attractive. Not even very survivable. It's at the bottom of a deep gravity well and hasn't got enough atmosphere to cushion or slow landing bodies, but we should by all means go to see if there was or is life there and what it's nature is. Are we cousins, or neighbors.

Having done that, should we colonize? Why? It's unpleasant, cold, dusty, dreary, deadly.

 

I agree that Mars is unpleasant and think accessing water-ice and building materials from ASTEROIDS is the pathway to the stars. On Mars you are stuck in a rut. By tapping the asteroids humans can leave the solar system by learning to live-in-space. That is the key, to be able to build bases on asteroids that have all the water and materials we need to sustain human bases.

 

From the perspective of artificial gravity, you CAN have artificial gravity on an asteroid or orbiting space station, but maybe not on the surface of Mars.

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I imagine Mar's natural gravity would be enough. It's less than Earth's, but it ought to be enough. I think the notion of terraforming Mars would be great, if it will last. Is Mar's atmosphere poor because it just never had an appropriate atmosphere for humans, or is it because it doesn't have enough gravity to hold on to one? If the former then trying to change it might make sense, if we could manage the tech in an acceptably cost-effective way, but if it would just leak away again then it probably doesn't make sense.

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I imagine Mar's natural gravity would be enough. It's less than Earth's, but it ought to be enough. I think the notion of terraforming Mars would be great, if it will last. Is Mar's atmosphere poor because it just never had an appropriate atmosphere for humans, or is it because it doesn't have enough gravity to hold on to one? If the former then trying to change it might make sense, if we could manage the tech in an acceptably cost-effective way, but if it would just leak away again then it probably doesn't make sense.

It got stripped away by radiation.

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Please forgive me for seeming pedantic. I know you mean sentient/biological life, but i've always thought that Life isn't ON things or IN things, but Life IS things, so Mars itself IS Life, simply by existing, so Life IS there. I think this applies to the whole Universe too, so that Life IS everywhere. Sorry; i'm not trying to be clever - it's just an observation.

 

Perhaps we should stick to definitions widely accepted and used, otherwise we'll never be able to have a meaningful discussion. Most especially on a science forum.

Edited by zapatos

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I imagine Mar's natural gravity would be enough. It's less than Earth's, but it ought to be enough. I think the notion of terraforming Mars would be great, if it will last. Is Mar's atmosphere poor because it just never had an appropriate atmosphere for humans, or is it because it doesn't have enough gravity to hold on to one? If the former then trying to change it might make sense, if we could manage the tech in an acceptably cost-effective way, but if it would just leak away again then it probably doesn't make sense.

I doubt Mars gravity would be enough for people to live on permanently. Maybe older people could survive in good health for years, but I doubt if children would develop normally without one g gravity, no matter what exercise routines you put them through.

 

In any case, to give Mars an Earth-like atmosphere would take a gigantic amount of nitrogen and oxygen, and it would probably be swept away by the solar wind as fast as you could produce it.

And I don't think (I haven't checked) that Mars has a magnetic field to match that of Earth, so even with an atmosphere, life will be exposed to higher levels of harmful rays from the Sun.

 

I'm pretty sure that the only way to make it habitable would be under dome-type structures, and they would have to be pretty special, to have I atmosphere of pressure inside, and nearly zero outside. I think that would restrict their possible size down to a small level.

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I doubt Mars gravity would be enough for people to live on permanently. Maybe older people could survive in good health for years, but I doubt if children would develop normally without one g gravity, no matter what exercise routines you put them through.

 

It seems that it is easier to create artificial gravity on an orbiting satellite than on the surface of Mars. A base on Mars would be better underground, maybe in lava tubes, to shield from solar wind. That is where you build some kind of giant centrifuge for artificial gravity, beneath the surface of Mars. I was imagining a giant centrifuge, similar to the merri-go-round in parks. The floor of the centrifuge would be slightly slanted down towards center so the centrifuge would ADD enough gravity to total one g. People would walk around just off vertical. Does that sound possible? Such a huge engineering project would take over one hundred years. More efficient and effective to use the resources from asteroids, while your crews enjoy one g gravity during sleeping, and recreation.

Edited by Airbrush

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I don't think it's likely that it will ever be practical to build something like that on Mars. Or sensible even.

It would be all so much easier on a space station. No gravity, so no bearings needed.

No atmosphere, so no energy losses and very little control needed.

 

Mars is totally unattractive as a place to live, or use. It's gravity well and lack of atmosphere make it worse than the Earth for most practical purposes. The only thing of interest about Mars is whether it has fossil life, or frozen remnants of life.

 

It's Moons might turn out to be useful though.

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Is the most effective method for moving out into space tapping the asteroids? Just find a nice asteroid with an abundance of water-ice, metals, and whatever materials are needed for humans to survive and fabricate additions to a growing space station with artificial gravity.

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That would be nice, to find all of that floating around, ready to use.

There certainly are plenty of near Earth objects out there. Wikipedia has a big page on them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-Earth_object

 

When they say "near Earth" though, they are often talking about things that are huge distances away, or have a Solar orbit that is only rarely in the vicinity of Earth.

I believe that comets are the best bet, for water ice. There are about 100 classed as near-Earth objects, although they are probably rarely anywhere near Earth.

Maybe the ideal find would be broken bits of a comet, small enough to actually be able to capture and use.

 

I wouldn't discount the Moon though, as a source of raw materials.

Yes, it has a gravity well, but it's tiny compared to that of the Earth. And the complete lack of weather and low gravity on the Moon means that you could build a tower to a phenomenal height, and possibly accelerate objects straight into orbit using mostly electrical power, which would be fairly abundant on the Moon, once you got Solar Arrays going.

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Mars is totally unattractive as a place to live, or use. It's gravity well and lack of atmosphere make it worse than the Earth for most practical purposes. The only thing of interest about Mars is whether it has fossil life, or frozen remnants of life.

Much the same was said when Seward purchased Alaska for the United States from Russia in 1867.

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Much the same was said when Seward purchased Alaska for the United States from Russia in 1867.

 

Doh... Nice one.

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Much the same was said when Seward purchased Alaska for the United States from Russia in 1867.

Not every gamble pays off. You win some, you lose some. Any lottery winner would tell you it's a great bet. But is it?

 

There might be stuff on Mars that makes it all worthwhile. There might not.

With Mars, it's not a question of "do we do this, or don't we?".

 

It's more a question of, what is the BEST project to put your billions into. Mars, the Moon, giant space stations, comets, near Earth objects? You can't have it all.

 

Right now, I would say the Moon would be the best bet.

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I'd think that before investing in terraforming we'd do exploratory missions to try to determine whether or not there was anything of use there.


And if there was, you'd probably first try to acquire it using robotic labor, which dodges the whole need to change the atmosphere.

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