Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by dswynne1, Mar 13, 2017.
Even if that world has sentient life?
That's a different question. No.
That's a good thing.
I wonder how that would be addressed.
Not even close. We could actually colonize Mars with the technology we had 20 years ago, and by this time those pilot communities would probably be nearing self-sufficiency.
But it isn't a matter of technology, it's a matter of the WILL TO DO SO. The problem is that space colonization of the type we're talking about would be incredibly expensive; a Mars colony would cost something like $200 billion just to set up, and $100 billion a year to just to maintain until it was able to fend for itself. There would also be a fairly high cost in human lives involved, which could only really be prevented by inflating those cost estimates by a factor of ten.
It's not that we couldn't AFFORD to do this either. The United States could setup that sort of colony for the cost of two nuclear powered aircraft carriers (we have twelve of them and three more under construction). On the other hand, we really like being able to bomb the entire rest of the human race back into the stone age if we really wanted to, so we won't be parting with those aircraft carriers any time soon.
To be clear, this is like a guy saying "We can't afford a bigger house, I don't make enough money!" while sitting behind the wheel of a gold-plated Aston Martin.
^ The costs to colonize Mars would be astronomical. Sure we'd have the will, but not the funds to do it right and safely. Remember... while there is SOME water there, you've got NO nutritive soil to work with. You'd have to bring all the supplies with you. Think of the huge costs. But what about sustainability? Yeah, maybe you could have a colony there for a bit, but you'd have to keep sending supplies... and... for WHAT? Perhaps mining, IF they could find a mother lode of precious ores and minerals.
Best to just send automated craft and robots. Let them do the dirty work. Maybe even try to terraform the planet so we can fall back on it in 1,000 years. Got to think LONG TERM. Everyone thinks in such short time frames these days. Climate deniers because they don't see enough happening (turning a blind eye to all the reports, the rising sea levels, the record setting weather instability, etc). That's because the super rich want to have their chance at fame. But it's sorely impractical, expensive, and giving a very low return on investment.
And why should there be such a will? What is the rush? It's not like the grass is greener on Mars than it is here.
So 200 billion to set up a colony yet you can spend a trillion or more on a pointless war.
I think Klaatu was right about us.
Maybe to start... but what about the cost to sustain? Not to mention how that cost will go up significantly as the colony expands... because you know it will.
So yes... let's find a way to make Mars habitable... and then pollute the hell out of it. Mars may very well be the exemplar of what happens when higher forms of life pollute with willful arrogance.
Heck, look at what we've been doing to Florida:
If humanity leaves the planet at least the animal kingdom will be glad to see the back of us. The only creatures not in danger of being extinct are humans, chickens, pigs, sheep and cows.
In some ways, they've become more gravely in danger of that. Take out the human equation. Suddenly there's all of these docile domesticated farm animals. They'll be decimated by the ferocious wild animals in no time, at least for those who survive. Because there will be compounds containing all of these animals where suddenly the human supplied food is gone. They'll starve... or end up eating each other.
Among other reasons, because space colonization has the potential to become immensely profitable to anyone who can develop and control the infrastructure for it. Offworld resources are untapped and plentiful and there is almost no competition for them.
No, but the platinum group metals on the moon are potentially way more plentiful than they are here.
Expansion would actually reduce maintenance costs as the colony would eventually become self-sufficient. Once it's self-sufficient, it becomes profitable, and once it's profitable it has the resources to expand its operations without outside support and can become more profitable still.
In other words, the same basic process to colonizing ANYWHERE.
That may be, but since Mars is a complete shithole anyway, environmental concerns will be non-existent; it's not like pollution could make the planet LESS habitable.
No... our entire colonization history has been founded on there being plentiful resources where we colonize. No point in doing so otherwise. Look at the populations at the poles... We may have colonies there, small scientific research stations, but that's it. No vast cities and growing populations.
I was talking about long term... once some kind of terraforming is accomplished. And that's way out there. But for short term, yes... Mars is inhospitable. It's no picnic. It's worse than being in a bio-dome. I say it again... the costs to upkeep some kind of colony there will be enormous with no return on investment. It's far better to send robots to do mining work for the cultivation and aggregation of natural resources (if any) to then use for construction of some kind of habitation where humans can stay once they arrive.
But if we're going to do anything like some kind of colonization, it makes far more sense to do it on the moon first. Much closer. Much less costly and risky to send resources. If we can sustain something on the moon, that's the test bed for doing it further out. Like Mars. But far too many people are impatient and want to see a human colony on Mars before they die. It's so fucking selfish and irresponsible.
Pretty sure I said exactly that in at least two posts here.
I was talking about long term, as in 50 to 100 years. Terraforming is not going to be a requisite for colonization no matter WHAT or technology level, because there's no reason to mess with the climate of a place you have no reason to go in the first place.
If you have a good enough reason to go somewhere, you go there, no matter how hard it is. If you plan to be there for a very long time, you change the place around to make it easier to live there.
... until it becomes self-sufficient, producing as many resources as it consumes, and eventually becomes profitable, exporting back to its patrons more than it imports. Colonies ALWAYS operate at a loss at first because of the tremendous cost of setup and infrastructure. The only variable is how long you're willing to eat those losses and how much you're willing to lose while you're waiting for the colony project to start turning a profit.
The interesting thing is, when governments do this it ends up being a net gain for their economy, because all the spending on colony projects gives their own local industries something very expensive and time consuming to do with their skills. So even if the colony doesn't turn a profit for a while, all the people back home working in support of the colony are going to have a pretty good couple of years.
Not necessarily. It actually makes sense to send a small group of human administrators WITH a large number of robots who can do most of the manual labor. Money isn't the only thing that needs to be invested in a colonization program.
But far too many people are impatient and want to see a human colony on Mars before they die.[/quote]
Other than Jeff Bezos, I don't see this as an issue. Even Elon Musk has said they're going to need to "practice" colonizing the moon before any real plans on Mars can mature.
I beg to differ. Long term colonization of any appreciable size is going to require some kind of terraforming. Otherwise, the risks for complete colony collapse are far too great. While there is some water, we don't know how much... and how well it can be conserved. In a place like Mars, moisture escaping into the air will pretty much disappear never to return... because it's all in the ice caps or buried deep beneath the soil. Remember... Earth is mostly water. Mars is mostly rock and dust.
If there are vast untapped precious and useful mineral resources within sufficient distance to the surface, then yes. That will provide a good incentive. But if not? What if it's all just iron ore and nothing else? Forget about any kind of sustainability or profit. At least with the "New World" (to us back then), North America was a treasure chest in natural resources. Even then, England made a big investment that took years to start paying off. And that's with obvious abundance of resources on the surface. The vast farming opportunities. Later on the oil, precious metals, gemstones, etc., were realized.
I was just saying that a lot of what's driving the push to get there is the need for human exploration and discovery. Many wealthy people have chimed in about wanting this to happen in their lifetime (like Bezos, Branson, Musk) serving to help champion the cause. NASA wants to go, of course. Heck if they get funding from the government for something, they'll do it. But I agree with Musk that the Moon must be used for practice. And it should be more practical, in addition to testing out robotic mining capabilities. The Moon should have some nice deposits, given how it supposedly was torn off from the Earth so long ago.
Too great for WHO? Not for the colonists, obviously, who assume the risk the moment they volunteer for the project. The risk can be mitigated through the development of life support and medical infrastructure, at which point the people who have already taken on the risk of joining the mission have seen the potential hazards drop well below their original risk threshhold.
The risk being too high for taxpayers, on the other hand, is exactly what I mentioned in terms of "political will." The moment a huge mass of very wealthy people decide the risk is worth the potential payoff, that's the moment colonization happens.
Then the colony either finds a way to turn a profit from that, or it fails. Hell, it might fail just as well even if they DO find valuable resources there.
OTOH, having a source of iron ore (as well as nickel and aluminum, which are abundant on the moon's surface) could offer a competitive advantage to a space-based manufacturing company that doesn't have to pay $5000 a kilogram to put a satellite into orbit. Whether the resources are there or not, made-to-order communication satellites and space craft are likely to become a major industry for any space colony that can manage to beat the Earth-based companies' launch costs, as Lunar-based boosters are going to be much smaller, cheaper and safer to operate than Earth-based ones. When you add the potential of colonists to more easily access satellite stations in the GEO belt than Earth-based astronauts, then you also have a business case for on-orbit repair, maintenance and salvage.
These things will come later, of course, once a lunar colony has a degree of self sufficiency that will allow them to manufacture products and services for export and not focusing all their energy on staying alive. The longer the colony survives, though, the closer it gets to self-sufficiency.
Almost all of which were consumed IN the new world. Very little of those resources -- with the exception of gold from the conquistadors and a few seeds and staple crops -- were actually shipped back to Europe. The main exports across the ocean were tobacco, grain, gold and potatoes. A HUGE part of the colonial economy was also the market for slaves, which made colonial construction a lot cheaper than it would have been.
Ironically, the surface of Mars is almost as rich in silicates as it is in iron ore. The rarity of these materials is one of the reasons computer technology costs as much as it does; your iPhone 6 isn't cheap to manufacture, those materials are expensive and difficult to procure. An abundance of those materails on Mars -- or better yet, on the moon -- could reduce the cost of consumer electronics by a factor of ten and either cause an explosion of tech companies' profit margins, or lead to a burst of brand new, high-performance products. Once the colonies figure out how to manufacture those components on their own, they become market competitors with their own niche and their own source of cash flow.
And then we can start a NEW slave trade...
"The need for human exploration and discovery" couldn't drive a gocart down a steep hill. Europeans didn't discover the New World because they were curious and intrepid explorers. They did it because they were greedy as hell, desperate for more resources, and because their leaders were too stupid to properly estimate the difficulties.
They SUCCEEDED because they were greedy as hell, because they were ruthless and efficient in the exploitation of those resources, and because the people who were smart enough to properly estimate the difficulties eventually came up with solutions.
Colonization has never been about adventure and exploration for its own sake. Colonization is a business venture driven by the desire for profit. Ancient humans expanded because they were looking for new hunting grounds, new places to farm, new places to build homes; historic humans expanded because they were looking to expand their territory and collect more taxes from the people who already lived there. Present day humans will be no different. Someone will discover something up there worth exploiting, and eventually he'll convince the right people to back his project with "It will be OURS!" and they'll go up there and get it. The ONLY reason that hasn't happened yet is because we haven't discovered anything up there valuable enough to distract from our OTHER passtime of wantonly murdering each other from high-performance aircraft.
The "need for exploration and discovery" don't make me laugh.
Sure some people possess that attitude but for the most part, in fact nearly all of it it will be solely a profit driven venture. Greed triumphs
What you need for Mars--is energy. If you can have that, you are well on your way.
Some good news on that front:
After power comes a self replicating system--that won't be small--about 100 tons or so:
So you might not need quite 100 billion a year--just wait for robotics to improve.
Musk's tunnel tech interests me.
What I might want to do is house a crater over with a dome--and fill it with nitrogen gas.
Then astronauts will walk around with simple oxygen masks in their lighter weight suits.
Heavy earthmoving equipment lofted there by HLLVs work inside an oxygen-free dome--so no risk of fire. Heat rejection is handled by the nitrogen gas.
Then start to bore a tunnel into a nearby lava tube not far from the housed over crater. Place your SRS and your base there.
Once you have all that infrastructure in place--that's when you have astronauts walk around freely on the Martian surface doing science missions--untill then--it's all construction work.
Places to start?
Are you and dryson related?
The point is to get a lot of power and heavy equipment up there. For too long--we've been hampered by the old way of thinking--Don't have rockets any bigger than you need them--shave all the weight off--fold things a dozen differnt ways--like JPL and others do.
Robert Truax warned us that that was the more expensive approach in the long run:
Back in 1959 I noted, to my great surprise, that the Agena, only one-fifth the size of the Thor intermediate-range ballistic missile, cost more, not less, than the Thor.
Not a lot of pressure-fed guys out there--but the point continues to be made:
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