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L. Spiro

Would You Live on Mars?

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In all likely hood you would build your colony as a mine.

 
I disagree.  The most important resource on Mars will be water, and you don't have to be a
Starcraft fanatic to know you build your base near the resources.  Nobody will be living in
a mine where there is no or little water to be found.  Just because our ancestors lived in caves,
doesn't mean we have to.  It's the 21th century.  We don't have to live like rats anymore.
 



While it is a very important resource, other materials are equally important if you plan to build colonies. And nothing says the whole thing has to be within a small area. There will be a primary colony, where the bulk of people make their permanent home, and then feeder sites where resources are collected and shipped back to the main site.

Oil is often considered the most important resource of our current age, yet all my friends who work on oil fields live hear in Atlantic Canada, and fly out to their job site for extended shift work on set rotations.
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It reads amazingly interesting. However, my current family life restricts long trips (beautiful wife and 3 amazing children).
If asked more than ten years ago, i would have applied.
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I just realized that, while we are all talking about whether or not we would go to live on Mars, there's no way to apply. Where can I apply for this amazing journey? Also, anyone can go or only the smartest and healthiest? Spiro, did you applied already for the trip?

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There is no way to apply right now.  Selection will begin early this year.

 

“Anyone” can apply but only the healthiest and smartest will end up going.  If you are not in the best shape physically (as I am not) you have to at least show potential during the 10-year training period.

I have not signed up but I have subscribed to their mailing list.

That is how you will know when it is time to apply.

 

 

L. Spiro

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http://mars-one.com/en/faq-en/21-faq-selection/241-can-i-apply-to-become-an-astronaut
Can I apply to become an astronaut?
We are currently getting many emails from people who would like to be one of the astronauts to land on Mars in 2023.

While we are very glad to see that so many people are eager to apply for the positions, we are not yet looking for candidates and can therefore not accept applications at this moment.
read more on the qualifications of the astronauts and be sure to subscribe to the newsletter and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and / or Google+. That way, when we start the search for our astronauts, you will be the first to know!
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A very interesting article about what a trip to Mars could mean for astronauts: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2013/01/mars-mission-could-turn-astronau.html based on the Mars500 mission simulation in Moscow, which ended in November 2011. Six crewmen (an international mix of astronaut trainers, engineers, and doctors between 27 and 38 years old) stayed in a series of tunnellike chambers and played out the 520-day mission to Mars.

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Just for the record, I would would jump at the chance to live on mars.  Even if it's a one-way trip (which, at my age, is the likely scenario).

 

Yes, there will be challenges, but none are beyond our capabilities to meet.  I remember watching the first moon landing  That took about 10 years from start to finish -- and we've discovered a lot more about materials and techniques since then.

 

I would go not because it would be easy but because it would be hard.  Just as a man's reach should always exceed his grasp, so should mankind's (and I mean in the inclusive sense, because it's poetic allusion).  I am aware of the dangers.  Bring them on.

 

Let's do this.  Now.

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Seems like you would end up a couch potato with memory loss.

 

That aside, I certainly wouldn't want to live on Mars. Any kind of terraforming project intended to make it habitable would be such a resource-intensive hog that there is no way it would ever be fully funded. The days of seemingly unlimited economic growth are pretty much at an end, now that the free energy of fossil fuels is running out. Going forward, it's only going to get more and more expensive to just keep the economy going, much less provide any excess to fund a massive terraforming project on a relatively resource-lean planet. My worry would be that I'd get stuck on Mars when the funding ran out, and I'd get to look at that godawful ugly red landscape for the rest of my tragically short life. F that noise.

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I'd get stuck on Mars

Isn't that the whole point of the colonization exercise?

True, but the assumption is that you'd get stuck on Mars with plenty of funding for supplies and reinforcements coming from Earth. Seems like a shaky basis upon which to plan such an extended vacation, considering we can barely keep an adequate supply of funding and supplies to everywhere on Earth as it is. Gambling that they'd be able to maintain a supply stream for the duration of my lifetime while on Mars is a pretty piss-poor gamble to make. Mars is no place to be when the supply ships suddenly stop coming because China decided to call in their debts and shut the whole thing down, or North Korea decided that shooting missiles at departing spacecraft would make for an entertaining fun-time activity.

 

A Mars colony right now would be such a hilarious over-extension of resources, you would honest to God have to be insane to even contemplate it.

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 True, but the assumption is that you'd get stuck on Mars with plenty of funding for supplies and reinforcements coming from Earth. Seems like a shaky basis upon which to plan such an extended vacation, considering we can barely keep an adequate supply of funding and supplies to everywhere on Earth as it is. Gambling that they'd be able to maintain a supply stream for the duration of my lifetime while on Mars is a pretty piss-poor gamble to make. Mars is no place to be when the supply ships suddenly stop coming because China decided to call in their debts and shut the whole thing down, or North Korea decided that shooting missiles at departing spacecraft would make for an entertaining fun-time activity.

What kind of supplies did you have in mind? Once a certain technology level is attained, one could manufacture quite a few things on Mars. Basic survival stuff (water, food, air) can all be manufactured there even with iterations on existing technology; water and air can be attained by tapping into the permafrost, food can be grown in hydroponics modules (or printed on a 3D printer when that technology becomes sophisticated enough). By the time a Mars colony happens, I'd bet that even meat could be grown in a lab. As for the other stuff, a Mars colony would never be self-sufficient in that regard unless we go there and get things up and running first - you can't have the infrastructure to support a colony if you're not willing to take the risk to go there and build the infrastructure to support a colony. There would be a dangerous period, yes, but I'd imagine a couple of decades would be enough to reduce the dependency on Terran imports to the point where in a pinch local Martian products would do. It's largely a matter of getting infrastructure up and running.

Also, last time I looked the US itself owned more US debt than China did (and who is to say that the US will be funding this? Mars One is Dutch), North Korea didn't have the technology for ASAT weapons (especially ones that can reach satellites that don't go over their heads - due to the Earth's rotation a Mars spacecraft is unlikely to be launched far enough north to reach the Korean peninsula) and even if they did, they know that would end worse for them than everybody else, and the whole thing was funded by private money anyway so none of us (in any nation) are required to care if we don't want to in the first place.
 
A Mars colony right now would be such a hilarious over-extension of resources, you would honest to God have to be insane to even contemplate it.

And what resources are those? Money? Do you have numbers to justify your claim of it being a "hilarious over-extension of resources?" Edited by Oberon_Command
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True, but the assumption is that you'd get stuck on Mars with plenty of funding for supplies and reinforcements coming from Earth. Seems like a shaky basis upon which to plan such an extended vacation, considering we can barely keep an adequate supply of funding and supplies to everywhere on Earth as it is. Gambling that they'd be able to maintain a supply stream for the duration of my lifetime while on Mars is a pretty piss-poor gamble to make. Mars is no place to be when the supply ships suddenly stop coming because China decided to call in their debts and shut the whole thing down, or North Korea decided that shooting missiles at departing spacecraft would make for an entertaining fun-time activity.

 

A Mars colony right now would be such a hilarious over-extension of resources, you would honest to God have to be insane to even contemplate it.

I'd tend to agree with this. I feel like developing a sustainable colony in orbit would be much more useful. The advances toward space exploration rather than space colonization would be better and more quickly achieved just by advancing large space colonies rather than extra-terrestrial planetary colonies. You waste so many resources just getting to mars, and there's not even that great a garantee that it would even net much of a benefit.

 

A sustainable space colony is a much more significant step imo as that leads to sustainable space craft, which leads to long term exploration and the best garanteed way to spread the human species, which is the best way to protect the species from planetary scale disasters etc.

 

edit: Just to clarify a couple of my unspoken assumptions. A small human population with planned child bearing (even better if you could somehow control the sex of the child to be born), could maintain itself pretty indefinitely. A ship able to indefinitely support 20 humans while traveling should be able to travel near infinitely with some stops to repair wear and tear. I think that's a much more meaningful goal to have than to colonize other planets. A sustainable space colony close to earth would have hurdles also experienced by a mars colony, but would lack a bunch of the hurdles a mars colony would have (notably the resources spent traveling to mars).

Edited by way2lazy2care
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 A sustainable space colony close to earth would have hurdles also experienced by a mars colony, but would lack a bunch of the hurdles a mars colony would have (notably the resources spent traveling to mars).

But it would have hurdles that a Mars colony wouldn't, too. Notably, water and fuel access. On Mars, water can be extracted from the ground and either used as is or turned into drinking water. Short of anchoring to a comet, you can't do that on a naked space colony.
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Oberon, last time I was in school, I learned that water can be obtained by mixing Oxygen with Hydrogen. Correct me if I'm wrong... Now, I am not very good at science, but if you have those on a space colony, couldn't you make water? Of course, I am just asking, since I am unaware of what amounts (maybe huge?) of O2 and H would be needed.

 

Besides, by growing plants we could get breathable oxygen. But again, I am not sure about how feasible is having a garden in space without any gravity on board...

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You guys talk about a lot of things like they're magic. Having a garden, for example. Having a garden requires either soil that has been well-prepared by many years of soil evolution, or a metric ass-load of chemical fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers require a pretty hefty industrial infrastructure. You planning on building fertilizer plants on Mars? Just getting a portion of Mars to the level that you could do sustainable farming would require decades of supply lines. Hydroponics is no answer, because you still need plenty of chemical fertilizers--even more than dirt farming.

 

And how about replacement parts? Lubricants? Coolants? You planning on building chemical manufacture plants on Mars for all of this? What resources does Mars have that you could use to synthesize lubricants? What process would you use? How much money would developing that infrastructure cost?

 

Now, yes, Mars has evidence of plenty of the kind of volcanic activity required to be able to find the various ores and minerals you would need. But the facilities to process these are enormous. We have them on Earth, built up over centuries of the industrial revolution. But to start from scratch on Mars will require enormous expenditure, and frankly there isn't an economy on the planet right now that could support such an expenditure. Worse, it would be a long-term massive expenditure, and what happens to the project, and the people trapped on Mars, when it becomes obvious that it is unsustainable?

 

Building a Mars colony isn't like building a Starcraft base. You can't just magically turn vespene gas into 30 weight oil to lube your engine. The processing infrastructure that even shit like that requires is enormous and complex. Plus, the titanic influx of essentially free and easy fossil fuel energy has instilled within us the mistaken assumption that growth is unlimited, and that the stars are within our reach. The truth is, the free ride is just about over and finding sustainable resource sources simply to keep our own planet going is going to become orders of magnitude more complex. Trying to keep our planet going AND build a new one from scratch on the same horribly limited resource budget is just not going to work.

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You guys talk about a lot of things like they're magic. Having a garden, for example. Having a garden requires either soil that has been well-prepared by many years of soil evolution, or a metric ass-load of chemical fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers require a pretty hefty industrial infrastructure. You planning on building fertilizer plants on Mars? Just getting a portion of Mars to the level that you could do sustainable farming would require decades of supply lines. Hydroponics is no answer, because you still need plenty of chemical fertilizers--even more than dirt farming.

 

And how about replacement parts? Lubricants? Coolants? You planning on building chemical manufacture plants on Mars for all of this? What resources does Mars have that you could use to synthesize lubricants? What process would you use? How much money would developing that infrastructure cost?

 

Now, yes, Mars has evidence of plenty of the kind of volcanic activity required to be able to find the various ores and minerals you would need. But the facilities to process these are enormous. We have them on Earth, built up over centuries of the industrial revolution. But to start from scratch on Mars will require enormous expenditure, and frankly there isn't an economy on the planet right now that could support such an expenditure. Worse, it would be a long-term massive expenditure, and what happens to the project, and the people trapped on Mars, when it becomes obvious that it is unsustainable?

 

Building a Mars colony isn't like building a Starcraft base. You can't just magically turn vespene gas into 30 weight oil to lube your engine. The processing infrastructure that even shit like that requires is enormous and complex. Plus, the titanic influx of essentially free and easy fossil fuel energy has instilled within us the mistaken assumption that growth is unlimited, and that the stars are within our reach. The truth is, the free ride is just about over and finding sustainable resource sources simply to keep our own planet going is going to become orders of magnitude more complex. Trying to keep our planet going AND build a new one from scratch on the same horribly limited resource budget is just not going to work.

on the other hand, you make it sound like it's going to have to support a city's worth of people from the start.

 

the resources to support a small colony(4-20 people for the first decade or so) is quite small, and is completely within reason to do so. mars has similar ore resources to earth, the entire infrastructure for power, food, air, and water well be uniquely tailored to mars, it's highly likly that a mars colony well be using some very experimental tools/ideas to create oxygen, water and food.  it's really not unreasonable that we couldn't get a small colony going that is capable of sustaining itself. nothing has to be built to industrial scale for quite some time.

 

the very first priority is going to be to get the colony to self-sustaining capability, no one is going into this without that understanding(or so i'd hope anyways).

 

remember that necessity is the mother of invention, who knows what radical new technology's may evolve to solve these problems.

Edited by slicer4ever
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Oberon, last time I was in school, I learned that water can be obtained by mixing Oxygen with Hydrogen. Correct me if I'm wrong... Now, I am not very good at science, but if you have those on a space colony, couldn't you make water? Of course, I am just asking, since I am unaware of what amounts (maybe huge?) of O2 and H would be needed.

Okay, but where are you going to get oxygen and hydrogen if you don't have water ice deposits to mine, aside from recycling all of what you already have (which is hard to do)?
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You planning on building fertilizer plants on Mars?
...
You planning on building chemical manufacture plants on Mars for all of this?

Sure, why not? Maybe not immediately, but eventually. This is after all a colony. It's not a tourist resort.
 
What resources does Mars have that you could use to synthesize lubricants?
 
You can't just magically turn vespene gas into 30 weight oil to lube your engine.

Well, I don't know about vespane gas, but one can synthesize methane gas from material readily available on Mars. There's hydrogen in the water ice and carbon in the atmosphere (which is mainly CO2). If you can get methane, presumably you can get other kinds of hydrocarbons, too. Edited by Oberon_Command
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You planning on building fertilizer plants on Mars?
...
You planning on building chemical manufacture plants on Mars for all of this?

Sure, why not? Maybe not immediately, but eventually. This is after all a colony. It's not a tourist resort.
 
What resources does Mars have that you could use to synthesize lubricants?
 
You can't just magically turn vespene gas into 30 weight oil to lube your engine.

Well, I don't know about vespane gas, but one can synthesize methane gas from material readily available on Mars. There's hydrogen in the water ice and carbon in the atmosphere (which is mainly CO2). If you can get methane, presumably you can get other kinds of hydrocarbons, too.

 

 

Gonna use methane gas to lube your engine?

 

You might not even have to synthesize it, though, since there is naturally occurring methane on Mars. It might be obtainable in sufficient quantities. 

 

But you miss the point. Having a source of methane is a [/i]very[/i] far cry from having a source of all the other things that you would need. Right now, the chief source of lubricants is still fossil fuel sources. There are synthetic lubricants, but again we get back to the requirement for complex manufacturing infrastructure. Someone earlier mentioned 3D printing parts, but again we are looking at either petroleum-derived plastics or some other base that requires a huge manufacturing complex. And the synthesis of all these other hydrocarbons you talk about is not a simple process. Most synthesis operations require amounts of other chemicals, themselves with complex manufacturing flows. Current synthesis operations here on Earth (including for synthetic oils and the like) operate on fossil fuels for raw materials, including natural gas and coal. Seriously, take a look at the manufacturing flows for so many of the products that you need for this kind of venture. Now, figure out how many of these processes are utterly dependent upon fossil fuels. Bear in mind that for a self-sustaining Mars, you have to eliminate easy fossil fuels from the equation. Also bear in mind that if you can eliminate fossil fuels from the equation, you have solved Earth's largest problem, and if such a thing were as simple as you seem to think then it would have been done already. Hydrogenating CO2 to produce synthetic oil and fuel? Current plants use natural gas, coal or other biomass.

 

 Still, it is entirely possible that all of these industries could be built up on Mars, along with the large quantity of personnel required to operate it all. Technically possible, at least. But the expense, that's where it gets you. Because until all this vast infrastructure is built up, and Mars becomes self-sustaining, then it will be a constant, gigantic drain of resources.

 

Seriously, in today's economic climate, can you honestly think of anybody that would be willing or even able to foot this kind of bill? And for what in return, exactly? How many centuries will it take for Mars to stop being a consumer and start being a producer? In the meantime, what country or mega-corp or conglomerate is in such a strong economic position that they could outflow that kind of sheer cash against such a risk? The cost of a single Mars mission, manned and with supplies, will be prohibitive; now, how many missions will it take to bring the necessary materials in order to build all this infrastructure you propose to build?

 

We're just not there yet, as a whole. The economic situation on this planet needs to be far more stable before we can even think of moving on to the next planet. Any colonization efforts we kick off now are doomed to be so utterly dependent upon a lifeline to Earth, that again I say you would have to be insane to even contemplate it, given the unstable economies.

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I think what FLeBlanc is trying to say that to make up a running colony, you have to TAKE a lot of machinery to Mars, not something that can be taken there in 1-2-3 Mars trips. And I guess that the current curiosity project is pretty expensive, and we still talk about a small car sized load. How much trips of that size would be required to take there all the necessary equipment there?

 

Sure, everything can be done, but there is a lot of of that everything to be done...

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You guys talk about a lot of things like they're magic. Having a garden, for example. Having a garden requires either soil that has been well-prepared by many years of soil evolution, or a metric ass-load of chemical fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers require a pretty hefty industrial infrastructure. You planning on building fertilizer plants on Mars? Just getting a portion of Mars to the level that you could do sustainable farming would require decades of supply lines. Hydroponics is no answer, because you still need plenty of chemical fertilizers--even more than dirt farming.

 

And how about replacement parts? Lubricants? Coolants? You planning on building chemical manufacture plants on Mars for all of this? What resources does Mars have that you could use to synthesize lubricants? What process would you use? How much money would developing that infrastructure cost?

 

Now, yes, Mars has evidence of plenty of the kind of volcanic activity required to be able to find the various ores and minerals you would need. But the facilities to process these are enormous. We have them on Earth, built up over centuries of the industrial revolution. But to start from scratch on Mars will require enormous expenditure, and frankly there isn't an economy on the planet right now that could support such an expenditure. Worse, it would be a long-term massive expenditure, and what happens to the project, and the people trapped on Mars, when it becomes obvious that it is unsustainable?

 

Building a Mars colony isn't like building a Starcraft base. You can't just magically turn vespene gas into 30 weight oil to lube your engine. The processing infrastructure that even shit like that requires is enormous and complex. Plus, the titanic influx of essentially free and easy fossil fuel energy has instilled within us the mistaken assumption that growth is unlimited, and that the stars are within our reach. The truth is, the free ride is just about over and finding sustainable resource sources simply to keep our own planet going is going to become orders of magnitude more complex. Trying to keep our planet going AND build a new one from scratch on the same horribly limited resource budget is just not going to work.

on the other hand, you make it sound like it's going to have to support a city's worth of people from the start.

 

the resources to support a small colony(4-20 people for the first decade or so) is quite small, and is completely within reason to do so. mars has similar ore resources to earth, the entire infrastructure for power, food, air, and water well be uniquely tailored to mars, it's highly likly that a mars colony well be using some very experimental tools/ideas to create oxygen, water and food.  it's really not unreasonable that we couldn't get a small colony going that is capable of sustaining itself. nothing has to be built to industrial scale for quite some time.

 

the very first priority is going to be to get the colony to self-sustaining capability, no one is going into this without that understanding(or so i'd hope anyways).

 

remember that necessity is the mother of invention, who knows what radical new technology's may evolve to solve these problems.

 

But do you really understand what it takes for a colony to be self-sustaining? On Mars, that means high technology. Very high technology. Not the kind of high technology that can be fully sustained by 4 to 20 people. Because, again, I refer you to the many and complex manufacturing processes required to produce the plastics, fuels, lubricants, rare earth materials, and so on that technology hinges upon. I'd imagine that Mars, with its temperatures and gritty dust and hostile conditions, is relatively rough on materials, so any equipment that requires heavy or constant usage (life support equipment, for example) is going to need regular heavy maintenance, lubrication and replacement. Producing all of that requires an industrial complex. Saying we need to build a self-sustaining colony is one thing, but it would be damned difficult to build a small, fully self-sufficient high-tech colony even here on Earth, much less on Mars.

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Gonna use methane gas to lube your engine?

No. I'll use the methane as feedstock to make heavier hydrocarbons which I CAN use as lube. Also, what "engines" are you referring to? I don't know of anyone who wants to try to get an internal combustion engine working on Mars.

Hydrogenating CO2 to produce synthetic oil and fuel? Current plants use natural gas, coal or other biomass.

So... methane?
 
Seriously, in today's economic climate, can you honestly think of anybody that would be willing or even able to foot this kind of bill?

Elon Musk? The man has outright stated that he wants to retire and die on Mars.
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Gonna use methane gas to lube your engine?

No. I'll use the methane as feedstock to make heavier hydrocarbons which I CAN use as lube. Also, what "engines" are you referring to? I don't know of anyone who wants to try to get an internal combustion engine working on Mars.
It's not only the internal combustion engine that are engines and use lubricants...

Anyway, it's just a minor point, since there are dry lubrication technologies, but that is really just a minor point. Maybe you can make heavier hydrocarbons with a small device. How small? And what about other stuff? They will all need small devices. Maybe a 20 person colony can be self sustaining, but to make it grow, you need bigger devices. Or you will have your own little toy foundry there, than you use your toy lathe machine or toy milling machine (a few tons each) to make other stuff? Will you build these from the red dirt? Edited by szecs
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I think what FLeBlanc is trying to say that to make up a running colony, you have to TAKE a lot of machinery to Mars, not something that can be taken there in 1-2-3 Mars trips.

Take machines that make more machines.
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