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


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Draggendrop

If you are going to go geothermal for heat and air-conditioning, Why not use it to generate power too?

That would be nice...Right now we will need to investigate Mars surface structure for drilling the dissipation and adsorption system (coiled closed loop flex line in hole)....there must be some reasonable areas to drill....glacial area would be an option as well. We also need to investigate the temperature below the surface...ie: what temp differential at that point compared to ground top...what is the "frost level" or "permafrost" level.......cheers 

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Draggendrop

It has been my experience with residential "water furnaces", that they do a good job at maintaining a level, but...once a large temperature change occurs...ie: leave the door open in -30C for 5 minutes...it takes a while to get up to temp, which is why an auxiliary fireplace at home is nice. On Mars...those fuel cells (generated heat) which were mentioned may be able to replace  the "fireplace".  I assume any form of heat exchanger top up would assist as well....or...don't open the door too long on Mars....... :)

 

The drilling rover's Doc mentioned would be good, for a recce, instrument tests and pilot holes...as well as final installation boring...

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Draggendrop

The test chamber....if we can use the vacuum system to get .5kpa.....then cool through the range of -90C to -145C......see link for system required....and have conventional power (bulk head) supplied for now....we can test the habitat.....fuel cells operation.....liquid furnace (variable temp heat wrap to see the differential required to operate)...thermal tech on machinery....suit tech, general and work wear...test battery storage "cell efficiency" in various temp containers...antennae and associated gear (keep what in or outside  ie amps, signal conductive medium).....module and greenhouse environmental controls, fluid to use for hydraulic systems, screw rams, "tire technology", "track technology".....test "rovers"....recovery time for energy storage system charge and discharge cycles...ease of repair for "replaceable units" with suits on ( do actual repair where warm then)...refueling mock Dragon in the cold....entering cold Dragon and "firing system up" ie...do we need standby heat in Dragon...I assume we do for the main cabin electronics...so we may need a "roll away transfer tube"...think Martian airport equipment.....Dragon lands...we drive a boarding rig up to it...transfer people and cargo, while maintaining some heat for cabin while not in use....test "transfer mini modules"...we will probably need to enter the small "hut" attached to main modules, close door, evac environment, then apply heat and air prior to entry to main module..Think Martian airlock....test enhanced  "arctic wire"..outdoor sub temp fine strand cabling with flex shield.....test heat wraps...insulation types....lots to test...

 

Big test for me....We will have to design a radiation suit to fit over main suit or make a new design for this......put a small reactor in it for testing...check out cooling systems and generators real time in real conditions and test mobility...we will have to decide on a small reactor design that affords the best safety with appropriate cooling system...It has to be done and my guess is we can't use others facilities for this due to insurance...may have to apply for permit and build a small test building for this in an isolated area or out at sea.....got to be done.......thoughts....Cheers.....

 

http://www.espec.com/na/chamber_faq/answer/low_temp_limit

https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Mars

http://www.polarwire.com/         example only...lots of manufacturers....

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DocM

Plum Brook does a vacuum of 2

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Draggendrop

OK guys...DD's movie theater...........showing at a place near you..............at your keyboard........

 

The first two short clips are primers....but...the next 2 are documentaries...yes ......a bit of wishful thinking....but...there are some treats...the first one has an old plan to get to mars...and a few guys built a functioning methane extractor........the extractor works...and more so, its old tech.....they were not aware of the frozen water ice..(they should have been).....hence the hydrogen being brought along...........must see.

 

As far as the last 1....few treats there as well....take your time and bookmark...well worth it 

 

Primer....

 

2 documentaries....

           Some real neat stuff.....starting point....

          "Neil the science guy shows up"

 

Have fun........ :D

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FloatingFatMan

Cool. Something to watch when I get home tonight!  Thanks for the vids. :)

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Arachno 1D

Interesting videos thanks.

So going back to the geothermal collection we would need to select suitable areas with the least amount of drilling required hence if we did ground soundings as per my earlier notion what depth do you think we would need to go before we descended below the perma frost.If we could estimate this then we could do rough calculations on energy requirements to actually perform the task.

 

Talking of the wind erosion for us laymen like myself, Doc mentioned thinner air so what are we talking here.If I were in say a sand storm on Earth it would probably be similar to sand blasting under medium to high pressure so what is a good example of what the equipment and crew would have to stand up against on Mars?

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DocM

The experience with the rovers is that winds known as 'cleaning events' actually cleared settled dust off the solar arrays and other rover parts, so they've not lost as much performance as the mission planners expected.

Before & after

Spirit_cleaning_event_PIA07492.jpg

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Arachno 1D

So is the wind only moving small particulates and what sort of damage do they actually create?

 

Another thing that sprung to mind given the lower air pressures how does that affect the boiling points of our stored fluids i.e. water I take it it would act much like in a pressure cooker?

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Unobscured Vision

Good morning, Colonists. :)

 

Great plans of action for the Testing Phases, Doc and DD. I'm appointing you two as the Project "Test-N-Break-It" Engineering Team Leads. Your jobs are to checkout all gear meant for the Colony. Push it all to 105% -- if it breaks, it doesn't go. ;)

 

- Power Systems: We're going with Doc and DD's recommendations of using Geothermal-Atmospheric Heat Exchange. Those systems have the potential to work better on Mars than they will on Earth, once they are tested & (if need be) modified for the lower pressures. Turns out that we can use these systems for Climate Control as well as Power in the same loop -- nice bonus. Secondary Power will come from standard Fuel-Powered Generators. Tertiary/Supplemental Power will come from Solar + Battery Storage, and we'll test Wind Turbine Generation down the road for feasibility and practicality. Does this technology violate the rule about not developing new tech for this ThinkTank? No, since it already exists and works well on Earth. We can 3D Print/Fabricate most of what we need on-site once we are there, but work out the procedures and processes here on Earth during exploratory testing. The best part? We can use Methane that we've reclaimed from the Martian environment to do it all.

 

Mining/Reclamation: The second reason we're going to Mars, as far as the Company is concerned. There's money to be made ... lots of it, and with no competition. So to mine the stuff without crashing the prices on the Earth Market, damaging the Martian Ecology or putting Colonists at risk we need the best gear for the job. Reliable, robust, and safe. Following Doc and DD's recommendations, we'll use Methane to fuel on-board Electric Generators that charge batteries that in turn power the equipment. That should work well.

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Arachno 1D

So how are we proposing to transport all these minerals back to earth whilst we have a manned vessel planned in we have no tugs or cargo space for the spoils?

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DocM

SpaceX's MCT (Mars Colonial Transporter) will be making round trips, and it'll be capable of hauling ~100 tonnes of cargo. Big, it'll be. Methinks a few samples on the return leg won't be a problem.

After the initial test flights, perhaps with checkout flights to the Moon, they plan on several flying in a "fleet" during each mission cycle (roughly every 2 years.)

This is no joke. The Raptor engine for the (monsterous) BFR launcher and MCT started testing at NASA Stennis over a year ago. We should get more info on the architecture specifics later this year.

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Draggendrop

Good afternoon folks, had my coffee, here goes another round......

 

Take Nothing For Granted

 

1) Wind can clear debris, it can cover things with debris, it will cause sand to cling due to wind creating static charged surfaces, it can slowly blast materials with abrasives, if there is an opening...wind will aid sand to find it's way in. Just check with a few veterans who saw action in desert environments.........machinery and sand do not mix.

2) Assumed definitions for descriptions....mention fuel cell to younger people, answer most times will be energy production...talk to old timers, answer will be, gas production or electrical production. One will see efficiency ratings as being high, as well as total power output being high. Now if we dissect the data, oxygen, water, hydrogen, atmospheric pressure, ambient operating temps, internal operating temperatures (some quite high...a problem in itself), power applied to a grid which in itself means nothing as the "grid" is what handles severe current draw, not the cell. Were the cost's of these input's considered...most times ...no. What process was used to create the input compounds and the cost in energy to produce them. Nothing is 100% efficient...therefore the more processes involved, the greater the energy losses.

2) Fuel cell use in light duty vehicles...Yes..Ballard Power has been doing this from the early 90's......light duty, atmosphere, contained environment for cell, unit is fueled....again cost of production....efficient on Earth...yes...efficient on Mars, only if we clone Earth environment around it.

3) Throw cells on what ever you want.....when you are done with device...what do you do...can you leave it unattended to freeze, to be exposed to a vacuum, does it consume power all the time to maintain an environment.

4) Most of the fuel cell technology that I have seen, has one or the other , or combinations of.........oxygen environment, addition of water to start or to continue at reduced levels, consumption of a gas...cost to produce this gas.....high reaction temps, some higher than others...thermal runaway...not good and parts can melt or assemblies explode, platinum use not overly dependable, transport medium made of what....wet, moist, temp sensitive....very critical.

5) Can the cells handle large current draws for extended time and keep up without overheating...light duty OK, medium to heavy...HD, I doubt....., think of a Terex mine truck or modern train...diesel engine driving a generator to supply large current loads to motors which drive the vehicle.

 

Summary...fuel cells will have to be environmentally shielded to a cloned Earth environment..ALL the time to prevent destruction...unless someone can show me an exception...I'm all ears....Next... large sustained current draw...all day...industrial....For community site use, definitely and will produce module heat from system waste heat...50% efficiency means the rest is wasted as heat...so is it an energy generator or a heat generator... :) 

 For heavy current draw....will require testing in chamber...but I won't hold my breath on this one.....

 

Overall, if we can get the best cell tech of the bunch, operating "reliably", in an environmental case, this will solve the majority of energy demand. The way to prolong these devices may be operating them till battery system charged and resting cells...cycle system on and off...still giving solar use a go for site and vehicle top ups....very promising now...too many years of prior disappointments.

 

If we can determine the processes that we will use to convert raw materials into the products we want, all of them..ie" pure water, oxygen, methane, hydrogen...then we can pick the most power (input) efficient method to use and see if cells can handle it.

The last big one will be surface miner...can we modernize the rotary cutters drive system to reduce current demand on the device..to a point...where multiple cells may work...good question and we may be able to do this....if we can extract enough material to keep processes going non stop...there may not be a need to run the "mine" 24/7...we may be able to intermittently fire things up, get the "raw" and shut gear off while processing...lets test the processes and the outputs. If all works well...no reactor.......Realistically...well.....lets find out.

 

Have at her guys...start shooting...and lets dig up some cell tech with details.....excited about this...... :D

 

And please..NO Hyperbole like this spin control silliness....seen decades of this junk....reality specs needed......

http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/12/f19/fcto_state_of_states_2014_1.pdf

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Arachno 1D

Just thinking out the box but how about the speculative use of orbital solar panels sending power to a collector on the planet via microwave?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power

 

JAXA announced on 12 March 2015 that they wirelessly beamed 1.8 kilowatts 50 meters to a small receiver by converting electricity to microwaves and then back to electricity.On 12 March 2015 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries demonstrated transmission of 10 kilowatts (kW) of power to a receiver unit located at a distance of 500 meters (m) away.[31]

 

In space applications

A laser SBSP could also power a base or vehicles on the surface of the Moon or Mars, saving on mass costs to land the power source. A spacecraft or another satellite could also be powered by the same means. In a 2012 report presented to NASA on Space Solar Power, the author mentions another potential use for the technology behind Space Solar Power could be for Solar Electric Propulsion Systems that could be used for interplanetary human exploration missions.[49][50][51]

 

 

c85ca3b1289d0fdda373146663e07049.png

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Draggendrop

Neat idea...been around for a while , but really difficult to justify the cost and development. We have a limited budget with a mountain to climb...Cheers...and good digging...keep it up...Cheers

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DocM

Musk is no fan of space solar power, but he did meet with JAXA last September during a trip to Japan. They called it a courtesy call, but I would imagine SpaceX soon having a heavy launcher and JAXA not would help their space solar power project.

And FH's LC-39A home is getting close. Big enough to process 5 Falcon 9's, or 2 Falcon 9's and a Falcon Heavy, at once.

Spx39Ahangar-1024x474.jpg

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Draggendrop

While we round up data and examples of the power generating cells...

Lets cut to the chase...We are probably going to have to have a pressurized container for them and heated. A battery back up to maintain temp and pressure would seem logical when not in use and as soon as it fires up and generates heat, we tap some of the heat to heat the unit as well as use the rest of the heat for module, cabin heat. Any non used heat, depending on application, will have to be "radiated" away. The heat can also supply energy for thermal fans.

 

We will need to make these as "replaceable units, that we can do with suits on, replace module...then take damaged unit to "inside" shop to repair.

 

Would also make sense to make all units in two sizes, with as many interchangeable parts as possible. This would allow one size for small loads and larger ones for modules and transportation....If we need larger outputs...use multiples of these units.......we need standardization and it would be nice if some parts were able to be produced from printing...carry lots of spares of difficult parts for now, till we get "established" and printer tech progresses..... :D

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DocM

Backup power from Tesla Energy, a new Musk company making energy storage batteries for homes (Powerwall: 7-10 kWh per unit, array-able) and utilities & business (100 kWh per unit, arrays to 10+ MW). In the first week (a few weeks ago) Tesla Energy scored $800 million in orders.

The Reno, NV Tesla Gigafactory One battery favtory is under construction and there are plans for more. GF1 is good for 500,000 battery units a year.

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Draggendrop

It would seem to me that we might as well get real good at environmental containment for equipment and standardize the subsystems as well. We will need it for the power cells, for the Tesla batteries, for "hydraulic power packs", electronic equipment bays/modules, compressed gas storage area's, water storage in liquid or frozen....etc...

 

This would be similar to this scenario.......we need power at place B, this cell and battery combo will work...therefore choose environment container A for cell, choose environment container C for batteries, choose atmosphere pack A for this container, choose heating/cooling pack B for this container....you see where I am going...standard packs to be used by themselves or in combo's ......plug them in and go.......built in test equipment for "on unit" and "remote" monitoring and control with redundancy.

 

This way if demand changes for ie: new equipment added to an existing module, new module constructed, new temp shelter, new storage requirements...etc.....We can handle it by "plug and play"....no major design work.....Cheers...

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geertd

I m not very technical but what about the use of 3D  printing for building structures like domes bridges etc

 

dutch company MX3D  http://mx3d.com/    wants to print  a fully functional steel bridge in amsterdam 

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DocM

Yup. Several groups are developing building printers, and NASA has a competition going for pribted Mars/lunar habitats. Before long a printer will build an entire mechanism. Epson said within a few years.

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DocM

Elon Musk,

And then one of the key questions is can you get to the surface of Mars and back to Earth on a single stage. The answer is yes, if you reduce the return payload to approximately one-quarter of the outbound payload, which I thought made sense because you are going to want to transport a lot more to Mars than you

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Beittil

Regarding return payload to Earth my question would be: What would you want to return to Earth anyway?

 

(Besides personnel and their personal belongings obviously)

 

What would you mine on Mars that would need transportation back to Earth? The way I see it basic minerals would be only be used for construction on site (in situ).

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DocM

Science samples at the least. Failed equipment for detailed analysis & replacement - some heavy, rotating operational crew, folks who are short timers or didn't like Mars, consumables for the trip, retrieved rovers/landers for the Smithsonian etc. 100 tonnes to Mars implies a huge cargo bay.

Imagine it this way: a 15 meter BFR indicates the spacecraft will be at least that wide, perhaps 1.5x as wide (22+ meters) if its a hammerhead design like F9's fairing. Especially if the spacecraft and second stage are one and the same.

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