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Gardening On Mars

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the marshrooms-are-delicious dept.

Mars 262

Calopteryx writes "Following Obama's announcement of the intention to send humans to Mars by the mid-2030s, New Scientist reports on plans to piece together the elements of a starter kit for the first colonists of the Red Planet: 'The creation of a human outpost on Mars is still some way off, but that hasn't stopped us planning the garden.'"

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262 comments

And (2, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033084)

Tilapia nilotica will probably be the first interplanetary fish.

Re:And (1, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033114)

Wouldn't it be more efficient to rely on soy for protein? Even the most efficient methods of growing meat are always going to be less efficient than just eating the plants directly, and the continued survival of the worlds vegan population indicates that there are no major health problems with such a diet.

Re:And (3, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033270)

continued survival of the worlds vegan population indicates that there are no major health problems with such a diet.

Don't you have to take supplements to make up for things missing in the vegan diet? I have read this several times in nutrition books, based on studies. And some of them were major health problems, depending on which supplement was not taken... especially for pregnancy.

Re:And (3, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033448)

Right. Vegan diets are extremely unhealthy for pregnant women and young children, even leading to miscarriage, disfigurement or death. It is also moderately unhealthy for almost everyone compared to a balanced diet of home made food (meat, dairy, grain, vegetables, fresh if possible, otherwise with as little chemical preservatives as possible). The only thing you can compare a vegan diet to in a positive light is the modern diet of industrially prepared chemically infused meals and fast food.

Re:And (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033892)

Right. Vegan diets are extremely unhealthy for pregnant women and young children, even leading to miscarriage, disfigurement or death.

Oh yeah? So how do you explain Vega [wikipedia.org] becoming an important business centre, exporting Vegan tobacco, to boot?

Re:And (1, Informative)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034230)

You forgot menstruating women. Getting sufficient iron from plant-only sources, while possible, is impractical because the concentrations are so low. According to a Caltech nutrition researcher (damn, where *is* that reference ...) a single serving of 4 oz of red meat per week, or one smallish hamburger, is sufficient to replace iron lost in the menses, whereas it would be physically difficult to eat enough spinach, a plant relatively high in iron, to do the same. It's all about eating blood to get the iron-laden haemoglobin, and red meat is red because it still has blood in it (while white meat is white because the blood has been drained). Pregnant women, infants, and children, who all have circulatory systems that are quite literally growing in volume, also need iron to make haemoglobin because their bodies are manufacturing blood. As has been pointed out elsewhere in this thread, an excellent way for humans to get complete balanced protein is by eating animal flesh; in a similar fashion, an excellent way for humans to get bioavailable iron is to eat blood, and the most socially acceptable way of doing that is to eat red meat.

Re:And (4, Informative)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033452)

Yes, one would have to. This is why humans have always been omnivores. Even up to a few hundred years ago it would be been completely impractical to be a vegan due to the lack of supplements for essentials vitamins and minerals that one cannot reliably get from plant sources. Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the leading issues with a poorly planned vegan diet and this vitamin was not even isolated until 1948. Before that point one was given liver extracts to treat things like pernicious anemia which results from B12 deficiency.

Re:And (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033570)

Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the leading issues with a poorly planned vegan diet

Yes, that's the one. Especially dangerous in pregnancy and causes, as the other replier mentioned, disfigurement, brain development issues, and fatalities.

Re:And (1)

Explodicle (818405) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033890)

If it's planned properly, you'll be fine on a vegan diet [wikipedia.org] with no supplements. Pregnant women probably should take supplements [wikipedia.org] but can bear healthy children without them, and I assume NASA would want to hire a world-class nutritionist for this project anyways.

Re:And (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033990)

Uhhh. Just B12 alone, your link does not say that. It says this:

The Vegan Society and Vegan Outreach, among others, recommend that vegans either consistently eat foods fortified with B12 or take a B12 supplement.

"Fortified" would basically be putting the supplement into the food, manually, before eating it... e.g., flour can be "fortified." These foods don't naturally have enough.

So here again: "planned properly" == taking supplements, in some way.

"but can bear healthy children without them"

By accident or perhaps part of their past in which they ate animal products high in B12? It seems to me that all evidence suggests that unless your mother is taking B12 in some way, the child will be deficient. If the child is deficient, even if she doesn't die, HER child will be even MORE deficient. Either your definition of "healthy children" is strange, or your definition of "no supplements" is not really "no supplements." :)

That or I am totally missing something in my brief research in this. I have not seen any vegan-okay food that naturally has B12 worth any note.

Re:And (1)

Explodicle (818405) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034242)

That's a very good point. For B12, the best option might be to provide the colonists with eggs, since producing them would require less space/energy than meat.

Re:And (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034298)

If it's planned properly, you'll be fine on a vegan diet with no supplements.

This isn't accurate. One either has to directly take supplements or eat fortified foods (which is food supplemented with vitamins and nutrients) or else you will get vitamin and mineral deficiencies. There is just no way around it. This is why veganism is only about 65 years old (not but a decade or so after treatments for diseases due to B12 deficiencies were discovered). If one were to have tried a strict vegan diet even in the early 1900s you would most likely die from the complications of these deficiencies.

Re:And (2, Informative)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033370)

and the continued survival of the worlds vegan population indicates that there are no major health problems with such a diet.

And they only do so from being able to take supplements for things they can't get reliably get from plant sources such as B12. One couple [msn.com] got a life sentence because a vegan diet they imposed on their baby ended up killing it due to their ignorance on such nutritional deficiencies that can happen from such a lifestyle.

Re:And (1)

Explodicle (818405) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034084)

From YFA:

"No matter how many times they want to say, 'We're vegans, we're vegetarians,' that's not the issue in this case," said prosecutor Chuck Boring. "The child died because he was not fed. Period."

If mothers on this Martian base actually breastfeed their children instead of feeding them soy milk and apple juice (and follow the advice of a nutritionist) the kids will be fine. These two foolish parents would probably not pass the rigors of NASA's selection process.

Re:And (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034328)

I was never trying to claim these parents were astronaut candidates. The point is that poorly planned vegan diets can cause serious complications or death (and not just to babies). Just eating soy isn't going to be enough for these Mars astronauts.

Re:And (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033488)

I agree that it is definitely more efficient. However, your argument that vegans "survive" is definitely not a good one. Smokers "survive" for quite a long time. That doesn't make smoking healthy.

Re:And (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033748)

He said they continually survive. Odd, I thought new ones were born and old ones died - just like everyone else.

Re:And (2, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034106)

No, not really. Most people convert to veganism later in life after being omnivores through childhood and young adulthood. Most of them also either choose not to have children or have passed child rearing age when they change their diet as well.

Re:And (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033498)

Well, about there are only two ways that I know of that humans could be useful for other animals. The first one would be as food but humans are pretty useless that way, the other way is to be the carrier of animals to other planets.
The fish is not going to get there by itself and it's not going to get there unless we find it useful, for example as a food source.

Re:And (2, Funny)

elnyka (803306) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033522)

Wouldn't it be more efficient to rely on soy for protein? Even the most efficient methods of growing meat are always going to be less efficient than just eating the plants directly, and the continued survival of the worlds vegan population indicates that there are no major health problems with such a diet.

Do you believe in unicorns too?

Re:And (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034066)

>> Wouldn't it be more efficient to rely on soy for protein? Even the most efficient methods of growing meat are always going to be less efficient than just eating the plants directly, and the continued survival of the worlds vegan population indicates that there are no major health problems with such a diet.

> Do you believe in unicorns too?

Oh, MAN, unicorn tastes great! There's nothing like some chicken fried unicorn with mashed potatoes and country gravy. And some edamame. And an extra large diet Coke.

Re:And (3, Insightful)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033524)

If it's protein you're concerned about, I'd say your best bet would be to skip both the animal and plant kingdoms entirely, animals especially would be far too inefficient, and use a spirulina genetically modified to produce all the proteins humans need. It's not that far fetched; there's already soy modified to produces omega-3. It probably wouldn't taste all that good, but since we're talking about being as efficient as possible...well, we aren't going to Mars for the local specialties. Not yet anyway.

Re:And (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033552)

It's harder for your body to turn plant into people than it is to turn animal into people. /dumbdown

More efficient in terms of what? As has been said, suppliments would be needed, bodily functions relating to/requiring the consuming of meat would degrade, and overall, one could argue health and morale would suffer.

The continued survival of the world's vegan population is as a result of the world gravitiating toward laws that artificially eliminate darwinism. ;)

Re:And (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033906)

It's harder for your body to turn plant into people than it is to turn animal into people. /dumbdown

More efficient in terms of what?

Energy conversion. It may be easier for your body to convert animal into people, but it requires an extra step - converting plants into animals.

As an approximation, the efficiency per step is around 10%. So if your land can grow enough wheat to feed 100 people on bread, it can grow enough wheat to feed enough cows to feed 10 people on beef. Were you to feed that beef to dogs and eat the dogs, you'd be lonely. And Korean, of course.

V egan population ? (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033572)

"and the continued survival of the worlds vegan population indicates that there are no major health problems with such a diet."

Are you meaning 1) the well fed vegan population out of idiology in the west, which have the advantage of science and big market to make sure their alimentation is varied and cover everything without suplementation

*OR*

2) the unhealthy , with pregnancy problem, carency, and assorted problem, OMNIVORE forced unto a vegan diet by circumstance ? Because that second group will eat protein if the occasion is there.

Furthermore place is limited. The question is maybe the fish protein allows maybe in a much easier and less place taking way to have a varied alimentation than juggling with various plant specie.

Re:And (5, Informative)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033590)

Soy is an excellent plant source of protein. However, protein is not a single nutrient, but a collection of nutrients known as amino acids. Some amino acids can be synthesized by humans (non-essential or dispensible amino acids), others can be interconverted between each other, and others still have to be consumed intact because humans have innadequate ability to synthesize them (essential or indispensible amino acids). Generally, animal sources of protein have ratios of amino acids more in line with the human requirement (Egg being the gold standard).

one must also consider anti-nutritive factors in soy. Soy is the second most alergenic food to humans, and contains high concetrations of phytic acid. Phytic acid can reduce the digestibility not only of nutrients within the soy plant (P, Ca, Zn, Mn, et al), but also within other foods eaten with the soy.

Also, animal protein sources are much more dense. Fish contain a much higher percent protein in addition to having a better amino acid profile. Humans living on vegan diets usually take amino acid supplements because they cannot physically eat enough soy in a day to meet their dietary requirements for amino acids without feeling like they've eaten too much, if they can consume that much soy at all. A filet of fish goes a longer way toward meeting the nutritional requirement than an identical wieght of soy beans. If you want to isolate soy protein, then you need a lot of specialized equipment and some rather harsh chemicals to extract the protein whereas fish protein is simply extracted by mechanically scaling and gutting the fish.

Any potential Martian colonists will have a diet that bares little resemplence to the average American's diet now, but Veganisms is dependent upon modern infrastructure that would be difficult to replicate on Mars.

Re:And (2, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033836)

Soy is the second most alergenic food to humans

My wife is extremely allergic to soy. We have since found out that it is in everything from tea to salad dressing. And soybean oil is common, too, along with sunflower oil - which is also in almost everything... even vitamin E gel things.

You don't need to be allergic to much at all to basically eliminate almost all non-"single" food (i.e., where it's just exactly what it says: like "broccoli" or "beef")... i.e.: if you can't have sugar, dairy, gluten, and soy, it knocks out a whole lot of stuff. Even normal things like chips, tea, etc.

Re:And (2, Interesting)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034220)

It's also added to milk on occasion, and it's often used as the medium for carrying anatto color. It lurks in shampoos and body washes and so forth. On time I decided to take a bubble bath, was relaxing and within about 20 minutes my whole body started burning (think about the worst sunburn you've had - and imagine that over EVERYWHERE from the neck down - EVERYWHERE). Well I jumped out of the tub and drained it, took a very cold shower and downed some benedryl. Then, I checked the ingredients - sure enough, hydrolized soy protein and vegetable oil. Fun stuff. Soy is everywhere you look, and also everywhere you didn't think to look.

Oh by the way I found the best soy sauce substitute that tastes almost identical to soy sauce; coconut liquid aminos. The stuff is amazing. I just used it for a party this weekend and people could not tell the difference between that and soy sauce. Great stuff.

Re:And (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034296)

Humans living on vegan diets usually take amino acid supplements because they cannot physically eat enough soy in a day to meet their dietary requirements for amino acids without feeling like they've eaten too much, if they can consume that much soy at all.

I've been vegan for years and never do this, and none of the vegans I know do either. There's a whole lot of misinformation floating around in this thread, as there always is whenever veganism gets discussed around here. The bottom line is that even if you're pregnant or lactating the only thing that's hard enough to get from a vegan diet that you eventually really need supplements is B12, although there are some things where supplements make things a lot easier, like iron and calcium.

Re:And (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033630)

They could eat bugs for protein. And the bugs could live off waste plant matter. Insects are probably easier to care for and more resilient than animals anyways.

Re:And (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033826)

Fish are remarkably easy to care for, but you may have a point about insects being easier.

Though most people I know are going to be very squeamish about eating bugs.

Re:And (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033416)

Hah, this reminds me of the firefly episode with a herd of cows on a spaceship. I wonder how NASA would handle that with no gravity. Lots of flying cow turds everywhere! At least there's little chance of a stampede.

Re:And (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033762)

Solution:

2 to 4 heifers, LOTS of frozen embryos.

Better solution:

Don't take Cows. Take goats instead.
Reasons:
Goats dont produce sticky poop; they produce compact pellets.
Goats can ingest a wider assortment of vegetable matter than can cows. (goats can live off lichen)
Goats are more fecund than cows. (Can conceivably produce up to 4 kids per year, while a cow cannot.)
Goats are lighter than cows (Weight is a very large concern for long distance spaceflight.)

4 nanny goats + Lots of frozen embryos would be much less hassle than 4 heifers and lots of frozen embryos. Once a stable food supply is established, THEN a special shipment of bovine delights can be sent.

Dr. who? (1)

JDeane (1402533) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033122)

Well you cant garden with out water and I think we all know about the waters of mars!!!

Re:Dr. who? (1)

harrkev (623093) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033292)

Well you cant garden with out water and I think we all know about the waters of mars!!!

Yes, but if you DO get one of these creatures and manage to capture it, infinite water supply!

Why Mars and not the Moon? (3, Insightful)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033134)

I don't quite understand why it is we're (ostensibly) pushing for Mars now, when we should be working to get back to the Moon first? Wouldn't we gain all sorts of experience and understanding of living on a non-terrestrial world living on the Moon, as well as possibly building infrastructure there to make future missions to Mars and elsewhere easier, amongst a myriad of other things the Moon would be useful for? Or is this just Obama paying lip-service to the idea, knowing that future administrations will likely vote the whole thing down anyway so it doesn't matter?

Re:Why Mars and not the Moon? (3, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033204)

Why would you want to go to all the trouble and energy of escaping the Earth's gravity well, only to drop back into another gravity well? I say we shoot for the asteroid belt -- it has both the necessary resources and easier access to them. Sure, it lacks gravity, but so does the moon.

Re:Why Mars and not the Moon? (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033768)

Why would you want to go to all the trouble and energy of escaping the Earth's gravity well, only to drop back into another gravity well? I say we shoot for the asteroid belt -- it has both the necessary resources and easier access to them. Sure, it lacks gravity, but so does the moon.

Yep yep.

And besides, Mars is already a very nice place for whatever silicon-based transhumans evolve from us. It's cool, and has no moisture or oxygen; it's hopelessly wrong for us meat-based creatures but safe and comfortable for intelligent machines.

Re:Why Mars and not the Moon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033364)

I don't quite understand why it is we're (ostensibly) pushing for Mars now, when we should be working to get back to the Moon first? Wouldn't we gain all sorts of experience and understanding of living on a non-terrestrial world living on the Moon, as well as possibly building infrastructure there to make future missions to Mars and elsewhere easier, amongst a myriad of other things the Moon would be useful for? Or is this just Obama paying lip-service to the idea, knowing that future administrations will likely vote the whole thing down anyway so it doesn't matter?

Candy bars taste better than cheese.

Re:Why Mars and not the Moon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033614)

That's easy.

Targeting Mars is a way to not do _anything_ without the yokels catching on.

Re:Why Mars and not the Moon? (3, Interesting)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033722)

Actually, Mars and the Moon aren't very similar at all other than the superficial difference of "they're both outside LEO, and neither one has an oxygen atmosphere". You can get better approximation of living and working on Mars in antarctica, or hell even Wyoming, than you can on the Moon.

The moon is absolutely positivly not a prerequsite for Mars. You certainly can (and should!) design hardware that simultaniously serves dual roles on both the Moon and Mars, in order to save expenses, but there is no "study" or "experimentation" that needs to be done on the moon to prepare us for Mars.

We had comprehensive, workable, plans based on existing (not future) hardware and technology to get to Mars since at least the mid 90s. We didn't do it because of internal NASA bickering and politics. Everybody thinks "oh we can't get to mars for X reason without Y technology". When you ask other scientists about X reason, they explain that X is bunk, and that the real reason the first group is so "concerned" with X reason is because Y technology is the pet project of that team.

Of course then this same second group explains to you that the REAL reason we can't get to Mars is because of reason Z, which will convinently be fixed by THEIR technology Q, which they could get finished quickly if only they had more funding.

It's all about getting funding for your pet project.

Re:Why Mars and not the Moon? (1)

poly_pusher (1004145) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034208)

That's a gross over simplification. I recently saw an article about an ex-NASA astronaut that is developing a new type of rocket that could cut the travel time to Mars by 1/3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variable_Specific_Impulse_Magnetoplasma_Rocket [wikipedia.org] It isn't just a matter of "We have the technology to get there" It is also a matter of "How can we get there and still be alive. The most dangerous part about a mission to Mars is getting there and back. There are so many threats presented by space travel and if we are going to try to travel to Mars, we damn well better actually make it there. The easiest way to reduce this risk is spending less time in space and that means getting there faster. So no, the technology is not ready, has not been ready, and will not be ready for a while. Just think about it. Imagine a micrometeor ends up being responsible for the failure of a project like this that cost billions. We still have a lot of issues to work out and a lot of knowledge to be gained. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micrometeoroid [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why Mars and not the Moon? (2, Interesting)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034306)

The VAST majority of failed Mars missions failed during automated landing, not during transit.

Granted, we weren't sending air-breathing meatbags before, but let me ask you this question: What's the big problem with risks?

Re:Why Mars and not the Moon? (2, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033896)

I don't quite understand why it is we're (ostensibly) pushing for Mars now,

We're not actually pushing for Mars now. We're talking about pushing for Mars...

Nor did Obama say as much. What he said is that he expects to see humans go to Mars by the 2030's. He didn't actually go as far as saying that he's going to direct NASA to move in that direction, or provide them any money for R&D leading in that direction....

Re:Why Mars and not the Moon? (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034322)

Yes, we can certainly learn valuable things by actually setting up bases on the Moon, as opposed to half a dozen one-off trips, but it's no substitute for going to Mars, which is itself no substitute for going other places like the asteroid belt or the moons of Jupiter and Saturn or the Oort Cloud. As for the Moon, I'd rather see the it colonized by Helium-3 mining operations.

I'd really like to see us setting up living & manufacturing stations at the Earth/Moon Lagrangian points and elsewhere, and figure out how to mine the asteroids and process those materials _in space_ (rather than bring the mined materials back to earth for processing, only to send them back up again for use in space). This is how you start a spacefaring civilization. We need to get this kind of thing up and running as fast as possible, as it will make everything else vastly cheaper and faster.

How, exactly? (-1)

ckhorne (940312) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033136)

Did I miss something?

How exactly are we going to get to Mars (or anywhere else in space) when Obama has been draining the lifeblood out of every avenue of manned exploration from NASA's budget?

Re:How, exactly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033532)

Did I miss something?

How exactly are we going to get to Mars (or anywhere else in space) when Obama has been draining the lifeblood out of every avenue of manned exploration from NASA's budget?

He hasn't stopped manned space exploration in its totality, just the Constellation program, which was a drain of resources and NASA funding.

Re:How, exactly? (4, Informative)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033628)

Never let the facts stand in the way of a good anti-Obama rant!

Obama's strategy, which increases NASA's budget by $6 billion over the next five years, looks to commercial space vehicles to take over the role of transporting astronauts to and from low Earth orbit and focuses the agency's efforts on technologies that will take explorers to destinations beyond the Moon. [aviationweek.com]

Canceling Constellation != "draining the lifeblood out of every avenue of manned exploration", and in fact, Obama is increasing NASA's budget!

Antarctica? (3, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033158)

Can we, please, please, please, colonize Antarctica first? Although not a planet, it is still a giant continent, that many times easier to reach, to live on, and to return from than Mars.

There are no questions of presence of water or usable air. Conditions are harsh, but nowhere near the harshness of Mars...

And then there are the vast deserts like Gobi or Sahara. Mars, while intriguing, can await further revolutions in technology. Spending an appreciable chunk of the GDP just to get there seems rather wasteful...

Re:Antarctica? (1)

dtml-try MyNick (453562) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033646)

Please, for the love of God....

Can we at least try to leave some portions of this planet relatively intact?
Humans have cannibalized this planet enough as it is already.

Re:Antarctica? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033870)

Why?

I'm not trolling. This is a seriousm philosophical question: why? "Humans," to most people, represent nothing more than an animal in a long evolutionary chain. Why is what we are doing any different from what any other animal does?

Re:Antarctica? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033648)

There are UN resolutions prohibiting people from colonizing Antarctica, that doesn't prevent us from putting scientific outposts on Antarctica, which is what we would be putting on Mars.

The bitter north has been colonized by man in cases where there are economic reasons for being there and so far Mars doesn't seem to have any unobtainium to make it worth our while.

Re:Antarctica? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033656)

Further revolutions in technology will not occur if there's no need for them. By saying that we want to go to mars, we can start to direct some cash to those technological revolutions necessary for it.

Not to say that Antarctica wouldn't be a good place to start, just saying that a catalyst is needed to develop technologies.

"We now live in a world where man has walked on the moon. And you know it's not a miracle, we just decided to go."

Re:Antarctica? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033888)

That argument makes sense. But wouldn't a USEFUL project be a better direction to put our effort?

The US has decided to be energy independent by the end of the decade, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Not because there is any clear answer at this point that will get us there, but SPECIFICALLY because there are no clear solutions at this time. We will have to invest, invent and innovate in order to achieve this goal. We will have to come up with solutions that aren't even proposals at this point. We will have to solve problems that appear unsolvable. Achieving this goal will be of great value, but the effort that we put into it and the inventions along the way.

Either that or we could transport 2 or 3 steely-eyed missile men to a dead rock.

Re:Antarctica? (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033810)

I think it has something to do with some pact made by a bunch of nations back in the begining of the previous century (maybe before?) regarding developing antarctica. I'm too lazy to wikipedia it up right now.

that being said, I actually support this. We can start doing it -right now-, and learning to set up a workable colony in antarctica is actually very valid training for setting up a colony on Mars. A lot less oxygen and gravity on Mars, some more radiation, most of the "ice" is CO2 not H2O, and leaving is a lot harder, but otherwise pretty much the same sort of thing.

Pot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033170)

for everyone !

Yours In Sacramento,
Kilgore Trout

Re:Pot (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033720)

Pot, aka Marijuana. One of the most useful plants on the planet, of course its going to Mars with us.

Very glad you could point that out to us Mr. Trout.

Fairly pointless research (2, Interesting)

Orga (1720130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033184)

Currently we have rules against engineering other planets and it's made very clear without massively changing the atmosphere on Mars to filter out UV rays then everything is going to have to live in biospheres... we can do that anywhere.. even in space.

Re:Fairly pointless research (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033262)

"Currently we have rules against engineering other planets"

We do? Where?

Re:Fairly pointless research (1)

Orga (1720130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033674)

Re:Fairly pointless research (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033968)

Having read your link, I see nothing in it against terraforming Mars, just a provision against claiming it as part of the US and a provision against "militarizing" it..

Re:Fairly pointless research (1)

Orga (1720130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034218)

In the citations is a link to the another abbreviation of the treaty here: http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/SpaceLaw/outerspt.html [unoosa.org] I'm not going to pour over it to find you the exact article suffice to to say: States shall avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies. harmful can be construed in many ways of course but I think it's safe to say you are harming something when you are changing the natural state of being.

Re:Fairly pointless research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033824)

I was actually amazed to learn this as well. Apparently there is an organization called COSPAR which has decided that it isn't in mankind's best interests to terraform other worlds, because there might be existing microbiotic life there.

I doubt that the organization has any teeth. Further, I think that, unless we find actual Martians on Mars, COSPAR will be ignored when push comes to shove.

The more research I do, the more that I find that the international space programs (NASA incuded) are far too much about science and feel-good fluff and far too little about human progress. The ratio is probably close to 10:1.

I'm usually against privatization, but in this case it might be the only way to get some bodies on a celestial body.

Re:Fairly pointless research (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033784)

You know what they say.

Rules are made to be broken.

Also, this is the beginning of their research, I'm sure that making them UV resistant is going to be a phase of their research.

Re:Fairly pointless research (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033830)

Plants are a lot hardier than you think they are.

And we've been genetically engineering plants for even more survivability and yield forever.

This is gonna be named... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033266)

Garden of Eden Creation Kit :)

War or Space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033390)

So which is it?

I vote space, since it does prompt technological progress faster than without, however too much of our(US) present existence(see World Power..) depends on the continued war machine.

On another note, WHY do we not have several SVU sized rovers kicking up dust on the moon? There is science to be done here, there, everywhere, yet here we sit conjuring up plans that are a decade/s away. The current mindsight for technological progress is bunk.

Re:War or Space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033716)

War or Space?

False dichotomy. Why choose when you can have both?

I vote space war!

Re:War or Space? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033972)

Since the investments are so great NASA makes damn sure that things are going to work.

Their failures are spectacular and sometimes fatal. And too many big ones would be fatal to the agency.

Science is still being done with the current crop of rovers. Its nice, safe, and a success every single day its still being done.

If NASA dropped a new, bigger, better rover on the planet it would overshadow the current success. And if it failed, would people still be excited about the little rover that could?

Useless posturing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033438)

Planning what to put into a colonial garden for mars is useless, unless NASA and pals decides to send more than your typical Cambridge/MIT grads.

The reasons are pretty simple: For the same reasons you wouldnt hire a plumber to do an angioplasty (Hey, it's just another plugged up pipe, right?) you shouldnt send engineers to do agriculture. Farmers are the people with the years of experience dealing with agricultural problems and issues, and are the ones best suited for that job. The MIT/Cambridge grads are the people who are best suited to designing the habitat and it's facilities. While these engineers may design the habitat to facilitate agricultural practices, this does not in any way, shape, or form make them the ideal choice for doing that kind of work. (More likely, they would balk about having to dig in the dirt to grow their own food; Much preferring to sit in a desk and design the next phase of the habitat's construction, as would be their specialty.)

Similarly, they would need Civil Engineers, Machinists, Doctors, etc.

A colony is a far cry from what NASA/European Space Agency/Russian Space Agency/Et al. are used to doing with their space stations.

An actual Bona-fide colony is self sufficient, and thus has to make everything itself; that means you have to take those "No, You are NOT an astronaut!" people with you: Welders, Plumbers, Construction workers, etc.

Quite frankly, I just don't see any of the major space agencies "dirtying" their fingers by carrying out such a move; None of them will want to be the one to send Joe Sixpack into orbit.

 

Planetary visits are an obsolete idea (4, Interesting)

bradbury (33372) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033482)

The entire concept of planetary visits, colonies, etc. is the one of the most out-of-date (read waste-of-time) ideas currently circulating. The only people that promote it are those with misguided romantic ideas about humans exploring Mars as they did the Earth in the 16th-18th centuries. They should be discarded as out of date given that (a) humans are not designed (due to insufficient and error prone DNA repair systems in their genome) to endure long term space voyages or planetary habitation outside of the magnetosphere of the Earth (where high radiation doses are a constant threat); (b) progress in robotics and AI is likely to make sending robotic explorers much more productive and less hazardous than sending humans by 2030; and (c) if we pushed on molecular nanotechnology just a little harder by 2030 we would be disassembling Mars for material to build the Matrioshka Brain rather than thinking about growing food on it for colonists (no point building a farm if you are only going to disassemble it).

I like the romantic exploration ideas just as much as the next person -- but it just isn't justified given current rates of technological progress. It is also worth pointing out if we ever get to the point where we modify our genomes (or those of astronaut explorers) to be radiation tolerant we can also engineer them to be lack-of-gravity tolerant [1]. In which case living at the bottom of a gravity well makes no sense -- instead we should be migrating to O'Neill style colonies or long term interstellar "arks" (presumably to remove the "single-point-of-failure" problem humanity faces by living on a single planet or around a single star).

1. Modifying large numbers of cells to be radiation & lack-of-gravity tolerant in adults will be very hard (read nearly impossible) without molecular nanotechnology (e.g. chromallocytes) in adults. The only way to do this correctly is to breed a new species of human designed for space environments. Unless you can engineer them to mature much faster (doubtful) that implies you need to take transgenic-human-birth-dates + ~25-30 years before one can seriously consider long term exploration/colonization efforts.

Re:Planetary visits are an obsolete idea (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32034062)

You know, I can't help but start laughing at this post;

While certainly true that humans are not biologically adapted to conditions on a long space voyage, Humans are not biologically adapted to crossing large oceans either. Nor are they biologically adapted to flying at high altitudes.

Humans routinely do these things though.

Something you might (or might not, given the tone of your post) find interesting:

http://pop.aip.org/phpaen/v14/i5/p053502_s1?isAuthorized=no
[abstract about inflation of magnetic fields using high density plasmas]

Essentially, you could create a massively inflated magnetic field around the spacecraft by circulating a high-velocity plasma jet through the magnetic field. If we are already taking a small fission plant with us (to power our craft as we leave the sun behind) this is less of a problem. Additionally, we could potentially use the same expanded magnetic field as a solar sail, since in space the field would expand to a *ahem* "Very considerable" size.

The major issue would be with micrometeorites.

As for Mars itself:

Mars as an incomplete magnetic envelope. It has multiple magnetic dipoles, that do not fully expand outside the planet's atmosphere. By supplementing the martian magnetosphere with a series of stabilizing plasma producing satellites, and capturing the solar wind particles and recirculating them through an artificial network of magnetic currents, a semi-stable magnetic envelope could possibly be produced, but it would require a project on par with our GPS and COM-SAT network around the earth.

(the goal would be to create something similar to the van-allen belts that circle the earth; being essentially solar wind particles that have become trapped in the earth;s magnetosphere, and which expand/enhance it. This phenomenon is well known; See for instance, Io's effect on Jupiter's magnetosphere.)

http://www.solarviews.com/eng/io.htm

"some way off" (0, Flamebait)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033526)

The creation of a human outpost on Mars is still some way off

Brilliant Holmes! Brilliant! "Some way off"! An astoundingly apt yet utterly meaningless estimate! Will it be in a year? 10 years? 50? 100? 1000? What does it even mean? Will it be 3 or 4 poor schmucks left to die on a distant and unfathomably inhospitable outpost? Will there be men and women, expected to raise families? Will they slide off into madness? Will there be 100 people? 1000? A million? And, of course, we cannot forget the tawdry subject of coin: what will it cost, and what could possibly justify it?

What can they do that cannot be done better, more cheaply, far more ambitiously and on a much larger scale by machines?

Re:"some way off" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033914)

What can they do that cannot be done better, more cheaply, far more ambitiously and on a much larger scale by machines?

1. Live.

2. Be humans.

3. Be able to be the TOTALLY FUCKING BADASS astronaut who can say "I was the first guy to walk on MARS. You understand that, Earth boy? FUCKING MARS. While you sat on your ass and stuffed your face with tacos while hammering out this year's oh-so-goddamned-important earnings reports, I WENT TO FUCKING MARS. I got to do something you'll never experience in your miserable, worthless life because you're too scared to actually DO something but sit in that shitty office of yours and shuffle papers around. Once again: FUCKING MARS. Sit on THAT."

4. Say "Take me to your leader" if there ARE sentient Martians, and then laugh with glee.

is this a joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033576)

Haha. I needed the morning laugh... We'll have people living on Mars in around 25 years??

Wow. Someone said I would be visiting the moon when I grew up...

Looks like some people can't realize that until we have an alternative to rocketry, there's not going to be much colonization of anything.

GECK? (4, Funny)

notjustchalk (1743368) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033578)

"...a starter kit for the first colonists."

I'd lobby for it to be called the Garden of Eden Creation Kit, but there might be fallout from that decision...

Re:GECK? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033910)

hehe...

Seriously, though, it would be a pretty bad name. Let's see. Garden of Eden: freely roam throughout the entire thing. All kinds of vegetation. Wonderful climate. Many other life forms for variety, none of which would actually harm you and thus you were free to mingle with them.

This garden kit: something that will hopefully allow you to breathe and maybe eat something, too.

It's like calling a kit that would allow you to build a very early computer that was the size of a house the "Mac Pro Construction Kit."

(and I don't like Macs. ;) )

Current Date + 20 (2, Insightful)

dmgxmichael (1219692) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033642)

Nixon and Ford targeted Mars by the end of the millennium. Reagan targeted it at or around this year. Clinton said by 2020 - Obama pushes it to 2030.

It's always going to be Current date + 20. I've lost hope.

Re:Current Date + 20 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033834)

Nixon and Ford targeted Mars by the end of the millennium. Reagan targeted it at or around this year. Clinton said by 2020 - Obama pushes it to 2030.

It's always going to be Current date + 20. I've lost hope.

Nonsense, we'll get to Mars as soon as we perfect fusion power!

Re:Current Date + 20 (3, Insightful)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034250)

you're actually right on the money.

It's a 10 year project, no more. If we target a longer development cycle, politics will interfere.

We're quite lucky that Kennedy targeted "this decade" for the moon landing, giving us 9 years to get there. Nixon and congress were already guttong apollo by the time we actaully landed on the moon. If kennedy had said "1979" instead, then by 1969 we would have just been finishing up the mercury flights as the entire program was canceled.

Of course the bacteria survived (1)

CptPicard (680154) | more than 3 years ago | (#32033718)

They had beer. I could do that.

The Beer rocks are home to a broad spectrum of microbes, including photosynthesising cyanobacteria. "We thought it would be fun to send Beer into space," says Olsson-Francis.

if we survive here, we'll be able to eat tar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32033774)

&/or other emollients. it's already all planned.

greed, fear & ego (in any order) are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of our dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children. not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one. see you on the other side of it. the lights are coming up all over now. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be our guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. we now have some choices. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on your brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

'The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 3000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need not to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.

Mid-2030s? (1)

KharmaWidow (1504025) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034008)

Obama makes more promises than there are stars in the sky! As with every proceeding president, planning for events beyond one's term is irrelevant bull-pucky. If a president wants to actually make something happen, it has to happen within in his two terms.

Instead of pursuing an unproven trajectory for our space industry, we who should go back to the moon first. We have the technology to do that and it can be assembled quickly.

The benefit of reaching the moon again is two-fold.
1) We prevent other nations from dominating and dictating the space industry (There are about 16 nations with declared moon-ambitions)
2) We study and prepare the moon for other solar system exploration.

Experts say using the moon as a launching station will save tons of money on fuel and materials. Vessels launched from the moon do not need to survive the stress of the Earth's atmosphere. The moon has the potential to provide some of the necessary resources. Additionally, vessels launched from the moon can use nuclear propulsion systems since they won't be a threat to the Earth and the Earth's atmosphere.

As a general rule from experience, any promise from a president beyond his terms is an empty promise because the next president will simply cancel it as Obama, himself, has done.

I wanna be one of the first people to go!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32034138)

I wanna be one of the first people to go!! I'd LOVE to live in a man-made biosphere on the red planet. Everything I need: bacteria, oxygen, plants, water. Now, if only we can develop faster-than-light communications. I think the latency would be a little too high for me to play an MMORPG from there :( I want fast Internet access to be able to do lots of gaming! Would be nice to have something to do while I'm munching on Martian-grown weeds!

Mars .... (1)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 3 years ago | (#32034246)

It's not only a red planet, but a red herring as well.

The U.S. is broke, there''s no end in sight to the deficit spending, most people reading this have a lower chance of collecting the social security they are paying into than getting veggies to sprout on mars.

If the President and others can't find enough to do on this planet then I would suggest starting a private enterprise and use their own capital to fund it - just leave tax payers out of this stupidity.
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