Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Mars Space Science

Mars One Contracts Paragon To Investigate Life Support Systems 118

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the don't-forget-your-parka dept.
thAMESresearcher writes with news about the progress of Mars One. From the article: "Mars One has taken a bold step toward their goal of establishing a human settlement on Mars in 2023 by contracting with its first aerospace supplier, Paragon Space Development Corporation. ... The contract will enable the initial conceptual design of the Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) and Mars Surface Exploration Spacesuit System. During this study, Paragon will identify major suppliers, concepts, and technologies that exist today and can be used as the baseline architecture for further development. The ECLSS will provide and maintain a safe, reliable environment for the inhabitants, providing them with clean air and water. The Mars suits will enable the settlers to work outside of the habitat and explore the surface of Mars."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Mars One Contracts Paragon To Investigate Life Support Systems

Comments Filter:
  • That was back when we reached the moon. Does anyone really believe that technology is only catching up to travelling to Mars now? Seriously, who could be that gullible.
    • Whoever puts money in this apparently...

    • by jamesh (87723)

      That was back when we reached the moon. Does anyone really believe that technology is only catching up to travelling to Mars now? Seriously, who could be that gullible.

      And you think the world has been quietly researching life support systems for space travel for the last 60 years in the hope a market will open up before their patents expire?

    • by Immerman (2627577) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @03:22AM (#43146707)

      Sure, getting there doesn't have to require anything fancy. Surviving the trip will be considerably more difficult. Actually establishing a Mars base - nothing quite so audacious has been attempted in all of Human history.

      Mars offers some serious hurdles compared to the moon.
      - It's further away with a considerably greater orbital specific energy, so considerably larger rockets are necessary especially since:
      - There's going to be a much longer trip outside the Earth's protective magnetosphere, so much heavier shielding and/or much greater speed will be necessary, and we don't really have much experience with actually providing such
      - Longer trip times (most plans I've seen call for at least 1-6 months, one-way) means we need much better life support systems. A lot of that has been developed for the ISS, but operating without hope of resupply makes things dicier.
      - Extended stay on Mars: this is a serious endeavor. Maybe we can just drop an ISS-equivalent system and have it function well enough for a while, but more likely we'll need a more self-sufficient ecosystem, and there's still very limited research as to how to actually pull that one off.
      - Return trip: Not only is Mars much further away than the moon, it has a far more substantial gravity well: so we'll need a bunch more fuel, almost as much as for the trip out. The obvious solutions are to either make it there (a potentially major undertaking on a hostile planet), or send it ahead, probably via the interplanetary transport network (in which case we need to worry about what years of radiation exposure is doing to it) Also:
      - Takeoff could be a problem. While SpaceX and others are working on it no-one has (so far as I know) ever successfully built and tested a reusable launch vehicle, which means we need to design something new that can land and take off again, even if only under 1/3 G.

      None of those are inconsiderable problems, and we don't have a Cold War dick-waving competition going on to anymore to goose things along. Part of me wishes the war could have lasted another decade or so to actually get us established in space - then again considering how close we came to WW3 on multiple occasions it's probably just as well it ended when it did.

      • by MrMickS (568778) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @03:53AM (#43146829) Homepage Journal

        - Return trip: Not only is Mars much further away than the moon, it has a far more substantial gravity well: so we'll need a bunch more fuel, almost as much as for the trip out. The obvious solutions are to either make it there (a potentially major undertaking on a hostile planet), or send it ahead, probably via the interplanetary transport network (in which case we need to worry about what years of radiation exposure is doing to it) Also:
        - Takeoff could be a problem. While SpaceX and others are working on it no-one has (so far as I know) ever successfully built and tested a reusable launch vehicle, which means we need to design something new that can land and take off again, even if only under 1/3 G.

        Visit the Mars One [mars-one.com] website, there is no return trip planned. They go to great length to explain the reasons for this, most of which make some sort of sense. The main reasons are the fact that there is no available technology to do it, so that would delay the mission and increase the cost, and the weight considerations of sending a vehicle capable of making the return trip with all of the necessary fuel etc.

        A further consideration, and not an insignificant one, is the impact on the bodies of the crew/colonists of an extended time away from Earth's gravity well. In order for the base to be established and real work to be done the time on Mars would have to be more than a few weeks.

        This is quite a brave adventure and an attempt at colonisation rather than a flag planting exercise.

        • by TheLink (130905)

          Still seems stupid to me. Why would having a colony in Mars actually be better than having a colony in space instead? http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3537441&cid=43146845 [slashdot.org]
          What's so great about Mars for colonies? It's not like you can have plants and livestock on Martian soil without in effect building a "spaceship" over them to protect them from Mars's hostile environment.

          What they should do is investigate how to build space stations with artificial gravity and radiation shielding. Then you c

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by BradleyUffner (103496)

            Why would having a colony in Mars actually be better than having a colony in space instead?

            A colony on Mars would have access to planetary resources, such as ice, to provide water, oxygen, and hydrogen. The settlement could also theoretically be excavated below the surface and covered with "soil" to provide better radiation shielding. The presence of an atmosphere, even if it's a lot less than Earth's, gives at least a little bit of safety and time to respond to life support emergencies than a space station would. It would act as the first stage for longer term, higher population, colonization

            • by Immerman (2627577) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:12AM (#43147123)

              Don't forget CO2 in those planetary resources - Mars has roughly the same partial pressure of CO2 as Earth, it's just that that's all there is (also conveniently some trace nitrogen) Just pump it into your greenhouses and the plants will do the rest.

              Also sand - add a binding agent and you've got "concrete", if you can find resources to make the binding agent locally so much the better, but even without that all you need to build a basic habitat is an airlock, a big inflatable dome (doesn't even have to be that durable), and enough binding agent to coat it inside and out with a nice thick layer of "concrete".

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by TheLink (130905)

              A colony near/attached to a suitable asteroid would have access to plenty of water and other raw materials. With the benefit of not being stuck in a gravity well. And in the main stations you could have the benefit of a proven 1G environment for actual living (rather than mere survival). You won't get that 1G on Mars as easily and cheaply as you can in space.

              How much extra safety and time do you think Mars atmosphere will give you to respond to an emergency? Mars' atmospheric pressure is typically less than

            • Why would having a colony in Mars actually be better than having a colony in space instead?

              A colony on Mars would have access to planetary resources, such as ice, to provide water, oxygen, and hydrogen. The settlement could also theoretically be excavated below the surface and covered with "soil" to provide better radiation shielding. The presence of an atmosphere, even if it's a lot less than Earth's, gives at least a little bit of safety and time to respond to life support emergencies than a space station would. It would act as the first stage for longer term, higher population, colonization than could be supported on a space station.

              Watch the video, it shows a settlement on the surface. I agree though building underground may provide adequate protection against radiation. At least for shorter stays, however those going are planned to live there permanently.

              Having space stations, in orbit and on the moon, can give people a chance to see if they can handle a trip to Mars. Where they will spend the rest of their life. The trip to Mars is supposed to take 7 months, so if the people going can live in a space station for 7 months they can ha

          • by Immerman (2627577)

            They both have their advantages. A space station can never hope to be self-sufficient though, well not without mining asteroids. In fact an asteroid base dug into a large asteroid make even more sense - lots of raw materials, and all that relatively useless rock still makes great radiation and meteorite shielding. Otherwise you need to make it yourself, and we're talking something like a yard or two of lead (or equivalent mass of other stuff - on Earth we've got ~60 miles of air) to shield against cosmic

            • by TheLink (130905)
              The mining module stuck to the asteroid does not have to spin. The space station 1g part does not have to be a wheel shape nor does it have to be attached to the asteroid. It can be a "bucket" + tethers + docking hub + counter weights (supplies etc).

              Why would Mars have greater potential to grow into a true (and thriving) colony or nation, than a collection of space stations? On Mars the atmosphere will remain 1/100th that of Earth, the "gravity" will remain 38% that of Earth. That isn't going to change for
              • by Immerman (2627577)

                Not just attached to, the space station has to be *inside* the asteroid if you want to use its mass for radiation and meteorite shielding, otherwise you'll need several meters of manufactured shielding. And if you're in an asteroid field then everything from pebbles to mountains are bouncing off each other around you, even if infrequently. A little extra shielding is a Good Thing. More is Even Better.

                It's true that a wheel shape isn't necessary, but it's a convenient shape to maximize the "ground" area a

              • The mining module stuck to the asteroid does not have to spin. The space station 1g part does not have to be a wheel shape nor does it have to be attached to the asteroid. It can be a "bucket" + tethers + docking hub + counter weights (supplies etc).

                Without spin I don't know how there will be weightiness and it's been shown that weightlessness [wikipedia.org] has ill health effects.

                Why would Mars have greater potential to grow into a true (and thriving) colony or nation, than a collection of space stations? On Mars the atmosphere will remain 1/100th that of Earth, the "gravity" will remain 38% that of Earth. That isn't going to change for a long time. So all your living areas are still going to be like space stations. So where's that greater potential going to come from?

                Living chambers can be dug into the ground, the deeper it's dug the more radiation shielding there is. The video linked to shows shelter being setup on the surface, with a roving robot assembling it with delivered supplies, before the first humans arrive. Those first humans can then tunnel and mine into Mars to get the raw materials to build underground shelter. which they would be carving

          • by rossdee (243626)

            "Still seems stupid to me. Why would having a colony in Mars actually be better than having a colony in space instead? "

            Gravity - some studies indicate that long term in zero-g (microgravity) causes health problems

            And stuff like water, and minerals that you can mine and use - it takes a lot of effort to get stuff up into orbit, or to a Lagrange point.

      • - Longer trip times (most plans I've seen call for at least 1-6 months, one-way) means we need much better life support systems. A lot of that has been developed for the ISS,

        The video says the trip will take 7 months.

        - Extended stay on Mars: this is a serious endeavor. Maybe we can just drop an ISS-equivalent system and have it function well enough for a while, but more likely we'll need a more self-sufficient ecosystem, and there's still very limited research as to how to actually pull that one off.

        It also says the first people going will be living there the rest of their lives.

        - Return trip

        See above.

        - Takeoff could be a problem.

        Same there.

        I'd like to see studies compare going straight to Mars versus establishing a Moon base first and using that as the departure point for Mars. Of course we could also study whether using a Lagrange point between the earth and moon may be more practical. A factory there could build a rocket with a life support system for the trip to Mars, with building supplies sent t

        • by Immerman (2627577)

          -
          -
          -
          -
          That all depends on the plan, I believe there's currently 3-4 different groups planning independent missions.

          Why build at the lagrange point rather than LEO? Even if you plan to launch from there for some reason it takes the same amount of energy to move the ship in pieces as it does whole, and a LEO is a lot more convenient to get to. The Moon is even worse since you're dropping Earth-originating stuff into a new gravity well (which takes fuel since you can't aerobrake) and then lifting it back out a

          • Why build at the lagrange point rather than LEO? Even if you plan to launch from there for some reason it takes the same amount of energy to move the ship in pieces as it does whole, and a LEO is a lot more convenient to get to. The Moon is even worse since you're dropping Earth-originating stuff into a new gravity well (which takes fuel since you can't aerobrake) and then lifting it back out again when you're done. Unless we're using local materials of course, but that would likely require an extremely mature Moonbase to be possible.

            Lagrange because they're "between earth and moon" and if the raw materials are mined from the moon it would be easier because there's less gravity to overcome. Yes that would require a moon station but building and operating it would allow training on how to do it on Mars. It would be practical experience. Build a station on the moon as an exercise in training which can then be directly transferred to Mars. Having people live on the Moon would also be training for how to live on Mars once the 7 month journe

            • by Immerman (2627577)

              I think you're being overly optimistic - you want to get a moon colony with a mining operation, a refinery, and a factory all established in order to save a few bucks on a Mars mission? And you want to do it as a training exercise?!? I fully agree that if we *had* such a base it would make a Mars mission much easier, but establishing it in the first place would be a challenge even larger than establishing a Mars colony, which after all is not aiming to do mining or factory work in the short term. The Moo

              • I think you're being overly optimistic - you want to get a moon colony with a mining operation, a refinery, and a factory all established in order to save a few bucks on a Mars mission?

                In my post you replied to where did I say anything about saving money? In any post where did I say anything about saving money by establishing a lunar operation or colony to save money to go to Mars? Nowhere, that's where. Where I did say something about saving money was where it came to heavy lift rockets. I specifically stated SpaceX and Falcon9 proved commercial operations could lower the costs of launch over what NASA paid.

                Since you don't understand that, or are intentionally misstating I did say I see

                • by Immerman (2627577)

                  Whoa, bad day? ...easier because there is less gravity to overcome...
                  That is a concept directly tied to cost and not much else, so I assumed that was your motivating consideration.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @02:20AM (#43146527)

    This most likely won't result in much more than spending a bunch of money on a design study. Just look at how many times NASA went through billions in studies to come up with zilch eventually. The main difference here, being the private sector, is that sane investors will pull the plug before it reaches mere millions, not billions.

    Wake me up when they start building something. Until then, it's PR.

    • Wake me up when they start building something. Until then, it's PR.

      Or at least when they start talking about something other than the ECLSS and trajectory design. There's a whole host of issues that weren't covered in Tito's paper...

      That being said, Paragon's name was already linked with Mars One's when the project was first announced a couple of weeks back, so this is either actually just PR or bad reporting on SpaceRef's part.

    • Spending money to get more eyes on the design is not necessarily a bad thing. Okay, it's probably not worth wasting money to start training astronauts (which Mars One is supposedly going to do this year) since we already know how to do that. But design studies tend to build on themselves. For anybody keeping score:

      Mars Direct [wikipedia.org]: the original mission to Mars plan by Robert Zubrin, which included a return flight, first developed in 1990 and expanded upon in his book The Case for Mars. Elements of this plan

  • 2023 seems a bit soon for a human settlement. When are they planning on beginning missions dropping habitats, vehicles and other infrastructure on mars to prepare for human arrival? Those missions would take a bit of time.
    • How about terraforming the place? It'd take between 2 and 5 centuries, and by then we'd have much better space vehicles to get there, and no need for spacesuits and airtight houses once there.

    • Habitats, vehicles and other infrastructure are not what's been holding us back. We've had technology to make these for decades. If we had to, we could come up with adequate ones from scratch inside of a year.

      The problem has always been our rockets. The most powerful rocket ever built was the Saturn V. It costs $ billions per single launch and that's still not enough to lift a Mars capsule with all the fuel and supplies necessary for a manned landing. So we need multiple Saturn V launches and assemble the s

      • Habitats, vehicles and other infrastructure are not what's been holding us back. We've had technology to make these for decades. If we had to, we could come up with adequate ones from scratch inside of a year.

        The problem has always been our rockets. The most powerful rocket ever built was the Saturn V. It costs $ billions per single launch and that's still not enough to lift a Mars capsule with all the fuel and supplies necessary for a manned landing. So we need multiple Saturn V launches and assemble the spacecraft in orbit, and that just increases the cost and complexity to insane levels. I don't remember the exact number, but in the 90's President H. Bush was toying with the idea of a manned Mars mission and asked NASA if it can be done, and the reply he got was "Yes we can do it, for 200 billion", after which Bush quietly dropped the idea.

        By your own description of the problem, the problem is *not* our rockets, but our checkbook and our willingness to use it.

      • SpaceX and Falcon9 has proven it does not have to cost nearly as much. Privately and commercially financed projects typically cost much less than government projects. NASA and the rest of the International Space Station partners are using Falcon9 rockets to supply the ISS because it is cheaper. However even if a lot of the cost can't be shaved off I have no problem with with projects like this trying. As long as taxpayer money is not spent let them go for it.

        Falcon

      • by multi io (640409)

        I don't remember the exact number, but in the 90's President H. Bush was toying with the idea of a manned Mars mission and asked NASA if it can be done, and the reply he got was "Yes we can do it, for 200 billion", after which Bush quietly dropped the idea.

        ...and not long after that, the Mars_Direct [wikipedia.org] proposal came along, which can be done with today's heavy-lift rockets, without assembling stuff in orbit, and much cheaper. AFAICS, it's just the political will that's missing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @02:28AM (#43146543)

    Floating cities (standard Earth atmosphere is buoyant in CO2) on Venus are a better idea ; there is a zone/atmospheric layer where the N/O2 inside the inflatable city would make it perpetually buoyant, and the temperature and pressure are just like earth normal. One could probably survive exposed with just regular earth scuba gear. Thick CO2 atmosphere protects from radiation, and the CO2 can easily be converted to oxygen and water from the abundant H2S04. Power would come from solar or throwing wires down to collect electricity from the thermal differential of the surface and the cloud layer. even the sulfuric acid 'rain' would be very useful....one probably have to rely on fungus and bacteria for food though, cultured in giant floating industrial complexes. mars has too thin an atmosphere, too cold, too little water, too much radiation. Robots that can hack 480 C temp. would mine the surface for minerals and attach nitrogen balloons to float up ore. I estimate that 20 trillion humans could live comfortably in the atmosphere of Venus.

    The extreme lower and higher pressure atmospheric zones of Venus aren't practical, but could be exploited with much effort and technical concern, so I left them out. Possibly, automated industrial centers could occupy those layers. The "Goldilocks" layer has Earth standard atmospheric pressure so damage to the floating dome would not be immediately catastrophic.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TheLink (130905)
      That's the thing I don't understand. What's the point of colonies on Mars and Venus when you can't actually use all that land surface without building structures that practically cover the entire land surface in use (to keep people, livestock, plants etc alive)? It's not like surrounding a large area with fencing/walls and letting the cows/crops just grow. You have to cover all those areas or your crops/livestock will die. And the soil might not even be that productive.

      For that same cost you might as well h
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Uh, one is slightly less insane and unrealistic than the other?
      • you can't actually use all that land surface without building structures that practically cover the entire land surface

        That's true for Venus, but not for Mars. The long-term goal is terraforming, which will take a few centuries to complete, but at least for Mars there are several plausible ways to do it. (For Venus, not so much.)

        As for "very bad weather" damaging the buildings... we've had multiple rovers on Mars for several years, and so far the weather has not done much damage to any of them. Aside from the occasional dust storm coating their solar panels, they have mostly out-performed their design expectations by a long

        • by TheLink (130905)

          We are stuck in a somewhat hospitable gravity well. I don't consider being stuck in an inhospitable gravity well an advantage. So what is the advantage of colonizing Mars over space colonies amongst the asteroids?

          Is there evidence that 38% gravity is enough for humans to do fine in? If it isn't well you're stuck with it. Whereas on a space station you can set it to a wide range including 38% (and thus do better "long term living on Mars" experiments). You could even have different areas with different "g".

          • Your points are all valid, I just don't think any of them are show-stoppers for Mars colonization. The only question mark, as you rightly point out, is whether or not .38g is enough for humans to be healthy over the long term. We don't have any solid data on that. But this will likely change in the next few years as research is done with mice and later humans in centrifugal apparatus. My gut feeling is that we'll be able to adapt, though over time the Martian population will diverge genetically from Terrans

            • by TheLink (130905)

              They may not be showstoppers, but my question was why would a colony on Mars be better than a colony in space (near suitable asteroid(s)). So far I have seen no good reasons given.

              But this will likely change in the next few years as research is done with mice and later humans in centrifugal apparatus.

              Are there even any such projects being done right now? The only one I see didn't even get started: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Gravity_Biosatellite [wikipedia.org]
              And it wasn't even initiated or supported by NASA. Which just reinforces my low opinion of NASA - they've declined a lot since the 1970s.

      • by khallow (566160)

        That's the thing I don't understand. What's the point of colonies on Mars and Venus when you can't actually use all that land surface without building structures that practically cover the entire land surface in use (to keep people, livestock, plants etc alive)? It's not like surrounding a large area with fencing/walls and letting the cows/crops just grow. You have to cover all those areas or your crops/livestock will die. And the soil might not even be that productive.

        What's the point when we do it now with buildings in cities? It's to make the land in question more useful to us.

        As to the soil itself, it's has advantages and drawbacks. Apparently, it is to a large part, volcanic soil, which tends to be very fertile once it is weathered by terrestrial processes. That is, of course, countered by the fact that it hasn't been exposed to terrestrial processes. So there will some period of time when soil in the astrogeology sense gets turned into soil in the agricultural se

      • What's the point of colonies on Mars and Venus when you can't actually use all that land surface without building structures that practically cover the entire land surface in use (to keep people, livestock, plants etc alive)?

        A lot of land is not needed to grow food. The majority of the land used in agriculture now is used to grow food for animals such as cows. Reduce, not eliminate just reduce, the amount of meat people eat and a lot less land would have to be used for food.

        It's not like surrounding a large area with fencing/walls and letting the cows/crops just grow. You have to cover all those areas or your crops/livestock will die.

        I don't know, and I doubt anyone else does either, how much crops can be grown on the surface of Mars. However say 10 people make the trip, they can bring enough food with them for 13 months. With the trip lasting 7 months, if a resupply ship with 6 months o

        • by TheLink (130905)
          My point was unlike on Earth whether on mars or in space you still need to build structures to enclose your farm. You can't get away with a cheap fence. You may even need to process the Martian soil first before you can use it. Whereas in space you just do hydroponics/aeroponics or whatever and it works (NASA's plans for Mars involve aeroponics anyway - so they're not even going to use the martian soil for growing food).

          There's no proof that 0.38g is good enough for humans long term. Nobody has done any exp
          • My point was unlike on Earth whether on mars or in space you still need to build structures to enclose your farm. You can't get away with a cheap fence. You may even need to process the Martian soil first before you can use it. Whereas in space you just do hydroponics/aeroponics or whatever and it works (NASA's plans for Mars involve aeroponics anyway - so they're not even going to use the martian soil for growing food).

            Why can't techniques be used on Mars that can be used on asteroids? Actually though I didn't say it I thinking of using hydroponics though aeroponics should be feasible. Also what I was thinking was that samples of living soil [the-living-soil.com], which would include ants and worms along with micro-organisms would be taken too. This initial soil can be mixed with Martian "dirt" to increase growing media.

            There's no proof that 0.38g is good enough for humans long term. Nobody has done any experiments on that. Best way to do test is to put a centrifuge in space. But if you can put a centrifuge in space or spin the space station (or swing it with tethers and counterweights), then you no longer have that weightlessness problem.

            And a centrifuge can't be built on Mars? We can build one on Earth but not Mars?

            As for the radiation problem you need to solve that before sending people to Mars anyway. Otherwise they'd just get fried on the trip there.

            Do you have scientific evidence humans can no

            • by TheLink (130905)
              You seem to have difficulty reading properly and understanding before replying.

              For example: you missed my statement "NASA's plans for Mars involve aeroponics anyway" and that post you are replying to was just because you had difficulty understanding my previous post.

              So I'm not going to waste anymore time replying to you.
    • by Immerman (2627577) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:33AM (#43146975)

      Yeah, I think the technology for that's a bit off yet, we haven't even managed to even keep a probe alive on Venus for more than a couple hours despite 50 years of trying - not even the atmospheric ones. Between the high temperatures, the corrosive gasses, the high winds, and violent lightning storms it's not a friendly place. Definitely not someplace you'd want to experience with only Scuba gear. Not to mention those surface-mining robots will have to survive not only the lead-melting surface temperatures and corrosive weather, but also the 92-atmosphere air pressure - equivalent to being about 1km underwater on Earth.

      There's also a major problem with buoyancy - unless your city skin is rigid then any downdraft will cause the pressure to rapidly increase, and the volume to decrease, reducing buoyancy and speeding the descent. Similarly an updraft will cause pressure to drop rapidly and risk bursting the city skin. Airships have to deal with these problems on Earth, but with a much more gentle pressure gradient and non-corrosive environment.

      Solar energy probably wouldn't be viable since above the CO2 clouds lie another layer clouds consisting of sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid which reflect ~90% of incoming sunlight back into space. As for 1 trillion people living in these cities, what would be the point? Far easier and safer to create vast underground arcologies on Earth.

      Mars by comparison is actually quite pleasant. A bit cold, but heat is easy to generate and the atmosphere is near vacuum which makes it an excellent insulator, so you only lose significant heat to the ground. Water is plentiful at the poles and possibly elsewhere underground, and unlimited near-pure CO2 is delivered fresh to your doorstep year round at roughly Earth-normal partial pressure, you just have to compress it and feed it into your greenhouses, no toxic gasses to be removed first. Admittedly going for an unprotected walk outdoors could be painful, but a glorified wetsuit could apply sufficient skin pressure to prevent injury, and a breathing mask would protect your face. Most people on Earth can fairly easily adapt to high altitude air pressures around 1/2 ATM - operate the base on a pure oxygen atmosphere at the same partial pressure and you're only dealing with 1/10 ATM, or about 1.5psi, easy to contain, or add nitrogen to reach a more pleasant pressure - the martian atmosphere is about 2% N2 so it will be easy to replenish. Living quarters can be radiation shielded by the simple expedient of burying them in a few meters of sand - another plentiful and versatile Martian resource. Bring along some sort of binding agent for it and you wouldn't even need much in the way of habitat - just encase some some big inflatable domes in "concrete" and install airlocks.

      All in all Mars could readily be colonized using a mostly low-tech approach, ideal for establishing a colony that could rapidly become mostly self-sufficient. If the Soviets had ever made it there their rough-and-ready space program would have been right at home establishing a colony. Venus on the other hand - lets terraform that sucker, it's the only way it'll be anything but a hellhole to us. First we need to unleash some sort of atmospheric organism that will bind all that excess carbon into a stable form... Then we can examine step two in a century or two after the planet has cooled off a little.

      • Venus is 200 degrees worse than an oven on self-clean.

        Mars you don't even need a pressure suit -- just an air bottle and a good winter coat.

        • by jcadam (964044)
          Perhaps you're thinking of Titan. Another good possibility for colonization. Actually probably in the top 3 (along with the moon and mars). Though, you'd need a really good winter coat. Really good.
        • by Immerman (2627577)

          Mars you don't even need a pressure suit -- just an air bottle and a good winter coat.

          Are you sure about that? I've been trying to find a credible source for info on the minimum safe pressure for skin exposure, it seems like 0.006Atm might be just a *teensy* bit below the safety margin, though if I remember correctly water will still be liquid at body temperature at that pressure. Barely. Which could be a good sign.

          And point in fact even the winter coat might be unnecessary - you'd essentially be walking around in a giant vacuum thermos, temperature doesn't have a whole lot of practical me

  • Of course it's PR. If you check the experience of the team, you'll see that they are mostly trained in PR, not in making rockets. There is one person in the team who knows a bit about space vehicles. The rest is design and social media. They're going to tweet their way to Mars.

  • public interest in colonizing Mars to "prove" that "our system/beliefs" are better. is there any way that we can make this a Christians vs. Muslims thing?

There must be more to life than having everything. -- Maurice Sendak

Working...