Author Topic: ISRU techniques and uses  (Read 83584 times)

Offline RanulfC

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #20 on: 02/12/2008 10:56 AM »
Kaputnik wrote:
>For 4 or 6 person crews I don't think there's any need to grow food. A 4 to 6 person
>mission would probably need less than 5t of food in total for a 500d surface stay.
>That same mass allocated to greenhouses, tools, seedstock etc wouldn't go terribly
>far and would need backup supplies anyway.

clongton wrote:
>That is true, but I would argue that a prepositioned greenhouse would be of vital
>interest, not for actually supplying foodstock to the crew, but to determine the
>feasibility of doing so for future missions. That's one of the things I would push for
>if I were part of the mission planning team. If we are going to establish a
>permanent human presence on the planet, the ability to grow our own food will be
>crucial. We will need to learn, as soon as possible, what that will entail.

We do currently know that throwing up an inflatable greenhouse and pressurizing it won't allow you to grow anything. The soil itself is toxic in many respects with several types of concentrations that will probably not allow plants to grow until and unless the soil is 'neutralized' prior to the introduction of plants.
http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/LPSC98/pdf/1697.pdf
http://www.level1diet.com/martian+soil_q

Luckily there look to be ways to 'rehabilitate' the soil:
http://www.newmars.com/wiki/index.php/Soil

If the oxidation concetrations, high acidity levels, and other toxins thought to be the 'worst' case scenerio be present there is still ONE way to neutralize the majority of them while careing for another 'problems' of a long term stay; it seems some tests show that simulated Martian soil and human "waste" mix well. The waste tends to be steralized by the soil and neutralizes most of the oxident toxins :o)

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline jjnodice

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RE: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #21 on: 02/12/2008 11:05 AM »
I have some basic questions.  

Would a lunar ISRU mission fit into the profile for a Discovery mission? Has a Discovery mission proposal for lunar ISRU ever been submitted for evaluation?  

Is there any information about the proposed "small landers" mentioned in the 2009 NASA budget?  Too early to say?

Thanks.

Offline madscientist197

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #22 on: 02/12/2008 11:10 AM »
Are we assuming that we can use martian regolith for soil in the greenhouses (possibly difficult)? Or bringing soil from earth? EDIT - RanulfC posted while I was writing this.

I agree with clongton that evaluating feasibility is probably the most important thing (at least for the initial missions) - I'd hate for there to be a martian dust storm and for all the astronauts to starve because the plants couldn't grow properly. It would be cool if it were possible to get a small plant growth experiment on a mars lander, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was unviable (mass/complexity/expense/not enough demand for the data).

Following on from the lunar pole discussion... Does anyone know how much research has been put into navigational issues for polar exploration? Perhaps navigating inside completely dark craters might not be so bad with a good illumination system, but wouldn't there be a lot of issues with moving around in the lit areas? Lots of shadows, dark craters and even with extra illumination systems there would be contrast issues between sunlit and illuminated areas. Also, finding a suitably portable electricity source for the illumination (giant battery? Several kilowatt nuclear sterling generator??).

Wingod - Terran is probably a less a less awkward term than Earthian (even if it does sound a bit sci-fi :) )
John

Offline spudis

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #23 on: 02/12/2008 11:18 AM »
.....According to Spudis & Bussey there are four places at the lunar north pole that are permanently lit and only one in the south. The one in the south is only lit in the lunar summer and so far (more will be known soon and reported by our two intrepid scientists) it looks like the ones in the north are lit at least for most of the year full time. This is absolutely crucial. .......

Allow me to (slightly) disagree with my esteemed colleague and good friend Dennis.

First, I believe that each pole offers different and useful things.  The polar areas are in highlands and are both relatively rough.  We're just going to have to learn to deal with that.  (Note: the mare areas aren't all flat either; the presence of millions of 100's-meter class craters make for a rough, rocky surface.)  But the presence of both near-permanent sunlight and water ice, both in proximity, is an irresistable El Dorado of resources.

I think that polar water IS important; it is a concentrated, easily rendered source of hydrogen.  It takes roughly 2 orders of magnitude less energy to extract water from a 1% icy regolith than it does to get it by roasting a 100 ppm H2 mare soil.  Yes, we'll have to get into the cold traps and work there for extended periods, another challenge but one that's addressable through several means (RTG's, RFCs, etc.)

We don't actually know the true year-long extent of daylight at the north; we've only seen the north pole lighting in summer (from Clementine).  Analysis of the SMART-1 images is in progress now.  For the south, we've seen it in all seasons.  The place we've found
which has the most sunlight is ~75% lit during southern winter and 100% during summer; I think this is a pretty good place, a small peak (by small, I mean several thousand square meters in extent)  about 10 km from the rim of Shackleton.  Again, we MAY have permanent sunlight in the north, but we don't know that and the 85% permanent we know about in the south is pretty good.

We still need to survey the resources of both poles.  Hopefully, our radar mapper on Chandrayaan-1 and LRO will map the ice (it's heterogeneously distributed, if present) and ancillary data from both spacecraft will improve our knowledge of their geological settings and environmental conditions of the poles (about which we know very little, actually -- a lot of our understanding is inference.)

I do agree with Dennis that in terms of the Vision, ISRU is THE critical, enabling technology and surface activity.  In fact, I think that ISRU should be the principal mission of lunar return.  Learning to live and work on another world is all about cutting the cord with Earth -- if we have to lug everything we need with us wherever we go in space, we're not going far and we're not going for long.

NASA has been trying to make the VSE be "Apollo to Mars" for a long time, well before Mike Griffin came to the agency.  It was never intended as such.  Dennis is right; look at Bush's speech and Marburger's elaboration on it; the VSE was clearly intended as 1) a new strategic DIRECTION, not a new spacecraft/LV program; and 2) a new way of doing spaceflight -- using what we find in space to create new spacefaring capability.  NASA is deathly afraid of such a mission; they're not sure it can be done.  Well, they may be right.  But I think we should find out.  It is a challenge worthy of a great engineering institution.

ISRU makes space a true part of man's world.  Without it, we really are just repeating ourselves.

Offline William Barton

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #24 on: 02/12/2008 11:34 AM »
Quote
madscientist197 - 12/2/2008  7:10 AM

Are we assuming that we can use martian regolith for soil in the greenhouses (possibly difficult)? Or bringing soil from earth? EDIT - RanulfC posted while I was writing this.

I agree with clongton that evaluating feasibility is probably the most important thing (at least for the initial missions) - I'd hate for there to be a martian dust storm and for all the astronauts to starve because the plants couldn't grow properly. It would be cool if it were possible to get a small plant growth experiment on a mars lander, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was unviable (mass/complexity/expense/not enough demand for the data).

Following on from the lunar pole discussion... Does anyone know how much research has been put into navigational issues for polar exploration? Perhaps navigating inside completely dark craters might not be so bad with a good illumination system, but wouldn't there be a lot of issues with moving around in the lit areas? Lots of shadows, dark craters and even with extra illumination systems there would be contrast issues between sunlit and illuminated areas. Also, finding a suitably portable electricity source for the illumination (giant battery? Several kilowatt nuclear sterling generator??).

Wingod - Terran is probably a less a less awkward term than Earthian (even if it does sound a bit sci-fi :) )

Tellurian is probably "more correct." I'm not sure "Terra" has much currency outside English any more than Earth does.

Another point to be added to the ISRU discussion is the prospect of providing a Lunar and later Mars base with long-term residents, rather than visiting teams of astronauts a la ISS.

Offline khallow

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #25 on: 02/12/2008 02:20 PM »
Quote
wingod - 11/2/2008  3:44 PM

The problem is accessing the water.  If the water is in the cold traps and at the south pole, then it is very difficult to:

A. Get the machines into the crater.
B. Power them down there.
C. Make them work.

Making machinery work in a 30k environment is going to represent one of the biggest challenges ever for mechanical engineers and if there is only a small quantity (the lower bound is 300 million tons very widely distributed in the cold traps which implies a lot of regolith moving in an extreme environment) of water, it is probably not going to be worth doing, at least not in the near term.

On Mars, there is water below the surface in most locations and there is CO2 in the atmosphere, which are the two most critical things you need to make LOX an CH4.

It is my opinion that the Moon is the enabler to open up Mars for actual development and colonization by humans.  

Let no one think that my near term focus on the Moon means a lunar centric outlook.  To me we go to the Moon to provide the resources and infrastructure that we need to enable the second true home of mankind on Mars.

The NEO's then become a smorgasboard of incredible riches, ripe for developing by a very advanced Martian and Earthian civilization.

As I see it, the easiest way to improve the temperature situation is to cover the working area with some sort of reflective tarp. In fact, you might be able to cover an area, warm it, and extract water vapor without having to dig at all.

Second, I don't see ISRU on the Moon overlapping much with Martian ISRU. The problem is that they're different situations and needs. I see it as claiming we need to develope mining so that we  can get better at farming. There can be synergies down the road, but I don't see the techniques having enough in common to claim that one is some sort of stepping stone to the other.

The NEO are different. While they have almost no gravity, they are very similar environments to the Moon. So I can see work on the Moon being useful to NEO ISRU and vice versa.
Karl Hallowell

Offline RanulfC

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #26 on: 02/12/2008 05:52 PM »
Replying to the (semi) off-topic subject of "naming" conventions;
William Barton is correct that "Tellurian" is probably the "most" correct but popular culture, (Sci-Fi) has imprinted "Terran" in a large number of minds while most would just shake their heads and mutter something like: "Tellurian? Wasn't that the pig-faced guys on Star Trek" or some such. :)

Replying to "growing food/plants" as part of ISRU:
I don't think growing plants will be seen as an "option" since long-term life support systems are focusing towards integrated bio systems using both mechanical (filtration, stored supplies, etc) and bio (plants, etc) combination systems to ease the process of recycling and remediation as well as to provide for crew health and multilevel 'back-up' for such critical systems.

My take on the issue is that more than likely the crews will ALREADY have viable bio-systems up (most likely hydroponics based but also possible is aquaponics systems) and running upon landing and will ‘extend’ this capability as allowable both to increase the depth of the system against failure but also exactly TOO experiment with using local resources for production for either future exploration missions or settlement.

For the long term outlook, settlement and large scale ISRU has been the ‘assumption’ for a long time but mostly (until recently, the last 20 years or so) had been ONLY assumed with long-term settlement rather than exploration. However this in and of itself was and is a bit ‘short-sighted’ as it was predicated on even more assumptions on the Solar System and planets being more (using the more ‘popular’ term I suppose) “Terran-friendly” than they probably are. Issues such as Lunar and Martian dust toxicity and dangers were not discussed or dealt with, low gravity was expected to be more ‘handle-able’ than it has turned out to be and less debilitating over the long term, the list of course goes on…

The “truth” at the moment is that we have a huge number of questions and few answers that don’t lead to even MORE questions. Large amounts of research need to be done on almost all aspects of ISRU, in many cases almost on a system by system (Moon/NEO, Mars, Venus, Titan, etc..) basis along with more detailed research and experimentation ON each system in the “real-world” environments of the targeted environment!

This is a going to take a LOT of lab work, studies, along with actual “ISRU” equipment being flown on probes to the various places to test out each evolution of the system.
It is going to be an on-going program with need of long-term, steady support, something that NASA is not known for getting either politically or financially….

So as “how” ISRU “fits” into the “Vision”……. Let me post that in another reply :o)

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline RanulfC

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #27 on: 02/12/2008 05:53 PM »
Replying to the (semi) off-topic subject of "naming" conventions;
William Barton is correct that "Tellurian" is probably the "most" correct but popular culture, (Sci-Fi) has imprinted "Terran" in a large number of minds while most would just shake their heads and mutter something like: "Tellurian? Wasn't that the pig-faced guys on Star Trek" or some such. :)

Replying to "growing food/plants" as part of ISRU:
I don't think growing plants will be seen as an "option" since long-term life support systems are focusing towards integrated bio systems using both mechanical (filtration, stored supplies, etc) and bio (plants, etc) combination systems to ease the process of recycling and remediation as well as to provide for crew health and multilevel 'back-up' for such critical systems.

My take on the issue is that more than likely the crews will ALREADY have viable bio-systems up (most likely hydroponics based but also possible is aquaponics systems) and running upon landing and will ‘extend’ this capability as allowable both to increase the depth of the system against failure but also exactly TOO experiment with using local resources for production for either future exploration missions or settlement.

For the long term outlook, settlement and large scale ISRU has been the ‘assumption’ for a long time but mostly (until recently, the last 20 years or so) had been ONLY assumed with long-term settlement rather than exploration. However this in and of itself was and is a bit ‘short-sighted’ as it was predicated on even more assumptions on the Solar System and planets being more (using the more ‘popular’ term I suppose) “Terran-friendly” than they probably are. Issues such as Lunar and Martian dust toxicity and dangers were not discussed or dealt with, low gravity was expected to be more ‘handle-able’ than it has turned out to be and less debilitating over the long term, the list of course goes on…

The “truth” at the moment is that we have a huge number of questions and few answers that don’t lead to even MORE questions. Large amounts of research need to be done on almost all aspects of ISRU, in many cases almost on a system by system (Moon/NEO, Mars, Venus, Titan, etc..) basis along with more detailed research and experimentation ON each system in the “real-world” environments of the targeted environment!

This is a going to take a LOT of lab work, studies, along with actual “ISRU” equipment being flown on probes to the various places to test out each evolution of the system.
It is going to be an on-going program with need of long-term, steady support, something that NASA is not known for getting either politically or financially….

So as “how” ISRU “fits” into the “Vision”……. Let me post that in another reply :o)

Randy
(Argh! The work 'web-filters' told me this couldn't post! So I expanded it and was going to post this later! Sorry for the 'repeat' parts)

Replying to madscientist197 who wrote:
>I agree with clongton that evaluating feasibility is probably the most
>important thing (at least for the initial missions) - I'd hate for there
>to be a Martian dust storm and for all the astronauts to starve
>because the plants couldn't grow properly.

I don't think growing plants will be seen as an "option" since long-term life support systems are focusing towards integrated bio systems using both mechanical (filtration, stored supplies, etc) and bio (plants, etc) combination systems to ease the process of recycling and remediation as well as to provide for crew health and multilevel 'back-up' for such critical systems.

My take on the issue is that more than likely the crews will ALREADY have viable bio-systems up (most likely hydroponics based but also possible is aquaponics systems) and running upon landing and will ‘extend’ this capability as allowable both to increase the depth of the system against failure but also exactly TOO experiment with using local resources for production for either future exploration missions or settlement.

>It would be cool if it were possible to get a small plant growth experiment
>on a mars lander, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was unviable.
>(mass/complexity/expense/not enough demand for the data).

Sounds like a good “High School/College/Etc” type contest/prize competition “goal” to me :o) Small robotic ‘gardens’ have been done before so the initial plant growth segment could be done fairly ‘on-the-cheap’ for initial experiments with a ‘flight-weight’ system being tested on Earth first in ‘regular’ soil and then with Martian analog soil. The ‘test’ system could then be used as a ‘control’ experiment when and if the package flies to Mars.
Your “hang-ups” on this concept would be the red-tape vis-à-vis the interplanetary contamination concerns and regulation along with getting the experiment manifested on a flight.
On a more basic level with a good battery of soil analysis tests from multiple locations enough data can be collected to compare to known plant growth data to give us a good idea what Martian soil can do to or for plants and what basic limitations or adjustments would have to be made to confirm or deny the possibility.

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline Lampyridae

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #28 on: 02/13/2008 12:48 AM »
Quote
RanulfC - 13/2/2008  3:53 AM

Replying to the (semi) off-topic subject of "naming" conventions;
William Barton is correct that "Tellurian" is probably the "most" correct but popular culture, (Sci-Fi) has imprinted "Terran" in a large number of minds while most would just shake their heads and mutter something like: "Tellurian? Wasn't that the pig-faced guys on Star Trek" or some such. :)

Terra is the Latin for Earth, and it has lots of currency in the Romantic languages:
French: la Terre
Italian: La Terra
Portuguese: A Terra
Spanish: La Tierra
Don't know about Romanian but it's also a Romantic language so probably similar.

Earth is Germanic:
German: Erde
Dutch: Aarde

Geos is the ancient Greek (I think) but it doesn't have a good -ian ending. Geosian (what the heck?) Latin is scientifically accepted. I think one day "Terran" will be perfectly acceptable. Terran Marines, anyone? Here come the Zerg!

Quote
Sounds like a good “High School/College/Etc” type contest/prize competition “goal” to me :o) Small robotic ‘gardens’ have been done before so the initial plant growth segment could be done fairly ‘on-the-cheap’ for initial experiments with a ‘flight-weight’ system being tested on Earth first in ‘regular’ soil and then with Martian analog soil. The ‘test’ system could then be used as a ‘control’ experiment when and if the package flies to Mars.
Your “hang-ups” on this concept would be the red-tape vis-à-vis the interplanetary contamination concerns and regulation along with getting the experiment manifested on a flight.
On a more basic level with a good battery of soil analysis tests from multiple locations enough data can be collected to compare to known plant growth data to give us a good idea what Martian soil can do to or for plants and what basic limitations or adjustments would have to be made to confirm or deny the possibility.

Randy

I think the setup would be fairly heavy, though... robotic arms, water, nutrients, pressure vessel, pumping equipment plus all the analysis tools. Maybe enough to "bounce down" but expensive as heck to send on its way. Sounds like it might be a dedicated Delta II payload. Or Falcon 9 if there's a miracle. Something the size of the Beagle II could be squeezed onto a Falcon 1e, maybe.
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Online hop

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #29 on: 02/13/2008 02:52 AM »
Quote
RanulfC - 12/2/2008  3:56 AM

If the oxidation concetrations, high acidity levels, and other toxins thought to be the 'worst' case scenerio be present there is still ONE way to neutralize the majority of them while careing for another 'problems' of a long term stay; it seems some tests show that simulated Martian soil and human "waste" mix well. The waste tends to be steralized by the soil and neutralizes most of the oxident toxins :o)

Randy
Alternatively, hydroponic farming is well proven, and has even been done on Mir and ISS in zero G.  It should be possible to process waste into part of the nutrient input. This may well be easier than modifying native soil (especially before we have samples of the actual soil to work with!) but until you had an established industrial base, would likely rely on some consumables from earth.

Even for missions that carry their own food, there are likely benefits to crew moral from the occasional fresh vegetable.

Offline clongton

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #30 on: 02/13/2008 01:01 PM »
We really need a comprehensive sample return mission. It should include a centrally located lander/return vehicle, and several rovers, sent to different locations all over the planet. The rovers will selectively gather soil samples and return them to the central location. At the end of the gathering cycle, the return vehicle will bring them home, all neatly categorized by location. There is no need for the lander/return vehicle to actually do any sophisticated analysis on the samples; that will be done in labs here. It should be designed to accurately receive, catalog and store the samples, and be given whatever margins are necessary to ensure a successful return flight. The lander can be very large, while the rovers can be much smaller, because their mission is simply to gather samples, and navigate to and return to the lander. They can either be flown individually on smaller rockets, or several can be ganged on a larger rocket, and individually targeted for Mars atmospheric entry.
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Offline William Barton

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #31 on: 02/13/2008 01:28 PM »
Quote
Lampyridae - 12/2/2008  8:48 PM

Quote
RanulfC - 13/2/2008  3:53 AM

Replying to the (semi) off-topic subject of "naming" conventions;
William Barton is correct that "Tellurian" is probably the "most" correct but popular culture, (Sci-Fi) has imprinted "Terran" in a large number of minds while most would just shake their heads and mutter something like: "Tellurian? Wasn't that the pig-faced guys on Star Trek" or some such. :)

Terra is the Latin for Earth, and it has lots of currency in the Romantic languages:
French: la Terre
Italian: La Terra
Portuguese: A Terra
Spanish: La Tierra
Don't know about Romanian but it's also a Romantic language so probably similar.

Earth is Germanic:
German: Erde
Dutch: Aarde

Geos is the ancient Greek (I think) but it doesn't have a good -ian ending. Geosian (what the heck?) Latin is scientifically accepted. I think one day "Terran" will be perfectly acceptable. Terran Marines, anyone? Here come the Zerg!

Quote
Sounds like a good “High School/College/Etc” type contest/prize competition “goal” to me :o) Small robotic ‘gardens’ have been done before so the initial plant growth segment could be done fairly ‘on-the-cheap’ for initial experiments with a ‘flight-weight’ system being tested on Earth first in ‘regular’ soil and then with Martian analog soil. The ‘test’ system could then be used as a ‘control’ experiment when and if the package flies to Mars.
Your “hang-ups” on this concept would be the red-tape vis-à-vis the interplanetary contamination concerns and regulation along with getting the experiment manifested on a flight.
On a more basic level with a good battery of soil analysis tests from multiple locations enough data can be collected to compare to known plant growth data to give us a good idea what Martian soil can do to or for plants and what basic limitations or adjustments would have to be made to confirm or deny the possibility.

Randy

I think the setup would be fairly heavy, though... robotic arms, water, nutrients, pressure vessel, pumping equipment plus all the analysis tools. Maybe enough to "bounce down" but expensive as heck to send on its way. Sounds like it might be a dedicated Delta II payload. Or Falcon 9 if there's a miracle. Something the size of the Beagle II could be squeezed onto a Falcon 1e, maybe.

It was mainly meant as a quip, not to stray too far OT. The planets are named in Astrology for eponymous Mesopotamian gods and goodesses, later "translated" into equivalent gods and goddesses in Latin. The logical name for our planet in the progression is after the god Tellus. Earth, etc., means "dirt" in germanic languages, and terra means "land" in Latin, as in "terra firma." If the SF convention of "Terra" doesn't take root, then sooner or later the IAAU nomenclature committee will get hold of it!  :laugh:

Offline William Barton

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #32 on: 02/13/2008 01:34 PM »
Quote
clongton - 13/2/2008  9:01 AM

We really need a comprehensive sample return mission. It should include a centrally located lander/return vehicle, and several rovers, sent to different locations all over the planet. The rovers will selectively gather soil samples and return them to the central location. At the end of the gathering cycle, the return vehicle will bring them home, all neatly categorized by location. There is no need for the lander/return vehicle to actually do any sophisticated analysis on the samples; that will be done in labs here. It should be designed to accurately receive, catalog and store the samples, and be given whatever margins are necessary to ensure a successful return flight. The lander can be very large, while the rovers can be much smaller, because their mission is simply to gather samples, and navigate to and return to the lander. They can either be flown individually on smaller rockets, or several can be ganged on a larger rocket, and individually targeted for Mars atmospheric entry.

Given the seeming durability of rovers these days, it might make sense to send large rovers and route them between multiple landing sites of small sample return spacecraft. You'd drop the lander at its first site and send it out to whatever interesting sites you wanted, dropping return vehicles periodically in its general path so you could empty the sample storage on the rover.

Offline mwfair

Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #33 on: 02/13/2008 02:38 PM »
Maybe I'll post a new thread, but what would be the specs of an LV to get a sample from Mars surface to Mars Orbit?  Shall we assume a 10kg payload? Or is 100kg better?  Looks like a minimum safe rendezvous Mars orbit is 100km.
see http://www.astronautix.com/craft/mars5m.htm  It states 2mT as the LV mass assuming Mars orbit rendezvous.  3.2 mT gets you direct launch to Earth?  
Anyways, not wanting to get too far OT, just to frame the discussion of what it takes to 'drop return vehicles periodically along the rover path'.
Mike Fair

Offline William Barton

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #34 on: 02/13/2008 03:09 PM »
Quote
mwfair - 13/2/2008  10:38 AM

Maybe I'll post a new thread, but what would be the specs of an LV to get a sample from Mars surface to Mars Orbit?  Shall we assume a 10kg payload? Or is 100kg better?  Looks like a minimum safe rendezvous Mars orbit is 100km.
see http://www.astronautix.com/craft/mars5m.htm  It states 2mT as the LV mass assuming Mars orbit rendezvous.  3.2 mT gets you direct launch to Earth?  
Anyways, not wanting to get too far OT, just to frame the discussion of what it takes to 'drop return vehicles periodically along the rover path'.

I'd vote for at least 100kg cargo capacity for the suface to LMO vehicle. Maybe talk about something like a metric ton of samples for the total mission. Ten LMO vehicles, two rovers, and maybe two Mars to Earth transports (for redundancy's sake). There's also an argument to be made against sample return and in favor of automated in situ science, which will be clearer once MSL is done.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #35 on: 02/13/2008 03:11 PM »
William Barton wrote:
>It was mainly meant as a quip, not to stray too far OT.

Too late, deal ;o)

We could always "digress" into the variations for Venus :o)

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline wingod

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #36 on: 02/13/2008 03:14 PM »
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RanulfC - 12/2/2008  5:56 AM

Kaputnik wrote:
>For 4 or 6 person crews I don't think there's any need to grow food. A 4 to 6 person
>mission would probably need less than 5t of food in total for a 500d surface stay.
>That same mass allocated to greenhouses, tools, seedstock etc wouldn't go terribly
>far and would need backup supplies anyway.

clongton wrote:
>That is true, but I would argue that a prepositioned greenhouse would be of vital
>interest, not for actually supplying foodstock to the crew, but to determine the
>feasibility of doing so for future missions. That's one of the things I would push for
>if I were part of the mission planning team. If we are going to establish a
>permanent human presence on the planet, the ability to grow our own food will be
>crucial. We will need to learn, as soon as possible, what that will entail.

We do currently know that throwing up an inflatable greenhouse and pressurizing it won't allow you to grow anything. The soil itself is toxic in many respects with several types of concentrations that will probably not allow plants to grow until and unless the soil is 'neutralized' prior to the introduction of plants.
http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/LPSC98/pdf/1697.pdf
http://www.level1diet.com/martian+soil_q

Luckily there look to be ways to 'rehabilitate' the soil:
http://www.newmars.com/wiki/index.php/Soil

If the oxidation concetrations, high acidity levels, and other toxins thought to be the 'worst' case scenerio be present there is still ONE way to neutralize the majority of them while careing for another 'problems' of a long term stay; it seems some tests show that simulated Martian soil and human "waste" mix well. The waste tends to be steralized by the soil and neutralizes most of the oxident toxins :o)

Randy

Hydroponics eliminates this problem.  Just add light, heat, water, and CO2



Offline wingod

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #37 on: 02/13/2008 03:16 PM »
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madscientist197 - 12/2/2008  6:10 AM

Are we assuming that we can use martian regolith for soil in the greenhouses (possibly difficult)? Or bringing soil from earth? EDIT - RanulfC posted while I was writing this.

I agree with clongton that evaluating feasibility is probably the most important thing (at least for the initial missions) - I'd hate for there to be a martian dust storm and for all the astronauts to starve because the plants couldn't grow properly. It would be cool if it were possible to get a small plant growth experiment on a mars lander, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was unviable (mass/complexity/expense/not enough demand for the data).

Following on from the lunar pole discussion... Does anyone know how much research has been put into navigational issues for polar exploration? Perhaps navigating inside completely dark craters might not be so bad with a good illumination system, but wouldn't there be a lot of issues with moving around in the lit areas? Lots of shadows, dark craters and even with extra illumination systems there would be contrast issues between sunlit and illuminated areas. Also, finding a suitably portable electricity source for the illumination (giant battery? Several kilowatt nuclear sterling generator??).

Wingod - Terran is probably a less a less awkward term than Earthian (even if it does sound a bit sci-fi :) )

The problem with illuminating the cold traps is that the light carries enough energy to vaporize the cold trap volitales.



Offline wingod

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #38 on: 02/13/2008 03:25 PM »
Quote
spudis - 12/2/2008  6:18 AM

.....According to Spudis & Bussey there are four places at the lunar north pole that are permanently lit and only one in the south. The one in the south is only lit in the lunar summer and so far (more will be known soon and reported by our two intrepid scientists) it looks like the ones in the north are lit at least for most of the year full time. This is absolutely crucial. .......

Allow me to (slightly) disagree with my esteemed colleague and good friend Dennis.

First, I believe that each pole offers different and useful things.  The polar areas are in highlands and are both relatively rough.  We're just going to have to learn to deal with that.  (Note: the mare areas aren't all flat either; the presence of millions of 100's-meter class craters make for a rough, rocky surface.)  But the presence of both near-permanent sunlight and water ice, both in proximity, is an irresistable El Dorado of resources.

I think that polar water IS important; it is a concentrated, easily rendered source of hydrogen.  It takes roughly 2 orders of magnitude less energy to extract water from a 1% icy regolith than it does to get it by roasting a 100 ppm H2 mare soil.  Yes, we'll have to get into the cold traps and work there for extended periods, another challenge but one that's addressable through several means (RTG's, RFCs, etc.)

We don't actually know the true year-long extent of daylight at the north; we've only seen the north pole lighting in summer (from Clementine).  Analysis of the SMART-1 images is in progress now.  For the south, we've seen it in all seasons.  The place we've found
which has the most sunlight is ~75% lit during southern winter and 100% during summer; I think this is a pretty good place, a small peak (by small, I mean several thousand square meters in extent)  about 10 km from the rim of Shackleton.  Again, we MAY have permanent sunlight in the north, but we don't know that and the 85% permanent we know about in the south is pretty good.

We still need to survey the resources of both poles.  Hopefully, our radar mapper on Chandrayaan-1 and LRO will map the ice (it's heterogeneously distributed, if present) and ancillary data from both spacecraft will improve our knowledge of their geological settings and environmental conditions of the poles (about which we know very little, actually -- a lot of our understanding is inference.)

I do agree with Dennis that in terms of the Vision, ISRU is THE critical, enabling technology and surface activity.  In fact, I think that ISRU should be the principal mission of lunar return.  Learning to live and work on another world is all about cutting the cord with Earth -- if we have to lug everything we need with us wherever we go in space, we're not going far and we're not going for long.

NASA has been trying to make the VSE be "Apollo to Mars" for a long time, well before Mike Griffin came to the agency.  It was never intended as such.  Dennis is right; look at Bush's speech and Marburger's elaboration on it; the VSE was clearly intended as 1) a new strategic DIRECTION, not a new spacecraft/LV program; and 2) a new way of doing spaceflight -- using what we find in space to create new spacefaring capability.  NASA is deathly afraid of such a mission; they're not sure it can be done.  Well, they may be right.  But I think we should find out.  It is a challenge worthy of a great engineering institution.

ISRU makes space a true part of man's world.  Without it, we really are just repeating ourselves.

Paul

Great to see you here!  Just remember, hope springs eternal!

I can't wait for the analysis of the SMART-1 imagery of the north that you guys are doing.  

While I completely agree with Paul that if the water is concentrated that it is worth going after, I am trying to be conservative (Paul I made this point in the thread that led here) and not trying to depend on this resource.  If it is there at the multi-billion ton level, and if it is as concentrated as Paul says it is (I trust his judgement but don't want to be let down in case he is wrong) then we have a complete and utter game changer for the economic development of the solar system.  

Fairly plentiful water then makes the production of metals even more important as this allows for the buildup of infrastructure much faster and then further enables us to build a fleet of spacecraft that then can go out and obtain water and other resources from the Near Earth Objects.  

If my esteemed and admired college Paul is correct, then there will be a tipping point to where the off planet economy becomes self sustaining and this point will be far closer than what people think.  Just think of the implications of a self sustaining and growing off planet economy.  This becomes the liberation of mankind from our rock.  

Exciting in the extreme and why the VSE is far more than a rocket construction program.



Offline wingod

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Re: ISRU techniques and uses
« Reply #39 on: 02/13/2008 03:29 PM »
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clongton - 13/2/2008  8:01 AM

We really need a comprehensive sample return mission. It should include a centrally located lander/return vehicle, and several rovers, sent to different locations all over the planet. The rovers will selectively gather soil samples and return them to the central location. At the end of the gathering cycle, the return vehicle will bring them home, all neatly categorized by location. There is no need for the lander/return vehicle to actually do any sophisticated analysis on the samples; that will be done in labs here. It should be designed to accurately receive, catalog and store the samples, and be given whatever margins are necessary to ensure a successful return flight. The lander can be very large, while the rovers can be much smaller, because their mission is simply to gather samples, and navigate to and return to the lander. They can either be flown individually on smaller rockets, or several can be ganged on a larger rocket, and individually targeted for Mars atmospheric entry.

Chuck

Hate to disagree with you here but at this time we need to focus at the poles with the limited amount of money that is available.  I don't really think that we need a sample return as much as a sample processing.  Paul Spudis will tell you that the volitale concentrations at the lunar poles, even outside of the cold traps is 10-100 times elevated in hydrogen, and other gasses.  If I were advising the LPRP program I would like to see a lander/rover but the lander should carry a sample heater to heat the samples to 1000 C and then analyze the volitale concentrations.





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