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DonPMitchell
This started out as a reply on the thread about the Bigelow Aerospace station, and why I think it may be goofy, but it is still a step in the right direction.

Space exploration is a magnet for crank science. It's nearly impossible to talk about something like intersteller propulsion and keep people on the same page as real-world physics and engineering. And it's even more difficult to talk about far-reaching ideas like colonizing planets without drifting into the realm of science fiction. But here I go anyway.

Consider the famous scenes in 2001, where a NASA official flies to a beautiful space station operated by Pan Am airlines and then on to a Lunar colony. You're looking at a simulated trillion dollar infrastructure, but why was it built? Who is using it? Who is paying for it? How does it make money? What are people doing on the Moon that is worth all this? These are issues that science fiction simply overlooks.

As in 2001, the analogy is often drawn between the airline industry and a future spaceflight industry. The difference is, on the Earth there are real destinations to fly to. There are countless social and economic reasons to travel from one populated region to another on the Earth. This is not the same as spending billions of dollars to fly to Mars, pick up a rock and return to Earth. For spaceflight to be practical and large-scale, there must be a reason, there must be a destination.

People talk about things like mining helium-3 on the Moon. Both technically and economically that's nonsense. At present, there is nothing remotely valuable enough to pay for the cost of mining and interplanetary transport. But more importantly, these ideas represents a fundamental misconception about wealth, in the sense defined by Adam Smith. Real estate is valuable because people want to live there and work there. Human activity is the true definition of wealth, and human presence is what makes a destination interesting.

Thus, colonizing space is a bootstrapping problem. it is a problem in economics, not engineering. If Mars had an atmosphere and a population, it would be of incalculable value, and people would pay to travel there and back. But how do reach that point? The technology of cheaper travel and terriforming Mars is fascinating to speculate about. I believe it could be done almost entirely with robotic technology. But that is not what blocks us from proceeding. The real problem is developing a mechanism for funding, when there is a huge return on investment but a turnaround time of centuries. You would have to create a Martian Futures Market that people have genuine confidence in -- a serious enterprise that makes steady progress, backed by corporations with proven expertise and probably at least one first-world government.

Maybe you have to engage people's territorial and competative instincts. Let's say America declared that it was going to unilaterally colonize Mars and annex it? After the obligatory student protest marches all over the world, I believe other nations might start a competing program! And then it's hard for anyone to back down. If both programs make enough progress, investors will want them to merge and cooperate eventually. It is just too expensive to duplicate the effort.
David
Isn't that getting ahead of the game? Colonization can't precede exploration. We have yet to prove that we can get people to the planets alive, let alone keep them there.

I am going to take the opposite side of the question, more for the sake of argumentativeness than anything else. I'll suggest that it's more a question of engineering than anything else. There is money to support space activities that have been tested and that people know can be done. There is not much money for untested activities. Prove that the concept is workable, and the money can flow.

People are not averse to risky adventures with little chance of reward as such. You mention the lack of "destinations" -- but when Columbus crossed the Atlantic in 1492, there were no destinations waiting for him, just malaria-infested islands. The environment was, in terms of 15th-century life expectancy, only marginally less hostile than the Moon; mortality rates among those who stayed were very high. The "colonies" could do little but rob and murder villagers who had nothing of real value. The same was true of most early colonies in the New World. Solar System explorers are at least safe from hostile aliens and extraterrestrial viruses.

Nonetheless, people still kept going to these colonies, out of fear or curiosity or a sense of adventure. I don't think there would be a lack of people interested in living on the Moon if there were the possibility of doing so -- even if they had to pay their own way. Look at the willingness of rich dilettantes to pay for an orbit around the earth in a Soyuz, or a quick visit to a space station. But people can't pay for opportunities that don't exist.

Another contrast is with the early days of flight. The first people who went up into the air didn't have "destinations" -- they took off from a field, circled around, and came back down in the same field. As often as not, they crashed. Many of them died. Air technology in 1908 could have been written off as a dangerous stunt technology of no real use to anybody. Even after people started flying between locations, they couldn't carry very much, and airplanes might have been just a sport vehicle but not a practical means of transportation. Advances in aeronautical engineering made the airplane something more than a toy.

Space exploration needs to combine these two insights: one, that destinations are made rather than merely existing, but that once they are made they become their own justification for travel (this is arguably becoming the case with the ISS already); two, if you can move more material faster and more reliably, people will take you seriously.

Comparing space flight to air flight, in some respects we are still in the 1910s, working with a difficult and untested technology. One of the boons to the development of aeronautics was, paradoxically enough, the first world war, which involved the creation of huge numbers of (at first) poorly built aerial machines (both airplanes and dirigible balloons), most of which did not survive the war. Nonetheless, an industry was created, lots of pilots were trained, and some basic problems of flying were stated and solved. We don't really have a rocket industry that mass-produces rockets for human space travel in anything like the quantities to make for a space economy; we have an extremely low number of people, all things considered, who are trained to fly on them; and we're still working on making the machines safe. To some extent the engineering and economic challenges go hand in hand, in that the more rockets you make, the more failures you will have, and the greater the number of failures, the better you understand your product and the better you can make it.

Ideally, a program like NASA would be flying a lot of different kinds of craft, so that a failure in one type wouldn't bring the whole manned space program crashing to a halt. But more generally, the aeronautics industry wouldn't have gotten very far if, every time a plane crashed, all flights of that plane were halted.
volcanopele
As David alluded to, I think that many of the same motives that drove European colonialism and imperialism in the second half of the last millennium will drive the new colonialism: money and religion. As environmental regulations becoming increasingly stringent, it maybe more cost-effective to move industrial activity off-Earth, and move them to places where such regulations need not apply (but of course, people will then start complaining that we are causing global warming on Mars, pumping gas into the atmosphere, allowing *gasp* liquid water to form on the surface...the horrors). However, as our society becomes more adverse to such necessary "evils", it may just be that increasing the only place to mine new raw materials, and manufacture them into the products our culture still needs, will be on places like Mars, the asteroids, Io...
dvandorn
Everyone is making good points, here.

Don, you're absolutely correct that there needs to be a motivation for human expansion into the solar system that will attract a long-term investment process.

David, you're absolutely correct that people have, in the past (and more and more as time has gone on) *created* destinations where none had previously existed. Destinations that, until they were created, did not posess what anyone would have seen as any intrinsic economic value.

Jason, you're absolutely correct that there have historically been other motivators for colonialism, especially religious grounds. One quick look at a newspaper, or ten minutes watching headlines on TV news, will tell you that modern human civilization is still just as contentious over its varying religious beliefs as it's ever been -- and our level of technology (and sheer numbers) have made the consequences that much more threatening to all of us.

I think that, in the end, it may all come down to a resources issue. We are not really close to running out of most metals on Earth, but we are close to running out of some easily-accessed metals and other materials. I read somewhere that most of the soft iron within easy mining range, across the entire globe, was mined out during WWII. Since then we have been expending more time and energy than before, getting our iron out of harder ores such as taconite.

If we could somehow demonstrate that terrestrial sources of various metals and other useful (or essential) materials will become harder and harder to find, we can begin to convince people (especially those people who control the money) that we will not only require extra-terrestrial resources within a given span of time, we need to start working *now* to develop the technologies needed to make access to those resources economical enough to make their use possible.

The hardest thing about this, of course, is that it requires people to think more long-term than human nature usually pressures us to think. And any plan that starts with the basic tenet that "all we need to do is change human nature, just a little tiny bit..." will *always* fail. No exceptions.

However, if we're gonna utilize extra-terrestrial resources in the future, I think we *have* to start with the asteroids. Energy requirements to get to and from a lot of near-Earth bodies aren't that much more than getting to Mars (and in some cases are less), light-time lags are shorter, allowing more ground control of early robotic probes, you don't have nearly as large a gravity well to climb into or out of to get to, and remove, their metals... and as you end up with manned mining colonies on the larger rocks, you have nice, big rock piles to shield their crews from cosmic rays.

I would much rather see the first manned trip out of the Earth-Moon system to be headed towards an asteroid, rather than towards Mars. But that's just my opinion...

smile.gif

-the other Doug
hendric
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.

Somewhere between zero and the current cost/kg to space, there is an inflection point where space tourism starts to look serious. What is that point? We've seen ppl are willing to pay today to goto LEO. What does that demand curve look like? What happens when the ticket for a MIR/ISS vacation reaches $100,000? $10,000? $1,000? I think around $25,000-$50,000 is where that curve starts increasing rapidly, with the average TPS member willing to make a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

So assume $50,000 for a ticket for hauling a person, his effects, consumables, and vehicle to orbit for a two day visit. Just guessing 500kg per person (including a very light space ship!) would need to be hauled off of earth, we need a cost/kg to space of around $100/kg to support a serious tourist industry.

Current costs from SpaceX (which are no doubt aggressive) range from $3,000 to $10,000/kg. So it would take a factor of 30x minimum to get a space tourism industry going, which is IMO on the borderline of feasible.
r
Beyond LEO, the Moon is a viable destination, but Mars and beyond look iffy. Spending that much time in space would require a serious investment in shielding, and in personal time.

Engineering-wise, there isn't a limitation on travelling to mars; it's a standard engineering solution to throw money at a problem until it's solved. So a one-off trip to Mars may happen eventually. Economically, I just don't see Mars tourist visits or colonies possible, even for billionaires.

But LEO is a definite, with the Moon a maybe, as viable destinations within the foreseeable future.
hendric
dvandorn,
I dunno. There are so many resources available here vs trying to bring them back from space, that I just don't see that as being a primary driver. We'd probably mine the oceans (and our own landfills!) way before going to an asteroid. And then there's the problem of getting that resource back here on Earth. Instead of setting up a mining station, it might make more "sense" to drop a significant chunk of asteroid, say, in the middle of the Sahara and just mine it there.

I've heard that Copper is probably the most critical scarce element, but I'm confident our technology will probably get around the major needs for that and even Iron. Copper is slowly being replaced by plastics (in plumbing) and glass fibers (in comms wiring). Iron, I imagine, could be replaced by carbon fibers, plastics, or something similar. Wouldn't it be cool if we could reduce the CO2 by turning it into a building material?
DonPMitchell
I think the science of colonizing Mars is pretty straightforward. There are endless books and websites describing over and over again all the obvious ways of transporting mass to Mars, building up and altering its atmosphere, etc. The engineering details are a lot harder, but I am confident that if you supplied funding to any serious aerospace company, they could solve those problems.

I think NASA, ESA and Russia know how to do planetary science. But ISS is an example of where I differ with their policy. It is hugely expensive, doesn't really advance science or the agenda I described. It is fundamentally a political mission planned by politicians. I believe commercial enterprise would focus on a practical goal and not burdon the taxpayers with international "feel-good" projects.

You can google around and find a ton of websites about mining Mars, or just showing cute banners and artwork of what the steps will be to colonize Mars. It's all the same stuff that people have been saying and drawing since Tsander and Von Braun and others long ago. But my point is, Mars is utterly worthless until it is populated. And populating Mars is expensive and will take a long time. So how do you bridge that gap in economics and time? No small company or eccentric societies of enthusiasts can possibly do it.
Stephen
QUOTE (DonPMitchell @ Jul 16 2006, 11:39 PM) *
Thus, colonizing space is a bootstrapping problem. it is a problem in economics, not engineering. If Mars had an atmosphere and a population, it would be of incalculable value, and people would pay to travel there and back. But how do reach that point? The technology of cheaper travel and terriforming Mars is fascinating to speculate about. I believe it could be done almost entirely with robotic technology. But that is not what blocks us from proceeding. The real problem is developing a mechanism for funding, when there is a huge return on investment but a turnaround time of centuries. You would have to create a Martian Futures Market that people have genuine confidence in -- a serious enterprise that makes steady progress, backed by corporations with proven expertise and probably at least one first-world government.

Maybe you have to engage people's territorial and competative instincts. Let's say America declared that it was going to unilaterally colonize Mars and annex it? After the obligatory student protest marches all over the world, I believe other nations might start a competing program! And then it's hard for anyone to back down. If both programs make enough progress, investors will want them to merge and cooperate eventually. It is just too expensive to duplicate the effort.

Frankly, I think this is pie-in-the-sky stuff. I agree that funding is a problem with colonising Mars. But at the same time investors are not charitable organisations. Most of them do not put money into an enterprise on a whim. They put it there because they expect to get their money back plus a profit. Hopefully a handsome profit.

A "Martian Futures Market" surely assumes that there already exists an exchange of goods between Mars and Earth, which in turn implies that there already exists a community living on Mars which is available for trading with.

Can you have such a market if no such trade exists--indeed no human has yet landed on Mars (or those who have are only a handful of explorers)?

If not, then you have to doubt whether a "Martian Futures Market" would generate the necessarily tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars that would probably be required

And I doubt "engag[ing] people's territorial and competative instincts" would help either. It is hard to get very "territorial" about a thing one has yet to find a use for, is millions of miles away, costs a fortune to reach (and would probably cost an even larger fortune to ship the Marines over to defend against some over-competitive rival), and is a place where many of one's own citizens though they might have a hankering to visit occasionally, would probably also have no great inclination to live there.

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Stephen
Stephen
A few stray thoughts on Martian colonisation and its funding.

1) Frame of Mind

How many people would actively consider joining a colonisation program and emigrating to Mars?

One clue is Antarctica, the closest terrestrial analogue to conditions on Mars. Even if there was a group out there actively promoting the idea I wonder how many people (especially those from the more comfortably well-off areas of Earth--the very demographic who seem to be most in favour of going to Mars) would pay money--especially large amounts of money--to go live in Antarctica permanently? They might stay there for a week in a 4-star hotel. The more adventurous might even "rough" it on an Antarctic trek or to do a season or two of field work as part of a Mars (Ant)arctic research station expedition from the Mars Society. But go live there, permanently, in the modern-day equivalent of a log cabin, with no maid or child care, no running water, no nightclubs, no MTV--and (probably) no prospect of necessarily turning a profit in one's new location without long years of work, and manual labour-type work at that?

Without doubt a few would. But I also seriously doubt whether you would see large numbers of 21st century Westerners making the journey; and all the more so if they had to pay their own fares (as was usually the case with 19th century emigration from Britain to the US). Most of the huddled masses of the US and Europe seem quite comfortable where they are at the moment.

That is, it is not enough for countries or companies to be competing with one another to send colonists to Mars if they have no reservoir of would-be colonists to send. As a general rule the well-off are unlikely to emigrate to untamed wildernesses, be it Antarctica, Mars, or the American frontier of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Those who do more usually consist of those people who for one reason or another--eg poverty, war, religious or political persecution, etc--are not satisfied with their existing situation in their existing homelands. By contrast, the United States and other Western countries have largely become a society of the well-offs. Their own frontiers have vanished--these days you can do a tour of America's from the comfort of an air conditioned coach--and all they have left is nostalgia.

I cannot help suspecting that it is that nostalgia--not to mention the romance of the idea--which largely sustains the idea, especially in America, of colonising Mars. Quite large numbers probably wouldn't mind exploring Mars, but they would also probably expect to come home again and not be so long away that they would have to give up their jobs back on Earth. Far fewer would probably want to go live there permanently, leaving behind--probably forever--parents, siblings, colleagues, homes, jobs, and country.

The problem then becomes one of numbers and affordability. If the people most inclined to go cannot afford to go, while those who can afford it don't want to go, then will the number of those who do want to go and can afford to go be enough to sustain a program of emigration, especially in the longer term?

2) Living off the Land

Then there is the cost of martian colonisation. And I do not mean the cost of getting there.

Colonising the Red Planet is not going to be just a matter of sending out a shipload of would-be emigrants, having them land at some suitable spot, and setting up a settlement--which for all practical purposes is what (say) the Pilgrim Fathers did at Plymouth Rock and Australia's First Fleet did at Sydney Cove. The Pilgrim Fathers and the First Fleeters could hunt or fish for food & furs, graze their flocks, and farm the land. They could also obtain water from local springs, ponds, or streams to wash in and drink from, and they could cut timber from the local forests to build huts for themselves to live in and for firewood to keep warm with. They could also trade with the local natives.

There are no natives to trade with on Mars, no game for the newcomers to hunt nor fish to catch to provide food or furs, no forests to cut for timber or firewood. Most importantly, the colonists will not be able to plant crops or graze flocks in or on native martian regolith--not without a lot of technological help. If they want to do any farming or grazing each and every little plot of land used for such purposes is going to have to be sealed off from the real martian conditions (behind and beneath some kind of dome or other man-made construction), soil imported, created, or simulated--eg via hydroponics--and oxygen, water, trace nutrients, etc pumped in.

In other words, unless and until terraforming happens nobody is going to be living off the land on Mars. Not in the way the Pilgrims could at Plymouth Rock. Not without a lot of technology behind them. Even the very air they breath is going to have to be either shipped in from Earth or generated out of local materials using some kind of technology.

That inability to live off the martian land without the aid of technology is going to make colonising Mars a hugely expensive undertaking. Every single house and settlement will need to be equipped in ways that the Pilgrim Fathers did not have to do with their log huts at Plymouth Rock.

3) Settlement Patterns and Land Values on Mars

That in turn is going to affect settlement patterns on Mars. If certain critical infrastructure and services are necessary simply to survive on Mars then rather than having a large number of small settlements (with the occasional larger one here and there) that we tend to find on Earth the temptation will be to have a small number of large settlements because the cost of the infrastructure makes it more cost-effective to centralise services like oxygen and water production in a few centres.

More critically there are unlikely to be any farms as we know them on Mars. Instead (assuming agriculture and grazing as we know it does go on there) the cost of providing Earth-like conditions to grow crops etc is likely to induce farming and grazing of a highly centralised and highly intensive kind.

It is the scattering of farmholdings across America, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere which produces the settlement patterns we see in those places. Each hamlet or town in a rural area services an area of farmland. In addition, if there are no farms on Mars because the cost involved means that food production must be centralised then the implications go beyond settlement patterns. It will potentially impact on the value of land.

Most land on Earth--not counting wastelands such as deserts and ice caps--is used for agriculture or grazing. However, if most martian land cannot be used for those purposes--indeed, not even just to live on because the owners would be too far from the places with have the infrastructure which provide essential services such as oxygen production--then for all practical purposes most land on Mars is probably going to be effectively worthless. In fact if the recipients then had to pay land taxes on it the government could probably not even give it away! sad.gif

That in turn is going to impact on any colonisation program. One of the inducements that drew emigrants to places like the US, British North America, and the Australian colonies in the 19th century was the chance to own their own plot of land. Large numbers of immigrants were farmers. It was the growing numbers of those farmers, and thus the need to provide land for them, which pushed the American frontier ever westward. It was a similar situation in Australia, but with a twist worth mentioning. In Australia the colonial governments (initially at any rate) had problems inducing British emigrants to come out. It was far cheaper (and not as far) to sail across the Atlantic. In the end what the Australians did was establish their own subsided immigration programs, with the subsidies paid for by the sale of land in the colony.

One of the ways martian colonisation might also be funded is by the sale of land on Mars. However, if the people who go to Mars cannot live on the land they own because that land cannot support them without expensive infrastructure they cannot afford and no one else will pay for, then you remove one of--if not the--major reason most people would have to buy land on Mars. The only land most people would probably pay for there would be land in or near one of the settlements, because that would be land they would be able to use.

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Stephen
Stephen
QUOTE (volcanopele @ Jul 17 2006, 02:00 AM) *
As David alluded to, I think that many of the same motives that drove European colonialism and imperialism in the second half of the last millennium will drive the new colonialism: money and religion.

I rather doubt religion had much to do with European colonialism or imperialism. You could make a better case for its influence in the imperial fervour of the Arabs which saw them invade and conquer the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, and parts of India and Eastern Europe in the name of Allah.

QUOTE (volcanopele @ Jul 17 2006, 02:00 AM) *
As environmental regulations becoming increasingly stringent, it maybe more cost-effective to move industrial activity off-Earth, and move them to places where such regulations need not apply (but of course, people will then start complaining that we are causing global warming on Mars, pumping gas into the atmosphere, allowing *gasp* liquid water to form on the surface...the horrors). However, as our society becomes more adverse to such necessary "evils", it may just be that increasing the only place to mine new raw materials, and manufacture them into the products our culture still needs, will be on places like Mars, the asteroids, Io...

Nobody is going to be moving industrial activity off-Earth in the foreseeable future, least of all for environmental reasons. The cost of doing so would be absolutely astronomical. (It would cheaper for the companies to bribe the governments and their voters to water down the regulations.)

This is all the more so for those most likely to be affected by stricter environmental regulations. Many industrial processes--eg steelmaking--depend on the ready availability of things like oxygen and water, often in enormous quantities. There would no point in moving such industrial processes to places where such things were not readily available or could only be made available at huge additional cost.

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Stephen
DonPMitchell
It is not a foregone conclusion that mankind will ever live anywhere except Earth. There may never be the necessary will or long-term political stability to achieve a goal of this magnetude.

That underscores my point, that the problem of colonization is the economic one. People have to be able to make money in their lifetime, on a venture that will take generations to complete. Only in the very last stages would holdings be convertable directly to the 36 billion acres of developed Martian real estate. Until then, the stock of the corporations and real estate futures must increase in value. That requires stability, continuing tangible progress and investor confidence.

I'm not confident in NASA or ESA overseeing a project of this magnetude. I don't believe that such a long-term task could be sustained by politicians and funded by taxation. For example, I doubt if Bush's initiative to go to Mars will outlive his presidency.
Marz
QUOTE (DonPMitchell @ Jul 17 2006, 01:05 PM) *
It is not a foregone conclusion that mankind will ever live anywhere except Earth. There may never be the necessary will or long-term political stability to achieve a goal of this magnetude.

That underscores my point, that the problem of colonization is the economic one. People have to be able to make money in their lifetime, on a venture that will take generations to complete. Only in the very last stages would holdings be convertable directly to the 36 billion acres of developed Martian real estate. Until then, the stock of the corporations and real estate futures must increase in value. That requires stability, continuing tangible progress and investor confidence.

I'm not confident in NASA or ESA overseeing a project of this magnetude. I don't believe that such a long-term task could be sustained by politicians and funded by taxation. For example, I doubt if Bush's initiative to go to Mars will outlive his presidency.


I think Don's post sums it up nicely. If the end game is a Mars with a terraformed surface, then this is a HUGE bootstrapping problem because there are no small or intermediate stepping-stones to reach there. A cute, little inflatable colony is not going to make it happen... it's something that requires almost god-like creation: building an atmosphere, increasing Mars's mass to compress and retain the atmosphere, yet keep the surface with minerals accessable to both life & industry...

So we're either talking a huge upfront investment of resources requiring global cooperation and budgets, or an investment over a very long period of time. Either of these requires humanity to mature... fast. Take, for instance, how hard it is to solve the easiest of global problems: population growth. If we could take our destiny out of Malthusian's hands, and then divert military spending to terraforming... then maybe we have both the cooperation and the economic resources to make it happen - starting today! Think about the manpower, resources, money, and brain-trust currently tied up in USA defense & "intelligence" spending and imagine it focused on making a biome on mars!

Otherwise, I think the only colonies on Mars will be small, self-contained habitats that are dependent on supply shipments.
Bob Shaw
Oh, where to begin?

There *are* motivations other than money and religion. There's politics, for one - and grim necessity.

Perhaps greening the red planet will become a purpose of and by itself; perhaps some nation state will decide to simply move itself off-planet.

And as for exploration before colonisation, er... ...not quite. Look at the series of failed European colonies in the Americas, from the Vikings through to Darien, via Roanoake. There were very few explpratory ship-borne expeditions, save those under the command of (ahem) 'enthusiasts' - damn near everything else was commercial/colonial from the start. OK, there were exceptions - the great Chinese fleet, Columbus, Magellan, but the true voyages of discovery tended to be part of imperialist jockeying rather than something in it's own right.

As for the value, or cost, of space exploration (we've not tried colonisation yet): it's free. No money has ever been spent in space, except ceremonially. Money gets spent on Earth. Umpty-billion Dollar/Yen/Rouble/Euro boondoggles all take place on Earth. So we can buy Mars for nothing: no money gets spent on Mars itself.

'I bid four Qatlos!' - but not yet!

Bob Shaw
Toma B
We will never live on Mars...sadly but that's what I think...never!!! sad.gif
Mars has no fossil fuels as we know, maybe some hard to get uranium but that's it, (please don't start with solar or hydrogen as energy source), so where are we going to find energy to "live of the land" , when we are running short here on Earth??? sad.gif
Maybe somebody should read this topic...... sad.gif
djellison
B)-->
QUOTE(Toma B @ Jul 18 2006, 07:36 AM) *
(please don't start with solar or hydrogen as energy source),
[/quote]

Why - Solar's worked rather well for two friends of ours and has plenty of potential if the money is invested in large solar arrays.

Doug
Stephen
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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Stephen
DonPMitchell
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.
djellison
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
climber
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 ?
David
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.
climber
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.
David
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.
DonPMitchell
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?
Stephen
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.

======
Stephen
DonPMitchell
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.
climber
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.
climber
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.
ljk4-1
Move Into Space, but Where?

http://www.kurzweilai.net/email/newsRedire...939&m=25748
MarkG
QUOTE
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.
PhilCo126
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
J.J.
Great post, DonPMitchell.

<<Consider the famous scenes in 2001, where a NASA official flies to a beautiful space station operated by Pan Am airlines and then on to a Lunar colony. You're looking at a simulated trillion dollar infrastructure, but why was it built? Who is using it? Who is paying for it? How does it make money? What are people doing on the Moon that is worth all this? These are issues that science fiction simply overlooks.>>

Excellent point. As a budding sci-fi writer, one of the rules I'm learning from the greats is that one must make their world internally consistent. In short, don't put things in the story just because they look cool--make them not only fit into the setting, but do so in a sensible fashion, so that their very existence makes sense. For instance, one shouldn't write about flying cars if they're not willing to consider the very real questions of cost, where these things will travel, how dangerous they are (how could a car without wheels come to a sudden stop?), how many people use them, and the like.

<< Human activity is the true definition of wealth, and human presence is what makes a destination interesting.>>

Again, ditto.

For my part, I think economics are only part of the obstacles in the way of colonization. A major roadblock is sustainability--more specifically, keeping a colony going.

Time and again, I've read that we should colonize space to keep all our eggs outside of one basket, to borrow a line from Carl Sagan; it's a big, scary universe out there, and one never knows what plague or asteroid could do us in. This requires self-sufficient colonies, and for the forseeable future I think any such settlement will stay over the horizon. As far as I know, we don't even have self-sufficient colonies in Antarctica; doing the same for the Moon, let alone Mars, will be exceedingly difficult. There is much more we don't know about living in space than we do. I'll list just a few of the problems and unknowns:

--There seems to be great reluctance to invest heavily in novel forms of propulsion that, IMO, will be absolutely necessary for serious off-world transport. There is a similar lag in research in cheap access to space; to my knowledge, only private companies are seriously pursuing this, and shakily at that. I feel that both will be vital for any offworld colonization.

--Gravity. The problems of living in zero-G are well known. What we *are* in the dark about is how the human body responds to prolonged low-G conditions. We have no idea how the body will adapt to Lunar or Martian gravity over a lifetime--especially for creatures conceived and raised in such an environment. Which brings me to...

--Procreation. Any self-sufficient colony must be able to reproduce itself, and that will be a thorny issue. Barring constantly making new suits for them, they would probably have to stay indoors constantly. While in their minority, they would probably contribute almost nothing to the community.

--Psychology. We don't know how people will respond over long periods of time to bizarre diurnal cycles. I've heard it said that even the slight offset in the Martian sol WRT Earth could wreak havoc with the human circadian rhythm over a long time period. Nor do we know how people will adapt to living either indoors or in a suit for the rest of their lives.

--Purpose. Imagine a community of 1,000 people on Earth. Ideally, this community is made up of people of all ages, and everyone has something to do. Some teach, some learn, most work for various capitalist ventures. In a small Martian colony, this model might not work; there will be nothing to buy, sell, or make beyond the bare essentials, save for the development of currency, which would entail a whole series of other problems that we're intimately aware of on Earth. In short, unless they were scientists, these people wouldn't be doing much.

I can imagine a future in which scientists and miners regularly commute to and from space, whether their destination is the Moon, a NEO, or Mars. However, I cannot see any self-sustaining offworld colonies as being probable. Ironically, I think the best chance for humans to colonize another planet would be to find another Earthlike planet with a breathable atmosphere within a few parsecs, rather than wholesale colonization of the Solar System. Of course, maybe terraforming can change everything, but I think the time and effort involved in turning say, Mars into a Earthlike planet would certainly be no worse spent building an interstellar colonizing vessel to go to some Earthlike planet fairly close-by.
PhilCo126
This is nice !
http://manconquersspace.com/
Stu
QUOTE (PhilCo126 @ Nov 12 2006, 05:07 PM) *


Oh wow, I can't WAIT to see that! Bonestellian spaceships flying to Mars! That will be beautiful...!! cool.gif

Click to view attachment
djellison
I've followed MCS for a few years - the lenths the guy has gone to and the trouble he has had....and the results he's got from his work all defy belief.

Doug
nprev
Oh, man...I'm drooling!!! THIS will be a must-have DVD.

EDIT: I just watched the clips...wow. Wow. That "Saturn Shuttle" launch is straight out of my dreams!

Ironically, of course, one of the reasons this never came to pass was the advent of UMSF itself as a cost-effective means to accomplish MSF missions. I'm sure Von Braun assumed that the average space station would require about a dozen electronics techs to change tubes & do maintenance (which was one of the reasons that I became an electronics tech, but I digress...)biggrin.gif
nprev
QUOTE (Stu @ Nov 12 2006, 09:57 AM) *
Oh wow, I can't WAIT to see that! Bonestellian spaceships flying to Mars! That will be beautiful...!! cool.gif

Click to view attachment


Love it as well, Stu- nice combo pic! Just out of curiosity, do you suppose that smoking is permitted on the ships?... laugh.gif
lyford
QUOTE (PhilCo126 @ Nov 12 2006, 09:07 AM) *

OMG! More Crew Cuts and pressure suits, please!
nprev
Yeah...but what a great idea! This is EXACTLY the future that all us spacefans 40 or older envisioned as kids...I want it, I want it, I want it! biggrin.gif biggrin.gif biggrin.gif
Stu
QUOTE (nprev @ Nov 14 2006, 02:08 AM) *
Love it as well, Stu- nice combo pic! Just out of curiosity, do you suppose that smoking is permitted on the ships?... laugh.gif


In certain areas, probably. Plus, spacefaring law will surely dictate that 1) the captain has to be a gravel-voiced, rugged, square-jawed type with a buzz haircut, 2) there's a baby-faced, hyper-keen junior officer who's always unbearably chirpy and gets into all kinds of scrapes, 3) everyone says things like "Holy moley!" and "jimminy!" at times of stress, and 4) the token mega-intellectual but beautiful female crew members wear tight-fitting silver jumpsuits and regularly twist their ankles and fall to the ground with a piercing scream when running away from duststorms or clunking robot monsters, requiring them to be scooped off the ground just in the nick of time by the aforementioned captain.

Oh, and a sub-clause will require all female crew members to have glittery purple hair, like on UFO... tongue.gif
lyford
Don't forget the cast member-plot device that somehow made it into the crew but still needs all the basics of spaceflight explained to him/her.
PhilCo126
Two more ‘ Martian future ‘ weblinks:

http://www.exploremarsnow.org/imagineMars.html

http://spot.colorado.edu/~marscase/cfm/cfm84/cfm84plan.html


mars.gif
nprev
At the risk of sounding overly optimistic, this film may provide the exact sort of stimulus needed to make it really happen. I've said it before & I'll say it again...marketing ideas is critical, esp. when national expenditures of such magnitude are required. Seeing what might have been may well raise the question/imperative "Well, why didn't it happen by now, and let's do it already?!" in many minds...how I wish that NASA had been so much more proficient at this task for lo these many years.


Stu, don't forget that at least one of the most reliable, solid crewmen must utter the words "Careful...it might be radioactive!!!" with Theramin music in the background during a critical event... biggrin.gif

EDIT: I forwarded the teaser clip from the site to a bunch of my friends at Los Angeles AFB...time to start some buzz, these people will definitely dig it... smile.gif
PhilCo126
Just sharing another great website with superb computer graphics...
ohmy.gif

http://www.flickr.com/photos/flyingsinger/page3/


and:

http://www.aovi93.dsl.pipex.com/mars_for_less.htm


mars.gif
PhilCo126
And:
http://www.marsproject.com/tour.htm
Bob Shaw
QUOTE (Stu @ Nov 12 2006, 05:57 PM) *
Oh wow, I can't WAIT to see that! Bonestellian spaceships flying to Mars! That will be beautiful...!! cool.gif


Stu:

That A4b-esque vehicle is a bit out of place, in all honesty. And generally speaking, those guys would *not* have aimed for the interior of Victoria! But Meridiani is *exactly* the sort of landing site which Von Braun considered for his big delta glider landers... ...some fertile ground for image manipulation there, I think!

Bob Shaw
nprev
QUOTE (Bob Shaw @ Dec 24 2006, 03:02 PM) *
Stu:

That A4b-esque vehicle is a bit out of place, in all honesty. And generally speaking, those guys would *not* have aimed for the interior of Victoria! But Meridiani is *exactly* the sort of landing site which Von Braun considered for his big delta glider landers... ...some fertile ground for image manipulation there, I think!

Bob Shaw


Now that's a striking mental image. I can see one of the expedition tractors pulling up alongside Oppy down inside Victoria, then everybody piles out for an up-close look at her...
MaxSt
http://space.newscientist.com/article/dn10...s-missions.html

QUOTE
Europe targets its own Moon and Mars missions

Someone at the meeting pointed out that what a rover can survey in a year, a geologist could do in 20 seconds," says space scientist John Zarnecki of the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK.


The figure is a bit off, don't you think? unsure.gif

Unless it's a very fast geologist.
Stu
QUOTE (Bob Shaw @ Dec 24 2006, 11:02 PM) *
Stu:

That A4b-esque vehicle is a bit out of place, in all honesty. And generally speaking, those guys would *not* have aimed for the interior of Victoria! Bob Shaw


Of course it's out of place Bob, that's the point! tongue.gif And it wouldn't have been a good idea, no, trying to land in Victoria; not even John Boone could pilot a ship in there, I reckon...

Just daring to dream the impossible Bob, just daring to dream the impossible. We can't look at Mars through the cold, steely eyes of engineers and scientists all the time. Mars will be home for poets, artists and writers too. smile.gif
Stu
Talking about "Futures", the poet Diane Ackerman eloquently puts into words the way I feel about the future...

This is from her poem "PLUTO" from her staggering book "THE PLANETS: A COSMIC PASTORAL"... ( Ustrax will like it even if no-one else does! smile.gif )


Where are the Balboas
and the Amerigo Vespuccis
of tomorrow,
hot on the heels of the future,
who will give their names
freely, as if to wives,
as they voyage the spaceblack
waters, always going on
with restless ongoing,
to the end perplexed
by the force that sped them,
and leaving only their names behind?

If Pluto anchors
beyond our sweep, docking
far out along the midnight wharf,
we'll braise
our frontier towns on Triton.
How eerie its floe-broken lands
will seem, with no pink and green
wispy trees of summer
or every so often a blinding white birch.
Could I face only the galaxies
coiled like cobras?

Surely frontier towns
there will always be,
even if "town" seems
too fixed, too stolid,
for anything so mercurial
as "frontier" to be caught with.
Deep in the mountainsides,
where the temperature
is least likely to skitter,
we'll build
our snuggeries and hives,
be cave dwellers again.
It's as if, flummoxed
by the shock of living,
we step by step re-stage it,
driven to the most far-reaching
ritual. Like a catechism,
we begin again: the cave-dweller,
the trapper, the trader,
the explorer; the self-reliance,
the hope, the patience,
the invention; wrapped in our past
as we breathe down
the glistening neck of the future.

That's the future, my friends, right there. Because that was the past. We'll just use bigger ships and explore further, that's all, stopping where and when we can, laying down roots, resting, reflecting, making homes, raising families, then head for the horizon again. It's what we do.
Myran
QUOTE
MaxSt wrote: The figure is a bit off, don't you think?


Oh yes its definitely off. It would have taken a human astronauts quite a number of excursions to walk all the area covered by either Spirit or Opportunity. If he even would have been allowed to walk that far like 2 km single trip and then back.

But that illustrates the difference between the mission of the rover and what human astronauts would do.

The rovers work slowly and provides an in-depth look at each location, something a human wouldnt do. Just imagine a human standing for one entire day with a hand held Mössbauer instrument! smile.gif

Seriously the astronaut would bring back any sample for one preliminary analysis and if deemed interesting enough he would bring it back to Earth - so anything that involves humans is a sample rturn mission also.
In short, a human mission with astronatus and one with rovers are completely different missions and I seriously dont think they should be compared in a way like this.
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