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Let us get this out of the way... (5, Funny)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31023710)

I, for one, welcome our Mars-terraforming lichen overlords.

fuck they gonna get cosmic ray powerz (4, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31023750)

Then come back to earth and take us over. Underworld: Rise of the Lichen. Gonna net to get some space reindeer to save us.

Re:fuck they gonna get cosmic ray powerz (3, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31023824)

Yeah, exposure to gamma radiation is going to cause the lichen to turn into a giant green(-er) beast of unstoppable power whenever it gets angry.

Fortunately, lichens are pretty mellow.

Re:fuck they gonna get cosmic ray powerz (2, Funny)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 4 years ago | (#31023948)

The Hulks is in reality a lichen?

Who could have thunk?

Re:fuck they gonna get cosmic ray powerz (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31024242)

Swamp Thing

Re:fuck they gonna get cosmic ray powerz (2, Funny)

Tristanic (1118413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024114)

Day of the Triffids wasn't a movie, it was an omen!

Re:fuck they gonna get cosmic ray powerz (2, Funny)

kehren77 (814078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024002)

We'll be fine as long as their powerz level isn't over 9000.

Re:fuck they gonna get cosmic ray powerz (4, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024438)

Underworld: Rise of the Lichen

It's funny because you likened the lichen to Lycans.

Re:fuck they gonna get cosmic ray powerz (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024778)

I can't stop laughing at your post. Next to Lampshade Hanging [tvtropes.org] , my favorite trope has to be Explaining the Joke [tvtropes.org] . Joss, is that you [youtube.com] ?

Of the space variety (5, Funny)

PlasmaEye (1128377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31023754)

I guess you could say that fungus was lichen space. *crickets*

Re:Of the space variety (5, Funny)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 4 years ago | (#31023832)

Man, oh, man. You owe the internet an apology for that one.

Mars (5, Interesting)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31023770)

The purpose of this isn't really to teraform Mars. That is way too far off in the future. At this point we don't even have an idea when humans will finally get there. The real goal of this research is to understand the limits to life in extreme environments. This can help us to better understand where we might find life and whether it is possible that there might still be life on Mars today. Glad to see some useful research being done on the ISS after all the time and effort to get it up there.

Re:Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31023800)

Glad to see some useful research being done on the ISS after all the time and effort to get it up there.

Of course, the time and effort to get it up there did in itself involve quite a bit of useful research.

Re:Mars (3, Insightful)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31023826)

Yes, but it was way behind schedule and for a long time had only a minimum crew. They needed to spend all their time just maintaining the station which didn't leave any time for scientific research. Now, finally, they have a full crew and can actually get down to business.

Re:Mars (5, Insightful)

OolimPhon (1120895) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024430)

You misunderstand. Actually building the thing has involved a whole lot of new engineering and scientific knowledge.

Doing experiments now it's up there is fine, but just getting it up there taught us a lot (including, the shuttle was a bad idea).

Re:Mars (3, Funny)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 4 years ago | (#31023996)

Imagine it! A dyson sphere [wikipedia.org] of kudzu [wikipedia.org] !!!

Re:Mars (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024454)

Dan Simmions did that in The Rise of Endymion.

Re:Mars (0, Flamebait)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024082)

At this point we don't even have an idea when humans will finally get there.

We had a pretty good idea until a few days ago.

Re:Mars (5, Interesting)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024362)

The purpose of this isn't really to teraform Mars. That is way too far off in the future.

Actually terraforming a planet with plant life isn't necessarily a slow process at all. If we agree on the idea of human made global warming we have made substantial changes to a planet's ecosystem in a short amount of time.

Given the growth rate of a variety of micro organisms and small less complicated plant life we can induce a massive change in Mar's ecosystem in a short amount of time.

Here is a simple example. Given the growth rate of a species of plant that can survive on Mars. X rate of growth over Y distance. Without any natural predators the upper limit of that growth is R based on resources. Until we hit R in general we are talking near exponential growth (not taking into account localize competition with thins out the existing population.) Given this basic idea the mobility of plant life on Mars could be substantial (We are talking a radius increase of hundreds of miles per year.) You could literally cover an entire planet in a plant (again barring predators and R limits) with the lifetime of a human being.

Obviously there are a multitude of inhibitors to such growth but, if we can confirm there is no existing life on Mars there is nothing preventing us from launching a giant rocket to Mars fill with a good cocktail of microbes, algeas, etc and seed bombing the piss outta the planet and letting natural selection establish an ecosystem. I argue the opposite. Make the planet into a giant industrial factory where raw pollutants are just dumped out the window. Anything capable of living in that environment would have to thrive on said wastes.

Re:Mars (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024638)

Actually terraforming a planet with plant life isn't necessarily a slow process at all. If we agree on the idea of human made global warming we have made substantial changes to a planet's ecosystem in a short amount of time.

We don't.
Global warming is such bullshit.
Plants fucking thrive in CO2-rich environments (global warming zealots don't want you to know this), but man's contribution to overall atmospheric CO2 concentrations is infinitesimal.

We simply don't have the ability to change shit on the scale that would be required. Teraforming Mars couldn't be done by seeding the surface. You would first have to establish a viable atmosphere and supply of liquid water. Then you could seed the planet. Without further cleanup, if any life does take hold, it would be adapted to Martian life - the day/night cycle, the climate, the weather, etc. You couldn't just throw down grass, get Mars grass, and then throw down cows expecting to get Mars cows.

We could bioseed Mars - hell, maybe we could do it now and see results in our lifetime. But we sure as fuck can't make it a hospitable place for humans in a mere hundred years.

Any teraforming effort must start with the atmosphere and water supply, and a whole lot of luck. Throwing organisms from Earth at a planet won't result in an Earth-like ecosystem.
Throwing microorganisms on a planet and hoping evolution takes a similar path over millions of years is like hoping you win the Martian lottery when you bought a ticket for Ohio's lottery.

Grammer nazi's ftw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31024682)

Mar's

Mars'

Re:Mars (3, Insightful)

Greg Hullender (621024) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024766)

On Earth, the Oxygen Cycle is about a million years. Seed Mars with plants, add water, and wait a million years. Presto! Instant oxygen atmosphere.

Of course, advanced technology might cut that to as little as ten-thousand years . . .

--Greg (Why I lost interest in terraforming)

Re:Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31025102)

No reason to wait a million years. We should have
"Closed ecological system" on mars long before that.

We don't need to terraform the whole planet to live there.

Re:Mars (4, Interesting)

JerryLove (1158461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024956)

But what will you end up with?

Mars has no magnetosphere, and plants are not going to add one. Radiation will still hit hard, and air will still be stripped away by the solar winds.

Mars has little air, and plants don't generally create new air (they pull carbon from existing air), so it will still be airless.

Given the above, it will also still be freezing (a problem plants will have on Mars that ironically is less of an issue in space, where vacuum is an excellent insulator).

So how "terraformed" will it be? Though it would be cool to have something living there, even if it's not us.

Re:Mars (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#31025228)

Mars has no magnetosphere, and plants are not going to add one. Radiation will still hit hard, and air will still be stripped away by the solar winds.

Drop a bunch of ice asteroids to build up the atmosphere, and then one every century or so - or perhaps a constant barrage of small chunks that are vaporized in the upper atmosphere would be preferable? Either way, that should keep the air pressure up, until we can develop the technology to reboot planetary cores.

Re:Mars (2)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024966)

if we can confirm there is no existing life on Mars

This one will be hard, Mars is probably too borderline with is invorement to say with high certainity, even if "we haven't found anything yet"

Also, I'm not sure if dumping waste would be productive...yes, some life will hang on; but the resulting biosphere won't be very useful to us.

Re:Mars (3, Interesting)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#31025104)

Make the planet into a giant industrial factory where raw pollutants are just dumped out the window. Anything capable of living in that environment would have to thrive on said wastes.

That doesn't make sense. You'd need to lift the products out of Mars's gravity well to get them to Earth - I assume that you didn't mean people to live in the toxic dump planet. If you have that kind of technology, you'd be much better off building your industrial base on asteroids; not only do they have negligible gravity well, but several of them are actually composed of almost pure metals.

Planets are too valuable to waste as toxic dumps, and space-based industry can deliver anywhere with the speed of a shooting star ;).

Re:Mars (4, Interesting)

inviolet (797804) | more than 4 years ago | (#31025182)

Obviously there are a multitude of inhibitors to such growth but, if we can confirm there is no existing life on Mars there is nothing preventing us from launching a giant rocket to Mars fill with a good cocktail of microbes, algeas, etc and seed bombing the piss outta the planet and letting natural selection establish an ecosystem. I argue the opposite. Make the planet into a giant industrial factory where raw pollutants are just dumped out the window. Anything capable of living in that environment would have to thrive on said wastes.

Why convert Mars into a meat-friendly environment? We already have one of those, and given similar engineering effort, we could turn Venus back into a second. Mars, by contrast, is ALREADY a very nice environment for silicon-based life -- by which I mean AI robots and so forth.

I consider AI robots to be the future of intelligence, which we are blessed/fated/doomed to create. They will absolutely ADORE the cold no-oxygen environment, and the low light conditions are fine for fission-/fusion-/other-powered critters as they will be. So don't mess Mars up, because they can't happily live here on Earth.

Re:Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31024646)

It could also help us creating (more) Self-sufficient space stations. Having lichens and other photosynthetic stuff in cheap inflatable modules that have just enough protection for the lichens to do its job.

Re:Mars (2, Funny)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024648)

I'd like to see them just seed Mars with the lichen now. If it turns out to be problematic, it isn't like it is our own planet (or like it even has life to speak of that we need be concerned about). Put some kudzu cells in the lichen and maybe we can even have Mars go all greenfly on us and then we can spend more on spaceflight in order to be able to flee the galaxy consuming super-lichen

Sure it'll take ages, so start now. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024716)

But if we start now, maybe by the time we get there, earth based life will be well established.
 

Possible terraforming Mars experiment (1)

mrflash818 (226638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024888)

If I remember correctly, the Deep Space One experiment was considered successful.

I wonder if it is at all feasible to use another one to land on a high water contect comet or comet-like asteroid, and have it steer the item such that it impacts Mars.

If that was able to provide enough water, next would be the lichen?

I cannot think of any practical short-term value, except to know we can do it.

Re:Possible terraforming Mars experiment (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31025110)

...meanwhile, K'Breel was preparing another galzak inspiring message to the Council.

Re:Mars (1, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024912)

The real goal of this research is to understand the limits to life in extreme environments.

Next test coming up: kittens and puppies. How well do they do in a vaccuum?

Re:Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31025172)

"The purpose of this isn't really to teraform Mars. That is way too far off in the future."

You mean "never". We don't even have the energy resources for supersonic passenger travel here on Earth, what makes you think we have the resources to toss gigatons of resources to another planet to terraform it? Put down the sci-fi crack pipe, and crack open a physics book and a calculator, then figure out what the energy needed for terraforming represents in reality; that is, oil. Then, look up how much net-energetic oil we have left. And no, using more energy than what you get back from the oil doesn't count...
Oh, and it's "terra"forming, not tera.

It's not open space... (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#31023828)

It's near earth orbit. INSIDE the magnetosphere which removes a huge amount of radiation from the equation.

Big difference there.

Re:It's not open space... (3, Insightful)

RavenChild (854835) | more than 4 years ago | (#31023990)

Exactly.

Mars (along with Venus) do not have a magnetosphere in the same way Earth does. They have ionospheres that operate in similar fashion but the magnetic field only deflects a bit of the solar wind.

Re:It's not open source... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31024092)

I read your comment title as "It's not open source", AND I was outraged by it.
I think I better stop reading slashdot this month.

Re:It's not open space... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31024166)

This is important, but still doesn't rule out the usefulness of the experiment, since many of the panspermia advocates suggest that lifeforms might have evolved in such crazy places as asteroid fields, cosmic dust clouds, and the like.

these cosmic phenomena aren't "open space" either, and in the case of cosmic dust clouds several AU across, there is more than enough dust to stop a good majority of cosmic radiation.

The mere fact that this lichen (which is a complex, multicellular, and even symbiotic lifeform-- as opposed to say-- e.choli) has been able to endure for such a long time out there is pretty impressive for shooting down the "No atmosphere means no life jackass." nay sayers.

Then there is always the interesting situation of food cultivation in deep space, or in very harsh environments (like on the moon; NASA isn't the only agency that can get there.)

As for terraforming though, I would be much more interested in seeding the Venusian atmosphere with thermophilic microbes; much like the kind found in ocean vents, or in geysers.

If these microbes were engineered to produce heat-stable sulfur precipitates as waste products (after consuming sulfuric acid, one of the major greenhouse substances on venus) it could induce global cooling on venus. This is especially true if the precipitate is light in color, because then you would get a double-whammy with the albedo effect.

All in all, I find this kind of research very interesting.

Re:It's not open space... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024932)

CO2 is by far the most important contribution in the case of Venusian temperature. Sulfuric acid just makes the envirment toxic from our point of view.

Venus is a hard case, it doesn't have plate tectonics. Carbon would be mostly left on the surface, eventually returning to atmosphere after reacting with, also released, oxygen.

Re:It's not open space... (5, Informative)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024964)

Not that big a difference, and not in the way you think.

The magnetosphere does nothing about UV radiation, which is the biggest short-term threat from the sun to living things. If you're above the ozone layer, you're getting almost full-strength illumination in UV.

And although the Earth's magnetosphere diverts a lot of the solar wind, it does it in such a way that many high energy particles are trapped in the Van Allen belts, creating regions of near-Earth orbit that have much more particle radiation than the heliosphere. The solar wind has particles up to 100 eV; the inner Van Allen, which the ISS passes through, has energies up to 100 MeV.

So no, it's not 'open space'. It's near Earth orbit, which in some respects is worse than deep space.

Either way, it's a brutal test of endurance for any living thing.

Saw this movie (1)

kehren77 (814078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31023936)

Val Kilmer rides a old Russian rocket to safety after killing a military robot which for some reason didn't have its search and destroy switch permanently turned to off before leaving Earth.

*Shudder* - Open space...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31023946)

I prefer my cubicle surrounded by molten lava in the basement of my nuclear bunker on a desolate island surrounded by thousands of miles of pacific ocean filled with sharks and giant squids.

Are they sensitive to electromagnetic fields? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31023974)

If so, can they establish an internet connection and post on Slashdot? Because that would explain some things.

Venus (5, Interesting)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 4 years ago | (#31023986)

I don't understand what the obsession with going to Mars is. Frankly I think Venus is where we should target our efforts. It has an atmosphere (albeit hazardous to human life) and is about 20% closer to us then Mars. Granted, Venus' atmosphere is about 97% CO2 but I would think that it would be a lot easier to bioengineer something which would survive and thrive in the Venutian atmosphere while changing the CO2 to Oxygen.

Re:Venus (1)

Gravatron (716477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024032)

It's all fun and games till someone goes blind from Venus sickness.

Re:Venus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31025150)

Better than Uranus sickness!

Re:Venus (3, Funny)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024074)

Why go to venus when we can simply terraform earth to have a venus-like atmosphere? We're already well on our way! Mars is a much better place to escape to... I mean, investigate.

Re:Venus (2, Funny)

TheDarkMinstrel (1671156) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024088)

Men are running the program - we just want to go home! We're from Mars, ya know?

And now, thanks to the ISS, we'll have both topping for our pizza and athlete's foot when we get there.

Re:Venus (1)

hufman (1670590) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024214)

But all the hot women are on Venus. Why are we not directing our efforts towards Paradise?

Re:Venus (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024670)

Because... IT’S A TRAP! [youtube.com]

Re:Venus (1)

goldaryn (834427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024262)

And now, thanks to the ISS, we'll have both topping for our pizza and athlete's foot when we get there.

Next 'pizza' research: exactly what kind of cheese is the Moon made from? This could solve our mozarella shortages. I think we should be told.

Re:Venus (1)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024720)

We already have been - Wensleydale [wikipedia.org] . It is great in flavor but a poor substitute for any melting cheese.

Re:Venus (1)

Bardez (915334) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024102)

This reminds me of a report we had to do in sixth grade. Everyone was talking about Mars and I was one of maybe two that thought that Venus, with its C02 atmosphere and near-Earth size made it more desirable to terraform. Of course, my solution to send a (bio)dome with an ass load of A/C units filled with plant life probably wouldn't quite solve the problem.

Re:Venus (1)

chappers1 (1715080) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024106)

I think the challenge with Venus is bioengineering something that can withstand the surface pressure of 93 bar (9.3 MPa).

Re:Venus (1)

mikael (484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024320)

You would just need something that could react with the atmosphere to form an inert solid - that would reduce the density of the atmosphere and the pressure.

Re:Venus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31025006)

Reactions like:

CaO + CO2 = CaCO3 (limestone)

Similar to soda lime used by divers.

Could be useful. It seems there's a large quantity of calcium oxides buried on Venus. If we could get robots to dig up the calcium oxide, it would suck up the acid and CO2. Once we got the temperature down a bit, other oxides, such as iron, manganese, and magnesium oxide would start reacting, and sucking up more acid and CO2. One would then bury the carbonates, and hope no one adds acid to them or we'll have a planet wide antacid fizz.

Or we could just get fans and blow all the CO2 to Mars and let the greenhouse effect work its magic, and get two for the price of one. :-p.

Re:Venus (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024374)

I don't think there's much point to trying to deal with Venus as it is, so the excess atmosphere has got to go.

Pump the excess atmosphere out into space, or find a way to turn most of it into a stable, innocuous solid or liquid compound. Then deal with the excess solar radiation coming in (Make the planet more reflective? Change the orbit? [please be careful not to disturb Earth's orbit.] Put a shade in orbit around Venus?)

Re:Venus (4, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024832)

I don't think there's much point to trying to deal with Venus as it is, so the excess atmosphere has got to go.

The solution is obvious, the atmosphere that is in excess on Venus should be moved to Mars.
Then both problems are elegantly solved at once.

I'll leave the trivial implementation details to you.

Re:Venus (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31025008)

I don't think there's much point to trying to deal with Venus as it is, so the excess atmosphere has got to go.

The solution is obvious, the atmosphere that is in excess on Venus should be moved to Mars.
Then both problems are elegantly solved at once.

I'll leave the trivial implementation details to you.

This is Genius, Sounds like my Ex's idea to solve world poverty and world hunger at the same time: Just feed the poor people to the hungry people.

Re:Venus (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31024820)

There are already organisms that are adapted to this kind of extreme; they are right here on earth.

Take for instance, the chemotrophic marine organisms near deep-sea trenches and vents. Specifically, the sulfur reducing varieties.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfate-reducing_bacteria

The hard part is getting them to stay afloat in the lighter part of the atmosphere, in or above the sulfuric acid haze, where the temperature and pressure are more conducive to their habitation.

http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/V/Venusatmos.html

If you couple this with some chemo-lithotropes, like purple sulfur bacteria, (or organisms engineered to use this pathway), then a stable sulfur cycle could be initiated in the upper venusian atmosphere.

What would likely work best, would be to collect atmospheric bacteria from earths upper atmosphere (Yes, germs do live up there. http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/ESD-air-bacteria.html), and perform genetic augmentation on them to introduce the required traits for venusian habitation.

Once you have carbon fixing organisms floating freely in the atmosphere, you can introduce other organisms that produce heat-stable precipitates, that live by ingesting the former.

Such precipitates might be carbon nanotubes, which would be stable in the venusian atmosphere below the sulfur haze zone, which would be low enough in the atmosphere before being rarified back into carbon dioxide that it could effectively put a pinhole in venus's runaway greenhouse effect, and as the surface temperature slowly falls, might allow carbon "snow" to deposit over time.

It would take geological time for this to happen, but if you could retard the greenhouse effect sufficiently, it would eventually happen.

Re:Venus (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024132)

Biological terraforming of Venus is pretty much completely written off, mostly because:

1) It would have to float.

2) The products would have to float too, because if they fell to the surface the enormous temperature and pressure would cause them to revert back to CO2.

Venus is an extremely harsh environment.

Re:Venus (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024270)

Out of curiosity, if the theory about how Mars lost most of its atmosphere is because it's a smaller planet, therefore its core cooled faster, therefore its dynamo stopped, therefore its magnetic field stopped which allowed the solar wind to strip the atmosphere away, then why does Venus, which, according to Wikipedia also has no magnetic field, still have such a dense atmosphere? Why hasn't the solar wind also stripped it away?

Re:Venus (1)

holmstar (1388267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024570)

The gravity of mars is significantly weaker. I would think that this would make it more prone to loose atmosphere.

Re:Venus (-1, Troll)

nanoakron (234907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024842)

But the atmosphere isn't loose, it's been stripped away.

Oh...you meant lose.

Idiot.

Re:Venus (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31025232)

This is something that has always riled me up, (no not the Lose VS Loose argument.)

Air has mass! A planet with a rich atmosphere will be heavier, and thus have more mass!

Thus, the more air on the planet, the more massive it becomes. Mars has little atmosphere (due to solar wind ablation over geological time), and as such, is much less massive than the earth, which has liquid oceans and a thick healthy atmosphere.

The "mars doesnt have enough gravity!" folks are pitifully ignoring that there is excessive evidence that Mars had large oceans at one point. This requires a dense atmosphere to keep the water liquid. If mars never had the mass to retain an atmosphere, then it would never have had oceans to begin with.

Instead, I am more apt to believe that mars COULD support a rich atmosphere, if it had a magnetosphere to prevent the solar wind from simply blowing/pinching it off into space. This is because the added weight of the atmosphere would cross the tipping point, and make mars heavy enough to sustain said atmosphere. (as it has previously had in the past.)

Re:Venus (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31025198)

Active volcanically but in a weird way; no plate tectonics, total resurfacing of the planet once in a while. Pretty much whatever gets released or falls on it from space, stays on the surface / in the atmosphere.

Re:Venus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31024306)

So we just need to move it to a different orbit and siphon off some of the atmosphere? Maybe take that excess atmosphere to Mars and move Mars to a closer orbit? We could make our own "counter earth" (from John Norman's Gor series).

Re:Venus (1)

holmstar (1388267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024172)

The problem is that it would need to stay airborne (the surface is hot enough to melt lead) and be very resistant to low pH (sulfuric acid rain is kind of a bummer).

Re:Venus (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024194)

I don't understand what the obsession with going to Mars is. Frankly I think Venus is where we should target our efforts. It has an atmosphere (albeit hazardous to human life) and is about 20% closer to us then Mars. Granted, Venus' atmosphere is about 97% CO2 but I would think that it would be a lot easier to bioengineer something which would survive and thrive in the Venutian atmosphere while changing the CO2 to Oxygen.

Probably something to do with Venus's high temperatures and high air pressure.

"In fact, atmospheric pressure on Venus is about 90 times the atmospheric pressure on the Earth. This would be comparable to water pressure 1000 meters below the surface of the ocean." [whecn.edu]

Re:Venus (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024786)

I suspect, however, that part of the reason the pressure is so high on Venus is the composition of the atmosphere. We already have organisms that survive in extremely hot, acidic, high-pressure environments on the earth [sciencedaily.com] , so it's not impossible to find an organism that could survive in Venus' atmosphere. If we can find such an organism that ingest the heavy molecules in Venus' atmosphere and excrete less dense molecules like O2, then wouldn't the pressure of the atmosphere on the surface of Venus decrease? Assuming, of course, that the heavy, dense molecules that currently make up the atmosphere aren't replaced at a rate greater than they are being processed into something more suitable for human life, that is.

Re:Venus (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024196)

Venus is also 800 degrees in the shade at a hundred atmospheres of pressure with acid rain that will dissolve most of the materials we make spacecraft out of in a matter of hours.

Mars also has an atmosphere of mostly CO2, except the temperature, pressure and chemistry is closer to the top of mount everest than the center of an erupting volcano.

Re:Venus (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024812)

except the temperature, pressure and chemistry is closer to the top of mount everest than the center of an erupting volcano.

You are off by an order of magnitude (or more). It's more like the temperature, pressure and chemistry at 100,000 feet (references sited in another post above). Everest is only 1/4 the way there (by altitude), and since atmospheric pressure is a *logarithmic* function of altitude, that makes a bigger difference than you might expect.

Re:Venus (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024264)

I don't understand what the obsession with going to Mars is. Frankly I think Venus is where we should target our efforts. It has an atmosphere (albeit hazardous to human life) and is about 20% closer to us then Mars.

Well, there are three reasons for the 'obsession' with Mars.

  1. Man has historically been more interested in Mars than Venus.
  2. We can actually reasonably reach the Martian surface with both unmanned and [eventually] manned probes.
  3. Mars is actually 'closer' than Venus. It's not absolute distance that matters in space travel, but relative velocity. Not only is Venus 'faster' than Mars, it's also closer to the sun which means we actually have to shed energy to reach it. This is harder and takes more fuel than sending the equivalent probe to Mars.

Re:Venus (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024328)

The 20% distance advantage of Venus vs. Mars is nothing compared to the problems caused by the Vesuvian atmospheric CO2, pressure and temperature that are all way beyond what we and our technology are used to.

Although we've here on earth found some extremophile life forms that survive or even thrive at temperatures and pressure encountered on Venus but nearly all (simple) living organisms we know could cope with Martian conditions.

I would say it's not difficult to see the low hanging fruit.

Re:Venus (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024404)

It's because Mars is the "Red Planet". Don't you see, it's all marketing.

Re:Venus (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024626)

I'm with you re: Venus vs. Mars for terraforming. In addition to all the points you raised, the gravity of Venus is about 90% that of earth (according to http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/Projects/BrowseTheSolarSystem/venus.html [usgs.gov] ). Mars' gravity is approximately 1/3 that of earth. This is important because less gravity == less atmospheric pressure on the surface of the planet. Consequently, the density of the Martian atmosphere is 1% that of earth [starryskies.com] . That's really freaking thin, even if you are trying to breathe pure oxygen. This site [engineeringtoolbox.com] shows that the density at 100,000 feet is roughly 1% that of sea level at earth, and from what I remember reading as a kid who thought the SR-71 was just the coolest airplane ever, pilots above 60,000 feet had to wear pressure suits because a simple oxygen mask couldn't provide enough pressure to sustain consciousness at those atmospheric pressures.

In other words, Total Recall notwithstanding, humans will not ever be able to breathe the atmosphere unaided on a terraformed Mars without some radical genetic engineering.

Re:Venus (2, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024664)

I don't understand what the obsession with going to Mars is.

Mars has ground. It's really that simple. Look at all of the things on Earth either built on the ground or made of stuff obtained from the ground. In comparison, there is nothing permanently in the sky on Earth. That situation would have to be reversed on Venus. You'd have to make almost everything out of the Venus atmosphere (that yields carbon, oxygen, sulfur, and nitrogen). Maybe you could run some sort of quick mining trips on the surface using balloons or harvest dust blown from the surface (it should be able to reach the 1 atmosphere platform). That might get you other materials like silicon, aluminum, and a bit of iron. Anything you can't get locally, you need to bring from elsewhere.

Don't get me wrong, I used to work for the only organization I know of (JP Aerospace [jpaerospace.com] ) that has ever seriously proposed a permanent structure in the sky. Their "Dark Sky Station", which floats around 100 km high (at the very limits of the buoyant part of our atmosphere), is intended as a waystation for Airship to Orbit [jpaerospace.com] . If NASA did suddenly propose to colonize Venus, JP Aerospace would be well positioned to take advantage of that impulse.

But it's a very hard problem that probably won't be solved by the time Mars is colonized. I imagine Ceres, which has no atmosphere at all and a very weak 0.03 G gravity, would be colonized before Venus.

Re:Venus (1)

ckaminski (82854) | more than 4 years ago | (#31025192)

Indeed, that really is the smart bit. Grab a few Jupiter/AresV style boosters, and go find Ceres or something like it, and get it into near-earth orbit, say, someplace geosynchronous. Much better destination than either the moon or Mars, and solves the "eggs-in-one-basket" problem.

Re:Venus (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024838)

Methinks the sulfuric acid rain and immense pressure at the surface might disagree with you there...

Due to the extremely hostile conditions on the surface, current technology disallows any possibility of colonizing the surface of Venus soon. However, there have been recent speculations about the possibility of developing extensive "floating cities" in the atmosphere of Venus in the future.[125] This concept is based on the atmospheric conditions approximately fifty kilometres above the surface of the planet, where atmospheric pressures and temperatures are thought to be similar to those of Earth. Proposals suggest that manned exploration can be conducted from aerostat vehicles, followed in the longer term by permanent settlements.[125] The existence of dangerous quantities of volatile acids at these heights, however, precludes any short term settlements.

-wikipedia

Not to mention plants tend to not want to uptake CO2 anymore above certain concentrations (concentrations much less than 97%). Look into a protein called RuBisCO. Mars has a better potential for being colonized using current technology.

Re:Venus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31024916)

I don't understand what the obsession with going to Mars is. Frankly I think Venus is where we should target our efforts. It has an atmosphere (albeit hazardous to human life) and is about 20% closer to us then Mars. Granted, Venus' atmosphere is about 97% CO2 but I would think that it would be a lot easier to bioengineer something which would survive and thrive in the Venutian atmosphere while changing the CO2 to Oxygen.

We have a decent idea of the challenges of Mars. It's dry and space-y, but not fundamentally much different than high-atmosphere Earth. Venus, however, is an enigma. Whereas we've explored the surface of Mars with rovers and landers for years at a time, until their batteries ran out, our few successful landings on Venus have lasted for hours before the environment destroyed them. The permanent cloud layer makes detailed analyses of the surface difficult. Basically, we have a poor idea of what's down there. Europa is a friendlier planet than Venus.

Re:Venus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31025184)

The main problem with Venus is not the extreme temperature, pressure, or atmospheric composition--these are all theoretically alterable through terraforming efforts (thought still well beyond our present capability). The real problem is that the mean solar day on Venus is 116 Earth days. I don't see how one could maintain a stable terran climate on such a world. And altering that property is out of the question (the energy/time required is so high that one would probably be better off building a Dyson sphere or something).

Rise of the Lichens (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024046)

Werewolves are on the ISS? Sweet!

Lichen or Lycan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31024098)

Lycans on a Shuttle is the must-see summer blockbuster follow-up to Snakes on a Plain, staring Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale... can the wolverine within overcome werewolves without gravity?

Descolada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31024250)

Just use the descolada to terraform it. Works like a charm.

Pun in 3, 2, 1... (1)

Logical Zebra (1423045) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024274)

That moss has taken a lichen to that space station!

Surviving exposure is different than living (2, Insightful)

holmstar (1388267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024402)

This experiment just shows that the lichen was able to survive long term exposure to space. It doesn't say anything about growth, which is what you would need in order to do any sort of terraforming. It would be nice if they would give a bit more detail on the findings.

Re:Surviving exposure is different than living (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024970)

What is living, but a prolonged outbreak of survival? ;)

The only link to "terraforming Mars": (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31024426)

TFA: "so perhaps there is also some kind of life on the red surface of Mars"

What they did was test Earth life in space-like conditions.
Interesting, but it's not a terraforming experiment. That word isn't even in the article.

I hope there isn't life on Mars already .. (1)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024538)

Because after the first phase of this biological warfare invasion one of us is going to be in big poopoo ...

One way mission to mars (0)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024636)

We really need the first manned missions to mars to be one-way. They need to have a base there, with power available, and plenty of supplies stored as well as sent. But, the first group should be there for over a decade before we even talk about bringing anybody back. And that is if they want to come back. But, if there is a chance of life there, we need to know that it will not kill us all. If nothing else, think about how invasive species have been here.

Meanwhile... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31024796)

Obama cancelled NASA.

Space Transportation System Orbital Vehicle Man (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#31024900)

Space is a hostile environment for living things

In fact, they boil at absolute zero
And there's no matter there for them to live off of
If you tried

But then I'm no scientist
I just work here
As a Space Transportation System Orbital Vehicle maintainer
A Space Transportation System Orbital Vehicle-man

And think I'm going to be late
Getting home for dinner

Where's William Shatner when you need him? (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31025030)

Khaaaaaaan!

Terraforming Mars? Check out Earth. (1)

Cr0vv (1223332) | more than 4 years ago | (#31025044)

It's scary to imagine Man doing anything like this beyond where he lives. For those who think that "we" should terraform a planet, check out your workbench, or your backyard. Check the lead levels or pcb's in your drinking water. Yeah, better work on not killing everything were you live before "we" try to do this. Besides lying NASA can barely get a rocket in the air these days, let alone pay for it. Crow.

modL down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31025086)

Fly...don'7 fear

It's not terraforming (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31025112)

These experiments are not about terraforming (Mars, for example, does not have a vacuum at the surface), they are about the exchange of biological material between the Earth and Mars. We know that material can be sent between the two planets relatively gently (by big meteorite impacts); this research makes it almost a certainty that some life could survive the trip.

terraform from a distance (1)

madcat2c (1292296) | more than 4 years ago | (#31025126)

I would like them to try the re-entry survival test. I could see humans building big hollow concrete bullets that we could shoot at Mars, would survive re-entry, but shatter when hitting the ground and spread around some hearty plant life.

We could just sit back and shoot these things at mars and pelt it with different plants to see if anything takes. I am guessing we would want to aim for the areas that border the north and south poles, or craters with shade that might have a chance to hold water for more than a few seconds so the plants could get a drink.

Why bother (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31025276)

Mr. Obama just neutered our maned space program. Plans for the moon are shattered to say nothing about mars. We can even get into low earth orbit anymore after the shuttle is retired. What a mess. We no longer have any direction for manned space travel. So why are we still talking about this stuff.. Dream on.

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