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Colonizing Mars


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#1 Titas Aduksus

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 03:05 PM

Moderation note: the first 2 posts of this thread were moved from the thread “Terraforming Mars” because they are about colonizing, not terraforming, Mars.

OK,

If I were to be given the task of colonizing Mars with the facilities and technologies of today I think it would go something like this, (with acknowledgement to Bob Newhart)...

I would plan the building of a shaft sunk into the ground at such a shallow angle below the horizon, and continue this shaft until it re-emerged that at it's deepest point the collected atmosphere within the tunnel would be close to 1 earth atmosphere.

At this depth a large cavern could be excavated to house the neccessary life support systems for both plant and human habitation, it is probably that the temperature at such a depth may be 'agreeable' though is somewhat speculative, perhaps a compromise between depth and temperature may be required.

At such a depth, isolation from the natural martian atmosphere would not require any difference in pressure thus items such as airlocks would be fairly resistant to leaks, lighter and more econimic.

Humans in this environment would be shielded from the effects of solar radiation, small to medium surface impacts, and cosmic rays. Power could easily be gathered from huge solar arrays adjacent the exits and transmitted to the core area via highvoltage dc transmission system. along the tunnel would be several 'shelters' to accomodate stop offs during the long journey from surface to core. I propose a maglev type transportation system to ferry goods and materials to from the surface. Hopefully mny of the materials needed would be 'mined' along the way, thus an extensive geological survey of the planet would be needed first, this would then determine many of the finer details required. If any of you work for Nasa, and wish to use this idea please acknowledge my being the source.

The only 'fly in the ointment' as it were is this...

I believe (and this is my own theory) that when the core of Mars shrank as it cooled, giant sub-surface fissures were formed, these would have been more than enougth to swallow all of the water on the planet's surface if, that quantity of water to the total mass of the planet was equivalent to earth. I believe that this is an ongoing process and accounts for the occasional 'oozing' to the surface of liquid mud (as seismic activity continues).

#2 Eclipse Now

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 05:38 PM

I'm not sure what the "deep hole idea" actually achieves. The Martian atmosphere is still mostly Co2, we can't breathe it, and it's not as if we can do without an airlock all together? Then there's the fact that we need ready access to the surface for agriculture. Sure there's radiation up there, but can't we deflect that from our greenhouses using carefully controlled access windows that don't let direct rads fall on our plants, and mirrors?

Posted Image

Some seem to imagine glass that reflects certain wavelengths or rads, but is that really possible? For instance, see this illustration...

Posted Image

I'm against nuclear on earth due to the sheer expense, but on Mars we're talking about the space program here and a compact source of instantly available power will be needed the moment those first settlers step out of the craft!

So as the text to the above illustration says...

Back to the Burrow is one of the illustrations made by Manchu. It was conceived by Pierre Brisson. Guidelines were the following :

1. Permanent settlements on Mars would have to be protected from solar and cosmic radiations.
2. To grow plants and small animals in greenhouses, sunlight must be used.
3. Nuclear power should be the main supplier of energy but its danger should not be underestimated (and therefore the power station should be at some distance of the settlement, protected by some natural obstacle).
4. Solar energy should be used for safety and as a way to satisfy marginal needs of power.
5. Inflatable structures will be a must on Mars, being well adapted to containing gases as they can easily adjust to varying pressures. They will allow creating large living volumes for a minimum mass. In particular they will be used for roofing greenhouses.
6. Semi buried constructing is a way to use the strength of compact Martian soil and underground, for structuring the habitats. Ancient Ethiopians used the process for “building” their churches in Lalibela in the twelfth century and these churches remain in perfect conditions almost 1000 years after they were dug out.
7. The round design is esthetical and economical. Once the perimeter is defined, it is easier to protect and structure the inside. Compactedness is maximum; distances to any point are minimal.

Mars Homestead Project™ Image Gallery - Information

However, if we decide to create an underground civilisation there's always...
Posted Image

But the artificial power needs are going to be horrendous as opposed to solar power growing our plants for us once we've built the surface greenhouses. However, remember Mars gets those dust storms that can last a year... :shrug: so maybe we need to start off underground anyway?

If I were a Martian settler I'd want multiple backups in power, constructed homestead, 4 airlocks to each entrance in case 2 broke, and about 3 years worth of food and water stored away safely as we learnt to grow our own....

#3 buddyzen

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 09:00 AM

as much as you would love to live on mars you are forgetting we would have already went their for discovery but there is extreme radiation on mars we would die just going near it......

#4 Titas Aduksus

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 11:15 AM

I can see you have not really read what I put, you are reading what you think I put, my idea is to live sub-surface, the airlock would (at the correct depth) be at a pressure where the depth is equivalent to an equivalent pressure on earth, thus airlocks would no be subject to hundreds of tons of pressure.

Radiation would be zero at that depth. Sufficient power would be generated outside the complex and cabled to the underground agriculture tunnels, I do not anticipate growing food at the surface. All the technology is available.

#5 buddyzen

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 11:29 AM

good sir you are still not understanding the facts here you will die before you get to your destination........

#6 CraigD

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 11:45 AM

as much as you would love to live on mars you are forgetting we would have already went their for discovery but there is extreme radiation on mars we would die just going near it......

:) Check your sources on this, buddyzen – I think your claim is unsupported. :D

Like the other inner planets such as Earth, and unlike giant planets like Jupiter, nearly all of the radiation near and on the surface of Mars comes from the Sun. Since Mars is further from the Sun than the Moon is, and has an atmosphere, though a very thin one, it’s expected that you’d get significantly less radiation on the Martian than on the Lunar surface, which its certain people don’t die just from going near.

We have about 18 months of accurate data about medically significant radiation levels for satellites of Mars via MARIE (which stopped sending data 28 October 2003) and from the http://en.wikipedia...._Space_Station'>ISS, so we’re able to tell that the average human radiation dose rate around Mars is about 2.5 times what it is at the ISS. The reason that it is higher, rather than lower as we would expect given the greater distance from the Sun, is that the ISS is protected by the Earths magnetosphere, while Mars has effectively no magnetosphere

From this data and data and theory about the Martian atmosphere, it’s estimated that the occupant of an unshielded habitat on the Martian surface would get about the same dose rate as an occupant of the ISS. Though not enough to quickly kill a person, this is higher than healthy, which is the reason that nearly all plans for long-term human habitation of Mars, such as those behind the Mars Foundation graphics in the previous post, call for a lot of shielding. In the case of fixed habitats, this is usually accomplished with a thick layer of dirt – ie: by burying the habitat, or putting it in a natural or artificial cave. For vehicles, putting large water tanks in the roof is a common design solution.

For walking around on the Martian surface, the only practical solution appears to be not doing it too much, especially during solar storms, when incoming radiation levels can be hundreds of times usual.

#7 Pyrotex

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 12:25 PM

I'ts a sad fact, but true. If we take nine months to get the people from Earth to Mars (a standard Holman orbit), the radiation dosage they would absorb would be prohibitively large. It wouldn't kill them outright, but could damage their immune systems, make them feel sick, and possibly lead to cancer. There is no way (currently) to afford enough shielding to protect them during the journey.

One way around this, of course, is to shorten the voyage. If we could make the Earth to Mars trip in under two months, that would be about a 80% reduction in total radiation load -- about the maximum dosage that would be "safe".

So then, how do we get the trip down to seven or eight weeks? Maybe thermal nuclear propulsion.

#8 Moontanman

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 01:15 PM

How about Nuclear light bulb propulsion? BRUCE BEHRHORST ARTICLE LIST Most of the radiation from the sun is in the form of charged particles, this can be shielded in varying degrees by using a magnetic field or a by giving the space craft an intense positive charge. An on board source of nuclear power would be necessary to do either. Nuclear powered space craft could not only be more massive and better shielded but also much faster than chemical rockets. so the real key here is nuclear power.

#9 CraigD

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 02:43 PM

I'ts a sad fact, but true. If we take nine months to get the people from Earth to Mars (a standard Holman orbit), the radiation dosage they would absorb would be prohibitively large. It wouldn't kill them outright, but could damage their immune systems, make them feel sick, and possibly lead to cancer. There is no way (currently) to afford enough shielding to protect them during the journey.

One way around this, of course, is to shorten the voyage.

I don’t think “going there faster with little or no extra shielding” is the only solution being considered, or even the most favored at the moment.

I recall that as early as the 1980s, proposals such as Zubrin and Baker’s “Mars Direct” addressed the spacecraft shielding problem with various forms of putting as thick a layer of water between the crew and the Sun, and possibly extra-solar radiation from the whole sky.

By the mid 2000s, I recall reading a lot of criticism of this approach, because it required many times more water than a mission otherwise needed, increasing the mass of the ship beyond what could practically be launched from Earth, even if some in-space assembly was included. An alternative I read of, in articles such as this one, coming from the MSFC’s Space Radiation Shielding Program, was the use of a “reinforced polyethylene material similar to that used in plastic shopping bags, which was said to have radiation-stopping properties similar to much greater volumes/masses of water.

#10 Eclipse Now

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 05:24 PM

So it's the cost of launching this stuff from earth that's making the solar-shield on the Mars Express a problem? The Mars-Direct guys might not like me suggesting this, but there seems to be a push on for a Moon-base from which to manufacture stuff in a lower gravity source for launching all those space-solar dishes to direct 24/7 solar power back to earth. (The greenie / peak oiler in me would love to see that but at what COST when we can just build solar graphite 24/7 plants here on earth — with the graphite acting as a massive thermal storage load).

So if there were the economics for a Moon-base (let's call it "Alpha" as the first stage of our journey to Mars :phones:), might we not also manufacturing fuel and or / water from the Moon for our Mars Express?

Back to the colony: would civilisation always be underground? In Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars" trilogy he seems to suggest that just adding enough atmosphere deals with the radiation problem. Is this true? Maybe this question should be addressed back in the "Panspermia space bug invasion" thread... oh sorry, I meant Terraforming Mars thread. :loser:

(Incidentally, I find it interesting that my posts on Colonising Mars were split from Terraforming Mars, both of which might come neatly under the heading "Living on Mars", when that thread contains pages and pages and pages of Panspermia & "death from Space Bugs" discussion which got waaaaaaay off track. For example, discussion in this thread will probably alternate back and forth between Colonising and Terraforming Mars as people tend to think of it as "Living on Mars" but the Panspermia discussion STAYS in the Terraforming Mars thread? :crying:)

#11 Moontanman

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 07:47 PM

Your Moon base idea has a major flaw, no water on the moon, other than that it's a great idea. a base on an asteroid would be a better idea, asteroids have water, some of them in huge volumes, as well as metals and other raw materials. so asteroid mining is really better than moon mining.

Of course as many here know I think colonizing Mars or any other planet is probably a lost cause but lets continue on anyway. As far as the radiation problem, without a much more significant atmosphere any long term colony would have to be either under ground or under a layer of some sort of protection, dirt? water? A localized and very strong magnetic field would help. Mars has too much atmosphere to allow a strong positive charge. As I see it the best bet would be to increase the atmosphere in some way.

#12 Eclipse Now

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 07:51 PM

(To moderators.... Woah, see, now this conversation has gone back to teraforming Mars! Can we just put this back into the main Mars thread and call it "Living on Mars?" And maybe strip out the 10 pages of Panspermia "Death from space bugs" stuff and rename that bit?)

So in your opinion, atmosphere would do the trick and act as a "good enough" radiation shield?

#13 Moontanman

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 08:06 PM

(To moderators.... Woah, see, now this conversation has gone back to teraforming Mars! Can we just put this back into the main Mars thread and call it "Living on Mars?" And maybe strip out the 10 pages of Panspermia "Death from space bugs" stuff and rename that bit?)


I agree, it's difficult to conceive of colonizing Mars without at least starting to terraform it but initially the colony would have to under a layer of soil at least.

So in your opinion, atmosphere would do the trick and act as a "good enough" radiation shield?


Yes in my opinion but we have been looking at this for a very short period of time, there could be ramifications to not having a magnetic field we are unaware of and creating an atmosphere is a great idea but how do you do it? How long does it take? Underground would seem to be the best short term answer. to add to this I'm not sure how much radiation in the form of charged particles would reach the ground on Mars now? Are other forms of radiation more important? (or more dangerous?)

#14 Pyrotex

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 08:36 PM

How about Nuclear light bulb propulsion? BRUCE BEHRHORST ARTICLE LIST Most of the radiation from the sun is in the form of charged particles, this can be shielded in varying degrees by using a magnetic field or a by giving the space craft an intense positive charge....

I'm sorry, but that dog just won't hunt. The magnetic field required would be gifreakinormous. Like several hundred tons of cryogenic magnets and pumps, not even to mention a nuclear reactor even heavier than that. Sure, it could be done, theoretically, but practically speaking, it's not something we could do in100 years. :naughty: :( :shrug:

#15 Moontanman

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 08:47 PM

Aren't we talking about in theory here? Most of these dogs we're talking about won't hunt now but hey a hundred years ago even they said a heavier than air craft was impossible due to the extreme weight of the engine required. Things change, more than likely the real solution will be something we haven't given much of a chance now.

#16 Eclipse Now

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 11:10 PM

KSR postulated that the whole thing would start in around 50 years, and then take only 150 years. His trilogy has characters that start the settlement and then due to a "gene spell checker" live extraordinarily long lives and get to see a Mars that is breathable. (With a tiny bit of genetic tinkering with the humans living on Mars, taking on some kind of crocodile Gene that allows humans to process oxygen and deal with Co2 more efficiently somehow).

His work delves into ecological and sociological themes regularly, and many of his novels appear to be the direct result of his own scientific fascinations, such as the 15 years of research and lifelong fascination with Mars, which culminated in his most famous work. Because of his fascination with that planet, he became a member of the Mars Society.

Robinson's work has been labeled by reviewers as literary science fiction.

Robinson will be an instructor at the Clarion Workshop in 2009. In 2010, Robinson will be the guest of honor at the 68th World Science Fiction Convention, which will be held in Melbourne, Australia.[1]


It deals a lot with corporations getting up to strange business, such as creating that giant solar powered magnifying glass that floats around in the upper atmosphere, frying the regolith to release mass into the atmosphere, and of course the robot powered asteroids that take 10 or 20 years to smash into Mars' atmosphere. He also seems very optimistic about the quantity of water on Mars that could be released as it warms up, and this of course having an effect on the atmosphere as well.

#17 Eclipse Now

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 07:14 AM

OK here's an out there left of field idea for our nano-engineers to consider in their sci-fi brainstorming sessions.... (for nano-tech 50 years down the track).

If radiation is the problem, and atmosphere is the solution, then let's wrap the planet in glad wrap! Think it through with me...

With nano-materials evolving the way it is, what about some kind of super-light sticky nano-glue that both floated on air AND yet somehow formed a barrier for the atmosphere? it would have to be self-healing after the thousands of micro-meteorite strikes each day, so I'm imagining something that is semi-permeable but thick enough to stop ALL the atmosphere constantly being teased away as fast by the solar rays? Would such a thing be **possible** with nano-tech down the track? How would it be suspended, giant air-balloons & carbon nano-tube strings? How would it self heal? Would it be semi-organic and the balloons contain some growth medium that reacts with sunlight? Would this artificial "skin" to the atmosphere be lower than a normal Mars atmosphere would have been, enabling more air pressure with less atmospheric mass, also making the job of creating all that atmosphere less arduous?

D'oh! How will rockets launch? They'll tear a hole in this stuff... but then it re-heals? High flying planes might not be able to fly so high?

Of course, the same stuff would probably have been used in Martian air-tent colonies and agricultural zones down at the surface level, especially if this new super material had some radiation deflecting properties we've not yet imagined. Just dreaming.... but flight and microwave ovens were once dreams as well.

Someone had to bake the first Pizza. Who would have guessed that it would soon become the backbone of Western civilisation? (I'm on a diet... nearly every conversation leads to food.)