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#1 2016-10-10 00:01:06

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

Nuclear War on Earth, Astronauts on Mars

In the Martian Chronicles, towards the end of the book, there was a nuclear war on Earth. Lets update this a little. On the real Mars, what would happen to a Mars Colony if there was a nuclear war on Earth? If you were on Mars at the time what would you do? Lets try several scenarios.

Scenario 1: a Mars Mission, four astronauts on Mars collecting rocks doing experiments and things on Earth go to Hell, there is a war, Mission Control informs them of what's going on, they learn about Paris going up in a nuclear blast, then Mission Control informs them that they have to evacuate an that the astronauts will be on their own, and good luck. And then there is silence. The astronauts try to reestablish contact with Earth but there is no reply. What do the astronauts do in such a circumstance?

Scenario 2: a Mars base occupied by 100 people of various nationalities, including nations that go to war with each other, same as in scenario 1 back on Earth except this time there are more people on Mars, letssay a war between NATO and Russia gets out of control, neither side backs down and there is nuclear war and then silence from Mission Control. There are American and Russian astronauts on the base. What happens next.

Scenario 3: This time there is a community of 10,000 people, there are families and children, and a nuclear war on Earth and then silence, what happens next? What would you do?

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#2 2016-10-10 10:33:52

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,900

Re: Nuclear War on Earth, Astronauts on Mars

Your scenarios don't indicate whether children have yet been born on Mars (there are children on Earth in scenario 3 but not clear whether they migrated there or not).

Whether reproduction has been successfully achieved on Mars, or not, is a key issue.

If not, the Mars community will have to get started on that as soon as possible if they wish to survive as a community.  I think that would involve creating artificial gravity either on the surface or in orbit (since it appears to be the case that for mammals gravity is essential to successful reproduction).


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#3 2016-10-11 00:25:37

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

Re: Nuclear War on Earth, Astronauts on Mars

There is no reason to suppose they would not be. No one has yet actually tried to get any one pregnant in microgravity, and what's on Mars is not microgravity. I suspect one third gravity would suffice for two having sexual intercourse.

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#4 2016-10-11 03:18:55

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,102
Website

Re: Nuclear War on Earth, Astronauts on Mars

I think once there's an actual Mars *base*, we will know if mammals can successfully reproduce in Martian gravity, because someone will bring along mice for that purpose. What's a base for, if not for answering such questions? I suspect the required gravity will be more for providing a downward direction than anything else, so I don't think there will be that many problems with gestation. Birth, on the other hand, if the mothers hips are weakened by the lower gravity...


"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

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#5 2016-10-11 04:48:14

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,900

Re: Nuclear War on Earth, Astronauts on Mars

I think I'm right in saying that it has been shown in small mammals that foetal development is abnormal in microgravity.

So the issue is whether it could be normal in one third G.  I would hope so, but hope is not a substitute for fact, and the fact is rather crucial in discussion of this scenario.

As I say, if the colony has not yet established the possibility of reproductionas fact they would need to proceed as quickly as possible. I would have thought it would be better to create the artificial 1G environment (either on the surface or in orbit) rather than assume one third G would be OK.

Other things they colony would no doubt wish to do would be to formulate a "total self-sufficiency" (TSS) plan.  They would need to be looking at particular gaps in the colony's internal economy - probably things like computers, copper cabling, PV panels, vital medicines (e.g. if the colonists depend on medicines to stay healthy in one third G), vitamin and mineral supplements, agricultural fertilisers and so on.

They'll want to ensure any electronic documents relating to Earth-accumulated knowledge are properly copied and preserved with back up if possible.  If they have limited computer capacity they may have to priotise memory usage.  It will of course be important to preserve as much of Earth's cultural store of knowledge as possible (starting with the most recent - more likely to be accurate and working backwards).

Rocketry is probably less important if humanity has been wiped out on Earth.  But actually the scenario of a complete wipe out for humanity is probably unlikely. However, if there is thought to be any need to preserve contact with Earth, then securing and or manufacturing rocket parts would become essential.

Terraformer wrote:

I think once there's an actual Mars *base*, we will know if mammals can successfully reproduce in Martian gravity, because someone will bring along mice for that purpose. What's a base for, if not for answering such questions? I suspect the required gravity will be more for providing a downward direction than anything else, so I don't think there will be that many problems with gestation. Birth, on the other hand, if the mothers hips are weakened by the lower gravity...


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#6 2016-10-11 08:14:51

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

Re: Nuclear War on Earth, Astronauts on Mars

louis wrote:

I think I'm right in saying that it has been shown in small mammals that foetal development is abnormal in microgravity.

So the issue is whether it could be normal in one third G.  I would hope so, but hope is not a substitute for fact, and the fact is rather crucial in discussion of this scenario.

As I say, if the colony has not yet established the possibility of reproductionas fact they would need to proceed as quickly as possible. I would have thought it would be better to create the artificial 1G environment (either on the surface or in orbit) rather than assume one third G would be OK.

Other things they colony would no doubt wish to do would be to formulate a "total self-sufficiency" (TSS) plan.  They would need to be looking at particular gaps in the colony's internal economy - probably things like computers, copper cabling, PV panels, vital medicines (e.g. if the colonists depend on medicines to stay healthy in one third G), vitamin and mineral supplements, agricultural fertilisers and so on.

They'll want to ensure any electronic documents relating to Earth-accumulated knowledge are properly copied and preserved with back up if possible.  If they have limited computer capacity they may have to priotise memory usage.  It will of course be important to preserve as much of Earth's cultural store of knowledge as possible (starting with the most recent - more likely to be accurate and working backwards).

Rocketry is probably less important if humanity has been wiped out on Earth.  But actually the scenario of a complete wipe out for humanity is probably unlikely. However, if there is thought to be any need to preserve contact with Earth, then securing and or manufacturing rocket parts would become essential.

Terraformer wrote:

I think once there's an actual Mars *base*, we will know if mammals can successfully reproduce in Martian gravity, because someone will bring along mice for that purpose. What's a base for, if not for answering such questions? I suspect the required gravity will be more for providing a downward direction than anything else, so I don't think there will be that many problems with gestation. Birth, on the other hand, if the mothers hips are weakened by the lower gravity...

Well the communications system was designed for contact with Mission Control, if that is destroyed, what' on Mars can't pick up radio stations and other incidentals. Just because Earth is silent doesn't mean there I nothing there, its just that no one is trying to contact Mars, they got other concerns right now.

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#7 2016-10-11 14:40:29

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,900

Re: Nuclear War on Earth, Astronauts on Mars

The colony's best hope for survival is continued contact with any surviving populations on Planet Earth, so you would think the Mars colonists would want to go visit Earth and see for themselves. So if they have the rockets and craft around to do that, I think they would do that as a priority.

Although they might not have radio communication it is likely they would have good telescopes there at a fairly early stage.  Would they be able to train their telescopes on the dark side of Earth to see how much electric light is still being produced? Would be an eerie feeling if they saw there were no longer any lights.


Tom Kalbfus wrote:
louis wrote:

I think I'm right in saying that it has been shown in small mammals that foetal development is abnormal in microgravity.

So the issue is whether it could be normal in one third G.  I would hope so, but hope is not a substitute for fact, and the fact is rather crucial in discussion of this scenario.

As I say, if the colony has not yet established the possibility of reproductionas fact they would need to proceed as quickly as possible. I would have thought it would be better to create the artificial 1G environment (either on the surface or in orbit) rather than assume one third G would be OK.

Other things they colony would no doubt wish to do would be to formulate a "total self-sufficiency" (TSS) plan.  They would need to be looking at particular gaps in the colony's internal economy - probably things like computers, copper cabling, PV panels, vital medicines (e.g. if the colonists depend on medicines to stay healthy in one third G), vitamin and mineral supplements, agricultural fertilisers and so on.

They'll want to ensure any electronic documents relating to Earth-accumulated knowledge are properly copied and preserved with back up if possible.  If they have limited computer capacity they may have to priotise memory usage.  It will of course be important to preserve as much of Earth's cultural store of knowledge as possible (starting with the most recent - more likely to be accurate and working backwards).

Rocketry is probably less important if humanity has been wiped out on Earth.  But actually the scenario of a complete wipe out for humanity is probably unlikely. However, if there is thought to be any need to preserve contact with Earth, then securing and or manufacturing rocket parts would become essential.

Terraformer wrote:

I think once there's an actual Mars *base*, we will know if mammals can successfully reproduce in Martian gravity, because someone will bring along mice for that purpose. What's a base for, if not for answering such questions? I suspect the required gravity will be more for providing a downward direction than anything else, so I don't think there will be that many problems with gestation. Birth, on the other hand, if the mothers hips are weakened by the lower gravity...

Well the communications system was designed for contact with Mission Control, if that is destroyed, what' on Mars can't pick up radio stations and other incidentals. Just because Earth is silent doesn't mean there I nothing there, its just that no one is trying to contact Mars, they got other concerns right now.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#8 2016-10-11 19:09:48

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

Re: Nuclear War on Earth, Astronauts on Mars

They would probably see some lights in a realistic situation, not as many as before. Certain countries, such as New Zealand perhaps, might have been overlooked by the warring powers and may have survived. Of course in the countries that got hit, there are likely patches of survivors in fly over country. Cities would be on the target lists, they would go up immediately. Those people that lived far enough away from those cities might survive, they might have other problems with the aftermath, such as lack of food, competition with other starving people, bandits, and radiation areas and the like.

The funny thing about Mars is that in the short term, its probably better for the colonists I they stay on Mars until their supplies are about to run out. Life on Earth in the aftermath of a nuclear war is likely to be harsh, brutal, and short. People on Mars would not be a part of this, while they are on Mars, people on Earth would be dying of various causes, the food distribution network would be blown to hell, there might be cannibalism there would be banditry, people would have to kill to survive perhaps, the population would be in decline for some time after the last city blew up. After a while the population would level off and then the recovery would begin. Probably humans wouldn't venture back into space for a long time after that, with the exception of the humans already in space. If they go back to Earth, they are probably not coming back. the rockets which would take the colonists back to Earth, could do so once, and probably could not life off of Earth after than, there would be no infrastructure to send them back into space again. Much would depend on how self-sufficient the Mars Colony would be. Earth, even after a nuclear war, would probably be more habitable than Mars, the main concern for the colonists would be how long they can afford to live on Mars, while Earth recovers. If they wait too long, they will die on Mars without support from Earth, but I they go too soon, they will rejoin Earth in the midst of its post nuclear horrors, ie radiation, marauders, starvation etc.

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#9 2016-10-12 03:48:12

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,900

Re: Nuclear War on Earth, Astronauts on Mars

Yes, they might well be better off on Mars.

That "Martian" film with Matt Damon may have got a lot wrong but the general idea that you could develop self-sufficiency on Mars is probably true.

The Aresians, as I like to call the first colonists,  could help themselves a lot through virtual 100% recycling and reuse of everything.   

I think we can safely assume they won't lack for oxygen or water or energy. Food should not be an immediate issue as long as they already have farm habs in place.  But it will take a lot of effort to find the right fertilisers, to build pressurised vehicles that aren't killers in themselves, to deal with any medical emergencies. They may be able to build some clunky computers.   That will help enormously if they can because so much of their life support systems will operate on the basis of computerised monitoring, feedback and alarms.

Clearly how big the colony is, is a huge issue. Ten people are going to find it v. difficult to survive. 100 - maybe.  1000 - I don't see why not.

Tom Kalbfus wrote:

They would probably see some lights in a realistic situation, not as many as before. Certain countries, such as New Zealand perhaps, might have been overlooked by the warring powers and may have survived. Of course in the countries that got hit, there are likely patches of survivors in fly over country. Cities would be on the target lists, they would go up immediately. Those people that lived far enough away from those cities might survive, they might have other problems with the aftermath, such as lack of food, competition with other starving people, bandits, and radiation areas and the like.

The funny thing about Mars is that in the short term, its probably better for the colonists I they stay on Mars until their supplies are about to run out. Life on Earth in the aftermath of a nuclear war is likely to be harsh, brutal, and short. People on Mars would not be a part of this, while they are on Mars, people on Earth would be dying of various causes, the food distribution network would be blown to hell, there might be cannibalism there would be banditry, people would have to kill to survive perhaps, the population would be in decline for some time after the last city blew up. After a while the population would level off and then the recovery would begin. Probably humans wouldn't venture back into space for a long time after that, with the exception of the humans already in space. If they go back to Earth, they are probably not coming back. the rockets which would take the colonists back to Earth, could do so once, and probably could not life off of Earth after than, there would be no infrastructure to send them back into space again. Much would depend on how self-sufficient the Mars Colony would be. Earth, even after a nuclear war, would probably be more habitable than Mars, the main concern for the colonists would be how long they can afford to live on Mars, while Earth recovers. If they wait too long, they will die on Mars without support from Earth, but I they go too soon, they will rejoin Earth in the midst of its post nuclear horrors, ie radiation, marauders, starvation etc.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#10 2016-10-12 05:58:53

Terraformer
Member
From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,102
Website

Re: Nuclear War on Earth, Astronauts on Mars

Due to the high cost of interplanetary shipping, I think any base worthy of the title is going to be self-sufficient on a day-to-day basis (i.e. it will be able to continue indefinitely as long as things don't wear out and break), producing it's own food and replenishing it's water and air from native sources. However, if it's only a base it would be unlikely to have much manufacturing capability beyond that required to repair and maintain the equipment that's already there, and the only metal production would be experimental. I certainly don't think they would be doing any electronics fabrication. Perhaps they would be able to, using their limited capability, keep themselves going for a decade or so without resupply. Who knows though, humans are resourceful, and if they could build themselves more power generators and find a source of copper for relays...


"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

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#11 2016-10-12 06:28:05

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 4,900

Re: Nuclear War on Earth, Astronauts on Mars

The search for copper would be a rather desperate one although if necessary iron wire can be used to conduct electricity.  As I said, recycling would be key: any copper would be recycled at close to 100%.

Power generators are perhaps easier than we suppose.   

It's likely they would have 3D printers at the base.  So it should be possible to build small turbines.  Solar reflectors could be used to heat up water. As I understand it electric motors are actually fairly simple to construct.  This is probably a case where a smaller colony would win out - it would be easier to build basic power generation for a community of 50 as opposed to 5000. 

Proper mirrors would be useful as solar reflectors. I was just reading up on that and it is thought obsidian which is obtainable on Mars was first used to make mirrors on Earth.

Of course a 90 day global dust storm on Mars could scupper things with solar radiation being reduced by 80%.

So methane production is absolutely vital.  There may well be rocket fuel at the base that the colony could eke out over several years as an emergency supply until they have the means to produce methane in quantity (another reason not to leave Mars).

As you say, people are resourceful.  For heating they might heat up rocks with solar reflectors during the light hours of the Sol and then take them indoors to provide heat during the night (like storage heaters on Earth). 

Terraformer wrote:

Due to the high cost of interplanetary shipping, I think any base worthy of the title is going to be self-sufficient on a day-to-day basis (i.e. it will be able to continue indefinitely as long as things don't wear out and break), producing it's own food and replenishing it's water and air from native sources. However, if it's only a base it would be unlikely to have much manufacturing capability beyond that required to repair and maintain the equipment that's already there, and the only metal production would be experimental. I certainly don't think they would be doing any electronics fabrication. Perhaps they would be able to, using their limited capability, keep themselves going for a decade or so without resupply. Who knows though, humans are resourceful, and if they could build themselves more power generators and find a source of copper for relays...


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#12 2016-11-11 12:26:55

elderflower
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Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 1,115

Re: Nuclear War on Earth, Astronauts on Mars

Copper needs to be purified, normally using electricity, before it can be drawn into wire or rolled into strip and sheet forms. Iron , like nickel, can be purified using CO and formed using chemical vapour deposition. Much easier to do on Mars.

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