OK, IŽd like to know something: Do you guys believe terraforming Mars is possible?
OK, IŽd like to know something: Do you guys believe terraforming Mars is possible?
Do you believe that liberating enough frozen gases to actually thicken the Martian atmosphere is comparable to changing the ppm of a gas in an already very thick atmosphere?Originally Posted by Argos
Terraforming Mars is possible, but it is likely to be very energy intensive. Throw enough energy at the problem and you will eventually be able to produce an Earth-like environment.
It might be necessary to import gases to the planet in order to bring the atmosphere up to the right pressure; it might even be necessary to continue topping up the atmosphere over time.
The question is, how much energy are we prepared to throw at this problem?
How About, The ENTIRE World's Nuclear Arsenal ...Originally Posted by eburacum45
Good Place to Put It, As Far As I'm Concerned!!!!
Sure it's possible, but over what kind of time scale?
http://home.comcast.net/~mbmcneill7/ is an operational plan that would take about 200 years to emplace and another 100 years to shift 5 bars of Venus' atmosphere to Mars. Note that the plan provides for protecting both Earth and Mars from colliding asteroids/comets and has the potential for making trans-Mars sites habitable and protected from collisions with comets/asteroids. Transits to Mars from Earth can be made in a few days as opposed to months, and access to KB and OC objects can be made in weeks/years as opposed to months/centuries. Robustness is an essential friend of the space colonizer.Originally Posted by Eric Vaxxine
Last edited by GOURDHEAD; 2005-Oct-13 at 01:22 PM.
Mars faces three problems in terraformation. The atmosphere is about 0.005 times the density of Earth at sea level. This is effectively a vacuum; your high school science lab would probably be hard pressed to get air that thin.Originally Posted by Argos
The second problem Mars faces is a lack of open bodies of water. Sure, we think there's frozen water locked up in subsurface polar ice, but how much? Mars has 25% the surface area of Earth, and Earth has 1,400 million cubic kilometers (350 million cubic miles) of water. For Mars to have a similar water ratio, it would need 350 million cubic kilometers (90 million cubic miles) of water. Where in the world do you get that kind of volume?
The third problem Mars faces is a reduced average temperature. It's so cold that living on Mars would be an exercise in survival instead of a choice for your next vacation.
There's an additional difference between Mars and Earth, but it actually works in our favor, so it's not a problem. The surface gravity of Mars is 38% that of Earth, so a 200 pound man would only weigh 76 pounds. Makes manual labor a lot easier. Before you get distracted thinking this would cause Mars to lose its atmosphere faster, remember that the loss of atmosphere is a problem over timescales vastly longer than human civilization. It wouldn't be problem in say a hundred million years, although most any atmosphere you brought Mars would disapate in a billion years, ten times as long. Human civilization is what, 10,000 years old? You're talking about time scales 10,000 to 100,000 times longer than everything we've done here on Earth since wandering nomads first settled.
So what can be done about the first three problems, atmosphere, water, and temperature? Divert a large comet to land on Mars. You replace the water and atmosphere essentially instantly, and the kinetic energy of a massive comet falling sunward for 10 billion kilometers (six billion miles) provides the heat. The technology to divert such a comet, or collection of smaller ones, is still outside our grasp. For the moment. But if your point of view encompases centuries instead of decades, then this is the way to go.
The best way to deal with the temperature issue, I would think, is to set up a number of solar reflectors in Mars orbit. More insolation = more heat. Costly, sure, but then the whole project is expensive.
Once you get 5 bars of Venus' atmosphere, taking care to include one bar of nitrogen, transferred to Mars and some heat beamed from the near the sun, substantial amounts of Martian water will thaw and begin to flow. If more is needed to supplement what is already there, then we can add some of the smaller icy moons of the giants and KB objects as required.So what can be done about the first three problems, atmosphere, water, and temperature?
In the short term I would say it would be far more efficient to build well placed cities on Mars that we can insulate from the atmosphere of Mars whilst still being able to provide power. The most efficient would possibly be wind power because on Mars that'd definitely provide enough power when the sand storms block the Solar. Although as there's no free H2O in the atmosphere microwave beams shouldn't get absorbed even in the thickest sand storm but they may get scattered. Of course if we manage to build a tether between an orbital in geosync and the ground it wouldn't be a problem as it should have enough tensile strength to deal with the worst storm.
Simply terraforming Mars would be a drastic process and inefficient in the human long term. If we want to terraform we'll try it fast and this will in no doubt involve the use of drastic measures like detonating nuclear weapons with little cause for thought before hand and the amount of energy needed if provided solely by nuclear weapons would more likely leave the planet in an uninhabitable earth like state. Wonderful beach side resorts with thick radiation suits, mmm lovely!
Why bother colonising Mars anyway, once we've got the technology to go there and build a base we've got the technology to build a station in orbit, which is much closer to home and even though it could be made self sustaining a Mars base is far too distant for any rescue attempt should anything go wrong. It's hard to make an escape vehicle to escape Mars' gravity then give them enough protection and food/fuel to manage a Hohmann transfer back to earth. Whilst in orbit you would just need to produce enough delta-v to bring you near another station that could mount a rescue and all within a day at the most.
The quickest way to heat up Mars I can think of is probably to slam one of its moons into it, even making one or both have extremely elliptical orbits could cause enough drag on its core to cause volcanic activity, which itself should put enough stuff into the atmosphere to start it warming up. If nukes/fusion bombs were to be used I'd suggest creating fault lines and shifting the orbit of the moons and detonate the weapons just before they are in the moons peak gravity. It could possibly start tectonic activity and help bring up the planetary temperature, but would most likely need several thousand bombs larger than the Tsar Bomba and preferably all being extremely clean of fission materials.
Plus if we screw up at least we can say we destroyed a planet!
Crashing stuff into Mars will just raise the temperature for a short while. Then the radiant heat, well, radiates away. Then what? What you want to do is drastically increase the thickness of the atmosphere. Maybe aerobrake a bunch of comets in the atmosphere. That way you avoid any messy, er, impacts. Besides, that's a lot of water...
The problem with this approach is that it rules out some long term choices. You will decide not to bring in a major comet if you already have people living on Mars because they won't be afterwards.Originally Posted by electromagneticpulse
Currently humanity, in fact all known examples of life, are located in one place--Earth. This leaves open the possiblity that a single event could wipe it all out. Forever. How inefficient is that?Originally Posted by electromagneticpulse
They're too tiny to do us much good. We just need a great deal more mass than what they offer.Originally Posted by electromagneticpulse
I'm all for building cities. You can construct enclosed domes for far less than the equivalent share of effort required to terraform the planet. And there would be far faster payoff for the efforts.
Why not do both? You don't need to slam anything into Mars to terraform it.
Aw ...Originally Posted by The Supreme Canuck
It'd Be FUN!!!
Moving 10,000,000 ton comets is going to be difficult. Changing orbits of such eccintricity and with such long periods will take lots and lots of impulse.
Ice asteroids would be a better bet. You should be able to find some in the asteroid belt, they're easier to move, and they don't make a huge boom when you land them.
wow, buy 2 at that price.
Terraforming may even be more expensive than the books that cover the topic.
I saw a program on tv a week or two ago (I think it was the science channel) about terraforming Mars. They were talking about research being done now, and from what they said (the researchers) you could expect a 100,000 year time scale (maybe more). It's really bugging me though, because I can't remember exactly how they planned on doing it.
If we terraform the sun, what would we do for heat and light?
Freitas was having a little joke when he suggested that self replicating machines could disassemble the Sun in 59 years; in order to acheive this you would have to ignore 'crowding effects, transport times, latent planetary heat, and a host of other complicating factors' as Freitas himself points out; most important is the fact that the Sun is mostly hydrogen plasma, and no use for building self-replicating machinery.
But some kind of dyson sphere (with a lot of potential living space) could perhaps be built using the metallic elements in the Solar System in a surprisingly short time using replicating machinery; the efficiency of such speculative devices and of nanotechnology in general are the subject of some debate at the moment.
Yeah ...Originally Posted by eburacum45
BEWARE, The Grey Goo!!!!