DailyDirt: Mars Or Bust
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Missions to Mars require a lot of planning and a sizable budget — especially considering that a manned mission is impossible with current technology. Sending robotic probes to Mars can be tricky, but obviously they can be done. Safely transporting a human (or handful of humans) to Mars is slightly more challenging because people need to eat, breathe and not die from radiation exposure — among many other risks. A goal of reaching Mars by 2030 doesn’t seem too likely at this point, but maybe in a few more decades.
- The Mars One mission to get a one-way journey to the red planet doesn’t seem to be legit. Some candidates for the mission are discussing their experiences with the application process, and the organization sounds a bit fishy. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Mars One fail to get off the ground, but it’s disappointing that it might discredit the whole concept. [url]
- Chinese astronauts are preparing to be farmers on Mars (and the moon) with an “ecological life support system” that grows a few kinds of plants. It would be convenient if Martian soil could be used, but that’s probably not going to happen any time soon. [url]
- The chances that water still flows on Mars aren’t exactly zero. It might be possible under certain conditions, even though the temperatures are generally below the freezing point of water, so Dan Quayle might not have been completely wrong. [url]
If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.
Filed Under: dan quayle, life support system, manned missions, mars, mars one, martian soil, space, space exploration, space farm
Comments on “DailyDirt: Mars Or Bust”
It is amazing how many people have been convinced that a human mission to Mars is feasible. Guess I missed the breaking news about how the CME radiation threat has been mitigated or how the loss of bone mass is no longer a problem. I really do need to keep up on current events.
Re: Getting to Mars and how we can't
The CME problem is the biggest one in that all our material-science solutions are unobtanium. There are speculations that a shield is feasible and we’re working on it but nothing has yet come forward.
The microgravity problem can be resolved with artificial gravity using a spinning toroid habitat. Of course these have to be pretty darned big and we’re still working with structural difficulties. The same kind of monomolecular structures that would be necessary for the space elevator or the launch loop would probably serve to solve this.
And then there’s creating a sustainable eco-system that can be farmed indefinitely for food and breathable air. We’ve tried to make them here on Earth, but they keep dying out for want of indeterminate microbes we haven’t included. The alternative, a lifetime supply of beans and oxygen may be more feasible but guarantees the terminus of such a project. Ideally we want to look at colony models that accommodate births and sustainability. (And permanent colonies are more likely than a two-way trip.)
I wonder what the actuarial analysis of anyone making this trip would be. Health insurance? Life insurance? What would the premiums be, if coverage is even available?
Are they checking applicants for previous suicide attempts? Would those be a plus or a minus?
As we enter an era of drone warfare, with airplanes currently and the likelihood of drone submarines and drone tanks in the future, as well as the civilian counterpart, having drone cars, trucks, and ships, and basically eliminating the need for human-body presence at the “working end” of most everything, why is space travel (or at least the pundits who like to write about it) fixiated on doing the complete opposite?
Like it or not, we are in fact working toward creating a civilization in which humans play an ever-shrinking role, and at some point in the distant future, when artificial intelligence is perfected, humans will serve no purpose whatsoever, and can then be safely exterminated from a future robot society, in much the same way that we try to exterminate rats and cockroaches from the civilization that we built on top of theirs.
Re: The impending robot apocalypse.
We’re already looking at a sunset of the usefulness of mankind, but that doesn’t mean our toasters are going to rise up in a rebellion and exterminate us. We still dictate their programming and they are built and function to serve man and not in the Damon Knight cookbook sense.
There is a possibility that poorly-programmed war-bots will designate their own as targets (much like artillery and air strikes are often called on a friendly position) and that could feasibly cause extinction, but I suspect that a few smaller incidents will lead to more careful programming practices.
The same with AI. AI doesn’t ever achieve sentience in the way that Hollywood (still, in 2015) likes to believe. Sentience and Self Awareness aren’t really a thing. There are no souls for machines to acquire.
What is likely to happen is that once humans are able to replace their functionality with machines is that we’ll die out due to a lack of conflict. The last generations will drink robot-served mimosas and play robot-provided sports and hump (better than human) sexbots and otherwise live a life of leisure and fail to produce enough offspring to continue the species.
Not quite the dramatic apocalypse that promised us by the Terminator franchise
I see what you did there…