Author Topic: Preferred Landing Sites  (Read 10931 times)

Offline rocx

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #20 on: 11/27/2016 08:46 PM »
Perhaps we could open a target bingo for Red Dragon at some point. Let the collective wisdom of this forum place their bets where the mission will be targeted. And then later a touchdown bingo, of course.
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Offline wes_wilson

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #21 on: 11/28/2016 11:10 AM »
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.

I think elevation is a decision criteria with no present cost and significant future cost.  If I were making the landing site decision it would be a criteria on my decision matrix; albeit one given less weight than landing/launching friendliness, local resources, and solar influx.

The timeline for terraforming is probably best for another thread.  However, my view is that it could be much shorter term than most people think.  On earth, we've already warmed the planet several degrees over the last 150 years as a byproduct of our society.  A focused industrial effort to produce super greenhouse gases could effect more rapid change on a shorter timescale.  Further, Mars doesn't have the same strong feedback mechanisms in place to prevent climate change.  A little warming will release a lot of CO2. 

So, I think elevation is a factor if you're planning for long term inhabitation of Mars. 
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Offline The Amazing Catstronaut

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #22 on: 11/28/2016 02:12 PM »


The timeline for terraforming is probably best for another thread.  However, my view is that it could be much shorter term than most people think.  On earth, we've already warmed the planet several degrees over the last 150 years as a byproduct of our society.  A focused industrial effort to produce super greenhouse gases could effect more rapid change on a shorter timescale.  Further, Mars doesn't have the same strong feedback mechanisms in place to prevent climate change.  A little warming will release a lot of CO2.  A breathable, stable oxygen atmosphere without unacceptable toxin levels, strong magnetic field and a biosphere is a whole different basket of eggs - but temperature and liquid water isn't.

So, I think elevation is a factor if you're planning for long term inhabitation of Mars.

Agreed. Whilst it probably doesn't matter if initial work is low level, there's no genuine reason why it needs to take a thousand years to significantly raise the temperature (a thousand years is the time between the early middle ages and the present day, think of the technology climb in that time. We will likely have a technology development rate in the near future which exceeds what we learnt in 1000 years in 100, 50, or less, and it will just keep on climbing. With present day tech it hypothetically doesn't need a thousand years, with unknowable future tech? Assume better ratios under optimistic, Muskian colonisation scenarios).

There's a lot of satisfactory mid-ground or higher ground sites that it's unlikely to be a problem anyway.

« Last Edit: 11/28/2016 02:14 PM by The Amazing Catstronaut »
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Online RonM

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #23 on: 11/28/2016 02:50 PM »


The timeline for terraforming is probably best for another thread.  However, my view is that it could be much shorter term than most people think.  On earth, we've already warmed the planet several degrees over the last 150 years as a byproduct of our society.  A focused industrial effort to produce super greenhouse gases could effect more rapid change on a shorter timescale.  Further, Mars doesn't have the same strong feedback mechanisms in place to prevent climate change.  A little warming will release a lot of CO2.  A breathable, stable oxygen atmosphere without unacceptable toxin levels, strong magnetic field and a biosphere is a whole different basket of eggs - but temperature and liquid water isn't.

So, I think elevation is a factor if you're planning for long term inhabitation of Mars.

Agreed. Whilst it probably doesn't matter if initial work is low level, there's no genuine reason why it needs to take a thousand years to significantly raise the temperature (a thousand years is the time between the early middle ages and the present day, think of the technology climb in that time. We will likely have a technology development rate in the near future which exceeds what we learnt in 1000 years in 100, 50, or less, and it will just keep on climbing. With present day tech it hypothetically doesn't need a thousand years, with unknowable future tech? Assume better ratios under optimistic, Muskian colonisation scenarios).

There's a lot of satisfactory mid-ground or higher ground sites that it's unlikely to be a problem anyway.

Sure our technology will improve, but that doesn't matter to thermodynamics. We're talking about an incredible amount of energy required to not just increase the temperature but to transition frozen CO2 from solid to gas. It will be a very long time before there are oceans on Mars.

Let's try to keep the unknowable future tech out of the conversation because, well, it's unknowable.

Offline philw1776

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #24 on: 11/28/2016 07:36 PM »
My guesses at SpaceX site criteria

0. Low enough below mean datum for sufficient aerobraking for landing (-2Km or lower) & low enough latitude (under ~30 degrees) to minimize landing & takeoff delta V.  Excess landing deltaV makes colony $/ton landed freight bill more expensive. More trips/thousand tons. Excess takeoff deltaV consumes more energy intensive ISRU resources.
1. ISRU: water available in colony need quantities
2. ISRU: solar power available in colony quantities as mining water and especially disassociation eats electrons
3. Given 1&2 sufficient water & solar power available for colony
4. Other ISRU needs: minerals etc. for colonial development
5. Interesting site & nearby attractions that motivate large #s of folks years to a lifetime off planet
Musk is a marketeer; looking cool is important to selling the dream & human satisfaction

NASA Priorities:
0: ~ same as SpaceX
1. Sufficient ISRU to support small base camp for a synod & return propellant
2. Science: geological history of Mars
3. Science search for evidence of past life
4. Science search for existing life.  Base away from but accessible from search site accessed by tele-operated sterilized planetary protection rover

« Last Edit: 11/28/2016 10:55 PM by philw1776 »
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #25 on: 11/29/2016 02:26 PM »
I'd add stable soil that is easy to excavate, or maybe a large salt deposit, so the underground portion of the colony can happen faster and with less equipment
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Offline LMT

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #26 on: 11/30/2016 04:26 PM »
An Ice Dart at Hew Thermopylae

My guesses at SpaceX site criteria

0. Low enough below mean datum for sufficient aerobraking for landing (-2Km or lower) & low enough latitude (under ~30 degrees) to minimize landing & takeoff delta V.  Excess landing deltaV makes colony $/ton landed freight bill more expensive. More trips/thousand tons. Excess takeoff deltaV consumes more energy intensive ISRU resources.
1. ISRU: water available in colony need quantities
2. ISRU: solar power available in colony quantities as mining water and especially disassociation eats electrons
3. Given 1&2 sufficient water & solar power available for colony
4. Other ISRU needs: minerals etc. for colonial development
5. Interesting site & nearby attractions that motivate large #s of folks years to a lifetime off planet
Musk is a marketeer; looking cool is important to selling the dream & human satisfaction

NASA Priorities:
0: ~ same as SpaceX
1. Sufficient ISRU to support small base camp for a synod & return propellant
2. Science: geological history of Mars
3. Science search for evidence of past life
4. Science search for existing life.  Base away from but accessible from search site accessed by tele-operated sterilized planetary protection rover

What he said.   :) 

I'll throw a dart at the 2-km filled crater at 33o 35' N, 177o  31' W.  It's a ground-ice prospect for the hypothetical "Hew Thermopylae" site in Erebus Montes.

Hew Thermopylae meets philw1776's general requirements.  Notably, it's also a low-latitude site of geologically recent glaciation.  There are several places one might prospect around there for remnant deep glacial or periglacial ice, under good PV sunlight.  Why not drop Red Dragon in the center of this filled crater, as a first prospect?

Also, if SpaceX is serious about tunneling, the site's block mesa rock likely falls between the practical limits of "too hard for Roadheader" and "too soft for room-and-pillar tunnels".  And this is a brutal constraint on tunneling, as we saw in that thread.  Most Mars rock seems out-of-range, one way or the other.  Rock strength -- uniaxial compressive strength (UCS) -- may prove the most stringent site criterion.

Assuming, again, SpaceX is serious about tunneling.
« Last Edit: 12/14/2016 06:29 PM by LMT »

Offline LMT

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #27 on: 12/01/2016 04:23 AM »
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..

You may well be right about that.  Engineering challenges are so great that engineering desperation may in time drive SpaceX to put down a stake wherever the challenges are mitigated, regardless of the science or scenery.

Of course, the Lake Matthew Team has a particular view of those challenges, and mitigations.  We'd prefer to win the "landing site bingo" by painting the bingo balls with our own, as-yet unstated, site coordinates.

It's not cheating if you legally change the rules.  ;)

« Last Edit: 12/14/2016 06:29 PM by LMT »

Offline philw1776

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #28 on: 12/03/2016 06:02 PM »
Here's a fun overflight of Kasei Valles, one of the potential manned landing sites under consideration by NASA
Courtesy ESA Mars Express



Interesting cliffs, valleys, mesas and erosional features
Downside, no (yet) known large water resources within easy access

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Offline DOCinCT

Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #29 on: 12/03/2016 07:28 PM »
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.
Do you want to live in New England (hills, valleys, waterfalls, lakes, forests, etc.) or in Kansas/Nebraska?

Offline Ionmars

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #30 on: 12/05/2016 08:52 PM »
My guesses at SpaceX site criteria

0. Low enough below mean datum for sufficient aerobraking for landing (-2Km or lower) & low enough latitude (under ~30 degrees) to minimize landing & takeoff delta V.  Excess landing deltaV makes colony $/ton landed freight bill more expensive. More trips/thousand tons. Excess takeoff deltaV consumes more energy intensive ISRU resources.
1. ISRU: water available in colony need quantities
2. ISRU: solar power available in colony quantities as mining water and especially disassociation eats electrons
3. Given 1&2 sufficient water & solar power available for colony
4. Other ISRU needs: minerals etc. for colonial development
5. Interesting site & nearby attractions that motivate large #s of folks years to a lifetime off planet
Musk is a marketeer; looking cool is important to selling the dream & human satisfaction
...
...
I am becoming sold on the idea that low elevation for landings is a higher priority than water. Water ice can be transported but elevation is hard to change.
* Mars is the Malevolent Mistress, not the Good Mother Earth *

Offline meekGee

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #31 on: 12/05/2016 09:30 PM »
My guesses at SpaceX site criteria

0. Low enough below mean datum for sufficient aerobraking for landing (-2Km or lower) & low enough latitude (under ~30 degrees) to minimize landing & takeoff delta V.  Excess landing deltaV makes colony $/ton landed freight bill more expensive. More trips/thousand tons. Excess takeoff deltaV consumes more energy intensive ISRU resources.
1. ISRU: water available in colony need quantities
2. ISRU: solar power available in colony quantities as mining water and especially disassociation eats electrons
3. Given 1&2 sufficient water & solar power available for colony
4. Other ISRU needs: minerals etc. for colonial development
5. Interesting site & nearby attractions that motivate large #s of folks years to a lifetime off planet
Musk is a marketeer; looking cool is important to selling the dream & human satisfaction
...
...
I am becoming sold on the idea that low elevation for landings is a higher priority than water. Water ice can be transported but elevation is hard to change.
Low elevation, and easy to excavate geology.

I think salt deposits would be awesome, because they give you stability, plus a neat way to process minerals.

I think that water, while super important, will also not be difficult to find, so will not be the deciding factor.
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Offline Ionmars

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #32 on: 12/05/2016 09:38 PM »
I have always likes Melas Chasma as a low altitude landing site, but the lowest elevation on Mars is Helles Basin. It is about 7100 m deep and the plain within the crater is about 2300 km east to west. Frequent dust storms may reduce its desirability for a colony, but here's an idea how to utilize it:
1. Draw a straight line from the SE straight across Helles Basin that ends in Melas Chasma to the NW..
2. From orbit, align your spaceship toward this line and enter the atmosphere at the SE edge of the Basin.
3. Follow the line across the basin about 1000 m above ground level for maximum deceleration. . Your GNC program must adjust for any unexpected dust storms that it may encounter.
4. At the west end of the basin abruptly swerve upward into a parabolic arc that allow you to coast toward Melas Chasma.
5. Restart engines for final descent to a pinpoint landing at the colony landing site.
* Mars is the Malevolent Mistress, not the Good Mother Earth *

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #33 on: 12/06/2016 02:45 AM »
Hellas Basin has primarily been rejected in the past due to a) being too south in latitude, b) being rocky as well as having dust storms.

Mind you that recently there is evidence that the "rocky" is likely ... surface ice! Which would be ideal for ISRU, as a bulldozer might effectively collect enough water for ISRU. And ... there may be enough of a crustal magnetic field. which along with the increased atmospheric density ... would have the least radiation (and perchlorate) issues for habitation.

But here are the problems - likely static effects and dust accumulation is largest too, so optical density/scattering would be the worst on Mars. Also, solar would have the lowest yield due to the inclination.

Also, the dynamic pressures (overdone to embellish risk in the movie "The Martian") would be the largest force winds and most active on Mars. Wonder if you could feasibly extract wind power  ::)

And, of course, with the increased density ... less need for a pressure suit ...

So there are many factors that make Hellas Basin ... peculiar ... for a landing site.



Offline guckyfan

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #34 on: 12/06/2016 05:44 AM »
Mind you that recently there is evidence that the "rocky" is likely ... surface ice! Which would be ideal for ISRU, as a bulldozer might effectively collect enough water for ISRU. And ... there may be enough of a crustal magnetic field. which along with the increased atmospheric density ... would have the least radiation (and perchlorate) issues for habitation.

But here are the problems - likely static effects and dust accumulation is largest too, so optical density/scattering would be the worst on Mars. Also, solar would have the lowest yield due to the inclination.

Interesting point about the local magnetic field. I had wondered before if they might help with local radiation but have not come around to ask that question.

The inclination should not have too much effect with canted solar arrays, though with initial arrays only rolled out on the ground. Canted solar arrays should help reduce dust accumulation.

I have also thought later, though not early, solar arrays could be located in the highlands, much reducing dust problems.

Offline Ionmars

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #35 on: 12/06/2016 04:15 PM »
...
...
The inclination should not have too much effect with canted solar arrays, though with initial arrays only rolled out on the ground. Canted solar arrays should help reduce dust accumulation.

I have also thought later, though not early, solar arrays could be located in the highlands, much reducing dust problems.
With landing sites and habitats in lowlands and solar farms i the highlands I am imagining some very LONG power lines.(?) :)

Edit: I guess I was thinking NASA-scale rather than Elon-scale, so long lines are probably fine.
« Last Edit: 12/06/2016 04:18 PM by Ionmars »
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Offline ZachF

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #36 on: 12/09/2016 08:16 PM »
A poster on Reddit made this map of solar irradiance, so If solar power is the (likely) starting energy source, you're going to be likely limited in practicality to between ~10S and ~30N.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vQTCtGVlkzmRRGn_NKhkMWEio6Ae0C_5EqLFjbaUNqm0o5pwkhqDThYOEm3ZuNoT4McPdOn9B5ibMQ7/pubchart?oid=1930243735&format=image

Offline philw1776

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #37 on: 12/10/2016 06:23 PM »
Given that, those water rich high northern latitude ice fields 40+ degrees are out for colonies unless a political miracle occurs and the public goes pro-nuke.  Making propellant requires an electricity rich colony.
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #38 on: 12/10/2016 08:42 PM »
That spreadsheet is for horizontally arranged panels. It gets a lot better at higher latitudes when they are canted to the local latitude.

Offline Bob Shaw

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Re: Preferred Landing Sites
« Reply #39 on: 12/10/2016 10:14 PM »
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.
Do you want to live in New England (hills, valleys, waterfalls, lakes, forests, etc.) or in Kansas/Nebraska?


Do you want to live, full stop?