Author Topic: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please  (Read 5753 times)

Offline Artgod

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Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« on: 02/26/2012 09:03 AM »
So, why has NASA sent so many missions to Mars?

Wouldn't it have been a better idea in researching how to mine asteroids, filled with useful minerals?

Oh well what's done is done,

Turn Mars into a second Earth? Not a bad idea, but don't you lack the resources to do that?

Well, what of the way that you escape and re-enter the Earths ionosphere/atmosphere? Plus the space-station! why were they not designed to incorporate a platform for larger exploration of our solar-system? Why is research not done, theories put forward and real solutions used that solve the issues of what the final outcome should be. We can see far past our noses, yet they still get in our way!

There could be a 100,000 tonne rock of precious elements floating in space. ...... that could be easily identified and mined. Funding for space exploration solved!

I know it's easier to talk about things then to do them, someone needs to be confrontational though right??

Any feedback is welcome, I'm just venting some thoughts here, where i thought i would get a response!

Thanks for your time

ArtGod


Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #1 on: 02/26/2012 09:56 AM »
NASA is not here merely for one thing. And its only the most relatively recent Mars missions that have suceeded. Do some research and you'll see that many fail - which gave rise to the legend of 'The Great Galactic Ghoul'. Also. compared to mining Asteroids; sending probes and rovers to Mars is easy. Look at how expensive and dangerous mining on Earth is then think how very much more it would be on an Asteroid with very little gravity in a hostile, radiation-filled and vacuum environment. Also, many Asteroids are dynamically unstable: too many spin or tumble unevenly through the skies.

Even a suitable, rich nickel-iron asteroid tumbling violently would make it nearly impossible to 'land' on, let alone mine.

No; many Asteroids are for looking at only - some could be 'landed' on or explored if they're stable enough. But those that could be actually mined would likely be in the minority.
« Last Edit: 02/26/2012 09:58 AM by MATTBLAK »
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Offline DLR

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #2 on: 02/26/2012 11:09 AM »
Asteroid mining is nonsense. All the resources the economy needs can be found in much more easily accessible form here on Earth.

Why Mars? Mars is a scientifically interesting target (mainly because it used to be similar to early Earth) and it is relatively easy to reach (much easier to reach than other equally interesting destinations in the solar system, like Europa or Titan).
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Offline aquanaut99

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #3 on: 02/26/2012 11:30 AM »
While the asteroid mining part is obviously nonsense, the original poster does raise an important question IMO: "Why Mars?"

Specifically, why is (landing a human on) Mars always the stated end-goal for NASA HSF? And has been so for the last 50 years? And could this focus on a human Mars mission as the ultimate goal in the end be hampering NASA HSF efforts (oh the heresy!)?

After all, the much-maligned 130mT SLS stems from a percieved minimal requirement for a (hypothetical) future manned Mars mission and it is this requirement that caused SLS Block II to grow into the overbloated monster it is now, instead of the smaller, more affordable and lunar optimized DIRECT. Arguably, the same happened during CxP. There, too, Mars was the goal; you could even read it in the rockets' names.

Trouble is, there really isn't that much of a case for sending humans to Mars anymore (other than the "because it's there"). The Mars goal has been dangling before NASA since the 1950s and is arguably another Von Braun legacy. Von Braun wanted to go to Mars and said so (in several publications).

Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, Mars made sense as an ultimate goal. According to then-current knowledge, Mars was deemed at least potentially habitable, and could concievably become some kind of new frontier. But at least since 1965 we know that Mars is just a larger, more distant version of the Moon (as far as human habitability is concerned). Certainly very interesting from a scientific point of view, but not for human habitation.

NASA should at least have gone into some kind of discussion about its real "ultimate goal" after the Mariner and Viking probes' results came in and asked itself if sending humans to Mars is really still worth it. As far as I can see, this question still hasn't been adressed, and, IMO, it should be.

Therefore, the original poster has a point. Why Mars?
« Last Edit: 02/26/2012 12:26 PM by aquanaut99 »

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #4 on: 02/26/2012 11:56 AM »
Why Mars?

I would suggest that the reason is that in the 1960s we discovered how hostile a world Venus is, and therefore Mars is the next world out there which is within humanity's reach.   Plus there is always the chance that we might find life there (yes, I am optimistic!).

So, after the Moon, Mars is logically the next world which we explore with crews.

Then again, maybe I am biased since I grew up in the era when Mars *was* always seen as the goal after the Moon.

Offline savuporo

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #5 on: 02/26/2012 03:15 PM »
All the resources the economy needs can be found in much more easily accessible form here on Earth.
::)

You do realize how myopic this statement is, on so many levels ?
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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #6 on: 02/26/2012 07:56 PM »
All the resources the economy needs can be found in much more easily accessible form here on Earth.
::)

You do realize how myopic this statement is, on so many levels ?

But also correct.  Asteroid mining for terrestrial use makes know sense.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #7 on: 02/26/2012 09:07 PM »
Welcome to the forum.
When someone is wishing for a pony, there's little to be gained by suggesting a unicorn would be ever better.. ya know, unless it's sarcasm.

Offline spectre9

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #8 on: 02/27/2012 09:54 AM »
The human condition is about more than just life and death.

It's more about the stuff in between, the actual experiences of living.

Some of us have a crazy dream of putting footprints in that red soil. Some even have a dream of living there and watching the blue sunset every 24 and a bit hours.

You don't get a proper day on the moon. This is greatest blessing of Mars but it's not all it has to offer. The thin CO2 atmosphere and abundant northern ocean of frozen ice are also useful to humans and are not found on the moon. You can tell me there's water in the lunar cold traps all you like but it's not right there on the surface in massive visible amounts.

How many years do you think this planet we call Earth has left until humans have expanded across all the land mass? We're already farming pretty much every piece of fertile land and cutting down protected forests to get more.

Anybody that supports living on this 3rd rock from the sun for eternity is also a supporter of genocide because that's the only way you're going to cut back the population enough for sustainability. One child programs can only go so far.

The dream of terraforming Mars is not something people like me will back down from. I'll take it to the grave and pass it on to future generations hoping they get the job done. Just think once the atmosphere thickens up flight will be very easily achievable. A whole new world to expand across and explore.

Space isn't just about resources, it's about the new frontier.

Will it be profitable? Maybe not for 100s of years but will the human race be better off being multi-planetary? In my opinion YES!

Offline aquanaut99

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #9 on: 02/27/2012 10:42 AM »
The human condition is about more than just life and death.

It's more about the stuff in between, the actual experiences of living.

Some of us have a crazy dream of putting footprints in that red soil. Some even have a dream of living there and watching the blue sunset every 24 and a bit hours.

...

Space isn't just about resources, it's about the new frontier.

Will it be profitable? Maybe not for 100s of years but will the human race be better off being multi-planetary? In my opinion YES!

In other words, there is no tangible reason to send humans to Mars. Only metaphysical ones. Now, that is fine, I can accept that and I will certainly not attempt to change your beliefs.

Unfortunately, unless the majority of humans end up sharing your beliefs (they don't), your dream will remain just that. Unless you can cough up the required hundreds of billions yourself. The taxpayer won't fund it.

Oh, and while we're in the metaphysical domain: You do realize that there are those who would argue the exact opposite? Like: "humans have already screwed up one planet, it is immoral to allow them to screw up another. Better keep confined to Earth and let them go extinct!" I would even wager that those who follow this line of belief outnumber those who want to live on Mars. And if not now, then soon. Antihuman hatred is on the rise (especially on the green fringe), while utopian optimism is dying out.

I remember a certain female NASA astrobiologist uttering something similar recently (about keeping Mars "pristine" and "unpolluted by humans").
« Last Edit: 02/27/2012 10:44 AM by aquanaut99 »

Offline Kaputnik

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #10 on: 02/27/2012 11:52 AM »
I would see the reasons for having a human presence on Mars being similar to those for having bases in Antarctica- a mixture of scientific and nationalistic desires.

With a convenient day/night length, moderate diurnal temperature range, and globally available atmopsheric resources combined with widespread water ice, Mars is about as habitable as any place off-Earth can be.

What I find most exciting about the notion of an outpost on Mars is that it would represent, for the first time in history, a potential second home for humanity that might conceivably survive a global catastrophe on Earth- maybe that's still a metaphysical reason but it works for me.
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Offline spectre9

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #11 on: 02/27/2012 12:15 PM »
The usable land mass on Earth is very tangible.

Put your hand down and touch the ground, there's only a finite amount of that stuff and you're taking up some of it with your body / possessions / farms & reservoirs of fresh water that are required to keep you alive here. There's also the forests that are producing the oxygen you're breathing now.

Go look on google Earth. Have a good look. Land is running out and fast. All the fertile areas with fresh water have been taken. Mass agriculture to keep the populations fed and in many cases struggling to do it.

Unless you have some kind of plan to raise Atlantis land will run out and I'm not sure people are keen to live in the polar regions or the oceans.

Don't go telling me Mars is "my dream" either. This dream is shared by many such as Musk, Zubrin and Von Braun.

Mars isn't a wildlife reserve. It's a big red ball or rock and water ice. It's size gives it the gravity it needs to sustain an atmosphere. We have to make this atmosphere ourselves to terraform the planet to our needs. There's no doubt in my mind human presence will cause some pollution there but it's nothing we haven't done on Earth and we still love and care for our home planet don't we?

Humans are doing the best job they can to respect the natural inhabitants by first looking for them before we go and start manipulating it into our ideal 2nd home planet.

I may have made metaphysical references in my previous post and you can choose to throw it out if you like but that's how I feel about it.

Offline Kaputnik

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #12 on: 02/27/2012 12:20 PM »
Unless you have some kind of plan to raise Atlantis land will run out and I'm not sure people are keen to live in the polar regions or the oceans.

In many respects it would be much cheaper/easier/safer to inhabit the poles, seas, seabed, and deserts of the the world than it would be to live off Earth.
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Offline Solman

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #13 on: 02/27/2012 12:24 PM »
NASA is not here merely for one thing. And its only the most relatively recent Mars missions that have suceeded. Do some research and you'll see that many fail - which gave rise to the legend of 'The Great Galactic Ghoul'. Also. compared to mining Asteroids; sending probes and rovers to Mars is easy. Look at how expensive and dangerous mining on Earth is then think how very much more it would be on an Asteroid with very little gravity in a hostile, radiation-filled and vacuum environment. Also, many Asteroids are dynamically unstable: too many spin or tumble unevenly through the skies.

Even a suitable, rich nickel-iron asteroid tumbling violently would make it nearly impossible to 'land' on, let alone mine.

No; many Asteroids are for looking at only - some could be 'landed' on or explored if they're stable enough. But those that could be actually mined would likely be in the minority.

 There are thousands of NEO's so what's your point?

 

Offline go4mars

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #14 on: 02/27/2012 01:22 PM »
In many respects it would be much cheaper/easier/safer to inhabit the poles, seas, seabed, and deserts of the the world than it would be to live off Earth.
Probably in all respects actually.  But a lot of that technology will be transferable. 

Developing technologies for a high-tech society on Mars would benefit Earth by providing robust recycling systems, hydroponics, energy, etc. which would help keep those remaining protected areas and fragile ecosystems in existence without vastly reducing human population.
« Last Edit: 02/27/2012 01:24 PM by go4mars »
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Offline K-P

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #15 on: 02/27/2012 02:43 PM »
I can see two main reasons for "why Mars":

1. If you think about it purely scientifically, Mars was our best shot of finding at least some form of life in our solar system and at least some conditions to support very primitive lifeforms. Of course, now we have discovered more interesting worlds in our solar system but still this original 1960s notion of Mars as an alternative/future Earth is a heavy burden which is taking resources away from more interesting targets (read: Europa, Titan, Enceladus, Ceres). And in recent years we have learnt much more about the building blocks of life and the criterias lifeforms need, so Mars may not be the most hospitable place after all.

2. If you think about it in broader context of spreading humanity into the cosmos blahblahblah and infrastructure a'la star wars then there's again this vision with 1960s goggles on, that Mars has an "atmosphere" (hooray!), has climate (sort of), has canyons, has polar caps, has somewhat realistic temperatures for terraforming etc... So it looks most Earthly in our solar system. So it has to be our next/ultimate logical target, right? Well, also this aspect is out of date now.

Mars is no better for mining and/or resources than, let's say moon. Moon has also ice, helium3, regolith/soil for building whatever... Also the so called atmosphere of Mars is actually a disadvantage because if I am not terribly wrong, it could be the worst option for spacecraft landings. No aerobraking possible but still the downsides of heating from the friction and elimination of really low orbits due to drag effects. Correct me, if I'm wrong...

All the benefits of having a space base on a solid object vs. free-floating space station can be found also on Moon, on Ceres, on Phobos, you name it. Only thing Mars has a bit more is gravity. And even that is a negative thing in fuel economics.

I have not really understood why NASA has/had this separate budget for Mars exploration and separate budget for "other" solar system exploration. I would find it much more fair to have Mars just a part of the pack and not a special case. I see no reason for it anymore, not after Viking 1/2 and Voyager 1/2.

I think even the die-hardest Mars fanboys can agree with me, that at the moment it seems that the most friendly environments for life (and most interesting places) in our solar system lie further out in the solar system than on the red planet. I am not saying Spirit and Oppy are a waste of money, far from it. They have done a great job and are legends. I am saying, that this continuing pipeline for Mars exploration since 1960s eats money, a lot. We should be having instead a pipeline of continuing discovery/flagship -missions to jupiter/saturn/uranus/neptune and their moons. And yes, maybe some individual Mars missions as a side bonus, but not and entire Mars program.

Anyway you look at it, our next manned target will be Moon again, and NEOs. Maybe Mars/Venus flyby, maybe Ceres. But Mars landing right now is a waste of time and resources. It's like starting a voyage in 1492 with a row boat. Not really beneficial. We just have to invent/mature our propulsion methods a lot and life support technologies before we can transfer habs and labs to another gravity well in a scale it could be anywhere near useful for our society.

So. My answer to the original question, "Why Mars?",
well, "I am wondering it too."



Offline savuporo

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #16 on: 02/27/2012 03:01 PM »
All the resources the economy needs can be found in much more easily accessible form here on Earth.
::)

You do realize how myopic this statement is, on so many levels ?

But also correct.  Asteroid mining for terrestrial use makes know sense.

You can also just eat oatmeals every day three times a day and nothing else and you can live for a long time.

Going to restaurants or cooking anything else makes no sense.
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Offline aquanaut99

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #17 on: 02/27/2012 03:49 PM »
...

So. My answer to the original question, "Why Mars?",
well, "I am wondering it too."


I'm glad someone else here thinks like I do!

I, too, would much prefer it if NASA finally gave up on this outdated "Mars fixation" and started looking at other, more interesting places in the Solar System.

For HSF: missions to cis-lunar space and L2 are enough for the next 15 to 20 years. Thereafter, a mission to a NEA. Yes, I know: *Groan* *Yawn* *ZZZZZ* BOOOOORING!!! (in a Homer Simpson voice)...

Not as exciting as boots on the Moon or Mars...

But, let's face it, boots on the Moon really are "been there, done that". Unless we are ready to place a permanent outpost on the Moon (like an Antarctic station; hardly likely before the middle of the century, IMO), best leave it be. NEAs are far more useful, being the closest asteroids. If we are truly going to become a spacefaring race, it will be the asteroids and minor planets, not the big planets with their annoying deep gravity wells, that will be the prime real estate in the Solar System.

That's why I think boots on Mars are a dead end. And any attempt to put a human on Mars will merely give us another Apollo. Once done, we find it is too expensive and abandon it, and then wonder what should we do next. After Apollo, US HSF was almost cancelled (only the continuing Soviet flights convinced Nixon no to do it). After a sucessful US Mars mission, I fear it might really happen.

Meanwhile, the money saved by cancelling the Moon and Mars focus of HSF could be better spent on unmanned exploration of the Outer Solar System. That's where the real value lies. Europa, Ganymede, Enceladus, Titan and my personal favorites: the Uranian and Neptunian systems.

Just because Zubrin and some others scream "Mars or bust!" every chance they get doesn't mean we have to follow them. After all, Zubrin is well known for being somewhat extreme...
« Last Edit: 02/27/2012 04:14 PM by aquanaut99 »

Offline spectre9

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #18 on: 02/27/2012 10:39 PM »
I'm a huge supporter of robotic exploration of the solar system.

I know that Mars will not be done until at least 2040. That's the goal and since I'll be old and grey by that time I wouldn't mind seeing some flags and footprints.

I'm actually a bit torn about money being spent in favour of HSF rather than robotic probes. I think the science return is still huge for exploring those places you mention.

Quote
Europa, Ganymede, Enceladus, Titan and my personal favorites: the Uranian and Neptunian systems.

I wanted to see MAX-C scrapped for Europa/Uranus but right now it doesn't look like any flagship missions are planned/budgeted.

If HSF takes money away from planetary sciences I'm not sure I want to support it.

Long term colonisation efforts on Mars are a dream but an expensive one. Might not be as easy as Zubrin makes it out to be but it's not so hard that the big bad gravity well needs to be avoided forever.

Offline Artgod

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Re: Mars? Why mars? I need a lump of Iron please
« Reply #19 on: 02/27/2012 11:50 PM »
Well now,

There is no easy answer! I do poke at those people, who are in fear of over-population, Do we just run from our fears and problems?

This is a beautiful planet and more should be done to fix our current issues, although politics in the last two decades have not been helping those issues!

Quote
"It's like starting a voyage in 1492 with a row boat. Not really beneficial. We just have to invent/mature our propulsion methods a lot and life support technologies "

I couldn't agree more K-P! There are numerous scientific teams working on different propulsion methods, like Ion Drive and A similar top secret Nuclear Fusion system that is similar to the Ion drive propulsion. Once we build the Queen Mary or Formula 1 of space vehicles, the whole solar system will be at our fingertips, ........... Literally!

As for terra-forming Mars, that hope died when it was discovered that for one thing, the planet would not be able to sustain a higher temperature, if it were brought up to an appropriate degree for human life to live comfortably. Unless of course as an idea was proposed, that satellites using solar powered lasers, were to periodically reheat the planet.

On another note the the gravity of the planet is lighter, this would cause the human body to become frail without people doing a lot of exercise!

There is a theory that multiple "Moons" Could be directed at the planet, Changing the planets orbit and subsequently bringing the planet closer to the sun.....

I don't know this for a fact, But I am under the impression that Mars lacks a lot of the minerals that are here on earth. Many artists impressions show life on mars inside of large Geodesic domes. There are still many sciences that need to be refined for civilization sustaining colonies to be erected.

Don't despair though, What I realize now is that the real problem is Propulsion and Life-Support, plus possibly Artificial Gravity Production.

It is quite possible there will be bases on the Mars one day, You can do whatever you please once it is a simple task of just going there. For now, Why don't we focus on getting out of the handcuffs, so we can crawl before we walk.

Thanks for your time and Replies

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