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Opposition to Mars

Discussion in 'SpaceX' started by Skotty, Jun 17, 2017.

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  1. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

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    I've been seeing opposition to Mars in various places (Bill Maher had a surprisingly long rant about it on Real Time earlier this year). I think there are a number of misconceptions some people have about what Elon Musk's plan is for Mars, and people should be ready to correct these misconceptions and be ready to defend the plan, as much as you believe the plan warrants.

    One misconception I see pop up is that the idea is to flee to Mars because we are destroying Earth. That is an incredibly ridiculous concept, but luckily, that makes it easy to counter. The Pro Mars camp need to be clear that is not a means to escape Earth.

    Somewhat related to that are the Earth Firsters. On this, as SpaceX is the primary company looking at colonizing Mars, I like to point out that Elon also runs Tesla, a company doing solar, grid storage, gigafactory, EVs, and EV infrastructure, and that's a very big piece of the "stop ruining Earth" pie. So the company doing the most to make it possible to leave Earth is lead by the same guy who leads the company doing the most to improve Earth.

    In general there's a sense by some that somehow the objectives of saving Earth and going to Mars are opposed, but they are actually aligned in the interest of improving the human condition.

    At worst, at this moment in time, the effort to make Mars colonizing feasible has helped reduce the cost of access to space, and is saving businesses a lot of money. So to anyone who rejects all other reasons to go to Mars, there's always that.
     
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  2. Krugerrand

    Krugerrand Well-Known Member

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    On a slightly different tangent, a friend who I thought was more open-minded and with it than they clearly are, scoffed at me when discussing colonizing Mars. They said they'd read the 'research reports' about the impossibility of man living on Mars. They even expressed significant doubt we'd ever get to Mars.

    People (in general) often disappoint me. They lack imagination. They can't think outside the box. They have no will to problem solve. I'm so excited to see what SpaceX (and Tesla, and OpenAI etc...) can continue to accomplish.
     
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  3. Reciprocity

    Reciprocity Active Member

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    Elon is a nutty dude, but he has very good reasons for every crazy idea and we as humans are lucky to have him if for no other reason then the pure inspiration of it all.

    There is a great article on wait but why about the Fermi paradox. I think this is the main driver behind Elon's ideas around Mars, ai, simulations and even neutral lace. It's the idea that with so many possibilities for life, we have no evidence if any. With the amount of time and opportunities there should be really advanced aliens and there should be proof of things like Dyson spheres that we can detect from Earth. If no advanced civilizations exist, it means they destroyed themselves. Pollution, viruses, asteroids or nuclear war. Thus, the need to backup the human race on Mars and further out.

    Without pushing the limits we will never get there and Elon is certainly adept at pushing the limits. People can doubt him but it really doesn't matter because he certainly can inspire enough engineers and scientists to get the job done. I have no skills to offer so I try to support the goals in my own way. Even I think his ideas are nuts, I trust Elon's intentions.
     
  4. anticitizen13.7

    anticitizen13.7 Enemy of the Status Quo

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    I believe that the brightest and most ambitious humans will eventually start to leave Earth for Mars, and that this exodus will accelerate as Mars infrastructure makes life better and less dangerous over time.

    In time, Mars and Earth will be mutually hostile, like in the SyFy series The Expanse:


    "We are nothing like you. The only thing Earthers care about is government handouts: free food, free water, free drugs, so that you can forget the aimless lives you lead.

    Earth is over, Mr. Holden. My only hope is that we can bring Mars to live before you can destroy that too."
     
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  5. vdiv

    vdiv Chief Grump

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  6. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    My first reaction when I saw this thread title was "Is Mars at opposition to Earth right now?". It made me think of orbital mechanics. :)
    Yes, many people misunderstand why Elon wants to establish a permanent human colony on Mars, even though his reasons are very simple, and very clear, and he has stated them many times.

    I am a WBW subscriber and read everything Tim publishes. But Elon's Mars ambitions are not driven by the Fermi paradox (see The Fermi Paradox - Wait But Why)

    Elon's primary reason for going to Mars is simple: if humans never establish a permanent self-sustaining colony off Earth, it is inevitable that the human race will go extinct either in the near future (next few centuries or possibly even less if human-driven mass extinctions and climate change cause an ecological collapse resulting in mass famine) or the distant future (when the next major asteroid hits or the Sun goes nova, engulfing the earth). This strikes me as self-evident and factually unassailable.

    A major asteroid could impact the earth this year (very unlikely but not impossible, a near certainty sometime in the next 100 million years) or a massive thermonuclear exchange this year could wipe out the biosphere via a "nuclear winter" (also unlikely but not impossible given the current leaders of the USSR and US). So Elon's attitude is: With a serious effort we can use our current knowledge to start colonizing Mars in the next decade and it would be morally indenfensible not to do so since it is going to take at least a century to create a self-sustaining colony. That attitude makes a lot of sense to me.

    To those who say "We shouldn't do anything with Mars because we first have to solve our pressing problems on Earth" I say "We will never solve all our problems on Earth, but we can do both: we can work hard to make Earth better and we can colonize Mars, they are not mutually exclusive."

    The act of colonizing Mars is not "bailing out" on Earth. That is an overly simplistic analysis. Successfully colonizing Mars means that the chance of humanity going extinct before the Sun goes nova and engulfs the inner planets is greatly reduced. That seems obvious to me.

    It is hard to think as long term as Elon thinks. Most people don't concern themselves with events that are likely to happen a few years from now. Seriously planning for events certain to occur in the distant future is beyond the capacity of most people. Elon is different. SpaceX could fail in its efforts to colonize Mars. But it won't be for a lack of trying.

    By the way, see this article for some thoughts on our Sun going nova The Sun Will Eventually Engulf Earth--Maybe
     
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  7. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    I may have already mentioned this here but I had a lengthy discussion with friends after the Bill Maher bit on Mars on Real Time. I pointed out that Bill and his writers created their own scenario about abandoning responsibility for Earth to go Mars. I said that Bill acted like an uninformed idiot. Around 2011 Bill Maher also had an uninformed rant about how electric cars are a scam because you're just moving the emissions to the power plant. Bill Maher now drives a Tesla. This is the same type of pseudo-intellectual nonsense thinking concerning Mars. Ecarfan explains it very well. Elon is trying to get humanity off just Earth. He sees Mars as the best potential to do that so that is where he is focusing his efforts.
     
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  8. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, I didn't know that. Very amusing. ;) At least Maher can appreciate his error and move on. Many people cannot do that: they get locked into their own mindset and are unable to understand the error in their thinking.

    @Grendal made an important point that I neglected in my earlier post: "Mars has the best potential" in the solar system for establishing a human colony because of its natural resources, near Earth gravity and day length. The moon is a distant second. Elon understands that. A human colony on the moon would likely be easier in the short term but not the best choice long term.
     
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  9. jkn

    jkn Member

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    Because of that, we must build Moon colony first. If we go to Mars and try to learn to live there, first attempts will fail. We must learn to live and operate an industry on Moon and then copy that on Mars. Mars is more difficult, because in worst case ~3 years of wait to get spare parts or medicines from Earth.

    How to finance Mars mission... Build hotel on Moon. Many want to visit there...

    Moon has water and other resources for life support and for rocket fuel. Not as much as Mars, but enough for starting expansion to space.
     
  10. Reciprocity

    Reciprocity Active Member

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    Agreed, we are actually guaranteed to have some type of mass extinction event at some point in the not to distant future. It could be 10 years or 10,000, so Mars or some giant space station is something that we put considerable efforts into. Its not about saving earth from humans but saving humans from the inevitable. There is a distinct pattern to Elon's thinking and it revolves around this idea that we cannot survive without pushing the limits beyond what most people are comfortable with. Whether its AI turning us in house cats or worse, or climate change making the planet deadly to humans, though I dont know how it could be more deadly then Mars. The point is that if climate change gets to a certain point, we will not have the ability to focus on Mars as an option to safe guard the human race longer term, so both issues must be attacked in concert because if the environment gets to a point that is bad enough, to many resources will be devoted to just surviving and eventually an asteroid will hit us in the head and kill us all.

    Now the boring company, autonomous cars and hyperloop are just because he hates traffic, which is in a way an extinction event all on its own.
     
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  11. vdiv

    vdiv Chief Grump

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    The mass extinction reasoning seems rational until one considers that it is far more likely to occur on Mars. We have to start somewhere. Some people advocate for the Jovian moons instead (and some of them are rather cute):

     
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  12. Reciprocity

    Reciprocity Active Member

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    You have a better chance of both not happening around the same time period, so it can buy you time to get to the next step. I think the end goal is more then one backup and Mars being a stepping stone to Moons of Jupiter and maybe Saturn. I am not much of a astronomer, but I get the idea that you want to backup your files at home and then keep a set of backups off site.
     
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  13. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Elon and SpaceX management disagree. Mars is their goal, and they have zero interest in landing on the moon or setting up a colony there.

    THere is no earth entity, government or private, that currently has a viable plan or the necessary funding to establish a permanent lunar colony. I see no chance of it happening in the next several decades.

    . Amusing fantasy.

    The renowned biologist E.O. Wilson believes were are currently in the middle of a mass extinction event. Right now. See Diversity and Extinctions
    [​IMG]

    You are misunderstanding the term "mass extinction" as it is being used in this discussion by me and others. We are talking about a radical decline in the total number of species on this planet. All species, not just humans.

    The rapid loss of terrestrial biodiversity, the accelerating rate of species extinction, rapid climate change, acidification of the oceans, all point towards a grave risk of biosphere collapse sometime in the next few centuries. Obviously we can't be sure. But it is delusional, bordering on insane, to think that humanity can continue on the current path and expect to survive long term.

    H. sapiens is just one of millions of species on Earth. Our fate is tied to the health of the planetary ecosystem.

    I have not given up on humanity collectively coming to its senses later this century and taking action to stabilize our ecosystem. But now that we are on the verge of having the technology to establish a permanent sustainable human colony on another planet, it was be morally wrong not to do so.
     
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  14. Reciprocity

    Reciprocity Active Member

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    That is because we ate all those other species, or we ate what they needed to eat to survive. So im not all that worried about that type of extinction event, because we are currently the top of the food chain.
     
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  15. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    The mass extinction I am referring to is of tens of thousands of species over the last two centuries. Only a very small fraction of those species were ever used by humans as food.

    It is critical to understand that humans, like every other species, depend on a healthy, stable ecosystem to survive. Our biosphere will simply not function if it only consists of humans and the very small number of domesticated plants and animals that we eat.

    At the base of our ecosystem is the oceanic food chain, from tiny phytoplankton up to massive whales. The phytoplankton in the oceans produce 50 to over 80% of the oxygen in our atmosphere. Without a healthy ocean, we will perish. Currently we are poisoning the oceans in a variety of ways as well as drastically overfishing them
     
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  16. vdiv

    vdiv Chief Grump

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    The moral argument appears weak as it does not win the majority of people. Some believe that the mere existence of people is immoral and spreading it is even more so. I've been accused of preaching morality when trying to convince others to drive electric.
     
  17. McRat

    McRat Active Member

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    #17 McRat, Jun 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
    A moonbase should come first, but it's not as sexy. Robotic refueling equipment and launch facilities on the moon can get a payload to Mars much faster than we can from earth. It suddenly becomes practical to build a really fast rocket. 1/5th the escape velocity, little atmosphere, and the orbital velocity of the moon itself can really get some wicked speed going.

    Not sure what the best way to make fuel is, but there is lots of oxygen and aluminum present. It would take enormous amounts of energy to turn those into fuel, but it can be used as an interplanetary propellant. It's certainly not a new idea.
     
  18. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    I like that video. Thanks for sharing. Her opposition to Mars is really under the idea of a NASA mission to visit or land there. Which is no where near what SpaceX and Elon wants to do. The NASA Mars mission is mostly imaginary anyway. SLS is a jobs program and, sadly, it eats up most of the exploration funds. She'd rather NASA spend money on more wild exploration like the moons of Jupiter. I fully agree with her as far as NASA spending is concerned.

    Amy has a lot of informative videos about the space program. Being a man, it had never occurred to me to ask about this:

    Amy answered that question. It was an interesting answer.
     
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  19. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    I am unclear on whether or not you have any professional expertise in aerospace, rocketry, lunar exploration, or Martian exploration, but here is what Elon said last September about why SpaceX isn't going to the moon, quote:

    "It really only leaves us with one option if we want to become a multi-planetary civilization, and that is Mars. We could conceivably go to our moon, and I actually have nothing against going to the moon, but I think it is challenging to become multi-planetary on the moon because it is much smaller than a planet. It does not have any atmosphere. It is not as resource-rich as Mars. It has got a 28-day day, whereas the Mars day is 24.5 hours. In general, Mars is far better-suited ultimately to scale up to be a self-sustaining civilization."

    And obviously he does not see any compelling reason for using a moonbase as a launching part for missions to Mars. The cost and effort of building a rocket launching facility on the moon would be enormous since everything would have to be brought from Earth, and Elon has said in the past that it is much more difficult to make rocket fuel on the moon compared to making it on Mars.

    In my layperson's opinion, building a permanent base on the moon to launch Mars missions from makes no sense. Robert Zubrin, Buzz Aldrin, and many others agree with Elon.
     
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  20. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    I am not a rocket scientist, or any other scientist for that matter. Just someone who grew up reading science fiction and has had a fascination with going into space. That said, to add to what ecarfan wrote, I would say that having a moon station would be an even better solution over Moon base. Park it in the Moon's Lagrange point. Then you don't even have to go into and out of the Moon's gravity well. Having no atmosphere, you can then use the Moon's gravity well as a gravity boost for any destination you want to travel to. Having a Moon base to support that station would likely come along at some point.

    Ultimately, SpaceX is thinking large with the ITS because it is a Mars colonization plan. I doubt creating a Moon colony would need ITS as SpaceX has envisioned it. Granted, it wouldn't hurt though.

    And to sum it all up. It's not like anyone else is really considering a Moon colony anyway. Basically it's SpaceX and Elon that wants to create a Mars colony. Since no one else is even considering anything else then their plan is the only plan. So they get to decide what will happen and we get to armchair argue over what idea is better.

    Personally, while I appreciate a Mars colony, I would want to see industry in space. Money and getting rich would drive people into space. I'd like to see a space "gold rush." Then you'd really have people risking everything and getting things done in space. I love Elon's positive perspective and he would get enough people to colonize Mars but what will keep them there? Usually the idea of a better life is what drives people to take chances. The spirit of exploration will only get you so far. So I'd like to see industry and resource gathering. JMHO.
     
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