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Neowin Think Tank: Mars Colony One (and Two ... and Three ... and ... )

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Unobscured Vision    2,682

ThinkTank Topic: Let's discuss the real Engineering, AeroSpace and Science that would be required to make Mars Colony One work based on what we know today. 

 

Parameters: Available data, available technology, current state of Science and AeroSpace Engineering. Nothing "flight-of-fancy" that would belong in "It's a Conspiracy!", please -- I'll ask a Moderator to remove it immediately. Anything that we know for a fact that is forthcoming is fine (like Falcon Heavy, Orion, STS, etc), and anything that is in a planning stage but hasn't been built yet is also acceptable.

 

Please NoteOldSpace technologies/Corporations are not excluded from this study, such as ULA, Boeing, and the usual standard-bearers -- but this study will not make any attempt to show them favour or give them any latitude whatsoever. In fact, if anything, they have something to prove -- that they still have what it takes to complete tasks on budget and on schedule.

 

Let's begin, shall we? :)

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Draggendrop    5,747

First...we should define what tasks the first mission (and it's size) would like to do...ie find water.

 

Will it be SpaceX mission...how long there and back plus alloted time at site...do we have the resources to last that long....

 

Maybe we can "assume" SpaceX is the closest to attempting completion of it's project and project our own timetable and needs to see if it matches any data released by SpaceX yet.

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Unobscured Vision    2,682

The first order of business will be choosing a Landing Site. Mars has some really good ones to choose from. If this was just a Manned Mission (like Apollo), we could be more flexible.

 

For a Colony, we're going to have to choose one that offers the best resources in nearby locations. Let's consult ... DA MAP! (and yes, DD, I see you jumped in first, you rascal!)

 

Google Images - Search Term = Mars Global Map

 

We can get a good measure of where to start looking from here. This is the most detailed Geological Map of Mars ever made. It's current as of July 2014.

 

USGS Map of Mars -- It's a link to the USGS Site where the .pdf is located, and it's a monster of an image. It'll lag most non-gaming Video Cards into a crash, so consider yourselves warned. :)

 

So, the question now is, where to set up shop?

 

[EDIT -- Edited because the old image was horrible and I found a MUCH better map. ;) ]

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123456789A    4,710

Is there any discussion about funding here?

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Draggendrop    5,747

After the funding issue is solved...here are some "water" references to start with...I'll dig for better ones...ideally summer months for trip and close to satellite data as we roughly know water is at the poles but the temperature will make it extremely difficult...

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonal_flows_on_warm_Martian_slopes

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_on_terrestrial_planets_of_the_Solar_System

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_on_Mars

 

http://www.cnet.com/news/liquid-water-on-mars-found-right-under-rovers-nose/

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Unobscured Vision    2,682

Let's move forward on the premise that the budget is $200 Billion U.S.D. for the entire Project up to Mars Colony One's 5-year Milestone. This includes R&D, Construction, Administration, Launch, Facilities on Earth, Transit, Insurance, Equipment, Materials, Personnel, everything needed for the Project.

 

It may seem like a mountain of money, but in reality it's just about what would be needed for a Project of this magnitude. We're colonizing another planet, after all.

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123456789A    4,710

Ok I'm reviewing the maps and geological survey database now.

 

Ideally I would want to live near Olympus Mons because it's my favorite Martian geographic feature but I don't know if that's feasible.

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DocM    16,656

I'd choose the geographically lowest altitude site with the flattest local (~5-10 km) topography. It would afford the most aerobraking for EDL (entry, descent and landing) and the most radiation attenuation for habitation. The topography makes deploying/building infrastructure easier. Higher local magnetic fields would be a plus for charged particle protection.

Also check the sensor data for useful minerals including metals and, just for later use, thorium.

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Unobscured Vision    2,682

So we are zeroing in on some good criteria for a CoS (Colony Operations Site), going from most recent entries and then backwards:

 

- (DocM) The geographically lowest altitude site possible to assist with aerobraking for EDL and antiradiation attenuation, which also helps with local MF for Charged Particle deflection.

- (DocM) The flattest local (~5-10 km) topography in one (or both) 180

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DocM    16,656
PIA04257_br.jpg
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Unobscured Vision    2,682

And judging by the above map, a very nice potential CoS sticks out right away almost dead-on the Martian Equator. Let's see what the Elevation Map has to say about that area ...

 

mola_color_8.jpg

 

Well, well. 3

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firey    4,120

Hmm, large and flat is okay but can cause for some extreme conditions.  While yes the benefits of large landing area is good, there would need to be something sufficent that could be built into.  Not sure strength of materials, but I would suggest something closer to the base of a large hill/mountain.   Ideally one that there is a valley near.   Reason being is that the use of natural geological resources/structure to protect against environment allows for more materials/supplies to be used for alternate purposes.

Would also want to ensure that buildings are on solid ground, but that the ground be soft enough that it can be dug into.   While having supplies/building materials are nice having the ability to use the planet beyond just experiments helps.

As mentioned, metals are nice and will definitely help.  Not sure what the ability to produce fire is like on mars, however having the ability to create and protect a fire would be great for hardening materials/smelting softer metals.

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Ian S.    758

We'd need an atmosphere which would have to be replenished. How would we ship O2 up there?

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DocM    16,656

You use indigenous water. Split it into H2 and O2, using the H2 for manufacturing easily stored methane for fuel & propellant and the O2 for air replenishment. Known techs.

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Unobscured Vision    2,682

We'll get to that, ians18. :)

 

Something else that occurs to me is the problem with protecting Colonists from Solar Flare events and Cosmic Rays/Hard Radiation. Since Mars has mere remnants of a Magnetic Field, any CoS will need to be located within one of these "Remnant Magnetic Nodes" that just poke out from the surface of Mars to help protect our Colony. These don't offer complete protection, since they don't have the strength of Earth's Magnetic Field.

 

An alternative is to either:

 

- Generate our own Magnetic Field temporarily (consuming large quantities of power), which we are able to do,

 

- Go underground into shelters built for this purpose, which should be built first before other permanent structures,

 

- Use the CoS's Water Storage as Shelters, which have proven effective as Radiation Shielding on Earth in the past -- which would seem to be the most economical and efficient procedure to take in the early going until the Permanent Shelters are built.

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DocM    16,656

The latest Mats radiation data from Curiosity puts an 860 day mission (180 for each leg and a 500 day stay) at 1.01 Sv, which is just 1% above the NASA/ESA career dose. It shouldn't take much shielding to massively improve on that.

Also: there's a lot of work being done on artificial magnetospheres for aerobraking and the upper part of EDL (to increase drag & deflect plasma). The work done by MSNW (connected to U. Washington) and Altius Space Machines shows huge deflections from even a cubesat sized unit.

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Unobscured Vision    2,682

Yep, I've read about the advancements in that field. So are we agreed that the Water Storage solution should be more than adequate to protect the "Setup Crew" until they can get the Deflection System up and running using the CoS's Power Systems? :)

 

And I think we are all under the understanding that the Colonists will be arriving in Groups -- not all at once. If that wasn't clear (and it probably wasn't  :laugh: ), then let's agree to have it work that way.

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Draggendrop    5,747

I picked my spot for analysis.....Hellas Planitia....southern hemisphere...the dark purple area on map a few posts up...

Interesting features...

 

 

Hellas Planitia is a plain located within the huge, roughly circular impact basin Hellas[a] located in the southernhemisphere of the planet Mars.[3] Hellas is the second or third largest impact crater and the largest visible impact crater known in the Solar System. The basin floor is about 7,152 m (23,465 ft) deep, 3,000 m (9,800 ft) deeper than the Moon'sSouth Pole-Aitken basin, and extends about 2,300 km (1,400 mi) east to west.[4][5] It is centered at https://tools.wmflabs.org/geohack/geohack.php?pagename=Hellas_Planitia&params=42.4_S_70.5_E_globe:mars_type:landmark''>42.4

post-546174-0-21888600-1433909611.jpg

post-546174-0-46112500-1433909628.jpg

post-546174-0-14829100-1433909646.jpg

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Unobscured Vision    2,682

Dammit if it didn't lose my post. :( Starting over then.

 

Hellas Crater Basin. Quite a place, Geologically and Climatologically. Let's break it down:

 

- Protection from the weather, but ...

 

- The extremely low elevation relative to the rest of the terrain should create a microclimate, with a High Pressure Dome dominating the entire Basin. Pressures should be +25~50% greater than the Plateaus around it, if not more. This microclimate should serve any incoming vessel quite well with landings due to the increased atmospheric pressure, assuming that the Pressure Dome has not begun to rotate in a storm-like manner (as can happen sometimes due to temperature and pressure differences). Think of it like a slow, extremely large Tornado with nowhere to go. We've seen Dust Devils on Mars before, so it's quite possible here. More data is needed and I'll definitely try to find some about this area.

 

- Geologically this area is VERY interesting. The lack of Thorium isn't necessarily a deal-breaker, but it would be nice to have it nearby. The abundance of other, quite useful minerals and metals along with the unique climate potential as well as the probability of good native Magnetic Field Strength in the area offsets the lack of Thorium. More data is needed on these questions as well.

 

- Seasonal H2O/CO2 influx is particularly useful. How close does the Southern Polar Cap get? To the edge of the Basin? More data needed.

 

- Obviously, subliminal H2O is very likely to be present in substantial quantities and easily extracted from the soil here.

 

- With the probable increased atmospheric density relative to most of the planet, this location is ideal for extracting CO2 from the atmosphere for electrolysis/catylosis purposes for breathing oxygen, fuel, fertilizer, etc. The chemical possibilities are nearly endless in this location, probably more so than anywhere else on Mars.

 

- Solar Power Generation will not suffer greatly compared to the Equatorial Location on Page 1. Some minor efficiency losses can be expected due to a thicker atmosphere as well as less charging time due to the Basin walls blocking the Sun earlier than usual, but careful planning and placement of the Solar Arrays can largely mitigate these issues. Perhaps Solar Concentrator Arrays can be used instead?

 

- Temperatures will be slightly more moderate inside the Basin than above it. This is usually a benefit.

 

So far, the only problem I can see is whether the Basin acts to contain a giant, stuck Tornado -- relative to the rest of Mars, of course. It could merely be circulating at 20 kph.  :laugh:

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Draggendrop    5,747

You probably already know,...but I had lost quite a few posts by accident until I found out I could go back to the reply area, type in 1 letter and the auto save showed up on the bottom left of text box...I clicked it and the data was back...This is a great feature...... :D

 

The area is 2,300 km....huge, and the glacier comes up to the east edge where the run-off marks are as well as the south. The west area was an even deeper walled area. I would think the middle line through the crater and on the eastern edge near the run-off area's would be good with closer shelter at the run-off valley's...lots of area for shelter and close to massive water source. Check out the google map and zoom in to the east...nice spot...I will be checking for other elements...found a satellite data base....

 

Edit...-36.1/101.1...tip of "glacier tongue in winter...has a run-off valley into Hellas Basin which is really flat for landing...bonus is by river valley, their is a large 3 walled square area with shelter to the right at valley...should be good protection and can rover it to landing site on flat plateau in crater.....this place is growing on me....

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Unobscured Vision    2,682

Data on Hellas Planitia:

 

Wikipedia Link

 

post-23589-0-88558700-1433914994.jpg

"False color of Hellas Planitia" by NASA/JPL/GSFC - http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA02033. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:False_color_of_Hellas_Planitia.jpeg#/media/File:False_color_of_Hellas_Planitia.jpeg

 

Pressure: 12.4 mbar (above the triple point of H2O, meaning that it CAN go liquid here under the right conditions!), +103% above the Mars average of 6.1 mbar

Depth: 7,152 m (23,465 ft) below the topographic datum of Mars -- yes, it's a big friggin' crater.

Size: 2,300 km (1,400 mi) diameter. The altitude difference between the rim and the bottom is roughly 9,000 m (30,000 ft). 

 

Yeah, it's an interesting place. :yes:

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Unobscured Vision    2,682

More interesting data about Hellas Basin:

 

Seeing Hellas Planitia | German Aerospace Center

 

Hellas_3d_xl.jpg

 


 

Water could be stable at the bottom of Hellas 

 

At the deepest points of Hellas, the atmospheric pressure is almost twice that at ground level in the adjacent Mars highlands. At times, the pressure and temperature conditions are sometimes above what is known as the

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Beittil    584

I am not much for location finding, leave that up to the experts :)

 

What I have always been thinking about, and something which I rarely see in concept images:

V417_Showing_Attachments_70871_hr.jpg

 

The colony just has to have a machine such as this! Normally in concept arts you do see small rovers scurrying around doing outside work on the base, which is still needed for the more delicate work, but seriously... how can you even hope to start off a colony without machinery such as this.

 

Obviously a variant would have to be developed to fit in the Martian atmosphere, some items it would have to be adapted to:

  • I guess it would be easiest to go with fully robotic/remotely operational capability. I mean, it's a nice gag to actually put an actual human being in the cabin. But that is just to much hassle in so many ways in an environment such as Mars.
  • It would need a specialized hydraulics system, while temperatures above 0C can be reached, you are more likely to find yourself in Antarctica type of chills. Basically if you can develop this machine to be year round operable on our own South Pole, it should be good to go for Mars as well!

Basically you would need this machine for anything from leveling terrain (habitats, solar array fields), digging, collecting soil to cover habitats with, etc.

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Arachno 1D    7,992

Would it not be easier to tunnel into local hillsides and create caves thus using the local topography to not only stay out of any harsh elements but also as naturally occurring radiation shielding,This would also save on the need to transport vast amounts of building structure to the planet we could also use 3D printer technology fed from local aggregate to build additional structures ad hoc.

 

Thinking something like the Star Gate underground cavern system

e20ab72286ba56ec0524f583d52e5cc5.png

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FloatingFatMan    19,063

Tunnelling really isn't all that easy without very heavy machinery. Plus, in the real world, tunnels need support structures as well.

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