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#1 2019-10-28 22:38:59

Rusakov
Banned
Registered: 2012-12-19
Posts: 34

Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

There's been the recent hullabaloo about MAVEN data suggesting that terraforming Mars is now an impossibility.

There were two posts on Crowlspace that suggest otherwise, in addition to one "out-there" concept I'll post about as well. I'll post a few bits from the Crowlspace posts first

The newer post: Mars Atmosphere Loss Rates – Truth vs Truism names MAVEN upfront early on in the post:

Collectively several metres of water and perhaps 80 millibars of Carbon Dioxide would be lost over 4.2 billion years – at current rates of loss. As the bare minimum for terraforming is about ~300 millibars of carbon dioxide (equivalent to about 250 millibars of Oxygen) this doesn’t seem like a show stopper for terraforming. If we can supply modern day Mars with ~300 millibars in a few hundred years, then replacing 80 millibars in 4 billion doesn’t seem excessive.

Of course the Sun has changed since its exuberant early days and the total actual loss from Mars is probably somewhere between 2 – 0.5 bars worth of atmosphere and maybe several hundred metres equivalent of water. However the Sun’s output was between 20 – 100 times higher in the very early days of its Main Sequence. This matches the apparent desiccation of Mars about ~3 billion years ago.

The older post: On the (Im)Possibility of Terraforming Mars addresses the "current technology can't terraform Mars" cycle from last year, but might still be of import:

Rather than CO2 to warm the planet indirectly – and not very efficiently – what if we increase the available sunlight?

Present day Mars has about 6 millibars of CO2 in its atmosphere ... if Mars received as much sunlight as Earth, it’d be *too hot* from its CO2 greenhouse effect. If we increased the available sunlight by ~50%, then it should be about right. If we imagine an annular mirror suspended above Mars, directing light down onto the surface ... annular needs at least a Mars sized hole – if it’s close to Mars – and then sufficient width to match 50% the area of Mars. Or about 900 kilometres wide and an average radius of about 4,500 km. Immense, but it doesn’t have to be very heavy.

A “mirror-lens” could be parked at the Mars-Sun L-1 point and use solar radiation pressure to help keep itself in place, directing extra sunlight towards the planet ... the Soletta as such mirrors are called, can be closer to the planet and focus its light into an intense pyrolysis beam to separate oxygen from the metal oxides in the crust directly. No mucking about with plants for millennia required.

a 50 petawatt (i.e. 50,000 trillion watt) beam is sufficient to give Mars an oxygen atmosphere in about 6 years. Mars receives 30 petawatts from the Sun, so our “50% Soletta” gives us 15 petawatts to blast oxygen out of the crust with, taking about 20 years.

Regarding mirrors, an old NextBigFuture post mentioned "tessellation foams" of reflective bubbles that could be "in between the size of Neptune or Saturn" in deep space. So the pyrolysis beam lens wouldn't have an annular mirror at L-1, but could have a much larger tessellation mirror at a different Lagrange point. So a constant beam to the surface might not be viable, but you could still get a lot of oxygen out of the soil.

Of course this assumes that we must solely use space-based infrastructure to achieve successful terraformation. But what if we looked in the opposite direction... underground?

There was a bit in the novel Manifold: Space by Stephen Baxter with a device called a "Paulis mine" used to terraform Earth's Moon - rather than Mars.

The idea is that there's a large amount of volatiles including -not just water- but also nitrogen, various hydrocarbons, etc. But there's a catch: these materials are buried within the mantle, so a very deep hole must be bored out to get to them.

Is this at all realistic? While we can't say for Mars, it's certainly true for Earth. The discovery of naturally occurring ringwoodite from the Earth's mantle suggests that there could be at least as much water in Earth's mantle as there is in its oceans, if not more.

Could something similar hold true for Mars? I'm not an expert at this, but I don't see why not.

So there are still a few cards we might be able to play in regards to terraforming Mars. They might be way out-there, or require a deep dive, but they're plausible nonetheless! wink


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#2 2019-10-29 03:51:26

Terraformer
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Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

Martian outgassing exceeds the loss to the solar wind by orders of magnitude, so I'm not worried about atmospheric loss to space.

I don't like space mirrors. They make the planet dependent on a fragile space based infrastructure. I'd prefer to build a worldhouse than a soletta. Or even better, a genetically engineered ecosystem that can thrive at temperatures cold enough to freeze water.


"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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#3 2019-10-29 04:15:08

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,876

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

Yes - no reason to be downhearted by such a slow rate of atmospheric loss. Even within 500 years I would think we should definitely have the technology to really harness asteroids and make good any loss, but such technology could come a lot sooner than that.

Whether we currently  have the technology to produce trillions of tons of atmosphere (and get the right balance of gases of course!), is quite a different matter. We've never before embarked on such a large engineering project - it would dwarf every other engineering project ever pursued.

I don't rule out solar mirrors, but I wonder why don't build smaller ones closer to the Sun. Does anyone have an idea about how close we can get to the Sun with a solar mirror?


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

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#4 2019-10-29 10:42:47

Calliban
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From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 551

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

To create a 380mbar pure oxygen atmosphere on Mars; some 1.45E15 tonnes of oxygen would be needed.  This could be created by electrolysing some 1.6E15 tonnes (1.6million cubic kilometres) of water.  Near surface deposits of ice identified on Mars account for 21million cubic km.  So Mars could be terraformed by electrolysing <8% of its detected water reserves.  So creating a breathable atmosphere is achievable in principle.

But the energy requirements are intimidating.  To produce 1.45E15 tonnes of oxygen through electrolysis (even at 100% efficiency) would consume 2.8E25 joules of energy, or 887million GW-years.  That is the equivalent of a million large nuclear reactors, running for 887 years; or all of the sunlight falling onto Mars for 50 years, ignoring any conversion losses.

Basically, to do this in any reasonable human timescale, would take some very big fusion reactors.  And the waste heat would be enough to warm the planet up quite substantially.  We would probably need to use the polar caps as heat sinks and polar water would most likely be our feedstock.  We would probably build a ring of mega reactors around the northern polar cap.

Whilst reactors this size sound enormous, they would probably be on a scale comparable to some of the largest man-made structures on Earth.  With a power density of about 15MW/m3 - a spherical fusion reactor producing 1E15 watts of heat would be ~500m in diameter.  Powerplants this huge would benefit from large scale economies.

Last edited by Calliban (2019-10-29 10:47:36)


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#5 2019-10-29 12:26:17

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,312
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Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

380mb would be more than twice what is necessary for life, and a crazy fire risk.

Most of the benefits of terraforming come from the first, minimal, steps. Some oxygen in the atmosphere, warmer temperatures, better radiation shielding (including an ozone layer), and the ability to grow food on the surface. A ~100mb mostly CO2 atmosphere is a long way from a 1bar O2/N2 atmosphere.


"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 2019-10-29 13:44:50

Calliban
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From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 551

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

Terraformer wrote:

380mb would be more than twice what is necessary for life, and a crazy fire risk.

Most of the benefits of terraforming come from the first, minimal, steps. Some oxygen in the atmosphere, warmer temperatures, better radiation shielding (including an ozone layer), and the ability to grow food on the surface. A ~100mb mostly CO2 atmosphere is a long way from a 1bar O2/N2 atmosphere.

Agreed.  If we could build greenhouses that didn't have to be pressurised, the planet would be a lot more habitable.  And with surface doserates lower, habitats would be easier to build.  The question is whether there is enough CO2 on Mars to do that.

If the higher latitudes of Mars could be warmed using orbital mirrors, then ice would sublime.  UV action would dissociate the water vapour into O2 and H2, with the later escaping into space.  I would imagine that this process would be slow.

Last edited by Calliban (2019-10-29 13:48:48)


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#7 2019-10-29 15:08:16

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,876

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

Only slight problem - we can't master fusion yet.

Calliban wrote:

To create a 380mbar pure oxygen atmosphere on Mars; some 1.45E15 tonnes of oxygen would be needed.  This could be created by electrolysing some 1.6E15 tonnes (1.6million cubic kilometres) of water.  Near surface deposits of ice identified on Mars account for 21million cubic km.  So Mars could be terraformed by electrolysing <8% of its detected water reserves.  So creating a breathable atmosphere is achievable in principle.

But the energy requirements are intimidating.  To produce 1.45E15 tonnes of oxygen through electrolysis (even at 100% efficiency) would consume 2.8E25 joules of energy, or 887million GW-years.  That is the equivalent of a million large nuclear reactors, running for 887 years; or all of the sunlight falling onto Mars for 50 years, ignoring any conversion losses.

Basically, to do this in any reasonable human timescale, would take some very big fusion reactors.  And the waste heat would be enough to warm the planet up quite substantially.  We would probably need to use the polar caps as heat sinks and polar water would most likely be our feedstock.  We would probably build a ring of mega reactors around the northern polar cap.

Whilst reactors this size sound enormous, they would probably be on a scale comparable to some of the largest man-made structures on Earth.  With a power density of about 15MW/m3 - a spherical fusion reactor producing 1E15 watts of heat would be ~500m in diameter.  Powerplants this huge would benefit from large scale economies.


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

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#8 2019-10-29 15:10:55

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,876

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

There was a recent scientific paper that suggested a 3 cm thick covering of transparent aerogel could have a very significant impact in heating up the planet. I did some calculations as regards making enough of that material to cover a large part of the planet...we are talking about billions of tons of material but it's probably still one of the most efficient ways of getting the desired result.


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

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#9 2019-10-29 15:51:37

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 551

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

louis wrote:

There was a recent scientific paper that suggested a 3 cm thick covering of transparent aerogel could have a very significant impact in heating up the planet. I did some calculations as regards making enough of that material to cover a large part of the planet...we are talking about billions of tons of material but it's probably still one of the most efficient ways of getting the desired result.

Agreed.  About 4 billion tonnes by my estimate for the whole planet.  Trouble is you can only work with what's there.  If there is only enough CO2 to double or triple atmospheric pressure, then you aren't going to be growing crops under thin polytunnels or building megacities under tents.

Whilst terraforming does not have to imply Earth analogue conditions, it is what we are ideally aiming for.  We won't get there without a lot of energy, time or both.

Last edited by Calliban (2019-10-29 15:53:50)


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#10 2019-10-29 16:22:04

SpaceNut
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Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,923

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

As mars warms in summer the lose rate accelerates and making the atmospheree thicker with allow for more heat retention which will cause the atmosphere to also accelerate the rate of lose as well. The trick is to slow the lose rate while making the planet warmer.
The next thing is a breathable air mix or its just not going to be worth it.
A glass or polytunnel structure aka dome living is where the retention of air is something that can be done.

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#11 2019-10-29 17:19:40

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 551

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

"Only slight problem - we can't master fusion yet."

Yes and no.  Fusion can be made to take place in a low cost fusor that you can build in your garden shed and of course fusion yields ample energy in a hydrogen bomb.  But achieving breakeven and ignition in low density plasmas is challenging.

Given the difficulty of achieving magnetic fields stronger than 45T; particle density is limited.  The easiest way of meeting the lawson criterion is to increase confinement time by increasing reactor size.  Hence, the bigger a reactor is, the better its performance.  For fusion, it makes far more sense building terrawatt scale machines than it does building 100MW machines.  For reactors with cores that large, the plasma will begin to extract energy from neutrons as well.

Last edited by Calliban (2019-10-29 17:20:41)


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#12 2019-10-29 19:08:38

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,923

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

One could create a field on orbit to aid with containment via satelites that could be nuclear powered. Dust the orbit with conductive elements to create a means for the flux lines to build between the satelites.
Duplicate the satelites at higher orbits and cross fields to make a false van radiation belt like effect with the same particle laced lines of flux to act as a barrier.

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#13 2019-11-04 23:09:41

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 551

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

Economy of scale states that (crudely) for every increase in size of a device, capital cost increases to the 0.6 power.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economies_of_scale

Let us say we want to build a fusion reactor on Mars that delivers 887million GW-years of energy in 100 years.  That equates to a power of 8.87million GW.  Compared to a 1000MW device, the capital cost would be 14,750 times greater.  The per unit capital cost would be 0.0017 of the 1000MW unit.

There are other factors that favour very large fusion reactors.  The larger the reactor is, the longer the confinement time of particles.  It takes a finite period of time for a particle to cross the containment vessel.  For a given plasma density, the larger the vessel, the more likely an ion is to collide with another ion before reaching the edge.  Finally, there is the cube/square law.  Leakage is a function of surface area, whereas power is a function of volume.  All things considered, it will be much easier to reach the Lawson criterion in a very large reactor.

A Martian civilisation of a sufficient size could build mega reactors to power industry on a scale that is so far unknown on Earth.  Without oceans, Mars is effectively a single huge continent, making it relatively simple to distribute power all over the planet using superconducting cables.  If we assume a Martian population of some 4 billion people, each consuming power at a rate of 10KWe, then a total reactor power of 40,000GW would be needed.  To terraform Mars with a breathable atmosphere in just 100 years by the electrolysis of water; about 100 times more power would be needed.

This amount of heat ejected by the system over this timescale would begin to rival the power of sunlight reaching Mars and would warm it considerably.

In terms of volume: ITER plasma would have a core power density of about 10MW/m3 following plasma ignition.  To produce 8.87million GW implies a plasma volume of 887million cubic metres; or a spherical confinement chamber some 600m in radius.  This sounds achievable, as it amounts to about two-thirds of a mile in diameter.  Extracting heat from the reaction might be difficult at this size range.  Heat loading would amount to nearly 2GW/m2 of the reaction vessel.  Even boiling liquid metal would struggle to remove that much heat.  So a fleet of 100 reactors some 2 orders of magnitude smaller would be more practical.  They would likely be build in a ring around the Martian north pole.

One thing that could be problematic if we attempt to rapidly terraform Mars is structural stability.  The crust of the planet is likely full of water ice and frozen CO2.  If this were to rapidly melt it would probably imperil any structures on the surface.

Last edited by Calliban (2019-11-04 23:29:34)


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#14 2019-11-05 20:50:15

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,923

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

I have always thought that mars could be made more earth like but its not just about building up a think atmosphere thats breathable, getting liquid water, warming mars, getting the energy source to power it all but one that somehow must increase mass to gain the local gravity to aid in a core thats cold to form a much hotter center to possibly make a megasphere with  radiation belts to help shield the surface.

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#15 2019-11-06 10:10:50

tahanson43206
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Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 3,803

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

For SpaceNut re #14 ....

As a reminder, this forum database contains lots of posts about the advantages of working with Venus as compared to the challenges of Mars.

Venus has so many advantages (gravity near 1G, plenty of power because nearer the Sun, etc) that I suspect it will be receiving attention in coming decades.

The key problem to be solved (as I understand it) is to provide a shade to regulate Solar power input to the planet, and the similarity to the need for something like that for Earth make it all the more interesting.

(th)

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#16 2020-04-03 15:54:40

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,563

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

I have read and liked what has been posted here.  It seems to be quiet just now, and I need to make a post of value??? or I may be outed as a spammer.  Those of you have some idea of what my thinking is.  Hopefully you can tolerate it a bit.

Most Terraformation ideas that I have witnessed are "Top to Down" in nature.  I am a "Bottom to Up" sort.

For instance Elon Musk has an idea of nuclear bombs or mirrors in orbit to terraform.  Not wrong, and not excludable as possibilities, but not where I would first think to start.

I believe that the regolith of Mars at low temperatures and with it's own conditions may hold giant amounts of terraform materials.  I do agree that significant atmospheric loss to space has occurred over time (Probably).

Now it is my time to annoy you feel free to post over my post, or dispute.  I have recently been thinking about Expanded Polystyrene for Mars.  I am not a proper chemist, and only have an inkling about this.  And I have nothing at all against transparency related concepts such as domes, and aerogel, and U.V. tolerant plastics.  Except that they may be hard to come by in a settlement startup.  I am very glad if others work on those and solve for them.

Expanded Styrene:
https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=di … &FORM=VIRE

As some of you know I am a "Lake" sort.  I think that to terraform Mars, you use a combination of methods.  As it happens, I think that the manufacture of this substance will not be too distant from making Methane, or greenhouse gasses, and so it may be worth a look.

It is a fair insulator on Earth, but I think on Mars with a 5.5 mb average ambient, and perhaps x2 or x3 that pressure, (Maybe more by stronger methods and longer time),  may make it work like a foam thermos bottle very good for retaining heat.  And that would serve my purpose of covering a ice covering over a lake(s) (Endless numbers of lakes actually).

At the same time I think for Mars it may make good components for surface machines.  Struts/stands to put solar panels on.  Light weight convex mirrors for heliostats.  The low Mars gravity is a help, and also the relative low force of wind.  For Earth we could not really consider this.

But of course there are downsides.  U.V. will be cruel to this substance unless it has protective coatings.  Abrasion from dust storms will also be a problem, so suitable coatings are needed.  And also for the heliostats a reflective coating.

I do not want to make is post overly long.  As I see, it you start by creating lakes in the mid latitudes where SpaceX plans to land.  Then you move around the circumference where possible, and towards the equator.  Later on you take on the poles.

As I see it Mars has plenty of vibrations from the sunlight, and also from deep geothermal energy.  Fission and Fusion may eventually play a role as well.  The problem with Mars it that it rejects the vibrations given to it and throws them back into space.  In my opinion Mars will be very suited to glacial type lakes with ice dams (And with dirt berms eventually separating the water and ice).  Towards the equator, craters can be filled with transported water, but still in general ice covered, except where dome technology allows open water.

I have mentioned similar things before.  But now I propose to cover the ice with a thin vapor barrier, some layer of Styrofoam, and to inject vibrations into the lake waters.  This can be done with heating, chemical reactions, and artificial lighting.  It is a beautiful dream to have transparencies where Earth-Like conditions can be implemented, and lets hope such technologies get perfected over time.  But I really think that for the conditions of Mars this is a valuable component. 

I am just going to end it by saying that I don't object to proposals previously said.  I just add this.

Last edited by Void (2020-04-03 17:49:49)


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

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#17 2020-04-03 16:58:48

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,923

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

The expanded polystyrene products have been widely used as insulation materials already for decades but making it insitu needs;  Technologies, processes, and systems for robotic precursor missions or eventual human missions to Mars, which produce mission critical consumables, such as oxygen, propellants, life support gases, fuel cell reagents, and in situ manufacturing feedstock. Existing chemical engineering and manufacturing technologies can be miniaturized, optimized for Martian conditions, and used to fabricate virtually everything necessary, in situ, on Mars.

This local materials fabrication technology could be the final element required to permit and support the permanent human habitation of Mars. Polystyrene is the main raw material used in the manufacturing of poly vinyl acetate, wood adhesive (SH), sticker or lamination adhesive, textile binder etc.

http://www.michiganfoam.com/docs/resear … thesis.pdf
RESEARCH ON EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE PRODUCT MANUFACTURING PROCESS.

In Situ Manufacturing of Plastics and Composites to Support H&R Exploration

https://www.ipen.br/biblioteca/cd/cbpol … DF/249.pdf
HIGH IMPACT POLYSTYRENE WITH ENHANCED ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS CRACKING RESISTANCE

The tentative plan all starts with water. By sending in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) equipment to regions of Mars with subsurface water ice deposits, we could extract the water that is key to producing other materials. Making ethylene on Mars Ethylene is the base of two of the most common plastics we use today, polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride.

On Mars, it may be a building block of more complex polymers as well, since the petroleum we use to make those polymers here on Earth is not available there. Food and dairy containers, produce baskets, fast food containers, closures and vending cups and lids comprise the biggest commercial market of polystyrene.

Inco operates the world's first totally robotic mine is now in Sudbury, Canada. This was the work of the Mining Automation Program, a 5 year R&D effort to create tele-operated and autonomous mining machines.

http://www.telemining.net/
http://www.telemining.net/whatistelemining/

Leif Bloomquist, who worked in the project, has a great website also:
http://www.accesslevelblack.com/

“We had to bring together space+robotics technology, wireless LANs, and even virtual reality and video game interfaces. ... The whole point is to enhance safety by having no humans underground, and to boost productivity by saving the time to travel underground and have one driver controlling a whole fleet."

Long and short its a good insulator with lots of uses...

Welcome back

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#18 2020-04-03 17:12:31

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,876

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

Hello Void! Welcome back...I haven't come across any posts from you here in a while...

I certainly think that to win a world war you fight it on all fronts. This  "world war" is a battle to get the whole of Mars to do something it currently doesn't want to do.

Essentially it's mostly about getting energy applied in the right places. Heat retaining lakes could certainly be part of that process.

I'd just advance on all fronts: solar mirrors, nuclear reactors on the surface, solar energy robots heating regolith to release gases, chemical reactions to release gases, darkening the poles with dark sand, towing small asteroids and plastic sheeting over many millions of sq kms. I think I would stop at nuclear bombs, just as a matter of principle, that not being something we would want to introduce to Mars.

At the same time pursue paraterraformation - larger and larger breathable-air gorges and link those to lakes. Link the gorges one with another with air lock tunnels, so eventually you have the equivalent of maybe Delaware, to use an American State, then Maryland, then eventually maybe a network the size of California across the whole planet.

Doesn't growing plants create an oxygen surplus? The more we grow, taking in CO2 from the Mars atmosphere, the more we can release oxygen. If we can grow huge amounts of simple plants under plastic, perhaps we can begin to alter the atmospheric balance. Plants are fantastic machines, being virtually maintenance free!


Void wrote:

I have read and liked what has been posted here.  It seems to be quiet just now, and I need to make a post of value??? or I may be outed as a spammer.  Those of you have some idea of what my thinking is.  Hopefully you can tolerate it a bit.

Most Terraformation ideas that I have witnessed are "Top to Down" in nature.  I am a "Bottom to Up" sort.

For instance Elon Musk has an idea of nuclear bombs or mirrors in orbit to terraform.  Not wrong, and not excludable as possibilities, but not where I would first think to start.

I believe that the regolith of Mars at low temperatures and with it's own conditions may hold giant amounts of terraform materials.  I do agree that significant atmospheric loss to space has occurred over time (Probably).

Now it my time to annoy you feel free to post over my post, or dispute.  I have recently been thinking about Expanded Polystyrene for Mars.  I am not a proper chemist, and only have an inkling about this.  And I have nothing at all against transparency related concepts such as domes, and aerogel, and U.V. tolerant plastics.  Except that they may be hard to come by in a settlement startup.  I am very glad if others work on those and solve for them.

Expanded Styrene:
https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=di … &FORM=VIRE

As some of you know I am a "Lake" sort.  I think that to terraform Mars, you use a combination of methods.  As it happens, I think that the manufacture of this substance will not be too distant from making Methane, or greenhouse gasses, and so it may be worth a look.

It is a fair insulator on Earth, but I think on Mars with a 5.5 mb average ambient, and perhaps x2 or x3 that pressure, (Maybe more by stronger methods and longer time),  may make it work like a foam thermos bottle very good for retaining heat.  And that would serve my purpose of covering a ice covering over a lake(s) (Endless numbers of lakes actually).

At the same time I think for Mars it may make good components for surface machines.  Struts/stands to put solar panels on.  Light weight convex mirrors for heliostats.  The low Mars gravity is a help, and also the relative low force of wind.  For Earth we could not really consider this.

But of course there are downsides.  U.V. will be cruel to this substance unless it has protective coatings.  Abrasion from dust storms will also be a problem, so suitable coatings are needed.  And also for the heliostats a reflective coating.

I do not want to make is post overly long.  As I see, it you start by creating lakes in the mid latitudes where SpaceX plans to land.  Then you move around the circumference where possible, and towards the equator.  Later on you take on the poles.

As I see it Mars has plenty of vibrations from the sunlight, and also from deep geothermal energy.  Fission and Fusion may eventually play a role as well.  The problem with Mars it that it rejects the vibrations given to it and throws them back into space.  In my opinion Mars will be very suited to glacial type lakes with ice dams (And with dirt berms eventually separating the water and ice.  Towards the equator, craters can be filled with transported water, but still in general ice covered, except where dome technology allows open water.

I have mentioned similar things before.  But now I propose to cover the ice with a think vapor barrier, some layer of Styrofoam, and to inject vibrations into the lake waters.  This can be done with heating, chemical reactions, and artificial lighting.  It is a beautiful dream to have transparencies where Earth-Like conditions can be implemented, and lets hope such technologies get perfected over time.  But I really think that for the conditions of Mars this is a valuable component. 

I am just going to end it by saying that I don't object to proposals previously said.  I just add this.


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

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#19 2020-04-03 17:51:41

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,563

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

Very Considerate and useful Spacenut.

Louis, I actually have some experience relating to what it is that I think you are trying to achieve.

I discovered at my gym, which I cannot go to anymore, that red and infrared light are extremely important to humans.

An entity inserted itself into my gym as a related business.  They sold various therapies.  Such as jumping into a chamber at 150 below zero for 2 and 1/2 minutes.  But they had "Red Light Therapy", which involves red light and infrared light.  My witness is that it does help humans, or at least whatever I am.

The interior lighting we mostly have is too blue.  The red light stimulates the skin to get rid or wrinkles, and stimulates the mitochondria in the skin.  The infrared goes into the muscles and joints, and is helpful there.  Scientific truth?  Well don't prosecute me for false witness, I just do indicate that it did get rid of many wrinkles in my face and neck.  To me that indicates better health, not just a vanity issue.

So for your gorges, I think you may well want to know what the light spectrum is going to be in the interiors.  Maybe you add some red and infrared light, or maybe you just have a place where you can get it.

I do believe that it will prove very important to the health of Martians both physically and mentally.

Last edited by Void (2020-04-03 18:00:25)


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#20 2020-04-03 18:06:59

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,876

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

I had always assumed you would use natural light coming in through the narrow  glass/ice/plastic roof, with supplemented natural spectrum light pipes and  artificial light using the natural spectrum.  But I see no reason why there shouldn't be health giving red light gorges as well. You could combine it with a pressurised beach area for the shorelines of one of your lakes.

Void wrote:

Very Considerate and useful Spacenut.

Louis, I actually have some experience relating to what it is that I think you are trying to achieve.

I discovered at my gym, which I cannot go to anymore, that red and infrared light are extremely important to humans.

An entity inserted itself into my gym as a related business.  They sold various therapies.  Such as jumping into a chamber at 150 below zero for 2 and 1/2 minutes.  But they had "Red Light Therapy", which involves red light and infrared light.  My witness is that it does help humans, or at least whatever I am.

The interior lighting we mostly have is too blue.  The red light stimulates the skin to get rid or wrinkles, and stimulates the mitochondria in the skin.  The infrared goes into the muscles and joints, and is helpful there.  Scientific truth?  Well don't prosecute me for false witness, I just do indicate that it did get rid of many wrinkles in my face and neck.  To me that indicates better health, not just a vanity issue.

So for your gorges, I think you may well want to know what the light spectrum is going to be in the interiors.  Maybe you add some red and infrared light, or maybe you just have a place where you can get it.

I do believe that it will prove very important to the health of Martians both physically and mentally.


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#21 2020-04-04 12:39:50

Void
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Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,563

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

Well Louis, I am interested in your notions, I think it could be rather desirable.  Relatively expensive perhaps, but worth the cost to engineer what you hope for.

This is the product I was able to use.  (And I am grumpy about not being able to use it now).
https://joovv.com/?adgroupid=1343603561 … 0-%20Exact

So, I have not yet wrinkled up to dust like an expired vampire, most of the gain I had seems to be still retained as far as skin tone.

Typically my therapy would consist of standing between two panels for 10->20 minutes 1 or two times a day.  But it was a very good thing to do I think.  The only reason I persist in communicating this to you is that I feel that your gorge habitat it intended to give some sort of approximate simulation of Earth situation, on Mars.  I can see this as primarily useful to maintain the health of the humans on Mars, both mentally and physically.

I will assert that I did find light therapy very useful.  My mind worked far better.  I attribute this to the likelihood that things that we are tuned for were better simulated.  I said "Tuned for", because it is neutral to the assertions of evolution or creation.  In any case it does not matter how we are what we are as much as it matters that we understand our best tuning.  We don't want to leave out any possible best practice for Martian human life styles.

Last edited by Void (2020-04-04 13:03:06)


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#22 2020-04-04 12:44:19

SpaceNut
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Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,923

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

Ah seasonal depression lighting....something that one of my sons has to deal with as well and I hope you are getting better....

The lighting for the ISS and even the vertical factories for growing food all use the pink light created by red and blue leds for the growth of food.

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#23 2020-04-04 13:04:40

Void
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Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,563

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

Yes, I think it matters.  It is not just in the mind.  Apparently humans need certain wavelengths in order to operate there biology correctly, similar to how green plants need photons for the similar.


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#24 2020-06-30 09:20:08

Calliban
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From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 551

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

I revisited the idea of terra forming Mars with a thin (100mbar) almost pure oxygen atmosphere.  Mars has known water inventories of 21million cubic km, almost all of which are in the form of ice. 
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_on_Mars

This is enough ice to produce a 1.2bar pure oxygen atmosphere, if it were electrolised.  Obviously, this would be a truly enormous project, requiring huge quantities of energy.  But we know that the water is there.

Obviously, we would not want a 1.2 bar pure O2 atmosphere.  But a 100mbar pure O2 atmosphere (pressure at datum height) would allow human breathing without space suits in low lying areas, such as Hellas, the Mariner valley and northern plains.  It would require less than 10% ofvknown Martian ice reserves to produce a 0.1bar pure O2 atmosphere.

Pure oxygen releases 13.1MJ of heat when burned in hydrogen.  Assuming an 85% efficiency of electrolysis, it would require about 15MJ of electrical energy to produce 1kg of O2 on Mars.  How much electrical energy would be needed to produce a 100mbar atmosphere?  A few scoping calculations are needed.

Mars is approximately 6400km in diameter, giving a surface area of 1.28E14 square metres.  Gravity is 0.38g.  To produce a 0.1bar atm pressure on Earth, we would need 1tonne of O2 per square meter.  But on Mars we would need 2.66tonnes per square metre.  Total mass of O2 needed is therefore 3.4E14 tonnes, with each tonne requiring some 15GJ electrical energy.

Total electrical energy requirements are 5.1E15GJ.  That is 1GW of continuous power for 162million years.  If we want to cut the time down to 162 years say, we would need 1million GW of continuous electrical power.  That is equivalent to almost 1million standard sized nuclear power reactors, or an equivalent amount of fusion power capacity.  If we were to pay $1000/kW for this capacity, which is what some nuclear power reactors were built for in the 1970s, the total capital cost would be $1000trillion.  Spread over a 23rd century Martian population of 5billion, say, that would be an investment of $200,000 for every man, woman and child on the planet.

We are of course exploiting huge economies of scale.  If those scale economies can reduce unit capital costs by by a factor of 5-10, then terraforming begins to look more plausible.  Though it would remain a multigenerational effort. 

One thing to note is that fusion reactors woukd suffer far fewer plasma confinement issues if they were scaled up to tens of GW.  Power output is a function of reactor volume, whereas plasma loss rate is a function of surface area.  It is easier reaching breakeven in huge reactor than it would be in a smaller one.  It may therefore make more sense building 10,000x 100GWe reactors, than it would to build 1million x 1GWe reactors.  With that much installed capacity, it would also be more desirable to run the reactors on pure deuterium.

Last edited by Calliban (2020-06-30 09:41:45)


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#25 2020-06-30 09:49:52

Calliban
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From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 551

Re: Is terraforming Mars impossible? Maybe not...

Assuming these reactors are 33% efficient in their conversion of thermal energy into electricity, the rate of heat released into the environment would be 2E15 watts.  That is about 10% of the heat received by Mars from the sun.  Enough to warn that planet up a fair bit.

If Mars does indeed reach temperatures and pressures where liquid water can exist on the surface, the planets CO2 atmosphere would rapidly dissolve into the water, creating carbonic acid.  As the Martian surface is highly basic, the dissolved carbonic acid would react with dissolved hydroxide to produce carbonates.

This provides some explanation for why Martian atmospheric pressure is limited to 7mbar.  If it gets much higher, brines can exist on the surface.  The CO2 would dissolve into the brines and react to form carbonate.  Hence, a CO2 atmosphere is unstable on Mars at pressure much greater than 7mbar.

Last edited by Calliban (2020-06-30 09:53:24)


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