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'[OT]:Terraforming (was water or Mars)'
2004\03\03@124229 by llile

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If we send humans to Mars, there WILL be life on mars as soon as a few
human hairs or skin flakes fall on the surface.  Humans are crawling with
bacteria, even if they take regular baths. Humans cannot survive without
bacteria in their gut and skin and mouths.  Each of us walks around with a
few billion of our closest friends.  These bugs may not be adapted to Mars
NOW, however they are found in every possible niche on Earth from the
coldest Arctic to boiling hot springs and subterranean mines, one or two
of the little devils will find a way to adapt.  And then, watch out!

We will then immediately loose the chance to ever know if there was native
life on Mars as soon as we leave a footprint.  I think this is a strong
argument against sending people to Mars immediately.  Let's probe around
there with nice, clean robots for a few more decades and find out what is
actually there, deep under the martian soil.  Once we send a
bacteria-infested human there, how will we tell the Natives from the
superadapted Escherica Coli?  Maybe they were there, maybe not?

As soon as a human steps on the surface of Mars we will have effectively
begun the process of terraforming Mars. Earth was a wasteland of carbon
dioxide and methane atmosphere before microbes began producing Oxygen.
Think "Jupiter" before it "bulked up".  Algae and bacteria (and recently
plants) are the reason Earth has an oxygen atmosphere in the first place.
The first life, as far as we know, would have actually been poisoned by
oxygen and was killed off after a wave of oxygen producing bacteria and
algae swept over the planet.  We still find the descendants of those
original Oxygen-phobic bacteria living in deep ocean mud, producing
methane burps.

This is the process that will inevitably happen on Mars as soon as we
contaminate it with Earth bacteria.  It will take aeons, of course, but we
will have begun it without thinking it through, without a plan.

I would argue that, in a generation or two, we should seriously consider
terraforming Mars, but only after our understanding of gigantic
planet-wide processes has deepened tremendously.  I would argue that it is
foolhardy to introduce random bacteria into the Martian environment
without fully considering the consequences.  Eventually, we may even
engineer bacteria specifically to survive Martian extremes, survive on the
meager resources available, and produce oxygen and greenhouse gasses in
quantities that could render the planet habitable. Finding subsurface
moisture pockets and seeding them with engineered bacteria may be how we
decide to start.  It is fully possible that an oxygen atmosphere combined
with the right greenhouse gasses would produce a chilly, but livable
environment.  If there ever was liquid water on Mars, then this happened
at one time.  We may augment the changes with industrial processes not
dreamed of yet, but ultimately terraforming will involve introducing life
specifically designed to multiply and thrive and produce the desired
atmosphere.

Today Mars is pretty formidable:  temperature lows dwarfing  the coldest
antarctic winter on record, winds rivaling the fastest tornado, dust
storms with dust as fine as cigarrette smoke that engulf the planet.  It
is a rough place, but it is the most hospitable planet besides our own
that we know of.

Terraforming a planet might be a project that would take 10,000 years, who
knows, maybe millions?  Surely if we are eventually to consider such a
vast project, or even leave the possibility open, we can afford to wait a
couple of decades to think about it some more.  We are like teenagers,
launching off into the unknown with no plan nor clue.    A Manned mission
to Mars is a fool's game, IMHO.


-- Lawrence Lile





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"Rover finds Mars was Wet Enough for Life".  The key word in the
headline is "was".  I hope they find some fossil evidence, that would
be cool.  I can see the re-inauguration speech of Bush now, "we're going
to
liquiferate the Martian polar ice caps to make Mars inhabitable for
humans."
;-)

Gustaf


> {Original Message removed}

2004\03\03@194838 by Gustaf J. Barkstrom

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: pic microcontroller discussion list
> [.....PICLISTKILLspamspam.....MITVMA.MIT.EDU]On Behalf Of EraseMEllilespam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTSALTONUSA.COM
> Sent: Wednesday, March 03, 2004 12:39 PM
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> Subject: Re: [OT]:Terraforming (was water or Mars)
>
Lawrence Lile wrote:

> A Manned missionto Mars is a fool's game, IMHO.

I completely agree.

Gustaf

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2004\03\03@220030 by rocky

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Hi Lawrence:

As far as I know, it would be unadvisable for even American earthlings to
trample around Mars without a pretty tight space suit.  Or did I miss
something, like the gravity is about half that of earth, and that there is
no atmosphere (save slight CO2) and no oxygen, etc.

But to tell you the truth, I got a kick out of your humorous satire :-)
Also, what you say about our close friends is true, but I think some people
are really friendly and have a lot more close friends that others. :-))



----- Original Message -----
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Sent: Wednesday, March 03, 2004 12:39 PM
Subject: Re: [OT]:Terraforming (was water or Mars)


{Quote hidden}

> > {Original Message removed}

2004\03\03@225748 by Jim Korman

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llile@SALTONUSA.COM wrote:
<snip>

> Today Mars is pretty formidable:  temperature lows dwarfing  the coldest
> antarctic winter on record, winds rivaling the fastest tornado, dust
> storms with dust as fine as cigarrette smoke that engulf the planet.  It
> is a rough place, but it is the most hospitable planet besides our own
> that we know of.
>
> Terraforming a planet might be a project that would take 10,000 years, who
> knows, maybe millions?  Surely if we are eventually to consider such a
> vast project, or even leave the possibility open, we can afford to wait a
> couple of decades to think about it some more.  We are like teenagers,
> launching off into the unknown with no plan nor clue.    A Manned mission
> to Mars is a fool's game, IMHO.
>
>
> -- Lawrence Lile
>

Quoting from zebu.uoregon.edu/~soper/Mars/atmosphere.html
<quote>
Where did the atmosphere go?

    * Presumably it started out something like Venus.
    * Put most of CO2 in rocks (using rainfall), as on Earth.
    * Then the weaker gravity of Mars wasn't able to hold the rest of
the atmosphere.
          * Ultraviolet light helps by breaking up molecules so that
they are light enough to escape.
    * Not enough volcanos to replenish the atmosphere.
          * No plate tectonics.
</quote>

I guess you could crash a few comets in every once in a while, but
the fact remains that Mars is just a little too small to hold a
a warm atmosphere. I wonder if it could even hold oxygen to form
an ozone layer? Lot of good (and bad) science fiction down the drain.
I think that (if we last long enough to find out) the Earth is a
very, very special place for life.

Jim

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2004\03\04@004858 by Jake Anderson

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if you are going to teraform something venus is much better in the long run
its gravity is very close to earths
slight rotation problem with 243 earth day long days. (and retrograde
rotation at that)
Venus is only slightly smaller than Earth (95% of Earth's diameter, 80% of
Earth's mass).
no real magnetic field either.
but with a few nice large fusion rockets....
both problems could be solved ;->

exercises
1)
a) how much energy is required to get venus to rotate every 24 hours or so
b) assuming your fusion rocket is 10% efficent in converting mass to energy
and 60% of that goes to making Kinetec Energy how much hydrogen is needed

2) what is the energy required to create a magnetic field 80% the
size/strength of earths and how does that affect the required hydrogen
ammount.

extra credit
what is the exhaust velocity of the rocket.

given data
       orbit:    108,200,000 km (0.72 AU) from Sun
       diameter: 12,103.6 km
       mass:     4.869e24 kg

btw i dont know the answers to these yet

{Original Message removed}

2004\03\04@051448 by Russell McMahon

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> As far as I know, it would be unadvisable for even American earthlings to
> trample around Mars without a pretty tight space suit.  Or did I miss
> something, like the gravity is about half that of earth, and that there is
> no atmosphere (save slight CO2) and no oxygen, etc.

About 1% of earth sea level mean pressure. Almost pure carbon dioxide.

       RM

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2004\03\04@053602 by Russell McMahon

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> if you are going to teraform something venus is much better in the long
run
> its gravity is very close to earths

The run would be very very long.
Terraforming of Venus has been examined at length (as may well be imagined).
The problems are intractably hard in the foreseeable future.
Too much of the wrong sort of material (or conversely too little of the
right sort).
Massive existent temperatures and pressures and no known processes to deal
with the atmosphere.
Adjustment of albedo alone (or functionally equivalent actions) - even to
extreme limits (large sunshield ?) is far from sufficient.
Initial practising must be done on Mars :-)

Sagan wrote some useful populist stuff on this and I'm absolutely sure
Google will have lots to say about it.

       Russell McMahon

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2004\03\04@065859 by Howard Winter

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Russell,

On Thu, 4 Mar 2004 23:16:01 +1300, Russell McMahon wrote:

> Terraforming of Venus has been examined at length (as may well be imagined).
> The problems are intractably hard in the foreseeable future.
>...<
> Initial practising must be done on Mars :-)

Indeed, let's just do one planet at at time, eh?  :-)

On the other hand, why not try to improve this one first?  The problems should be smaller, and the airfare is
a lot cheaper!  Surely if we can't sort out where we are, a place that already supports life in abundance, why
do we think we can in a place which is currently uninhabitable (subject to further survey :-) where it's many
orders of magnitude more difficult?

Or is this just a manifestation of the "Not Invented Here" syndrome, where most designers / engineers /
programmers / whatever would prefer to build something from scratch to their own design, than to upgrade /
improve / augment / debug someone else's design, even if it's "almost" working?

Cheers,

Howard Winter
St.Albans, England

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2004\03\08@110441 by llile

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Hear Hear!  Terraform Earth! The heck with those other planets!



Actually I started this thread hoping to get a lively discussion about
terraforming in general.

-- Lawrence Lile
Senior Project Engineer
Toastmaster, Inc.
Division of Salton, Inc.
573-446-5661 voice
573-446-5676 fax




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Russell,

On Thu, 4 Mar 2004 23:16:01 +1300, Russell McMahon wrote:

> Terraforming of Venus has been examined at length (as may well be
imagined).
> The problems are intractably hard in the foreseeable future.
>...<
> Initial practising must be done on Mars :-)

Indeed, let's just do one planet at at time, eh?  :-)

On the other hand, why not try to improve this one first?  The problems
should be smaller, and the airfare is
a lot cheaper!  Surely if we can't sort out where we are, a place that
already supports life in abundance, why
do we think we can in a place which is currently uninhabitable (subject to
further survey :-) where it's many
orders of magnitude more difficult?

Or is this just a manifestation of the "Not Invented Here" syndrome, where
most designers / engineers /
programmers / whatever would prefer to build something from scratch to
their own design, than to upgrade /
improve / augment / debug someone else's design, even if it's "almost"
working?

Cheers,

Howard Winter
St.Albans, England

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2004\03\09@161329 by Peter L. Peres

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> Hear Hear!  Terraform Earth! The heck with those other planets!

From the little I know about this just about the only valid technology for
starting terraforming a place like Mars would be to start sending small
probes to suitable asteroids and change their orbits so they impact (after
a couple of years at least). Assuming the asteroids contain some water
this may start a process of heating (from dust in the lower atmosphere) or
greenhouse effect and bring conditions closer to what is needed for 'real'
life over a couple of hundred years. I think that this is pure science
fiction for now.

I find it interesting that on the pictures from Mars there seems to be a
lot of dust around. I would have expected there to be very little with
that thin atmosphere and Mars's gravity.

Peter

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2004\03\09@192609 by llile

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Some of the martian dust storms engulf the entire planet in a blanket of
dust. Think Hurricane Floyd's big brother.   They can see dust devil
tracks in some of the satellite photos.

Yeah and with all those asteroids flinging around (or better yet comets -
they contain lots of water and greenhouse gasses like methane) what if
they miss with one?  Goodbye New York City?  maybe........ However bashing
the planet with something big and wet would certainly create an ocean, at
least for a little while until everything froze again.  Might wet down all
that dust too.  Might also liberate the subsurface permafrost.

Maybe you could nudge the planet a little closer to the sun, too.  Oops -
might fling the Earth out of orbit, and then we'd have a REAL problem.

-- Lawrence Lile





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> Hear Hear!  Terraform Earth! The heck with those other planets!

From the little I know about this just about the only valid technology for
starting terraforming a place like Mars would be to start sending small
probes to suitable asteroids and change their orbits so they impact (after
a couple of years at least). Assuming the asteroids contain some water
this may start a process of heating (from dust in the lower atmosphere) or
greenhouse effect and bring conditions closer to what is needed for 'real'
life over a couple of hundred years. I think that this is pure science
fiction for now.

I find it interesting that on the pictures from Mars there seems to be a
lot of dust around. I would have expected there to be very little with
that thin atmosphere and Mars's gravity.

Peter

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2004\03\09@193230 by Jake Anderson

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the dust has about the same particle size as cigarette smoke.

one plan was to cover the polar ice caps in soot/black stuff, that would
melt them releasing water and C02. and other plans to put bigass factories
on there that eat iorn oxide and release oxygen and iorn.

{Original Message removed}

2004\03\09@211314 by Russell McMahon

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> From the little I know about this just about the only valid technology for
> starting terraforming a place like Mars would be to start sending small
> probes to suitable asteroids and change their orbits so they impact (after
> a couple of years at least). Assuming the asteroids contain some water
> this may start a process of heating (from dust in the lower atmosphere) or
> greenhouse effect and bring conditions closer to what is needed for 'real'
> life over a couple of hundred years. I think that this is pure science
> fiction for now.

Read Red Mars / Green Mars / Blue Mars for a serious and utterly superb
(although obviously fictional) account of processes for Martian
terraforming. I thought for a long time that the amount of water that he had
available on Mars sub-surface for release for terraforming purposes was
orders of magnitude  greater than liable to be the case BUT ongoing and
latest discoveries infer a vast amount of water present - some on the
surface as water ice. Maybe not as much as he had but well up to small ocean
status.

> I find it interesting that on the pictures from Mars there seems to be a
> lot of dust around. I would have expected there to be very little with
> that thin atmosphere and Mars's gravity.

Winds are often cyclonic in nature AFAIK - equivalent in nature to an
earthly hurricane. Energy in dust is very small due to thin atmosphere -
storms peak at many hundreds of kph apparently but you could probably still
walk in such a wind - if you can keep the super fine dust out of your suit.
Force is proportional to density, velocity squared and area, so a 400 kph
wind with an atmosphere 1% as dense as earth's would have about the same
force as a 40 kph wind on earth.



       RM

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