New Mars Forums

Official discussion forum of The Mars Society and MarsNews.com

You are not logged in.

Announcement

Announcement: We've recently made changes to our user database and have removed inactive and spam users. If you can not login, please re-register.

#51 2007-06-12 07:19:38

neviden
Member
Registered: 2004-05-06
Posts: 99

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

Railways would make sense the same way they make sense on Earth. WHEN you have fixed locations that need a lot of transportation and can't use the river/sea.

Everything else gets delivered on trucks/cars.

Offline

#52 2007-06-24 11:16:00

RobS
Member
From: South Bend, IN
Registered: 2002-01-15
Posts: 1,701
Website

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

I think distance the electricity must travel is another factor. If you need to connect two bases 2,000 kilometers apart, the rails may not cost much to lay (which I doubt, GCN) but what about the electrical resistance of 2000 km of rails or of copper wire? You'll lose a lot of power to electrical resistance. It may be cheaper to build rail and run self-powered trains on them. And I still wonder whether robotic trucks run on 2000 kilometers of dirt road using silane-CO2 engines or even methane-oxygen fuel cells might not be cheaper for quite a while.

                  -- RobS

Offline

#53 2007-06-26 13:59:57

Number04
Member
From: Calgary Alberta Canada
Registered: 2002-09-24
Posts: 162

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

The resistance becomes less of a problem as voltage goes up. So, if they were high voltage lines that becomes less of an issue. 10 - 15% of energy is lost on earth.

Of course on Mars we could start from scratch. Copper is old school, superconductors is new school.

Offline

#54 2007-06-26 16:15:58

dryson
Member
From: Ohio
Registered: 2007-06-16
Posts: 104

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

-prometheusunbound-  Mars does have 1/3 the gravity that Earth does would this mean that the rail system, which would be a very effective cost adventageous means of transporting scionaughts (scientists combined with astronaughts) from their living quarters to a study site, could be manufactured with less material then the rail systems here on Earth are require to use?

  Also would the rail sytems be able to provide faster speeds on Mars then on Earth given that the gravity is less on Mars?

Offline

#55 2007-06-26 19:27:48

Number04
Member
From: Calgary Alberta Canada
Registered: 2002-09-24
Posts: 162

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

It's not gravity that is limiting speed, but air resistance. There would have to be special consideration for the trains due to Martian weather. I'm not a mountain of data so I can't really get more specific then that.

Offline

#56 2007-06-27 12:47:00

neviden
Member
Registered: 2004-05-06
Posts: 99

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

I would think that the speed is more related to the quality of the rails. When you are going 200 km/h any “bump” will have a large effect..

Offline

#57 2007-06-27 21:04:12

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 15,806

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

So the real question is then how much mass for the equipment will the early missions to mars need to bring inorder to start the process of making rails?

Offline

#58 2007-06-28 10:22:26

neviden
Member
Registered: 2004-05-06
Posts: 99

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

How about the question: how much (very very limited) manpower would it take to build and operate 1000's of km of railways. How would that compare to the manpower needed to build and operate dirt roads.

Since dirt roads will be the first mode of transport on Mars you would have to design it anyway. Railways would be next logical step, but when would it become more important then building homes, greenhouses, structures, power facilities, manufacturing and processing facilities,..

Offline

#59 2007-06-28 17:38:05

RobS
Member
From: South Bend, IN
Registered: 2002-01-15
Posts: 1,701
Website

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

I could see trains becoming economic if Mars were mining nickel-iron meteorities for the PGMs (platinum group metals) for export to Earth ($10 million per tonne, rough sales value  on earth). The "waste" nickel-iron could be produced in rail-shaped bars. There could be a lot of it, too; a PGM-enriched meteorite body mined on the Martian surface would produce something like 10,000 tonnes of nickel-iron for every tonne of PGMs. If an automated rail-laying machine were developed, run by computer from base with a rotated repair crew, you might be able to lay a lot of rails.

Power could still be a problem, though. In the US it is not economic to transmit electricity for resale over more than a thousand miles or so; you lose too much of it. Superconductors could be very expensive. It may be cheaper to beam microwave power to the train via a satellite.

I suspect robotic trucks powered by silane engines driving dirt roads at 20 km/hr, supplemented by passenger transport by air or rocket, would be cheaper for a long time.

                   -- RobS

Offline

#60 2007-07-16 18:22:05

dryson
Member
From: Ohio
Registered: 2007-06-16
Posts: 104

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

Perhaps a better solution would be hover craft. These types of vehicles would use the available atmosphere to create a cushion for the craft to ride on. These craft could run on electric power cells that could recharge when not running, also an E85 type engine could be mounted to keep the electric cells charged, and when the cells were discharged the E85 engine would start up charge the cells then turn off until needed again. The E85 engine could also be used as a reserve engine in case the electric cells go bad or some sort of failure occures.

Offline

#61 2007-07-16 21:33:08

Mark Friedenbach
Member
From: Mountain View, CA
Registered: 2003-01-31
Posts: 308

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

That would work... if there were more of an atmosphere on Mars.  Remember that hovercrafts work by pushing on the air around them.  The less air there is to push, the lower the lifting power.

Offline

#62 2007-09-02 11:56:14

Tom Kalbfus
Banned
Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

the martian dust is corrosive, though, so it might not be advisable. Martian fines are...annoying, to say the elast

I guess you don't get Martian fines for speeding eh?

Offline

#63 2007-09-09 11:18:20

Terraformer
Member
From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,061
Website

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

Hydrogen filled Airships, then switch to helium when Mars is terraformed. The low martian gravity would mean less gas is needed. It would float on the CO2 easily. The gas bags wouldn't need to be that big.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

Offline

#64 2007-11-03 22:25:19

Martian Republic
Member
From: Haltom City- Dallas/Fort Worth
Registered: 2004-06-13
Posts: 855

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

In the beginning we obviously would not be using a rail system, because of the large investment in the infrastructure to make them work to the number of people that we would have on Mars.  So we would probably have other transportation just prior to attempting to build a rail system. That said, here my choice.

My choice of rail system that we should put on Mars. Instead of having to grade the Martian landscape to lay the track on it, I would put it on stilts or a tower every fifty foot or so apart and lay the track on top of that. Use self leveling cones to level the tracks with a third rail to power a levitated train that goes three hundred to four hundred miles an hour. I would have the rails on the top side of the car instead of the bottom side and have the rails fifteen to twenty feet high to avoid the Martian dust storm that might cover the track if it were on the ground. That means that we would have to have a way to step the power up and down along the track to achieve maximum energy efficiency with the minimum of energy loss. I would make the levitated rail line a development corridor between two settlement that might be hundred to two hundred mile apart and/or between two or more mining site to bring the Iron Ore and Nickel to the settlement for processing. Being a levitated rail system, you would not have rail friction, so you would have less ware and tare on those rails. I would also put a communication system along the rails system and maybe lay a pipping system along the rail line with possible dirt roads intersecting them for more versatility to bring things to the settlement and take things out to where there may be people outside of those colonies. Use this as the process of setting up transportation and communication system. You would have communities springing up along those rail system just like they did along the transcontinental rail road after it was built in 1879. Any new colony that built up along the rail system would have immediate access to the resources that they need to survive on Mars. That would be our intended goal to building a levitated rail system on Mars. It would be need to kick off a full blown colonization program on Mars and to move large amounts of resources around and move people.

Larry,

Offline

#65 2007-11-05 08:54:09

Dragoneye
Member
From: Romeoville, IL
Registered: 2005-08-17
Posts: 100

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

personally assuming their techtonic plates dont shift frequently it would probably be better served to have the trains under ground, or in predesigned units like cylindars or something thats made on site (can be easy to make/assemble) but i would worry about the crazy storms the planet can have... thats why i'm suggesting something a bit more "protected".

If you are going to go with something more long range and still heavy lifting like a train then you are better off for some time just building something like a subway... even if it is partly above ground...

here is an example i just thought up... 10' in diameter tube that is easily constructed on the surface dig down 5' put it 1/2 way into the hole, then once its in, put in some structural bracing and then cover it with dirt/rocks. then you have a tube on the inside that is about 9' in diameter (accounting for the material being 6" thick) and you can put almost anything in there with out a problem to transport something decent sized.

Offline

#66 2007-11-11 18:44:42

dryson
Member
From: Ohio
Registered: 2007-06-16
Posts: 104

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

I think using basic roadway designs would be suited best for this venture.

To avoid the storms the main base camp would be built in one of the protected mountainous regions or even in a small ravine. Storms are usually less destructive when they encounter raised or lowered surfaces.

Offline

#67 2007-11-12 15:19:01

Number04
Member
From: Calgary Alberta Canada
Registered: 2002-09-24
Posts: 162

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

A sky train and a subway seem like good ideas but that's many many years away from the first colonists. Mag rails are a great idea but why bother putting them in the air?

Why do we have a huge need for speed? If a mag rail system was set to travel at 100k/h on automatic, would it be a big deal to wait a day to get your supplies?

Load up, push the go button.

Offline

#68 2007-11-12 16:42:11

dryson
Member
From: Ohio
Registered: 2007-06-16
Posts: 104

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

Lets think of a way to build a road first that way the equipment can have a flat surface from which to build upon.

Offline

#69 2007-11-18 23:10:54

Martian Republic
Member
From: Haltom City- Dallas/Fort Worth
Registered: 2004-06-13
Posts: 855

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

A sky train and a subway seem like good ideas but that's many many years away from the first colonists. Mag rails are a great idea but why bother putting them in the air?

Why do we have a huge need for speed? If a mag rail system was set to travel at 100k/h on automatic, would it be a big deal to wait a day to get your supplies?

Load up, push the go button.

There are several reason for putting it in the air fifteen to twenty feet using cone system to level the rail automatically.

The Reason Are:

1. If you go with the wheeled version of the train kind of transportation, you will need grease for the bearings which you won't need for the levitated train system.
2. If you put the rails on the ground you will have to grade the Martian landscape to lay the track down on it.
3. You will have dust problems blowing across the track like a snow storm in the winter time and getting dust into the wheel bearings.
4. If we choose to go with a levitated train system on the ground, we will have to constantly level the tracks every day or so, so we can use our levitated trains to get back and forth. We go with a elevated rail system on towers sitting on self leveling cone system, we don't have that problem.
5. We go with a three railed levitated rail system, then we could design it to carry heavy loads too that we can't do with regular electric trains for the same job.
6. A levitated rail system that is over head on towers would be the easiest ones to build and to maintain with the minimum amount of labor to do it and give us the maximum amount of benefit for our effort that we could put together. If one or more of the rails do get damaged and needs to be replaced, go in there with an overhead crane and pull down the damaged rail and replace with a new rail and go on about our business.
7. Being able to go three or four hundred miles an hour is an added bonus which would be nice if we had to large human colonies 300 or 400 hundred mile apart. Travel time between those two human colonies would be one hour.

Larry,

Offline

#70 2007-11-22 15:19:34

dryson
Member
From: Ohio
Registered: 2007-06-16
Posts: 104

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

Let me ask you this, which came first the wheel and the road or the train and the tracks it runs on? Having this type of transportation is not only illogical but is extremely costly and would actually be less of a benefit to the exploration of Mars.

Offline

#71 2007-11-24 08:46:03

Terraformer
Member
From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,061
Website

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

This idea doesn't have a name so it's hard to explain. How about sort of flinging craft up to high speeds then landing them at their destination. Or rocket hopping.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

Offline

#72 2007-11-24 10:55:28

Martian Republic
Member
From: Haltom City- Dallas/Fort Worth
Registered: 2004-06-13
Posts: 855

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

Before I answer your question. The Topic is would trains serve the needs of the Martian Colony for transportation. We are obviously assuming that we have been on Mars for awhile and we are starting to build colonies and not only doing our exploration of Mars.

Let me ask you this, which came first the wheel and the road or the train and the tracks it runs on?

The ox carts and wagons pulled by horses came first. But, on Mars, that not an acceptable mode of transportation. So we can forget that part of your question.

Having this type of transportation is not only illogical but is extremely costly and would actually be less of a benefit to the exploration of Mars.

We were talking about colonization of Mars and the transportation that would be needed to accomplish that goal. Rail Roads are the best way to do it. Yes, they are expensive and they take a lot of labor to build them and a lot of resources like metal to construct them. It also takes a major manufacturing complex to build those trains too with the mining capacity to supply the raw material to the foundries to make those metal. It what called putting together a physical economy which is where we want to go. An example of what we are trying to do with this rail road would be to look at the transcontinental Rail Road that Abe Lincoln set in motion and the benefit that it had to the American Economy. Setting up a Martian rail road system would lay the groundwork for an industrializing Martian Economy and would give those new factories on Mars something bid on and get to supply jobs to the growing population of Mars. So this rail road system would have more benefit than just suppling a transportation system on Mars, although that would be one of it purposes and why it being built.

Larry,

Offline

#73 2007-12-05 17:15:55

MarsRefresh
Member
From: Spokane, WA, USA
Registered: 2007-11-19
Posts: 48

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

I like Larry's idea of elevating the track as drifting dust and rock scree would often, I think, threaten to derail the train. I also like going "up" as it makes use of lower Mars gravity, in that lighter construction would be needed, and much less excavation would be needed. also, the lower gravity will make lifting 5 meter supports physically easier than on earth.
Dragoneye's suggestion of subterranean rail lines would also work, but involve much more excavation. Still there may be places that a short tunnel would save a long loop and therefore be the way to go. But if a train broke down or jumped the track in a relatively narrow underground tunnel it might be quite a job to get it out or moving again.

The great thing about railway construction is that it allows for steady, measured expansion. The first commercial raillines were short - moving coal and ore from the English Uplands to the smelters in Manchester, for instance - but these accumulated capital and allowed access to more iron and coal that then was used to build more railway lines. That's what we want to see on Mars: one line from Base 1 to Mine 1 then the increase in capital, efficiency, raw materials can be used to build a line to Mine/Base 2 (along with lots of other things).

Offline

#74 2008-01-10 10:47:37

hjs
Member
From: Europe, Germany, Bavaria, Muni
Registered: 2004-01-14
Posts: 15

Re: Trains on Mars - Could a rail system provide martian need

That's what we want to see on Mars: one line from Base 1 to Mine 1 then the increase in capital, efficiency, raw materials can be used to build a line to Mine/Base 2 (along with lots of other things).

You mentioned elevated trains or raised roadbeds, but did you ever talk about aerial ropeways?

They are oeconomic to transport to mars (low mass, low volume); easy to move where needed (terminals, ropes, and gondolas); and can be set up even over demanding grounds like glaciers and rocky fields.

The  ropes would be made of carbon nano tubes enforced polymers, so the distance between terminals could easily be 10 km. The gondolas could be even thethered airships. The solar energy collectors would be installed at the terminals.  The robot technology you will need for the installation of grids between the landing sites (cargo and crew) and the big power plants can be used to build the aerial ropeways.

Offline

Board footer

Powered by FluxBB