Water on Mars

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Again, where people choose to settle is their own business. If people want to settle on Mars, then that's their own decision, and they won't be vetoed by skeptics. By your reasoning, why allow any life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness, when all activities could be prioritized based on known needs and wants of the poor and needy? We could also argue that some types of scientific or academic funding is actually better reallocated towards projects that will more immediately help the poor. I see scientists at CERN arguing that funding a large particle accelerator could help mankind, by citing the role of past projects in possibly helping the evolution of the internet. A bit of a stretch, wouldn't you say? Everybody who wants funding will make that kind of argument, of course.

Sometimes that which is currently seen to be impractical in certain corners actually ends up providing more longterm benefits than originally thought.
 
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Again, where people choose to settle is their own business. If people want to settle on Mars, then that's their own decision, and they won't be vetoed by skeptics. By your reasoning, why allow any life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness, when all activities could be prioritized based on known needs and wants of the poor and needy? We could also argue that some types of scientific or academic funding is actually better reallocated towards projects that will more immediately help the poor. I see scientists at CERN arguing that funding a large particle accelerator could help mankind, by citing the role of past projects in possibly helping the evolution of the internet. A bit of a stretch, wouldn't you say? Everybody who wants funding will make that kind of argument, of course.

Sometimes that which is currently seen to be impractical in certain corners actually ends up providing more longterm benefits than originally thought.
The time frame for people being able to make the decision to settle on Mars is a very long time away. Well beyond our lifetime and our grandchildrens lifetime. Right now we're twice as far from the Moon as we were in the early 60's, let alone Mars even being a colonization contender.

Once we're been able to return simple soil samples from Mars, we'll then talk about colonization. Remember not to put the cart ahead of the horse.
 
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I see scientists at CERN arguing that funding a large particle accelerator could help mankind, by citing the role of past projects in possibly helping the evolution of the internet. A bit of a stretch, wouldn't you say?
Not a far stretch at all. With my experience in the telecom industry, any findings that come about from CERN experiments can quickly (relative to Mars soil findings having an impact of colonization advancement) impact the communication industry.
 

LowlyPion

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Sadly what is described in that article, while it may be necessary, is not nearly sufficient for the purposes of supporting life of that sort on Mars. While such highly speculative statements about asparagus and strawberries make good sound bite fodder for content starved public media, I see little evidence that scraping some soil and finding what looks like a little ice translates into harvesting seas of waving asparagus sprouts. In short I wouldn't be putting my Mars farmer pants on just yet.

Before crops can even be planted, a whole ecology needs to be constructed where nothing particularly benign currently exists apparently for any known extremophiles even. Having some elements like availability of water and potassium and magnesium et al is useful but is seemingly a lot of energy away from putting the planet in suitable order.

As a gedanken start off by figuring the amount of energy required to raise the atmospheric pressure from 7 millibars to just the 250 millibars speculations forwarded earlier. (Forget for a moment earth is actually 1000 millibars.) You know like how many moles of gas might be required. (Keeping in mind that the gas has to come from somewhere.) Whether unlocked from the precious subsurface H2O or from the hydrous magnesium sulfate deposits, it will take energy to fight entropy to free a reactive gas like O2. And apparently on surface Mars that energy source is the sun. Lest we forget Mars at 1.5 AU from the sun enjoys about 50% per square meter less of what Earth enjoys.
 
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With all this time that you're putting into dreaming about how we can colonize Mars, i'd greatly recommend that you put fourth the same effort into thinking of ways to make it cheaper to get to Mars (and back). If you can think of something that could greatly impact the industry and suddenly make it viable, now that I would be impressed with and be more than happy to read. There's nothing wrong with dreaming, it's just that I would just be enthralled if you could do something to help.
 
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I think that the promise and appeal of exploiting Mars (eg. for settlement, habitation, etc) would certainly help to motivate the development of more cost-effective space systems to get there. After all, what could possibly present a greater ROI than the exploitation of another planet? If the Moon was fertile and green, humanity would have settled it decades ago. There would be no debates on whether or not to go to the Moon. In the same vein, the prospect of Mars supporting human habitation and settlement would improve the development pace of ancilliary systems to help bring this about, whether propulsion or otherwise.
 
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I think that the promise and appeal of exploiting Mars (eg. for settlement, habitation, etc) would certainly help to motivate the development of more cost-effective space systems to get there. After all, what could possibly present a greater ROI than the exploitation of another planet? If the Moon was fertile and green, humanity would have settled it decades ago. There would be no debates on whether or not to go to the Moon. In the same vein, the prospect of Mars supporting human habitation and settlement would improve the development pace of ancilliary systems to help bring this about, whether propulsion or otherwise.
Cart before the horse.

Nothing is going to happen until a way to get there is viable.

Sanman, even if we discovered huge outcrops of nothing but pure gold, it would still not be cost effective to go to Mars and bring it back unless there already viable ways of going to Mars and back. Whether we find a reason to go there or not, we will always come back to the same conclusion... how to get there and back.
 
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Yes, I really enjoyed that picture of Terra and Luna together in the same frame, au naturel. Gives you a direct feel of the scale of distance between them. (I wonder which continent of Earth is in view? Can anyone tell?)

Here's also a cool picture of a Rainbow on Mars, taken by the Opportunity rover:

2505328381_c97737b816_m.jpg


This is a result of water droplets in the air, just like here on Earth.

Regarding understanding Mars, I think that we should use our constantly increasing supercomputing power to then model the weather on Mars in greater detail. The orbiters and planetside probes are generating large streams of data, and these could then be usefully plugged in to a climate simulation on a supercomputer. Then we could explore terraforming ideas, to see how they might play out.
Thanks for the link! :approve:
 

LowlyPion

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The cold test of reality for these fanciful speculations about traveling to and fro or unlocking gases and water from the Martian soil - even if it would be there in sufficient volume to make the place habitable - is to do the energy accounting and look at it from the point of view of how much is needed to do what.

Certainly sending one way robotic missions that have modest energy budgets - maybe not necessarily so modest to get there but at least so to sustain themselves there - offers a number of continuing opportunities to explore the universe around us - not just there, but elsewhere as well.

However I think it's important to be more realistic about prospects for converting Mars or inaugurating regularly scheduled flights there. These energies look to be quite considerable.
 
If life is found in the water ice below the surface (albeit microbes), should we even consider terraforming or landing on Mars?

I think not. I don't remember who said it, but they made a good point that even if the lowliest single celled population of organisms is found, Mars belongs to the Martians, and not to us. Jeopardizing their ecosystem and destroying alien life should be the highest murder crime if possible.
 
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Next you'll be telling me that my mouth belongs to the bacteria who have made it their home, and that I'm committing genocide every time I brush my teeth. Stop me, before I kill again!
 
To many of you this may seem an obvious answer to a stupid question. But I am curious why Earth appears so large from mars, but mars is just a tiny spec from earth? Does it have to do with our atmosphere, this would be my guess, and if this were a test question that would be my answer. But that's as deep as my knowledge goes, I don't know how an atmosphere makes something appear so much smaller. Or better yet, is this picture magnified? seems kinda like cheating but more likely.
 

LowlyPion

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... I am curious why Earth appears so large from mars, but mars is just a tiny spec from earth?
The key word to think about here is "picture" I think.

I'd say it's all a matter of optics and lens used in capturing the "picture" because that is the only perception you can have from Mars is through a picture.

Think about it in terms you may be familiar with here on earth. With a telephoto lens the moon will appear or can be made to appear much larger than what you would call normal perception. Conversely the full moon can appear as a spec with a wide angle lens. But the moon still looks like your usual perception when you look at it directly yourself. Of course you can't draw on such experience as viewing it from Mars.

Now to address your guesses, that is not to say that the moon close to the horizon isn't lensed by the atmosphere of earth and surely there are those effects. But you shouldn't expect that the size of the object will be altered sizewise to any great degree if the light is coming straight down through earth or Mars atmosphere.
 

DaveC426913

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Earth is physcially about twice the diameter of Mars. All other things being equal, this would make a disc about 4x brighter, though, with the naked eye, you still wouldn't see more than a dot.

But all other factors are not equal. For one, Mars' sunward side faces Earth, whereas Earth's sunward side faces away from Mars. When nearest, Earth is seen as a crescent. This will mitigate the brightness of Earth.
 

Garth

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If life is found in the water ice below the surface (albeit microbes), should we even consider terraforming or landing on Mars?

I think not. I don't remember who said it, but they made a good point that even if the lowliest single celled population of organisms is found, Mars belongs to the Martians, and not to us. Jeopardizing their ecosystem and destroying alien life should be the highest murder crime if possible.
It was Carl Sagan in his 'Cosmos; series.
What shall we do with Mars?

There are so many examples of misuse of the Earth that even phrasing this question chills me. If there is life on Mars, I believe we should do nothing with Mars. Mars then belongs to the Martians, even if the Martians are only microbes. The existence of an independent biology on a nearby planet is a treasure beyond assessing, and the preservation of that life must, I think, supersede any other possible use of Mars.
'Cosmos -1981- page 130'

Garth
 
I've never seen so many pessimists and naysayers in one thread. People already finding more excuses for not furthering our knowledge of space...

Mars belonging to microbes? Have you ever heard of survival of the fittest? Don't get me wrong, this new age liberal babble about who owns what piece of dirt is somewhat comical when we have to stop building wind power stations to save a few pigeons, but trying to regulate and limit development of a desert planet on the offchance we might upset some microscopic entities is a fall off the deep end.

Replace martian microbe with God and you have the same crap that kept science in the dark ages and fundamentalists in charge a few centuries ago
 

Garth

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I think Sagan's point was that an independent biology would be of such scientific importance that we would have to be very careful not to contaminate it with terrestrial DNA.

Of course to other ET life-forms we may be nothing more than microbes.....

Certainly if such microbes are discovered then sterile unmanned probes would need to thoroughly investigate the phenomena before humans ever set foot on the place.

I agree that in the long run, and with appropriate technology, humans colonization of Mars is a dream worth pursuing, however we would have to guarantee that we would not mess it up as we have done our own planet.

Garth
 

DaveC426913

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Replace martian microbe with God and you have the same crap that kept science in the dark ages and fundamentalists in charge a few centuries ago
Yeah, they're the same. :uhh:

Is 'OSalcido' an anagram of 'Godwin's Law'? :rolleyes:
 
I've never seen so many pessimists and naysayers in one thread. People already finding more excuses for not furthering our knowledge of space...

...

Replace martian microbe with God and you have the same crap that kept science in the dark ages and fundamentalists in charge a few centuries ago
I believe the MAIN purpose of these missions to Mars is is to find out whether life has ever existed or does exist there now specifically for scientific studies. If we were to set out haphazardly and contaminate the whole place (especially if life does exist there), we will have learned nothing.
 

D H

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I've never seen so many pessimists and naysayers in one thread. People already finding more excuses for not furthering our knowledge of space...
This should come as no surprise. Consider this opinion, emphasis mine, from the http://www.popastro.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=5343&sid=25bf4e0097fe32bb0e7f6388b0b657fb":
"Do we want to destroy the Moon's pristine environment so that a few individuals - who regard the Moon as "property" in orbit, can line their pockets through lunar quarrying and tourism?"​

OK, OK, That's just one person whose tinfoil hat isn't on straight.

NASA asked the National Academy of Sciences to review NASA's plans for going back to the Moon. From http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5359312.stm" [Broken]:
[noparse]A[/noparse] special National Research Council panel of the National Academy of Sciences said in an interim report that the Moon was "priceless to planetary scientists".

"Only by returning to the Moon to carry out new scientific exploration can we hope to close the gaps in understanding and learn the secrets that the Moon alone has kept for eons," it said.​

That's sane. But does it really say we should go back to the Moon? Here is an alternate interpretation of the NAS report, from http://space.newscientist.com/article/dn10110-future-missions-could-damage-lunar-environment.html" (emphasis is not mine):
"Future missions could damage lunar 'environment'

Both robots and humans can do plenty of science on the Moon – but in the process they might mess up sensitive parts of the lunar environment, according to a new report by top US scientists. They say NASA should survey the "pristine" Moon before undertaking any major missions there.

"The Moon is priceless to planetary scientists," declares the panel of the US National Academy of Sciences, which was chartered to tell NASA what science it should do on the Moon. In an interim report released on Tuesday, they warn that both the Moon's tenuous atmosphere and its polar environment are "fragile" and are likely to be altered by robotic and human activity.​
 
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LowlyPion

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Certainly care should be taken in whatever may be done. Man's footprints on the moon are for the most part, other than take off disturbances, apparently still all there - decades later - inter planetary graffiti of each step. Surely we don't wish to become like early tourists scrawling "Gomer was here" on every rock and littering our effects willy-nilly all over the cosmos.

Imagine that we would find what would be microbes, and of independent origination too. How fascinating might that be to encounter entirely different energy transfer mechanisms and life form organization of some as yet unsuspected ordering of chemistry processes that supports a replication and engages in activities with its environment? Think of the possibilities that might allow us to use that knowledge, if only for ourselves in our current circumstances too.

What hubris to ignore such possibilities and go tramping around our neighbors - or like some of these crackpot terraformists may suggest, to start indiscriminately bombarding Mars with tankerships of CFC's to elevate greenhouse effects.

Surely we can afford to take plenty of time to be careful. After all what would be the rush anyway?
 
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Yeah, they're the same. :uhh:

Is 'OSalcido' an anagram of 'Godwin's Law'? :rolleyes:
Care to explain how they are dissimilar?

Same story, different characters. A few gomers trying to tackle scientific development with their own version of morality. And yes, there are multiple versions of morality. You saying some undeveloped microorganisms should not be wiped away by a more advanced species happens to be contradictory to Nature's brand of morality.

Of course, not even science is as barbaric as nature. Science can obviously find new forms of life useful.
 

DaveC426913

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Care to explain how they are dissimilar?
No. It is your analogy; the onus is on you to show they are similar.

Same story, different characters. A few gomers trying to tackle scientific development with their own version of morality.
I really don't understnad this sentence but it sounds like you are freely interpreting the thread as you please and assigning motives to hypothetical entities we've never even met.


You saying some undeveloped microorganisms should not be wiped away by a more advanced species happens to be contradictory to Nature's brand of morality.
We have advanced enough to the point where we can choose not to live by nature's destructive rules.


By your logic we would raze the jungles of Africa in favour of land development.
 

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