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Mars Earth Space Science

First Mars-Goers Should Prepare For a One-Way Trip 528

Luminary Crush writes with this excerpt from PhysOrg about the permanance of leaving Earth for Mars, at least for early travelers: "The first astronauts sent to Mars should be prepared to spend the rest of their lives there, in the same way that European pioneers headed to America knowing they would not return home, says moonwalker Buzz Aldrin. '[the distance and difficulty is why you should] send people there permanently,' Aldrin said. 'If we are not willing to do that, then I don't think we should just go once and have the expense of doing that and then stop.'" On the other hand, maybe they'll catch a ride back with Carrie-Anne Moss.
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First Mars-Goers Should Prepare For a One-Way Trip

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  • by delong ( 125205 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @02:57PM (#25485699)

    The American pioneers were preceded by explorers that not only did not intend to stay permanently, but (mostly) returned home safely to tell the tales. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any maps to guide the pioneers later.

    The first explorers on Mars should use modular equipment that can be used to build up a permanent infrastructure for use by a later permanent outpost staff. Zubrin's approach makes use of modular hab units that can be connected to create a permanent outpost from individual (temporary) missions. That makes sense. Sending astronauts to Mars to stay permanently, without any experience of the efficacy of the technology, is inviting disaster. Jamestown over and over and over again.

  • by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:04PM (#25485821) Homepage Journal
    Seems crazy to me. Why not build a spacecraft that does a minimum-energy cycle between Earth and Mars orbits continuously, for shuttling crew back and forth? It would be slow, but it wouldn't be maroon anyone.

    Then you use the Constellation/Orion/CEV stuff to get from Earth to the cycler, and LEM-like craft between the cycler and Mars.

    The resources for the Mars base, including lots of emergency provisions and an escape vehicle or two (extra LEM-like craft to return from Mars surface to Mars orbit and dock with the cycler) can be sent to Mars in advance. It doesn't make sense to send people until the provisions etc. are in place.

    For redundancy, you'd probably build and launch two cyclers.

    The drawback of all this is that it takes longer to build and deploy than a one-shot Apollo-style mission, but it's worthwhile because it provides an infrastructure for maintaining a permanent base and rotating crews.

    The crews would still be committing to spending quite a few years to a mission, but not the rest of their lives.

  • Since I was a kid, space travel has been the single most fascinating thing in the universe to me.

    It has only been recently that I've come to realize that manned space flight is perhaps not the right direction. This was an extremely difficult decision for me to make, but I've made it.

    The money spent on a a manned mars trip would be better invested in robotics research.

    We need to get off this planet. Human beings do need to go to mars, but more robots need to go first, and will need to go with humans on their trips as well.

    My (perhaps weak) analogy is that while it is possible for a human to swim the english channel unaided, it is wiser to use technology to allow the feat to be easier, safer and better in general.

  • by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:09PM (#25485901) Homepage Journal
    It's a very different situation. We can do reconaissance of Mars without sending people, and have already done so. We also would have two-way communications with people we send.

    Some explorers from Europe to North America might have been willing to go on a one-way trip if they'd had the equivalent.

  • Sign me up (Score:4, Insightful)

    by einer ( 459199 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:10PM (#25485909) Journal

    No Democrats/Republicans, no stock market, no poverty, no orwellian wars on drugs.... Sounds like paradise

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:19PM (#25486087) Journal

    The first astronauts sent to Mars should be prepared to spend the rest of their lives there, in the same way that European pioneers headed to America knowing they would not return home

    I call BS! Columbus was backed by a government and made several trips back and forth. It was only after he went that settlers followed.

    The settlers were people who were so fed up with the way their government was run that they would risk everything they had to escape it. Although I'm sure getting the ship and supplies was expensive for the day, it's no where near as expensive as it will be to get to Mars. Therefore Mars settlers will have to be unhappy with the government and require a great deal of money.

    [sarcasm]Perhaps future Mars colonists will be republicans escaping the Obama administration.[/sarcasm]

  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:23PM (#25486151)

    The internet would be accessible there with a 3 minute lag.

    This means FPS and MMOs would be out of the question, but flash games, forums, and various other turn based options are still quite viable, as would downloading music and movies. Let the MAFIAA reach you there!

  • by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:27PM (#25486213) Homepage Journal

    Last time I checked Mars wasn't orbiting Terra.

  • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:28PM (#25486247)

    There's no reason for anyone to live on Mars. The only reason to visit Mars is because it's there. They need to plant a flag, take some pictures and then bug out, just like the moon, Mount Everest or the Mariana Trench.

    Supporting a settlement on Mars would take continual resupply missions from earth costing hundreds of millions each. (There is no way that they locally could manufacturer all of the nutrition needs, drugs, advanced equipment spare parts, etc. they would need to maintain a colony.) This money would be better spent on other space missions, and the population on earth would quickly get bored of supporting a bunch of people sitting around twiddling their thumbs in an airless desert. It would undoubtedly be cheaper just to pay for one return trip for a Mars expedition.

    What's more, life there would just suck. They would have to live below ground like rats in holes to try to shield themselves from deadly cosmic rays, occasionally darting into the sunlight before their max radiation doses were exceeded. They would never see a body of water, a natural plant, a cloud, or breath non-artificial air again. At any time whole groups of them could be killed by a single mistake with the life support systems. (Not to mention one of their team flipping out and intentionally pulling the plug.) Their resupply missions could get threatened by political turmoil on earth. It would be like a life sentence in prison, but much more lonely and powerless.

  • by yogibaer ( 757010 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:28PM (#25486255)
    Highest regards for Buzz Aldrin, but that seems to me to be another classic case of pionieering gone wrong. Underestimate the terrain (Well, Houston, that surely LOOKED like ice from back home) Loose your crops get lost yourself and basta! Robinson Crusoe comes to mind. Read the classic and consider for a moment the hardships Rob had to endure without having to care about water, air and heating. (Or if you need something more visual, watch Tom Hanks in "Cast Away"). That should give you a pretty good perspective on how many things we take for granted in our daily lives and that we depend on for our (better than 50 % chance of ) survival (with a life expctancy of more than 45). Things that are produced, manufactured and maintained by hundreds of people. Ok, maybe no man eating savages on Mars (maybe not right away "Lord of the Flies" anyone?) Even with a monthly supply train, a bad tooth would kill you faster than a bullet, never mind taking the appendix out of your fellow astronaut. How many waves would Buzz be willing to sacrifice before establishing a viable foothold? There is absolutely no escape, when the next starbucks is one year away. That could be my limited perspective at the beginning of the century. On the other hand: Maybe they'll call it: "The Aldrin Barbecue".
  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:32PM (#25486327)

    TCP/IP timeout is only about 1.5min for SYN packets.

    then we'll have to implement interplanetary nodes which bridge between TCP/IP and algorithms optimized for longer distances wont they?

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Goblez ( 928516 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:33PM (#25486341)

    The settlers were people who were so fed up with the way their government was run that they would risk everything they had to escape it.

    Where do I sign up? Get to go to another planet (boyhood dream) AND get away from the three centuries of built up corruption? Deal.

    Side note: Why do you think people in the past have chosen to leave over fixing what is wrong with their governments? Is it due to the vast number of entrenched bureaucrats that are satisfied to maintain the system that they think benefits them? Or that people in power have a habit of maintaining that power? Is it that the only other good alternative is Revolution?

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sun.Jedi ( 1280674 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:35PM (#25486375) Journal

    (bye bye karma)

    I guess if I had to pick I would pick some real scary people to send up to Mars first like say Randy Ayres or Reverend Write.

    Wrong direction. These two should be shot into the Sun.

  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:36PM (#25486397) Journal

    The question is, is it cheaper to organize a return trip, or is it cheaper to have them settle there permanently which means sending more equipment and making them pretty much self sufficient or supplying them with what they need including oxygen. These are your only 2 options (unless you're willing to abandon astronauts to die on Mars).

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ari_j ( 90255 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:45PM (#25486587)
    As they discovered, revolution was unavoidable anyhow, so it doesn't really matter.
  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:47PM (#25486621)

    The initial ship which goes there should also be large enough and carry the proper infrastructure to remain in orbit as a permanent space station.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:47PM (#25486627)

    The astronauts would have to become at least partially self-sufficient. Needed supplies / equipment could be dropped in advance and continuing needs could be supplied with occasional drops.

    You mean like continuing drops of smaller packages of parts and supplies and fuel canisters that could be used to re-fit and slowly re-fuel their landing craft enough to be able to launch from Mars and make a return trip back home, likely to the ISS or some re-entry-capable capsule awaiting them in Earth orbit? (since the mars lander/return craft would be very unlikely to be capable of re-entry itself).

  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:50PM (#25486717)

    It is not pointless to colonize mars.

    Establishing and growing a colony to the point of self sufficiency exponentially increases the durability of our species as a whole, as well as increasing our pool of resources and livable space.

    With a colony on mars, we don't have to worry so much about a space rock crashing to earth and causing human extinction.

    While we're on this premise, calculations show that even if humanity survives such an event, the utterly massive EMP from the impact would wipe out even the most shielded systems. Off-site backups of the most important pieces of human knowledge anyone?

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @04:07PM (#25487059) Journal

    get away from the three centuries of built up corruption?

    "Sorry but wherever you go, there you are." In other words, your nature will follow you. History has shown that even the best intended utopian groups ended up dissolving in the same old conflicts.

  • by Sqweegee ( 968985 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @04:27PM (#25487473)
    Sure going to mars is going to be a high risk proposition anyway, but not having at least the redundancy of a return capable vehicle for the first trip isn't a bright idea. Having a one way trip would be exponentially more massive an undertaking than going and returning, unless it's a suicide mission. You'll need to rely on scheduled supply runs, with massive redundancy built into them. (What's the current success rate of probes successfully reaching Mars, 60%?) A permanent colonization would require way more people than a quick visit. What happens when you have some catastrophe that shuts down the program for a few years while they re-design? What happens if your colony ship is en-route and the equipment sent earlier gets destroyed? What happens if something unforeseen makes staying there impossible without re-designing something? What if someone goes crazy?
  • by mysticgoat ( 582871 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @04:33PM (#25487611) Homepage Journal

    A suggestion: we need to stop thinking of the beanstalk as only a way to move material up to orbit. It is also a way to move stuff down from orbit to Earth. It is important to keep that in mind!

    If we design it correctly, the beanstalk will use regenerative braking on material being moved downward. So long as we are moving more mass downward than we are moving upward, the beanstalk can generate energy and the cost to move things to orbit becomes no cost at all. We could even end up with surplus energy whose sale could fund other aspects of the project.

    It doesn't matter what we ship down. It could be moondust: regolith scooped up into containers just for its mass. Possibly used on Earth as building material: if the containers were designed for it, they could be loaded onto gliders on a stratospheric platform attached to the beanstalk, and delivered to construction sites within a radius of a few thousand miles for less than the cost of quarrying, crushing, and delivering native aggregate.

    If we developed the technology to capture an icy comet or asteroid, that would be even better. With solar power the ice becomes water, and then its waterwheels all the way down. That's 26,000 miles of waterwheels. That's a lot of hydropower.

    While I doubt that the technical problems of building and anchoring a space elevator will ever be solved, the advantages would be so great that I strongly favor research in this direction.

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Thursday October 23, 2008 @04:53PM (#25488133) Homepage Journal

    "Most likely you'll get to experience all new forms of corruption which aren't bound by centuries of safety measures."

    Hmmm... Puritans. Salem witch trials. There's something to what you say, all right... OTOH, early settlers had the whole continent to escape to, if they had the balls and some luck. But those Martian settlers ... it's a bit harder to escape when you've got to plan where your next breath of air is coming from.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 23, 2008 @05:25PM (#25488787)

    ...if they are powerful enough to make for a smooth landing and touchdown, will also be powerful enough for a liftoff and a return trajectory back to Earth's orbit. If they have enough fuel. Carrying enough fuel to do both a landing and a takeoff and return trip is the problem.

    If unmanned supply ships could send a bunch of refueling containers to the landing site in several trips ahead of the manned mission, then the manned mission would only have to be able to carry enough fuel to complete getting there and landing. They could refuel on the surface for the return trip home.

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by justinlee37 ( 993373 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @06:45PM (#25490077)

    Haven't you gone to an elementary school Thanksgiving play lately? Oh wait - we can't talk about US Christian history in schools anymore.

    If you think that an elementary school Thanksgiving play has anything to do with "history," then it's probably a good thing that they've stopped, since adults shouldn't be getting their lessons from fairy tales that are designed to indoctrinate the weak minds of children.

    Seriously dude. Thanksgiving plays are all about how the Pilgrims were nice, innocent, could-never-do-wrong people who were just trying to get away from that bad ol' king in England, and how the Native Americans were all nice to them, and taught them how to farm, and they all gathered around a big table to share everything they had with each other.

    What a load of bullshit. Yeah, the puritans were escaping religious fascism, but they were religious fascists themselves. The reality is that those pilgrims burned "witches" at the stake, in gross violation of human rights and even the tenets of their own religion, and committed genocide upon the Natives.

    So you can take your "elementary school Thanksgiving play" and shove it straight up your ass, you ignorant hick. Have fun on Mars.

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tisha_AH ( 600987 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @06:49PM (#25490129) Journal

    I do not think there would be a shortage of skilled people who would be excited at the opportunity of being the first to colonize another planet.

    You would live your life out on Mars. It would be a hard, difficult and dirty existence, eke out a life for yourself and hopefully your children, eventually to die and be buried under the soil of another planet.

    Colonization of other continents and islands have been the greatest adventures. The sailors of the HMS Bounty and Polynesians on Picarin Island found it was a tough place. They had no hope of returning (and many dreaded the idea of facing the hangman's noose).

    If I was younger, (to be born in the year 2020), I would do it without reservation.

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FatherOfONe ( 515801 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @08:31PM (#25491359)

    So when exactly was it that Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin killed someone? Perhaps I missed it and you could link to it? I guess you could make an argument that they killed Air America, but that isn't the same as taking someones father away because you want to bomb a building. Killing police officers is now the same as being an outspoken talking head... I guess I missed the memo on that one.

    Now saying that America caused 911 to help George W Bush and that whites invented AIDS to oppress the black people... (not taken out of context). I guess it is one thing to be a talking head on TV/Radio and quite another to be the pastier at your church. I guess it kind of makes some sense now when some people say that they are "just recently proud of America".

    However you and I agree, if we could loose EVERYONE who voted to stop federal regulation on Fanny and Freddie and who voted for this bailout; we could definitely include Rush, Ann and Michelle. But we shouldn't stop there. We need to include the NY Times, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, NBC... well almost all the print media and we could even include Fox News with that. I am sure most of America would consider that a "fair" trade :-)


  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fabs64 ( 657132 ) <beaufabry+slashdot,org&gmail,com> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @08:58PM (#25491635)
    Lol. Both parties have been threatening that nonsense for years. The reason no one bases their vote on it is because we don't believe it'll happen. It garners a few extra votes from some people who'll never know enough about the internet to know whether it was every actually implemented or not.
  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:43AM (#25493661) Journal

    I need permission from the government to move a wall inside my house

    This is a democracy. YOU ARE THE GOVERNMENT.

    So, YOU have decided it is in YOUR best interest that YOU have to seek expert advice before making potentially dangerous changes to YOUR home.

    The reason for this should be obvious... in the event of disaster, the safety of your home has a serious impact on others, so the modest restriction of professional inspection has been deemed necessary and reasonable.

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Have Brain Will Rent ( 1031664 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @02:39AM (#25494497)

    This is a democracy. YOU ARE THE GOVERNMENT - NOT ME.

    So, YOU have decided it is in YOUR best interest that I have to seek expert advice before making potentially dangerous changes (you claim) to MY home. This is called the tyranny of the majority.

    The reason YOU give for this is bogus... in the event of disaster, the safety of my home will have no impact on others if the nearest neighbor is miles away, so the invasive restriction of professional inspection is unnecessary and unreasonable.

    Really, you have to invoke disaster to try to justify the government telling me I can't make a simple modification to an interior (and non-supporting!) wall in my home??? Sorry but that's just BS, plain and simple.

    and btw, you completely missed the point of my post so your response is rather irrelevant.

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