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Terraforming Other Planets?


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#1 Space Emu

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 05:54 PM

Umm, I'm doing a research paper on Space Colonization, and one of the requirements is to have a primary resource from someone who's a bit of an expert on the topic. And so here's hoping that someone may be able to answer the questions I have. Thanks in advance.



1. What technologies do you think could be used that would enable humans to live on other planets besides Earth?

2. How do you feel about the plans being brought about to make Mars inhabitable?

3. What setbacks do you think are possible from these plans?

#2 infamous

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 06:07 PM

Umm, I'm doing a research paper on Space Colonization, and one of the requirements is to have a primary resource from someone who's a bit of an expert on the topic. And so here's hoping that someone may be able to answer the questions I have. Thanks in advance.

Welcome to Hypography Space Emu; We at Hypography hope you enjoy you experience here and manage to fulfill your fondest expectations.



1. What technologies do you think could be used that would enable humans to live on other planets besides Earth?

Possibly something like Ecological Engineering and Geological Scientists.

2. How do you feel about the plans being brought about to make Mars inhabitable?

I think these plans are just distant dreams in the imagination of a few visionaries.

3. What setbacks do you think are possible from these plans?

Funding; I'm not sure the American public is ready to take on the expense........................Infy

#3 TheBigDog

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 06:10 PM

I would try and lure Pyrotex out of the shadows to answer this one. He is a real live honest to goodness NASA scientist.

You have to do something like this...

:shrug:
Oh where, oh where has my Pyrotex gone! :hyper:
Oh where, oh where can he be?:)
:confused:

Or you can send him a PM.

Bill

#4 Eclogite

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 06:48 PM

1. What technologies do you think could be used that would enable humans to live on other planets besides Earth?

There are two options:
1) You change the planet.
2) You change the humans.

The second option, major bio-engineering, is not, I suspect, what you had in mind. It is also well in the future, and carries with it much larger ethical questions than the first option.

In terms of changing the planet there are realistically only three options open to us in the medium term. (I take medium term to be the next couple of centuries.)
a) Venus
:shrug: Mars
c) The Moon

In each instance the problem is fourfold:
1) Provide a viable, sustainable atmosphere
2) Provide a viable, sustainable hydrosphere
3) Provide a viable, sustainable soil
4) Develop an integrated, sustainable biosphere

Methods to achieve this will be derived from examples such as these:
1) Bioengineered organisms to modify the existing atmosphere, or create one from rock and regolith.
2) Mega-industrial scale modification of existing atmosphere, or creation of one from rock and regolith.
3) Modification of surface temperature by use of space mounted mirrors to heat the surface (or in the case of Venus shield it from the Sun).
4) Deflection of comets for impact with the surface (or atmosphere) to provide volatiles, water and organic materials. In the case of Venus and the moon these impacts could be used to spin the planets up to a more amenable rotation rate.
5) In the case of Mars reactivation of volcanic activity might be possible by multiple deep seated large scale nuclear explosions.

#5 TheBigDog

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Posted 11 April 2006 - 03:23 PM

Would the outdoors need to be friendly to humans, or just friendly to things that support human life? Crops grow, but I can't breath the air? So I need to stay in controlled environment, but I have enough natural resources to sustain life. Would that count?

Bill

#6 Rebiu

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 01:30 AM

Umm, I'm doing a research paper on Space Colonization, and one of the requirements is to have a primary resource from someone who's a bit of an expert on the topic. And so here's hoping that someone may be able to answer the questions I have. Thanks in advance.



1. What technologies do you think could be used that would enable humans to live on other planets besides Earth?

Algae cultivation, solar energy collection, electromagnetic acceleration, Solar wind harvesting, nuclear power, solar sails, electric propulsion, and many more.

2. How do you feel about the plans being brought about to make Mars inhabitable?

I find it fascinating but improbable in the near term.

3. What setbacks do you think are possible from these plans?

They require the kind of infrastructure and resources available only to an already heavily populated planet.

#7 UncleAl

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 10:43 AM

1) The mass of Earth's atmosphere is 5x10^18 kilograms. Name any technology that can process 5x10^18 kilograms of anything in 100 years. What will be the cost/kg? What will be the total cost?

2) Making Mars habitable is a fool's errand. Where will you obtain atmospheric volatiles? Crashing an entire comet into Mars won't even begin to do it. The Atlantic Ocean averages two miles deep, the Pacific three miles deep. Mars is essentially flat. If you added any significant volume of water you would end up with a shallow pan-planetary sea and a few islands.

3) Enviro-whiners. "Save Martian dry-land ecology!"

If you had a mostly decent but otherwise uninhabitable plant you would dump Terran photosynthetic biology into it and hope to eventually get something useful out. Judging from Australia and cane toads, it would most likely sum to a FEMA disaster - expensive and stupid.

#8 Eclogite

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 11:06 AM

1) The mass of Earth's atmosphere is 5x10^18 kilograms. Name any technology that can process 5x10^18 kilograms of anything in 100 years. What will be the cost/kg? What will be the total cost?

Point 1: Strawman. We are talking about Mars, where the requisite mass would be substantially less.
Point 2: Strawman (?). Did someone actually specify one hundred years?
Point 3: Name a technology? Plants.

2) Making Mars habitable is a fool's errand. Where will you obtain atmospheric volatiles? Crashing an entire comet into Mars won't even begin to do it.

Exactly. So, we'll crash several comets. Several large comets.
Not to mention the large amount of carbon dioxide and water that are resident in the polar caps and, in the case of water, probably present in quantity subsurface.

1) The Atlantic Ocean averages two miles deep, the Pacific three miles deep.

And most of the interesting stuff takes place in the upper twenty metres.

Mars is essentially flat. If you added any significant volume of water you would end up with a shallow pan-planetary sea and a few islands.

For a smart guy you sometimes make some really dumbass statements. The range of relief on Mars is greater than it is on the Earth in either a relative or absolute sense.
There is clear evidence of a former large ocean in the Northern hemisphere of Mars. Consider the areas shaded a convenient blue in this relief map of Mars and you get an idea of the possible extent of seas on a terra-formed Ares.
http://mola.gsfc.nas...s-valles-s1.jpg
Essentially flat.:) That's a good one..:hihi:

3) Enviro-whiners. "Save Martian dry-land ecology!"

There are ethical considerations involved with terra-forming a planet. A trite put down of environmental activists probably doesn't constitute adequate consideration of these ethical issues.

Judging from Australia and cane toads, it would most likely sum to a FEMA disaster - expensive and stupid.

Point 1:Never judge anything from Australia.
Point 2:Pessimism is such an attractive mindset, don't you think?


Edit: This is a better relief map:
http://mola.gsfc.nas.../mercat_med.jpg

#9 UncleAl

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 04:18 PM

Point 1: Nope. Given Mars' surface 0.379 gee, you'd need a much greater depth of atmosphere to get 14.7 psi at the surface. Diddle the numbers all you want. Supplying an adequate atmosphere to Mars by whatever means remains unaltered as a ridiculous mass to process. 10^15 isn't any smaller than 10^18 if you are lifting the heavy end.

Point 2: Nope. The First World will not persist past 2050 (end of petroleum recoverable by any means) and probably not past 2015 (Baby Boomer retirement and collapse of the Welfare State worldwide). 100 years is wildly, unjustifiably optimistic.

Point 3: Nope. No atmosphere, no plants. Crappy atmosphere, maybe plants, except... Mars insolation is only 43% of Earth's - photosynthesis won't like no sunlight. Mars' orbit is 5.59 times more eccentric than Earth's - nasty winters. Carbon dioxide freezes solid during Martian winter. That's perceptibly cooler than anywhere on Earth. How green are Antarctica's dry valleys after 6 months of spring and summer?

My analysis is valid and pertinent as stated. NASA cannot begin to imagine snagging Asteroid 99942 Apophis (2004 MN4), about 320 meters
in diameter, when it conveniently visits a mere 22,500 miles away on 13 Friday 2029. NASA isn't even making plans for an in-close photo op. Move comets? Ha ha ha. BTW, if you crash a nice fat comet into Mars, you lose Mars. Mars (radius = 3397 km) is not quite twice as big as the moon (radius =1738 km). The moon is a lot closer.

Mons Olympus is a big tall zit. A few more volcanoes. You've got some canyons. Mars is essentially flat. BTW, the Earth's hydrosphere masses 1.7x10^21 kg. Water is denser than air.

Difficult is will and money. Impossible is physics and math. Do you want to terraform something for practice? Terraform Inner City Detroit, urban Washington, DC, or New Mexico; the Sahara Desert, the Gobi Desert. (Leave the Atacama Desert alone - observatories).

There are ethical considerations involved with terra-forming a planet.

No, there aren't. Europeans should have killed every indigen in North and South America when they arrived instead of the paltry 30 million deaths that were managed. Winner's don't apologize and the dead never complain.

#10 Eclogite

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 01:26 AM

Your lack of imagination for one so educated is astounding.

Point 1: Nope. Given Mars' surface 0.379 gee, you'd need a much greater depth of atmosphere to get 14.7 psi at the surface.

You do not require 14.7 psi. The natives of the Andes or Nepal work quite happily with half that. Moreover it is the partial pressure of oxygen that is important: working with a higher percentage oxygen content reduces the required pressure even further.

The First World will not persist past 2050 (end of petroleum recoverable by any means) and probably not past 2015 (Baby Boomer retirement and collapse of the Welfare State worldwide). 100 years is wildly, unjustifiably optimistic.

Making absolute statements for which there is only limited evidence may give you a warm fuzzy feeling of righteousness, but it is irrelevant to the discussion. You have responded to an accusation of using a strawman argument by employing a further strawman. The point here was "who mentioned 100 years". Is my writing that dense and incomprehensible? I can use simpler words if you wish.

No atmosphere, no plants. Crappy atmosphere, maybe plants, except... Mars insolation is only 43% of Earth's - photosynthesis won't like no sunlight. Mars' orbit is 5.59 times more eccentric than Earth's - nasty winters. Carbon dioxide freezes solid during Martian winter. That's perceptibly cooler than anywhere on Earth.

Your good at facts; crap at understanding.
The temperature of Mars is within a few degrees of the balance point for massive degassing of carbon dioxide from the regolith and the polar caps. A large mirror constructed of thin reflective film could raise surface temperatures sufficiently to trigger this degassing.
Some plants (even without appropriate genetic engineering) would be quite productive in such an atmosphere.

My analysis is valid and pertinent as stated. NASA cannot begin to imagine snagging Asteroid 99942 Apophis...... Move comets? Ha ha ha.

If you base your assessment of the possible on the capabiliies of NASA I am not surprised you limit your expectations by several orders of magnitude.

Mons Olympus is a big tall zit. A few more volcanoes. You've got some canyons. Mars is essentially flat.

Crap. Study the data. Stop displaying willful ignorance. You are better than that.

BTW, if you crash a nice fat comet into Mars, you lose Mars. Mars (radius = 3397 km) is not quite twice as big as the moon (radius =1738 km). The moon is a lot closer.

This may mean something to you; to me it sounds like nonsense. How exactly am I going to lose Mars? You appear to be saying that a cometary impact would destroy Mars, which is so nonsensical it doesn't even merit a response. What do you mean?

No, there aren't. Europeans should have killed every indigen in North and South America when they arrived instead of the paltry 30 million deaths that were managed. Winner's don't apologize and the dead never complain.

Because your world view recognises no ethical issues does not mean they do not exist.

#11 Boerseun

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 02:05 AM

Hey - this is fun to watch!

UncleAl, your turn...;)

#12 Boerseun

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 02:20 AM

Terraforming planets will be easiest with planets most like Earth (duh).
With that in mind, I reckon we scrap Venus. Not only does it have a nasty acid atmosphere (the least of our problems), it simply rotates too slow. A lazy afternoon on Venus lasts a few months.

Mars, on the other hand, is a smaller gravity well, making for easier launches, its day is only an hour longer than Earth days, much friendlier atmosphere, closest to an 'Earth-like' planet we can get in the solar system, except for Earth itself. Mars has a lot of oxygen trapped in the ground as rust, giving the planet its red colour. It only needs extraction. Apparently, water is no problem either.
I'd say give Mars a go - and the cheapest and easiest will be to genetically engineer a species of algae and bacteria to operate in lichen-fashion, tint the planet green, and produce oxygen from the iron oxide as a by-product. Rocket these lichens to Mars, seed the surface with it, and sit back and relax. Relax for about a million-odd years, I guess, and hope humanity is still around to pluck the fruits of your labour.

Just kidding - it can probably be speeded up. But it still doesn't answer the fundamental question: Why, precisely would we want to do it? What would we gain? What are the benefits? Technically, it's no problem - even with today's technology in mind.

#13 Eclogite

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 02:46 AM

Terraforming planets will be easiest with planets most like Earth (duh).But it still doesn't answer the fundamental question: Why, precisely would we want to do it?

Here are some possibilities

Purpose 1:To provide an alternative home for humanity lest some natural, or man made, disaster render the Earth unihabitable.
Purpose 2: We moved Out of Africa. If we are to move into the Solar System it would be nice to have somewhere reasonably homely to live.
Purpose 3:When we achieve interstellar colonisation voyages the experience of terraforming Mars will be invaluable.

Although, I am reminded of a reason given (for a different matter) by a former boss.
"Why would we want to do that? For much the same reason a dog licks its balls. Because it can."

Oh, I almost forgot:
Purpose 4:It would piss off Uncle Al.

#14 Boerseun

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 03:14 AM

We used to be slugs a few kazillions years ago. We lived in the sea, and would've died had we slithered onto land back then. Then we eventually changed into humans over a long span of time, being segmented bugs, amphibians and reptiles along the way, until we at last settled into our human form. All these other forms were only preparatory stages for what we are today. Not that we have reached the culmination of evolution, not by any means - being an amphibian set the stage for becoming a reptile as much as being a reptile set the stage for becoming a mammal. There is no end in sight.

What does this have to do with terraforming?
Quite a lot, actually.

Us humans are also just setting the stage for our new form. And our new form will consists of that which is the best of us and eliminate that which is the worst. And the essence of our being is intelligence. Once we can figure out a way of transporting that intelligence to machines, we can spread throughout the universe without worrying about surviving on other planets. Having to rely on stuff like water and oxygen would be passe, so 21st century - all we'd need is a source of energy, and we'd be set.

If that's the case, if humanity is slowly changing into its next form, terraforming would be pretty pointless. Those little rover buggies on Mars might be an indication of where we're headed. Not only as scientists, but as a species.

Yeah - I'm talking crap. But it's fun, nonetheless.

#15 SanityDeprivedLunatic

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 07:29 PM

Would the outdoors need to be friendly to humans, or just friendly to things that support human life? Crops grow, but I can't breath the air? So I need to stay in controlled environment, but I have enough natural resources to sustain life. Would that count?

Bill


In the case of Mars, most of the atmosphere is carbon dioxide, meaning there is a large possibility to grow plants there. Growing plants means, using carbon dioxide and making oxygen. So, in theory, if you can grow the necessities to sustain life, you can also live on the surface. (this is obviously excluding radiation, temperature etc.)

By the way, would it be possible to create an electromagnetic field around mars to protect it from radiation?

#16 Eclipse Now

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 08:49 PM

Since the Mars thread is up and running again, can I just chip in here and also ask: would adding a strong enough atmosphere by degassing the Co2 and Oxygen trapped in the soil help protect us from the radiation?

If not: if we are constructing giant mirrors in space, what about a giant lens with a radiation shield in front of the planet?

And what plants can survive the lower sunlight?

#17 TheBigDog

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 12:27 AM

Without a magnetic field anything you do to the atmosphere is just pissing in the wind. I don't think Mars is a viable candidate for terraforming.

Bill



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