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Mars Space Science

Mars One Contracts Paragon To Investigate Life Support Systems 118

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."
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Mars One Contracts Paragon To Investigate Life Support Systems

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @03:28AM (#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.

  • by toygeek ( 473120 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @03:54AM (#43146623) Homepage Journal

    Its pretty well established that you don't need people in the mix to explore Mars. Certainly not to choose a good landing spot for habitats. And if I'm going to risk life and limb to step foot on Mars (or to get into LEO for that matter) there had better be a place to sleep, a place to poo, and plenty of food to eat when I get there. Right now we know enough about Mars to pick a good landing spot. We've done it several times for rovers etc. To get humans on there is not only a fantastic challenge, but at this point its not necessary. It will always be cheaper to build a civilization of robots to inhabit- at least they can be solar or nuclear powered. Humans are incredibly difficult to keep alive.

  • by MrMickS ( 568778 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:53AM (#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 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:56AM (#43146845) Journal
    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 have colonies in space, and mine asteroids. Then you don't have the inconvenience and expense of being stuck in an inhospitable gravity well.

    I suspect very bad weather damaging your buildings in Mars/Venus is more likely than your space colony being damaged by very bad solar weather or asteroid strikes.

    So why would having a colony in Venus or Mars actually be better than a colony in space?

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