Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Lowbacca_1977, May 9, 2010.
Nope, no such problem. Technologically feasible to detect a generic planet in the habitable zone.
I think I said that wrong. A study showed that there are defnitely no plamets around them at a range of 100 to 300 AU. There was nothing about worlds in the habitable zones because right now we cannot turn down the brightness of the stars enough.
The vast majority of planetary detections take place further in than that, there isn't an issue with brightness of the star, per se. I think you're thinking of purely direct imaging, which uses a coronagraph to remove the star's light to see objects around it, and so is more effective the further out the planet is. However, this method has only been used on 3 star systems at present to image planets.
The two primary methods for planetary detections, radial velocity and transit method, both detect the planet based on it's effect on the star it's orbiting, either by radial velocity, or by observing the star pass in front of the planet, respectively. What then becomes the issue is it is possible that we can't detect planets because their orbits are on the wrong angle for either of those methods to be useful, but if they ARE orbiting at angles that are applicable, the brightness of the stars isn't an issue, although for small worlds we don't have quite the necessary resolution on radial velocity to spot small mass planets in long orbits that way yet, and for both methods, you'd have to watch for years before you could actually confirm it.
So, NASA's Messenger probe has sent back its first detailed images of Mercury's surface:
Messenger isn't the first spacecraft to approach Mercury. Mariner 10 flew by back in the 1970's, but Messenger is the first to actually orbit the planet, approaching within a close distance of 124 miles. Since about 55% of Mercury's surface hasn't been photographed, Messenger should get images of the remaining surface. Beyond pictures, Messenger will help determine what makes Mercury so dense, and hopefully get more information on Mercury's magnetic field.
It's the field that would make it easier for future colonizations of Mercury, although that's an admittedly controversial subject.
Even in science fiction, the colonization of Mercury tends to be minimal. Imagination itself - beyond the cities-on-rails idea - tends to fail when facing Mercury.
It's an interesting planet with it's huge core, but looking so much like the Moon, it gets a bad press. Just like Uranus has never recovered from looking so bland when Voyager 2 flew by it in 1986. Even in space science, how you look matters.
I'm looking forward to what MESSENGER can show us with great interest myself, though.
The future ESA/JAXA Bepi Colombo had in the original plans a penetrator which would have done the first "landing" on Mercury, but after all the problems with those - like the loss of the Deep Space 2 penetrators on Mars by NASA - it was dropped.
I think we have to wait the first landing on Mercury as long as the first Uranus orbiter...
Eh, when my clone is administrator of the first UFP colony on Mercury, I'm/he's going to hang that image as a wall sized mural behind my/his desk. Of course, the next highest priority position is going to be head of the solar shield administration, so applications are being accepted. Just be sure to post date them by about 50 years...
Or for those really interested in the position, all that has to be done is to invent a workable FTL propulsion system. Then, any potential applicant can simply zip around the universe at near light speed, Haldeman style, and wait for the 50 years to pass, while only aging a couple of years, fresh for their first day...
Uh, just feel like I should point out that since FTL stands for Faster Than Light, you wouldn't be near light speed, you'd surpass it.
As for colonizing Mercury... the question of "Why?" comes to mind. It's "geographically" disadvantageous since it only gets us closer to a big hot ball of gas, and the temperatures alternate between freezing cold space vacuum and super hot way too close to the sun vacuum depending on the time of day. It'd be too prohibitively expensive to encourage outright settlement. I suppose if there were useful resources there could be, I dunno, mining operations, but we'd have to figure out some serious climate control measures first.
Uh, just feel like I should point out that since FTL stands for Faster Than Light, you wouldn't be near light speed, you'd surpass it.
Well sure, that would be the max. I'd point out that if you had a sports car that has a top speed of 220MPH, you don't always go from parked to the top speed. Sometimes you drive along at 20, 40, 65MPH as needed. So, yeah, if one wanted to, you could use a FTL drive to travel at a nice, leisurely 50% of light and take in the sights, especially if you just want to waste time before your nice, new job.
As to why:
1)Mercury is filled with rare and useful ores.
2)You could capture the energy of the sun and beam it back to Earth using a laser generator.
3)It's proximity to the sun means you could launch cargo rockets and slingshot them around the sun to really go the distance.
It's all win-win. The question is why isn't it already colonized?
There is no single FTL anything I have heard of or read about outside of a ST warp drive that will be any good for travelling inside our solar system, even put on a "low setting".
Mercury is a HHUUGGEE source for iron. The asteroid belt is small beans in comparison. Asteroids are easier to get to, far easier. Mercury can wait, but it is indeed underrated.
Of course there are. Just check a source like Technovelgy for all sorts of ideas which run the gambit between almost possible to "not in a million years" pure imagination. I mentioned the "Haldeman Drive" (from The Forever War) in my initial post, which most certainly has various settings, although admittedly, it uses "collapsar jumps" to travel really long distances in the universe. Wouldn't it be possible to design a ship that had a NERVA-esque system for short trips, along with a "superluminal drive" from Stephen Baxter's novel Ark or similar?
And besides why limit yourself? It's all a theoretical exercise in imagination. That's the exact setup my clone ruler of Mercury is going to use for his pleasure space yacht, after all.
The lowest energy requirement I have heard of involving FTL is converting the mass of Jupiter to energy with near 100% efficiency and you get a wormhole. Not exactly logistically friendly for tarvel int he solar system.
Well, I'm not sure what you're saying. Why limit yourself to only what you've heard about? Michio Kaku had a informative special on the Jupiter-sized energy requirements, as I'm sure other physicists accept as well, so that's not under dispute. But 1)who is talking about only going faster than light? And 2)It doesn't mean that any number of other theoretical possibilities can't be explored. I mean, I don't literally have a clone that's going to be the ruler of Mercury, and the "time dilation job interview" was just tongue in cheek.
The NERVA nuclear-thermal propulsion system exists right now. In fact, it's old technology that was going to be used for human trips to Mars. It can most certainly be used to jet around the solar system, and if you get up to .5x the speed of light, it could be an enjoyable trip. I'm sure there are others as well. I know that NERVA had an update back around 2001-2003, which was canceled due to cost, but I'm sure the tech is solid.
NERVA has a specific impulse of up to 900. This is twice the best chemical rockets and doesn't really open up the solar system. It is better to be sure, but Mars does not come much sooner.
With advances in nantotechnology exotic things like metallic hydrgen and spin stabalized triplet helium could be brought to rockets (specific impulse of 1700 and 3150) and that can open things up a bit further.
Right now all the technology exists to make what would essentially be multiple worlds, all within the Earth/Lunar system. not just the Moon itself but there are man iron asteroids in our vicinity. You could make somewhere between 10 to 20 Halo(video game) megastructures right here close to home. Or you could make an armada of smaller(still miles in length/diameter) of iron asteroid worldlets/spaceships to go wherever. The asteroid belt quantity is an order of magnitude greater, you could house quadrillions of people using the main asteroid belt in bubbleworld form.
There is Heim Theory, not yet peer reviewed that says 80 time slightspeed might happen, I do not know the energy requirements off hand but they are still LARGE.
i hope there are not as many typos as in my last post.
What's the Heim theory as it relates to a ship drive? His theories all focus on multi-universes and such, correct? So Heim drive would be a variation of something that folds space?
The Alcubierre drive basically does this as well. Although it's my understanding that since an Alcubierre ship isn't moving through space, but rather bending it, his theory does away with the pesky effect of time dilation, which explains why the crew on the Enterprise never experienced any of the effects, but it wouldn't work at all for any future job applicants.
Reasons for colonization: Solar observatories, solar power stations, perhaps even mining - and eventually perhaps just the fact that better real estate in the solar system has already been taken.
Mining I can see, like I said. Solar power would be utterly impractical - there are carnot efficiency limits on solar power extraction that we already get to on Earth, and then a massive amount of that power would have to be diverted to protecting the plants from the harsh environment. Solar observatories might be feasible if they were unmanned.
This bizarre insistence on its inevitable colonization utterly baffles me. I don't think "economically infeasible" remotely begins to cover the lack of incentives.
[link=http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=501]Here's a good overview of a Heim hyperdrive[/link]
Everything requires new stuff. Materials, a new understanding of physics, etc. I do not know how much energy one needs to maintain 25 tesla for days, weeks, or months of travel(is there a physicist in the house?).
Still, it is a possible all in one, life off from worlds, quick system travel, and FTL. It literally reads like Star Wars antigravity and hyperdive. I'm all for funding R&D.
If we ever get to colonize even Mars, it would be centuries at a minimum before the colonies on Mars would be self-sustainable. You would have to create a whole industrial society on the harsh conditions on Mars. This is what science fiction often forgets. You don't need just factories to build the essential supplies the colonists need, you need factories to build the parts for the factories that produce those supplies and so on. In our current "short-term" economical thinking colonization of Mars would not be worth it, but I still think that humanity should do it. Forget economical thinking and invest heavily on it's own future.
Not going on guessing what the budgets will be like in 2050 and what should be cut now to balance that theoretical budget, but how we want the status of the humanity to be in 2500. Long term commitment to our future. Just what we lack now, when politicians in many countries refuse to deal with climate change because their voter base doesn't want to hear bad news or deal with their consequences.
Yes, I understand that it would be very hard to present and seek funding for a 100 000 year plan to terraform Venus now, but at some point, if humanity wants to have a future, it needs to get hold of it senses and see the truly big picture, itself not on a national or even a planetary stage, but on a cosmic one. Either to become just a one extinct species that has lived on Earth, or give itself a greater destiny than that.
And in the long term, if chooses the latter choice, colonization of even Mercury would be worth it. Not economically, but to give humanity one more foothold in space.
It would not take centuries for Mars people to be self sustaining. Mars has everything we have but with less breathable air and water. I mean, you could go virtually anywhere and be self sustaining. The only thing stopping the colonization of the solar system has nothing to do with recources and everything to do with current launch costs.
It's not that easy in Mars. You would rely on equipment manufactured on Earth and shipped to Mars until you would build a real industrial economy and society on Mars.
Just think of a simple object: A screw aka bolt. A self-sustainable Mars colony would have to produce it's own standardized screws. And to get to that point when the Martian screw factory produces it's first screw a huge amount of building, mining, processing and construction would have to have been made. With an astounding price tag for that first screw. For the moment it's the only Martian produced screw, it would probably be the most expensively produced object in the entire solar system.
While I agree with your first idea, I'm rather confused about the second. What do you mean "Mars would need to develop its own standardized screw?" Why? If there are literally millions of standard 3/4" screws on Earth, why do anything differently? Mars wouldn't need a special 11.5mm screw just to be Martian or anything of the sort. If you mean Mars would have to set up the manufacturing base to copy Earth products, I'd agree to well, a degree.
A simple arm powered machine shop can press out screws, for example, and the per unit cost wouldn't be any more than what's on Earth. Presumably, "newer tech" would also be relied on, so maybe a polymer screw would simply be injection molded into a template. Or maybe advanced adhesives would be used that don't require screws at all. That sort of thing.
Actually, studies have already been conducted in this area. Current arctic bases follow a degree of self-sustainability, and self generate a lot of their own needed material.(granted, not all) Long term undersea experiments were also conducted in this area back in the 60's, where tool use, and woodworking, etc...were all conducted underwater. It's certainly the same ballpark.
As we live under markets there would be an initial cost(at the moment, billions), but once you pay for that, if you really wanted to and had the know how, you could go to Mars with a few tons of intial equipment and food and such, and never have to pay for anything again until others followed you and some form of trade and commerce came about.
You can make a screw on Mars, why would you pay for a new one? You only need something to fabricate with. This is why many scifi books about getting out int he solar system feature groups of people who get out there...to the Moon, or Mars, or an asteroid...then claim indepedence.
I suppose the only real reason capitalism will crop up in off-Earth societies os because most people have a "I ain't doing a thing for you without something in return". On Earth we call it money for work. But it doesn't have to be that way. I hope to live long enough to see/take part in how it will al play out.
But Arctic bases don't produce the materials they use. What I mean is being able to manufacture themselves everything they need; to be self-sustained the Mars colonies would have to produce things like "simple arm powered machines" you mentioned, and all the tools you need to make them etc etc. Otherwise you would have to transport them from Earth at a high price and the colonies wouldn't be self-sustained.
This is one thing that science fiction and real colonisation plans tend to forget. If Mars colonies would be truly self-sustainable, we just wouldn't have to transport X number of colonists with Y number of materials on Mars and afterwards sent regular cargo shipments to support them. We would have to re-create an industrial, self-sustained society and economy on Mars so that they can survive without Earth.
I just meant that the initial set-up would strive to minimize these concerns, just like the other "harsh environment" examples do. The initial colony would obviously be the most expensive, but the initial group would rely on things like pre-fabricated structures and pre-packaged foods, and so on... Realistically, everything you did would be planned to use the least resources possible.
The next step would build on that. A remotely controlled unmanned cargo rocket would be relatively inexpensive compared to the initial manned one. You wouldn't just fill it with bolts, you would send a bolt making machine. Or even a bolt making machine making machine. Once it's there, a dollar bolt is just a dollar bolt. A $50,000 ore digger on Earth is no different when it's assembled on Mars, once you get it there. Or once an artificial greenhouse was established using inflated domes, you could see how much food it would provide to replace the pre-packaged stuff. Each follow on mission would build on the previous one, and would result in less dependence. Granted, Mars is theoretically a more harsh environment, but the the theory is the same.
It cost about 400 million to launch a Titan rocket. (before it was retired, that is) But that total included all costs, was higher because it was infrequent, and was fixed no matter if the rocket was full or empty. The Titan could probably carry about 5,600Kg to Mars. That's a lot of bolts. And if you bring those costs down, which I'm sure newer tech would, it's even more efficient. Unless I'm missing something, I just don't get what would make a Martian bolt so uniquely expensive, or why this would have to be so?
It's just the case of being truly self-sustainable and not counting on supplies from Earth. To be able to produce on Mars everything the colonies need. Including those bolts. And that would take time, and be very expensive. Sure, you could put up a McMurdo equivalent on Mars within a decade or two from first manned mission, depending how much you spent, but if you want the colonies to be able to survive if for some reason support from Earth ends, then getting to that point would likely take centuries.