Mars Colonies are a Fantasy

Jan 18, 2020
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The suggestion that humans will soon set up bustling, long-lasting colonies on Mars is something many of us take for granted. What this lofty vision fails to appreciate, however, are the monumental—if not intractable—challenges awaiting colonists who want to permanently live on Mars. Unless we radically adapt our brains and bodies to the harsh Martian environment (become cyborgs), the Red Planet will forever remain off limits to humans.

Mars is the closest thing we have to Earth in the entire solar system, and that’s not saying much.

The Red Planet is a cold, dead place, with an atmosphere about 100 times thinner than Earth’s. The paltry amount of air that does exist on Mars is primarily composed of noxious carbon dioxide, which does little to protect the surface from the Sun’s harmful rays. Air pressure on Mars is very low; at 600 Pascals, it’s only about 0.6 percent that of Earth. You might as well be exposed to the vacuum of space, resulting in a severe form of the bends—including ruptured lungs, dangerously swollen skin and body tissue, and ultimately death. The thin atmosphere also means that heat cannot be retained at the surface. The average temperature on Mars is -81 degrees Fahrenheit (-63 degrees Celsius), with temperatures dropping as low as -195 degrees F (-126 degrees C). By contrast, the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was at Vostok Station in Antarctica, at -128 degrees F (-89 degrees C) on June 23, 1982. Once temperatures get below the -40 degrees F/C mark, people who aren’t properly dressed for the occasion can expect hypothermia to set in within about five to seven minutes.

The notion that we’ll soon set up colonies inhabited by hundreds or thousands of people is pure nonsense.
Mars also has less mass than is typically appreciated. Gravity on the Red Planet is 0.375 that of Earth’s, which means a 180-pound person on Earth would weigh a scant 68 pounds on Mars. While that might sound appealing, this low-gravity environment would likely wreak havoc to human health in the long term, and possibly have negative impacts on human fertility.

Yet despite these and a plethora of other issues, there’s this popular idea floating around that we’ll soon be able to set up colonies on Mars with ease. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is projecting colonies on Mars as early as the 2050s, while astrobiologist Lewis Darnell, a professor at the University of Westminster, has offered a more modest estimate, saying it’ll be about 50 to 100 years before “substantial numbers of people have moved to Mars to live in self-sustaining towns.” The United Arab Emirates is aiming to build a Martian city of 600,000 occupants by 2117, in one of the more ambitious visions of the future.

Even if all these obvious problems are somehow solved, who in their right mind (after the initial kick of living on another planet wears off) would actually wanna live in such a hellish place?

And what about the critically important microbiome?

Apparently, many people have forgotten the Biosphere I and Biosphere II projects in the Arizona desert designed to test a completely enclosed, self-sustaining environment for long space flights. After ten of millions of dollars spent, both were miserable failures.
 
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I am inclined to agree. There also needs to be a commercial reason for doing it. Where is the return? I know Elon is saying that it reduces the risks of humanity becoming extinct, but realistically any colony will be dependent on Earth trade for centuries (entire nations are totally dependent on trade today). Elon needs to start small looking for commercial opportunities. His concept of fast point to point transport on earth, using starship to compete with airlines is clever. Landing starship on the moon is good (technical problems to be overcome) and may reduce launch costs enough for it to be feasible to mine lunar He3 and rare earth metals. Transporting state funded telescopes arrays to lunar far side another revenue opportunity. Due to the cost of getting rocket fuel off planet earth, maybe there is an opportunity to produce rocket fuel on a low gravity body like Ceres. The dwarf planet Ceres has all the resources. Long term maybe the better way to go will be Gerald O'Neill's Space colony concept rather than planetary surfaces. Anyway, we all need to crawl before we walk.
 
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Elon Musk has said that the future is a grim place without a vision. He is enthusing people with his Mars concept. It is a concept easily related to. Elon is a clever man, I believe he is well aware of the issues relating to the practicality of his Mars concept. I believe his foremost aim is to enthuse people about the future and promote the advancement of space technologies. I do not believe there is any plot to solicit investment dollars, in fact I believe Elon is sincere when he says he is not chasing personal wealth.
 
Jan 18, 2020
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Elon Musk has said that the future is a grim place without a vision. He is enthusing people with his Mars concept. It is a concept easily related to. Elon is a clever man, I believe he is well aware of the issues relating to the practicality of his Mars concept. I believe his foremost aim is to enthuse people about the future and promote the advancement of space technologies. I do not believe there is any plot to solicit investment dollars, in fact I believe Elon is sincere when he says he is not chasing personal wealth.
Perhaps he is indeed enthusing people with visions of the future and not in it for the money--though he is actively attracting investment dollars.

But even for a simple flight to Mars and back--without even landing--we would need a ship with the radiation shielding equivalent of the Earth's atmosphere. I would dearly love to hear Musk's (or anyone's) explanation as to how we would shield travelers from these deadly levels of radiation that would likely produce multiple cancers in any human tissue in a relatively short period of time--scrambling our DNA like mom's breakfast eggs.

I have yet to read of or otherwise hear of any satisfactory practical, science-based solution to this problem.

Many in the astrobiology and material sciences community (and other science scholars) suggest that the stellar/cosmic radiation problem may answer Fermi's Paradox, "Where Are They?"

The obvious truth is that our planet Earth has babied us--though intelligent, we are not that physically hardy. Could there be extraterrestrial life that can survive long voyages in space? Possibly--perhaps those with self-regenerating exoskeletons (insect-like) might be a practical example of space-faring life, but that is far different from we soft-tissue humans.

As earthlings, we haven't even 'colonized' Antarctica or the sea floor.

I'm not a screaming environmentalist or anything, but this sort of pipe dream is at least several centuries away. Why not pay more attention to our own planet first? There's a hell of a lot more we could do.

All that said, I wish these actors success---perhaps in their research they will discover some sort of field technology that will adequately reflect/deflect dangerous radiations and pursue workable counters to bone-density depleting micro-gravity environments. That's the kind of scientific pursuit I'd love to hear Musk et al discuss today, rather than all this rather naive buck Rogers stuff.
 
Jan 18, 2020
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I am inclined to agree. There also needs to be a commercial reason for doing it. Where is the return? I know Elon is saying that it reduces the risks of humanity becoming extinct, but realistically any colony will be dependent on Earth trade for centuries (entire nations are totally dependent on trade today). Elon needs to start small looking for commercial opportunities. His concept of fast point to point transport on earth, using starship to compete with airlines is clever. Landing starship on the moon is good (technical problems to be overcome) and may reduce launch costs enough for it to be feasible to mine lunar He3 and rare earth metals. Transporting state funded telescopes arrays to lunar far side another revenue opportunity. Due to the cost of getting rocket fuel off planet earth, maybe there is an opportunity to produce rocket fuel on a low gravity body like Ceres. The dwarf planet Ceres has all the resources. Long term maybe the better way to go will be Gerald O'Neill's Space colony concept rather than planetary surfaces. Anyway, we all need to crawl before we walk.
Indeed. Mining would be a great pursuit--something robots could easily do. I'd also like to see us plant rado telescopes on the moon and even Mars.

If Musk told us he was pouring billions into robotic technology, I would be much more enthusiastic about his endeavors than I am currently.
 
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Perhaps he is indeed enthusing people with visions of the future and not in it for the money--though he is actively attracting investment dollars.

But even for a simple flight to Mars and back--without even landing--we would need a ship with the radiation shielding equivalent of the Earth's atmosphere. I would dearly love to hear Musk's (or anyone's) explanation as to how we would shield travelers from these deadly levels of radiation that would likely produce multiple cancers in any human tissue in a relatively short period of time--scrambling our DNA like mom's breakfast eggs.

I have yet to read of or otherwise hear of any satisfactory practical, science-based solution to this problem.

Many in the astrobiology and material sciences community (and other science scholars) suggest that the stellar/cosmic radiation problem may answer Fermi's Paradox, "Where Are They?"

The obvious truth is that our planet Earth has babied us--though intelligent, we are not that physically hardy. Could there be extraterrestrial life that can survive long voyages in space? Possibly--perhaps those with self-regenerating exoskeletons (insect-like) might be a practical example of space-faring life, but that is far different from we soft-tissue humans.

As earthlings, we haven't even 'colonized' Antarctica or the sea floor.

I'm not a screaming environmentalist or anything, but this sort of pipe dream is at least several centuries away. Why not pay more attention to our own planet first? There's a hell of a lot more we could do.

All that said, I wish these actors success---perhaps in their research they will discover some sort of field technology that will adequately reflect/deflect dangerous radiations and pursue workable counters to bone-density depleting micro-gravity environments. That's the kind of scientific pursuit I'd love to hear Musk et al discuss today, rather than all this rather naive buck Rogers stuff.
 
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The only time I have known Elon to talk about radiation was when he made the following comment. He stated that to and from Mars the Starship would be carrying fuel. He stated that the plan was to orientate the tanks between the sun and cabin as the fuel (oxygen and Methane ) will be a good radiation block. I don't know if it makes much sense and does not account for cosmic radiation from outside the solar system. I know that the Apollo missions were very lucky and that there was a solar storm between Apollo 16 and 17 which would have subjected the Astronauts to high levels. NASA's Orion capsule has two decks and the lower deck is designed to be a storm shelter.
 
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You bring up a good point re: gravity. I too have read articles regarding how we have failed to research artificial gravity. At the very least we should have tethered two craft together and rotated them for a while with people on board. Re radiation, ISS crew are protected by Van Allen belts that extend over 20,000 kms out.
 
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The only time I have known Elon to talk about radiation was when he made the following comment. He stated that to and from Mars the Starship would be carrying fuel. He stated that the plan was to orientate the tanks between the sun and cabin as the fuel (oxygen and Methane ) will be a good radiation block. I don't know if it makes much sense and does not account for cosmic radiation from outside the solar system. I know that the Apollo missions were very lucky and that there was a solar storm between Apollo 16 and 17 which would have subjected the Astronauts to high levels. NASA's Orion capsule has two decks and the lower deck is designed to be a storm shelter.
Thanks--I hadn't heard this.

One would think, however, that there would be unmanned test flights to determine both the feasibility and the mechanics of using fuel as a deflection technique.

Short duration flights are not as great a threat from the ionizing radiation levels in space, but flights in excess of several months to years need greater study. The X-ray and Gamma-ray exposure alone is, as we know from experiments here on earth, magnitudes greater in space--or on Mars, for that matter.

For example, for an actual human colony on Mars, if the exposure is protracted over very long times such as multiple cell cycles or multiple organism generations, additional phenomena come into play: metabolism, reproduction, developmental pathways and cell proliferation/differentiation programs must operate under continuously stressful conditions, and susceptibility to ionizing radiation effects often changes with the organism’s age/stage. In other words, the biological responses to acute and chronic irradiations can be qualitatively different because radiation acts as a transient stressor in the first scenario and as a continuous one in the second. To simplify, even the normal skin cell growth in an average person would likely become corrupted (likely cancerous).

We use gamma-ray testing on jet engine turbine blades to inspect them for micro fractures, but this is done in sub-second, relatively weak bursts. Gamma-ray exposure in space is constant and of a far greater amplitude. Gamma-ray bursts from supernovae have been recorded at planet-sterilizing levels for many light years beyond the event source. It is calculated that a supernova event within a hundred or so lys from Sol would effectively sterilize our Solar system.

Remember--this type of radiation is the same type we'd receive from an atomic bomb and it's subsequent irradiated fallout. It is not like we're talking about non-ionizing radiation like RF/microwaves.

This is real physics.
 
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Jan 18, 2020
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You bring up a good point re: gravity. I too have read articles regarding how we have failed to research artificial gravity. At the very least we should have tethered two craft together and rotated them for a while with people on board. Re radiation, ISS crew are protected by Van Allen belts that extend over 20,000 kms out.
Yes sir. If we could build a particle accelerator about the size of the ISS orbit (not as crazy as it sounds), we'd likely solve some of these problems, or at least learn a hell of a lot more than we know now about Higgs/boson fields, gravitons and the possibilities of supersymmetry, dark matter, etc.

Ultimately, I would like to recommend a giant space station people could visit and vacation on, and where we could continue our research in a variety of earth/space sciences. I believe this is a much more practical project in the immediate future.
 
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I agree that Mars colonies are a fantasy. Agree with egribble that there is no prospect of financial return, which, given the extreme costs, is an overwhelming obstacle.

I think the complex technological requirements for survivability in such a deadly environment can only be provided by a large, advanced industrial economy such as only Earth has; self sufficiency is not possible.

SpaceX can have Mars as an aspiration but the rockets they build will pay their way servicing near Earth space activities for Earth based purposes. Whether those activities can be move beyond Earth's commercial communications and remote sensing - activities that do pay their own way but are unlikely to require heavy rockets in a big way - and the servicing of taxpayer funded projects - ISS, space telescopes, exploratory missions - that do not, remains to be seen.

I had hopes of zero gee manufacturing, with high value products supporting growth of commercial space activities but they have not emerged. Without a strong potential for returns on investment the grand space dreams are going to struggle to come to fruition.
 
Jan 18, 2020
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I agree that Mars colonies are a fantasy. Agree with egribble that there is no prospect of financial return, which, given the extreme costs, is an overwhelming obstacle.

I think the complex technological requirements for survivability in such a deadly environment can only be provided by a large, advanced industrial economy such as only Earth has; self sufficiency is not possible.

SpaceX can have Mars as an aspiration but the rockets they build will pay their way servicing near Earth space activities for Earth based purposes. Whether those activities can be move beyond Earth's commercial communications and remote sensing - activities that do pay their own way but are unlikely to require heavy rockets in a big way - and the servicing of taxpayer funded projects - ISS, space telescopes, exploratory missions - that do not, remains to be seen.

I had hopes of zero gee manufacturing, with high value products supporting growth of commercial space activities but they have not emerged. Without a strong potential for returns on investment the grand space dreams are going to struggle to come to fruition.
Indeed--we could do so much more with a more practical approach, concentrating on manufacturing , mining and more commercialized ventures that better fit our energy budget.

We are, in fact, surrounded by millions of 'starships' in the form of asteroids that could be moved into earth orbit, mined and hollowed out, then spun to create the artificial gravity we'd require to stay healthy. Some are large enough to actually support a 'colony' operating mining and manufacturing and supporting research and testing facilities. The surrounding material would shield us from deadly stellar and cosmic radiation, and could theoretically be large enough to contain vast hydroponic gardens, water reclamation and storage facilities--along with recreational areas to keep people mentally balanced with some quality of life.

These 'asteroid-ships' could be fitted with easy-to-manufacture-and-operate ion propulsion engines for any long-term--perhaps interstellar--flights.

If Musk et al announced such an endeavor I'd volunteer to work for them for free.

The major drawback would be water reclamation. We have the tech (ISS) but it is nearly impossible to actually 'create' water. We can artificially create breathable air easily, but the energy required to make even a cup of water would need an energy source on the magnitude of multiple nuclear explosions. The answer to this might be found in the myriad of small water-ice-laden comets traversing space we could capture and mine.

This sort of endeavor would be fascinating, productive and within our immediate grasp. Sadly, however, the PTB want to inhabit an environmentally hostile planet with no other immediate benefit other than perhaps to claim some sort of historical milestone. We might be able to harvest water from Mars, and perhaps even establish a small, manned underground way-station, but beyond that, the idea of actually 'colonizing' Mars is absurdly impractical for innumerable, very substantial reasons.
 
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Dwight Huth

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There is no need for a commercial reason to colonize Mars. The reason to colonize Mars first and foremost is exploration the second reason is the survival of the human species.

The common cliche of "fixing our own planet first" is a degenerate reason to not colonize Mars. Colonizing Mars will take ingenuity, courage and sense of being able to survive in such an inhospitable place. Humanity is a sentient species that has the knowledge to be more than a colony of bacteria feeding off of other colonies of bacteria, which is the current method of survival on Earth. Humans still act like act bacteria. Bacteria that is programmed to do the same routine over and over again to propagate an aspect of the human species that is as obsolete as using whale blubber for heating oil.

Humans are going to Mars to increase our evolutionary and progressive prowess because humanity is no longer bound to Earth vy the fear of the darkness.
 
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The suggestion that humans will soon set up bustling, long-lasting colonies on Mars is something many of us take for granted. What this lofty vision fails to appreciate, however, are the monumental—if not intractable—challenges awaiting colonists who want to permanently live on Mars. Unless we radically adapt our brains and bodies to the harsh Martian environment (become cyborgs), the Red Planet will forever remain off limits to humans.
I disagree. There is no need to adapt to live on the surface. Habitats, especially underground can provide all of the comforts of Earth. As it is, many people spend most of their lives indoors on Earth. Some even live in high rise communities where they never have to go outside.
The Red Planet is a cold, dead place, with an atmosphere about 100 times thinner than Earth’s. The paltry amount of air that does exist on Mars is primarily composed of noxious carbon dioxide, which does little to protect the surface from the Sun’s harmful rays.
“noxious”?? Really? You mean that gas that is necessary to our survival here on Earth? Right.
As to the Sun’s harmful rays, which are also necessary to life on Earth, at 142 million miles from the Sun, Mars only receives 44% of radiation the Earth would receive without an atmosphere.
Air pressure on Mars is very low; at 600 Pascals, it’s only about 0.6 percent that of Earth. You might as well be exposed to the vacuum of space, resulting in a severe form of the bends—including ruptured lungs, dangerously swollen skin and body tissue, and ultimately death.
That is irrelevant to living on Mars, since no one would live unprotected on the surface.
The thin atmosphere also means that heat cannot be retained at the surface. The average temperature on Mars is -81 degrees Fahrenheit (-63 degrees Celsius), with temperatures dropping as low as -195 degrees F (-126 degrees C).
Correct. However, it can get up to 70°F at the equator. I guess you forgot about that. Those of us who live in areas where it gets cold know when to go outside and when not to. I have been out in -45°F, and we have had cold periods of -35°F for three weeks in a row. Work still got done.
The notion that we’ll soon set up colonies inhabited by hundreds or thousands of people is pure nonsense.
To you, apparently. “soon” is a relative term. To those of us who have studied this issue in great detail over more than a decade, it is inevitable that we will establish viable, self sufficient colonies on Mars one day, sooner if there are major breakthroughs in propulsion.
Mars also has less mass than is typically appreciated. Gravity on the Red Planet is 0.375 that of Earth’s, which means a 180-pound person on Earth would weigh a scant 68 pounds on Mars. While that might sound appealing, this low-gravity environment would likely wreak havoc to human health in the long term, and possibly have negative impacts on human fertility.
There is no information to support that. Since zero-G for over a year creates only temporary changes in humans, it is probable that .38 will be a livable gravity. We can easily test that before we colonize Mars by building a proper 2001 A Space Odyssey Station V in orbit. Different levels, or different rotational speed can duplicate Mars gravity exactly.
Yet despite these and a plethora of other issues, there’s this popular idea floating around that we’ll soon be able to set up colonies on Mars with ease.
I don’t know of anyone anywhere that believes or has said it will be easy. It will be hard.
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.” US President John F. Kennedy.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is projecting colonies on Mars as early as the 2050s
Good for him. He has already accomplished a dozen things NASA could not come even close to doing, and ahead of all projected expectations.
Even if all these obvious problems are somehow solved, who in their right mind (after the initial kick of living on another planet wears off) would actually wanna live in such a hellish place?
I would, in an instant. So would thousands of others. It is not “hellish”, it is challenging. Man has always challenged the limits, which is why we can even discuss this via computers.
Are those like Musk that ignorant?
I suggest you ask Elon Musk that question. Get back to us with his answer.
 
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Short duration flights are not as great a threat from the ionizing radiation levels in space, but flights in excess of several months to years need greater study. The X-ray and Gamma-ray exposure alone is, as we know from experiments here on earth, magnitudes greater in space--or on Mars, for that matter.
Radiation shielding is well understood and is in use all over the world in Medical, Industrial, and Laboratories. It literally is not Rocket Science. There are many proposals for travel to Mars, including enclosing the passenger compartment in a water jacket. That is efficient because they need the water anyhow. We can do all the testing right here on Earth/

For example, for an actual human colony on Mars, if the exposure is protracted over very long times such as multiple cell cycles or multiple organism generations, additional phenomena come into play: etc., etc., etc.
Since all of the habitats will probably be underground, “exposure” will not be an issue. Short term exposure on the surface when necessary can be monitored and limited.
 
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There is no need for a commercial reason to colonize Mars. The reason to colonize Mars first and foremost is exploration the second reason is the survival of the human species...

...If the anti-Mars and anti-space exploration groups want a war, you'll get a war.
Pointing out the non-viable nature of Mars colonisation is not a declaration of war, just speaking what looks to me like a self evident truth.

Mars colonies will be incapable of survival without permanently ongoing supply from Earth, which they are incapable of paying for. I am not stopping anyone from trying - but I would not vote for taxpayers funding the attempt. I expect such a colony to fail and see nothing good in governments funding suicidal attempts to establish humans in untenable circumstances on Mars; indulging fantasies is fine with me when they are free and no-one is expected to die of them.

Humans are going to Mars to increase our evolutionary and progressive prowess because humanity is no longer bound to Earth vy the fear of the darkness
I expect the evolutionary process that will come into play is natural selection and Mars colonists will be selected out of the gene pool. Don't expect me to help pay for them to try and prove me wrong.

. People who think that Mars is a waste of time are not from God or Creation they are of the devil and hate everything that has to do with humans being able to better ourselves and spread out seed across the Universe.
My disagreeing with you about Mars - or any other kinds of space colonisation - is not an expression of hatred or evil.
 
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I disagree. There is no need to adapt to live on the surface. Habitats, especially underground can provide all of the comforts of Earth. As it is, many people spend most of their lives indoors on Earth. Some even live in high rise communities where they never have to go outside.

“noxious”?? Really? You mean that gas that is necessary to our survival here on Earth? Right.
As to the Sun’s harmful rays, which are also necessary to life on Earth, at 142 million miles from the Sun, Mars only receives 44% of radiation the Earth would receive without an atmosphere.
That is irrelevant to living on Mars, since no one would live unprotected on the surface.

Correct. However, it can get up to 70°F at the equator. I guess you forgot about that. Those of us who live in areas where it gets cold know when to go outside and when not to. I have been out in -45°F, and we have had cold periods of -35°F for three weeks in a row. Work still got done.

To you, apparently. “soon” is a relative term. To those of us who have studied this issue in great detail over more than a decade, it is inevitable that we will establish viable, self sufficient colonies on Mars one day, sooner if there are major breakthroughs in propulsion.

There is no information to support that. Since zero-G for over a year creates only temporary changes in humans, it is probable that .38 will be a livable gravity. We can easily test that before we colonize Mars by building a proper 2001 A Space Odyssey Station V in orbit. Different levels, or different rotational speed can duplicate Mars gravity exactly.

I don’t know of anyone anywhere that believes or has said it will be easy. It will be hard.
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.” US President John F. Kennedy.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is projecting colonies on Mars as early as the 2050s
Good for him. He has already accomplished a dozen things NASA could not come even close to doing, and ahead of all projected expectations.

I would, in an instant. So would thousands of others. It is not “hellish”, it is challenging. Man has always challenged the limits, which is why we can even discuss this via computers.

I suggest you ask Elon Musk that question. Get back to us with his answer.
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Mars colonies will be incapable of survival without permanently ongoing supply from Earth, which they are incapable of paying for.
That is your opinion, not fact. Those of us who have been researching and studying this, and understand the science involved, know that we currently have the technology to establish viable, self reliant colonies on Mars. That means they will eventually not require support from Earth.
I am not stopping anyone from trying - but I would not vote for taxpayers funding the attempt.
You have no choice in the matter. It will happen without any help from you, whether you agree or disagree.
I expect such a colony to fail and see nothing good in governments funding suicidal attempts to establish humans in untenable circumstances on Mars; indulging fantasies is fine with me when they are free and no-one is expected to die of them.
I suggest that you study history.
I expect the evolutionary process that will come into play is natural selection and Mars colonists will be selected out of the gene pool.
That is an extremely harsh thing to say about those that clearly know a LOT more about this than you have demonstrated.
 
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The question is "what will be the correct path for future space development"? As I have said, I believe that commercialism, the need for return, will be the greatest driver. In the 1980's, a group of PHD students, under the guidance of Gerard K O'Neill, attempted to answer this question. They concluded that it made no sense trying to colonise planetary bodies. There will always be the problem of energy use getting on and off a planet (think Mars). The surface area of Mars is limited and deep mining difficult on a dense planet. They proposed the long term future would more likely be building large rotating space habitats (if on Mars, you still have to build a pressurised habitat regardless). They proposed things like mass drivers for getting building materials off the moon. I suspect asteroids are a better option. Just drift up to them, no gravity so little energy needed. Not dense due to way they formed. It has been estimated that there is enough resources in the asteroid belt to support a human population of 17 trillion. Jeff Bezos is a Gerald O'Neill advocate whereas Elon is looking at the Mars colonisation plan. This is all very futuristic stuff, as I said, it will all be driven by commercial return. As SAJP has said, there has not been much research into the effects of space radiation and shielding, nor artificial gravity. This research would be a good starting point.
 
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I suggest that you study history.
I think the nearest historical analogues would be the ghost towns of failed dreams that litter the remote places on Earth.

The historic colonial successes were all in places with abundant, accessible resources. Most of the ones that tend to get cited as great successes had people already in place - to guide, to assist, to enslave and to rob. Potable water fell from the sky, wild grown foods were present and could be used to supplement farming - which was done in pre-existing soils.

Those colonies were reached and engaged in trade using well established, economically proven technologies. No-one had to invent sailing ships first. Mars colonisation has no real historical precedents.

That is an extremely harsh thing to say about those that clearly know a LOT more about this than you have demonstrated.
It has not been demonstrated that you know a lot more than me; it looks like you are not addressing the failure of a Mars colony to be able to support it's establishment financially. It really does look more like fantasy than well reasoned and supported arguments. Optimistic enthusiasm is fine, but a real Mars colony needs a credible business plan.
 
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I think the nearest historical analogues would be the ghost towns of failed dreams that litter the remote places on Earth.
That is a great example of a Strawman Logical Fallacy.
I was obviously referring to the history of space exploration, where no one was expected to die, but a few did.
It has not been demonstrated that you know a lot more than me;
Based upon your comments so far, it is obvious that you know far FAR less than I, or Elon Musk, regarding the science involved, and the technology required to establish colonies on Mars.
it looks like you are not addressing the failure of a Mars colony to be able to support it's establishment financially. It really does look more like fantasy than well reasoned and supported arguments. Optimistic enthusiasm is fine, but a real Mars colony needs a credible business plan.
Therein lies the root of your problem in understanding this issue. Clearly, you believe that viable, self-sufficient colonies on Mars would require continuous active physical trade to survive. Bi-directional trade in large quantities of hard goods would be impractical. Once established with all the materials to provide all their needs, support from Earth in the form of hard goods would not be necessary.
Since there would naturally be more traffic to Mars, than from Mars, some goods, such as micro electronics, would be useful. They could be paid for by intellectual properties created on Mars, and transmitted via secure transmissions. Intellectual properties are a huge business and can demand enormous prices.
 
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Clearly, you believe that viable, self-sufficient colonies on Mars would require continuous active physical trade to survive.

Yes, a Mars colony would require continuous, physical trade to survive.

Survival under such conditions takes technology, which a colony will not be able to produce. Even pared down to simplistic minimum, it will be a lot of technology; multiple different mines, refineries and manufacturing facilities just to get the most basic selection of raw materials, with each element requiring specialist equipment, operated and maintained with specialist skills and knowledge.

Consider almost any bit of essential technology upon which survival on Mars depends and what it takes to manufacture it and you will immediately be dealing with more than any proposed colony can make.

Take a pump - just consider the bearings in a pump - made of high quality carbon steel with added chromium (assuming you want high quality, because survival will depend on reliable pumps), required to be made in appropriate tube and wire/rod form, before even beginning on the specific manufacture of bearings

The machinery to mine, smelt, refine the steel and chromium, the mines and processing for the various other materials, including consumables that smelting and refining processes require - before even producing the initial tube and wire to the required standards. There won't be coal or wood to make coke or charcoal. There won't be oxygen until you make it. No conventional methods can work - you need to reinvent iron and steel making, or hope the efforts to reinvent them to achieve zero CO2 emissions steel for Earth can be applied to Mars - the inverse of the popular version of technological advancement where space R&D is leading the way.

Then the presses and lathes and specialised grinders - and the cutting tools and abrasives to make the races from the tubing and balls from the wire. Then measuring and quality checking tools, all high precision, to ensure you get the desired result, then... etc, etc. All meaning you won't be making bearing on Mars.

If such a basic and ubiquitous component takes so many preexising, interelated and interdependent industries, the entire range of technologies survival on Mars needs takes orders of magnitude more. It needs comprehensibly capable, advanced industrial economies to make.

They could be paid for by intellectual properties created on Mars, and transmitted via secure transmissions.
Intellectual property that you expect to emerge spontaneously, just because people are on Mars, sufficient to keep ships coming from Earth is not a business plan; at best it is just a hope.
 
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Oct 21, 2019
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Yes, a Mars colony would require continuous, physical trade to survive.
No, it would not. Once established, colonies on Mars could be independent, viable, and self sufficient.

Survival under such conditions takes technology, which a colony will not be able to produce. Even pared down to simplistic minimum, it will be a lot of technology; multiple different mines, refineries and manufacturing facilities just to get the most basic selection of raw materials, with each element requiring specialist equipment, operated and maintained with specialist skills and knowledge.
That equipment would be sent to Mars, most of it before the colonists arrive. Even then, thee won’t be a need for a high tech industrialization for a long time. The colonies will develop over time.

Consider almost any bit of essential technology upon which survival on Mars depends and what it takes to manufacture it and you will immediately be dealing with more than any proposed colony can make.
Gee, how did early colonists on Earth survive without it? As noted, the essential equipment required to handle the special issues on Mars would naturally be sent there to start with. Most of the actual survival requirements would be handled the same way they were handled on Earth, before high tech.

Take a pump - just consider the bearings in a pump - made of high quality carbon steel with added chromium ……………
Thank you for proving you don’t understand the technology required. Although the necessary pumps would be sent initially, they can be repaired locally with a machine shop. Bronze bearings, which are easy to make, have served as pump bearings for centuries.

The machinery to mine, smelt, refine the steel and chromium, the etc., etc., etc………….
Not only will initial supply ships bring everything needed, the ships themselves can be salvaged for thousands of tons of useful material of all kinds.

Then the presses and lathes and specialised grinders - and the cutting tools and abrasives to make the races from the tubing and balls from the wire.
Bronze bushings. Your vain attempts to make everything far more complex than is necessary is a Strawman Argument. My father was a machinist, my brother is a machinist, and I am a machinist. We all have used our lathes and mills to make all sorts of complex parts. A fully equipped machine shop would be one among the first of the machinery sent to Mars. With 3D printing, most parts can be made on site.

Intellectual property that you expect to emerge spontaneously, just because people are on Mars, sufficient to keep ships coming from Earth is not a business plan; at best it is just a hope.
Again, your over complicating it is why you are unable to understand the concept.
 
Dec 29, 2019
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Bronze bushings.

You'll run life support pumps with 19th century bearing technology? You "just" need a Copper mine and refinery, a Tin mine and refinery to produce the bronze. Lucky you found the ore deposits nearby your preferred landing site I suppose? And if you can make bronze bushes, making feedstock for 3D printers - and the printers too - should be easy...

I think you are just confirming that you don't have a good grasp of the complexities. Your Mars colony is fantasy.
 

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