Author Topic: Exploration concepts and principles?  (Read 54705 times)

Offline grondilu

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #20 on: 05/07/2013 01:42 AM »
Before thinking of sending humans anywhere, why doesn't anybody talk about sending lower lifeforms along with robots, and thus show that it is possible to sustain life on other celestial bodies?

Pretty much like Elon Musk's original idea:  sending some kind of a small terrarium, with plants and stuff on Mars, and showing it to Earthlings with a webcam or something.  I think it was a good idea.

It would also be a first step for other robots to build a larger terrarium where humans could actually live and grow food.

It really seems to me that as the first species to be sent on mars, a higher mammal is a terrible choice.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2013 01:46 AM by grondilu »
Space is pretty much literally an astronomically-high hanging fruit.

Offline Lar

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #21 on: 05/07/2013 03:47 AM »
  Making HSF a priority has a giggle factor that it hasn't lost after 50 years.  That's why when you go to whitehouse.gov and click on "issues," "space" is not on the list.


Giggle factor... Yes, and why the Star Wars petition at Whitehouse.gov got more votes than all the serious space ones put together.
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Offline CNYMike

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #22 on: 05/11/2013 05:10 AM »
I think what has to happen is politicians have to come up with a policy they feel comfortable stating publicly and leave on their web sites.  Since Columbia, all these little factions have run hog wild: Constellation represented one faction, then rival factions (SDHLV, SpaceX "commercial" crew, and any destination other than the Moon) gained ascendancy.  It depends on which one is flavor of the month inside the Beltaway.  So we get lost in the weeds of big rocket vs. small rocket vs. TARDIS/whatever with no clear idea of what, exaclty we're doing.  But no one in DC seems to want to commit to anything, leaving the ideological cage match ongoing.  Bolden's asteroid retrieval mission and latest rebuff a Moon mission just show things are going to stay messed up.

What kind of policy?  I've been thinking this over for a couple of days, and I've settled on two ideas that are generic enough they could narrow the focus without forcing a commitment (yet):

1.  NASA should foster regular travel between the Earth and other bodies in the solar system, for scienetific purposes and to expand the human presence beyond Earth.  Vague enough so as not to commit to any one thing, but should carry the idea of no more one off missions.  And no specific desitnations are ruled in or out.

2. Missions should fly as frequently as technically possible.  So the goal is a launch rate better than once every four years, which is the plan for SLS and makes no sense because the rockets it draws on -- Shuttle, Saturn V, and the RL-10 engines flown a dozen times a year between Atlas V's and Delta IV's  -- flew several times a year.  The idea is to put whatever on an assembly line.

So nothing specific again, unfortunately, but should clarify things enough for NASA to go back and say, "Ok, out of what we have now, what do we keep, what do we drop, and what do we modify, and what new things would we need?"

I know, there's a million reasons there is no chance of this happening, but (A) I had to get it out of my system; and (B) in a nation where our attitude about space is we don't want to stop doing something we feel foolish doing, this might be the only thing that sells.  Here's hoping the idea gets around.

« Last Edit: 05/14/2013 03:30 PM by CNYMike »
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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #23 on: 05/11/2013 03:35 PM »
[/sarcasm]

I'm in a big snit about the heist right now, in part since it will fulfill Mr. Bolden's prophecy to keep humanity on planet, by pretending to go to Mars.  We are being kept on planet by our government.  And I'm not talking colonization; I'm talking HSF, and scientific bases, whether on the surface of a celestial body or as a ring station.

But still, Mike's language there is good in principle, but unfortunately, his principle will not stop the factions from fighting one another. 

I'm afraid that I don't have a better suggestion, however.

[sarcasm]
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline CNYMike

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #24 on: 05/11/2013 03:50 PM »
[/sarcasm] .... Mike's language there is good in principle, but unfortunately, his principle will not stop the factions from fighting one another. 

No, it won't stop them from fighting, but right now, it seems the factions are pushing the politicians around.  That's why we've staggered from Constellation to Anti-Constellation, and who knows where next.  We can't keep doing that.  A consistent message from inside the Beltway -- even if it's works out to a list of things they don't want -- might change that, reducing the chance of another cataclysmic change of direction, and maybe give a future administrator a chance to make some lemonade out of the lemons s/he's inherited.  If we want a chance of accomplishing anything, we're better off working with what we have now than starting over from scratch again; anyone unhappy with the status quo already knows how well that works.

Quote
I'm afraid that I don't have a better suggestion, however.

[sarcasm]


I don't think there is a better suggestion.  That's the problem.  Narrowing the focus without committing may be the best we can hope for.
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Offline CNYMike

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #25 on: 05/11/2013 04:03 PM »
... right now, it seems the factions are pushing the politicians around ....

"Push around" may be too strong, but it is worth remembering that outside the space enthusiast/aerospace community, most people, including most elected officials, don't understand the in's and out's of space policy.  We've been arguing about this stuff for a decade, but most people don't know it, not because we've kept it secret, but because they don't know where to look, and never thought about it unless they have a space nut friend who brings it up.

So in the face of benign neglect from otherwise intelligent politicians who -- understandably -- maybe be more concerned about issues that can effect his election chances -- it would be easy from someone to say, "You know, sir, this Moon thing, we've done that.  Here's an idea that's more interesting." And our politicians say "Yes, that does sound interesting!  We'll do that" and goes about his business on other issues without a clue as to the chaos he's created. And yes, this could be President Obama, but it could be any president or any legislator.  Kennedy, famously, asked NASA some questions about what we could beat the Soviets to the Moon at; he didn't come up with the idea himself. 

So maybe the only message we could get through to our leaders, "Look, I know this only matters in a part of Florida, and then only barely, so it probably won't effect you.  But it is one of the highest profile things we do, and right now, we look like we can't find our heads with both hands.  And without some guidance, we'll keep going hog wild and maybe accomplish nothing.  So if you could at least set some parameters for what you do and don't want, in a general sense, we can get back to you.  How does that sound?"

Just wanted to clarify some harshness from my stream of consciousness.
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Offline BobCarver

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #26 on: 05/12/2013 01:09 AM »
Here's a three-stage plan that I think makes sense:

1. Exploration - Explore bodies within the Solar System which can support life relatively easy. Example: Mars, where we could potentially terraform the entire planet, starting small and building large (think: bases to domed cities to full terraforming of the destination). Learn everything we can about these places so that we can choose which one or ones to start with. This could be done mostly by NASA.

Potential places we know of that might lend themselves to this activity: Mars, Enceladus, Ganymede.

2. Colonization - Colonize the best candidates found after our exploration program builds a knowledge base of the best places for this kind of activity. This would be done by commercial entities whose long term goal is to sell real estate to colonists.

3. Terraformation - Colonists would engage in terraforming their own home body. Example: from Mars bases to domed cities, colonists drill for CO2 with which the atmosphere is injected to raise the greenhouse effect to the point where the planet is much more Earth-like. Water resources are pumped to create surface lakes. As the temperature and pressure of the atmosphere rises, water is released to the atmosphere. Water vapor is the biggest greenhouse gas, by the way.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #27 on: 05/12/2013 02:06 PM »
Here's a three-stage plan that I think makes sense:

1. Exploration - Explore bodies within the Solar System...

Let me stop you right there, if I may.  That is all that we can or will do, probably for the lifetime of everyone who posts on the forum today, including the newbies.  This exploration can be robotic and manned.

The key thing that is missing is the intention to work towards a permanent human presence off planet, despite the politicians holier than thou supplications to the contrary.  As long as responsible adults do not keep the fractious children from fighting each other over the mission of the month, there can't be a cooperative consensus formed, which would support a path forward for HSF.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline jtrame

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #28 on: 05/12/2013 02:21 PM »
Here's a three-stage plan that I think makes sense:

1. Exploration - Explore bodies within the Solar System which can support life relatively easy. Example: Mars, where we could potentially terraform the entire planet, starting small and building large (think: bases to domed cities to full terraforming of the destination). Learn everything we can about these places so that we can choose which one or ones to start with. This could be done mostly by NASA.

Potential places we know of that might lend themselves to this activity: Mars, Enceladus, Ganymede.



I think you would enjoy reading Buzz Ardrin's new book "Mission to Mars" in which he discusses a lot of what you have outlined.  In fact I think it deserves a thread of it's own.  I'm reading it now, I'm in Chapter 5.

Offline BobCarver

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #29 on: 05/12/2013 10:32 PM »

The key thing that is missing is the intention to work towards a permanent human presence off planet, despite the politicians holier than thou supplications to the contrary.  As long as responsible adults do not keep the fractious children from fighting each other over the mission of the month, there can't be a cooperative consensus formed, which would support a path forward for HSF.

That's why I would limit NASA to Exploration and leave colonization to the private sector or, at most, a public-private partnership. I would not prefer to see the USA extending its political sphere into space. Nor any other Earth government. Keep Mars for the Martians.

We've done the standard colonization plan a few hundred years ago. It never works out for the mother country in the long run.

Let NASA do the exploration and prep work for various destinations. If they can do it, that is. Otherwise, let individuals lead the way.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #30 on: 05/13/2013 01:25 PM »
... Otherwise, let individuals lead the way.

As has been pointed out, we are *cough* free *cough* to lead the way.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline BobCarver

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #31 on: 05/13/2013 06:10 PM »
... Otherwise, let individuals lead the way.

As has been pointed out, we are *cough* free *cough* to lead the way.

Where would you start colonization? Mars, Enceladus, Ganymede, ? ? ?
« Last Edit: 05/13/2013 06:10 PM by BobCarver »

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #32 on: 05/13/2013 06:23 PM »
You, as in moi?  Topic for a different thread.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline RigelFive

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #33 on: 05/19/2013 06:36 AM »
The BEO and LEO seem to be targets of the design space for the early 21st century.

Imagine somebody in the early 1900s conceptualizing that you could fuel up a horseless carriage and trek across the USA in three to five days.  Or conceptualizing that one could fly across the USA in less than six hours.

The reason that was needed was that the early pioneers wanted to get there quicker.  All of this wasn't because the chicken wanted to simply cross the road to get to the other side... the chicken knew there was corn over there (so to speak).

We haven't found a trace of a microbe or volumes of aquifers thus far on the moon or Mars. I don't think exercises in basic geology are going to initiate future exploration BEO. 

You need trace evidence of something that connects the Earth to these other objects.  I'd have to believe that meteors are about the most likely chance of finding something that will initiate an exploration boom (again, it is not going to be a common geology find that starts it off). Maybe the moon will have a lunar transient event someday to restart exploration.  Going to the moon, Mars or to the asteroids to flip rocks over isn't going to cut it.

If we found an object that is not an asteroid (i.e. chunk of neutron star, isotopes of something outside our solar system, object that naturally visits the oort cloud, etc...) Maybe something like this would be the catalyst for BEO advancements.

Once the first connection is made, the rest of the flights will exponentially increase until spaceflight is as common as driving to Pittsburgh.
« Last Edit: 05/19/2013 07:00 AM by RigelFive »

Offline BobCarver

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #34 on: 05/19/2013 07:33 PM »

You need trace evidence of something that connects the Earth to these other objects.  I'd have to believe that meteors are about the most likely chance of finding something that will initiate an exploration boom (again, it is not going to be a common geology find that starts it off). Maybe the moon will have a lunar transient event someday to restart exploration.  Going to the moon, Mars or to the asteroids to flip rocks over isn't going to cut it.


Real estate. That's what connects Earth to these other objects. There's no reason to look any further than what's obvious.

Once the real estate is developed, the buyers will come in droves. Earth is unsustainably crowded and threatens to grow more so as time goes on. There will be no lack of buyers for off-Earth real estate suitably developed.

Consequently, we need terraformation to create that desirable real estate, which will make off-Earth look more like pristine Earth before the degradation set in here on the home planet. Obviously, we have Mars, Enceladus and Ganymede as leading candidates for planetary object terraformation. Plus, we have space habitats as potential real estate as well.

Offline RigelFive

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #35 on: 05/19/2013 07:51 PM »
There is plenty of real estate on Earth.  Its just that too many are located near the coastline where it is desirable.  Global warming concerns are not enough to transform peoples thinking to move inland.  Going to colonize space isnt going to change thinking about this either.

Offline BobCarver

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #36 on: 05/19/2013 11:01 PM »
There is plenty of real estate on Earth.  Its just that too many are located near the coastline where it is desirable.  Global warming concerns are not enough to transform peoples thinking to move inland.  Going to colonize space isnt going to change thinking about this either.

If you think I was talking about Global Warming, you are sadly mistaken. I am talking about the current population of this planet, which is now using 1.5 Earths in terms of resources and heading for 2 Earths' worth of resources within the next few decades. Those are facts which cannot be denied. We have overpopulated Earth with people and it will become increasingly clear in the near future.

Colonization is a viable alternative for those with the means to do so. Elon Musk is heading for Mars and others in his monetary class will be following him.

Here's a quote from http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/newsletter/det/human_demand_outstripping_natures_regenerative_capacity_at_an_alarming_rate :

Quote
Living Planet Report reveals widening gap between nature’s supply and human demand

Humanity is now using nature’s services 50 percent faster than what Earth can renew, reveals the 2010 edition of the Living Planet Report – the leading survey of the planet’s health.

“The dwindling health of the world’s species is no surprise considering how much of nature’s services humanity is taking for its own use,” said Mathis Wackernagel, President of Global Footprint Network. “Ultimately, enabling biodiversity to thrive will require bringing human demand for nature’s services to a level Earth can sustainably supply.”

The new figures released today for humanity’s Ecological Footprint and biocapacity illustrate the scope of the challenges humanity faces not only for preserving biodiversity, but also for halting climate change and meeting human development aspirations, such as reducing worldwide hunger and poverty.

Global Footprint Network calculations show that in the past five decades, the human Footprint on Earth has more than doubled. In 2007, the most recent year for which data are available, humanity used the equivalent of 1.5 planets to support its activities. Put another way, it now takes a year and six months for the Earth to absorb the CO2 emissions and regenerate the renewable resources that people use in one year.

Carbon is a major driver behind the planet to ecological overdraft. An alarming 11-fold increase in our overall carbon Footprint over the last five decades means carbon now accounts for more than half the global Ecological Footprint. Land used for food production is another major factor in humanity’s escalating Footprint. It should be noted that cheap access to fossil fuel has enabled us to get more from each hectare than we might otherwise have been able to. Moving out of fossil fuel due to climate concerns or depleted sources will reduce the carbon portion of the Footprint, but may also significantly increase pressure on other ecosystems.


I'll admit that there are ways to reduce our consumption to supply, but killing billions of people is not a nice choice (but one I think the elites may be heading for). I would much prefer colonization of other planets + space habitats as solutions to our sustainability problems.

Offline RigelFive

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #37 on: 05/20/2013 04:58 AM »
Ok.  Lets roll with it.

So what happens if you launch the same number of rockets in a day that come out of one airport from a major city in one day?  Say 200..

That carbon footprint/ecology problem will not get any better...  Life diminishes even worse on Earth.  Then ultimately fails where ever the next colony starts. Natural resources will be depleted entirely on Earth and Mars.

This Elysium summer movie coming up looks to stir this pot pretty good.

Why not try to just terraform Earth for the existing population!?  Stop wasting money on space exploration.

Offline Lar

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #38 on: 05/20/2013 05:08 AM »
Ok.  Lets roll troll with it.

Fixed that for ya.

This seems like a non problem to me. Use LOX/LH2.
« Last Edit: 05/20/2013 05:09 AM by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
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Offline BobCarver

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Re: Exploration concepts and principles?
« Reply #39 on: 05/20/2013 05:34 AM »

Why not try to just terraform Earth for the existing population!?

Yes, indeed, we should try terraforming Earth first. That is a much more dangerous experiment as we know from the rising temperature of the planet due our ongoing fossil fuel "experiment". We should be very cautious about geo-engineering our home planet. Mars would make a much better testbed for that kind of activity. From lessons learned on Earth, we can apply them to Mars, etc., in much more aggressive ways. For instance, we have studied the effects of greenhouse gas extensively on Earth and can apply those lessons to warming Mars atmosphere. We know how much water vapor raises the temperature of the atmosphere on Earth (as I recall, about 40°C). Consequently, we might try first to raise the atmospheric pressure on Mars by melting the frozen CO₂ at the poles and underground, then extract water from what we believe to be extensive underground reservoirs and pump it into the atmosphere by creating surface lakes. That might be enough to make the Martian atmosphere capable of hosting crops, which would further help terraform the planet.

Your second sentence doesn't make any sense considering this thread is "Exploration Concepts and Principles."

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