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Martian Futures, Will man really colonize the planets?
Stephen
post Jul 18 2006, 07:54 AM
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QUOTE (hendric @ Jul 17 2006, 04:10 AM) *
Tourism is a viable enterprise for many locations on Earth; why not extraterrestrial as well?

After all, I can show you a picture of the Great Wall or the Pyramids, but it just doesn't equal looking at them in person. Just off the top of my head, there's the Moon, Mars, the Jupiter & Saturn systems as viable destinations for Solar System retirees.

You're putting the cart before the horse. Tourism is a "viable enterprise for many locations on Earth" only because Earth already has the infrastructure to support it. If Earth had no hotels, no highways, no rail lines, and in particular no (relatively) cheap international air travel while there might still be the occasional tourist going to and fro there would be no tourist trade and thus little if any in the way of tourist dollars.

On Earth the tourist trade only really came about after exploration and colonisation were largely if not entirely over. At this stage that will probably be the case for much of the off-Earth tourist trade (except possibly LEO). In particular note also that much of the infrastructure on Earth the tourist trade uses--eg highways, rail lines, and most airports--were generally built for purposes other than catering for tourists. The tourist trade uses them, but it was not required to build them. If it had to build all such things itself it would be far less viable.

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Guest_DonPMitchell_*
post Jul 18 2006, 08:11 AM
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You might see tourist trade for low Earth orbit, if someone built a sensible space station. But it would be a hang-out for millionaires. Maybe that would stimulate development of cheaper technology for reaching Earth orbit, which would definately be a valuable stepping stone. It's tricky to know what are the right stepping stones to develop.

By the way, supporting Doug's comment, I calculate a solar constant of 590 watts per meter squared on Mars.
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djellison
post Jul 18 2006, 08:30 AM
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Something like the deployed area of the ISS array would be comparatively easy to deploy, fairly small to package - and of course it can be cleaned, and positioned for nice seasonal tilt smile.gif
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climber
post Jul 18 2006, 09:53 AM
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I agree on solar panel the way you say Doug. They'll be suitable for Antartic-like outposts, not full colonisation (which will be far future). It'll be even easier than on the moon where you've got more solar energy but 14 "days of night" in a row. You know, I'm getting preapred myself. I put water solar heating in my place last month, that's a begining isn'it ?


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David
post Jul 18 2006, 05:12 PM
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QUOTE (Stephen @ Jul 18 2006, 07:54 AM) *
Tourism is a "viable enterprise for many locations on Earth" only because Earth already has the infrastructure to support it. If Earth had no hotels, no highways, no rail lines, and in particular no (relatively) cheap international air travel while there might still be the occasional tourist going to and fro there would be no tourist trade and thus little if any in the way of tourist dollars.

On Earth the tourist trade only really came about after exploration and colonisation were largely if not entirely over. At this stage that will probably be the case for much of the off-Earth tourist trade (except possibly LEO). In particular note also that much of the infrastructure on Earth the tourist trade uses--eg highways, rail lines, and most airports--were generally built for purposes other than catering for tourists. The tourist trade uses them, but it was not required to build them. If it had to build all such things itself it would be far less viable.


However, the trade in supporting and guiding mountain-climbers (an increasing number of whom are really "tourists") takes people into areas with very little infrastructure, and what little infrastructure exists was built by climbers. These are also very hostile, dangerous areas where there has always been a much higher mortality rate than anything NASA would find acceptable. But people still pay to climb Everest and other, even more dangerous peaks.
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climber
post Jul 18 2006, 05:34 PM
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QUOTE (David @ Jul 18 2006, 07:12 PM) *
However, the trade in supporting and guiding mountain-climbers (an increasing number of whom are really "tourists") takes people into areas with very little infrastructure, and what little infrastructure exists was built by climbers. These are also very hostile, dangerous areas where there has always been a much higher mortality rate than anything NASA would find acceptable. But people still pay to climb Everest and other, even more dangerous peaks.

Since I'm one of these "people", I don't want to open a debate on who, when, why people are climbing the Everest or other peaks. Anyway doing REAL exploration, I mean going where no one has been before, including quite a difficult trip, has different appeal. When one go to the Everest, you can be physicaly and mentaly preapared (even to death). There are plenty of books to read, plenty of people to meet. You can do it step by step on lower mountains. You even can turn back basicaly "anytime". Going to the moon is still "not so far" but going to Mars is an entreprise mentaly totaly different. I don't think you can go to Mars as a tourist in the near future : exploration will come first. I'll not go to Mars for tourism if I'll have the possibilty tomorrow (I mean the day after today) but would like to contribute to either knowledge or settlement instead.


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David
post Jul 18 2006, 07:48 PM
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My own imagination of the form that solar system exploration / exploitation will take is perhaps a little different from some of the other assumptions. My imagination doesn't leap ahead to planetary colonies, because there seems to be so much to do in the interim, so many unanswered questions, so much to learn about the nature of the solar system first. In the past you couldn't know very much about the lands you were going to explore without going there first. Now we have robot explorers. I'm sure that if Ferdinand and Isabella could have sent a remotely controlled ship across the Atlantic to scout and map the area, they would have.

So the first order of business, it seems to me, is to map the solar system: learn all we can about its major bodies, what their topography is, their geological history, their atmosphere (if any), what they are made of, what potential resources there are for future human travelers. We're just beginning to acquire this information about Mars, and even our knowledge of the Moon isn't quite as good as it should be. Other planets and satellites remain largely unknown and unmapped to the extent that space travelers would find useful. If I send a human being to another solar system body, I want to know where he (or she) is going to land, what the conditions of the landing are going to be like -- and, of course, what she (or he) is going to do there. Imagine if we'd tried sending a human being to land on Mars in the 1990s, only to have the lander crash because we didn't understand the Martian atmosphere well enough. And much the same could be said with respect to the characteristics of other planets.

For the manned space program, there are quite a lot of things to do yet that are (relatively) low risk while the unmanned program does the job of mapping the system; returning to the Moon, for one thing, and for a more adventurous program, a series of "landings" on small Near-Earth asteroids.

Assuming we conquer the problems of long-term radiation exposure, and bone density loss, and all the other things that make moving biological organisms through space so much more difficult than doing the same with machines, I think we'll start with non-permanent visits. We may not even start by landing on the planets themselves. If we decide to go to Venus, for instance, landing is obviously out of the question. That doesn't preclude a scientific investigation of the planet. I'd suggest creating a large interplanetary spaceship with attached remote probes as well as a return vehicle. This spaceship could be put into permanent orbit around Venus as a space station, from which astronauts could directly control the landers, balloons, or what have you without that unpleasant time lag. Other astronauts in smaller craft could relieve those already stationed, because quite frankly, nobody wants to live on a space station for the rest of his or her life, while supplies and additional probes could be sent without human accompaniment.

I think this model of human-staffed scientific exploration stations can be repeated throughout the solar system, and that's the model of human exploration which would have to precede any type of colonization, even on Mars. Mars luckily has its own two "space stations", bigger than anything we could build, already in orbit, and they could serve as platforms for further exploration. This type of exploration also addresses, at least initially, the question of contamination, if it turns out the Mars has some form of microscopic life.

On Mars, again, I think nobody will want a permanent assignment there at first. A good deal of hardware will have to be trucked to Mars, both to make sure that people who land on Mars have adequate supplies and shelter to stay more than a few days, and also to make sure they can get off again! Surface stations would, I think, start out as mere adjuncts to stations in space (or on Phobos) and crews would be regularly rotated out and home again. By that time, we should have been able to figure out -- on our Moon -- whether it's really practicable to maintain humans in space outposts indefinitely. If it is practicable, and if Mars has the resources necessary to maintain human life with minimal resupply, then we could move forward to colonization in the sense of having outposts permanent enough that new generations of human beings grow up on other planets. But that is not a concept for the immediate future.

As for "terraforming" -- at the moment I have to put this sort of project in the same sort of column with grandiose schemes for moving asteroids, changing planetary orbits, building artificial shells around stars, and interstellar travel -- it's so far out of the range of the possible as to produce useful speculation only for fiction (like the four centuries of imaginative, but eminently impractical, fictional "voyages to the moon"). Human beings who explore the solar system are going to be confined to artificial habitats for thousands of years, and that's something that needs to be taken into account.

I'd like to see human beings on Mars; heck, I'd like to see human beings poking around the rubble of the Kuiper Belt. But there are very real problems other than "political will", or "failure of imagination", and they have to be addressed. Additional funding won't make all of them go away. I can't align my imagination either with that of the extreme pessimists, who argue that humans are bound to Earth for eternity, or the extreme optimists, who think that we're just one Big Check away from a fully-functional manned Mars program and Martian colonies.

The one thing I do miss is a long-term, flexible plan -- presumably, a multi-century plan -- for exploring the whole solar system, that could be the context and justification for the things that a space program needs to do in the very near term. But there's a good deal of justification for focusing on the near-term things and not on the more distant and speculative goals.
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Guest_DonPMitchell_*
post Jul 19 2006, 12:25 AM
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I pretty much agree with you David, although I have tried to cast the problem more optimistically.

I'm confident that technical problems can be solved. There are a lot of creative people out there, and I mean particularly the unsung professionals who end up really engineering and solving specific problems. This is one of the reasons I want to see serious industry get engaged, like Boeing or Lockheed. I'm not talking about the Mars Society or the Institute for Advanced Concepts. I'm talking about guys in white lab coats who are trained and experienced at focusing on engineering problems-- not getting grant money or appearing in Wired or attracting google ad clicks.

I also don't think people will ever want to live in small hermetically sealed colonies and space stations. Sure, it is possible to build these things, but they would be huge economic sinks. Scientific knowledge has a value, but that would be the only product of such colonies, and it would be an insanely inefficient way to produce that knowledge.

I essentially think it is terriform Mars, or it's nothing. And that is a huge problem. Some people are saying it can never be done. Maybe or maybe not, but I am saying it is all about economics and long-range planning and picking the right stepping stones. In fact, it is even about long-term politcial stability -- can any modern industrial society last long enough before it is overthrown by some revolutionary mass movement?
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Stephen
post Jul 19 2006, 01:18 AM
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QUOTE (David @ Jul 18 2006, 05:12 PM) *
However, the trade in supporting and guiding mountain-climbers (an increasing number of whom are really "tourists") takes people into areas with very little infrastructure, and what little infrastructure exists was built by climbers. These are also very hostile, dangerous areas where there has always been a much higher mortality rate than anything NASA would find acceptable. But people still pay to climb Everest and other, even more dangerous peaks.


I guess it all depends on what you mean by "infrastructure".

There may be no infrastructure as such to speak of in mountainous areas themselves, but you still have to reach your mountain in order to climb it.

For example, if you lived in the United States and you wanted to climb Mt Everest chances are you would fly to Nepal by jet, then travel by some kind of vehicle to the vicinity of Everest. Only then would you start hiking. Along the way--at Kathmandu say--you might stay in a hotel or two for the night. At Everest itself there might be a base camps which you would be able to available yourself of. There might even be a well-worn trail up the mountain you would be expected--or at least advised--to keep to.

All of this counts as "infrastructure". If it did not exist the Mt Everest climbing industry would not exist. Or at least it would be far smaller than I understand it presently is because the tourists & others who might want to climb it would for the most part be unable to reach it.

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Guest_DonPMitchell_*
post Jul 19 2006, 03:06 AM
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I think what most people are agreeing on, whether they think it is ultimately possible or not, is that there has to be infrastructure and then population before there is a return on investment. What conditions will be there depends on what is done, and I am avoiding getting into that kind of zubrin-esque speculation, which is very fun but not really meaningful or new.

There has to be a mechanism for making it pay off over a long period of time, and then you get access to money and professional brain power.
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climber
post Jul 19 2006, 07:01 AM
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QUOTE (Stephen @ Jul 19 2006, 03:18 AM) *
I guess it all depends on what you mean by "infrastructure".
There may be no infrastructure as such to speak of in mountainous areas themselves, but you still have to reach your mountain in order to climb it.
For example, if you lived in the United States and you wanted to climb Mt Everest chances are you would fly to Nepal by jet, then travel by some kind of vehicle to the vicinity of Everest. Only then would you start hiking. Along the way--at Kathmandu say--you might stay in a hotel or two for the night. At Everest itself there might be a base camps which you would be able to available yourself of. There might even be a well-worn trail up the mountain you would be expected--or at least advised--to keep to.
All of this counts as "infrastructure". If it did not exist the Mt Everest climbing industry would not exist. Or at least it would be far smaller than I understand it presently is because the tourists & others who might want to climb it would for the most part be unable to reach it.
======
Stephen

I can give you more infos on this.
Once you're in Katmandu, you can either take a plane to Lukla that will land you a walking week away from base camp (no other means, no vehicules, no motors,...). You can also choose to hike after a day of bus from Katmandu, but you'll need 10 more days to get to Base Camp. On the way to Base camp, you'll see lodges up to 3 hours short of Base Camp and you'll have to go through the Sherpa's city of Namche Bazaar. So, in a way you're true. Now, the interesting part related to this thread is that there's 2 kind of people going there :
1- Tourists : alone or by groups that can stay in lodge or under tents, that go up and down to Base Camp & other trecks and stay for around 2 weeks. They are the tourists we're talking about : they come to see the place, to get a feeling of the moutains, the people living there, a little bit of adventure.
2- Climbers : they come to actualy climb the Everest. Once they've reached Base Camp, they'll stay for about 6 weeks going up & down for acclimatation. They're no tourists ( still a kind though) but they'll have to act. Organisation is here quite something and there's some fraternity between people (at least at Base Camp)
I've done both and I can tell you that spirit is different. When you're in a climbing expedition, you'll see tourists that come to Base Camp and look at you as if you were Alliens!
I think, in the future (this century), we'll see both 1- & 2- on the Moon. We already see this in the ISS. For Mars, I think this is for far future.


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climber
post Jul 19 2006, 11:50 AM
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QUOTE (David @ Jul 18 2006, 07:12 PM) *
These are also very hostile, dangerous areas where there has always been a much higher mortality rate than anything NASA would find acceptable. But people still pay to climb Everest and other, even more dangerous peaks.

This point is interesting! If you think at the actual landings, moto is "no landing = no mission". That means that we go now in "safe" places, at least with the criteria we know. When man will go to Mars they'll first land to safe places then construct spaceports. By then we'll know the "objectives dangers" of Mars like, radiations, dust storms, etc..."subjectives dangers" will be kept as minimum. This is very different to people going to Everest or else since, as a matter of fact, dangers are known to be much more present because Earth is much more ALIVE than Mars. A friend of mine is climbing the K2 as I speak. He has already been trought 7 snow avalanches (big one you know, as on TV), 5 rocks avalanches, he has got his tent at Camp 1 hit by a rock, etc, etc.. None of this will happen on Mars for quite a while. As you say, Nasa will never send his astronauts to climb the Everest; this is known to be dangerous.
I think a man-tended base on Phobos/Deimos will help to carracterise what we'll find on the ground and make exploration/colonisation easier.


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ljk4-1
post Sep 26 2006, 02:07 PM
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Move Into Space, but Where?

http://www.kurzweilai.net/email/newsRedire...939&m=25748


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"After having some business dealings with men, I am occasionally chagrined,
and feel as if I had done some wrong, and it is hard to forget the ugly circumstance.
I see that such intercourse long continued would make one thoroughly prosaic, hard,
and coarse. But the longest intercourse with Nature, though in her rudest moods, does
not thus harden and make coarse. A hard, sensible man whom we liken to a rock is
indeed much harder than a rock. From hard, coarse, insensible men with whom I have
no sympathy, I go to commune with the rocks, whose hearts are comparatively soft."

- Henry David Thoreau, November 15, 1853

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Guest_MarkG_*
post Oct 3 2006, 11:55 PM
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We will never live on Mars...sadly but that's what I think...never!!!


I have to agree: I don't see any point in living on Mars when we could have a much better living standard by building free-floating habitats. On Mars you're stuck with what nature gave you, in free space using materials from asteroids and moons you can build anything you want (money and technology permitting).

The other big issue is that planets are huge targets: if we have the technology to terraform Mars, we also have the technology to drop a big asteroid on it and destroy all life on the planet. If you believe in the laws of physics, then preventing people from doing that will be near impossible, whereas a free-floating habitat will at least be able to move out of the way if someone takes a dislike to you and starts throwing big rocks your way.

Frankly, I think the latter point is the 'elephant in the living room' so far as most space fantasies are concerned: they assume that future humans will have control over vast amounts of energy but no-one will use it to blow things up... IMHO that's naive in the extreme.
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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Nov 7 2006, 08:49 PM
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You can be sure mankind will move to Mars and beyond, it will just be a pitty for those left behind on Earth when the life of our Sun will end tongue.gif
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