A Conversation for The Exploration of Mars

Before we go to Mars...

Post 1

Leigh Anne, the student of life, discipline and all that is strange and beautiful. Disciple of Mistress Desir'ee.

Before we attempt a manned Mars mission, wouldn't it be a good idea to establish a permenant present on the Moon?
It does sound a little redundant, we have been there before, but it makes sense to prove the technology needed on the moon first. It only takes 2 or three days to get to the Moon instaed of four to six months to get to Mars.
So from a practical, economic and safety sense, the Moon is an ideal jumping off point. It will also be much easier to send the missions from the Moon.
Its just my opinion.

Before we go to Mars...

Post 2

Jim diGriz


Well, there are lots of different opinions on this, but Robert Zubrin expresses in _The Case for Mars_ his view that there isn't really much advantage at all in settling the moon first. You can't test most of the important technology (e.g. in situ fuel generation) because the moon doesn't have the right chemical make up to do that.

Also, there is hardly any advantage in launching the mission from the moon rather than from Earth.

Of course, there is a great deal of argument over this. But Zubrin considers the moon to be an unnecessary distraction that could set back Mars settlement by decades.

I'd thoroughly recommend reading Zubrin's book. He has a whole section devoted to what you're saying.

Regards, jd

Before we go to Mars...

Post 3


Having read his book, I think you misrepresent his viewpoint slightly. What zubrin says (as I read it) is that there are plenty of advantages to having a moonbase, but that the moonbase is totally irrelevant to mars unless the establishing of it delays the mars program.
Where the moonbase really pays of is where you start getting shipments of ore from the astreroid belt, but to do this, the best plece to work from is mars, so mars has to come first in any long range plan. the problem is that nasa and the usa think of a long range plan as 10 years, whereas to plan the development of the solar system, you are talking of planing over periods of 50 to 200 years, even for short term sustainable development. the problem with exploration plans so far has been that they have not been planed to be sustainable, hence the "been there, seen that" attitude to the moon.

the model that is requred is to develope the systems in the following order, for sustainability:

a better space shuttle
a space station for orbital supplies
the mars direct program, leading to a small mars colony which can provide fuel and other supplies to a mars space station
the development of the asteroid belt.

it is only in parallel with this last step that the moon base is needed (except for the farside base for a large lunar telescope, but that base does not need to be manned around the clock).

Before we go to Mars...

Post 4

Jim diGriz

OK, I think the only difference between our versions of Zubrin is a matter of emphasis. After all, in _Human Spaceflight: Mission Analysis and Design_ Zubrin has contributed to sections devoted to setting up a moonbase. (That's another book which is thoroughly recommended. Fantastic amount of technical info!)

I'm personally quite fond of the idea of setting up a moonbase. But I'm not sure how much of that is technical fascination, or because I like Heinlein's _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_. smiley - smiley

My girlfriend says she'll come to Mars with me, provided she gets the monopoly on chocolate imports! Being a die-hard free-market advocate, I'm not quite sure that I can arrange that, but I understand the sentiment! smiley - smiley

Before we go to Mars...

Post 5

Playboy Reporter

Hi guys, I'm in the process of redoing my old edited 'Mars' entries - I worked up these ones in about 5 minutes way back in the old days of h2g2.

So I'm writing a couple of vastly improved entries which will hopefully be my first new guide entries. Does any one know what the system is for updating old guide entries?

Before we go to Mars...

Post 6

Researcher 194442

why solar system has one earth ? if there were two or more , would there a possibility of war ? manuver the earth well , it is what a gift of Gold , there may be many many planets on other solar systems , just the samble of earth , but if we not manage the earth well, how come we can run another ?

Before we go to Mars...

Post 7


I think that you are asking why explore and colonise the solar system?

The simple answer to that is that either you are explorers, or stay at homes, and if you don't explore, and reach beyond your grasp, your society will eventually collapse.

However there is plenty of reason to colonise the moon, and mars, and the asteroid belt.

It is the obvious first step in an interstellar colonisation program, and we are now starting to find systems within reasonable (ie not generation ship) travel times which might have earth like planets in the zone of habitation.

and of course, it is blue skies research, which usually pays off many times its cost in the long run.

Before we go to Mars...

Post 8

Researcher 198013

I agree Partially! We could train on the moon with less equipment than on earth first then we could send the trained astronauts to Mars. Also though I belive we should make a Space Dry Dock for creating craft in order to make larger ships

Before we go to Mars...

Post 9


You might like to visit my first attempt at giving mars direct a write up here.

it is at A749928

Before we go to Mars...

Post 10

R. Daneel Olivaw -- (User 201118) (Member FFFF, ARS, and DOS) ( -O- )

Its true that humans haven't done a very good job with earth annd have come very, very close to destroying themselves with nuclear war at least once, but as long as there is no other inteligent life in the solar system, we will harm noone else by colonising other planets and increase our chances of not destrroying ourselves before we learn how to co-exist peacefully. Also, it increases our odds of surviving a large asteroid or comet impacting earth.

Before we go to Mars...

Post 11

Researcher 199266

Daneel, I think you are right. It could be usefull to establish some kind of lifeboat in space in which to find safety in case we destroy earth. This could be achieved by colonising the Moon or Mars. But colonising a planet will take perhaps as long as 100 years with, before that, tens of years of developing ways to get there, to live there and to find a way to go their in (great) numbers. So let's start now, before its to late.

Before we go to Mars...

Post 12

Timmy Fish

"There are two types of people, the astronomars and the astronaughts" from Jurrasic Park III. It basiclly means there are the people who are happy to study things from a distance, or the remains of things-The astronomars, then there are the people who have got to go and live the experience, see the real thing-The astronaughts. The majority of mankind are astronaughts. That's why we've got to go to Mars, I know that I wouldn't be happy to settle on a lump of rock that we see clearly every night, and which we've visited many times before. Mars is something impressive, something we've never done before. That's why we've got to head straight for Mars.
smiley - schooloffish

Before we go to Mars...

Post 13


Those 'astronaughts' may climb on the top of a volcano and look into it. There's enough adventure on Earth. I'd spare the money of future manned space missions and would do so many nice things on Earth with it.

From the scientific point of view, nowhere else is the results/costs ratio as poor as at manned space trips. You may see the legitimation in their ideational value, but in my opinion they're superfluous.

Before we go to Mars...

Post 14


Cefpret,you are partly right.

it is very expensive to havea manned space program.

The only thing more expensive is to not have a manned space program.

However there are a lot of missions that don't need to be manned.

I am all in favour of doing each mission the right way.

Before we go to Mars...

Post 15

R. Daneel Olivaw -- (User 201118) (Member FFFF, ARS, and DOS) ( -O- )

The argument for going to Mars isn't just scientific. Certainly we would learn a lot by setting up a permenant base there, as has been done in Antarctica. More importantly, though, it will give human sanother chance for survival should we, an impact, or climatic change eliminate humans or human civilization on earth. Also, it will hep open up many parts of the solar system with useful materials and lead to space travel being cheap enough that it will be possible to travel throughout the solar system, learning about it and colonizing it.

Before we go to Mars...

Post 16


while everything you say is true, there is a much simpler reason for going to mars.

Either you have a space program or you don't.

if you don't, you can't maintain the current level of technology, let alone improve on it.

if you do, then the current system of occasional launches on what is in effect experimental hardware is both way too expensive, and way too unsafe.

if you are going to have a space program then having a mars base is just a logical extension of what we are already doing, as well as a logical next step to things we are not seriously considering yet.

Before we go to Mars...

Post 17


Yes, but why bringing people to Mars?

A logical step? Maybe in a couple of decades/centuries. At the moment we are happy if they survive, and only very well trained people can do it at all. Today's space missions are on-the-edge adventures, and the astronauts do nothing -- really nothing -- useful up there. They are just there and prove that they can be up there. This costs millions of dollars per day.smiley - sadface

We need totally new propulsion systems, new life support systems and -- most importantly -- a way to create a self-sufficient environment within the total void. Such systems can be developed without manned space missions. The final test excluded, of course -- but we are at least decades away from a final test.

Be that as it may, what the guys are doing in the ISS is utter rubbish. Such things are prestige objects, neither more nor less.

Before we go to Mars...

Post 18

Researcher 199266

Cefpret- You are dead right! ISS in its actual concept is a failure. It is alright to do experiments in space, but just do it on a smaller scale.

It is also nonsense to try to colonise Mars right away: we don't even have the means to go and stay there and we don't have a sound propulsion method go make the return trip safely. And I am not even speaking about lifesupport once on Mars. And what about protection against bone loss and radiation?

IF one wants to explore, one will have to it step by step. First make sure you can do some sustained exploration, next try it out on the Moon (close by in case of trouble), finally, after some decades and many setbacks, venture out to Mars.

Before we go to Mars...

Post 19


There is only one way the iss is a success, and that is in terms of positive public relations. every time they bolt a new bit on to it, you get renewed interest in space, thus guarenteeing the funding for another few months.

you also say "we don't have a sound propulsion method go make the return trip safely", but the mars direct plan uses no new technology.

in fact the original plan is already over 10 years old, so the improved reliability of the technology increases the safety margin.

life support on mars is relatively simple, and is being proved already by trialing mars habitation modules in various similar extreme environments on earth. radiation is a red herring. airline pilots suffer more problems than astronaughts.

bone loss might be a point, but the mars direct mission is actually shorter in this respect than the original nasa plan.

as to the moon, that is a seperate (and only peripherally related) project.

the moon has a whole set of hard to solve problems that are not present with a mars program.

however, as soon as you get a permenant base on mars, the technology of spaceflight will advance rapidly. this will be very usefull for establishing a moon base.

Before we go to Mars...

Post 20

Researcher 199266

Well, perhaps you are right about not going to the Moon but directly to Mars. But what you said about traveling to that planet is something else. The rockets for such a voyage are indeed oldfashoned and should first be modernised. Next it would be useful do learn how to live there, how to construct a good shelter (here on earth is easy enough, but quite different), how to produce food, etc. Because I think we should not talk about a short visit (like we did to the Moon) but a prolongued stay, otherwise it would be no more than a nice, expensive, trial but with no real value. You should need scientists up there to do serious work. It would not be enough to collect just a few stones and take a few air samples and dart back home.

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