39 thoughts on “Forget Mars”

          1. I’m just going for the cheap gags. I’m not trying to be pedantic. But a jerk, always…

            Speaking of gags, could it be living above Venus could be a problem just because, well, because it just STINKS! What’s the percentage of Hydrogen Sulfide in the various layers of atmosphere?

  1. Don’t have to worry about being cold. An oxygen leak should spontaneously combust.

    The radiation hazard on mars (directly measured by rovers) is almost non existent and easily mitigated. Background radiation on earth is essential for our health and missing on Titan.

    We can live almost anywhere, but mars is the only earth analogy in our solar system. So much that it doesn’t need global terraforming. just habitat by habitat… exactly what we already do here on earth (or we would die right here.)

    Being hug up on breathable air is another stupidity. Anywhere we go we will need it supplied.

    Being hung up on pressure suits is the final stupidity. Martians will build massive amounts of shirt-sleeve spaces just because there’s no reason not to.

    Being soaked in gasoline on Titan isn’t a better alternative. Because the cold will require bulky suits in any case.

    Apparently people are going to have to demonstrate living on mars to put the final nail in all these hair-brained alternative suggestions by those with a one dimensional perspective “we can flap our arms on Titan!”

    The only way we find a better candidate than mars is if slider tech is developed.

    1. Apparently people are going to have to demonstrate living on mars to put the final nail in all these hair-brained alternative suggestions

      It would be great if people could go wherever they want.

      Titan could be a great place to process methane and ship it to other locations.

          1. The moon gets us to mars slower. The reason you go down a gravity well to get resources is because it has the infrastructure to provide them. It will take decades to develop that infrastructure on the moon (and that’s with a focused effort that isn’t going to happen.)

            The question of optimum does depend on what is being optimized (speed, cost, etc.)

            The reason for optimizing on speed is because of lost opportunity costs. The moon will always require massive imports, which is somewhat ok because mars can provide them (mars rather than earth because mars will be cheaper. The BFR is the infrastructure required although better options will soon follow.)

            Mars will be an exporter because of it 0.38 gravity. Earth will be the expensive backup when time is more critical.

            Asteroid miners will be limited by the infrastructure provided in a ship. Mars infrastructure by the planets population. A population that arrives with individual personal wealth to develop the planet if we allow mars assets to be used by mars. Anyone disagreeing with that last sentence is a free market hating, individual liberty totalitarian, socialist commie bastard! (and I’m being nice.)

            The moon could be developed the same way but it’s too far under the thumb of the socialist earth. There is no free society left on earth. Everybody claims jurisdiction over your lives and have the guns to enforce it. The 2nd amendment provides almost no protection.

            Mars may be our last hope if they’re smart enough not to hand it over to the lawyers. It’s too late for the moon and may be too late for mars as well, but there’s still a chance.

          2. explore the moon to determine if there is minable water at lunar poles, then explore Mars to determine if settlement on Mars could be viable.
            Mining lunar water is something a free market can do. Settling Mars is something free market would have to do.

            Lunar exploration program should be finished within 10 years.
            NASA can start by robotic exploration and finish with manned exploration.
            With Mars use robotic missions to establish a base on Mars, then send crew to finish establishing a base on Mars.
            Send 3 crew, and stay at base until next 3 arrive. Have 3 crew establish a base for 6 crew and perhaps more. When 3rd set of crew arrives have first 3 crew return to Earth.
            Crew on Mars should spend considerable amount of their time operating robots missions on Mars surface. Of course robotic missions could be close to base or on other side of the planet. But it seems one focus on having robotic mission near the Mars base and having ability of crew getting to their location.
            It seems once have one mars base, one might look for other place to have a Mars base. Or it doesn’t make much sense to focus on making the first base a large base. And perhaps one have network of bases rather than have some large base.
            So a focus of manned Mars program could be to find better locations for bases [and/or future sites for human settlements-small towns and then cities.

            So it’s possible that the Moon and Mars are explored- are completed in terms of exploration. And no one is mining lunar water nor having any human settlements. And this may be the case because exploration indicates it’s not as viable as some imagine it is.
            Were that to happen, NASA would need to explore elsewhere or simply end the NASA space program.

          3. -Is the Space Age Over?
            by Paul Gilster on July 6, 2011

            A good futurist can come up with all kinds of outcomes for humanity, but for those of us consumed by space exploration, a recent article in The Economist sketches a particularly bleak possibility. Forget about the stars. For that matter, forget about Mars, even the Moon.-

            Let’s find out.
            Personally I don’t think we done any exploration. Not meaning not enough exploration- I mean not any exploration.
            So it’s about time to explore the Moon and then explore Mars- no more stunts no more science hobbies, time to explore [so more exploration will follow- more NASA exploration and more private sector exploration of space. There a lot of things to explore- but first we determine if we should be exploring space- is there anything viable out there which important for humans living on Earth.

          4. If there were tanks of water or fuel sitting on the surface of the moon it would not make sense to use it anywhere but on the moons surface. It would not help get us to mars.

          5. –ken anthony
            October 18, 2017 at 11:19 PM

            If there were tanks of water or fuel sitting on the surface of the moon it would not make sense to use it anywhere but on the moons surface. It would not help get us to mars.–

            Yeah basically I agree, unless they were very large tanks of water. The significant of minable water on the moon is that it makes the Moon are commercially viable destination. Or it simply, makes the Moon a viable destination.
            Having NASA mine lunar water is more than simply a huge waste of money and time.
            And it would similar to NASA making settlement towns on Mars.
            Or all it’s proving is NASA can waste a huge amount money if you provide NASA with a huge amount of money. That would be merely continuation of NASA has been doing- which is not exploring space.

            So NASA job is to explore the Moon and explore Mars [or explore any place in space which could be commercially viable]. NASA can’t make the decision that the Moon is commercially viable nor can NASA make the decision that Mars should have human settlements [or that Mars is commercially viable].

            But it would be better if there was more certainty about aspects of the Moon and Mars, before people decide they want to invest in “the enterprise”.
            Or NASA can lower risk by finding out specific things regarding the Moon and Mars.
            More knowledge translates to more investor confidence, and in that regard NASA can significantly lower the costs.

            There number of reasons NASA should first explore the Moon [in order to determine if and where there is minable water].
            And I am not going to re-hash them.
            But if commercial lunar water mining begins, there is no doubt in my mind that this would be helpful in regards to Mars settlements. Also no doubt that if one gets people settling Mars that this would be helpful in terms commercial lunar water mining

          6. The beyond last thing we need is NASA or any arm of the govt. exploring mars beyond what has already been done. The good news is SLS isn’t getting them to mars.

            The bad news is no amount of reason will defund SLS.

          7. ** ken anthony
            October 21, 2017 at 1:04 PM

            The beyond last thing we need is NASA or any arm of the govt. exploring mars beyond what has already been done. The good news is SLS isn’t getting them to mars.

            The bad news is no amount of reason will defund SLS.**

            I am curious what NASA exploration of Mars has been useful
            in terms of what is would be needed to done before humans settle Mars?

            I would happy if NASA first explores the lunar poles of the Moon, but after that I would want NASA to explore somewhere else. And I think exploring Mars would be a good idea, and the general US government plan is to first explore the Moon and then explore Mars.
            I think a case would need to given for NASA to not explore Mars.

            In terms of SLS, reason will not work, but reality will eventually, work it’s magic.

            It doesn’t seem to me that SLS will have a bad effect upon SpaceX, Blue Origins, or any other new launch companies.
            Though probably bad for companies involved with SLS- or generally, welfare programs will disable the recipients of it.

    1. My old blog is gone and someone is selling my domain for $1200.

      This making it very difficult to find the links I researched. Surface radiation changes with the atmosphere but the article I remember based on surface readings of RAD on MSL? indicated extended outside would be tolerable and 5 ft of dirt would equal earth background radiation. I’ll keep looking for the article.

    2. The paper Ken is probably referring is titled ““Mars’ Surface Radiation Environment Measured with the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity Rover” whose first author was Dan Hassler.

      It is funny how the paper was spun. This link makes the results, to an ignorant lazy impatient reader, sound ominous:

      But this link makes the results sound ok:

      But of course, you will want to read the paper in its entirety. The paper is behind Science journal’s paywall, which will stop some of you, but fortunately, you can read the paper here:


      1. Whoops! Not that it matters, but this is the link where is was spun to be ok:


        “The risk of radiation exposure is not a show-stopper for a long-term manned mission to Mars, new results from NASA’s Curiosity rover suggest. A mission consisting of a 180-day cruise to Mars, a 500-day stay on the Red Planet and a 180-day return flight to Earth would expose astronauts to a cumulative radiation dose of about 1.01 sieverts, measurements by Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) instrument indicate. [….] “It’s certainly a manageable number,” said RAD principal investigator Don Hassler of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., lead author of a study that reports the results today (Dec. 9) in the journal Science.

        Since some people will only read this comment and won’t click on the links, I’ll add this extra tidbit of info:

        But Mars’ radiation environment is dynamic, so Curiosity’s measurements thus far should not be viewed as the final word, Hassler stressed. For example, RAD’s data have been gathered near the peak of the sun’s 11-year activity cycle, a time when the GCR flux is relatively low (because solar plasma tends to scatter galactic cosmic rays).

        1. Thanks for finding those links Bob. I still can’t find the one I wanted to share. Most of that radiation comes from the trip to mars. Once on mars with no mitigation it adds only a small lifetime risk, but is easily mitigated. They don’t even need advanced warning for solar flares since the atmosphere will protect them for the time it takes to get to shelter (about twice a year for a few days. Weather on earth is much worse in terms of life risk.)

  2. What’s important is the ability to affordably get wherever we want in the solar system. Elon is at least paying lip service to that now.

    He can’t do it alone. Can’t wait to see what people build in space using his products.

    Being able to have a high number for lifetime reuses of BFS means destinations other than Mars and perhaps interplanetary ships.

    1. The reasoning of the Fermi paradox is there will be no starships. The galaxy of the F.P. is one of progressive colonization outward from one star to inward at the next. No FTL required.

  3. I wonder what kind of clothing would be required to keep a person from freezing in a dense atmosphere at -290 F.

    1. What? You think a thick atmo is the opposite of an insulator? What a wet blanket you are… and I’m jealous that I didn’t think of that first. ;-P

    2. I would guess a dry suit with dense fur.
      The skin would need to be warmed- not sure Teflon remains flexible at -290 F, so have to be warmed to temperature that it remains flexible. The fur would get to temperature of -290 F, but it doesn’t need the physical properties that skin would need- the fur could also be Teflon or something else.
      So dry suit with fur and electrical power warming skin so that it remain flexible and question is how much electrical power. A human body does 100 watts and doubling it might be enough. So Kw hour per 10 hours.
      A lead car battery does about 1 Kw hour.
      Keeping a rigid backpack warm could be quite easy. Use backpack with oxygen supply for 10 hours and 10 hours of electrical power.
      Though come to think of it, with methane and oxygen one has energy source, so one could mostly just carry liquid oxygen in the backpack.

    1. That place makes far more sense than Mars or Venus; nice gravity, lots of helium and volatiles to mine.

  4. One lives on Mars because you doing something on Mars.
    To do something on the Moon, you don’t have live on the Moon to do something on the Moon.

    NASA doesn’t need a base on the Moon to explore the Moon. NASA needs a base on Mars to explore Mars.
    NASA could have a base on the Moon, but the Moon needs cheap rocket fuel to live on the Moon.
    NASA doesn’t need cheap rocket fuel on the Moon to explore the Moon. NASA doesn’t need cheap rocket fuel on Mars to explore Mars.
    If you think exploring the Moon and Mars is necessary the most expensive factor is the time it take to explore them.
    Mars will be more expensive to explore than the Moon, because more time is needed to explore Mars.

    The way to make exploring the Moon and Mars the most expensive is by increasing the amount of time required.

    Roughly speaking the reason you explore is to make money. Or money is measuring stick of wealth/value. Or reason you explore is to increase wealth. You explore for gold or oil, and it results in more gold or oil.

    The most valuable think in space is energy. Related to this, is water.
    The amount of energy available in space is essentially infinite and the amount water in space is also essentially infinite.
    The price of energy or water in space is expensive.
    The goal is to make energy and water, dirt cheap [or as cheap as water is on Earth].
    Cheap is you turn on water tap or a light switch and can buy a lot of it or as little of it, as you want. Cheap isn’t a lake, one can fill a bucket and haul it back “for free”- because that consumes time.

    We can’t mine space energy at the moment, but we might be able to mine water in space. One could, in near term, mine water and the energy to make rocket fuel on the Moon.

    It seems to me, the path to making energy and water in space as cheap as dirt, begins with the Moon- if the Moon is explored to determine whether there is minable lunar water.

    I think 10,000 tons of water on the Moon is worth 5 billion dollars and I don’t think 100,000 tons of water on the Moon is worth 50 billion dollars- though probably worth more than 25 billion dollars.

    And I think a business which mining water at 100 tons of lunar water a year is worth more than 5 billion dollars. And/or business mining 500 tons per year and is selling 500 tons lunar water per year, is probably worth more than 50 billion dollars.
    This based upon idea that price of lunar water will drop, but more will be sold and operational cost per unit sold will lower.
    Or value of business is based on future expectation of the market.
    And basically if lunar water is bought, in future more will be bought And if someone is mining lunar and selling it, then someone else will attempt mine and sell lunar water. Or if no competition, price of water will not drop plus dropping prices will cause there to be more buyers. And dropping prices will allow one ship it off the Moon. [[Low lunar orbit, Mars orbit and LEO [so more buyers in that sense]. Though I tend to think one could start off with exporting rocket fuel to Low lunar orbit.]]

    1. If you think exploring the Moon and Mars is necessary the most expensive factor is the time it take to explore them.

      Yup. It is something that has to be done. We need better imaging satellites and prospecting missions for Mars and the Moon. Planning, construction, transit, surveying, and analysis will all take a while, at least a decade.

      Its exciting that many of the blocks are falling into place but our destination is still on the horizon.

      From a business perspective, how do you turn these activities into profit centers rather than loss centers? Planetary Resources is trying to solve this problem.

      1. –From a business perspective, how do you turn these activities into profit centers rather than loss centers? Planetary Resources is trying to solve this problem.–
        I think Planetary Resources, should look at our other Moon.

        Or I have long thought the solution would be to find a rock in a Earth L-point.
        And Minimoon sounds good to me:

        I would do a Benson and claim the Minimoon. But be careful, if you screw this up, it could be a serious setback for exploiting space resources.

        1. how do you turn these activities into profit centers rather than loss centers?

          The exact same way economics always works. Equations have two sides. It is amazing how often people talk about space as if economic equations magically have nothing on the other side of the equal sign.

          It isn’t about mining (although mining may certainly come into play.) It’s about individuals working for their own benefit to increase their own assets. What assets? Everything or anything guided by the individuals desires.

          Funding is the only issue because all others are trivial in comparison. First should come the realization that a developed mars benefits the earth many times over. Second is knowing the assets are already sitting there. People will buy it out of there own self interest. Why that isn’t happening is because others want what isn’t theirs to have. All the world needs to do is allow plots to be auctioned to the highest bidder and the funds which do not belong to anyone to only be used to pay for tickets for permanent colonists to get there.

          It’s trivial in principle and breaks no natural laws… except human corruption and greed.

          The personal property of the new colonists represents wealth to give them all a good start.

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