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#26 2002-06-06 12:42:21

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Colonizing asteroids

Shaun asks:  "By the way. What's all this got to do with colonising asteroids?"

Looks like we got a bit side-tracked wink

Okay, getting back to asteroids:  What would be the feasibility of *colonizing* asteroids?  I thought I'd read that they have very little to zero gravity; they are mostly made out of sheer rock (how could anything ever grow?), and they are totally devoid of atmosphere.  I can understand landing on them temporarily (if our space program ever advances that far) and mining ores and etc., from them...but as for actual colonization?  I can't foresee it.  As I said in my first response to this topic, at least Mars is a *planet.*

--Cindy

MS member since 6/01


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#27 2002-06-06 20:42:56

Phobos
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Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Colonizing asteroids

It doesn't seem to matter how often I champion the cause of a living Mars, it appears most people are convinced it's sterile.

I'm more open to the possibility that Mars could be thriving with life after the discovery of that water.  I think that's pretty much why I wanted to know if people would risk drinking it without knowing if potentially deadly bacteria lurked in it.  I'd probably take my chances, but I wouldn't want to drink it if its full of sand though. smile
     To reply to Cindy's post, I really can't see an asteroid colony growing or sustaining itself very well either.  I think about the only practical reason to do establish one would be as a science outpost in some place where you would need very good shielding from radiation.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#28 2002-06-16 07:44:55

Aetius
Member
From: New England USA
Registered: 2002-01-20
Posts: 173

Re: Colonizing asteroids

Shoemaker-Levy 9 left the planet with a pretty big (temporary) black eye. Long-lasting effects, though? I think you're right.

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#29 2002-07-09 21:09:05

space_psibrain
Member
Registered: 2002-02-15
Posts: 83

Re: Colonizing asteroids

If you're interested in colonizing asteroids, planets, or space, I propose a project known as the International Space Settlement Design Competition (SpaceSet or ISSDC) for the purposes of Educational outreach. In SpaceSet, the participants work together to design a space settlement around or on a planet, notably Mars.

The participants are divided into five groups: Structural Design, Infrastructure design, Human factors, Automations, and Business. In each group, different parts of the settlement are designed, and these parts must eventually be put together for the completed colony. This project helps students to develop cooperation, people skills, knowledge of space (and space settlement design), and an interest in science, particularly extraterrestrial science.

More information is available at http://space.bsdi.com or by emailing me at psibrain@email.com

What do you think?


"What you don't realize about peace, is that is cannot be achieved by yielding to an enemy. Rather, peace is something that must be fought for, and if it is necessary for a war to be fought to preserve the peace, then I would more than willingly give my life for the cause of peace."

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#30 2002-10-17 15:08:53

Tyr
Member
Registered: 2002-09-14
Posts: 83

Re: Colonizing asteroids

OK, imagine the human race run amok, people breeding like wild, AI machines self replicating and tearing up asteroids and moons to build "space colonies," the whole solar system turned into an artificial habitat for human rabbits...doesn't sound good.

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#31 2002-10-17 16:12:10

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Colonizing asteroids

OK, imagine the human race run amok, people breeding like wild, AI machines self replicating and tearing up asteroids and moons to build "space colonies," the whole solar system turned into an artificial habitat for human rabbits...doesn't sound good.

Ah cynics.  Gotta love 'em.  Well I better get back to mining some asteroids and breeding like a rabbit. smile


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#32 2002-10-17 16:13:02

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Colonizing asteroids

place holder page.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#33 2002-12-11 11:47:12

John_Frazer
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From: Boulder, Co. USA
Registered: 2002-05-29
Posts: 75
Website

Re: Colonizing asteroids

ecrasez_l_infame, June 06 2002
asteroids:  What would be the feasibility of *colonizing* asteroids?  I thought I'd read that they have very little to zero gravity; they are mostly made out of sheer rock (how could anything ever grow?), and they are totally devoid of atmosphere.  I can understand landing on them temporarily (if our space program ever advances that far) and mining ores and etc., from them...but as for actual colonization?  I can't foresee it.  As I said in my first response to this topic, at least Mars is a *planet.*

1) Gravity & atmosphere, and the unstabe nature of the asteroid's structure: Don't live on the asteroids, mine them for resources to build space colonies, which will spin for full Earth gravity. Steel, rock for concrete, chemical ices for plastics and fertilizer and water.
Another point: Where do we get the idea that .38G (Mars) will be enough for us to live & be healthy? Nowhere but hope and guesswork. (wishful thinking, maybe?).
We have no idea what living long term in low gravity will do, and it's irresponsible to portray things as if we know for certain that we can live there.
We do know for certain that we can build space colonies (of various sizes from a couple of shielded tuna cans strung on a cable/truss -a station, really- to O'Neill's "Island 3") with no new inventions.

2) Asteroids are not made of sheer rock (not all of them). Some are dirty snowballs, with an outer covering of a few meters of dark dust. These are actually expended comets. Their surfaces have outgassed and left the dark dust behind, protecting the core ices left behind. These may be anywhere from a few meters across to tens of kilometers...
Even the ones we call "stony" will have ice crystals mixed throughout. Happily, they seem to have about the right amount of ices to serve as process chemicals to work the metals & rocks remaining.
Others are nearly 90% metals. Catch one of these and a CC  (snowball) and you're in business -riches beyond a Martians' dreams of avarice.

3) and primarily, the contention that Mars is a *planet*

So what? Just because every human alive or dead has lived their lives on this planet, doesn't mean that's the only way to live. Not even the best way, arguably.
See the FAQ at this site

http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/ … settle.htm
Space settlement is a unique concept for colonization beyond the Earth.  While most thinking regarding the expansion of the human race outward into space has focused on the colonization of the surfaces of other planets, the space settlement concept suggests that planetary surfaces may not be the best location for extraterrestrial colonies.
  Artificial, closed-ecology habitats in free orbit would seem to have many advantages over any planetary home (Earth included).

Another aspect of this, Since Mars is a planet, it has a lot of stuff in one place. This is usually taken as a good thing, since you have "everything needed for a civilization in one place".
Problem: that "one place" is a whole planet! and planets are huge! Too much gravity to let you move round easily outside your habitat (while not being enough inside your habitat), too much to let you move anywhere else in the solar system for commerce.
Mars has a nearly 24 hour day? So what. That only means that you're stuck with 12 hours of night. On Mars, you need to expensively import nuclear reactors from Earth.  At an asteroid, point a metal foil mirror at the Sun, and you're set up.

Geothermal? please. The planet's core is dead. No magnetosphere means no magma. The volcanoes tell the story: a long time ago, they grew big (multiple overlapping impact craters inside the calderas). Large volcanoes means that the surface of the planet doesn't move over a liquid core.
It's a dead cold rock, with maybe a few outgassings. Hardly the making of a civilization, when asteroids are flying mountains of ice, with a fusion furnace right nearby for energy.

Mars has evidence of subsurface ices. We know for a fact that asteroids (and Mars' moons, interestingly) have ices by the gigatonne, and no prospecting. Land, scoop up some stuff, and heat it; steam comes out.

Look at some of the old NASA images of space colonies on that site I linked to.
No new inventions needed to mine asteroids for materials to build these things.
Lots has been said about how odd it would be, living inside a huge spinning can.
Live on Mars, and you're stuck inside a tiny can, and if you go outside it, you're in a suit! a pink sky! (low gravity makes our bones & muscles weak, so after your 1.5 year surface exploration stint, you go back to Earth on a stretcher to spend the next 15 years rehabilitating. Prove I'm wrong...)
Many people on Earth never leave their home town for years at a time, never explore mountains, never see the ocean or forests.
  In a space colony, you have no sunset, but you've got the stars like nobody on Earth has ever seen them, and if your colony is near a planet, you've got it anytime you look out and you can go visit anywhere.

They did studies on living inside a colony like this. They specifically designed them for long sight-lines and roomy interiors.
People would work for days in old US Navy dirigible hangars. a 30 meter high ceiling, and little office cubicles inside them. People come outside their offices, and take a smoke break "outside" under the hangar roof!
The point is that people live in all osrts of places, and a space colony is just a lot more likely to be feasible and profitable than terraforming a whole bloody planet.

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#34 2002-12-11 13:16:28

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Colonizing asteroids

They did studies on living inside a colony like this. They specifically designed them for long sight-lines and roomy interiors.
People would work for days in old US Navy dirigible hangars. a 30 meter high ceiling, and little office cubicles inside them. People come outside their offices, and take a smoke break "outside" under the hangar roof!
The point is that people live in all osrts of places, and a space colony is just a lot more likely to be feasible and profitable than terraforming a whole bloody planet.

I used to mock the idea of living in big freespace colonies as impracticle but I'm starting to change my mind.  I wonder how you will generate the effort and motivation to build one.  At least with a Mars colony you can build it up just a little over time and you don't have to do anything drastic like rip up whole asteroids and build huge superstructures even though those types of things would likely naturally come into play later on.  And issues like overpopulation relief probably wouldn't be an incentive either.  There would have to be some economic or other reason that would motivate the building of these massive things.  I guess you could start small and maybe build something like hotels or retirement communities based on these freespace designs in orbit and then see if it just snowballs into bigger and bigger settlements.  A space elevator would make these things a lot easier to build and stock.  I believe space elevators will eventually be like the ship and rail yards of today where cargo is hauled and then distributed to their various destinations even though a big free space colony wouldn't rely on this technology eventually.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#35 2002-12-12 14:33:15

John_Frazer
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From: Boulder, Co. USA
Registered: 2002-05-29
Posts: 75
Website

Re: Colonizing asteroids

Phobos Dec. 11 02   
>  I wonder how you will generate the effort and
motivation to build one.

The same as any other colony effort. You won't get investors & politicians and the tabloid-following general public to fund a huge space effort so that a few people can explore and eventually a few will be able to live there.
It's never gone that way. You set up infrastructure so that people & companies can survive out there -meaning make money-and that lets things grow naturally. Eventually, enough people will get tired of living in metal cans -either on a spinning rope in space or on an unnatural planetary body without healthy levels of gravity- and get together to build a better home.
Would it be any different on Mars? Can you hear the politicians laughter at the idea of settling other planets -more accurately, their apathetic silence on anything having to do with space?
The space colony designs grew out of studies of what's possible. The shapes & design choices followed not by any aesthetic choice, but of necessity driven by the environment and available resources.
They first looked at other planets and the Moon, and the overwhelming logical choice for living & working in space was space colonies, most likely using asteroid resources.

> At least with a Mars colony you can build it
up just a little over time and you don't have to
do anything drastic like rip up whole asteroids and
build huge superstructures even though those
types of things would likely naturally come into
play later on.

The thing is that if you go down to Mars, the people will have to rotate home on a regular basis (probably undergoing drastic therapy to combat long-term exposure to low-G).
And they still won't have decent living conditions.

Take the first expedition's habs (which they lived in during the trip), and let them drift in space, spinning for partial G, loosely anchored to Phobos or Diemos (Ph&D) or your NEA of choice.
Take the ship apart, and place the cargo where you can mine the NEA and set up a first generation rudimentry space manufacturing facility.
This makes mirror, volatiles (all the kinds of ices), rolled & stamped metal structures, metal cables (really the most effective use of metal mass and strength), and concrete.
Build up the truss the habs were on during the interplanetary trip, so it's long enough and strong enough to spin the now fully shielded habs (1.6 meters of concrete for space radiation) for full Gravity.
It may take a few interplanetrary throws of equipment until they can build this much, but until then, they live in the habs spinning for partial G, or in shelters buried under a few meters of dirt on the asteroid during a solar storm.

When the habs are finished, future crews have completely healthy living conditions. None of this requires any extravagant manufacturing, and the same facility that make the habitat makes metals & ices available for shipment back to LEO for sale -the first and every mission makes money this way, while seting up a permanent living outpost.
That's why I like Ph&D, even though an NEA is more attractive in terms of the cargo which can be placed there by a given rocket -conversely, a smaller & cheaper rocket can place the same cargo at an NEA as at Mars or its moons.
Go to Ph&D, and you're building up your base/first generation colony, and an exploration staging outpost for Mars itself.

> There would have to be some economic or
other reason that would motivate the building of
these massive things.  I guess you could start
small ...

You see, the thing doesn't grow in one tremendous leap up to a huge colony, it makes barely enough living conditions for the amount of people there, for the comfort level they can afford at the time. It get bigger & more comfortable as it makes more & more money.
The exploration of Mars and the growth of the first off-planet colony fuel each other.

> And issues like overpopulation relief probably
wouldn't be an incentive either.

Much the same for colonizing Mars. We won't solve overpopulation on Earth by transshipping huge amounts of people in sardine cans to space. The only historical way to lower a population's growth rate is to raise the standard of living.
Eventually, space resources and the tremendous economic drive from them will have this effect on Earth. We're not thinking just a few decades ahead, but centuries & more.

Dig around PERMANENT for info about mining asteroids and products and production techniques.

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#36 2002-12-12 17:07:30

soph
Member
Registered: 2002-11-24
Posts: 1,492

Re: Colonizing asteroids

actually, approximately 1/2 g is not that drastic.  people who have lived a long time in zero G (which never has to be the case in mars direct) had no problem getting back home, and living normal lives. 

in my opinion, to build an interplanetary colony would be wasting time and resources that we would better be exploiting by living on the planets the resources come from.  if we were to use asteroid material, its a different story, as i dont see asteroids as being a huge destination for colonization.  but a new colony between planets isnt going to solve overpopulation either. 

theres no reason people have to be sent in "sardine cans" forever.  as technology develops, we will be able to have larger, more comfortable transport ships.  you think the british army came to america in the same conditions as the pilgrims?  no.  as an impetus for development of new ideas and technologies arises, bigger and better things are developed.  just look at computers.  in just twenty years, we've gone from bulky machines about the power of calculators, to the PCs of today.

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#37 2003-01-07 11:26:34

John_Frazer
Member
From: Boulder, Co. USA
Registered: 2002-05-29
Posts: 75
Website

Re: Colonizing asteroids

Correction: the people who've spent long times in zero G have been screwed over. Hard, and without lubricant.

The US astronaut Shannon Lucid is usually taken as an example that you can live in zero G. Sure, she walked off the Shuttle, but she still suffered serious bad effects, and she's probably still not back up to her original calcium levels, and her immune system is still probably not recovered, nor her heart, blood cell count, etc. Others who've spent longer times are in worse shape.

As I said, we have no proof whatsoever that low G won't be harmful. Only wishful thinking and hopes say that we'll be able to live & be healthy in low G, and it's irresponsible to speak as if we know for certain, and to fail to plan as if we'll need to provide full G.
Space colonies are taken as a far out solution: contrary, they are the conservative approach. Any other option stipulates satisfactory solutions to things about which we have nothing at all in solid evidence.

> in my opinion, to build an interplanetary colony would
be wasting time and resources that we would better be
exploiting by living on the planets the resources come from.

In your opinion. Let's see references to peer-reviewed scientific papers you've written about the subject. Have you successfully refuted the findings of the 1970s NASA space settlement studies? (not even Zubrin, who comes right out and ridicules the space settlement concept can say this)

As well, you seem to say that we'll mine planets, to build space colonies. Nowhere did I give that impression, and I challenge anyone to show a serious source for that opinion. Asteroids and small moons. Low or practically zero gravity, endless cheap solar energy.

Asteroids are the prime area for colonies off-Earth. Easy access to resources, easy access to energy, convenient access to the nearby space colony, where the people live in better conditions than they'll get on any other planet besides Earth (and better conditions than some of the Earth as well)

"a new colony between planets" isn't going to solve Earth's population problems certainly. Neither is any number of planetary colonies (small, weak, and starving, since they're limited to the surface of an inhospitable planet, and there are only a few planets even remotely suitable)
How about millions or billions of interplanetary colonies? all the way from the orbit of Mercury to the Oort cloud (all it takes is mirror)
Actually, that's the wrong way to look at it. It's a silly concept to think of shipping vast amounts of people off-planet in sardine can ships to space colonies. Rather, access to space resources will eventually allow us to raise the standard of living of everyone to lower the population growth rates. When everyone on Earth has a standard of living better than all but the richest of today (resources from space, no heavy industry on the planet) population growth will fall, and eventually maybe stabilize with only a few billion on the planet, with hundreds of billions more living in space and occasionally visiting the enormous wilderness park the Earth has become.

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#38 2003-01-08 14:49:52

soph
Member
Registered: 2002-11-24
Posts: 1,492

Re: Colonizing asteroids

what is earth going to do when heavy industry is gone?  stagnate.

i never said i have proof.  it is, as i said, an opinion.

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#39 2003-01-08 17:37:53

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Colonizing asteroids

what is earth going to do when heavy industry is gone?[/quote:post_uid0]

Reach equilibrium. The question is whether or not humans will be around when that happens.


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#40 2003-01-08 17:40:27

soph
Member
Registered: 2002-11-24
Posts: 1,492

Re: Colonizing asteroids

i was talking about in terms of humanity and civilization.  without a driving product, the economy would suck.

prove me wrong, i really hope someone can show me otherwise.

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#41 2003-01-08 21:45:47

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Colonizing asteroids

Sure, within a grow or die economy, the economy would suck once you stopped growing.

And I was talking in terms of humanity and civilization, myself. We have two options. Continue growing until we destory the planet, or find a stop off point and simply throw out grow or die economies.

Prove to me that grow or die is the only workable economical model.


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#42 2003-01-08 22:01:53

soph
Member
Registered: 2002-11-24
Posts: 1,492

Re: Colonizing asteroids

If the industry is gone, what product is their to export?  forget about grow or die, just survive.  without an industry to support a planet, it will fall behind.

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#43 2003-01-08 22:47:10

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Colonizing asteroids

::shakes his head::

Ecosystems aren't reliant on grow or die. In fact, profit based models destory ecosystems. The planet isn't ‘supported’ by human economics (civilization may be, but that's beside the point). The planet has its own natural economy that is constantly trying to reach equilibrium, human economy is just preventing that.

Asteroid miners would be largely autonomous. Colonizing asteroids will probably not really occur, since mining an asteroid is a short term thing, and the resources would get distributed relatively quick. What you'd have, at the most, are small crews insuring that things are going okay with the asteroid mining equipment. Everything would be controlled remotely. Asteroids would probably actually be towed into the Lagrange points. It would be cheaper and easier to get at something which is within close shooting distance from Luna. Hell, to make things easier, we may just crash asteroids into specific places on Luna.

I'm skeptical of asteroid colonization.


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#44 2003-01-09 05:34:19

soph
Member
Registered: 2002-11-24
Posts: 1,492

Re: Colonizing asteroids

We're talking about human development, im not talking about the earth here, im talking about the human economy.

if human industry is moved off the planet, the human economy will stagnate

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#45 2003-01-09 17:56:31

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Colonizing asteroids

No it won't. It will just have to take on a more natural form.


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#46 2003-01-09 17:57:15

Josh Cryer
Administrator
Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Colonizing asteroids

Bump lost message.


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#47 2003-01-09 18:36:12

soph
Member
Registered: 2002-11-24
Posts: 1,492

Re: Colonizing asteroids

i truly disagree.  but i wont argue the point now.

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#48 2003-01-29 15:32:45

John_Frazer
Member
From: Boulder, Co. USA
Registered: 2002-05-29
Posts: 75
Website

Re: Colonizing asteroids

soph (Jan. 09 2003)
> We're talking about human development, im not talking about the earth here, im talking about the human economy.
>
> if human industry is moved off the planet, the human economy will stagnate

As I wrote earlier:
>... (resources from space, no heavy industry on the planet) population growth will... eventually maybe stabilize with only a few billion on the planet, with hundreds of billions more living in space and occasionally visiting the enormous wilderness park the Earth has become.

Tourism.
As the only place humans can walk unprotected under the Sun and see an honest sunset or a forest which is seeded, weeded, and maintained entirely by biota & weather instead of micro-managed as in a space colony (one good reason to doubt that a truly self-sufficient, fully self-sustaining closed ecological artificial biosphere is possible was an early detraction of space colonies: doubt that a closed system could be made to function which was so small)
I have doubts about terraforming other planets, mainly the physiological harm of low G and the overall uncertainty of getting sufficiently livable results to make the project worthwhile.
Also the fact that liquid water and free oxygen would totally destroy any science the planet offers. How long before we can say for sure that the way the planet's evolved over 4.5 billion years has absolutely nothing more to teach us?Terraforming strikes me as the Vogons, destroying a planet to make way for a hyperspatial bypass.

The only place in the known universe where you can dig up fossils! (unless Mars, Europa, or something else turns up anything interesting).
Certainly the only place you can uncover signs of ancient human civilizations (unless Hoagland is right about Cydonia!).
Think of a space colonist from out in the Belt walking through Egypt or Stonehenge or the ancient Amazonian forest, and tell me there's no market for it.

They say the first planet we terraform will be the Earth, putting it back the way it was before we started burning forests and mining coal. Probably weather control, and maybe tame the volcanoes and other disasters.

The human economy will be far far larger and more vital than today, due to the immense resources available and the population in space habitats in our K=2 civilization. Earth will be important, but maybe not dominant, and I doubt that there'll be anyone who won't want to walk the Green Hills of Earth at least once.

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#49 2003-01-29 15:41:45

soph
Member
Registered: 2002-11-24
Posts: 1,492

Re: Colonizing asteroids

i would say it would kill any science-but certainly if we are to develop mars as a species, we must terraform it.  which is more important, expanding the biosphere or sitting back and looking at the planet?

i say expanding the biosphere.  its the goal of life.

perhaps earth can function as a shipyard for other planets.  maybe even an agricultural center.

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