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Mars Space

Christmas On Mars 41

At John Scalzi's blog, astronomer and science fiction author Diane Turnshek writes about spending the holidays at the Mars Desert Research Station, a place in Utah where The Mars Society is running test missions to figure out proper procedures for living in a habitat on Mars. She says, "In sim, we eat rehydrated/dehydrated food, have a 20-minute lag time for communication, spend time in airlocks before going out on the surface and conserve water (Navy showers every three days). A row of parked ATVs out in front awaits us for our more distant EVAs. We have to be careful–the nearest hospital is forty miles away on back roads and there’s no cell service here on Mars. Reports are sent via email to Mission Support every evening in which we have to clearly explain any technical or medical problems and they respond in kind. I’ve been working in the Musk Observatory, taking CCD photometry of eclipsing binary stars." You can also read the mission's daily crew reports and browse through their photostream.
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Christmas On Mars

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  • Re:water (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2012 @05:37PM (#42390173)

    There's no reason to think water would be that limited on Mars.

    No reason to think water would be all that limited on a ship/submarine floating in the stuff. Nonetheless, there's a reason they call it a "Navy shower" (FYI: you run the water long enough to get wet, turn the water off, soap&shampoo as needed, then turn water back on long enough to rinse off).

    In case it's not obvious, the real limiter isn't the amount of water nearby, it's the ability to purify the water that provides the limitation - water purifiers/distillers tend to be large and moderately power-intensive.

    How hard can it be to melt some rock into the form of a holding tank, set up solar panels, and melt ice?

    Not hard at all. Of course, you have to carry the rock-melter to Mars, plus power source for same. Plus solar panels (which will give you less than half the output you'd get here on Earth). Plus the fuel to move all that to Mars - adds a lot to the difficulty of the initial mission.

    For a permanent station, expect that you'd do it this way, expanding capability as resupply missions brought you more equipment. But it's pretty likely that if you were serious, you'd be expanding the personnel at least as fast as you'd be adding new equipment, and there'd always be people (to include many/most of the scientists actually on Mars) who'd prefer the lift be used to send more science equipment rather than infrastructure....

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson