back to article How to make boots on Mars affordable - One way trips

One of the main limiting factors on a manned mission to Mars is the fact that, under normal assumptions, much of the stuff that travelled to the red planet would not be concerned with exploration but rather with bringing the crew back to Earth. The solution? According to two scientists, it would make more sense for the first …

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Joke

tackling the pension crisis

how to deal with an ageing population

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Um

"Also, despite a lot of searching, nobody has managed to actually find any life on the red planet - and quite bluntly in any case concern over possible Martian microbes shouldn't prevent the human race acquiring its survival insurance policy." Make that indigenes...

Glenn

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Science?

Boffins?

I'd love to join them. No, not for Mars, but for their smoking sessions.

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Alien

Sign me up

After a day like today with the pointy haired bosses doing their best to grab defeat from the jaws of victory.... Where do I sign up?

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Joke

I'd sign up to

If only to get away from the misses

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Pint

Why not...

just send the missus?

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Joke

This is not, repeat not, a title

You'd get rid of the misses and keep the hits?

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Pint

Food, water, air all very well.

Yes yes yes, but how will they access Facebook? And where will they get beer?

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Not only that

But imagine the lag while playing Call of Duty.

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Good point

They say they'd have access to email etc., but as Earth and Mars orbit at different rates, without relay satellites between the two planets, data speeds would be significantly less at apoapsis (when Mars is furthest to Earth) than periapsis (when Mars is closest). Even with relay / booster satellites, there'd still be a significant lag, even at periapsis.

So email and usenet, yes. Facebook / VoIP / videoconfering, not likely! I suppose if a company like Google got involved in the project, then it might be possible to have a form of web access, with the relay satellites mirroring sites between an earth-based server and a Mars-based server.

But as for the radiation issue, how feasible would it be to design a passenger compartment that had decent shielding - at least for the majority of the trek across space?

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Pint

Food water and air will be planned for-

Facebook? For groundgrippers.

Beer? There will always be beer. Even if it has to be wrung from the rocks, there will be beer. History has proven this.

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FAIL

RE: Good Point

"They say they'd have access to email etc., but as Earth and Mars orbit at different rates, without relay satellites between the two planets, data speeds would be significantly less at apoapsis"

Radio travels at the same speed, regardless if an intermediary satellite picks it up and rebroadcasts it. This only reduces the effect of attenuation. Relay satellites would be best used to increase transmission windows, and would have one (or more) in orbit around Mars and Earth.

"So email and usenet, yes. Facebook / VoIP / videoconfering, not likely!"

Facebook would be the same as using email or usenet. Granted, the page loads would be horrendously slow (since you're limited to a pipe the width of 1/3 of a modem). Perhaps Opera Mini has finally found its niche! Just turn off images. But yes, VoIP and videoconferencing are off the table until a higher-speed transmission is set up, and no, it won't be in real-time.

"But as for the radiation issue, how feasible would it be to design a passenger compartment that had decent shielding"

This is why they said "beyond reproductive age." They don't intend to adaquately shield them from radiation. They expect reproductive capability to be nuked, as well as shortening the lifespan to 20 years (which means nothing to a 60yr-old, as they'd likely die near 80 anyway).

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Headmaster

Linguistic fail

"To Boldly Go can be read in full..."

They're clever enough to be classified as "boffins," yet are unable to spot a split infinitive!

[Yes, I know: Gene Roddenberry had the same linguistic failure too.]

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FAIL

The "split infinitive rule" is nothing of the kind.

It's a myth, perpetuated by the more opinionated grammar fascists of yore who simply made some of this stuff up in order to make their petty "Laws of English Grammar" books look a little more substantial than a pamphlet. (Yes, Mr. Fowler, I'm looking at you.) It's a wholly subjective, aesthetic, judgement, nothing more.

English does have rules, but, like ending a sentence with a preposition, the splitting of infinitives isn't one of them.

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Headmaster

Agreed

To quote the Oxford Dictionary:

Some people believe that split infinitives are grammatically incorrect and should be avoided at all costs .... But there’s no real justification for their objection, which is based on comparisons with the structure of Latin.

So we *can* continue to boldly go with our heads held high.

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Yawn...

"to go" is not an infinitive. "go" is an infinitive.

"to" is a pre-infinitival particle. Equivalents exist in practically all Indo-European languages.

It just happens that as English lost the inflections that distinguished infinitives from finite conjugations, we started using the pre-infinitival particle as a substitute wherever we felt the unmarked infinitive would be potentially ambiguous.

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What Fowler said...

Don't go by the current version of Fowler. What he wrote about split infinitives is much closer to your view than you seem to think. He made some odd choices, but was always very definite about the need for clarity.

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Boffin

Fowler is a brand name

My copy is the second edition by the OUP, revised by Sir Ernest Gowers. I recommend people read the article on Split Infinitives, the dry humour is wonderful. In short: if it trips easily off the tongue it is proper English, if it sounds tortured then the effort to avoid a Snark has lead you into a heffalump trap and all may laugh at you.

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FAIL

Repeated epic fail

"...if it trips easily off the tongue it is proper English."

What utter tosh. I should have known the readers of a techie website would have pitifully poor linguistic ability.

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Hmmm...

It'd be nice to stop fucking our own gaff up before we start fucking other planets up.

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No

No it's perfect. There's nothing there to fuck up.

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Happy

Man's ingenuity knows no bounds, doubly so when money is involved!

There wasn't much in the various seas and deserts on this planet, but that didn't stop us turning up with loads of drilling equipment and screwing the local population, killing the local wildlife and fucking the place over for whatever financial gain could be raped, sorry reaped.

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Alien

Sounds like a plan

If we can't make faster than light drives, generational or sleeper ships are going to be the only way the human race will be able to visit other systems. So this seems to be the first sensible idea. And yes I want to go.

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Where do I sign up for this?

I can be packed and ready to go in less than an hour. Sound's like a great solution to the financial problems of making this whole Mars mission thing work. Consider my application in the post.

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FAIL

Thanks, but...

...a basic knowledge of punctuation is a prerequisite.

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Grenade

"Australia 2"

Well they keep banging on about how the prisons are full....

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Don't joke

Once there is a colony on Mars, I can see this would seriously be considered... Very little need for security as you can't go anywhere if you did manage to get out of your cell.

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Boffin

Cells?

Who needs cells when you're on a prison planet with no hope of ever escaping? That would mean guards, quarters for guards, food for guards, unions, etc. Just put them in one location on the far side of the planet with the same equipment/training as the colonists and it'd be centuries before they'd even have the resources to find each other's camp.

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Happy

@Arkasha

"Very little need for security as you can't go anywhere if you did manage to get out of your cell."

*What* cells? Australia was settled by lots of "Involuntary" migrants or "crims".

With mass sensors able to weight the the entire Shuttle stack (in principle. I don't think it's actually done) to the nearest 1kg no one is leaving. It's about as secure as a Siberian labor camp. And would imply a political system rather similar to the one that set those up.

Have you never read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress?

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Pint

Cells!

To keep the rock beer safe!

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Anonymous Coward

Title?

Just don't give them a slingshot to send minerals back to Earth.

Oh and definitely don't give them a supercomputer that might become sentient and help them!

(Don't know what I'm talking about then you really ought to read more)

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Yes, I have.

>Have you never read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress?

Yes. One of RAH's better novels. Well - the AI is a bit silly and as with a lot of his work it's very 'cliquey' but it's a good read.

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Coat

Re: Cells?

"...it'd be centuries before they'd even have the resources to find each other's camp."

Ah. This'll be the "long game" version of "capture the flag" then?

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I'd do it

A

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The "Gobi Desert" question

Q: Why don't people colonise the Gobi Desert?

A: Because there's nothing there to live on, or work on, or export, or shelter in

Yet it's a thousand times more hospitable than Mars and a million times cheaper to get to (plus, there's a good chance you could get back, too). So the tipping point of where people choose to live is set well and truly on the "land of milk and honey" side of the equation and a long, long way away from earthbound deserts and even further from Martian ones. What would the "colonists" do all day? Huddle inside their little shelters, wondering when or if the next supply rocket would arrive (or if they'd just see it go past as a flaming ball, crashing or missing them completely - as 50% of Mars-bound spacecraft do)? Press their noses up against the windows and count the number of rocks outside? Without a highly developed support structure, there's little possibility that they'd be in a position to mount expeditions to other parts of the planet, or go searching for signs of life, or even try to find one of the crashed or failed previous spacecraft.

So far as the cost thing goes. Surely the cost of getting enough fuel for a return trip out to Mars is only higher than the cost of continual resupply if the people there are not expected to live very long. If they need (say) 1 ton of supplies sent every year then after a certain number of years, that amount of stuff will have exceeded the amount of stuff needed to bring them back. It sounds like a particularly cold calculation to make: "Well we reckon you'll only survive a few years, so it's not worth spending the money to send rescue. We'll drop you some more water and oxygen when we have the time"

Even the convicts transported to the antipodes got a better deal than that.

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Grenade

Build it for Real somewhere Spooky, and with IT and Media Presentations ...

.... is ReColonisation of Earth to Mars Standards, Simply Achieved ..... as opposed to Mars Colonisation to Earth Standards.

Pete 2,

An Area 51 like area, where New Age Space ARGonauts could create a Novel Martian Society in a Real Live Simulation, would make a Great Game Program which Media could plug into whenever the masses at "home" needed New Information and Intelligent Edutainment Feeds.

And successful SMART Programs led by NASArgonauts building a Future High Tech World which is actually a Live Operational Virtual Environment which will be Gradually Seamlessly Globally Transfered into Human Consciousness and World Wide Existence, would create a NeuReal Space Based New World Order Program leading Mankind in a completely different and Better Beta Direction.

It certainly does away with the Logistics Supply and Emergency Help Provision problem .... and speeds things up enormously, and decimates Martian Colonisation costs to an easily afforded fraction of a rocket mission.

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Re: The "Gobi Desert" question

The first settlers would primarily be scientists, who instead of just huddling in their caves would do research. While Gobi is not colonised, there are plenty of researchers going there. The main reason that don't stay there is that they don't have to: It takes only a few days to get out of the desert.

Even if going to Mars to do research implies having to stay there, I'm sure that a lot of people would volunteer. In fact, the late Danish Mars expert Jens Martin Knudsen used to say that he wouldn't mind: His life expectancy was only a few decades anyway, low gravity would probably do him some good and he would probably die of natural causes before the long term effects of radiation would be noticeable.

But I'm a bit sceptical about the theory that having people on Mars would keep funding from dwindling. It would not be the first time that people got sacrificed for economic reasons. Maybe not as blatantly as this, but cutbacks in healthcare, traffic control or disaster relief kills more people every year than we could send to Mars in a century. So if I were to volunteer, I would make sure that I would not be dependent on regular supplies from Earth, much like in Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red/Green/Blue Mars" series. Which is overly optimistic, BTW.

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CAPS

Are you paid by the no. of CAPITAL LETTERS used?

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Alien

The Marching Morons

Anyone else old enough to remember C M Kornbluth's 'The Marching Morons' ???

The solution to overpopulation was sending people to the colonies on Mars (except they never left Earth, just transported to a desert region ........)

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Q: Why don't people colonise the Gobi Desert?

A: They do. They are commonly known as Mongolians (or Mongols) 'Been living there for centuries...

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Alert

duhhhh

I think the idea is to get off-planet (all your eggs in one basket and all that stuff)

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Joke

I would go to Mars no problem..

Except a latency to load El Reg of anywhere between 6 and 45 minutes would remind me too much of UK broadband!

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Pump up the Volume

Marrs needs women!

As the preacher in Love at First Bite said at the funeral, "When you's is dead, you's is dead. When you's is gone, you's is gone. When you's is dead and gone, there ain't no wayyyyyy you coming back".

Dying on Marrs or here? I dunno a productive and well spent life - 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.

I'd miss all the normal things, like rain, green grass, trees, chirping birds, my neigbours nice arse....

I'd miss my bicycle, having Microsoft to heap shit on.. well not really... as long as non of the Mars computers had Microsoft software on them - I'd be really happy.

Places to go for a swim, hot showers, books, women... FRESH food....

Clean sheets, being able to go for a walk without a space suit.... taking a piss on the trees..

Pizza, oceans, good cups of tea, fresh bread, fruit...

All my friends - and my jerk off enemies...

Would I go? I'd like to sail around the world first... hike the mountain trails, tour the world with my band, etc., etc., etc.

It would be pretty good - you could pull your dick out anywhere and have a leak any time....

Not sure about the lack of atmosphere tho.

Still the suction - that would probably beat Viagra.

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If you ask nicely

> I'd miss all the normal things, like rain, green grass, trees, chirping birds, my neigbours nice arse....

...he might sign up too.

But it's more than missing the comforts of home. What do you do when you get a toothache, or have a heart attack. Basically any sort of injury and you're effectively a goner. There's no major hospitals this side of Phobos and even that one doesn't deal with human cases. Until we know a lot more about Mars, there's not even the prospect of having the right equipment to do decent research with and without something like a fusion reactor, not enough power to keep people warm during the loooonger Martian winters (nice arses notwithstanding).

Basically, it'll be 200+ years before we have enough knowledge, resources and abilities to get people to Mars - and support them there. Until then, it's robots all the way.

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Basically, it'll be 200+ years

That is kind of missing the point. People didn't head off on the voyages of discovery expecting to find all the hospitals set up before they got there. Of course, 400 years ago, there wasn't much by way of hospital services back home either.

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Happy

Phobos hospital not that great either

The hospital on Phobos isn't so bad, but you don't want to get stuck in the UAC facility there.

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People die

Most people on early polar missions died, but they kept trying even as they knew this. What's happened?

We in the wealthy countries have kind of lost perspective. Death is inevitable anyway, and if it happens while doing something truly great and historical, that's the price to pay.

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Let me be the first

To bravely volunteer Simon Cowell for this mission.

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Paris Hilton

Oh God, no!

Assuming he survives and any other colonists don't kill him for overweening smugness, he'd have guaranteed blanket coverage for years. At least if he stays here we can live in hope that the meejah will tire of his vapid ego filled trousers.

The same applies to Ms Hilton. (Except for the trousers)

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WTF?

Slight flaw in the plan

What use is a viable human gene pool on Mars allowing the possibility of a successful long-term reproduction programme (breathe in) if it's sterile?

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