Mars Direct is Dead?

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Geoduck2

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Re: Mars: A One-Way Trip

crazyeddie":co48y5ny said:
And if it turns out that living in a reduced gravitational field for long periods of time causes irreparable health consequences, what then? Those people would be doomed, or at least severely handicapped.
As a one way trip we'd all be doomed anyway. I figure I have about 50 years left. I'd take 30-35 if it was on Mars.
 
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NoDozRequiem

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Re: Mars: A One-Way Trip

JonClarke":1n1ma34b said:

Jon,

I get the sense that you and I are not in disagreement, but that you like to argue. I agree with your points, for the most part, and where you seem to disagree with me, I think it is more a matter of your misunderstanding me.

For instance: So from your statement regarding ethics, I take it you are a fan of sending astronauts no where fast in order to continue to study the deleterious effects of microgravity "while in orbit"? Some how I don't think you are. It seems senseless and a waste of money. Of course I don't know you so I won't presume to know your thought process here. Whether or not health effects are long term (which I agree, we have seen they do not appear to be), it is questionable ethically to subject people to harm for any amount of time when alternatives exist which could be put in play--alternatives which continue the research into microgravity effects and mitigation techniques while conducting science and exploratory missions. I guess, if you want, we could always stay in LEO. We could just stay on the ground, too.

Shawn
 
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JonClarke

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Re: Mars: A One-Way Trip

NoDozRequiem said:
For instance: So from your statement regarding ethics, I take it you are a fan of sending astronauts no where fast in order to continue to study the deleterious effects of microgravity "while in orbit"? Some how I don't think you are. It seems senseless and a waste of money. Of course I don't know you so I won't presume to know your thought process here. Whether or not health effects are long term (which I agree, we have seen they do not appear to be), it is questionable ethically to subject people to harm for any amount of time when alternatives exist which could be put in play--alternatives which continue the research into microgravity effects and mitigation techniques while conducting science and exploratory missions. I guess, if you want, we could always stay in LEO. We could just stay on the ground, too.
Shawn

I think that microgravity research is well worth while for its own sake in a great many theoretical and applied fields, not just because of its physiological effects. Hence orbital laboratories are justified. The high costs of launching crews means that long duration missions are they way to go at present

There are good practical reasons why these laboratories to date have not supplied with spin gravity.

Since there are deliterious effects to microgravity exposure there are good operational reasons to resarch it and improve countermeasures as part of the overall work program in space. This research is also valuable for the longer term goals of sending people back to the Moon and on to, Mars and beyond (which I am also a strong supporter of). However I do think we know enough already in this area to send people there. But more knowledge is always useful, and there are many promising countermeasures that have been barely tested. MCP suits, vibration stimulation of bone growth, negative pressure lower body exercise units, and short arm centrifuges that could be developed with minimal mission mass.

Hence my decompression analogy. We continue to do decompression research, not for its own sake, but to improve safety in underwater activities, be they military, commerical, research or recreational. Even though the basic principles of decompression were worked out by Haldane just over a century ago.

Spaceflight is a risky business, mostly from launching and landing. The risks from microgravity are trivial compared to these. Nobody has been killed, invalided or even incapacitated by microgravity.

Jon
 
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NoDozRequiem

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Re: Mars: A One-Way Trip

Spaceflight is a risky business, mostly from launching and landing. The risks from microgravity are trivial compared to these. Nobody has been killed, invalided or even incapacitated by microgravity.

Jon[/quote]



Jon,

I agree completely and this is my point. It is frustrating to me when I see microgravity used as an argument against human space flight and long duration missions. My point was to counter this argument pointing out that this "dragon" isn't really a dragon at all--certainly not something with which we cannot deal.

I find it equally frustrating when the same people who argue against going to Mars because of the so-called "deleterious effects of microgravity" argue that the money should instead be used to study those same effects in LEO. I find the argument incredibly asinine. My point was, for the people who hold to these arguments, it makes more sense to conduct this same research while also accomplishing greater exploration goals and to show that, if microgravity is such a big problem as some would have us believe, this approach DOES present an ethical problem. You see, my target audience was those who don't think microgravity is trivial--or who think it is a show-stopper and then form policy around that assumption.

Thanks for your response.
 
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JonClarke

Guest
Re: Mars: A One-Way Trip

NoDozRequiem":24d9q7u3 said:
I agree completely and this is my point. It is frustrating to me when I see microgravity used as an argument against human space flight and long duration missions. My point was to counter this argument pointing out that this "dragon" isn't really a dragon at all--certainly not something with which we cannot deal.

I find it equally frustrating when the same people who argue against going to Mars because of the so-called "deleterious effects of microgravity" argue that the money should instead be used to study those same effects in LEO. I find the argument incredibly asinine. My point was, for the people who hold to these arguments, it makes more sense to conduct this same research while also accomplishing greater exploration goals and to show that, if microgravity is such a big problem as some would have us believe, this approach DOES present an ethical problem. You see, my target audience was those who don't think microgravity is trivial--or who think it is a show-stopper and then form policy around that assumption.

Thanks for your response.
I agree. Microgravity, radiation, etc. are more like poisonous lizards than fire-breathing dragons.

cheers

Jon
 
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geofbrewer

Guest
Maybe it is for now. Let's consider airplanes and what happened to them. Barnstorming got people interested in flying. Large numbers? No. Planes carried the mail. Trains were safer. Commercialization did a bang up job. WWII gave aviation another big boost. But let's just hope manned space exploration does without a future militaristic boost.
Scaled Composites and Sir Richard Branson are attempting to commercialize "space" travel at $200K a seat. Others are jumping on the bandwagon. The idea being reducing the price per seat so more people can fly. I don't think Branson is planning on making any money off of Virgin Galactic. What should be an outcome of these joyrides is continued investment in the development of transitional craft to handle freight to Low Earth Orbit. What we currently send into space has to survive launch, as well as, survive the wilds of space. Gee, where did I hear this?
Tugs to boost "stuff" into higher orbits, to the moon, or a LaGrange Point. Some of the more exotic propulsion systems of the future may require us to assemble the probes and modules somewhere other than close to Earth.
The moon is relatively close. Would we be willing to generate rescue missions for the Moon? Probably. Mars? I don't think so. I know bootstrapping is seen as passe. Maybe we can think about this in a logical manner and get our act together. That's my hope.
 
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Quasar99

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Hmmm. I don't want to be a spoil-sport but that huge posting by lugoloobi seems rather out of scope for this forum...
 
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2worlds

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Robert Zubrin has been incredibly successful in transporting his message to a world wide public (even with the prestigious lunar explorers from the 70's).

The success of his campaign for manned missions to Mars is based in large parts in his ability to propagate a vision of the human colonization of Mars (and maybe other planets or moons of our solar system?) in the not too distant future. As pointed out by others before, however, Mars (or any other celestial body in our system except earth) unfortunately is not the right planet for this.

All other gigantic problems aside, it just doesn't have the mass it needs to hold an atmosphere. Thus there will be no terraforming of Mars within the next dozens or hundreds off millenia - if ever. And this is where all practical steps for human exploration of Mars in our lifetimes should indeed stop for any economically restricted businesses or governments, no matter how much one would like to see it happening.

From this perspective, there should be a clear priority for lunar exploration, as Mars does not offer anything (in terms of reasonable, worthwile, achievable objectives) other than the Moon. To keep up the vision of human exploration and colonisation of space, on the other hand, we would need to look much further than Mars, and our own solar system. This in turn would direct priorities to basic research and new propulsion technologies. For me, this would be a much wiser spending of government resources.
 
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TATWORTH

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Recently it looked like any further Mars exploration using craft larger than that of the size of the rovers was impractical due to the problems of landing, however the recent sucessful trials of the ballute (an inflatable heat shield) show that much bigger craft could be landed.

Will this allow a man-rated landing craft? Larger craft need to be landed to prove this part of the engineering.

The problem of a 6-month transit is not insuperable - either the craft could be spun (parts separated by a tether) or the use of Ion engines could reduce the journey length.

Much engineering research (e.g. land a probe capable of drilling for water and to synthesise fuel from the water) needs to be done to pave the way for a manned Mars Mission, be it Mars Direct or Mars Solo.

With the Moon, we could try almost at any time whereas with Mars we can only try roughly once every 2 years.
 
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EarthlingX

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First, i would like to say i m against Mars first, or Mars Direct or something like that. I think we should stay in shallow water (low dV) water before we start climbing mountains. Use asteroids or lunar regolith for radiation shielding mass, learn to live in space.
But i have an idea, probably not the first one voicing it, concerning this :
2worlds":29srtue3 said:
All other gigantic problems aside, it just doesn't have the mass it needs to hold an atmosphere. Thus there will be no terraforming of Mars within the next dozens or hundreds off millenia - if ever. And this is where all practical steps for human exploration of Mars in our lifetimes should indeed stop for any economically restricted businesses or governments, no matter how much one would like to see it happening.
Agree.
But what if we manage to move some big asteroid in Mars orbit, would it not be possible to wake up Mars core ? Something like Jupiter is doing to his moons but reverse ?
For moving asteroids we would use gravity tractor, electric propulsion and a lots of time.
 
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Zvezdichko

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We also have an asteroid in Mars orbit - it's called PHOBOS.

We can build a base there (robotic or human) and explore Mars from there.

The Russians do plan to take samples from Phobos and return them to Earth. The mission will have an enormous scientific impact if successful.
 
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mikecrane

Guest
Agree.
But what if we manage to move some big asteroid in Mars orbit, would it not be possible to wake up Mars core ? Something like Jupiter is doing to his moons but reverse ?
For moving asteroids we would use gravity tractor, electric propulsion and a lots of time.
I agree that an asteroid orbiting mars may wake its core, however, it would have to be one heck of a big asteroid. I believe that the Earth's moon is what's kept its core active. If you think about the Earth\Moon system it's basically a motor. To bad Ceres can't be somehow nudged into Mars's orbit.
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
mikecrane":1u84u5a8 said:
I agree that an asteroid orbiting mars may wake its core, however, it would have to be one heck of a big asteroid. I believe that the Earth's moon is what's kept its core active. If you think about the Earth\Moon system it's basically a motor. To bad Ceres can't be somehow nudged into Mars's orbit.
We could assemble a lot of smaller asteroids, let them coalesce. Sure it would have to a be a monsteroid, but let's see how big.
Moon has (Wiki) 0.0123 Earth mass and assuming same proportion for hypothetical new Mars moon, it would be 0,0013161 Earth mass big. Mass of whole asteroid field is about 4% of Moon or 0,000492 of Earth.
It doesn't look good, but maybe something smaller can do the trick.
 
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2worlds

Guest
Mars as "second earth" would not only involve a more "active" core and tectonics only, but foremost a more massive planet able to sustain an atmosphere, preventing it from evaporating as quickly as you tried to "fill it up".

While we may send many, many missions to this planet in this endeavour, eventually it would need to be abandoned - unless we started terraforming Mars by way of smashing a moonlike body into it. While I personally do like fantastic ideas, realistically this might only happen quite some time from our life times (in a new age of abundance and unlimited technological abilities).

But as long as we are not there yet, Mars will not be a second earth, but rather a place for irregular visits of billionaires, rich governments, or some unimaginable colonists who voluntarily choose to live their lives in holes below surface or in pressurized tanks, on a dead, radiated planet devoid of abundant food and water supplies and without proper gravity, causing biomolecular and genetic changes to their bodies that ultimately transformed them into an alien species.
 
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MeteorWayne

Guest
Quasar99":1kbnz0m4 said:
Hmmm. I don't want to be a spoil-sport but that huge posting by lugoloobi seems rather out of scope for this forum...
Moved... :)
 
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NoDozRequiem

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2worlds wrote:
"All other gigantic problems aside, it just doesn't have the mass it needs to hold an atmosphere. Thus there will be no terraforming of Mars within the next dozens or hundreds off millenia - if ever. And this is where all practical steps for human exploration of Mars in our lifetimes should indeed stop for any economically restricted businesses or governments, no matter how much one would like to see it happening."

ME: I have to agree and disagree here. Perhaps there will be no terraforming of Mars within the next dozens or hundres of mmillenia--if ever...or perhaps Mars will be terraformed, or at least the process begun, within a couple hundred years. When it comes to forecasting the future, especially forecasting the future of technological capabilities and in terms of predicting what we will understand at a future date about planetary climate dynamics, I must admit I can only speculate and make educated guesses--not assertions.

As far as Mars not having the mass it needs to hold an atmosphere--you might want to bring this up to a number of planetary scientists who think that terraforming mars is impossible. How embarrasing for them that they've overlooked this glaring hole. Of course, mass isn't everything. Just ask Saturn's moon, Titan, whose atmosphere is thicker than earth's. Of course, Mars had an atmosphere thick enough to sustain water on its surface for quite a while. What was it that caused Mars to lose its atmosphere? From what I read, the jury is still out on that. When it comes to retaining atmosphere, size doesn't always matter (or predominate).

As far as our inability to terraform Mars later as precluding us from exploring it now, I'm not sure I follow this line of reasoning. Of course, I might have misunderstood you here. Robert Zubrin notes that terraforming Mars is a task for another generation, another era--our task is in establing that first foot hold (not boot print) on another world so that other era even has the chance of materializing "millinia" down the road. Zubrin presents these points well in an interview/discussion on On Point Raido: http://www.onpointradio.org/2009/07/nasas-next-frontier
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
2worlds":14i12ns1 said:
Mars as "second earth" would not only involve a more "active" core and tectonics only, but foremost a more massive planet able to sustain an atmosphere, preventing it from evaporating as quickly as you tried to "fill it up".
The point of restarting Mars core is to create a magnetic field to protect Mars atmosphere from solar wind.
About a need of a more massive planet, i think jury is still out.
 
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NoDozRequiem

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2worlds wrote:
"To keep up the vision of human exploration and colonisation of space, on the other hand, we would need to look much further than Mars, and our own solar system. This in turn would direct priorities to basic research and new propulsion technologies. For me, this would be a much wiser spending of government resources."

ME:
To keep up the vision for human exploration, I think we actually need to explore space--and stop leaving that exploration for other times and other generations. Eventually, space exploration will need to look much further than Mars and even our own solar system--but we need to establish that first foot hold and going to Mars can accomplish those goals by driving technological development. So long as we have no immediate need for better propulsion technologies, there will be no incentive to produce it. Once we have a foot hold on another planet, that need will exist as an ever present reality and not simply as a "vision for human exploration." Having that foot hold will drive explorers and researchers to cleverly, and by necessity, develop technologies that will aid them in survival, in mitigating the dangers of space, and in the process produce technologies that have the potential for revolutionizing lives back on earth. I think that would be a wise spending of tax dollars. I'm for programs grounded in the reality of now with real time goals and long term benefits.
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
mikecrane":307mu4m8 said:
To bad we can't find a giant piece of neodymium or build a series of giant electromagnets.
Maybe there's some big chunk of monazite or similar circling around the Sun. We are just beginning to know where they are.
 
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NoDozRequiem

Guest
Anyone in here interested in the Mars Direct approach and would like the Augustine Panel to answer inquiries regarding it please go to the following address:

1. Go to http://hsf.nasa.gov/qa.php
2. Scroll down to "Keyword Search" and type "Mars Direct"
3. A question will appear as a result of the search; click on the "+" to bump up its priority.

This shouldn't take more than about 15 seconds and will help get answers from the Augstine Panel for important questions related to the future of human space flight. Currently, the Panel has painted a dismal picture for that future, leading its chairman, Norman Agustine to comment: "Our view is that it will be difficult with the current budget to do anything that's terribly inspiring in the human spaceflight area."


Note:
Apparently the Panel has heard, at least, of Dr. Zubrin's Mars Direct as he presented testimony in Washington, D.C. on August 5th at the Carnegie Institute of Science (wishing I had known of that hearing at the time). I can only assume they are vaugely familiar with NASA's Design Reference Mission. What is unclear, however, is why and by what method of deliberation they apparently dismissed completely Zubrin's (and ostensibly NASA's) architecture(s) as "options".

I've submitted a number of comments directly to the panel and have not received responses, with the exception of an addition to their list of questions on their website, which reflected, in part, one of my submitted questions. The question, however, had been rephrased and put in such terms as to effectively constrain any answer to a very limited scope and avoid answering parts which would require actual thought.
 
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Quasar99

Guest
Well there are some very good points being made here about the practical aspects of space travel. In particular, thank you Jon for your insightful comments in separating speculation from fact regarding things like the motivations of the space policy developers or the damaging effects of micro-gravity.

Allow me to share some perspectives and experiences regarding “vision” and “risk” as someone who has been in the space business for 25+ years. I enjoy science fiction too but as an engineer I am also amazed at how much basic ground work still hasn't been done to establish the backbone of everything that is taken for granted in sci-fi stories. As I noted earlier, the International Space Station has only been operating a closed loop urine recycling system for six months and its full crew of six has only been there about 3 months.

The Jet Propulsion Lab just finished flying an Electronic Nose, a real-time chemical sensor/analyzer, on board the ISS for six months. Surely such basic technology would be needed on a long Mars mission, at the very least for safety. The chief scientist for this 5-person project has been repeatedly approached by people in the business community (e.g., airport security teams, food inspection firms, etc) to build one of these for their needs but the technology is still in its infancy because you have to do the tedious lab work to optimize your detectors for the things you expect to encounter.

Just this week the first inflatable heat shield was tested by NASA. Several years ago JPL had a very aggressive Mars robotic program in which by now all our orbiters would be arriving at Mars via aero-CAPTURE (i.e., plunge straight into the atmosphere for braking down to orbital speed, rather than using retro-rockets). This was abandoned when we lost two Mars missions in 1999 due to poor technical oversight caused by the "faster, better, cheaper" philosophy. Aerocapture looks great on paper, but who wants to be the first mission to volunteer... anyone stepping forward?

At NASA we are constantly admonished to do the hard things, the sometimes unglamorous but very risky work. We don't build orbiter spacecraft in-house anymore because contractors like Lockheed-Martin can do that just fine. As much as I would like to fly on Virgin Galactic's 5 minutes of weightlessness trip, Bert Rutan has stated that his goal for SpacecShip Two is to be less risky that the first airliners were in their early days.

I am fascinated by the progress of Space X and their Falcon 1 (and soon Falcon 9) rockets lofting satellites at a fraction of the current cost. When the founder Elon Musk came to speak at JPL several years ago, the auditorium was packed and since then some JPLers have gone to work there in mid-career for the excitement and challenge. Fortunately, Elon Musk earned several hundred million dollars co-founding PayPal and some early computer games, so he can finance the company and new employees don't have to take a pay cut (but they get stock options!). There are definitely some risks having a company built around one person. Some of you may recall when AMROC’s founder died in a car crash a few days before their big launch (which burned up on the pad) and the company soon folded. It now appears Sea Launch is going to fail after they had a spectacular launch pad failure a few years ago. Robert Bigelow (Bigelow Aerospace - Las Vegas) has now placed two small-scale inflatable habitats in orbit and is offering $50 million to anyone who can build a vessel to carry people to his space hotel for a stay of up to 6 months. He has stated, however, that there is a drop dead date to that offer and the whole space hotel venture because, after all, he is a businessman (he created the Budget Suites hotel chain). Finally, a Russian company is talking about launching a long-duration version of a Soyuz spacecraft for a gliding orbit around the Moon and back for space tourists.

In the end, where does government funding of space fit into the picture? I would suggest that one of NASA’s biggest roles is to try innovation, “retire the risk”, and move things into the commercial arena. For example, I work on an Earth-orbiting experiment called the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder which has been mapping out the thermal and chemical content of Earth’s atmosphere since May 2002. In general, NASA builds up new technology for weather and meteorological research then hands them over in the next generation satellites to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who gives us the hurricane weather reports. Some NASA and NOAA project make extensive use of contractors but to date, other than the French SPOT venture, I haven’t seen too many private companies stepping forward to launch their own weather satellites and take on the grunt work of weather reporting. Evidently, at least from a financial perspective, the “risk” hasn’t yet been retired. Similarly, the Space Shuttle is being retired precisely because there are such insurmountable risks in its design that it can never be “routine”. Sometimes it’s better to start over with many lessons learned in your pocket.

We will get to Mars eventually, but should NASA pave the way if no one (i.e., private enterprise) will be there to carry the ball after the first touchdown?
 
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crazyeddie

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Re: Mars: A One-Way Trip

NoDozRequiem":dxznm29v said:
I agree completely and this is my point. It is frustrating to me when I see microgravity used as an argument against human space flight and long duration missions. My point was to counter this argument pointing out that this "dragon" isn't really a dragon at all--certainly not something with which we cannot deal.

I find it equally frustrating when the same people who argue against going to Mars because of the so-called "deleterious effects of microgravity" argue that the money should instead be used to study those same effects in LEO. I find the argument incredibly asinine. My point was, for the people who hold to these arguments, it makes more sense to conduct this same research while also accomplishing greater exploration goals and to show that, if microgravity is such a big problem as some would have us believe, this approach DOES present an ethical problem. You see, my target audience was those who don't think microgravity is trivial--or who think it is a show-stopper and then form policy around that assumption.

Thanks for your response.
I hope you didn't think I was arguing against a human Mars exploration mission simply because we don't know enough about the long-term effects of living in a .38 gravitational field. My point was only that it would be a tragedy to learn that long-term exposure to low gravity environments was incompatible with human life only after we had committed a large group of colonists to living on Mars.

In one of Arthur C. Clarke's more obscure novels, Islands in the Sky, he wrote of a rotating space station that was similar to the one depicted in the movie 2001. It was a rotating cylinder with three levels. The innermost provided a .33 gravity field, the next level provided .66 G, and the outermost level provided a full Earth gravity. Travelers preparing to disembark to the moon or Mars would gradually acclimate themselves to a reduced gravity field by moving progressively from the outermost to the innermost levels. Those returning from such destinations would follow a reverse pattern. Such a station would provide an ideal opportunity to study the varying effects of exposure to different gravitational fields. Of course, building such a station today would be difficult and the expense would be mind-boggling......but it seemed like such an elegant idea that I thought I would mention it.
 
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NoDozRequiem

Guest
crazyeddie,

I see. We are in agreement then. I think it would be unwise to commit large scale settlement in terms of permanent "colonists" to such a world when we do not know the long term affects of reduced gravity environments. While we have seen that astronauts exposed to long duration flights (consecutive 6 months +) recover in terms of the negative effects, we do not know how well the human body would hold up to prolonged or even permanent exposure to such environments.

Personally, I think the human body would adapt and through other mitigation techniques microgravity does not present an insurmountable obstacle to "colonization" efforts on worlds with reduced gravity. I am not, however, an expert.

Thanks for commenting.
 
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crazyeddie

Guest
NoDozRequiem":aozjwgko said:
As far as Mars not having the mass it needs to hold an atmosphere--you might want to bring this up to a number of planetary scientists who think that terraforming mars is impossible. How embarrasing for them that they've overlooked this glaring hole. Of course, mass isn't everything. Just ask Saturn's moon, Titan, whose atmosphere is thicker than earth's. Of course, Mars had an atmosphere thick enough to sustain water on its surface for quite a while. What was it that caused Mars to lose its atmosphere? From what I read, the jury is still out on that. When it comes to retaining atmosphere, size doesn't always matter (or predominate).
My feeling on this topic is: if we have or develop the technology to give Mars a reasonably thick atmosphere, we will also have the means to maintain it. Terraforming is not something that ends when you achieve a certain goal; creating a biosphere on a world that did not come by it naturally will require an ongoing commitment. It may prove to be impossible to achieve the kind of terraforming on Mars that was envisioned by Kim Stanley Robinson in his Mars trilogy, but perhaps it could be technically and economically feasible to settle for a more attainable compromise.....such as giving the planet just enough atmosphere to permit humans to live comfortably under tented or domed settlements, without the constant fear of blowouts. This would also provide some measure of protection against high radiation levels and micrometeorites.
 
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