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Old August 12 2013, 03:02 AM   #1
Storyteller
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Self-sustaining Mars colony?

OK, this issue halfway came up in another thread here but I'm curious. What do you think it would take to make a self-sustaining Mars colony? I would probably say the ability to grow food, produce drinkable water, power and breathable air, extract necessary raw materials and use the to manufacture needed parts and tools, and repair machinery as needed. People are pretty tough and could do without a lot of the comforts we take for granted.
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Old August 12 2013, 08:30 AM   #2
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Re: Self-sustaining Mars colony?

Storyteller wrote: View Post
What do you think it would take to make a self-sustaining Mars colony?
The first thing it would take is sufficient reason to create such a colony.

Once that epiphany hits enough of the right people, it will take a fundamental change in human nature to successfully follow through with the decades (or centuries) of work needed. I'm thinking it would take a city of several thousands on Mars before it could be considered "self-sufficient".

I don't personally foresee that ever happening. After all, there are many sparsely inhabited regions right here on Earth we don't feel compelled to live in, and so I don't really expect condition #1 to be met.

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Old August 12 2013, 10:03 AM   #3
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Re: Self-sustaining Mars colony?

I still think the lower gravity will take its toll on human physiology, so they would probably need to have some kind of weighted gym training like they do on the ISS. Either that or spend time in balanced, weighted suits to mimic their natural weight on Earth.
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Old August 12 2013, 12:32 PM   #4
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Re: Self-sustaining Mars colony?

Deckerd wrote: View Post
I still think the lower gravity will take its toll on human physiology, so they would probably need to have some kind of weighted gym training like they do on the ISS. Either that or spend time in balanced, weighted suits to mimic their natural weight on Earth.
Or just never be able to come back anyway ;-)
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Old August 12 2013, 01:06 PM   #5
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Re: Self-sustaining Mars colony?

Coming back is not the problem though. The problem is skeletal degradation. Also if we're talking self-sustaining, the whole problem of whether the low gravity will affect reproduction and whether it will affect children's development.
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Old August 12 2013, 04:22 PM   #6
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Re: Self-sustaining Mars colony?

Well Mars has some gravity about one quarter that of earth. Most experts are divided/don't know if it's enough to create long term problems.
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Old August 12 2013, 06:57 PM   #7
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Re: Self-sustaining Mars colony?

Acceleration due to gravity on Mars = 3.71 m/s²; on Earth = 9.81 m/s² so more like 37.8% than 25%. The Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program was intended to test the effects of such reduced gravity on mice but it didn't get funded. It's not at all certain that a linear interpolation between a 0g and 1g field would give an accurate prediction of the effects.
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Old August 13 2013, 05:24 PM   #8
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Re: Self-sustaining Mars colony?

Well I doubt anyone can predict the effects. It would require experimentation on humans.
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Old August 13 2013, 06:09 PM   #9
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Re: Self-sustaining Mars colony?

1Good PR and good legal status for investment in space or companies supporting exploration and colonization, or perhaps give it to a big government who is willing to invest big in heavy lift launch vehicles and exploit the new landscape

2 Grit, Blood and Sweat surviving Mars will be much harder living next to Fukushima or living in Vostok, Antarctica or living in Death Valley. Forget the scifi, the planet Mars is not habitable at all

3 Loss, people are going to die and fail, its a sad and hard fact. The Vikings failed in building a base in the N.America, centuries later many sophisticated European colonies failed in the America's, Spain had failed colonial settlements, some English early colonies failed with Sir Frances Drake and England's explorers soldiers and settlers all returning back home. Bases may even battle each other and go to fight over resources, their could even be famines and cannibalism, in the early America's there were attacks on the French trading post of Port Royal and the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, to survive some may be forced to survive as penal colonies. As painful as it is to admit the modern Western World might not have the stomach for planetary colonization, somewhere like China with its harsh communist authority and open free market system and high tech society might be better set up to colonize Mars and when you control the media you can afford to lose hundreds and don't have to worry about PR disasters. The Chinese might go for an ends justifies the means approach, if so they aren't going to be having moral or religious debates and would probably have little problem in genetic engineering or using people with robotic limbs etc
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Old August 13 2013, 06:27 PM   #10
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Re: Self-sustaining Mars colony?

TheMasterOfOrion wrote: View Post
... and exploit the new landscape
Changes would have to be made to the UN Outer Space Treaty. Countries, colonists and investers (corporations and private) would have to know that legally what they build and develop on Mars is theirs, and not "the common heriage of all humanity."

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Old August 13 2013, 06:32 PM   #11
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Re: Self-sustaining Mars colony?

The UN can barely manage to enforce policy on Earth. Somehow I doubt they'd be able to do anything more than wave their fist angrily at anything on Mars.
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Old August 14 2013, 12:21 PM   #12
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Re: Self-sustaining Mars colony?

TheMasterOfOrion wrote: View Post
3 Loss, people are going to die and fail, its a sad and hard fact. The Vikings failed in building a base in the N.America, centuries later many sophisticated European colonies failed in the America's, Spain had failed colonial settlements, some English early colonies failed with Sir Frances Drake and England's explorers soldiers and settlers all returning back home. Bases may even battle each other and go to fight over resources, their could even be famines and cannibalism, in the early America's there were attacks on the French trading post of Port Royal and the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, to survive some may be forced to survive as penal colonies. As painful as it is to admit the modern Western World might not have the stomach for planetary colonization, somewhere like China with its harsh communist authority and open free market system and high tech society might be better set up to colonize Mars and when you control the media you can afford to lose hundreds and don't have to worry about PR disasters. The Chinese might go for an ends justifies the means approach, if so they aren't going to be having moral or religious debates and would probably have little problem in genetic engineering or using people with robotic limbs etc
Fierstly, exploring the Earth is non-comparable with space exploration for the simple reason that we evolved here. This is our natural habitat. Secondly the Chinese are no less fond of their creature comforts than anyone else. It's not a racial or cultural call. Any pioneers would have to be highly trained, highly motivated and ultimately prepared for self-sacrifice.
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Old August 14 2013, 05:17 PM   #13
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Re: Self-sustaining Mars colony?

Not what he was saying (I don't think). Just a lot less moaning and hand-wringing when things go wrong, since the Chinese control the media and the tone of the debate.

In the West, there would be public outcries and debates to cancel the whole project if someone stubbed their toe in the training process. In China, they'd likely never hear about it. And if that guy made a stink, he'd disappear in favor of someone else.

While the volunteers in either system would have to be all of the things you mentioned, the Chinese guy may be a little less likely to make waves over harsh conditions or 'we think it will work' safety plans...
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Old August 14 2013, 06:33 PM   #14
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Re: Self-sustaining Mars colony?

R. Star wrote: View Post
The UN can barely manage to enforce policy on Earth.
Hope to God it stays that way.

Somehow I doubt they'd be able to do anything more than wave their fist angrily at anything on Mars.
Less a future problem with the UN, and more one with the courts. Some one, some nation sits out the initial explorationa and utlization of Mars. But when others establish themselves, or makes a big pile of money with a discovery, the one who remained to the side begin to cry out for their "share" of others work and efforts. They could point to the illconsidered treaty in a court challenge.

It the kind of thing that invester would want cleared up prior to investing.

The Space treaty really has to go, no common heritage crap.

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Old August 14 2013, 07:25 PM   #15
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Re: Self-sustaining Mars colony?

How quickly would the governments of Earth get off their asses about colonizing Mars, if it's discovered that a meteor was going hit Earth and end all life on the planet in the next couple of years?
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