Author Topic: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)  (Read 12353 times)

Online john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7400
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 1085
  • Likes Given: 7314
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #20 on: 06/03/2018 09:09 PM »
You seem to be a little fixated on silicon wafers! :) They're an advanced technology and you don't need them in order to manufacture semiconductors such as transistors etc.
True

You can mfg very poor transistors using a thin film process, provided you have a supply of glass.

But you're looking somewhere in the 5-20MHz range, rather than the 4GHz of an x86 ISA processor.

Silicon makes very good transistors, but is very energy intensive to do so. However once wafered the doping requires much smaller masses of dopants to prepare, while direct write techniques for mfg transistors have been under development since the 80's.


BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline Mr. Scott

  • Member
  • Posts: 41
  • Liked: 21
  • Likes Given: 435
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #21 on: 06/03/2018 11:56 PM »
This is such a great thread! 

With the risk adverse nature of all things in the space industry... it make total sense to just think low tech to the extreme.  Management will always strive to cut costs until the physical nature of a vacuum appears.

My favorite steam punk technology would have to be the use of airships.  Of course there is no helium on Mars. And management would rather not send helium to Mars.

We don't need no stinkin Helium! 

So just use vacuum technology to fly.  Ergo, the Lana de Terzi flying boat concept for Mars.

Yes yes yes.  I realize that there is no atmosphere on Mars.  Yes yes yes I realize that this won't ever fly on Mars.

But no kidding, the stuff we see on the magazine covers of Popular Mechanics is no further ahead than the de Terzi flying boat.

Why not just admit it and develop vacuum airships.




I've already asked to have my NSF account deleted, but they keep wanting me to do this.

Offline blasphemer

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 116
  • Slovakia
  • Liked: 49
  • Likes Given: 268
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #22 on: 06/04/2018 12:25 AM »
But you're looking somewhere in the 5-20MHz range, rather than the 4GHz of an x86 ISA processor.

Well, if the point is merely to survive, do you even need more? You are not going to play latest games or watch videos on such a processor, but it will be enough to run the base systems and machinery.

Most computationally demanding tasks I can think of at a Mars colony would probably be wireless video cameras for remotely controlled robots, and of course, autonomously vertically landing rockets. That may be pushing it. Then also some medical devices (MRI and so on), but those are not strictly necessary.
« Last Edit: 06/04/2018 12:31 AM by blasphemer »

Offline Dalhousie

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2167
  • Liked: 301
  • Likes Given: 368
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #23 on: 06/04/2018 01:26 AM »
On the upside, no hours of pre breathing  to run on pure O2. On the downside, cut the hose and you're dead.

Not unless people forget the basic lessons of surface air supply for diving.  You can protect cables against most likely operations and have a small oxygen bottle that can last you long enough to get to shelter (5 minutes is enough).  And downstream valves!
"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 Patchouli

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4370
  • Liked: 170
  • Likes Given: 295
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #24 on: 06/04/2018 02:49 AM »
Low Tech isn't enough to survive on Mars.  Sorry.  The environment is too hostile.  It takes high tech to survive there.

I think late 1950s to early 1970s level tech probably would be enough to survive on Mars.

You definitely don't need sub 1 Ám technology VLSI ICs but likely will need bipolar junction transistors for reliability.
You probably could even do run some stuff with vacuum tube and relay technology if you had to but solid state circuitry is more reliable.

Keep in mind the first probes and spacecraft were made from discrete components and the Apollo AGC only used SSI ICs.

Technology around the level used in the PDP8 and HP9100 probably would be sufficient to run most mission critical life support hardware.

The good news this requires a lot less hardware than modern semi conductors as shown in this video.


You could probably fit all the stuff needed in a single BFS.

« Last Edit: 06/04/2018 03:08 AM by Patchouli »

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8396
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 313
  • Likes Given: 135
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #25 on: 06/04/2018 04:14 AM »
Microprocessors are light weight items so they can be imported for the first 100 years. Mobile phones contain the computational power to operate most machinery. Just standardise on 2-3 designs. High power electrics may also be needed.

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8396
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 313
  • Likes Given: 135
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #26 on: 06/04/2018 04:18 AM »
{snip}
Indeed. And consider what (in total) are some of the heaviest.
Food
Water
Air
Propellant
Bricks (or some other building material).

And of course as the settlement grows unless the amount of imports per settler falls the ongoing mass that has to be sent from Earth grows.

A key issue is power generation. PV cells might be individually light but power generation on the scale needed for ISRU (I think a figure of MWs was mentioned) means they soon mount up.

Likewise if people are looking at LED's that's a very specialized, very heavy, very expensive production line, which also has a pretty large power budget.

Data point. It takes 2.78 Mj to raise 1 Kg of Silicon from 20c to molten, most of it from the solid to liquid transition.

Once the colonists can make metal items then can generate electricity using solar thermal techniques. Stirling engines can work from concentrated light as well as nuclear power. At lower efficiency unconcentrated light can be used.

Offline colbourne

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 326
  • Liked: 32
  • Likes Given: 14
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #27 on: 06/05/2018 12:18 AM »
Solar panels will probably be possible by applying three layers of paint to any non conducting surface by the time the base is built.
Are any experiments underway in extracting metals from the Martian soil on a scale that will be available to the early settlers  ?
I would think, that to allow the base to be sustainable, that metal refining is a one of the essential tasks that should be available from the very early days, even if only on a small scale. Possibly use mirrors and lenses to concentrate the Sun's heat.

I want to make it clear that, I dont consider the whole base being low tech, whilst there is still trade with Earth, but it would be good to have the core technologies available to future proof the independent Mars base in case of disaster.

N.B. some of these issues would also apply to Earth, if civilisation was to recover from a major catastrophe.


Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8396
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 313
  • Likes Given: 135
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #29 on: 06/05/2018 03:17 AM »
A Mars base does not need low tech. It needs low man power and low mass from Earth. So many of its systems will be extra high tech.

Offline colbourne

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 326
  • Liked: 32
  • Likes Given: 14
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #30 on: 06/05/2018 07:07 AM »
A Mars base does not need low tech. It needs low man power and low mass from Earth. So many of its systems will be extra high tech.
If the Mars base is going to be self sufficient (Earth civilisation destroyed or loses space capabilities), it needs to have essential life support systems that can be maintained on Mars. Spares can handle the short term but if humanities survival depends on high tech devices, it may not have a future. High tech systems can be used while being supplied from Earth, but it would be good to have something to fall back on to.

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8396
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 313
  • Likes Given: 135
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #31 on: 06/05/2018 12:24 PM »
A Mars base does not need low tech. It needs low man power and low mass from Earth. So many of its systems will be extra high tech.
If the Mars base is going to be self sufficient (Earth civilisation destroyed or loses space capabilities), it needs to have essential life support systems that can be maintained on Mars. Spares can handle the short term but if humanities survival depends on high tech devices, it may not have a future. High tech systems can be used while being supplied from Earth, but it would be good to have something to fall back on to.

Or the bases fabricators can make new fabricators and new life support from raw materials on Mars.

Online john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7400
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 1085
  • Likes Given: 7314
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #32 on: 06/05/2018 08:21 PM »
A Mars base does not need low tech. It needs low man power and low mass from Earth. So many of its systems will be extra high tech.
If the Mars base is going to be self sufficient (Earth civilisation destroyed or loses space capabilities), it needs to have essential life support systems that can be maintained on Mars. Spares can handle the short term but if humanities survival depends on high tech devices, it may not have a future. High tech systems can be used while being supplied from Earth, but it would be good to have something to fall back on to.

Or the bases fabricators can make new fabricators and new life support from raw materials on Mars.
You have two issues with that plan.

Implementing a fabricator that can duplicate itself (without nanotechnology) is very difficult. The size ranges over which objects need to be made and their properties make this something that's a long way from implementation. About the best that could be hoped for would be a set of fabricators working together to make a copy of some of the higher levels in the food chain. That leaves the finer detailed units, which would then be the bottleneck. When they ultimately fail the settlements ability to self repair will end.

The other is the raw materials supply. Better resolution and narrow variation in final part properties generally need tighter control in the feedstock.  So you need that whole supply chain in place to do this as well.

I've never really bought into the fantasy of a fabricator/3d printer/whatever than can copy itself, especially of the electronic components. the range of technologies is simply too diverse.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8396
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 313
  • Likes Given: 135
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #33 on: 06/05/2018 10:17 PM »
A Mars base does not need low tech. It needs low man power and low mass from Earth. So many of its systems will be extra high tech.
If the Mars base is going to be self sufficient (Earth civilisation destroyed or loses space capabilities), it needs to have essential life support systems that can be maintained on Mars. Spares can handle the short term but if humanities survival depends on high tech devices, it may not have a future. High tech systems can be used while being supplied from Earth, but it would be good to have something to fall back on to.

Or the bases fabricators can make new fabricators and new life support from raw materials on Mars.
You have two issues with that plan.

Implementing a fabricator that can duplicate itself (without nanotechnology) is very difficult. The size ranges over which objects need to be made and their properties make this something that's a long way from implementation. About the best that could be hoped for would be a set of fabricators working together to make a copy of some of the higher levels in the food chain. That leaves the finer detailed units, which would then be the bottleneck. When they ultimately fail the settlements ability to self repair will end.

The other is the raw materials supply. Better resolution and narrow variation in final part properties generally need tighter control in the feedstock.  So you need that whole supply chain in place to do this as well.

I've never really bought into the fantasy of a fabricator/3d printer/whatever than can copy itself, especially of the electronic components. the range of technologies is simply too diverse.

One of the reasons I am an 80:20 man.

Offline Kansan52

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1082
  • Hutchinson, KS
  • Liked: 328
  • Likes Given: 383
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #34 on: 06/05/2018 10:46 PM »
Instead of electronics I imagine electromechanical (like punch cards) or clockwork mechs with a drum like music box or a punch sheet like a player piano.

Offline Patchouli

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4370
  • Liked: 170
  • Likes Given: 295
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #35 on: 06/06/2018 04:42 AM »
Instead of electronics I imagine electromechanical (like punch cards) or clockwork mechs with a drum like music box or a punch sheet like a player piano.

Punch cards were one of the first forms of automated control running not just looms but automated riveting machines while drum sequencers and cam timers were often used in manufacturing before digital PLCs came along and continued to be used in major appliances until recently.
You could say digital controls may have been a step backwards in things like washers and refrigerators.

« Last Edit: 06/06/2018 04:55 AM by Patchouli »

Online john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7400
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 1085
  • Likes Given: 7314
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #36 on: 06/06/2018 06:00 AM »
Once the colonists can make metal items then can generate electricity using solar thermal techniques. Stirling engines can work from concentrated light as well as nuclear power. At lower efficiency unconcentrated light can be used.
A low tech Mars means not just simple control systems (that's thermostats using bimetallic strips) simpler materials technology to make them.

This is why the  claimed discovery of Methane Clatherates are a huge game changer. The availability of dense  energy sources was a key part of the industrial revolution, first as Charcoal, then as actual coal. the oil.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Online john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7400
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 1085
  • Likes Given: 7314
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #37 on: 06/06/2018 06:05 AM »
On the upside, no hours of pre breathing  to run on pure O2. On the downside, cut the hose and you're dead.

Not unless people forget the basic lessons of surface air supply for diving.  You can protect cables against most likely operations and have a small oxygen bottle that can last you long enough to get to shelter (5 minutes is enough).  And downstream valves!
Fair point. That was a little pessimistic.

The problem with human surface operations is that you exceed the annual exposure for a nuclear industry work on Earth in 1 week of surface operations on Mars (IE 30 surface hours). So a lifetime dose is 30 working weeks, or just over 6 months.

Finding ways to avoid surface ops seems like a very good idea if people want to have children. If Earth is really gone any plans to just "Test new chemo drugs for the cancers" are out the window.  :(
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Online john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7400
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 1085
  • Likes Given: 7314
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #38 on: 06/06/2018 06:11 AM »
Most computationally demanding tasks I can think of at a Mars colony would probably be wireless video cameras for remotely controlled robots, and of course, autonomously vertically landing rockets. That may be pushing it. Then also some medical devices (MRI and so on), but those are not strictly necessary.
With Earth gone how many flights are they going to make?

CT, MRI, ultrasound all depend on substantial amounts of image processing. Even diagnosing the fault will be very difficult. That's if you have them on Mars.  CT and MRI tend to be very heavy.

If we're really playing the "Lowest technological denominator game" you're looking at cables to the robots and tube based cameras. Relatively easy to mfg if you have the necessary glass and vacuum facilities. Anything more complex and you're back to needing a complete wafer fab plant to support camera sensors and displays.

Instead of electronics I imagine electromechanical (like punch cards) or clockwork mechs with a drum like music box or a punch sheet like a player piano.
No, simpler yet. Analogue devices. No embedded processing. Things with springs (as John Carnack called them).
« Last Edit: 06/06/2018 06:12 AM by john smith 19 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline Dalhousie

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2167
  • Liked: 301
  • Likes Given: 368
Re: Steam Punk Mars (Self Sufficient Survival through Low Tech)
« Reply #39 on: 06/06/2018 07:32 AM »
On the upside, no hours of pre breathing  to run on pure O2. On the downside, cut the hose and you're dead.

Not unless people forget the basic lessons of surface air supply for diving.  You can protect cables against most likely operations and have a small oxygen bottle that can last you long enough to get to shelter (5 minutes is enough).  And downstream valves!
Fair point. That was a little pessimistic.

The problem with human surface operations is that you exceed the annual exposure for a nuclear industry work on Earth in 1 week of surface operations on Mars (IE 30 surface hours). So a lifetime dose is 30 working weeks, or just over 6 months.

Finding ways to avoid surface ops seems like a very good idea if people want to have children. If Earth is really gone any plans to just "Test new chemo drugs for the cancers" are out the window.  :(

Those are legislative limits, not actual medical limits.  realistically we need to recognise that Ramsar level exposures (025 Sv per annum) will be acceptable, as indeed they probably are as there are no signs of excess cancer at Ramsar.
"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

Tags: