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Aerospace Manned Mars mission in 2019?

  1. Aug 9, 2007 #1
    What are the possibilities that there is a manned Mars mission in the year 2019 (or before)?

    What are the main problems we should solve, before we can send humans to Mars? Why is it difficult to solve them in 12 years? Money, perhaps?

    Is it possible that USA, Europe, Russia and China will combine their resources in space engineering? If they will do that in 2008, is it still impossible to send humans (safely) to Mars during 2019 (or before)?

    What can a physics student do to help Mars mission scientist? There are no space engineering in Finland, I think. I just would like to do something... :confused:
     
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  3. Aug 9, 2007 #2

    berkeman

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    I think the biggest problem is that taking humans on the missions, and adding all the overhead to keep them alive and relatively safe (and return them to Earth), burdens the mission significantly. And the extra return for that burden to the mission is debatable. It has a high "cool" factor, but probably at least for the next 50-100 years, we can get a lot more for our investment if we send increasingly intelligent and mobile robot explorers to Mars. Seems like you'd at least like the robots to build the shelters and mine the water wells and get everything set up, before you considered shooting humans to Mars.

    Just my opinion, though. BTW, I don't know if it helps, but here's NASA's main Mars page:

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mars/main/index.html
     
  4. Aug 9, 2007 #3

    Astronuc

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    It's a low priority right now. To do it in 2020, the technical infrastructure would have to be established now in order to have a demonstrable technology available. Given things like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which costs about $100 billion/yr, and the apparent deterioration of infrastructure in the US, money for a manned mission to Mars is unlikely.

    Sending a Mars station in advance and as Berkeman indicated, using robotics to establish a surface support base would be better use of resources.
     
  5. Aug 9, 2007 #4

    Danger

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    The last that I paid any attention, there were also still concerns about the psychological hardships that might be encountered by a crew so isolated from home with just each other for company.
     
  6. Aug 9, 2007 #5
    First I'd say the travel time is a biggest factor. Second, constructing a ship and getting it into orbit that is large enough to carry crew, supplies, and equipment. The best way to accomplish this would seem to be a prefab system that is assembled in orbit, but at the rate the ISS is being completed it seems unreasonable. Finally, I think that if we are sending scientist/ explorers out there it needs to be a long term or permanent voyage. Once they are there thats it, not an apollo program type program system of going and coming stright back
     
  7. Aug 10, 2007 #6
    Ok. Thanks for the replies, guys! I still have some questions.

    What is the minimum flight time from Earth to Mars, if we use the technology of 2007?

    How many crew members is the optimal choice?

    Will there be a centrifuge in the space ship to produce artificial gravity? Is it difficult to build a centrifuge seen in the film "2001: A Space Odyssey"? I think that the toilets and showers should be put in the centrifuge area.

    In 2019, lights won't consume very much power, because they all are LED lights. So, probably power issues are almost solved. Right?
     
  8. Aug 10, 2007 #7

    Danger

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    I don't know about the flight time. If my memory serves, it's something like 4 months minimum one-way.
    As for optimum crew membership, that depends upon a lot of factors. My instinct along that line is that there should be at least 4 each of male and female. Ideally, I would think that previously bonded couples should be chosen (and the male/female ratio could be altered to account for same-sex unions).
    A ship wouldn't need a separate centrifuge area; the whole thing could spin. I agree that a 'positive-g' toilet would be preferable to the 'zero-g' type—too many things to get caught in the impellers. :surprised
    As for the LED's, you're correct that they don't draw a lot of wattage. Unfortunately, lighting is the least of your worries when it comes to power management. Atmospheric control systems will take most of the available supply. Be that as it may, isotopic reactors should have no trouble keeping up.
     
  9. Aug 10, 2007 #8
    How about the people who do not bond at all? The loners? At least, they would not probably miss so much the people on Earth and they could concentrate 100% to the Mars mission.

    Yep, you are probably right.
     
  10. Aug 10, 2007 #9

    Astronuc

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    It's on the order of months, and I seem to remember more like 6 mo or more.

    6-8, which includes at least two flight surgeons (doctors).

    That is a consideration.

    It's possible that solar power as well as nuclear would be involved.

    There are minimum energy transfer orbits, but they take too long. The best trip from the human standpoint is get there as fast as possible. However, we have to work around various technical constraints.

    Radiation protection is a major concern.

    The Martian transfer vehicle and orbital station will be very different than ISS - probably more like a large Apollo and Skylab respectively. The transfer vehicle would be finished on the ground, while the larger vehicle would likely be finished in orbit (LEO).
     
  11. Aug 10, 2007 #10
    Yep. Medical doctors are needed and I also think the faster the ship, the better. If one way trip takes half a year (or even more), there are many possibilities that something will fail badly.

    The radiation is mostly from the Sun, isn't it? X-rays? Gamma rays?

    How about the micro meteors? They could make holes to the ship's walls. Maybe the front end side of the ship should be thicker, because it probably takes the most meteor hits (like the car's winshield takes more mosquito hits than the rear and side windows).

    So, we are gonna need yet another space station to build the ship? Oh, boy. :surprised

    Maybe we should forget the Moon and put all the money and efforts to Mars. If we are going to the Moon by 2020 then it will take at least another 10 years, before we can go to the Mars. :uhh:
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2007
  12. Aug 10, 2007 #11

    Danger

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    You have a point about them not missing home very much, but people like that tend to not be great team players. The only reason that I suggested bonded couples is to minimize sexual tension as well as the sense of isolation. There is less likely to be rivalry for the attention of an individual if that person is already 'spoken for' (and also if one's own spouse is chaperoning).
    As far as radiation shielding is concerned, a lot of previous designs for deep-space vehicles that I've seen use the on-board water supply as a major component. It can be stored in a 'double-hull' surrounding the crew compartment. While not adequate on its own, it can certainly contribute.
     
  13. Aug 10, 2007 #12
    loners are already ill
     
  14. Aug 10, 2007 #13

    russ_watters

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    Virtually nonexistent.
    There are a number of issues, but AFAIK, none of them technically daunting. Money is the biggest dealbreaker issue - and it is a big one. IIRC, it would cost somewhere on the order of $1 trillion (it may have been more) for a Mars program, which would require 10x NASA's current budget for a ten year project.
    They already have to a large extent. But the US still has the lions share of those resources, so we're doing most of the work on joint projects (ie, the ISS).
    It is certainly possible. As Jim Lovell's character said in the Apollo 13 movie: 'it's not a miracle - we just decided to go'. That's the primary requirement to make it happen.
    Not a lot as a student, but you could become an engineer in a related field and go to work for a company or agency in the program or a related one.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2007
  15. Aug 10, 2007 #14

    russ_watters

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    A few months. At it's closest, Mars comes about 40 million miles from Earth. If we were able to launch a craft at the right time and send it out at 20,000 mph, that's just under 3 months.

    There is a complication though: Mars is at it's closest to Earth once every 2.5 years. That means that the astronauts would have to spend two years on Mars before returning.
    LED lights are not significantly more efficient than fluorescents and lighting is an insignificant part of the power requirements of a spaceship. Heat is a much bigger one. Besides - we have solar power for spacecraft, so it isn't a very big issue usually.
     
  16. Aug 10, 2007 #15

    Astronuc

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    Mostly GCR and solar protons. The issue involves spallation reactions with the hull structrual materials, which are usually light elements. Surrounding the hull with hydrogenous propellants would help. Also, LiAl or LiH would provide a good shield against protons and some spallation products.

    Micrometeorite protection is certainly an issue.

    No. The CEV is being developed already, quite independent of mission or infrastructure.

    A Skylab type orbital support station would be needed in orbit around Mars. That would have to be sent in advance.

    The idea is to get there as quickly as possible, and to return quickly. As Russ alluded to, there are windows of opportunity with respect to the closeness of Mars and the earth. Larger windows require more power.
     
  17. Aug 11, 2007 #16
    Hmm?

    Well, I actually mean romantically inactive people. Are they also ill? Maybe not.

    It is useless to send people who can go crazy in love. :!!)
     
  18. Aug 11, 2007 #17

    Danger

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    Show me a person who can't, and I'll show you a corpse. :tongue:
     
  19. Aug 11, 2007 #18
    --> Me. <--

    A corpse?
     
  20. Aug 11, 2007 #19

    Danger

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    I can only assume that you've never been in love. Believe me... when it happens, all reason flies out the nearest window.
     
  21. Aug 12, 2007 #20
    dont worry man, u ll find out soon:approve::approve:
     
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