Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Building on Mars from Mars's existing resources

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    19

    Building on Mars from Mars's existing resources

    I've often seen the idea put forward that one way to execute a Mars mission would be to use the planet's natural resources (iron, etc) to manufacture what was needed to exist on the planet (in some cases, people also suggest manufacturing the fuel - if not the craft - needed to return to Earth).

    My question is this: wouldn't the machinery, plants, etc needed to extract and refine these resources be forbiddingly massive? And when we speak of manufacturing homes, vehicles, etc., wouldn't the machines necessary to do this be massive as well?

    I'm speaking here not so much in terms of indvidual machines, but rather the assemblage of machines and facilities to accomplish these tasks.

    Surely I'm not the first to wonder this (I don't claim, as a layperson, to have found a silver bullet that kills this whole idea), but I must be missing something about the plan. Can someone help here?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    388
    Building factories and refineries on Mars itself would not be overly difficult. It would just take a while because there is nothing there to begin construction with. The first tools and construction equipment will have to be transported from Earth, but once they are there....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Edmonton Alberta
    Posts
    1,068
    I would imagine that building steel structures would be fairly straight forward.
    A smelter could be built with local material. The tools to do this would not be all that balky to transport from Terra.
    Fuel may be a bit more problematic.
    Forges, like smelters, could be built out of local materials as well.
    Lighter metallic tools/structures may be a bit harder, but not impossible.
    I assume that glass would be fairly straight forward.
    Plastics would have to be transported from Terra.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    388
    Plastics would have to be transported from Terra.
    Oh yea, forgot about plastics not being avaliable on mars.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Posts
    858
    Hereis a PDF on making concrete on Mars and the moon. There is one possible draw back to martian concrete:

    ... key materials including water (polar ice) required for the manufacture of concrete are much more readily available on Mars than on the lunar surface.

    A hardened concrete, however, may be attacked (carbonation) by the Martian atmosphere that consists mainly of carbon dioxide. The carbonation reaction is of a long term process, it may take a few years of direct exposure to carbon dioxide for concrete to disintegrate. A preliminary test program to determine such effect is in progress.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    1,452
    hey , think about it if they were able to build Skylab, put Russians into Space and do other great projects, why not building on mars, yes we have much problems, radiation, lack of experience, the conditions, but it is not impossible. In fact its easier than building in deep space.



    Setting up a martian outpost should be our objective, makind must reach for the stars again. We have learned much from all the probes sent into outerspace by various countries, but I think manned missions are more important now. Mars having cities or settlements should be our ultimate goal.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    3,237
    Quote Originally Posted by snowcelt
    I would imagine that building steel structures would be fairly straight forward.
    I thought steel required coal?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    1,860
    Quote Originally Posted by aurora
    Quote Originally Posted by snowcelt
    I would imagine that building steel structures would be fairly straight forward.
    I thought steel required coal?
    I'm not sure that would be much of an issue. The idea I believe is to have something to absorb the oxygen from the rust. There's carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, so they should be able to process that to carbon monoxide or to carbon. It wouldn't be cheap, but it'd be cheaper than shipping coal from earth.

    Another problem with manufacturing in general is dumping waste heat. The Martian atmosphere is very thin--it's not going to be very effective at cooling. There's effectively no liquid water; even if there were, you wouldn't want to waste it by using it in some sort of open cycle cooling. This isn't a show stopper, but it is going to be yet another complication.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    The beautiful north coast (Ohio)
    Posts
    39,389
    IMHO I don't think that any missions in the next decade or more would use Mars materials for a return mission. At this point its easier/cheaper (relatively)/ more-within our technology to ship all the space craft parts to Mars than to ship a steel mill or a refinery up there. But to colonize Mars, we will need to do this.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

    All moderation in purple - The rules

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    1,860
    Quote Originally Posted by Swift
    IMHO I don't think that any missions in the next decade or more would use Mars materials for a return mission.
    I tend to agree. It depends in part on how much stuff we'd be shipping back--if we were sending back tons of stuff it might make sense to send some sort of refinery. If we were testing out some sort of Zubrin-style refuelling system, it might make sense to test out an unmanned system first.
    But to colonize Mars, we will need to do this.
    A fuel refinery might make sense for a manned mission as well.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Posts
    1,254
    Quote Originally Posted by daver
    Quote Originally Posted by Swift
    IMHO I don't think that any missions in the next decade or more would use Mars materials for a return mission.
    I tend to agree. It depends in part on how much stuff we'd be shipping back--if we were sending back tons of stuff it might make sense to send some sort of refinery. If we were testing out some sort of Zubrin-style refuelling system, it might make sense to test out an unmanned system first.
    But to colonize Mars, we will need to do this.
    A fuel refinery might make sense for a manned mission as well.
    What if we sent a load of folks on a mission that was just one way? I'm sure they would be well motivated to using local materials for survival, and maybe even to make fuel for a return trip. Or is that just too cruel?

    Seriously, I wonder how many astronauts would volunteer for a one way mission? I'm betting it would be more than enough to accomplish the mission.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    1,860
    Quote Originally Posted by johnwitts
    Seriously, I wonder how many astronauts would volunteer for a one way mission? I'm betting it would be more than enough to accomplish the mission.
    I agree. Do you think you could get the public to pay for it? I think there's a good chance that that would be the last mission that NASA would ever launch.

    On the other hand, maybe, if you made it a big enough mission (100+ people, 10 megawatt nuclear power supply, greenhouses, machinery, what have you). Maybe 5000 tons.

    If you could use the reactor as part of a nuclear thermal rocket, you might be able to get by with about 10,000 tons of fuel for the journey.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 243
    Last Post: 2012-Feb-16, 07:48 PM
  2. Building Blocks Of Life Formed On Mars
    By ToSeek in forum Astronomy
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 2007-Dec-13, 10:32 PM
  3. Resources from the Moon to get to Mars
    By samkent in forum Space Exploration
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 2007-Jan-03, 11:07 PM
  4. Building Mars panoramas!
    By jumpjack in forum Astronomy
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 2004-May-17, 11:22 PM
  5. Mars and Earth resources
    By Anthrage in forum Astronomy
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 2004-Mar-05, 09:38 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
here
The forum is sponsored in-part by: