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#1 2018-03-10 11:53:06

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 2,826
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Colonising Terra - where next?

From Hop's blog a few years ago - Colonization - where first?

Toss some of these colony seeds in the Gobi desert. Or Siberia. Atacama Desert. Arctic tundra. Earth's wastelands are a tropical paradise compared to Mars, the moon or asteroids. With time these colony seeds grow and you have self sufficient, thriving metropolises where there used to be barren dirt.

Bruce Sterling said that he'll believe in settling Mars when he sees people settling the Gobi desert. I think he was rather unfair in picking the Gobi desert, of course, rather than the high Arctic, or the Australian deserts, which are environments as hostile that have been colonised by humans. He neglected the part about who claims sovereignty, and whether anyone would want to live under them.

What areas of the world do you think would it would be politically feasible to develop Earth-bound 'space' colonies at? Svalbard comes to mind, given the autonomy from the Norwegian government, the lack of immigration restrictions, and the barren environment. The Mars Society already run simulation missions there, I think. If we can develop a mostly self-sufficient colony there, we'll be a lot closer to the toolkit we need for offworld colonies. Other options in the far north would be in Canada and Alaska, and there are islands in the far south that could be used. If we go with Svalbard, I vote the settlement be named Asgard.


"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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#2 2018-03-10 13:42:33

Void
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Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 2,345

Re: Colonising Terra - where next?

I feel like I am being a pestilence, but here goes.

For desert basins in particular I do have notions.

I have mentioned solar cisterns elsewhere, so I spare that verbage.  If you are curious after here it is:

http://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=7994

I will go to the North American Great Basin for my example.

The objectives would be to absorb Carbon into plastics, and to build solar cisterns out of the plastics, both here on Earth and later on Mars.

Also the objective would be to change the evaporation and rainfall patterns of the great basin.

I have read that lake Bonneville existed previously I think during the latest ice age because evaporation was lower in the Great Basin, not because of increased rainfall or snowfall.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Bonneville
600px-Lake_bonneville_map.svg.png

As you can see there were many lakes.

A remembered item is that if you could plant trees in a desert, then they cool off the higher layers of atmosphere, and permit condensation more.  Clouds then.  The reason is the trees absorb wavelengths that the desert ground does not.  The desert ground reflects light back to where the clouds might form, and heats the upper sky up.

So of course I am not thinking of planting trees, but solar cisterns which will consume CO2, and will absorb much of the solar spectrum and reduce the heat of the upper sky.  If this results in more clouds, then more heat may be directly reflected by the clouds into space.  This should cool off the desert ground and may allow for less evaporation.

Of course if this works, I don't think it should be pushed to the point where the lakes are restored, that would flood land and likely make Earthquakes.  However it would take a very long time anyway.

But to address the alleged greenhouse effect, consuming CO2 into plastics, and treated human manure to build better soils in the desert is one way to make a gain and reduce the amount of CO2 which will be in the atmosphere.

And it is possible that water from the oceans could end up in the great basin as lakes, thus slightly reducing the sea level.  Maybe that might be good, as lake are to a degree food producers.

......

If this were to work on the Earth, then I would want to try it on Mars.

But on Mars, I am hoping that in the majority of cases, permafrost can be used to seal the bottom of the solar cistern.
I also see the solar cistern as being ice covered in the majority of cases, and over the ice a solar greenhouse to keep the ice from evaporating into the dry Martian winds.

Details can be found in the link I provided earlier.




Done

Last edited by Void (2018-03-10 14:00:32)


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.

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#3 2018-03-10 20:41:52

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,328
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Re: Colonising Terra - where next?

As I see it, these are the main characteristics of Mars that are different from Earth:

  • Low Pressure

  • CO2 Atmosphere

  • Cold

  • Dry

  • Low Gravity

Given this list, the top of Everest seems like a good choice.  It's got low pressure, cold, and dry.

The Svalbards are another good choice, and seem like they are more accessible from a legal standpoint.  I suppose you could run the hab at 1.5 atm and wear pressure suits outside to simulate a Martian pressure environment.

Otherwise the arctic generally is a good analog, like I mentioned in that other thread.  Antarctic is good too.  As far as Antarctica goes, it looks like the tallest peak is the Vinson Massif, at about 5000 m above sea level.  Using the barometric formula and assuming a mean temperature of -20 C, the pressure up there should be about 52 kPa.

Incidentally, the Vinson Massif lies on Marie Byrd Land, which is the unclaimed part of Antarctica.


-Josh

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#4 2018-03-10 21:17:28

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,720

Re: Colonising Terra - where next?

I recall  Hop...I eventually came to see he wasn't really a friend of Mars colonisation.

I find it laughable that people quote earth deserts as a way of saying Mars colonisation is impossible when we have the example of the  city of Las Vegas that  is located in desert. Its population is over 600,000!



Terraformer wrote:

From Hop's blog a few years ago - Colonization - where first?

Toss some of these colony seeds in the Gobi desert. Or Siberia. Atacama Desert. Arctic tundra. Earth's wastelands are a tropical paradise compared to Mars, the moon or asteroids. With time these colony seeds grow and you have self sufficient, thriving metropolises where there used to be barren dirt.

Bruce Sterling said that he'll believe in settling Mars when he sees people settling the Gobi desert. I think he was rather unfair in picking the Gobi desert, of course, rather than the high Arctic, or the Australian deserts, which are environments as hostile that have been colonised by humans. He neglected the part about who claims sovereignty, and whether anyone would want to live under them.

What areas of the world do you think would it would be politically feasible to develop Earth-bound 'space' colonies at? Svalbard comes to mind, given the autonomy from the Norwegian government, the lack of immigration restrictions, and the barren environment. The Mars Society already run simulation missions there, I think. If we can develop a mostly self-sufficient colony there, we'll be a lot closer to the toolkit we need for offworld colonies. Other options in the far north would be in Canada and Alaska, and there are islands in the far south that could be used. If we go with Svalbard, I vote the settlement be named Asgard.


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

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#5 2018-03-11 04:00:00

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
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Re: Colonising Terra - where next?

Las Vegas, however, is in no way self sufficient. It wouldn't get built today, not since it's advantage (being one of the few places where gambling is legal) went away.

Josh, I'm not talking about physical conditions being similar to Mars, but about trying to build a mostly self-sufficient settlement in a very hostile environment. Colonising, not setting up a base. We've already proven we can set up bases in such locations.


"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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#6 2018-03-11 04:43:28

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
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Re: Colonising Terra - where next?

Depends what you mean by "Space colony". What you describe brings a couple things to mind. Since I'm in Canada, my bias is Canada.

When I was in Junior High, I read the book "Farmer in they Sky". It's about a farmer on terraformed Ganymede. When first arrives, he's assigned land. When he sees the land he's shocked, it's just bedrock. A neighbour introduces himself and claims this is good land. Explains that on Ganymede, their first crop is soil. In the book (published 1950) they use heavy equipment the size of a tractor or combine, that has a big ultrasonic cutting blade. It cuts deep into the bedrock, cutting it into big chunks of rock. An boulders the machine can't drive over are blown apart with dynamite. Then they go over it again, with the cutting blades shallower and closer, cutting the rocks into smaller rocks. Then again, producing gravel. Then again, producing sand. Then again, producing rock dust. They plant "soil concentrate" imported from Earth, containing bacteria, earth worms, fertilizer, and organic matter. The farmer suggests stretching it with kitchen food waste. He provides this new arrival with a welcoming gift: a year's worth of kitchen garbage. The new arrival thinks it an odd gift, but uses it as directed. The experienced farmer suggests planting the soil concentrate/compost mixture sparingly, and in rows with gaps between. He says the soil will grow to fill in the gaps. Don't do as government officials say, with soil concentrate only and a solid square. This spread-out way produces much greater area of fertile soil.

I keep thinking we could do that here. The east side of Lake Winnipeg has no agriculture. Terrestrial ecozone is "Boreal Shield", beaning boreal forest growing on Canadian shield. Soil is only a few inches deep, with a patches of bedrock exposed on the surface. Northern Manitoba is the same, north of Lake Winnipeg and Lakes Manitoba/Winnipegosis/Cedar/Talbot. The far north of Manitoba is Taiga Shield: Taiga forest on Canadian Shield. Taiga forest is basically boreal forest growing on permafrost. Short, stunted, twisted trees. There's very little up there, two small communities: Lac Brochet and Tadoule Lake. And 2 first nations reserves: Northlands, Sayisi Dene. Right on the border of Taiga Shield and Boreal Shield, on the northern coast of Reindeer Lake, is the town of Brochet (not Lac Brochet) and the first nations reserve Barren Lands. There are 2 large parks: Sand Lakes Provincial Park, and Caribou River Park Reserve. Other than that, it's empty. Taiga Shield area is roughly 90,000 km² including parks. That's just the Manitoba part. Boreal Shield would probably be easier, and there is a lot of undeveloped land, but there are a number of communities and reserves there.

The other thing is the Canadian Archipelago. That's the arctic islands, terrestrial ecozone "Northern Arctic". Not the part called "Northern Cordillera" because that's permanently covered by ice. 1,438,000 km², 15,000 people total, 80% Inuit. Largest community is Iqaluit: 7,740 people. Mostly within the territory of Nunavut, western part in the Northwest Territories. Permafrost up to 1km deep with thin layer of waterlogged active soil. No trees. North of the arctic circle, so days of no sunlight in winter.
Wikipedia

Palaeozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rock forms the western portion of the ecozone, whereas Precambrian granite is the dominant feature in the east. Broad flat plains are common on the coastlines, and extend inland up to 10 kilometres (6 mi) in some parts. In the east, plateaus and rocky hills merge into the foothills of the Arctic Cordillera. The west is characterised by glacial deposits and "frost-shattered limestone" and sandstone.

A permanent layer of permafrost may be up to one kilometre thick, and lies under a shallow stratum of waterlogged active soils that cyclically freeze and thaw, creating patterned ground. Its features are similar to the badlands found in the southwestern United States.

The question is "why"? What resources are there? If prospectors find metals, they can be mined. There was a mine at Nanisivik that mined lead and tin, but it played out.

Boreal Shield east of Lake Winnipeg is far enough south that farming is possible. North of that farming should be possible with certain crops: sarsaparilla (used to make root beer), berries, trees. Wildlife includes moose, woodland caribou, white-tailed deer, black bear, ruffed grouse, beaver, mink, ducks, Canada geese. Also wood bison, the largest land animal in North America. Adult males weight over 900 kg (2,000 lb). It's larger than plains bison that most people are familiar with. Comparing to beef cattle, mature adult males are the weight of a large mature bull (not steer), and mature female weight of a large mature cow (not heifer). Not many wood bison left in the wild, but there are enough in captivity to start a herd. Wood bison can be raised in areas so far north that no traditional livestock will survive, and their feed grows wild there. Wood bison grow this large without antibiotics or growth promoting hormones, yet have mature weights equal to "large" market weight beef cattle that are raised with them. And bison is more lean. Considering land there is cheap, this is an obvious "crop".

Last edited by RobertDyck (2018-03-11 14:03:02)

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#7 2018-03-11 05:19:48

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,427
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Re: Colonising Terra - where next?

Perhaps an ultrasonic rock cutter is possible.

Wikipedia: Ultrasonic/sonic driller/corer

The Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller/Corer (USDC) is a drilling device that uses vibrations in order to hammer its bit through materials, as opposed to traditional drilling methods. The drill uses a piezoelectric actuator as its source of power, and utilizes a variety of 'horns' to vibrate, or hammer, its bit through the material. A prototype of the drill was first released by NASA in April 2000, which weighed 1.5 lb. (.7 kg) and had the capacity to drill half-inch holes into granite using only 10 watts of power, whereas the modern household half-inch drill requires 750 watts.

JPL: JPL's NDEAA Ultrasonic/Sonic Driller/Corer (USDC) Homepage

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#8 2018-03-11 12:10:09

Void
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Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 2,345

Re: Colonising Terra - where next?

That's interesting.  I wonder if the Boring company is looking into that?


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.

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#9 2018-03-11 13:03:50

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,427
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Re: Colonising Terra - where next?

The novel "Friday" was written by Robert A. Heinlein, published in 1983. In that book engineers had "discovered how to use nuclear power to dig tunnels". They used it to dig intercontinental "tubes", essentially a supersonic subway between continents. Yup, from New York to Europe, from Alaska to Winnipeg. (The book has a scene in my city.) I wonder; a scaled-up Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) using ultrasonic cutters, powered by an on-board nuclear reactor?

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#10 2018-03-11 13:35:21

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,328
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Re: Colonising Terra - where next?

Terraformer wrote:

Josh, I'm not talking about physical conditions being similar to Mars, but about trying to build a mostly self-sufficient settlement in a very hostile environment. Colonising, not setting up a base. We've already proven we can set up bases in such locations.

Fair enough. If you're looking for a self sufficient industrial society you might want to go somewhere not hostile, since such a thing has never existed.  The Rockies might be a good spot, because they tend to be mostly uninhabited (See: Wyoming).  Fertile soil isn't a huge concern in the modern age where we have fertilizers and hydro/aeroponic technology if necessary, and mountains tend to have mineable resources. The political/legal concerns (How does a self-sufficient town pay taxes? Deal with regulations?  Get mining permits?) are hard to deal with too.

What you really want is somewhere with resources where you will also be left alone.  The Icelandic Highlands seem like a possibility.  They have abundant geothermal energy (Iceland is low-key the world's clean energy capital), plus all of the resources associated with volcanoes. Not to mention tons of uninhabited land (330,000 people living on an island the size of Virginia with the lion's share living within 60 miles of Reykjavik on the West coast).


-Josh

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