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Old 6th December 2018, 03:34 AM   #361
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
One of the first things you have said in this thread that I agree with....

https://www.dropbox.com/s/r587cdsayn...leks.jpg?raw=1
One word: levitation.
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:43 AM   #362
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Originally Posted by Pixel42 View Post
I don't think that's entirely true - naturalists like Darwin were interested in exploration for the sake of it. But of course they needed to hitch rides on ships whose main purpose was commercial. I'm not aware of any such expedition whose purpose was entirely scientific.
Well, don't get me wrong, there were curious people at any point in time. And I don't doubt that some found a way to hitch a ride with someone's caravan or trade ship. I was talking about someone bankrolling an expedition for just curiosity sake. Which we do now, but, as you say, didn't use to be the case in the past.

Basically I base my thesis that we're more adventurous than ever, on the fact that nowadays we're actually willing to spend money on a rocket to Mars when we previously wouldn't pay for a sailing ship to a place where there is no trade or treasure to be found. From a purely economic view that something is worth exactly as much as the customer is willing to pay for it, it seems to me like nowadays pure exploration is more valuable to us than it's ever been.
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Old 6th December 2018, 04:39 AM   #363
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
One word: levitation.
That cartoon was drawn for "Punch" magazine in 1981. Daleks didn't have hovering or levitation capability at that time (the writers of Dr Who hadn't made that idea up yet)

Hell the cartoonist, Pete Birkett died about 15 years ago.
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Old 6th December 2018, 04:46 AM   #364
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
That cartoon was drawn for "Punch" magazine in 1981. Daleks didn't have hovering or levitation capability at that time (the writers of Dr Who hadn't made that idea up yet)

Hell the cartoonist, Pete Birkett died about 15 years ago.
Yes they did. They had levitation in TV21 strips.
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Old 6th December 2018, 05:53 AM   #365
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
That cartoon was drawn for "Punch" magazine in 1981. Daleks didn't have hovering or levitation capability at that time (the writers of Dr Who hadn't made that idea up yet)

Hell the cartoonist, Pete Birkett died about 15 years ago.
Damn, you're ruining the joke.

Yes, the Daleks gained levitation in 1988 (Remembrance of the Daleks), IIRC.
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Old 6th December 2018, 07:16 AM   #366
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
If you can think of any scientific projects that need to be on Mars, and totally wouldn't work on Earth, or Earth orbit, or for that matter the Moon, I'm all for it. I can't think of any, personally, but you have my vote if you have more imagination than me there.
I suggested upthread that using Mars as a place to do experiments in geoengineering without having to worry about messing things up might make sense.

The search for life (past or present) might also be something we would be willing to spend some money on.

But I also don't have too many ideas that make much sense on Mars but not on earth, in orbit, or on the moon, all of which would be cheaper. I was hoping someone else would.
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Old 6th December 2018, 07:19 AM   #367
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I don't think gravity is a hard limit per se, and definitely not something that needs designing a new species for. More like something that adds to the already insane costs, really.

I mean, if you can make a centrifuge in space, you can make one in a Mars bunker just as well. It will just have to have the floor a bit slanted, so when you add the vector to the existing Mars gravity vector, you end up with it perpendicular to the floor.

It adds to the cost and complexity, but it can be done.

That might work, if it turns out that people need higher than Mars gravity for some limited number of hours per week or per day to remain healthy. Put some workstations or exercise equipment on banked-turntable centrifuges and Bob's your uncle.

But that might not be the case, and you can't have the entire population of a permanent habitat living on carnival rides all the time.

There's no point in even beginning to plan a long-term self-sufficient Mars colony until long-term human tolerance for fractional gravity is better known.

A more realistic research station with a rotating crew, analogous to experimental arctic, undersea, and orbital habitats, is a more realistic medium-term goal. But that takes Mars being an offsite backup for the human species off the table, for the time being.
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Old 6th December 2018, 07:36 AM   #368
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Going back to the "insurance against species extinction" colony on Mars.

I was trying to think of a viable power source the colony would be able to build and maintain. (Sure it would be set up with equipment from Earth but if the apocalypse happens they need to be able to build a replacement from scratch.)

I was thinking that wind power would probably be the only viable power source that wouldn't require current day high tech to build and maintain. I can see generators that require probably not much more than basic iron smelting and I'm assuming the rusty planet has abundant and easily accessible iron ore or compounds.

But then I started trying to work out how much energy these wind generators would need to provide, how constant that generation would be, how to store excess energy, MTTF & what level of redundancy is required to maintain enough power to survive. On earth in most environments humans have colonised prior to say the 1950s losing power isn't immediately life threatening, but in the totally enclosed environment of a mars settlement can we build them with the technology they can replicate so a few days without power is survivable?

Being a massive science fiction fan I've been finding this thread most depressing as I try to get my head around if it is possible to anytime in the nearish future (say 100 years) to even attempt to build a colony that could even in principle be self-sufficient.

The more I think of it the less and less I can believe that any kind of self sufficient colony on mars is going to be possible for probably centuries. I'm now thinking it would need Clarke's 3rd law "magic" levels of self-sustaining technology to be able to create such a colony and at that point we no longer need one!
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Old 6th December 2018, 08:07 AM   #369
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Going back to the "insurance against species extinction" colony on Mars.

I was trying to think of a viable power source the colony would be able to build and maintain. (Sure it would be set up with equipment from Earth but if the apocalypse happens they need to be able to build a replacement from scratch.)

I was thinking that wind power would probably be the only viable power source that wouldn't require current day high tech to build and maintain. I can see generators that require probably not much more than basic iron smelting and I'm assuming the rusty planet has abundant and easily accessible iron ore or compounds.

But then I started trying to work out how much energy these wind generators would need to provide, how constant that generation would be, how to store excess energy, MTTF & what level of redundancy is required to maintain enough power to survive. On earth in most environments humans have colonised prior to say the 1950s losing power isn't immediately life threatening, but in the totally enclosed environment of a mars settlement can we build them with the technology they can replicate so a few days without power is survivable?

Being a massive science fiction fan I've been finding this thread most depressing as I try to get my head around if it is possible to anytime in the nearish future (say 100 years) to even attempt to build a colony that could even in principle be self-sufficient.

The more I think of it the less and less I can believe that any kind of self sufficient colony on mars is going to be possible for probably centuries. I'm now thinking it would need Clarke's 3rd law "magic" levels of self-sustaining technology to be able to create such a colony and at that point we no longer need one!
You gotta go deep underground. That gains you plenty, but most importantly it gains you air pressure and warmth. While you terreform the surface, it's not really good to be there. Let that work take its course while the humans direct the progress from deep below.

If there is life BTW, that's where it will be found too.
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Old 6th December 2018, 08:26 AM   #370
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
I was thinking that wind power would probably be the only viable power source that wouldn't require current day high tech to build and maintain.
Wind turbines are starting to be pretty high tech, and with Mars' atmosphere as thin as it is, you are going to need them to be as efficient as they can be.

Quote:
I can see generators that require probably not much more than basic iron smelting and I'm assuming the rusty planet has abundant and easily accessible iron ore or compounds.
Basic iron smelting is going to require a lot of power, and without a source of charcoal or cokes and with electricity already in short supply it is not going to easy.

Quote:
On earth in most environments humans have colonised prior to say the 1950s losing power isn't immediately life threatening, but in the totally enclosed environment of a mars settlement can we build them with the technology they can replicate so a few days without power is survivable?
Probably. A totally enclosed environment that is sufficiently insulated is not going to lose much heat, and water and air filtration systems can probably be hand cranked. For a few days that may be survivable, but tough.

Maybe windmills on Mars will look more like those old pumping mills on (American) farms rather than modern wind turbines, and use direct mechanical drive to run life support systems.
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Old 6th December 2018, 08:32 AM   #371
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post

I was thinking that wind power would probably be the only viable power source that wouldn't require current day high tech to build and maintain. I can see generators that require probably not much more than basic iron smelting and I'm assuming the rusty planet has abundant and easily accessible iron ore or compounds.
Sounds unlikely to me. The Martian atmosphere has been described as a "laboratory grade vacuum" (0.6% of Earth's atmospheric pressure, iirc). A strong Martian wind - about 60mph is the peak speed - would have the power of a light breeze on Earth (my guess) and it certainly doesn't always blow that strongly. Andy Weir admitted that he knew perfectly well that the dust storm incident that kicked off The Martian's drama was unrealistic, as they were in no great danger and that aerial (?) was certainly not going to be ripped off..

Solar power would be my bet, though, as I mentioned upthread, obtaining some of the more obscure elements could be massively difficult. Ditto nukes.

Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Being a massive science fiction fan I've been finding this thread most depressing as I try to get my head around if it is possible to anytime in the nearish future (say 100 years) to even attempt to build a colony that could even in principle be self-sufficient.

The more I think of it the less and less I can believe that any kind of self sufficient colony on mars is going to be possible for probably centuries. I'm now thinking it would need Clarke's 3rd law "magic" levels of self-sustaining technology to be able to create such a colony and at that point we no longer need one!
I'm a big SF fan too, but what I find a bit disturbing about threads like is that some are so keen on the proposed futuristic outcomes that they suspend their critical faculties the way we all have to sometimes suspend our disbelief to enjoy SF. And, yes, I know the moon Apollo landings were 'hard', but they were a walk in the park compared to the building of any significant colony on Mars, let alone a self-sustaining one.
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Old 6th December 2018, 08:35 AM   #372
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
But then I started trying to work out how much energy these wind generators would need to provide
I think you're actually underestimating the problem with this step. The martian atmosphere is so thin (only 1% of the pressure on Earth) that even fast winds exert very little force. The scene at the beginning of The Martian where a storm causes havoc isn't possible, because the wind pressure is just too low.

Solar concentrators (ie, focusing mirrors) combined with sterling engines might work better as a low tech power generation method that could be replicated with available resources.
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Old 6th December 2018, 08:43 AM   #373
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
The more I think of it the less and less I can believe that any kind of self sufficient colony on mars is going to be possible for probably centuries. I'm now thinking it would need Clarke's 3rd law "magic" levels of self-sustaining technology to be able to create such a colony and at that point we no longer need one!
I'm also of the opinion that a truly self-sufficient colony really is still purely in the real of sci fi, but as far as energy for a base goes (a base is realistic,) there's this:
https://www.lanl.gov/newsroom/scienc...r-reactors.php
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Old 6th December 2018, 09:20 AM   #374
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Originally Posted by Pixel42 View Post
I don't think that's entirely true - naturalists like Darwin were interested in exploration for the sake of it. But of course they needed to hitch rides on ships whose main purpose was commercial. I'm not aware of any such expedition whose purpose was entirely scientific.
The polar expeditions.
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Old 6th December 2018, 09:35 AM   #375
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
You gotta go deep underground. That gains you plenty, but most importantly it gains you air pressure and warmth. While you terreform the surface, it's not really good to be there.
Before you mention terraforming again, could you at least have the decency to calculate a ballpark figure for the tonneage of O2 it would take to make a breathable Martian atmosphere, ballpark figures for the tonneage of raw materials required and the energy input?

Just typing key words like 'terraform' won't achieve a damn thing.
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Old 6th December 2018, 10:55 AM   #376
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Before you mention terraforming again, could you at least have the decency to calculate a ballpark figure for the tonneage of O2 it would take to make a breathable Martian atmosphere, ballpark figures for the tonneage of raw materials required and the energy input?

Just typing key words like 'terraform' won't achieve a damn thing.
That's true.
Current maximum atmospheric pressure on mars at the surface averages 600 pascals
It needs to reach 24 kPa to allow working on the surface with an unpressurised oxygen mask. But I am told to obtain that density it would require an external source like comets or icy asteroids. Even releasing the oxygen from the iron by either refining or by extremophile biological means wouldn't be enough.

Here is the math on all that:
Quote:
Technological Requirements for Terraforming Mars
Oxygenating the Planet

The most technologically challenging aspect of terraforming Mars will be the creation of sufficient oxygen in the planet's atmosphere to support animal life. While primitive plants can survive in an atmosphere without oxygen, advanced plants require about 1 mb and humans need 120 mb. While Mars may have super-oxides in its soil or nitrates that can be pyrolysed to release oxygen (and nitrogen) gas, the problem is the amount of energy needed: about 2200 TW-years for every mb produced. Similar amounts of energy are required for plants to release oxygen from CO2. Plants, however, offer the advantage that once established they can propagate themselves. The production of an oxygen atmosphere on Mars thus breaks down into two phases. In the first phase, brute force engineering techniques are employed to produce sufficient oxygen (about 1 mb) to allow advanced plants to propagate across Mars. Assuming 3 125 km radius space mirrors active in supporting such a program and sufficient supplies of suitable target material on the ground, such a goal could be achieved in about 25 years. At that point, with a temperate climate, a thickened CO2 atmosphere to supply pressure and greatly reduce the space radiation dose, and a good deal of water in circulation, plants that have been genetically engineered to tolerate Martian soils and to perform photosynthesis at high efficiency could be released together with their bacterial symbiotes. Assuming that global coverage could be achieved in a few decades and that such plants could be engineered to be 1% efficient (rather high, but not unheard of among terrestrial plants) then they would represent an equivalent oxygen producing power source of about 200 TW. By combining the efforts of such biological systems with perhaps 90 TW of space based reflectors and 10 TW of installed power on the surface (terrestrial civilization today uses about 12 TW) the required 120 mb of oxygen needed to support humans and other advanced animals in the open could be produced in about 900 years.
That's even after melting the caps and placing the magnetosphere satellite at L1 to protect what's released.

So the only solution in the meantime I personally can think of is going deep underground. The pressure would be higher already and warmer too and easier to seal off and insulate living quarters.
Then wait 900 years!
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Old 6th December 2018, 10:59 AM   #377
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
I think you need to consult a map? India is EAST of Spain, not West.
Good grief.

Originally Posted by Pixel42 View Post
You do know what Columbus was trying to do when he sailed west, believing the earth was quite a bit smaller than it actually is, and entirely unaware that there was a huge double continent and another ocean between him and the places he was trying to find another route to?
Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
He was looking for a shorter western passage. Bumped into the Americas instead, which was fine as there was plenty good money to be made there too in the end.

eta: ninja'd by Pixel42
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I think you need to consult a history book? Yes, the whole plan was based on the idea that the world is a SPHERE, and if you go far enough to the WEST you can get to a point that's to the EAST of you. And if the Earth had been as small as Columbus thought, and there wasn't another continent in the way (which they thought wouldn't be), then sailing to India in a straight line to the west would have been actually a shorter route than going around Africa.
smartcooky, you may not be the best advocate for exploration and colonization of Mars.
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:12 AM   #378
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
A spinning space station module in earth orbit would be a reasonably economical way to investigate this key unknown, for Mars gravity. If long-term effects prove to be minimal, then the culminating test will require a volunteer to bring a baby to term in simulated Mars gravity. Either humans can maintain a complete life cycle in Mars gravity or they can't, which is a rather important consideration in any plan to use a Mars colony as a survival outpost.
Too bad the CAM was cancelled for the ISS, eh? Our problems with going to Mars are not technological. They're political/financial.
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Old 6th December 2018, 12:41 PM   #379
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
But that might not be the case, and you can't have the entire population of a permanent habitat living on carnival rides all the time.
Why not? Most SF space stations are a big carnival ride. Babylon 5 was a big carnival ride for example.

In a Mars bunker it would probably make a bit more noise and use more power, but otherwise there's not much of a difference from having one in space. Going in and out would still be through the middle, so you can even go out or to visit someone on another "carnival ride".
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Old 6th December 2018, 12:48 PM   #380
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Originally Posted by Jimbo07 View Post
Too bad the CAM was cancelled for the ISS, eh?

Yeah, along with the program to recruit 24-inch-tall astronauts to live in it...

Sorry; kidding. Yeah, the experiments that would have made possible would be very useful. Human tests are also necessary eventually, but a lot of groundwork (ironically rather far from the ground) could have been accomplished already.
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Old 6th December 2018, 01:11 PM   #381
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
Yeah, along with the program to recruit 24-inch-tall astronauts to live in it...
Micro Interplanetary Cosmonaut Experiment

Quote:
Sorry; kidding. Yeah, the experiments that would have made possible would be very useful. Human tests are also necessary eventually, but a lot of groundwork (ironically rather far from the ground) could have been accomplished already.
It could have been the closest thing to a killer app the ISS would have had, I think. As it is, we're not even taking those baby steps.
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Old 6th December 2018, 01:17 PM   #382
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Originally Posted by Jimbo07 View Post
Too bad the CAM was cancelled for the ISS, eh? Our problems with going to Mars are not technological. They're political/financial.
I've seen nothing in this thread that supports the claim that there's no technological problems with colonizing Mars. Quite the opposite.
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Old 6th December 2018, 01:27 PM   #383
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Well, in the sense that we could do it with today's tech if we had basically infinite money (or more accurately, infinite industrial capacity) to throw at it, it is just a financial problem. And in the sense that we'd need to also not care about giving cancer and leukemia to a significant number of colonists on the way there, you could also say it's a political problem.

It's a technology problem only if you want it to be realistically feasible and safe.
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Old 6th December 2018, 02:09 PM   #384
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My obsession with Mars? The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. The Sands of Mars, Arthur C. Clarke. Much later; The Mars Trilogy, Kim Stanley Robinson. The Martian, Andy Weir (apart from the silly thing with the antenna).
Can't help it - I'm obsessed!
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Old 6th December 2018, 02:10 PM   #385
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I've seen nothing in this thread that supports the claim that there's no technological problems with colonizing Mars. Quite the opposite.
To be quite clear, when I say go to Mars, I mean just go, in the expeditionary sense. That might include up to an Antarctic research station type operation, although, they're pretty big these days. I know nothing of colonizing Mars in terms of a long term self-sustaining population. Nobody does. It's sci-fi, right now.
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:21 PM   #386
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Originally Posted by Jimbo07 View Post
To be quite clear, when I say go to Mars, I mean just go, in the expeditionary sense. That might include up to an Antarctic research station type operation, although, they're pretty big these days. I know nothing of colonizing Mars in terms of a long term self-sustaining population. Nobody does. It's sci-fi, right now.
Ah, gotcha. Yes, that's definitely within our current capabilities, I think. But like Saint Paul once said, "for me all things are permitted, but not all things serve my purpose."
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Old 6th December 2018, 04:21 PM   #387
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This sounds a lot like the proposals for Moon trips in the early '50s. Von Braun had a plan that was workable within known technology, but impossibly optimistic in terms of cost, resources and reliability because of the huge number of launches needed.

In less than twenty years technological development made the trip possible with a budget we could afford. I certainly don't know that a similar degree of improvement will be seen over the next twenty, but am confident that there will be advances that I can't predict.

I'm encouraged that this is no longer an exclusively government operation. Competition, and cooperation with commercial entities and other countries will allow the exploration of more technologies, and spread the costs and benefits.
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Old 6th December 2018, 04:51 PM   #388
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Personally what I hope for is fusion, really. That's really the only thing that would make that kind of trip cheap.
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Old 6th December 2018, 04:57 PM   #389
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post

Solar concentrators (ie, focusing mirrors) combined with sterling engines might work better as a low tech power generation method that could be replicated with available resources.
I was thinking the same thing. Still going to be very difficult to do, but itís conceivable that a set up like that could produce enough energy to repair and replace itself with local resources.
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Old 6th December 2018, 04:58 PM   #390
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Personally what I hope for is fusion, really. That's really the only thing that would make that kind of trip cheap.
Itís not really clear to me that fusion would be cheap.
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Old 6th December 2018, 05:00 PM   #391
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Personally I think we need genetically engineered termites capable of building and operating nuclear power plants.
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Old 6th December 2018, 05:34 PM   #392
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Opinion:

A committed space-faring species would not colonize planets at all. Why fight their way out of one gravity well only to descend into another one and struggle against staggering odds to make the new gravity well habitable? That doesn't make sense to me.

They would simply build self-sustaining habitats outside the gravity wells. Planets would be for resource extraction and orbital parking.

Little doggies that don't know how to do that better stay on the porch.
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Old 6th December 2018, 05:57 PM   #393
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Itís not really clear to me that fusion would be cheap.
Well, think energy density in the fuel, basically. The higher it is, the less Tsiolkovsky's equation is a pain in the butt.

At any rate, chemical just ain't gonna cut it, and fission is way too much of a problem to use on the way up.
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:41 AM   #394
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Personally I think we need genetically engineered termites capable of building and operating nuclear power plants.

You've been reading "The Next Tenants" (Arthur C. Clarke)
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Old 7th December 2018, 02:29 AM   #395
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
We just have to hope an apocalypse happens within the next 60 years, then.
One of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is Famine, so the end of farming due to soil degradation is an apocalypse.

But we don't have to wait 60 years. Waste much of the World's valuable resources trying to colonize Mars and it could happen a lot sooner!
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Old 7th December 2018, 03:27 AM   #396
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
You've been reading "The Next Tenants" (Arthur C. Clarke)
Not yet, but I'll look for it
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Old 7th December 2018, 03:29 AM   #397
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, think energy density in the fuel, basically. The higher it is, the less Tsiolkovsky's equation is a pain in the butt.

At any rate, chemical just ain't gonna cut it, and fission is way too much of a problem to use on the way up.
Sure, but it still depends on how it's realised. Nuclear fission isn't all that cheap at present despite the high energy density of the fuel because of the complexity and difficulty actually extracting that energy from the fuel.

I'm just not sure fusion will be any better than fission in that regard.
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Old 7th December 2018, 03:32 AM   #398
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
That might work, if it turns out that people need higher than Mars gravity for some limited number of hours per week or per day to remain healthy. Put some workstations or exercise equipment on banked-turntable centrifuges and Bob's your uncle.

But that might not be the case, and you can't have the entire population of a permanent habitat living on carnival rides all the time.
Do you have any reason to think that it wouldn't be the case? I mean, what specific sorts of health problems do you think could arise from low-gravity that don't exist in zero-gravity?

If your objection is just "Well, you never no, there could be something unexpected" that's fine, but I don't put the probability very high with respect to this particular concern.
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Old 7th December 2018, 03:33 AM   #399
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About fission:
Well, it will be better because if anything goes wrong, it just fizzles. Whereas if a rocket goes boom on the way up, with fission you can end up spreading fallout over 3 states.

About micro-gravity health problems:
Personally I expect them to be the same as in no gravity.
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Old 7th December 2018, 03:36 AM   #400
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
It sounds reasonable to me.

I think an orbital shipyard, assembling science missions larger than anything that could be launched from the Earth's surface, would help get us closer to the goal, and do an amazing amount of science along the way.

It's time we started thinking about something more ambitious, and more productive, than the ISS.
I'm with you 100%.

I also tentatively support the idea of trying to extract lunar water as a potential propellant. If it could be done at scale it might make interplanetary travel much cheaper. Also another good step to any sort of Mars project.

I say tentatively because I haven't really looked at the numbers with respect to what sort of scale we'd have to reach before such a project could pay for it's initial investment, I suspect that number is very large.
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