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When On the Moon and Mars, Move Underground

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the habitat-for-humanity dept.

Mars 294

astroengine writes "Recent observations of the lunar and martian surface are turning up multiple discoveries of 'skylights' — collapsed roofs of hollow rilles or lava tubes. These holes into ready-made underground bunkers could provide ideal shelter for future manned bases on the two worlds. Firstly, they would provide shelter from the barrage of micrometeorites, solar x-rays and deep space cosmic rays. Secondly, they'd help protect our burgeoning colonists from the extreme swings in surface temperature (on the moon, temperatures vary by 500 degrees F, but inside these lava tubes, the environment remains at a fairly constant -35 degrees). Thirdly, the sci-fi notion of underground space cities could become a reality."

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radiation and solar flares a serious problem (5, Insightful)

cats-paw (34890) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952390)

it's not obvious to me how you can have a habitat in space without being underground.

I guess you could just build thick-walled structures of some sort, but going underground seems like it's probably slightly easier.

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (4, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952422)

It's the traveling to Mars that makes me wonder how we're going to keep people shielded from radiation en route. I've seen the proposals and they look doable, but they'll significantly add to the complexity of the mission.

Underground Railroad (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32952452)

I am a Black man and would like to take this opportunity to bring back up the concept of "underground" and am here copying and pasting the Underground Railroad Ballad. It was found here: http://www.osblackhistory.com/ballad.php

The Underground Train,
Strange as it seems,
Carried many passengers
And never was seen

It wasn’t made of wood,
It wasn’t made of steel;
A man-made train that
Ran without wheels.

The train was known
By many a name.
But the greatest of all
Was “The Freedom Train”

The Quakers, the Indians,
Gentiles and Jews,
Were some of the people
Who made up the crews.

Free Blacks and Christians
And Atheists, too,
Were the rest of the people
Who made up the crews.

Conductors and agents
Led the way at night,
Guiding the train
By the North Star Light.

The passengers were
The fugitive slaves
Running from slavery
And its evil ways.

Running from the whip
And the overseer,
From the slave block
And the Auctioneer.

They didn’t want their masters
To catch them again,
So men dressed as women
And the women dressed as men.

MOD PARENT UP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32952842)

Whoever modded this down is a liar, thief, and RACIST.

Re:MOD PARENT UP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32952984)

Hey! I'm a racist, you insensitive clod!

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (2, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952494)

Would it not be an option to send robotic construction workers to the site ahead of time to begin construction of the shelter? Or, send two separate ships, one that just has cargo on board? That way, the ship that carries the people would need to carry less, and therefor the weight that would be allocated to kit could be allocated to slightly thicker walls. But, in typical Slashdot fashion, I'm just putting forth something that seems reasonable, substituting what I believe to be common sense for the engineering degree that I don't have.

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32952600)

Biggest issue I can see is the whole "meeting up again, millions of miles from nowhere". It's always a pain, doubly so if the mother-in-law is involved.

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (2, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952708)

Use the same giant freighter network for heavy bulk material and humans (admittedly overlap for some of us)

Ship the heavy non-living stuff via Hohmann transfer orbit or the incredibly slow ITN. Its incredibly heavy so at a low delta-V it'll take awhile.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hohmann_transfer_orbit [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interplanetary_Transport_Network [wikipedia.org]

On the other hand, occasionally you have an extremely lightweight payload of human beings. Send them at very high acceleration on a much faster hyperbolic (far above escape velocity) transfer orbit.

The other option is the radiation protective scale height of the atmosphere isn't as much as you think. Forcing everyone into the hot tub during a solar flare is actually not as impractical as some might think. You're going to need all that water anyway, so building concentric hollow sphere tanks is not all that unrealistic.

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (3, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952922)

Forcing everyone into the hot tub during a solar flare is actually not as impractical as some might think.

There was a situation like that depicted on Defying Gravity [wikipedia.org] , episode 8, "Love, Honor, Obey" where during a solar flare the crew took refuge in a room surrounded by the water tanks and polyurethane insulation.

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953182)

Don't mention that POS thing masquarading as a scifi TV series, not without warning unsuspecting people.

Also, it would be a good idea to mention "BBC Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets" (avoid the castrated US version), which is monumentally better (why, why do I even compare them?) and of which "defying gravity" is a direct rip-off, just made extremelly poorly.

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (1)

Late Adopter (1492849) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953116)

On the other hand, occasionally you have an extremely lightweight payload of human beings. Send them at very high acceleration on a much faster hyperbolic (far above escape velocity) transfer orbit.

Is it really feasible to send humans faster than Hohmann with current tech? Last I heard it wasn't... which makes radiation (and perhaps worse, isolation!) a legit problem.

Similarly I was under the impression that it wasn't necessarily attenuation from atmospheric mass that provided cosmic radiation shielding, but rather the magnetosphere, which is something not easily duplicatable on an interplanetary craft.

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (2, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953236)

> Similarly I was under the impression that it wasn't necessarily attenuation
> from atmospheric mass that provided cosmic radiation shielding, but rather
> the magnetosphere...

The atmosphere stops the cosmic rays, which are far too energetic to be bothered by the magnetic field. The latter stops the solar wind which would otherwise erode the atmosphere, though it would stop them quite readily while it lasted.

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32952520)

Duh! You just travel at night!

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32952902)

What a brilliant idea! Only send people when the 11 year solar cycle is at its least activity! Wait, that is what you meant by "night", right?

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (1)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953042)

Would it work to travel there during a lunar eclipse?

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953324)

Are you seriously asking that question?

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (2, Interesting)

smaddox (928261) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952716)

I'm more worried about how any human civilization would survive more than a year without constant resupplying from Earth. Biosphere2 was a complete disaster, and it showed us how much we have to learn before we can successfully colonize another planet.

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (4, Funny)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952618)

So, if we get that far, we'll be lunar cave men.

It's a start (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952684)

You've got to start somewhere. Pretty soon, we'll invent the moon wheel!

Re:It's a start (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953264)

You've got to start somewhere. Pretty soon, we'll invent the moon wheel!

Well, assuming we can agree to its colour.

Don't forget about Meatloaf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32952966)

Please people don't forget about Meatloaf's contributions to space travel. As well as his contributions to the Linux scheduler, he is a key contributor to many software projects used by NASA. Say what you want about his music, but he is a leading light in the world of Computer Science.

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953072)

I think living underground, at least initially, is a given. In the moon, I suspect it'll take more than a cave with bare, exposed rock, though. If they cave is fairly shallow, we are susceptible to the effects of geological quakes due to surface impacts. I think we would still need a shell of some kind, surrounding the living space, which itself would be contained with a thick layer of insulating substance capable of absorbing minor kinetic vibration.

Personally, I'd like to see a project to hollow the moon out, turn it into a wee dyson sphere. With a good bit of rotational spin, we'd gain a hell of a lot of habitable surface area.

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953364)

it's not obvious to me how you can have a habitat in space without being underground.

It's been done before. It's called Earth.

Re:radiation and solar flares a serious problem (1)

32771 (906153) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953400)

I'm wondering whether there are any drilling robots that could just go there and drill the required tunnels and caverns. I have always been wondering whether water is a required ingredient for any drilling operation. But lately I heard that it is mainly meant for cooling and to prevent silicosis in miners. This should be true for small drilling equipment if you want to do any blasting, i.e. where the transport of dirt out of the hole is not the issue. But more modern mines are build without much blasting I heard, I would be glad to find some example.

I didn't go down the natural route because I think that this won't be good enough in the long term. Even if natural caverns are used some drilling will have to be done. So the question remains - How to drill in a lunar environment.

I'm also wondering whether the lower gravity causes softer minerals to form.

Why bother? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32952402)

It's a hell of a lot cheaper and easier to live underground on earth.

Re:Why bother? (5, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952584)

By all means, let us keep all our eggs in one basket and just wait patiently for some extinction event. That worked out well for the other 99% of life on earth over geologic time.

Re:Why bother? (3, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952704)

Thing is, for "some" (assuming random, among many scenarios possible) extinction event, it's still most likely much more efficient to live underground, on Earth; saving orders of magnitude more people in the process, on comparable resources. At least when talking about foreseeable future (talking beyond that is a bit pointless anyway)

Re:Why bother? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32952764)

That's exactly why I live in my parent's basement!

Re:Why bother? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953392)

What happened to your other parent?

Re:Why bother? (2, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952890)

Creating an independent extraterrestrial colony is a mammoth task, but it would be resilient to all possible extinction events below a level affecting more than one planet of the solar system. Any single planet solution is ultimately vulnerable to anything up to and including planetary events. When the entire species is at stake, cost-benefit analysis needs to be a bit broader in scope to match.

Re:Why bother? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953078)

it would be resilient to all possible extinction events below a level affecting more than one planet of the solar system

And that's a very narrow strip of scenarios (again, we're talking about foreseeable future; in a long time we might be "post-human" for all we know). Most impact events / flares / etc. are more efficient to prevent or...survive in the lithosphere of this planet. In between there's the level of orbits-disturbing or big-fraking-solar-flare-causing visitor from outside the system, which is very rare judging by the number of old multiple star systems (direct planetary impact is orders of magnitude less likely than that), though it might affect two different planets in a different way (orbit, not flare). And beyond - things from gamma ray bursts to false vacuum collapse, where another planet doesn't matter.

Yes, it might be worthwile; very, very rarely. So that won't be the reason to colonise, ever. Taking into account such threats is way beyond the scope of humanity; look how we do know... It'll just be the old "the biggest threat to life is another life."

Re:Why bother? (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953414)

Betting on rarity really works well when it comes to levees and hurricanes, building design parameters and earthquakes, etc. I mean, sure, lots of people have died when the really rare events eventually happened, but I'm sure that means that going forward rare things won't actually happen anymore.~

While I think that humanity could survive another event on the level of the Chicxulub impact, I don't think that a larger event is survivable. There are also problems unique to humanity as an increasingly capable technological civilization, including problems that may not even be foreseen. Aside from potential anthropogenic biological and technological threats, there are also hypothetical threats from the outside, with the nasty possible combination of RKVs [wikipedia.org] with the Prisoner's Dilemma [projectrho.com] .

Re:Why bother? (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953336)

While we are a world that depends on fossil fuels we are all on a very short leash, in terms of geological time. We will run through all the oil and gas in the ground in the blink of an eye in terms of very large timelines.

I guess what I'm saying is wake me up when we're on renewable sources of energy and we can start to think about using some of the surplus to maintain colonies just because it is cool to do so. I think the most feasible route for this occurring is a truly workable fusion solution. if we have that then energy would slowly become less and less of an issue and our imagination would matter more and more, over time. As it is we are on a short timeline with a collision in our near-term future--not with an asteroid but simply running out of oil and gas to suck out of the ground.

Re:Why bother? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953252)

The problem is that for some won't be enough. And sometimes just developing the technology for making that possible could have side consequences that could pay all the effort.

Re:Why bother? (4, Interesting)

bmajik (96670) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953418)

The best reason to try this on the moon is that there is nowhere on Earth where the people on the surface wouldn't presume to own what was underneath the surface.

The best way to avoid wars and to keep people happy is to let folks who must "Agree to disagree" choose to not be neighbors.

We're out of places for free people to live on Earth's land masses. Everything on Earth's surface is owned and controlled by somebody at this point -- somebody who has no problem killing you if you don't do what they like.

Where is a free-minded man to live? Where is the next frontier? The sea-steading folks are working on a promising option, but that merely moves the goal posts out a bit farther, but doesn't solve the problem.

Space-steading is the long term answer. Getting a functional permanant society on the moon is step 1. Anything that makes that easier is worth looking at.

Re:Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953218)

extinction event on earth in the next 100 years means the extinction of mankind as well. there is no way we could become self sustaining on moon or mars before then, and even then at an enormous cost. are eggs are in 1 basket whether we like it or not. gravity wells suck, as does living outside the terran biosphere.

Re:Why bother? (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953452)

By all means, let us keep all our eggs in one basket and just wait patiently for some extinction event.

Well, that does have the advantage of being practical, at the very least. If we choose, we can deal with most terrestrial "extinction event" threats a good deal more cheaply - by multiple orders of magnitude, probably - than by sending a substantial number of our population to a distant and hostile "habitat". There aren't many (any?) such events you can think of that would result in a less survivable environment than we'd encounter on any reachable extraterrestrial planet.

Of course, in that case our infants won't be arriving at distant worlds with super powers (absent kryptonite), but you only get what you pay for after all...

Basement (-1, Troll)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952630)

While living in your mother's basement may be a good strategy for your average Slashdotter, it's not the best idea for humans over a very long period of time.

Why are we still talking about this? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32952404)

I thought we agreed to kill any NASA funding that looked like it might be headed towards progress?

(captcha: realist)

Zapp Brannigan on Operation Moon Settlement (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952420)

The moon mole people--though defenseless and inviting--were no match for our rail guns and bunker busting missiles. After denying hailing frequency after hailing frequency of cultural exchange, I fearlessly and heroically protected the Earth by sitting at rest in a fully armored spaceship at the Earth/Moon L1 position. In a very sensual valour snuggie I drank the hot cocoa of the gods as wave after wave of our warriors bounced around the moon exterminating the moon mole people with golf clubs, the very same fearsome weapon used by the first of our warriors to set foot on the moon decades ago.

President Nixon, I present to you a new settlement and planet completely safe and devoid of the once furry stubby armed moon mole people!

Re:Zapp Brannigan on Operation Moon Settlement (2, Insightful)

fritish (1630461) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952700)

I thought whalers settled the moon?

I thought whalers settled the moon? (1)

2names (531755) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952872)

Nope, it was a Bob Marley solo gig. Sorry.

"We'll just take refuge in this old lava tube..." (5, Funny)

GameGod0 (680382) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952430)

Famous last words.

Re:"We'll just take refuge in this old lava tube.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32952482)

Staring Vin Diesel.

Re:"We'll just take refuge in this old lava tube.. (4, Funny)

wickedskaman (1105337) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953032)

I suppose that's better than No Eye Contact Vin Diesel.

Leia: The cave is collapsing. (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952994)

Solo: This is no cave.

Stanford torus (4, Informative)

FalconZero (607567) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952488)

Am I the only one who noticed that the colony pictured in the article is more likely a Standford Torus [wikipedia.org] , or am I just being picky?

Re:Stanford torus (1)

euroq (1818100) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952810)

Am I the only one who noticed that the colony pictured in the article is more likely a Standford Torus

Nope! We've all played Halo :)

am I just being picky?

Well, yeah!

500 degrees F (-1, Troll)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952592)

Someone wanna translate this into units of measurement used by, oh I dunno, the entire rest of the world?

Re:500 degrees F (5, Informative)

ccandreva (409807) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952638)

Someone wanna translate this into units of measurement used by, oh I dunno, the entire rest of the world?

Fscking hot.

Re:500 degrees F (2, Informative)

tresstatus (260408) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952702)

Someone wanna translate this into units of measurement used by, oh I dunno, the entire rest of the world?

http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=500+degrees+Farenheit+to+Celcius [lmgtfy.com]

Re:500 degrees F (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32952712)

260 C

Re:500 degrees F (1)

toby34a (944439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952730)

Average temperature would be ~236 K (since it is stated -35 degrees F) in the moon craters, whereas the temperature swing would be ~278 K on the surface. Can't you divide by 1.8? And Celsius is just another arbitrary method akin to Fahrenheit, anyways, real men use Kelvin.

Re:500 degrees F (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952816)

Celsius is just another arbitrary method ... real men use Kelvin

Which doesn't stop the range of one unit in both scales to be equivalent...

Anyway, arbitrarity of the "important property of the most common molecule in the universe" kind isn't so bad.

Re:500 degrees F (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953306)

Anyway, arbitrarity of the "important property of the most common molecule in the universe" kind isn't so bad.

What important property of H2 does the Celsius scale relate to?

Re:500 degrees F (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953432)

Sorry, I meant compound (far from native EN speaker, many terms aren't immediately intuitive)

Re:500 degrees F (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953312)

An important property when measured at one specific point, which just happens to be where humans live. So it is no more or less arbitrary than 'dangerously cold to humans to dangerously hot to humans'.

Re:500 degrees F (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953372)

Triple point of water is exclusive to where humans live?...

Re:500 degrees F (1)

epp_b (944299) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953304)

Celsius is not arbitrary. It's based on the chemical properties of a very common natural substance; namely, water. Water freezes at 0C and boils at 100C. Both very tidy and round numbers based on the most abundant substance on Earth... makes sense to me.

I'm not saying that using Kelvin as measurement of temperature is any better or worse, only that Celsius is not arbitrary.

Re:500 degrees F (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953382)

> Celsius is not arbitrary.

Neither is Fahrenheit.

> Water freezes at 0C and boils at 100C.

More or less, depending on composition and pressure.

> I'm not saying that using Kelvin as measurement of temperature is any
> better or worse,

Kelvin is based on absolute zero and the triple point of water of a specific composition.

damn provincials... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953410)

that's only correct at one Earth atmospheric pressure, hoo-man!

Re:500 degrees F (1)

Xphile101361 (1017774) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952740)

I'm sure google could have taken care of this for you

Re:500 degrees F (1)

jadrian (1150317) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952746)

Before someone says it, we all know the FAQ and how slashdot is US centric, but this is in the Science section damn it.

Re:500 degrees F (1, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952760)

Someone wanna translate this into units of measurement used by, oh I dunno, the entire rest of the world?

How about you convert the unit via the search engine used by oh, I dunno, the entire rest of the world? (except for China)

Or how about this - land a person on the Moon and return them safely, and we'll bitch about your using metric. Now go back to playing your vuvuzela and watching SOCCER.

Re:500 degrees F (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32952788)

Someone wanna translate this into units of measurement used by, oh I dunno, the entire rest of the world?

Imagine ice that freezes at the temperature that our water boils. And then bring that to a boil. And then stick your face in the steam.

Re:500 degrees F (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952794)

Someone wanna translate this into units of measurement used by, oh I dunno, the entire rest of the world?

That's about 960 degrees R or 85 degrees N.

about 5 maxed out P4 cpu's (4, Funny)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952806)

about 5 maxed out P4 cpu's

Re:500 degrees F (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952876)

Just pick any ole unit. It doesn't matter at a high enough temperature, to a low enough level of accuracy.

Its interesting that all temperature units are "about the same magnitude". In comparison to length units of meters vs lightyears. Or energy, like calories to BTUs to electron-volts, all of which need serious scientific notation to convert.

Oddly enough Joules are within a factor of about four of calories, just odd luck or what? Sidereal seconds being close to "regular seconds" is kind of numerological cheating. Other than those two, I struggle to find units of measurement that are as close to each other as temperature units are.

Re:500 degrees F (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953018)

It's hot enough to cook your Thanksgiving turkey in an hour, although you should leave the oven door closed after turning off the heat.

Re:500 degrees F (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953112)

A moderate amount more than the temperature at which paper burns.

Underground a Benefit? (2, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952698)

While there are benefits to living underground, I don't think that living underground is itself a benefit. If it were, then more people on Earth would be living underground already. [Insert joke about Slashdot readers and basements here.] So I'm a little hazy on why the summary passed that off as the third "benefit". (And no, living like a science fiction movie isn't a benefit either. Not all SciFi is Utopian.)

Re:Underground a Benefit? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952754)

I don't know; buildings do resemble, in a way, essentially an artificial cave.

Re:Underground a Benefit? (2, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953044)

Excavation is expensive.

No, scratch that, excavation is fucking expensive.

Go look up the costs of major transportation tunnel projects. Billions. Imagine the cost of putting habitable structures of any size down there... especially when you can just build up with no excavation cost. (The excavation cost is on top of the cost of all the structure itself. Even after you get all the dirt and rock out, you still need walls and support structure, just like any other building, not to mention all the finishings.)

Re:Underground a Benefit? (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953054)

You never saw 'CHUD'?

Re:Underground a Benefit? (1)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953458)

They just don't make movies like that any more. I'm getting all sentimental.

Re:Underground a Benefit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953080)

I understand not reading the article, but this is explained in the summary. Please go read that now. The reason why we don't have to live underground on Earth is because we have a dense atmosphere protecting us, a luxury not available on the Moon or on Mars.

Re:Underground a Benefit? (2, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953310)

If it were, then more people on Earth would be living underground

      It all depends where you live [wikipedia.org] . There is a huge cost to building underground since you have to move a lot of earth, you have to take steps to make sure your cave doesn't collapse, you have to deal with water seepage, you have to circulate air, and THEN you have to build your dwelling. On Earth it's usually not feasible, no matter how bad the weather. Although in really really cold climates most people have their cars in underground heated garages at home and where they go to work/shopping, or the mass transit is designed to deal with cold weather by being underground (subways) or even having closed, heated bus stops.

      But you're looking at it backwards, seeing no benefit to living underground. Sure, on earth and especially in the tropics, there is no benefit. In an extremely hostile environment like the moon or mars you pretty much HAVE to live underground. The daily temperature differences alone (ok, monthly in the case of the moon) would quickly destroy and crack most materials. The surface (barring the discovery of areas rich in uranium) would probably be dedicated to the collection of solar energy. Underground you'd be able to have an air-tight, radiation proof environment.

For those of you watching in metric: -37C (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952824)

And for those of you from the few countries using the new-fangled* Celsius scale, that's a touch colder than -37C.

* (invented in 1742, current version from 1744)

Re:For those of you watching in metric: -37C (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952878)

Current version is from 2005.

Re:For those of you watching in metric: -37C (3, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953026)

  • Leela: Fry, night lasts two weeks on the moon.
  • Moon Farmer: Yep, drops down to minus-173.
  • Fry: Celsius or Fahrenheit?
  • Moon Farmer: First one, then the other.

Re:For those of you watching in metric: -37C (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953058)

I use centigrade, you insensitive clod!

Re:For those of you watching in metric: -37C (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953178)

I would think computer scientists would dig Farenheight. On the scale, brine's (sea water) freezing point is 0, and fresh water's freezing point is 32 (2^5). Normal body temperature was 96 on the original scale, or 32+64, or 2^5 + 2^6. These reference points were easy to mark because you could bisect the markings repeatedly until you got down to an integer degree, since they could be easily expressed with powers of two. Unfortunately it didn't quite work out, because if brine freezes at zero the average human is 98.6, but it was a worthy base-two geek effort!

Re:For those of you watching in metric: -37C (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953456)

> Normal body temperature was 96 on the original scale...

Fahrenheit's wife's armpit, actually.

Tubes (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952830)

Sounds great, as long as they don't, uh, collapse.

Re:Tubes (2, Insightful)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953144)

Yeah, but seeing as you might want to park the Lunar rover, get out of you spacesuit, sleep, and maybe take a shower after a long day in the helium 3 mines. You might want to subdivide this big tube, pressurize it, wire it for internet, heating and cooling. Somewhere along the line you'll probably reinforce that structure, and when you do maybe you'll think about holding the roof up.

Also don't build in one of those low rent neighborhoods, find something classy by a big crater.

Re:Tubes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953232)

uhg, now you sound like my wife.

i don't get it. (4, Insightful)

underqualified (1318035) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952850)

we talk about colonizing and/or terraforming other planets when we can't even stop the ongoing negative changes happening to our own planet.

Re:i don't get it. (2, Insightful)

hypergreatthing (254983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953002)

Where else can we practice living in a location that is devoid of and incapable of sustaining life? The moon of course! better start practicing now.

Re:i don't get it. (4, Insightful)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953064)

You're right, screw the Configuration Manager and his fancy Test Environment...

Commit all changes to the Production Planet now.

Re:i don't get it. (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953268)

I don't get what you're trying to say.
Anyone who's talking about terraforming other planets is either a sci-fi writer or an academic writing a "If we someday had to do this, this is how we might do it" paper.
As for living in enclosed environments you can see several examples of that, most prominently the ISS as well as some underwater experiments and those biodome thingies.

If you're expressing some sort of sentiment about leaving the moon or mars dead and barren and pristine environments then I'm very much opposed and I'd rather see Mars become a giant landfill if that meant some bacteria got a chance for life if we didn't make it.

Re:i don't get it. (1)

Rhys (96510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953344)

The lack of an atmosphere, lack of gravity to sustain one, and lack of naturally occurring liquid water means the moon more or less totally lacks much of the negative changes we could induce by colonization. Air pollution doesn't do much for you when you don't have any air to pollute. There's no water cycle to carry waste where you don't want it. The outside environment (aka hard vacuum and or regolith) is already lethal/abrasive, good luck making it 'worse' by polluting it.

About all you'll get is the 'despoiling the view' -- but you have to do that directly by messing with the lunar landscape and soil. It isn't like you're cutting down thousands of trees in order to rip off the top of a mountain for the coal beneath. You can still do it, but it involves a lot more effort. (you actually have to do something to those how-many square kilometers?)

First Internet, now Moon and Mars (3, Funny)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952910)

It all boils down to a system of tubes?

Opportunity for Slashdotters (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#32952980)

Space colonists will be selected from a population conditioned to survive underground for extended periods.

Their parents' basement.

Recommended reading (3, Interesting)

ozziegt (865751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953036)

I would highly recommend Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. It's great science fiction and he piles on the science. In his novels some colonists actually live in lava tubes on Mars. I never get tired of reading those 3 books.

Re:Recommended reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953120)

I was looking for something along the lines of your comment.

If memory serves, he has one of the initial colonies set up in a lava tube (the next generation colonies then being tented craters).

Of course, the distinction only becomes important once the Corporations-Mars war of independence starts, and it's discovered that maybe defenseless tent cities were a bit too utopian...

Ready to occupy (4, Funny)

Wylfing (144940) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953164)

a fairly constant -35 degrees

So basically people from Minnesota could just move there.

Moon dirt = 'ground'? (1)

Visual Echo (928267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953192)

So soil on the moon is also called 'ground'? How boring.

What sci-fi are you reading (2, Funny)

Voline (207517) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953358)

"the sci-fi notion of underground space cities could become a reality."

Because the stuff I've read clearly calls for moon settlements to have transparent glass domes.

Well, duh (2, Interesting)

AdamWill (604569) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953440)

"Thirdly, the sci-fi notion of underground space cities could become a reality.""

Well, duh. Shockingly enough, many 'sci-fi' writers are fairly smart people who know what they're talking about. Underground space cities aren't usually ideas authors just pulled out of their asses because they though it'd be cool. Mostly they show up because the authors sat down and thought 'hmm, well, if there was _really_ a settlement on a rock with no atmosphere and very little gravity and we wanted to deal with the problems of extreme temperature variations and exposure to radiation and so forth, I wonder what would be a good idea...oh, hey, underground cities!"

It tends to bug me when stories like this get written from a viewpoint (often subconscious) of 'hey, those crazy science fiction writers thought about this fifty years ago, but now someone with letters behind their name wrote about it in a Serious Publication, that makes the thought Real!'

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