March 4, 2020

"A one-way trip to Mars will take about nine months, which is a long time to spend inside a hermetically sealed tube hurtling through a cold, dark void."

"Like all animals, humans require stimulation; without something to break the monotony, most of us end up like a tiger pacing its cage—stressed, depressed, and prone to problematic behaviors. Indeed, many scientists believe that boredom is one of the most serious challenges facing future spacefarers. Until now, design for space has focused on survival. But [Ariel Ekblaw, founder of the MIT Media Lab's Space Exploration Initiative] thinks it's possible, even essential, to imagine an entirely new microgravitational culture, one that doesn't simply adapt Earth products and technologies but instead conceives them anew. Cady Coleman amused herself by playing her flute on the International Space Station—another astronaut brought his bagpipes—but future travelers might instead pick up a Telemetron. They might wear clothes spun of special zero-g silk, or sculpt delicate forms that couldn't exist on Earth, or choreograph new forms of dance, assisted by their robot tails. They might, in other words, stop seeing themselves as homesick earthlings and begin to feel like stimulated, satisfied spacelings."

From "Algae Caviar, Anyone? What We'll Eat on the Journey to Mars/Humans are headed for the cosmos, and we’re taking our appetites with us. What will fill the void when we leave Earth behind?" (Wired).

The article goes on to talk about food, but I came screeching to a halt at "Cady Coleman amused herself by playing her flute on the International Space Station" and was appalled at what I heard next: "another astronaut brought his bagpipes."

You're stuck for months in "a hermetically sealed tube," with other people, and you're allowed to tootle on some acoustic musical instrument? Put that on the list of things that make me "end up like a tiger pacing its cage." Maybe "monotony" is on the list, but if the list is in order of how quickly and how far it will drive somebody nuts, a fellow passenger playing the bagpipes (or flute) is a lot higher on the list. Who wants this "amused herself" sort of approach to shared, close-quarters living?

Anyway... I say "when I heard" because I'm listening to magazine articles on the app Audm. It love it! I'd resisted it, because you have to pay about $60 a year, but now that I've got it, I strongly recommend it. The selection of articles is excellent, and the audio format gets me through substantial things that I would only skim if left to my eyes alone.

ADDED: A tidbit from the discussion of food:
Like generations of chefs before her, [industrial designer Maggie] Coblentz began by taking advantage of the local environment. Liquids are known to behave peculiarly in microgravity, forming wobbly blobs rather than streams or droplets. This made her think of molecular gastronomy, in particular the technique of using calcium chloride and sodium alginate to turn liquids into squishy, caviar-like spheres that burst delightfully on the tongue. Coblentz got to work on a special spherification station to test in zero g—basically a plexiglass glove box equipped with preloaded syringes. She would inject a bead of ginger extract into a lemon-flavored bubble, or blood orange into a beet juice globule, creating spheres within spheres that would deliver a unique multipop sensation unattainable on Earth.
General Foods saw it long ago with Cosmic Candy AKA Space Dust (in the Pop Rocks tradition).

83 comments:

tds said...

they won't get bored. They'll start playing sophisticated psychological games. In terms of movies/books: 'Lord of the flies', 'Gaslight', 'Compliance'

tds said...

'The Office'

tds said...

gimp basement from 'Pulp Fiction', 'Human centipede', Harvey Weinstein's and Matt Lauer's office

tim maguire said...

What I thought of is, it costs $10,000 per pound to send something into space. How much do bagpipes weigh and who paid for it?

gilbar said...

A one-way trip to Mars will take about nine months, which is a long time to spend inside a hermetically sealed tube hurtling through a cold, dark void.

that is a Good Point!
I'm surprised we haven't done some sort of experimentation, to see how people would cope
Since we can't go to mars yet; we'd have to simulate it
MAYBE (just MAYBE) we could orbit a hermetically sealed tube, and have it hurtling through a cold, dark void... around the earth.

I wonder what would happen, if a person had to orbit the earth for that long...
And, Like I said; i'm SURPRISED we haven't tried it already.
</sarc

Beasts of England said...

It costs as little as $500 per pound to LEO, tim maguire.

rehajm said...

What We'll Eat on the Journey to Mars...

What's this 'we' stuff?

rhhardin said...

Sound won't traverse an airlock.

rhhardin said...

The trouble with taking a guitar is the ongoing need for guitar strings.

tim maguire said...

Ok, maybe my numbers are dated (it was $10,000 last time I looked into it). Still, how much are taxpayers forking over for someone's whimsy?

Fernandistein said...

MIT Media Lab's Space Exploration Initiative

Science fiction and performance art together at last. Hurrah.

I wonder who's footing the bill for that boondoggle.

Phil 314 said...

Did anyone bring a Carioca machine?

Phil 314 said...

I assume most folks will want a two way trip to Mars

born01930 said...

Having spent months at a time drilling holes through various oceans in a hermetically sealed sewer pipe (submarine). I don't recall anyone bringing a flute, or any wind instrument for that matter. I doubt it would have lasted for long...I do recall 1 boat (Thomas Edison, converted to a "slow approach") that had a piano in its old MCC.
There is a myriad of ways to find entertainment, usually at the cost of someone elses dignity. We were kept pretty busy though through watch standing and maintenance. I think that concern is overblown.

Peter said...

A gentleman is one who knows how to play the bagpipes, but doesn't.

Jamie said...

Tim Maguire, it's not whimsy - it's mental health. I gave to admit that bagpipes seem a little... whimsical (I had heard about this astronaut and wondered how many times his underwear ended up in the airlock or something). But being squeezed into a tiny space with the same tiny handful of people for months on end and NO possibility of privacy or stepping outside or even having an unguarded THOUGHT because it might show on your face - deadly, if you don't have some form of release.

Heinlein dealt with this in the very first part ofStranger In A Strange Land, wherein the organizers of the first named mission to Mars concluded that married couples were the optimal choice for mental stability... but after (I think it was) well over a year of transit time, two were having an affair and one of those was pregnant via the wrong man, and when her delivery was not going well, her surgeon husband delivered the baby by C-section, leaving her to die on the table as he turned his scalpel on the cuckolder and then on himself. And all that sounds perfectly feasible to me, under those circumstances.

Jamie said...

When I was working on drill rigs as a mudlogger (not offshore - I could and did leave every day after my shift, or "tour"), the rig hands would amuse themselves by cutting my lines so that I would have to come back up onto the rig floor and re-rig them. (I was the sole female mudlogger in the Sacramento Valley at the time.) Bored people get up to all kinds of mischief, even when their boredom isn't justified by the inherent risks of their situation.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...


What's this 'we' stuff?


Me! Me want to go!!

JAORE said...

Those bagpipes would have taken an unscheduled exit out an air lock if I were on board.

Leland said...

At least with Musk, the Astronauts are likely to have room to do these activities. With NASA, the Orion Exploration Capsule only has a habitable space of 316 cu ft for you and 5 of your friends over 9 months.

stlcdr said...

Internet access! it's essential. Got to get the daily dose of Althouse.

stlcdr said...
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Maddad said...

I was in a bagpipe band growing up. All I can say is that if I was stuck in a tiny metal tube with some jerk playing bagpipes, we'd have the first murder in space. And I LIKE bagpipe music.

Fritz said...

rhhardin said...
The trouble with taking a guitar is the ongoing need for guitar strings.


Well, if you'r not going to do performances, you can live with old strings for quite a while. And the weight of a few sets of string is trivial to the weight of the guitar.

My brother does have a nice Martin travel guitar which is pretty small and light.

dbp said...
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dbp said...

How is it that I am the only one to have "respiratory disease" pop into my mind the second I read the word, "bagpipes"?

The bag is a perfect little Petri dish and that reservoir of germs will be efficiently aerosolized and spread throughout the space ship.

Larry J said...

tim maguire said...

Ok, maybe my numbers are dated (it was $10,000 last time I looked into it). Still, how much are taxpayers forking over for someone's whimsy?


If you're talking about what SpaceX is working on, none. They're trying to develop their giant rocket with their own money. If you're talking about NASA's SLS rocket, it's costing the taxpayers $2 billion a year. It's already several years late and the projected first launch date keeps getting pushed back, now said to be late 2021. It was supposed to fly in 2016, but that's NASA for you.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

A one-way trip to Mars? Nine months is a long time to ponder why you didn’t sign up for a two-way trip.

rehajm said...

I preferred the grape flavored Space Dust™. Orange tastes too much like Tang™.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

A question for all of us. What kind of "optimism" is it that leads people to think there is something attractive about travelling and living in space? Hard not to think of Elton John's "Rocket Man," and the great new article in Esquire about Musk and SpaceEx--trying to build something on the Texas coast of the Gulf. After years of fiasco, Musk announces: wind is a big problem here. No wonder people think he's a genius.

Ralph L said...

A bagpipe played inside Ft Myer chapel at the end of my father's best friend's memorial service. Painful and upsetting, despite it being a year since he'd disappeared in his plane over Alaska.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...without something to break the monotony, most of us end up... prone to problematic behaviors.

...another astronaut brought his bagpipes...

Talk about problematic behaviors!

ex-madtown girl said...

After reading this, I keep coming back to a mental visual of Ann floating on the space station, ready to get to work, when out of nowhere one of her colleagues pulls out a flute and asks, “Mind if I try calming all our nerves with some soothing tootling?” And the WTF look on her face is priceless. Hehehe

Fernandistein said...

a hermetically sealed tube hurtling through a cold, dark void

The New York subway system?

Pierre Boulle's novel which resulted in the "Planet of the Apes" movies, begins with some people (a couple?) touristing through space for fun, admiring the stars and such...it was terrible.

John Lynch said...

We have a Navy, you know.

Submariners go out for three months all the time.

I'm fairly sure you could extend that with the right people.

And yeah, I don't think there are bagpipes on board a sub.

pacwest said...

VR.

pacwest said...

VR and sex robots.

Silly Calabrese said...

I went to boarding school. Going to Mars would be approximately like a year at boarding school. I'd be fine.

Jupiter said...

NASA is welfare for engineers.

pacwest said...

VR and sex robots and algae.

mockturtle said...

Being trapped in a tube with someone playing bagpipes--worse than the nightmare I had last night.

Silly Calabrese said...

'I wonder what would happen, if a person had to orbit the earth for that long...
And, Like I said; i'm SURPRISED we haven't tried it already.'

You missed the entire Russian Salyut and Mir programs, then. Shame on you.

daskol said...

but after (I think it was) well over a year of transit time, two were having an affair and one of those was pregnant via the wrong man, and when her delivery was not going well, her surgeon husband delivered the baby by C-section, leaving her to die on the table as he turned his scalpel on the cuckolder and then on himself. And all that sounds perfectly feasible to me, under those circumstances.

They need to enlist OKCupid and Tindr and maybe Grindr to use their algorithms to select the right mix of people: open-minded, the right mix of exhibitionists and voyeurs, etc. That's > 2 years, so need to plan for everything including family formation, from throuples to offspring.

Howard said...

The moonshot and overall space program had about 1000-times the technological innovation directly applicable to our economic growth then any War and they only killed what a couple dozen. Sounds like a great investment to me since we are living high on the hog on the shoulders of all of those giant welfare engineers.

Ralph L said...

about 1000-times the technological innovation directly applicable to our economic growth then any War

We wouldn't have a jet set without WWII and Hitler.

tcrosse said...

So once you get to Mars, then what? Get out of the hermetically sealed tube and take a cab into town?

Howard said...

Uber already bought the franchise for Mars. Soon we won't be able to call them little green men anymore because woke

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Virtual reality games.

You can play solo or you can play as teams. Some of those games have beautiful scenery. Others are good mental challenges with puzzles and obstacles to work out.

Games.With the added bonus that they make you move around and the Space Travelers will need exercise anyway. Why not get it while killing a dragon or building a beautiful garden.

The tasty pods sound nice...HOWEVER....they'd better get some fiber in their diets too :-)

rcocean said...

I don't think going to Mars is practical. Its not just a 9 month journey there, they'll have to stay on Mars till the next year and Earth and Mars are close together. We're talking a 2 year trip. And it won't show up anything we don't already know.

rcocean said...

I could barely take the long flight to Europe and Thailand. Imagine a nine month flight! On the plus side: face touching is OK. No virus in space.

Fernandistein said...
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Dust Bunny Queen said...

rcocean I don't think going to Mars is practical. Its not just a 9 month journey there, they'll have to stay on Mars till the next year and Earth and Mars are close together. We're talking a 2 year trip. And it won't show up anything we don't already know.

That's what the people from Europe thought too when they sailed off to explore and settle in the "new world". Unknown continent with unknown people. A one way trip for most. Years before the next ship came. Years before they could return to England....if ever.

What a waste of time. Right.

Even in the 1800's when folks left Illinois to go to the unknowns of Oregon or California (as my husband's ancestors did)...it was a long trek. The people going didn't know what they would find. The people left behind didn't know if they would ever hear from their family and friends again. It was as if they stepped off into an abyss. No mail service. No roads. No railroads. No gasp INTERNET. No communication for years....or ever.

Yet. Here we are.

Personally, I wouldn't do it; go to Mars and colonize. I hope I live long enough to see it happen.

Fernandistein said...

In space no one can hear you scream about the damned bagpipes.

SteveB said...

Invent a new form of dancing using a robotic tail?
Seems like any tail will do and its a very old dance.

tcrosse said...

The pioneers who came to the New World from Europe or China didn't have to worry about an atmosphere that supports life.

Phidippus said...

I hate to break it to the enthusiasts, but nobody's going to Mars.

We simply don't have the technology (much less the spare wealth) to build machines of that complexity and make them reliable enough to get people there and back.

It might be attempted once, but the spectacle of watching the astronauts slowly die stranded on Mars because some o-ring failed (no Home Depot nearby, and Amazon Prime doesn't deliver there) will chill the enthusiasm of the true believers and those stuck with paying for it.

Then there is the problem of the radiation dose on the way out, there, and back. Only brute force at best solutions available there.

You know, there's a reason why no human society has ever chosen to live in Antarctica. There's no basis for an economy, for one thing. And it so much nicer than Mars: You can breathe the air, there's plenty of fresh water, and the sunlight (when available) is so much brighter. Plus, help is only a couple of weeks away.

Mars (and space exploration in general) is for robots. We build good ones, and we're getting better at it all the time. If one crashes or stops working, no one cries except the engineers who spent 20 years designing it and getting it launched, only to see their life's work come to nothing.

It's a fun idea for books, but let's get real.

Separately, Scottish bagpipes are a barbarian corruption of these, and are justly objurgated by all sensible persons: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uilleann_pipes

Yancey Ward said...

We will have to perfect suspended animation to make trips like this- like lowering metabolism to 1% of normal, or less.

JPS said...

Phidippus,

You may be right. I hope not. But I do want to ask about this one:

"Then there is the problem of the radiation dose on the way out, there, and back."

The numbers I'm finding are unhealthy in the long term. They're not recommended. But our standards of safe are (and I'm grateful they are) extremely cautious. Ask for volunteers, make sure they know the risks, and you'll get them.

If you told me, You can go to Mars if you want to, but you'll take a dose of radiation that won't make you sick in the short run, will age you a couple of years, and will raise your chance of dying of cancer from the 20% it is anyway to around 24%? I'd take my chances.

loudogblog said...

I don't think that boredom would be a problem because digital storage will allow them to take a lifetime of books, movies, documentaries and music. I think that we'll get to Mars, but it won't be soon. The proper way to do it is to send all the stuff needed for long term survival to Mars first. Then, when there is a large enough stockpile of supplies, tools, food, water, ect; we can send the people. That will probably cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Phidippus is right. We do not have the technology today, or even in the near future, to send people to Mars and to have them live there as colonists. The cost to try to do this "now" would be prohibitive.

Robotics are the future for now. Baby steps.

Personally, I would think that a starter off planet place to set up colonies and mining operations would be the Moon. In addition, if humanity wants to do further exploration of the solar system (to infinity and beyond!!!)...the moon or more elaborate space stations, would be a better launching pad than from Earth.

Assuming we don't blow ourselves up or have a disaster, like a planet killing asteroid. I believe that all this is possible. Just not in our lifetimes, nor even that of our grandchildren.

Phidippus said...

JPS-- I've heard the risk discussed, and some experts in the field (which I am not) seem to think that shielding during the trip (either passively, with e.g. massive amounts of water or polyethylene, or actively with some yet-to-be-developed electromagnetic technique) would be needed to get the exposure down to an "acceptable" level. Mars might be far enough from the Sun for the radiation to be less of an issue there, I don't know.

We are delicately tuned to the conditions on this planet and it's going to be a struggle just to stay alive anywhere else. How much time and energy would be left for the science this is supposed to be about?

"Suspended animation" would be helpful, if it were available, which it's not. At least it has the advantage over faster than light travel of being possible in principle.

Fernandistein said...

Shoulda was a link:
I wonder who's footing the bill for that boondoggle.

I hate to break it to the enthusiasts, but nobody's going to Mars

I'm sure they will eventually, unless the Chinese Highly Infectious Non-necrotizing Killing Syndrome or some such causes a major interruption in civilization; and even then, what's a few hundred thousand years here and there?

Icepilot said...

Having spent more than 4 months "inside a hermetically sealed tube hurtling through a cold, dark void", I suggest bringing a book or two.

mandrewa said...

Lloyd Robertson, "After years of fiasco,..."

Actually things are happening with amazing speed at Boca Chica. It's hard to believe but it's less than five months since they started to build the stainless steel version of the Starliner.

People in the area are taking videos of the progress and the changes from week to week are dramatic. A good place to follow this would be the NasaSpaceFlight channel on YouTube, where normally each day there is a ten minute video of the progress made the previous day.

SpaceX is currently on their fourth (or fifth, depending on how you count it) prototype of the Starliner. I don't quite know what to call this style of development, but it boils down to learning by doing. They know they have a lot to figure out and a lot to learn, since of course no one has ever done anything comparable.

The first prototype was semi-successful, as it made a short flight, but it wasn't close to realistic and really a big part of building the first was simply learning how to work with stainless steel. The second and third prototypes have explosively failed, since part of what makes this so difficult is that the mass margins are so small. Whether or not it will work depends in part on whether they can find a way to build a vehicle light enough to leave room to carry significant mass upward.

JPS said...

Phidippus, thanks for your response. You make good points - and raise good questions.

mandrewa said...

Phidippus said, "We simply don't have the technology (much less the spare wealth) to build machines of that complexity and make them reliable enough to get people there and back."

Actually I think it's well within our reach to make machines that are reliable enough to go to and from Mars.

But there is a related question I'm not so sure about. That is anyone living on Mars is going to require machines to function with extraordinary reliability. Or another way to look at it is that the time it takes to repair the machines the people will be relying on must be less than the number of people multiplied by the available hours in the day.

This may not be so easy to accomplish and I think actually it's a good part of the problem of living off of the planet Earth.

But the only way to find out whether we can do it or not is of course to try. And actually really this is the sort of problem that can only be proved to non-solvable, practically speaking, by a prolonged, as in centuries, effort.

Tom T. said...

"Mars Excursions -- sponsored by Pornhub!"

mandrewa said...

Phidippus said, "Then there is the problem of the radiation dose on the way out, there, and back."

The normal radiation dosage on a six-month trip to Mars can easily be survived. It's not good for you but basically it boils down to an increased cancer risk.

The problem is if a large solar flare directed at the colonists happens during their transit. These events are rare, but they do happen, and if a large one occurred all the colonists in transit would be immediately killed.

The risk coming back is no worse than the risk going out, but actually Musk is mainly talking about building a colony on Mars and thus for almost everyone that goes it will be a one-way trip.

mandrewa said...

Phidippus said, "You know, there's a reason why no human society has ever chosen to live in Antarctica. There's no basis for an economy, for one thing."

Antarctica has significant resources and I do believe there is a basis for an economy. It isn't possible to live in Antarctica without relying on sophisticated machines that did not exist sometime before the last hundred years. Nevertheless some people are living there, year round, right now.

There is a international treaty prohibiting nations from setting up colonies in Antarctica. I think this is the real reason that so few people are there.

mandrewa said...

Phidippus said, "Mars (and space exploration in general) is for robots."

If I assumed the only purpose for being in space is science, then I would agree with you. But I don't think that, although clearly that is your implicit assumption.

Instead I believe it is worth spending a lot of money, and a lot of lives, to discover if it's possible for people to live off our native planet.

Caligula said...


"How long does it take to get to Mars" depends on how much energy you're willing to spend to get there. Of course, if you want to land it would help if your orbital velocity more-or-less matches that of Mars when you get there.

The minimum-energy transfer orbit from Earth to Mars is known as the "Hohmann Tranfer Orbit" and is described in some detail in a Wikipedia article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hohmann_transfer_orbit

But, the bottom line is that although nine months is close to this minimum, it doesn't take all that much more energy to do it in six months. Of course, you'll still have to wait until the planets are in suitable positions before you can come back, but if you spend a bit more energy to get there faster you'd have more time on Mars (which presumably is the whole point), and you might be able to reduce some risks if you trade more planet-side time for less spacecraft-time.

(BTW, remind me again of the many reasons why Wired is such a wretched source for anyone who wants reliable information. In any case, the maths required to calculate transfer orbits predates spaceflight.)

Anyway, here are some flight times for some actual journeys to Mars:

Mariner 4, the first spacecraft to go to Mars (1965 flyby): 228 days
Mariner 6 (1969 flyby): 155 days
Mariner 7 (1969 flyby): 128 days
Mariner 9, the first spacecraft to orbit Mars (1971): 168 days
Viking 1, the first U.S. craft to land on Mars (1975): 304 days
Viking 2 Orbiter/Lander (1975): 333 days
Mars Global Surveyor (1996): 308 days
Mars Pathfinder (1996): 212 days
Mars Odyssey (2001): 200 days
Mars Express Orbiter (2003): 201 days
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2005): 210 days
Mars Science Laboratory (2011): 254 days

David said...

The first rule of space travel is to be rational. Rockets are a waste and will not do the drill. A new propulsion system has to be developed. Any flight vehicle must be able to fly across space at one million miles an hour or more and have on board gravity. NASA should get tough about speed and the US and Russian governments should do the same. Yes, you can fly through space at great speed. 9 months in a weightless environment is damaging. Make Mars 100 hours away and you change everything.

effinayright said...

When I see references to "terraforming" Mars, I wonder if the enthusiasts understand that Mars's lack of a magnetic field means that the solar wind would relentlessly scour off gases humans put into the Martian atmosphere.

Additionally, the concentration of CO2 in the present atmosphere would hinder the creation of an oxygen-rich atmosphere at the surface, since CO2 has a much higher molecular weight (44) than O2 (32). Eventually that problem could be overcome, but the solar wind would require continual replenishment of oxygen and water vapor.

So....humans on Mars would be living in domed structures or underground for a long, long time...perhaps forever.

I agree with those who say we should make the Moon a test bed. If we can survive on the Moon we could have much more confidence that Mars missions would be viable, assuming we can shorten the trip.

mandrewa said...

Unknown said, "So....humans on Mars would be living in domed structures or underground for a long, long time...perhaps forever."

Yes, terraforming Mars would take a thousand years, at least, and then the new atmosphere might only last for hundreds of millions of years. Or something like that.

Unknown said, "I agree with those who say we should make the Moon a test bed."

I also think that the Moon has many advantages, but still, from an energy perspective, if you can go to the Moon, then you can go to Mars.

Here are the two main advantages of the Moon as I see it:

(A) It takes one week to get to the Moon versus six months to get to Mars.

(B) The Moon is close enough to Earth that it could be mined for metals and other resources to support an Earth-orbiting colony. Of course this only makes sense if there is an Earth-orbiting colony. But if there is an Earth-orbiting colony then it makes sense to mine resources from the Moon. Mining from the Earth would be much more expensive. Mars might, possibly, be cheaper than mining from the Earth, but the Moon is definitely cheaper than Mars.

The main advantages of Mars as I see it are:

(A) A person's weight on Mars is twice that on the Moon. It's questionable whether it will work either way, but Mars is the better bet from a weight perspective.

(B) Mars overall is much more Earth-like than the Moon and that may make it easier in many subtle but perhaps crucial ways.

Jupiter said...

"There is a international treaty prohibiting nations from setting up colonies in Antarctica. I think this is the real reason that so few people are there."

Yeah, I was going to move there back in '06, set up a penguin ranch. But I couldn't get a permit. Fucking bureaucrats.

Caligula said...

"The first rule of space travel is to be rational. Rockets are a waste ..."

This reminds me of that classic "How to become a millionaire" advice: "Well, first you get a million dollars, then ..."

effinayright said...

mandrewa said...
Unknown said, "So....humans on Mars would be living in domed structures or underground for a long, long time...perhaps forever."

Yes, terraforming Mars would take a thousand years, at least, and then the new atmosphere might only last for hundreds of millions of years. Or something like that.
*****************

Really? You think the solar wind is going to take a hundred million year vacation? Face it: humans would never be able to quit pumping gases into the atmosphere.

mandrewa said...

Unknown, as you probably know Mars originally had a much denser atmosphere. It has taken four point six billion years to strip that atmosphere to the relatively thin layer that it is today.

But still that's four point six billion years. What I'm not entirely clear on, and perhaps you know is just when Mars lost its magnetic field. That is assuming it ever had one.

I believe it was a very long time ago.

So the fact that Mars even has an atmosphere at all, today, is evidence that this stripping of the atmosphere by the solar wind is a pretty darn slow process.

mandrewa said...

As I already said the pace at which SpaceX is building their new rocket is just incredible.

Here's some video from yesterday, SpaceX Boca Chica - Constructing Starship SN2 inside a building under construction.

Starship SN2 didn't even exist less than two weeks ago. And here they are assembling large pieces of it.

In the last four or five months there has been (a) StarHopper, a very basic proof of concept, (b and c) Starship M1 and Starship M2, Starship M1 had a pressure vessel failure before its intended static fire and Starship M2 was cancelled, (d) two large pressure vessels tested to destruction, the second was successful, (e) Starship SN1, based on the successful construction methods of the second large vessel test, which then had a pressure vessel failure before its intended static fire, and finally (f) Starship SN2, which is intended to correct what they think was the flaw in SN1.

If all goes well Starship SN2 will be used for a full-sized pressure vessel test and then perhaps a static fire, and then a more elaborate Starship SN3 will be built from the lessons learned from that.

Nichevo said...

Howard said...
The moonshot and overall space program had about 1000-times the technological innovation directly applicable to our economic growth then any War and they only killed what a couple dozen. Sounds like a great investment to me since we are living high on the hog on the shoulders of all of those giant welfare engineers.

3/4/20, 8:33 AM



DISAGREE. We are STILL living off the seed corn of 1945.

effinayright said...

@mandrewa:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2015/10/mars-magnetic-field-ocean/409021/

Yes, the evidence for water oceans indicates Mars once had a much denser atmosphere, one likely protected by a magnetic field.

But how, when and why that field disappeared is unknown.

My point it, it's gone. The current atmosphere is very thin, contains little oxygen or water, and lots of CO2. Changing its density and composition will require planetary engineering, something we've never done, at least on purpose.

effinayright said...

Howard said...
The moonshot and overall space program had about 1000-times the technological innovation directly applicable to our economic growth then any War and they only killed what a couple dozen. Sounds like a great investment to me since we are living high on the hog on the shoulders of all of those giant welfare engineers.
****************

Howard, please explain how we live "high off the hog" from the efforts of people who enriched all of our lives through their inventions and technological breakthroughs.

People on welfare are takers: space program engineers were not.

You might as well say that people who build fighter planes that are never used in combat are welfare engineers....do you?

Finally, the people who died carrying out the space programs were not "killed" by it, they died while carrying out those programs. You might as well try to argue that people who are killed in auto accidents were killed by Ford, GM or Honda.

I's say you should get a grip, but it's obviously far too late for that.

mandrewa said...

Unknown said, "The current atmosphere is very thin, contains little oxygen or water, and lots of CO2. Changing its density and composition will require planetary engineering, something we've never done, at least on purpose."

Oh, I agree with you. I'll add to that and say it's also likely to be mind-bogglingly expensive. So expensive in fact that I doubt it would even be attempted before there was a large community on Mars, like say millions of people, with sufficient financial muscle to attempt such a thing.

So it's all far in the future, if it happens at all, and has little relevance to what is happening now.