72 thoughts on “Settling Mars”

    1. Yes. NASA astronaut selection process tends to pick people that are about 40. (NASA age study)

      That’s for selection, and then I suppose there will be several years of training, and then a year or two of mission prep, then a two year trip to Mars, and then some really tense construction work on a tight schedule for a couple of years to get a base set up properly, and then wham-o, the women are hitting their 50’s.

      1. Excellent point.

        But I really don’t think NASA will be in the space colony business unless Congress outlaws private space ventures. Ergo their selection procedures will not apply.

    2. So from what I remember there has been only a few preliminary studies done at 0g, that indicate that it will be very hard to get pregnant (mice). I would assume this is because of the fact that mammal egg must implant with the wall of the uterus, which is hard to do without gravity. However, nobody knows because there has been so little research on procreation in space. NASA has only flown one married couple, that I know of, and they were explicitly told they couldn’t do their own “experimentation”. Most likely Musk probably just figures it will become obvious when we get enough people there and at that point we can deal with the problem. Worst case, we would have to use some form of artificial implantation. Maybe he has a design for a centrifuge named “The F’n Centrifuge.”

  1. D’Agostino asks:

    Could you simulate a Mars Base Alpha on the moon?

    I think a more telling question would be whether Musk could simulate a Mars Base Alpha on Earth.

    By all appearances Musk doesn’t worry much about what happens on Mars; his focus is entirely on getting there and back.

    1. “By all appearances Musk doesn’t worry much about what happens on Mars; his focus is entirely on getting there and back.”

      Right, which seems driven by his belief (repeated in this interview) that getting people and things to Mars is the hard part. That the rest is straightforward.

      I’ve never hard him queried directly about human gestation in Mars gravity, but I can’t help but feel that he’s confident that it won’t pose any real difficulty.

      Given that he’s shown the ability make extraordinarily ambitious space architectures become reality (if never on the schedule he promises), I’d say he’s going to get the opportunity to prove or disprove that belief at some point in the next 30 years.

      But perhaps he might also say that even if gestation in .38G turns out to be a severe problem, that there will still be great value in being able to sustain research stations and even small outposts for adventure tourism and retirees. And that Starship can be used to go to (and, shall we say, construct) lots of other places in deep space besides Mars.

  2. –RD: You seem unimpressed by the people who say you can’t terraform Mars.
    EM: Of course you can terraform Mars. Why would they think you can’t? You totally can.–

    No, you can’t.
    Or not the way most people think you can.
    Most imagine if add atmosphere, one can make a warmer atmosphere.
    If want to just double Mars atmosphere, that would probably be good or useful. But you still need to wear a spacesuit. And not doing but of anything in terms warming atmosphere, though it does raise the boiling temperature of water- which might be useful.
    But doubling Mars atmosphere is somehow adding 25 trillion tons of gas, Or Mars currently has about 25 trillion tons of mostly CO2 gas.
    A problem with adding 25 trillion tons of gas is that the gas isn’t free. If paid $1 per ton for gas- that is cheap. But 25 trillion tons of it at $1 per ton is 25 trillion dollars.
    Or if live on Mars, one could say that one is inheriting a 25 trillion dollar atmosphere. Though if plan is pay for doubling the atmosphere, then you could say you are also inheriting a future cost of 25 trillion dollars, or you inherit a large debt- and that assume the gas is only $1 per ton.
    If you are socialist you might think the government gets you an atmosphere for free, but generally anything a government does tends to actually cost a lot more for anything, ie, SLS [20 billion does without even getting a launch of one rocket, yet]. And you could say Musk might make a better rocket for “free” or “free” comes from those that “make money” not with a printing pres, but rather do something people want to buy. So if one buy an atmosphere [rather than government giving you one for free [by taxing everyone] it might cost as little as $1 per ton.

    But if want to be without a pressure suit, what you should buy is water, rather than gas.
    If you buy water for $100 per ton at Mars, this causes Mars settlements.
    Or if real estate comes with the rights of gas for $1 per ton or water for $100 per ton, the best deal is the water.
    Or you have a deal with the devil- unlimited amounts of anything at some price. Then one should get the water deal, despite water costing more than 100 times of water on Earth.

    Now 1 ton of oxygen gas is valuable on Mars, even on Earth it’s worth about $100 per ton in liquid form. So a paying $1 per ton for oxygen gas is very cheap, but I am arguing water at $100 per ton is a better deal- if you get as much as you want to buy at $100 per ton.

    let’s say you have a few options, gas at $1 per ton, water at $100 per ton, or electrical power at $1 per Kw hour.
    Which is the better deal?
    They are all great deals if you want to settle Mars. And idea is pay whatever market price for other two things [which are needed].

    I think the water is the best deal, but the topic was about terraforming Mars, and I would say water is the only thing which could terraform Mars at cost- which fairly minor and do it in far less time than 100 years. But it’s not the normal way of terraforming Mars.
    And explain this before, and will do so again, but I will keep this post, short.

  3. So, to terraform with air, one needs + 25 trillion tons of air and adding 25 trillion tons of air is not enough.

    With water one needs a billion tons or few billion tons.
    Or 100 billion dollars per billion tons.
    Or 100 billion dollars to terraform.
    A billion tons of water is a cubic km of water.
    A cubic km of water might be enough water for a million people, assuming they are too wasteful with the water.
    Or 1000 tons per person or 10 tons of water for 100 years is the amount astronauts use- 10 tons per year. And astronauts not using water like most people use water.
    US uses about 600 billion tons of water per year and that about 2000 tons per person.
    So at 1000 tons per person, one can not be wasteful with the water, but one could claim my idea is to waste water. Or it’s a mad idea which is a waste of water.
    Now, you are wasting a lot of water, and I think Martian should likewise have the right to waste water. And since the water costs a fair amount, do I trust that the Martians will tend to be less wasteful than Earthlings.

    So to terraform Mars, you make a lake of water.
    Then you live in the lake.
    Real estate is lake bottom property.
    And say the price is $100,000 per acre.
    Anyone want to buy some?

    Some obvious questions could be how deep is the lake.
    And let’s say 10 meters deep.
    On Earth 10 meter deep is 1 atm, and one Mars gravity is about
    1/3rd, so about 1/3rd of atm. Or 14.7 / 3 = 4.9 psi
    Next question could be how much does it cost for house and what
    costs of power and water, and ect.
    Ask Musk for the cost of a house.

    So a lake 1 km in diameter and 10 meter deep:
    500 x 500 x pi x 10 meter: 7.853,975 tons
    7.8 million tons and .78 million square meters
    Or 194 acres of lake bottom or 6 people per acre
    is population of about 1000 people.
    If have 1000 people in lake, it would rise the water level of
    lake- the houses, the parks, and the farming could add a considerable amount of volume to the lake.
    The farms don’t have at bottom of lake as plants don’t need
    as much pressure as mammals. Plus plants need sunlight, and
    get more closer to surface of lake- but farms higher in lake still add volume to lake.
    The water doesn’t need to be drinkable, but if swimming in it, you want it causing skin rashes or something. Or salt water would be ok.
    If water is not polluted, one can have fish or water plants not in a enclose bubble of air, though water would have have enough oxygen in it, which would less problematic if there was ice at surface of lake. And if lake water is cold, one would need wet suit to swim in it- if in water for any length of time.

  4. It won’t help to just truck and dump a bunch of air and water to Mars if they won’t stay; without a sufficiently robust magnetosphere, the solar wind will deplete the air and thus make it harder to keep the water.

    Elon may have the will to spend the necessary money to keep importing air, but his estate may feel differently.

    1. True, but that will take thousands of years to happen; by which time, some solution may present itself.

      In the end, it would have to be any native human Mars population which would have to make it happen, long after Musk is gone.

      The O’Neill die hards (which Bezos seems closer to) will say we are better off building our Earth-like environments in space. But I presume we are several generations away from being realistically able to do either that or terraform a planet anyway.

      1. At first I thought you were saying it would take thousands of years before Elon’s vision would fall to his estate, to which I could only say, “Granted.” If anybody alive today were going to be the first to live thousands of years…

    2. –McGehee
      February 25, 2019 At 12:56 PM
      It won’t help to just truck and dump a bunch of air and water to Mars if they won’t stay; without a sufficiently robust magnetosphere, the solar wind will deplete the air and thus make it harder to keep the water.–
      Currently, Mars is not losing much of it’s 25 trillion ton atmosphere.
      And I don’t think it’s lost much in last million years.
      And I have weird idea that Mars hasn’t lost much water in last million years, or in last billion years.
      I think it’s quite possible that in last million or billion years, that more water has been added to Mars as compared to lost from Mars.

      And if you add 25 trillion tonnes air to Mars, there no reason for it to increase the amount gas leaving Mars. Though if you add 25 trillion tons of CO2, I think you increase the amount frozen CO2 at the poles, rather than decrease the amount at the poles.

      And if you were to add a trillion tons of water to Mars, likewise one would not increase the amount water leaving Mars. And likewise one will increase the amount water at Mars poles. But seems possible that addition of water ice it poles might reduce the amount CO2 ice at the pole. Or it might increase the Mars atmosphere by say, 10%.
      Or when there was trillion tons of liquid water [or more] on Mars surface, it would have cause more CO2 to be in a gas state rather than frozen state.

      1. If Mars hasn’t been losing much atmosphere lately, it is at least partly (I would say almost entirely) due to what little shelter said atmosphere has, at its shallow extent, from the solar wind.

        Add enough atmosphere to make Mars livable, and that will change. Gravity alone doesn’t do it.

    3. Can it be done? Certainly it is scientifically possible

      Basically need lots and lots and Lots! of water ice. Establish a launcher site out orbiting the gas giants and start launching artificial ice bolides at Mars. Repeat as necessary.

      Easy, quick, cheap? Not in any, repeat any stretch of the imagination…

  5. Not just gestation.

    It’s also interesting that there’s little to no interest in basic medical care or dentistry. That’s one of the excuses for keeping “lifeboats” at the Space Station, that medical help is just a de-orbital burn away.

    Just what are they gonna do when someone cracks a molar on the outbound trip? Or makes a deep slice in their scalp when they hit a door frame? For an organization what wants to micro-plan every contingency, NASA never seems to publicly address any of this.

    1. Medical care seems to be another issue Elon sees as relatively minor compared to solving how to get people and things to and from Mars – and I think he’s right to think so.

      That said, it’s not a trivial concern, either.

      Medical crises on the ISS have long been a question with not entirely satisfactory answers. There is not always a qualified doctor on the station, and even when there is, facilities there are limited; and microgravity can be extremely dangerous for trauma wounds, since they cannot drain out. One of the advantages touted for Dream Chaser as a crew vehicle is that it would allow a lower-G reentry, with more cross range and quicker evac to a hospital.

      On Mars, of course, that won’t be an option – you would have to bring pretty robust medical capabilities with you, since Earth would be months away at best – this might mean an entire team of medical professionals and a medical facility capable to handling almost any possible trauma or illness, perhaps right from the first crewed mission. We might also discover that .38G (while surely better than microgravity) may require learning some new lessons in medical care.

      1. Roland Amundsen (the dude who first went through the Northwest Passage and went to the South Pole) never brought a doctor along on any of the expeditions he led. He trained his men in basic first aid and tougher it out. You want to know what the first Martians will do when their teeth get damaged? They’ll pull ’em, and get false teeth once they’re back home. If they get a cut? Stitch it up. Broken bone? Set it, if it heals wrong, enjoy the fun of breaking and resetting once home, until then, limp. Internal organ failure? Cut it out while watching an instructional video sent from home. Maybe they’ll bring a surgeon (not a doctor of internal medicine, a surgeon) to have the experience available. Maybe. Or, they’ll be young-ish and healthly and hope they don’t need to have heart bypass or something else complicated.

        Iron men in wooden ships, not wooden men in iron ships. That’s how the New World was explored.

        1. It’s a fair point. Bring some medical capability, but at some point, you have to accept some risk if you’re going to explore or build a new world.

          P.S. Given the doubts that attach to Cook’s and Perry’s North Pole claims, Amundsen is pretty arguably the man with the best claim of being first to the *North* Pole, too.

        2. All they need is the same medical help that the US Navy allocated to their submarines on patrol during wartime in the WW2 Pacific. Beyond that is a practically endless wish list…

          1. No reason to overthink it. There’s already a thriving business model for adventure medicine. Certifications for Paramedics and wilderness EMTs that are hired by tourist organizations to provide medical care for their customers when in remote areas. If the needs of a business supports it, I can see similar services and specialty training for off planet adventuring.

      2. “On Mars, of course, that won’t be an option – you would have to bring pretty robust medical capabilities with you,”
        What robust medical capabilities did pioneers bring with them through three hundred years of settling this continent? If there is no doctor, and no surgery, you deal with the situation. You patch it up yourself, or you die. Dying early is going to be part of the price of settling the solar system. There is no such thing as safe, there is only acceptable risk, and we are simply going to have accept significantly greater risk than we do sitting in a First World suburban environment.

    2. To be fair, if your outbound vehicle has room for 100 passengers, I think you can bring along a Doctor and probably a Dentist too.

      1. The take-home message is that, by moving certain settlers to the front of the line, one can easily ensure that all of the medical, dental, etc expertise can be provided for. There’s other relevant factors such as the health of the initial selected crew, telemedicine consultation, and planning for meds/equipment/facilities needed at different phases of the development of the settlement. But it is all easily doable.

  6. –RD: Is that because the focus right now is so much on getting there?
    EM: Yeah yeah, you need to get there. That’s a big deal. I think Starship will also be good for creating a base on the moon. We’ll probably have a base on the moon before going to Mars.–

    A base on Moon is useless for Martians.
    Lunar water mining, makes living on Mars cheaper.
    I would say without lunar water mining, you can’t have settlements
    on Mars- it’s too expensive.
    With lunar water mining, it might be cheaper to live on Mars, as compared to on Earth- eventually.
    But the start of lunar water mining begin a process of lowering costs of living on Mars.
    NASA does not need a lunar base at this point in time, and no one on Earth needs a base, and people wanting to live Mars don’t need a lunar base.
    What is needed is exploration of lunar poles to determine if there is mineable water.
    The next thing to explore, could be to explore Mars in order to find the cheapest Mars water.
    Finding very cheap Mars water, is very good news for lunar water mining companies.
    First let’s dispense with a silly idea, cheap Mars water would not reduce any market for lunar water. Lunatic can sell lunar water at Mars orbit, Martian can’t sell mars water at lunar or Earth orbit.
    Though selling lunar water at Mars surface could only apply to NASA exploration- will not happen in regards to Mars settlement.
    So any mars settlement activity has large potential market for Lunar rocket fuel. Whereas as Mars exploration is rather small market for Lunar water. Or quite possible one could have lunar water starting off with only market for lunar rocket fuel being lunar surface and lunar low orbit.
    The biggest value to NASA of Lunar water mining is enabling Mars exploration. It may not enable flags and footprint “exploration” but it could/should enable real exploration of Mars.
    One could say the only thing “real thing” driving Mars exploration [including all the robotic missions] is the potential of having future Mars settlements.
    People for whatever reasons want humans living on Mars, and don’t really want humans living on Mercury [btw, Mercury might be a great place to live- as could be Venus].

      1. I think that a base on the Moon would demonstrate many systems that would be used in a Martian base. Habitat structures. Recycling systems. Hydroponic system. Labor-saving equipment. Metallurgy hardware. Machining hardware. 3D printing. Certain chemical-producing equipment. Perhaps some telerobotic systems. Etc. Perhaps an indoor centrifuge for crew health and animal studies might be a common system as well.

        It’s true that these things can and should be demonstrated on Earth prior to going to the Moon or Mars. But using those systems in the field would do nothing but help gain more experience.

        1. How you land a Mars base on Mars might a rather important aspect regarding the base.
          It seems it’s possible that putting a base on Mars could be cheaper than putting a base on the Moon.

          Or at the moment it seems NASA is having a problem putting anything over 1 ton on the Mars surface.
          If Mars atmosphere is not usable in this regard and you basically have to land things over a ton, in same way you have already landed more than a ton on the Moon, then a Mars base would obviously be more expensive as compared to a lunar base.

          Once you have the moon making rocket fuel, it will cheaper to put a lunar base on the Moon and it makes sense to have lunar bases. But at this point we don’t know if lunar water is mineable.
          One does not need a lunar base to explore the Moon, but one does need a Martian base to explore Mars.
          You don’t need minable water on the Mars to explore Mars and you don’t need minable water on Mars to have Mars base.

          The mineability of lunar water is related to exporting rocket fuel and lunar water to lunar orbit. And using rocket fuel to return lunar material to Earth.
          And the mineability of Mars water is related to the viability towns on Mars, getting Mars explorer involved with mining water [or anything] on Mars is a waste of their time. Though Mars explorers might drill water wells on Mars- if they find a good place to drill such a hole.
          And if successful such explorers will find far more water than can used for exploration purpose, but perhaps not enough water for use of a human settlement.

  7. Settling Mars is a great goal. It focuses development of a highly capable and versatile transportation system which will have many uses even if Mars is never settled.
    I’m on the side of the O’Neill folks. A cis-lunar space economy.

    1. Given that all material for an O’Neillian colony in cislunar space will have to be imported, colonies on the Moon and Mars (where materials are already present) will be less expensive to develop and live in. If given a choice between hanging out in cislunar space or landing on and exploring the lunar surface, the many nations of the world would rather pay to go to the lunar surface. So, in the relative near-term, the demand for transport will be to the lunar surface. Mars has certain advantages but the travel time and the communications delays (with family) will be a deal-killer for many private settlers.

  8. We do *not* at this time know if any human can survive for a long time at *anything* under 1.00 gee. Billions of years of evolution have crafted an animal – us – that lives in 1.00 gee. We know that at 0.00 gee, one slowly dies (despite all of those exercise programs that slow the decline, but do not stop it). Will the decline stop at 0.38 gee? Or does it take more than that? 0.9? Who knows? And the Moon, at 1/6th gee — will the decline continue, but at just a much smaller rate than what it would have been at 0.00 gee?

    We don’t know. Period.

    This is (IMHO) just a weeee bit more important than whether or not a baby can be brought to term in reduced gravity.

    1. Sorry, you’re just wrong. Not only have (intensive) exercise programs been developed that halt the muscular loss, but the Russian expirence on Mir shows that the muscle loss levels off after a year or so, only effects the legs and other muscles used in walking, AND the bone loss only effect the bones involved in the legs.

      So, no, we don’t “slowly die” in zero gee. We slowly lose the ability to walk. Which is unsurprising, given that the same thing happens to anyone who, y’know, stops walking.

      Tim, please, please stop spreading Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt about the space program.

      1. Studies in which the hind legs of rats were partially offloaded (to 3/8th gee) by suspending their tails resulted in their developing osteoporosis in those legs. There have also been a number of experiments in the ISS using a small centrifuge. So it’s not like we have zero idea about the effects of partial gravity.

        That said, I think that Tim’s concerns are largely justified. The effects of microgee seem to best mimic those of bed rest with head down at 6 degrees tilt. This is a sedentary lifestyle with headward distribution of the body’s fluids. The same can be done for lunar and Martian gravity (9 degrees and 22 degrees heads up respectively, IIRC).

        The developmental effects on embryologic development of different species range anywhere from imperceptible to catastrophic. And the developmental effects of hypogravity is nearly entirely unknown. Uncertainty and ethical fear is warranted in that situation.

        Fortunately, we don’t need to know what the effects of an indoor centrifuge protocol are for primate gestation in order to establish an initial, permanent base on the Moon. We can send adult crew (male crew with reversible vasectomies). They can use the indoor centrifuge to extend their stay. Biomedical indicators (e.g. intraocular oressure, bone mineral density, etc) can be used to determine the length of their rotation. Meanwhile, they can use their centrifuge to conduct animal studies to determine the artificial gravity Rx for healthy gestation and childhood. By the time that the number of settlers reaches a large number, a lot of relevant data will be available to inform couples who can then choose for themselves whether or not to attempt a pregnancy.

        1. Agreed. We will obtain this data one way or another. Might even open up an entirely new field of medicine for all we know (today).

        2. –That said, I think that Tim’s concerns are largely justified. The effects of microgee seem to best mimic those of bed rest with head down at 6 degrees tilt. This is a sedentary lifestyle with headward distribution of the body’s fluids. The same can be done for lunar and Martian gravity (9 degrees and 22 degrees heads up respectively, IIRC).–

          Let’s assume that a sedentary lifestyle is not option for Martians- and generally within a century of time the general situation would make it, not be option.
          Or you should not go to Mars if you want a sedentary lifestyle
          and being involved with sport activities should be a hobby that you spending a lot time involved with.

  9. “RD: Let’s talk about Mars. You must have spent some time thinking about those first minutes, hours, and days.”

    “EM: Ahh, not really. I mean—not at the granularity of minutes.”

    Well, I have. I have already scripted my words for the first Mars landing. I would be giving an update every few seconds until the moment before touchdown. At that point, I would say “OH, MY GOD!!”

    The first words spoken by a human being on the surface of Mars would then be: “Just kidding.”

  10. We will probably find that getting there isn’t the hardest part of living on Mars, although the challenges will be different.

    Even aquaponics is complicated, especially when you need a supply chain from Earth. Maybe Mars will provide all the nutrients, but we still have to figure out how to process them. We will even have to bring bacteria with us.

    1. You have identified certain, real problems. But also take into account the possible solutions. For example, spare parts in sufficient number to keep the system going. 3D printer material to replace broken parts. Food supplies to keep the crew alive until at least the next resupply arrival or Earth return window. Nutrient supplies shipped from Earth if the nutrient production systems on Mars don’t work (e.g. nitrates chemically made from the N2 and CO2 i the air), etc.

      1. I am sure everything is solvable but will be harder than people expect.

        There is so much of our microbiome that we take for granted.

  11. You know why no-one mentions the low-gravity procreation “problem”? Because it doesn’t exist. Sperm can crawl up the Fallopian tubes in 1g, why would they find it harder in low-g? Babies naturally gestate in a floating environment, with neutral buoyancy. Low or zero g doesn’t change that. Babies spend their first few months flat on their backs, or held in their parent’s arms, with effectively no stress on their bones. Now, toddlers might have issues, once they start walking. Chances are, they’d be well-adapated for Mars, but face some trouble going to Earth.

    Mr. Simberg, please. Enough people are opposed to the idea of humans moving out into space, or are invested in coming up with reasons to excuse NASA’s laziness and incapacity. Stop handing them ammunition. Especially scientifically ludicrous ammunition.

    1. What’s not scientifically ludicrous is how human physiology will adapt to low g over a *long* period of time, i.e. years to decades. So far the only data point we have is for 0g. And the result (the scientific facts) are not good[1]. Humans have evolved over 315,000 years in 1g. Early ancestors even further back in time. We could study this in LEO with little (relative) expenditure in time and money, but looks like we’ll have the transport done before such a gravity lab is ever built and delivered, so we will find out one way or another. Either on the Moon or Mars I suppose. Nobody promised the opening of the space frontier would be a totally rational approach. Certainly not risk free. Esp. those known and unknown unknowns.

      [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effect_of_spaceflight_on_the_human_body

      1. Here is some woo, we could have latent expressions in our DNA that will be revealed as we move out into the solar system or even things we have now but don’t haven’t identified or realize their benefits.

    2. Don’t confuse people saying we don’t know something for people saying we shouldn’t find out about something.

      The changes to homo sapien sapiens are potentially paradigm shifting and should be treated as such. Future space babies don’t get a vote but they might not appreciate the situation forced on them. Many will be Earthsick, without the possibility to return home.

  12. Did any explorers know what they would find? Start with a hundred people on mars and unleash them. I predict you will be amazed what happens. Then send another hundred. And another…. Don’t lose sight of the fact that what works here will not.

  13. Another random thought. Will starship, with a fully-fueled super-heavy attached in LEO, open up mars even during not-so-close orbits?

    1. –Art
      February 25, 2019 At 6:23 PM
      Another random thought. Will starship, with a fully-fueled super-heavy attached in LEO, open up mars even during not-so-close orbits?–
      Wiki:
      “The minimum-energy launch windows for a Martian expedition occur at intervals of approximately two years and two months (specifically 780 days, the planet’s synodic period with respect to Earth”
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploration_of_Mars#Launch_windows
      Or said differently a “minimum-energy launch window” is hohmann transfer. And there are different type of hohmann transfers, or can get there is about 7 months or with simple hohmann transfer of +8 months. And these variants of a hohmann transfer can be 6 to 8 month and would have different launch dates and widens the time period you leave to get to Mars but it’s still follows rule of about two years and two months.

      But it’s possible to do transfers which are not hohmann transfers and they are not “minimum-energy”.
      If you use a ion engine, it will not be a hohmann transfer- it might use less propellant but it uses more energy.
      So general rule any low thrust rocket doesn’t do a hohmann transfers. And anything getting to Mars in say, 39 days is not a hohmann transfer. But if going to Mars in 39 days, you are still limited by the 2 years and two month window- or every 39 day trip time mars will space every 2 years and 2 months. Or 39 day travel time is also simply broaden the launch window period to go to Mars.
      Now a low thrust rocket which can get to Mars in 39 days would have a huge capability. It could go to Venus, and then go to Mars, and leaving from Venus give different launch window. Or from Venus there is shorter launch window to Mars [because Venus orbits the sun faster than Earth does.
      So something like two months to Venus distance and then 3 months then 3 months to Mars, might be possible. And it would be a Venus to Mars launch window.

      Also it’s possible to leave Venus at the time of a Venus to Mars launch window AND flyby Earth. And when it flies near Earth, it is NOT during the time of a Earth to Mars hohmann transfer Earth to Mars launch window.
      But by using a non hohmann trajectory, you leave earth and get to Mars in the same time period, that it take for craft which flys by Earth can get to Mars. But again it’s just a widening of Earth to Mars launch window.
      Of course, not every Venus launch window to Mars using a hohmann transfers will even get close to flying by Earth. Rather it might somewhere around 1 in 10 of these launch windows.
      Check if find the Venus to Mars:
      Synodic Period 0.9142 Years
      Trip Time 0.5954 Years
      http://clowder.net/hop/railroad/VMa.htm

      So seems go to Mars from Venus in every time period of less than one earth year and it takes less than 6 months, using simple hohmann planetary transfer..

      So if such time period lined up with a earth flyby, it take about 2 month to pass near earth and another 4 months to reach Mars.
      And if left earth with rocket and matched that trajectory, you also arrive at Mars in 4 months.
      But as said, this would only similar to 39 days trip to mars with low thrust and high energy use rocket, it broadens the Earth to Mars launch window.
      But if resupplying Mars from Venus orbit, you get twice as many launch windows as compared from Earth. And from Mercury distance, a lot more.

    2. Not only that, but with the high DV capability of a fully refueled Starship, it would be able to get to Mars and return in time to be used in the following Mars window.

  14. IMHO, the key to terraforming Mars will be solar-electric propulsion (or nuclear-electric) or similar massive-ISP systems.

    When you need things that are measured in the trillions of tons, I can’t think of a better way than re-directing asteroids and comets of appropriate composition and orbit. I just hope we find some that are very high in nitrogen, which seems to be what Mars lacks most.

    I’m not too worried about the human-gestation possible problem. If it does prove to be an issue, there are alternatives, such as 1G carrousels on the surface, or in Mars orbit (the former is very viable if it’s found that higher G is needed, say, only a few hours per day). It wouldn’t be much of a factor early in a colony anyway.

    I think Elon Musk is right to focus on getting there, because whether or not it’s the hardest part, it’s certainly the prerequisite.

    1. –Arizona CJ
      February 25, 2019 At 8:27 PM
      IMHO, the key to terraforming Mars will be solar-electric propulsion (or nuclear-electric) or similar massive-ISP systems.

      When you need things that are measured in the trillions of tons, I can’t think of a better way than re-directing asteroids and comets of appropriate composition and orbit. I just hope we find some that are very high in nitrogen, which seems to be what Mars lacks most.–

      If you want to alter space rocks trajectory, you should use nuclear bombs.
      And a spacefaring civilization uses Nuclear Orions [which use nuclear bombs for propulsion]:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion)

      But if even if one has Nuclear Orions, it still seems that chemical rockets will be used. Or Nuclear Orions or used if you want to move something really big and/or really fast.
      Or with chemical rockets you can get to Mars from Earth in two months. If have to get there in week, then you have use something like a Nuclear Orion or beamed energy.

  15. The thicker the atmosphere on Mars the easier it will be for the flour size dust to stay in the atmosphere. So the only result from your 25 trillion would be a permanent dust strong that will make it even inhabitable that now. Just leave the surface alone and build a few domes that are small enough to replace the Mars regolith with soul.

  16. The structural mass efficiency of a rotating space habitat, per unit of floor space, improves dramatically as the centripetal acceleration decreases. So, if people can live in 0.38 g, space colonies get nearly an order of magnitude easier to build vs. 1 g.

  17. Space advocates need to become familiar with the concept of paraterraforming. Debates about terraforming are almost irrelevant when, prior to terraforming, paraterraforming is going to be inevitable. Given automated systems including robotics, there is no limit to how far paraterraformed environments could be created. It is also compatible with simultaneous terraforming efforts but would yield bettter results much, much faster.

    Paraterraforming is the near-term creation of high-quality environments within enclosed spaces. These are essentially inevitable because initial crew / settlers will want them and they are well within the technical reach of a growing base / settlement. These greenhouses can be very large, have Earth-like air and temperatures, can have any type of greenery that one wishes, and wouldn’t require a spacesuit to walk around in. Challenges such as producing the enclosure materials locally, managing the high relative pressure differences, the rare meteorite damage, radiation, etc all have reasonable, proposed solutions.

    I have given a presentation on paraterraforming at:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qxL2PIz9doo&t=1736s

  18. All they need is the same medical help that the US Navy allocated to their submarines on patrol during wartime in the WW2 Pacific. Beyond that is a practically endless wish list…

  19. It could be that the path to terraforming Mars involves introducing life to the planet. Seems obvious right? Like that’s the whole point…

    Consider that there are various life forms on Earth that can live in extreme conditions. We should look at different types of bacteria, fungus, lichen, ect and find some that can live on Mars and then let nature help with the terraforming.

    1. “Consider that there are various life forms on Earth that can live in extreme conditions. We should look at different types of bacteria, fungus, lichen, ect and find some that can live on Mars and then let nature help with the terraforming.”

      If you have oceans/bodies of water, lots of life could live in them.
      Land creatures have deal with the extreme ranges in temperature of Mars. If use bodies of water, one can also do this with the Moon or Mercury.

  20. One set of my great grandparents were original settlers in one of the three experimental eastern European colonies in Western Canada (Huns Valley). They arrived in wilderness with about thirty other colonists, a few chickens, some bags of seed, hand tools, and one pair of oxen for the entire group. About a days walk from the railhead. They had no medical or dental support whatsoever. There are thousands of descendants from that colony.

  21. One thing that potential space colonists will have to accept: lots and lots of people are going to die in nasty ways before we figure this all out. Sometimes seven minutes of terror will be abruptly cut short. Sometimes there will be a major hull breach or X class solar flare and everyone will die en route. Sometimes some idiot will do something stupid.

    And people will still clamor to go, if only to get away from the whackjobs in charge on Earth.

    Over time, any problem we can imagine (and the far greater set of problems we cannot yet imagine) will be solved. If it turns out proper gestation is impossible in 0.38 gee, then pregnant women might have to spend six months in a rotating 0.6 (or whatever) gee station in orbit around Mars. Or on a fast train moving in a tight circle on the surface. Or some other solution. But whatever the problem, with enough people looking for solutions, we will figure it out eventually.

    And then the oldtimers will say that “kids today don’t know how good they have it”…

  22. If it turns out proper gestation is impossible in 0.38 gee, then pregnant women might have to spend six months in a rotating 0.6 (or whatever) gee station in orbit around Mars. Or on a fast train moving in a tight circle on the surface. Or some other solution.

    This is why space advocates struggle to be taken seriously. They will (properly) sneer at foolishness like the green new deal but once the context changes to space they propose stuff like the above with a completely straight face.

    1. “…gee station in orbit around Mars. Or on a fast train moving in a tight circle on the surface. Or some other solution.

      This is why space advocates struggle to be taken seriously. They will (properly) sneer at foolishness like the green new deal but once the context changes to space they propose stuff like the above with a completely straight face”

      If you expect a government or socialism
      to build towns and etc on Mars, it is quite silly.
      It could also be rather foolish to expect a government agency, to actually explore the Moon (and then Mars).

      But if somehow find mineable water on the moon, it seems possible that it would be mined at some point in time.
      But socialism is not capable of mining water in space.

    2. I proposed stuff like the above because I was just spitballing. Truth is, we don’t know if 0.38 gee will be a problem at all. We’re going to have to actually go there, and people will have to try to make babies, in order to find out. Trying it out with mice in a centrifuge won’t cut it. It might turn out that mice do just fine and raise normal, healthy babies in a centrifuge, and we all say yay!, and then we try it with actual people on Mars and find out oops. But we won’t actually know until and unless we go.

      If it turns out that we need almost exactly one gee in order to make babies, then Mars would be out of the question for colonization, and we’d better get good at making cloud cities on Venus and Saturn.

      But my original point stands: safe is not an option.

      1. –Ed Minchau
        February 27, 2019 At 5:20 PM
        I proposed stuff like the above because I was just spitballing. Truth is, we don’t know if 0.38 gee will be a problem at all. —

        And with new green deal, we know solar and/or wind energy does not work. No one is building these buildings, which we will tear up existing buildings and replace them such non existing undefinable wonder buildings.
        Socialize health care has been proven not to work in other countries, and obamacare is dead man walking with only lesson learned, being: no, you can’t keep your doctor.
        And Moonbeam showed how successful fast rail was in California.
        And finally, the world not going to end in 12 years and none predictions by “experts” has ever been shown to be correct.
        The most amusing was Ted Turner’s cannibalism:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSlB1nW4S54

  23. Or on a fast train moving in a tight circle on the surface.

    Take the ‘A’ Train?

    but once the context changes to space they propose stuff like the above with a completely straight face.

    I was grinning the whole time and I wasn’t even on the train!

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