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


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Draggendrop

I don't know if this is just marketing but it might be a date to add to the diary but if its true it gives us a timeline to work to

 

http://www.universetoday.com/100339/tito-wants-to-send-married-couple-on-mars-flyby-mission/

The solar cycle is averaged to approximately 11 years but it does vary and can only be detected after the fact (6 month statistical observation).

A solar minimum is the lower activity level in respect to sun spots. The solar cycles are very important for atmospheric communications...especially H.F. communications (3 Mhz to 30 Mhz) .... Tropospheric communications (2 Ghz)and any other method that uses the atmosphere as a communication aid.

 

CME's are a real problem when the sun "gets busy" for earth and any form of spacecraft.    see links...Cheers 

 

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

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cycle#Effects_on_Earth

 

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

 

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

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Unobscured Vision

now you have me thinking about the original total recall :p

 

TOTAL_RECALL-546.jpg

 

And it works the same way no matter what the scale. All one needs is the know-how and the right tools to get it done properly and safely, because then we're dealing with two of the most combustible elements in the Universe once separated from each other.

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Arachno 1D
CME's are a real problem when the sun "gets busy" for earth and any form of spacecraft.    see links...Cheers 

 

So although its stated as still rising in March its expected to peak and start falling over the following years

 

cb4bdbc43372fa4250c9c4dc76e7c8ec.png

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Draggendrop

This is the site I check up on regularly..........Solarham......loaded with info from many sources..... :)

 

http://www.solarham.net/

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Unobscured Vision

So although its stated as still rising in March its expected to peak and start falling over the following years

 

cb4bdbc43372fa4250c9c4dc76e7c8ec.png

And it's these Solar Cycles, among other forms of energetic and dangerous Radiation, that warrant using Artificial Magnetic Fields in conjunction with other technologies, techniques and careful Mission Planning not just en route to and from Mars but while we are there.

 

Speaking of which, I need to find Magnetic Node Data on Mars.

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Arachno 1D

So are there any areas with high levels of naturally occurring radiation or poisons we need to be cautious of on Mars itself?

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The Evil Overlord

So are there any areas with high levels of naturally occurring radiation or poisons we need to be cautious of on Mars itself?

Well, yes :p

No atmosphere, no ozone filtration, I mentioned this earlier, keep up :p

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Unobscured Vision

Well, yes :p

No atmosphere, no ozone filtration, I mentioned this earlier, keep up :p

Arachnoid is fine. Questions lead to understanding. :)

 

Atmosphere on Mars is 6-20 mbar (millibars of mercury) pressure. Earth is 950-1000 mbar standard, but varies. Everyone watches the weather reports, right? Here's what they mean when they say 'High Pressure' and 'Low Pressure'. High Pressure can be as high as 1150 mbar, Low Pressure (including Hurricanes/Typhoons) can see as low as 820 mbar. It's how dense the atmosphere is in relation to how it affects our weather. On Mars, the altitude affects how dense the atmosphere is just like on Earth but there's an additional component.

 

The pressure at the top of Mt. Everest has been measured as low as 337mbar. That is generally the lowest pressure that humans can become accustomed to without needing supplemental oxygen. Shirpas (Guides) are commonly known to be able to scale Everest without breathing gear because they have become accustomed to the extreme low atmospheric pressure and oxygen levels, but it is also reported that most Shirpas will no longer do so without it because of the extreme physical stress.

 

On Mars, the only place where the atmosphere really becomes substantial is in the Hellas Planitia -- the super-large, super-deep crater starting at 30

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The Evil Overlord

~snip~

I understand your point, (that was a little side jab at a friend) :)
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Unobscured Vision

I understand your point, (that was a little side jab at a friend) :)

 Ahh, very good. Jab away. :) If you can't pick your friends, and you can't pick your nose .. ;)

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Unobscured Vision

So are there any areas with high levels of naturally occurring radiation or poisons we need to be cautious of on Mars itself?

 

Actually you bring up a good point. It's never actually been determined I've never checked if there are any actual biohazards on Mars that we need to be concerned about. Exposing Martian soil to room-temperature and our 70% Nitrogen/25-ish% Oxygen/5% Other Stuff atmosphere may yield some interesting results/consequences.

 

Let's check out the data sheets. Nothing better on a Saturday evening than brain food! :D (Beats watching NASCAR and science-knows-what-else ...)

 

Wikipedia.org -- Martian Soil

 

post-23589-0-70662300-1434239695.jpg

 

I love this image. One of my favourite ones ever taken on Mars. Untampered, unfiltered, unviolated. This is what we would see with our own eyes if we were standing there. :yes:

 

Now, onto the Science!

 

From wikipedia:

 

 

The reddish hue is due to rusting iron minerals presumably formed a few billion years ago when Mars was warm and wet, but now that Mars is cold and dry, modern rusting may be due to a superoxide that forms on minerals exposed to ultraviolet rays in sunlight.

 

 

So, if exposed to our bioclimate, it would reek to high heaven of rusting metal.

 

 

In June, 2008, the Phoenix Lander returned data showing Martian soil to be slightly alkaline and containing vital nutrients such as magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride, all of which are necessary for living organisms to grow. Scientists compared the soil near Mars' north pole to that of backyard gardens on Earth, and concluded that it could be suitable for growth of plants. However, in August, 2008, the Phoenix Lander conducted simple chemistry experiments, mixing water from Earth with Martian soil in an attempt to test its pH, and discovered traces of the salt perchlorate, while also confirming many scientists' theories that the Martian surface was considerably basic, measuring at 8.3. The presence of the perchlorate, if confirmed, would make Martian soil more exotic than previously believed. Further testing is necessary to eliminate the possibility of the perchlorate readings being caused by terrestrial sources, which may have migrated from the spacecraft either into samples or the instrumentation.

 

 

It depends on the location, but we can bring stuff with us to make the soil grow Terrestrial Plants if it measures too "Base". That's what the Phoenix Lander data suggests.

 

 

While our understanding of Martian soils is extremely rudimentary, their diversity may raise the question of how we might compare them with our Earth-based soils. Applying an Earth-based system is largely debatable but a simple option is to distinguish the (largely) biotic Earth from the abiotic Solar System, and include all non-Earth soils in a new World Reference Base for Soil Resources Reference Group or USDA soil taxonomy Order, which might be tentatively called Astrosols.

 

On October 17, 2012 (Curiosity rover at "Rocknest"), the first X-ray diffraction analysis of Martian soil was performed. The results revealed the presence of several minerals, including feldspar, pyroxenes and olivine, and suggested that the Martian soil in the sample was similar to the "weathered basaltic soils" of Hawaiian volcanoes. Hawaiian volcanic ash has been used as Martian regolith simulant by researchers since 1998.

 

 

Volcanic Soil is among the most fertile anywhere on Earth, once it is properly ground up and mixed. ;)

 

 

In December 2012, scientists working on the Mars Science Laboratory mission announced that an extensive soil analysis of Martian soil performed by the Curiosity rover showed evidence of water molecules, sulphur and chlorine, as well as hints of organic compounds. However, terrestrial contamination, as the source of the organic compounds, could not be ruled out.

 

On September 26, 2013, NASA scientists reported the Mars Curiosity rover detected "abundant, easily accessible" water (1.5 to 3 weight percent) in soil samples at the Rocknest region of Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater. In addition, NASA reported that the Curiosity rover found two principal soil types: a fine-grained mafic type and a locally derived, coarse-grained felsic type. The mafic type, similar to other martian soils and martian dust, was associated with hydration of the amorphous phases of the soil. Also, perchlorates, the presence of which may make detection of life-related organic molecules difficult, were found at the Curiosity rover landing site (and earlier at the more polar site of the Phoenix lander) suggesting a "global distribution of these salts". NASA also reported that Jake M rock, a rock encountered by Curiosity on the way to Glenelg, was a mugearite and very similar to terrestrial mugearite rocks.

 

 

So there we have it. Terrestrial Plants will grow in Martian soil, and probably quite well -- but we may want to bring along the Miracle-Gro and some Gardening Soil to mix with it, because we've got the good and the not-so-good just like here on Earth. That's assuming we don't go full-hydroponic and use an above-soil growth method, which we may have to do.

 

The problem is the perchlorates in the soil. They're toxic to us, even at very small levels. We can't simply wash the stuff out of the soil, or anything we grow in it, because it is essentially Cyanide. Warm it up and it releases as Cyanide Gas.

 

Nasty stuff.

 

If there's going to be the one killer at a CoS Candidate Site, it'll be the Perchlorate Count in the soil of the area. If that stuff subliminates, it'll turn anything not hermetically sealed up into a literal Gas Chamber. :(

 

So, yes -- there are poisons and potential toxins we need to worry about.

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Draggendrop

Food for thought.....

We have a couple of dilemma's to address...method to my madness...

 

1) We know the area's around 40N have the frozen C02 and the frozen H2O that we need in large quantities for

present and future well being. There will also be valuable minerals in those area's.The draw back is the climate,

but that is OK for a start-up settlement, that we later turn into a full mining site and move the main population

site to equatorial area's for the warmer weather and scenery, ie: the monster canyon on other side of Olympus Mons

and the triplets. We can transport finished product to the main site by other means, ie: blimp, propulsed ship,

etc.

 

2) The natural energy that we are able to collect, solar, wind and thermal, will be dependent on weather

conditions and daily planet orbit, requiring battery storage, which is not a problem for a start-up site by

itself, but at a small start-up inventory...we cannot supply mining operations, as well as some of the conversion

processes for finished products. We can run medium duty equipment on batteries, but not an energy intensive open

face rotary miner, which is what we will need. It can be operated electrically...but will need a plug in to a 2

wire utility system from a power source...and that source is going to have to be a reactor, preferably thorium.
We are going to need this anyway, might as well have it on set-up.

 

3)The mining vehicles are going to have to be mostly tracked and the battery powered units can also supply some

heat to critical rotary parts....we ourselves will have mine suits.If we bore in sideways to the glaciers, it will

be a lot easier for collection of raw material and offers protection as well (ice roof).

Processes

 

1) Thorium reactor, small, or equivalent for site, mining and processing of final product.

 

2) Sabatier process.....hydrogen and carbon dioxide in...methane and water out....

 

3) Carbon dioxide heated with a catalyst of iron doped zeolite with hydrogen produces water and ethylene.

 

4) A non thermal plasma (electric) applied to the ethyline gets carbon soot and hydrogen..and electrolysis of

water produces hydrogen and water....but 3) and 4) require electrical power, a lot...therefore a reactor. This

process is not efficient due to power inputs on Earth (which has water and oxygen) but on Mars...now valuable.

 

5) We have what we need on Mars...except a reactor, thorium please...which we can do (no pun intended, Candu).

 

We can do everything mentioned except the thorium reactor, work is on its way in development.

Have attached pictures of some vehicles that can be converted to electrical..including the open face bore, they do

not have to be this big and can be modified with materials existing...ceramics, carbon tech, etc. and can be

hopefully dropped by chute or rocket descent.

OKAY...Tear it apart......

 

post-546174-0-74788600-1434241431.jpg

 

post-546174-0-14363200-1434241503.jpg

 

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play time

 

post-546174-0-18628800-1434241711.jpg

 

post-546174-0-60011500-1434241742.jpg

 

 

 

 

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DocM

On the reactor: modern solar cells put out more power/kg than a reactor - especially if they're solar concentrator cells.

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Draggendrop

On the reactor: modern solar cells put out more power/kg than a reactor - especially if they're solar concentrator cells.

My concern would be overcast dust clouds, frigid temperatures with CO2 frost and dust storms and high winds tearing outdoor assemblies apart. The reactor would be primarily for mining (reactor generator) and could be mobile...and we could run processes round the clock, day after day, through bad solar days and have a  power source not tied to generation weather.  The possible high winds and sandblasting really bother me for large solar arrays. Plasma and electrolysis are brutal on power consumption...cheers... :)

Note...just thinking by experience with site layouts in severe arctic weather and what caused us head aches......thoughts.....

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Unobscured Vision

Day 4 of the Think Tank, and still no showstopper issues aside from Thorium Reactor development but it isn't critical to our needs.

 

- We've got a really good CoS Candidate Site (Coloe Fossae) picked out, and there appear to be no outstanding issues. It's got everything we need, right where we need it.

 

post-23589-0-92283600-1434243760.jpg

 

- We've got awesome Geologicals, Minerals, Hydrologicals, and the Geology works in our favor too. Some possible Mining Camp/Processing Sites could be:

 

post-23589-0-37093200-1434243943.jpg

 

- Planning for Habitation, Hydroponics, Support, Services, Transportation, Logistics, Procedures and Procurement are all looking great thus far. The CoS abstracts as a whole all appear to be very robust and capable from a Structural, Systems and Physical perspective so far.

 

- Medical has not been addressed yet aside from the fact that the Colony will have a functional and capable Medical Staff on hand.

 

- No system of Administration has been addressed yet.

 

- No system of Recreation has been addressed yet.

 

- Reclaimation has been discussed. Nothing concrete about how to proceed yet, but a number of good ideas have been expressed. Good ideas = revenue. :)

 

- Hydroponics/Greenery have been discussed. Environmental Condition Reports have been compiled, and data on Climatology and Biology issues have been put forth for consideration.

 

-----------------

 

We're doing fine, people. It's day four and we've really sunk our teeth into this one. :yes:

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Draggendrop

Just a thought on the solar arrays...

 

We could use computerized sun tracking AND it may be a good idea to have them retractable in case of severe storms....same for wind turbines, a brake is not enough to hold them in high winds,,,,,tuck and stow there as well......redeploy all after storm passes and check for damage....thoughts..... :)

 

I would highly reconsider the reactor for mining....as an example...check out Alcan power consumption for electrolysis...entire power dams to supply it...We are going to need to process a lot of material with heavy electrical demands and I really have my doubts about solar on this one in that environment...For regular site, it's fine...but in my opinion for mining, it's not going to cut it.......cheers......

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Draggendrop

We can put this into context....a forklift battery at work...one battery, approx 8 hr shift. All vehicles are probably going to be battery, and big vehicles doing work are going to require several batteries...which need to be changed out with fresh ones to continue or shut down and charge...the environment is cold and battery life is reduced and must be kept somewhat warm...requires a lot of power to charge and maintain operation. We have a lot of consumption just in vehicles and have not touched the excavator where batteries will not cut it alone...need umbilical to generator which is no problem....the production power requirements makes this look like powering a toaster...it is massive and a small nuclear reactor or thorium reactor (safer and better shut down) will do...think sub or ship.

 

Unless someone has another way of producing continuous massive amounts of power reliably in ALL weather conditions...we may have no choice for now and hope further developments show later.....just trying to be realistic....so go ahead and shell me...I have my nano tube suit on.....Cheers.... :)   

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DocM

We can put this into context....a forklift battery at work...one battery, approx 8 hr shift. All vehicles are probably going to be battery, and big vehicles doing work are going to require several batteries...

I disagree. I think some Mars vehicles will be hybrids which can run as electrics or on methane and LOX.

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Unobscured Vision

Agree with DocM. We can get all the fuel we need from the very ice itself. Hydrogen is making a huge splash right now as a replacement for Gasoline and Diesel, has incredible efficiency, and for our purposes would be almost completely unused except as a fuel source. Why not use it for Mining Engines/Equipment, or even Generators?

 

At the temperatures of Mars it would be much easier, in fact, to distill the Hydrogen than on Earth. The byproduct is Oxygen. :yes: Win-win.

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Draggendrop

My turn...LOX will have to have a cryogenic system in place , on the vehicle, and is extremely dangerous to handle for everyday use, and a lot of power is consumed in it's production as well as its cryogenic storage...for rockets...OK...for vehicles and large generators with arcing components ( arcing can happen without oxygen, only need conductive particulates and/or gases)...not so good 

Many years ago, a form of explosive was developed with LOX and was canned because of too many accidents.....people have a hard enough time with propane......

Lox is also extremely corrosive and exposure to metals causes brittleness and outright fractures..would be difficult to build a safe daily runner and construction equipment and keep it safe as well as supply power for stability. The engine design as well would have to suppress spark or flame...Mars has volatiles leaking out everywhere.

 

We can do the reactor today, charge all the batteries we want....the methane/LOX.....that will take a bit of work for what we want it to do on Mars.

 

your turn.........see ...this is fun...... :)

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Unobscured Vision

Science always is, buddy. :)

 

Hydrogen is difficult to store. LOX is dangerous to store.

 

How about producing it on-demand, or almost on-demand? Catalyst processes can help us out here, I think, and fairly easily too. I'll look into that direction and see what is available on the scales that we'd require. Part of the rules of this Think Tank are that we are not to develop new technologies, only ones that are already in-progress.

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Draggendrop

Science always is, buddy. :)

 

Hydrogen is difficult to store. LOX is dangerous to store.

 

How about producing it on-demand, or almost on-demand? Catalyst processes can help us out here, I think, and fairly easily too. I'll look into that direction and see what is available on the scales that we'd require. Part of the rules of this Think Tank are that we are not to develop new technologies, only ones that are already in-progress.

Which is why I alluded to a conventional reactor (thorium would be nice) for massive power draw for standard processing we have today, as well as proven battery technology and proven electric vehicle technology...batteries demand lots of power to charge and today's processing technology demands power levels that are massive, even for small installations, and more so for round the clock operations......we have the tech for the mining now...only a little extra thermal protection which is a piece of cake...think arctic industries.....One spot I was at had an "unofficial" -68C.....and if some machines are running, you can keep some processes running. Cold tech for machines is a reality....power consumption is everything....without massive power for industrial apps, it would be a waste of time to go other than to explore and take off. We have to endure more than the worst conditions we have on this planet. Don't mind me...being realistic with what we have today. If we want to assume something better done later....OK...but be fore warned...I am fortunate enough to have seen this and it is very demanding on machines and the body.....later....Cheers

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The Evil Overlord

This may have already been answered, and if so, so be it.

(Posting from my phone and I lose patience really quick with it.)

My main concern is soil and water compatibility to earth standards.

It's all well and good trying to Terra form Mars, but if there are elements or minerals in Martian soil, water, and air that are not compatible with a human, any vegetation would also be similarly incompatible. Possibly even toxic to us...

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Unobscured Vision

Which is why I alluded to a conventional reactor (thorium would be nice) for massive power draw for standard processing we have today, as well as proven battery technology and proven electric vehicle technology...batteries demand lots of power to charge and today's processing technology demands power levels that are massive, even for small installations, and more so for round the clock operations......we have the tech for the mining now...only a little extra thermal protection which is a piece of cake...think arctic industries.....One spot I was at had an "unofficial" -68C.....and if some machines are running, you can keep some processes running. Cold tech for machines is a reality....power consumption is everything....without massive power for industrial apps, it would be a waste of time to go other than to explore and take off. We have to endure more than the worst conditions we have on this planet. Don't mind me...being realistic with what we have today. If we want to assume something better done later....OK...but be fore warned...I am fortunate enough to have seen this and it is very demanding on machines and the body.....later....Cheers

This is the Scientific Method at work. :) We discuss, point out any and all issues ahead of time, decide how best to proceed based upon experience as well as the best equipment and procedures. Experience is probably the best of all tools we could ever have available, because it gives the group as a whole a leg up that we wouldn't have otherwise.

 

So if you say something won't work, needs to be rethought, or that we should go in this direction and avoid the other direction, we'll listen to your voice of experience and it'll take priority. We can then take that experience and evolve it to the situation if it needs to be modified. :yes:

 

 

This may have already been answered, and if so, so be it.

(Posting from my phone and I lose patience really quick with it.)

My main concern is soil and water compatibility to earth standards.

It's all well and good trying to Terra form Mars, but if there are elements or minerals in Martian soil, water, and air that are not compatible with a human, any vegetation would also be similarly incompatible. Possibly even toxic to us...

Martian Soil, as I discussed earlier, has the range of Earth soil and in some categories is actually more fertile than Earth Soil is. The problem is the presence of Perchlorates, which are toxic to us even in small amounts. Any vegetation grown in that soil will likewise be toxic, if it grows at all since Perchlorates are toxic to plants as well.

 

We may have to use above-soil or even no-soil growing techniques in the Greenhouses. No-soil techniques will work out best for us, because we won't have to haul around any extra "Filler Dirt" to grow things in. Instead, we get our seedlings started in special pots that we can 3D print on-site using sponges that we have also 3D printed (so the seedlings think they are in soil). A bit of fertilizer, water and solar lamps later, voila'. We've got a Greenhouse. :)

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Unobscured Vision

I've been thinking about the Greenhouses some more, specifically our seedlings and how to best get them to grow with the minimum amount of gear we need to haul to Mars. I have creative procedures in mind, and a few creative steps using our 3D printers and some of our equally creative Chemistry from reclaimed Martian Ice and Atmosphere.

 

And yes, this will need peer review. Rip it apart.

 

Step 1: Haul seeds to Mars in bulk. Not an obscene amount, but enough to make sure if we have several crop failures that we can have more sent to us with time to spare. We're on a timeframe. And yes, we will have food supplies. We're not gonna starve.

Step 2: Set up the Greenhouses, build them to be resistant to Martian Climate and Weather and of good quality. I think that is a given. ;)

Step 3: Using our 3D Printers, we fabricate the hardware necessary for above-ground Hydroponics. Humanity is becoming quite adept at this method of growing things, and the results have been very good. I'd like to use plastics if possible, as metals on Mars may be susceptible to Oxidation more rapidly than on Earth if in contact with the soil (but we need to study this in more detail).

Step 4: Using our 3D printers, we fabricate a sponge-like "growth block" made out of nutrients and stuff that seedlings find yummy. This gives them something to grow into, and saves us the trouble of having to haul potting soil and fertilizer to Mars since we can use creative chemistry from reclaimed ice and whatever soil that isn't laced with perchlorates to make them with.

Step 5: Add water and watch 'em grow, transplant into larger buckets as needed. :)

 

Rip it apart, folks.

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      We will also actually plan the Mission(s) themselves. That's a key part of any Probe mission -- where are we going? The science packages, even the very hardware and software itself, depends on that answer. Since each Probe will be going to one destination only, we can dedicate each Probe to its' destination as well as which Landers or Atmospheric Entry Probes we equip it with. Come on, you know you want to send AEP's down into Saturn, Uranus and Neptune! Now's the chance to actually plan those kinds of Missions!
      Then we will actually decide which launch hardware should be used for which platform, and when it can be launched. We have the means to simulate the entire flight(s). And yes, it'll be Kerbal Space Program. (Just kidding....? )
      For anyone not familiar with the Neowin ThinkTank, it's a very special study that the entire Community is invited to contribute to. Think of it as an exercise, an "Intellectual Interest Topic", where those members with the know-how, the fortitude, the moxy and the savvy can pool their collective talents into one "Grand Objective". Our last ThinkTank, "Establish Mars Colony One (and Two, and Three, and ...)" can be found here: http://www.neowin.net/forum/topic/1259650-neowin-think-tank-mars-colony-one-and-two-and-three-and/