Author Topic: Preferred Landing Sites  (Read 16160 times)

Offline sanman

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Preferred Landing Sites
« on: 11/23/2016 11:27 AM »
Large deposit of water ice the size of Lake Superior found just under the martian surface at Utopia Planitia:

http://phys.org/news/2016-11-mars-ice-deposit-lake-superior.html






Why not simply go where the water is? If that's what's most useful to you, and what you'll need the most of, as a potential propellant source, then why not just find the spot with the greatest amount of accessible water, and target all your operations at that site? At least Utopia Planitia isn't at the poles, so you'll get a little bit of help achieving escape velocity.

Otherwise, what other possible criteria would be important for selection of landing site and location of settlements?


And the place has got one other plus - since Musk is a notorious sci-fi nerd, I'm sure he knows (as the rest of us do) that Utopia Planitia is the location of the shipyard where the USS Enterprise is built in the 24th century, in the Star Trek story universe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utopia_Planitia#In_popular_culture

I'm sure he wouldn't pass up mentioning that, if this place met all his other criteria for a suitable spot.  ;)

Offline guckyfan

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #1 on: 11/23/2016 12:04 PM »
They won't need that much water. Even 10km³ will go a long way. Since that much water is in many locations they can look for other criteria.

Online Hotblack Desiato

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #2 on: 11/23/2016 01:23 PM »
Well, they don't need that much for their initial plans. But simply having this amount of resources available  clearly helps in the long run (and I'm thinking in centuries).

Nice discovery :)

Offline sanman

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #3 on: 11/23/2016 02:58 PM »
They won't need that much water. Even 10km³ will go a long way. Since that much water is in many locations they can look for other criteria.

But we're talking about the vision of building a city, and of sending a million colonists to live and work there. Even if the colony recycles water efficiently, there's still going to be a lot of spaceships departing for Earth (since their recyclability is key to the whole plan), and those will be needing a lot of water collectively.

The Mars settlement will be a spaceport in its own right - at least over the long run - and thus you'll want to have abundantly ample resources available for scaling over the long term.


Offline philw1776

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #4 on: 11/23/2016 03:26 PM »
Posted it here before but since this is another thread on manned landing sites...

NASA survey of potential landing sites...

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/exploration-zone-map-v10.pdf

N.B. Nili Fossae is the closest to this Lake Superior glacial ice in Utopia Plantina

And here's a writeup for each site under consideration...

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/mars-c-abstracts_in_order_of_presentation10242015_0.pdf

Note that this is NASA with their considerations for landing sites. SX's preferences with colonization as the goal could be quite different, such as no emphasis on search for life, or untangling the geohistory (sic) of Mars.  Maybe.

The problem with the site cited (Heh) here is its northerly location.  For robust colonization you don't just need the water you also need metric oodles of energy to extract the ice, disassociate the water and brew rocket fuel.  If its solar power, close to the equator is substantially better.  If nukes, which I'm certain the anti-nukes and solar acolytes will oppose, then the northern plains with subsurface water are the best spots as long as they're not too far north (extra delta V to land and launch) or high (want as much atmosphere to slow down on landing as possible).

I'm intrigued by the differing tradeoffs.  It's safe to say that SX will likely do more in orbit water, etc. surveys  and ground truth verification before landing ITSs there.
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #5 on: 11/23/2016 04:27 PM »
They won't need that much water. Even 10km³ will go a long way. Since that much water is in many locations they can look for other criteria.

But we're talking about the vision of building a city, and of sending a million colonists to live and work there. Even if the colony recycles water efficiently, there's still going to be a lot of spaceships departing for Earth (since their recyclability is key to the whole plan), and those will be needing a lot of water collectively.

The Mars settlement will be a spaceport in its own right - at least over the long run - and thus you'll want to have abundantly ample resources available for scaling over the long term.

Fuelling the spaceships for sending 1 million people and the cargo ships will not consume 1km³ of water, leaving 9 for the settlement. That's 9.000t of water for each of the 1 million settlers.

Long term they will spread out to where different kinds of resources are.

I admit to making that remark somewhat tongue in cheek. It is still true.

Offline redliox

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #6 on: 11/24/2016 02:50 AM »
Large deposit of water ice the size of Lake Superior found just under the martian surface at Utopia Planitia:


Why not simply go where the water is?

Well the main disadvantage of Utopia Planitia is it is very, very, very boring.  Viking 2 landed in the closest thing to what was Utopia's more interesting terrain, with the crater Mie to the east and Hrad Vallis to the south.  I glanced at a map of the coordinates - there are a few ruples features and a spattering of small, unnamed craters...but literally nothing on the scale of tens, if not hundreds, if kilometers.  Aside from a bland landscape, the science may be minimal outside of deep drills.

I think a big reason why Utopia Planitia is such a boring place is, in the ancient wet days of Mars, it was Mars' equivalent of Earth's abyssal plains under the ocean.  These regions technically dominate huge chunks of the Earth's surface, and by dominate I'm talking on the scale of continents since they are legitimately a full HALF of Earth's true surface (certainly if you talk to any oceanographers).  Utopia is basically a fossilized version of these massive mud flats.

Otherwise, what other possible criteria would be important for selection of landing site and location of settlements?


And the place has got one other plus - since Musk is a notorious sci-fi nerd, I'm sure he knows (as the rest of us do) that Utopia Planitia is the location of the shipyard where the USS Enterprise is built in the 24th century, in the Star Trek story universe.
I'm sure he wouldn't pass up mentioning that, if this place met all his other criteria for a suitable spot.  ;)

Science and safety are the essential criteria.  I'd personally rank a flat spot adjacent to Valles Marineris the best.  However, I would put Utopia as my second choice now since it is generally safe and ice rich.  My only additional requirement would be some form of long-range transport for a Utopia base to expedite exploration.

I don't know what Musk's perference would be on where to setup a Mars base for ITS.  Utopia might be fitting, but given his choice of "Heart of Gold" he may favor more British-themed locales bear-in-mind.  ;)
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Online matthewkantar

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #7 on: 11/25/2016 07:46 PM »
I would imagine that the newly landed Martians would be looking for H2O buried deep enough to be liquid. Makes getting to it a little harder, but getting it out much easier. It might even be pressurized, so no pumps would be necessary to get it to the surface. I have read that the core temp of Mars is estimated to be 5-7000 degrees F. I have not found even a guess as to how deep a well would need to go to find 32 degrees F.

Matthew

Offline wes_wilson

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #8 on: 11/26/2016 12:18 PM »
Musks presentations always show the red mars turning blue.  Perhaps elevation should also be considered a significant factor in selecting the first landing site.  Somewhere above global sea level if the planet were terraformed and somewhere not likely to become a lake or other inland body of water but perhaps next to a future place like this.

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Offline meekGee

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #9 on: 11/26/2016 07:42 PM »
Large deposit of water ice the size of Lake Superior found just under the martian surface at Utopia Planitia:


Why not simply go where the water is?

Well the main disadvantage of Utopia Planitia is it is very, very, very boring.  Viking 2 landed in the closest thing to what was Utopia's more interesting terrain, with the crater Mie to the east and Hrad Vallis to the south.  I glanced at a map of the coordinates - there are a few ruples features and a spattering of small, unnamed craters...but literally nothing on the scale of tens, if not hundreds, if kilometers.  Aside from a bland landscape, the science may be minimal outside of deep drills.

I think a big reason why Utopia Planitia is such a boring place is, in the ancient wet days of Mars, it was Mars' equivalent of Earth's abyssal plains under the ocean.  These regions technically dominate huge chunks of the Earth's surface, and by dominate I'm talking on the scale of continents since they are legitimately a full HALF of Earth's true surface (certainly if you talk to any oceanographers).  Utopia is basically a fossilized version of these massive mud flats.

Otherwise, what other possible criteria would be important for selection of landing site and location of settlements?


And the place has got one other plus - since Musk is a notorious sci-fi nerd, I'm sure he knows (as the rest of us do) that Utopia Planitia is the location of the shipyard where the USS Enterprise is built in the 24th century, in the Star Trek story universe.
I'm sure he wouldn't pass up mentioning that, if this place met all his other criteria for a suitable spot.  ;)

Science and safety are the essential criteria.  I'd personally rank a flat spot adjacent to Valles Marineris the best.  However, I would put Utopia as my second choice now since it is generally safe and ice rich.  My only additional requirement would be some form of long-range transport for a Utopia base to expedite exploration.

I don't know what Musk's perference would be on where to setup a Mars base for ITS.  Utopia might be fitting, but given his choice of "Heart of Gold" he may favor more British-themed locales bear-in-mind.  ;)

I don't think immediate science value would play a big role in the selection.

This is not a one-time mission, it is about colonization. Once you're established on Mars, the benefit to science on Mars are so much greater than you'd get by optimizing the landing site for science.

It's like arguing which telescope to build, whereas in the long view, the best thing you can do for astronomy is to invest in cheap and more powerful launch technology.

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Offline Jcc

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #10 on: 11/26/2016 09:45 PM »
Musks presentations always show the red mars turning blue.  Perhaps elevation should also be considered a significant factor in selecting the first landing site.  Somewhere above global sea level if the planet were terraformed and somewhere not likely to become a lake or other inland body of water but perhaps next to a future place like this.

The time scale between establishing a first colony and eventual filling of lakes or oceans via terraforming (if ever) will make it a non-issue. If the best place for initial colonies happens to be an area that gets flooded 1000 years from now so be it, they can build on higher ground later.
Or do you think they can produce standing water in a lake 50 years from now? I don't think so.

Offline MickQ

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #11 on: 11/27/2016 10:28 AM »
Utopia Planitia may be boring BUT it has a basically unlimited water supply.  IMO, the ideal place to set up the solar and ISRU plants needed.  Plenty of area to build an initial base to establish a foothold.  Plenty of room to locate landing zones far enough away from other structures.  So what if you have to drive 10klm from the ITS to the base.  It's not hard with the right vehicles.

Land, get set up safe and comfortable and then worry about science and exploration.

Offline philw1776

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #12 on: 11/27/2016 02:45 PM »
a little far north for best solar
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Offline redliox

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #13 on: 11/27/2016 03:42 PM »
Posted it here before but since this is another thread on manned landing sites...

NASA survey of potential landing sites...

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/exploration-zone-map-v10.pdf

N.B. Nili Fossae is the closest to this Lake Superior glacial ice in Utopia Plantina

Excellent point, and that site is indeed somewhat close to the Utopia ice field.

The other Utopia site is at Hebrus Valles, at 20 N and 126 E.  Some indications of potential permafrost and possibly subsurface caverns, the later because of ancient melting.  Considering Utopia's past as an ancient ocean floor, the hydrogen abundance Odyssey's detected over most of the planet, and the ice discovery it isn't a stretch to think this site will include either some ice or chemically-bound water.

Further reason to support Hebrus Valles, especially for those thinking long-term (taken from the section on HV here https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/mars-c-abstracts_in_order_of_presentation10242015_0.pdf ):
Quote
The predicted typical
mean annual surface temperature for the EZ investigated
latitudes is -60ºC [5]. At these temperatures,
permafrost could have a mechanical
strength close to that of limestone [6, 7], which
could have stabilized evacuated caverns. Chemical
precipitation from circulating brines in terrestrial
cold springs can produce cements along the
periphery of feeder conduits, thereby enhancing
their overall structural stability [8]. Cements developed
in association with cold water circulation
include calcite, aragonite, Fe-Mn oxides, sulfides
and sulfates [9,10]. On Earth, caverns are known
to occur in ice-welded sediments such as in association
with networks of ice wedges in permafrost
[11] and ice-welded moraine deposits [12]. Some
glacier caverns are known to have remained stable
over decades [13]. Subsurface caverns and
steep walls in Hebrus Valles might represent natural
terrain features that can be adapted for construction
purposes (minimum ROI requirement).,
Hence, infrastructure can be emplaced or constructed
the LS (minimum ROI requirement).

Taken together, the site landscape could be incorporated into construction and the soil is chemically useful, possibly still has water in some form in it, and a potential fossil bed all at once.  I'd call this a potentially good site; not my personal first choice but still should be kept high on the list.
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Offline redliox

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #14 on: 11/27/2016 03:46 PM »
a little far north for best solar

Correct in regards to Utopia overall.  The Hebrus Valles site I mentioned is more southerly but likewise farther from direct ice deposits.  Also, given we're talking about SpaceX's plans, in the end they may not choose a site NASA scientists advocate simply because they might favor engineering concerns more heavily than science (such as the need for solar power).
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Online RonM

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #15 on: 11/27/2016 03:59 PM »
a little far north for best solar

Correct in regards to Utopia overall.  The Hebrus Valles site I mentioned is more southerly but likewise farther from direct ice deposits.  Also, given we're talking about SpaceX's plans, in the end they may not choose a site NASA scientists advocate simply because they might favor engineering concerns more heavily than science (such as the need for solar power).

For colonization, engineering concerns are more important than scientific research. Once the initial base for the colony is established, explorers can drive rovers to more interesting sites for science.

The key is to build a colony that will eventually become self-sufficient. Once the "beachhead" on Mars is established, other benefits such as science and multi-planet species will naturally follow.

Access to water is the most important ISRU factor. Utopia Plantina sounds to me like a good place to start.

Offline MickQ

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #16 on: 11/27/2016 07:33 PM »
a little far north for best solar

Correct in regards to Utopia overall.  The Hebrus Valles site I mentioned is more southerly but likewise farther from direct ice deposits.  Also, given we're talking about SpaceX's plans, in the end they may not choose a site NASA scientists advocate simply because they might favor engineering concerns more heavily than science (such as the need for solar power).

For colonization, engineering concerns are more important than scientific research. Once the initial base for the colony is established, explorers can drive rovers to more interesting sites for science.

The key is to build a colony that will eventually become self-sufficient. Once the "beachhead" on Mars is established, other benefits such as science and multi-planet species will naturally follow.

Access to water is the most important ISRU factor. Utopia Plantina sounds to me like a good place to start.

No mountains to block sunlight and room for more than enough solar panels to meet any requirements for a first base.  The wagon trains can roll from here to all those other more interesting places.

Offline guckyfan

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #17 on: 11/27/2016 07:37 PM »
Elon Musk wants an attractive site, a place people want to go to. An endless flat desert is not that attractive. Also probably not that variable in available resources.

Offline AncientU

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #18 on: 11/27/2016 08:01 PM »
Utopia Plantina sounds like one site where there is great potential. NASA has others with various drawing points... initial effort should be to investigate 2-4 of these leading candidate sites and determine which has the features most favorable.  It could be that ice fields are completely riddled with features (crevaces, un-navigable surfaces, whatever) that make them dangerous... Or perfect.

Other sites near glaciers might have essentially unlimited water, but not the disadvantages...

We should examine potential sites (dare I say it... actually explore a bit) before going all-in on one that was selected from orbit.  NASA is all over this exploration concept, so get on with it.
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #19 on: 11/27/2016 08:41 PM »
We will see what landing sites will be selected for the 2020 Red Dragons.