DailyDirt: Making It To Mars

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Traveling to Mars is no simple feat, and it’s much more difficult than a relatively short trip to the moon. The atmosphere on Mars is thinner than the Earth’s, so it poses a significant threat to any vehicle that attempts to land on the planet. Plus, a trip to Mars could take months depending on how much fuel is used (or what kind of propulsion is used). Still, several projects are making the ambitious journey, and here are just a few examples of Martian missions.

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Making It To Mars”

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10 Comments
Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

2023? Wow. That’s less than 10 years away! That seems like an incredibly optimistic timeframe for a colonization attempt, since the best of Martian surface conditions are similar to living in Antarctica and (as far as I know at least) we’ve done no terraforming to prepare the way for cultivation of food, and without that, how can any colony ever hope to survive?

Paraquat (profile) says:

nuclear rockets

Nuclear rockets – I mentioned this before in a discussion we had about Mars. In a nutshell, my argument is that we need to have them or else it’s unlikely that any astronauts will survive even a one-way journey to Mars.

NASA actually developed a nuclear powered rocket (named Nerva) in the 1960s, and ground testing proved that it worked. But it’s funds were axed by the Nixon administration, which was not particularly friendly to the space program. So Nerva never flew:

http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/N/NERVA.html

A nuclear-powered rocket would allow astronauts to reach Mars months earlier. Less time spent in space means less exposure to radiation. Surviving on the surface of Mars would also be challenging, but it may be possible. Burying a house in the Martian soil will give the residents good protection from radiation. It’s possible to grow crops on Mars, but only indoors with heating. There is water on Mars, but it has to be made by melting ice. That all takes energy.

It will require a nuclear reactor to keep astronauts alive on Mars. Without it, they would freeze to death. Wind power is a non-starter, as the atmosphere is too thin. Solar power is feasible during the day, but could not produce sufficient heat to survive the night. Fossil fuels are unlikely to exist on Mars, and even if they did you could not burn them in the CO2 atmosphere.

Rekrul says:

Re: nuclear rockets

Nuclear rockets – I mentioned this before in a discussion we had about Mars. In a nutshell, my argument is that we need to have them or else it’s unlikely that any astronauts will survive even a one-way journey to Mars.

There’s one big problem with nuclear powered rockets: Accidents.

How large an area would have been contaminated if the Challenger mission had been nuclear powered? Or the Columbia?

TJGeezer (profile) says:

Solar is only good during the day?

@Paraquat said
“Solar power is feasible during the day, but could not produce sufficient heat to survive the night.”

Energy storage technology has had so many breakthroughs it’s hard to keep up. If solar can support a colony during the day, it can support a colony during the night. Just get a bigger battery/capacitor/whatever.

Humans are pouring radioactive waste into the Pacific at a prodigious rate. Some Asian countries no longer consider shellfish safe to eat because, as filter feeders, they’re turning into nasty little tumor bombs by concentrating toxic reactor wastes. As for other effects of the Japanese reactor containment failure, it’s still early days. We don’t know but those who follow such matters closely are not optimistic about long-term effects.

Having poisoned Earth, do we really want to risk doing the same to Mars? There have got to be better approaches. Let’s learn from our mistakes.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Solar is only good during the day?

“Some Asian countries no longer consider shellfish safe to eat”

Not just Asian countries. Along the northwest coastline of the US at least, you don’t assume the shellfish are safe to eat since because quite often they aren’t. You have to check the current status of the shellfish before harvesting them.

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