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Elon's Mars goal a mistake?

Discussion in 'SpaceX' started by Johan, Dec 5, 2015.

  1. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    I know this may be a controversial topic to raise, but could it be that Elon's goal to very soon populate Mars is a foolish goal?

    My main reasons for thinking this:

    1. I have never heard or read of any technological concept that would allow humans to live for extended periods of time on Mars without accumulating very high doses of ionizing radiation (due to more or less complete lack of atmosphere and the lack of magnetic field around the planet) which would make the development of cancerous tumors almost inevitable at an earlier age than on earth and in nearly 100% of the people living there. And what about children growing up, or pregnant women? I've never heard Elon touch on this subject. The only solution I could envision is living under ground for but a few hours per day, or living behind very thick walls of radiation blocking materials (which come from where???).

    2. Is it really smart to contaminate the surface or Mars with earth life, before having properly explored the planet? Any biological life found on mars after a Mars lander with humans have set foot and made camp will inevitably be impossible to distinguish from contamination. This could later prove to be a huge mistake. Mars might have more value to us as a means of understanding the evolution of life, or lack thereof, on other planets. I also believe sending a manned mission to Mars would be in direct violation of the COSPAR treaty: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_protection

    Seeing how actually establishing self sustaining life on Mars seems to realistically be very far off in to the future, would it not be better to build large space colonies closer to earth? Perhaps a proof-of-concept base on the Moon? Even if earth was hit with a very big asteroid, or if we seriously screw up the environment, our chances of surviving as a species on earth is still bigger than on Mars. If the Earth was somehow terribly messed up, our chances of being able to terraform earth back to habitability is also far greater than that of terraforming Mars, right?

     
  2. the dude

    the dude Member

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    I think spaceX will reach Mars but I doubt it will be the colony that Musk wants, it will be a research base full of scientists, like the base in Antarctica

    And I agree they they will spend most of their time underground which will provide plenty of shielding from radiation, the nice thing about building a rocket system to reach Mars is that it makes travel to the Moon easy but the reverse is not true

    Also the BFR makes it possible to build much faster probes to the outer planets and beyond
     
  3. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    But c'mon honestly, going there is the smallest problem, living there with resupply missions coming with years between them and at quite high risk..?

    Self sustaining - how???

    The more I think of Elon's statements about this the more I understand he just wants to raise awareness and enthusiasm around the ideas of conquering space, making humanity interplanetary but he must know that the idea of a self sustaining base on Mars in the next 30 years is highly unlikely to be possible. He has other grand ideas but makes a point about being realistic. I just listened to his Paris talk: sure transport will go electric but it will take decades, sure we could turn AGW around but the temperature will rise at least 2 degrees, the odds of Tesla making it was only 10% etc etc. In other words he is a realist. But when it comes to Mars his public message is far from realistic. And I'm not talking about getting there but living there.
     
  4. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    Set goal, try to achieve it.
    There are difficult goals that have no benefit until achieved (e.g. HFCV) and there are difficult goals that have benefits on the way (e.g. BEV).
    Mars needs massive reusable rockets, batteries and solar power.
     
  5. hockeythug

    hockeythug Active Member

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    Just wait until after a successfully RTF and they get back in their grove. Big things are planned.
     
  6. LargeHamCollider

    LargeHamCollider Battery cells != scalable

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    Can it be done, yes.
    Does Musk want to do it, yes.
    Would it be a pinnacle event in the history of life, yes.
    Will he achieve it? I literally laughed when I first heard it dismissed it off hand, it's a little harder to simply brush off now.

    There is LOTS of literature on terraforming and plenty of ways to protect martians from from ionizing radiation.
     
  7. the dude

    the dude Member

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    Like the ISS they would have a large amount of food, water and supplies on Mars before the first people arrive and they always have a reserve to fall back on if a resupply fails

    This is a lot harder to do, but it is possible IMO

    I don't think he is just raising awareness he is 100% behind going to Mars its not just PR, he is willing to put all his cash into the idea or do anything to reach the goal

    If spaceX can make reusable rockets then getting to Mars becomes possible at a lower cost than most people realise thats why it will happen IMO
     
  8. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    He has a good point that we're messing up our planet so badly that we had better have an alternative. And of all the planets and moons we know about Mars is the closest.
     
  9. SW2Fiddler

    SW2Fiddler Bannd Member

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    #9 SW2Fiddler, Dec 5, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015
    For radiation, I figure we'd live under our reservoirs since we need the accumulated water close by anyway.
    Would crops be OK at the surface though (under airtight translucent cover of course)? Or does that make the food radioactive? (My hobby of) Aquaponics lets you harvest vegetables and meat (fish) and is super water-conservative. You'd grow crops above the fish/water, and live and work in the caverns below for the most rad-shielding. Otherwise, absent the sunlight, you'd grow under solar-powered LEDs and deal with the efficiency being a fraction of free sun...
     
  10. ScepticMatt

    ScepticMatt Member

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    1. Bury or fortify habitats with regolith.
    2. NASA Office of Planetary Protection exclusion zones. Very stringed sterilization limits.
     
  11. Caligula

    Caligula Member

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    Yup.

    “The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur.” – Elon Musk
     
  12. Tedkidd

    Tedkidd Member

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    There will be a terminal event for humans on earth, whether we cause it or not. Solving the existential problem is really important to Musk for some reason. The only way to insure that is multiple self-sufficient colonies in different locations.

    This guy has done a fantastic job of laying out Musk's thinking and strategy on lots of things...

    The Cook and the Chef: Musks Secret Sauce - Wait But Why
     
  13. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    My main point is getting to and from Mars is maybe 10-20% of the problem. The remaining 80% is how to live there.

    SpaceX is working hard on the transportation issue but I haven't heard Elon talk about the rest. Which is weird considering how realistic he usually is.

    With Tesla they did build out the service centers and SC network aggressively as soon as they ramped up production, right?

    So with him talking about sending a MCT in the next 15 years why isn't he talking about all the important work ahead of us when it comes to the issues of living on Mars?
     
  14. the dude

    the dude Member

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    If spaceX can deliver 100 ton payloads to Mars then any problem you can think of is easy enough to solve IMO
     
  15. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Until you can reliably get there, the rest is somewhat moot.

    - - - Updated - - -

    This is certainly true, but our behaviour is adding quite a bit of urgency.
     
  16. jkn

    jkn Member

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    Of course they have to live underground. This is not a problem.

    Martian life must be studied before first humans land there. Perhaps there is no life yet.

    We need:

    1: Cheaper access to orbit: Spacex is trying.

    2: Manned moon-base:
    Tech must be tested on the Moon before going elsewhere for two reasons:
    - In worst case time to escape to Earth or get spare parts is almost 3 years for Mars base, less that 3 days for Moon-base.
    - Some work on moon-base can be done by remote control from Earth. 3 s time delay makes that very slow, but cost of working hour of first moon-base workers will be very high. Biosphere 2 inhabitants had too much work to maintain their biosphere and they didn't try to expand it. So online help from Earth might be necessary.

    3: Moon-base must produce some metals and rocket fuel.

    4: Build large radiation protected space station from construction materials from Moon. Of course some hi-tech parts need to come from Earth. Move this station to orbit of Mars.

    5: This space station builds space station to moon of Mars. Supplies come from Earth and Moon.

    6: Martian moon-base will use remote controlled equipment to study Mars.

    7: Then to asteroids or to surface of Mars. Mercury would have plenty of solar energy. Perhaps also water and lot of heavier elements.
     
  17. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    I do agree with you: before establishing ourselves on the surface of Mars we should establish a space station orbiting Mars and then study Mars intensively using Rovers and other remote controlled technologies. Such a space station, significantly larger than the ISS, should preferrably be assembled outside of Earth's main gravitational field; in orbit or on the moon, and then launched for Mars. Using raw materials from the Moon or from an asteroid would be a very nice proof of concept.

    The reason why it's so important to study Mars before we estabilish ourselves there is that it can tell us a lot about the evolution of life. We know Mars had liquid water and heat levels apparently friendly to life for 1 billion years. Now either we find traces of past life there, or currently still active life, in which case we've gone a long way to prove that life does arise "naturally" if the conditions are right and the time windows is large enough. Controversely, we find no sign of life at all, even after thorough study, in which case we might suspect that life arising is a very uncommon thing in the universe, maybe suggesting we are alone in our own Hubble volume. These are important questions that we should take care in answering as best as we can before we contaminate the surface of Mars.
     
  18. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    Aside from not seeing any possible way for this to be self sustaining, either physically or economically, I'd say that the lower gravity on Mars may well be the killer issue, both figuratively and quite possibly, literally.

    We have zero data about long term (>5 year) exposure to non-Earth gravity for any animal, much less humans, but the data we do have for short term exposure (18 months or less) isn't very promising. It may well be that Mars gravity, as opposed to zero G, will help a lot, but we have no data. Our entire evolutionary history has been under 1 G conditions so I see no reason to believe that we could successfully reproduce or even remain alive in a 1/3 G environment for many years.

    I suppose we could build kilometer size rotating cities to induce artificial gravity, but while that would be a great engineering challenge, it sounds pretty expensive.
     
  19. Morristhecat

    Morristhecat Member

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    For those who enjoy speculating on this sort of thing, you might find Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars" a good read. I wouldn't be surprised if it has inspired Elon to some degree, as there are allot of parallels to Elon's goals.
     
  20. GSP

    GSP Member

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    If SpaceX solves the transportation problem, that is a big step by itself. I think it will be up to the next generation, after Elon, to solve the sustainable habitat on Mars problem. As soon as transport is possible at "reasonable" cost, lots of people will be working on it.

    GSP

    PS. This reminds me of the movie "The Martian." It was worth watching.
     

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