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Expert: Mars Astronauts Would Lose Teeth

Hemos posted more than 13 years ago | from the i'll-gum-ya-to-death dept.

Space 323

Ant wrote to us with a story on Discovery about the long term consequences of manned and "womanned" missions to Mars - lots of research about bone-weakening effects of zero G environments, with tooth loss high on the list.

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That's not an insurmountable obstacle (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224241)

I've been to the National Air & Space Museum at the Smithsonian. Apparently, you don't need teeth to eat Astronaut Ice Cream and Tang.

Dancin Santa

Re:That's not an insurmountable obstacle (4, Funny)

number one duck (319827) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224371)

But how are you going to open bottles and tighten bolts on your way home? Teeth are much more mass/fuel effecient than spanners will ever be...

Oh, I'm sorry, I thought this was a Russian mission at first. Teaches me to not read the article...

All I want for christmas is my two front teeth (5, Funny)

xted (125437) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224247)

I say we get all the astronauts to smile for a group picture when they land on mars.

Re:All I want for christmas is my two front teeth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224260)

reminds me of the simpsons episode where Homer gives up his dental plan for a Keg, and there's this guy there with one tooth. God bless the Simpsons!

FIRST POST (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224256)

sUCK IT UP NIGGAZ

PrOpz to j3wz

Real Url (2, Informative)

Talez (468021) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224257)

URL is wroing... Real URL is:

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20010827/ma rs teeth.html

Do people read the bit which says "Check URLS" anymore?

Talez

Re:Real Url (0, Redundant)

notext (461158) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224262)

I tried to post the real link as well but got so lame compression filter thing, so I figured screw it, if you wanna be that way let them send everyone to the wrong page.

Re:Real Url (0, Troll)

xted (125437) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224265)

Why bother? People like you always seem to do a good job pointing it out to everyone.

Re:Real Url - Still broken, Try this - no space (4, Informative)

hillct (230132) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224269)

Re: Bug in Slashdot methinks :P (0, Offtopic)

Talez (468021) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224279)

The space is exactly where the input field broke the URL up onto the next line...

Very perculiar indeed :P

Talez

WARNING GOATSE.CX LINK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224328)

WARNING: The parent contains a goatse.cx link, using the trolls' new trick to disguise the address in brackets.

Re:Real Url (0, Redundant)

TheCabal (215908) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224406)

Your URL is wrong, dude. Don't you read the bit which says "Check URLS" anymore?

The One True URL is:

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20010827/ma rs teeth.html

How's that foot taste?

Space Food (2)

q-soe (466472) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224258)

Well most space food is in a paste or freeze dried format to boost nutrient intake anyway so it wouldnt matter.

One would thing the issues with blood polling and muscular atrophy may be more succint on long missions like this, there is a dange that muscles can atrophy very badly with long term exposure to low or zero gravity, this coupled with bone fatigue might mean that an astronaut arriving back on earth after his long trip might just collapse when he is exposed to the earths gravity.

Astronaut pancake anyone ?

Re:Space Food (1)

Hyperbolix (214002) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224283)

Well most space food is in a paste or freeze dried format to boost nutrient intake anyway so it wouldnt matter.
Not true. At least not any more. I saw it on the Discovery Wings channel. They actually have crunchy cereal and all that good stuff.
- Hyperbolix

Ant (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224259)

Does this guy do anything but submit to sites all day?

Re:Ant (-1, Troll)

Ralph JewHater Nader (450769) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224372)

He could contribute to mankind by killing some jews.

Wow! a broken link! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224263)

And I bet mr taco has at least once bitched at someone for not "following the link"

astronauts don't need teeth anyway... (1)

dR.fuZZo (187666) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224264)

Have you seen the stuff they eat from those pouches?

I think the link is broken (4, Redundant)

leucadiadude (68989) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224266)

It looks like the story link doesn't work. At least it didn't work for me. Here [discovery.com] is the one that worked for me.

WARNING: GOATSE.CX LINK (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224334)

The parent post contains a goatse.cx link, disguised with the trolls' new trick for hiding addresses.

Important! All moderators read this! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224355)

This link [goatse.cz] does not lead to goatse.cx.

To whoever moderates this down, consider that you have just wasted a few seconds of your short, finite life moderating this post down, and it doesn't even lead to goatsecx. Reflect upon this waste of time when you wake up tomorrow and wish you could sleep for just one more minute, and reflect upon it again the moment before you die. Are you still glad you moderate down posts such as this?

Beverly Hillbilles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224268)

I can just imagine a toothless colony of Beverly Hillbilly types 200 years in the future.

no loss... (1)

siegesama (450116) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224270)


Not like there's any good restaurants on mars anyway.

Working URL (1)

mughi (32874) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224271)

Here's a working link [discovery.com] to the story.

I'm now hit with that 'compression filter' problem.... how to get the info out there seems to be the question.... Ah. good. this ramble fixed it.

Taco should volunteer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224272)

Taco wouldn't have tooth loss problems. He had all his teeth pulled so he could give good fellatio a long time ago...

Re:Taco should volunteer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224299)

Mod this down, god damn it! What the hell is wrong with you?

--rob

Get people from the Backwoods of Arkansas... (2, Funny)

BiggestPOS (139071) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224273)

They are already toothless :)

(just joking, its a fine state, I lived through High School there)

No teeth? Good for oral (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224275)

I don't think any astronaut would complain while receiving smooth oral.

Mars is not a zero G environment (2, Insightful)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224278)

The discovery page seems dead. But, going out on a limb -- from what I've read, it seems to take about 6 months to get to mars. There have been more than a few people who've lasted this long in space, and they seemed to have nice smiles when they returned.

Once on mars, the effects should be mitigated by the gravitational field - right? How much less is mars' gravity compared to earth?

Re:Mars is not a zero G environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224288)

1/6th the gravity of Earth. It's part of the reason Mars doesn't have an Earth-like atmosphere even though the planet's volume is similar to earth.

Re:Mars is not a zero G environment (1)

mughi (32874) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224296)

Read the story. Among other things, a two-year Mars mission including one year of zero-g (6 months there and 6 months back... that back part is also important) would be enough to cause permanent tooth loss.

And the story also mentions those same people you cite.

Re:Mars is not a zero G environment (0)

Trollificus (253741) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224418)

"...would be enough to cause permanent tooth loss."

As opposed to what, temporary tooth loss? ;p~

Mars' gravity is 38% that of Earth's (1)

tcyun (80828) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224312)


Once on mars, the effects should be mitigated by the gravitational field - right? How much less is mars' gravity compared to earth?


Mars' gravity, compared to Earth's, is 0.38 to that experienced on earth. Now, I have no idea what this means for bone structure as IANADoctor.

Gravity == Acceleration? (2)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224281)

Realizing that doing something like this would increase the cost by, well, a lot, couldn't the astronauts accelerate at around .5 to 1 G for half the trip (creating gravity), then reverse the spaceship and decelerate (yes, I can't spell, but neither can the Slashdot staff some days).

You'd need more fuel for this, of course. But it could reduce the problems of microgravity.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Re:Gravity == Acceleration? (2)

nomadic (141991) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224289)

Or just create a cylindrical craft with spin. Of course NASA isn't exactly known for thinking outside the box...

Re:Gravity == Acceleration? (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224378)

> Of course NASA isn't exactly known for thinking outside the box...

Actually, there's a pretty cool idea floating around for sending two craft (one USian and one Russian, IIRC) and tethering them together so that they would rotate around a common center.

Cheaper alternative (1)

Mdog (25508) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224292)

You wouldn't need much fuel at all if you did the 1G radially.

The Mars Cork-Screw...roller coaster or NASA mission: You be the judge.

--
God I wish slashdot had spellcheck

Can't do it that way with chemical propellants (2)

Goonie (8651) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224320)

You simply can't carry enough chemical propellants to do things this way. However, if you developed a fusion rocket this might well be practical.

However, as others have pointed out, simply spinning the ship is by far the easiest and simplest way to get around this issue.

Re:Can't do it that way with chemical propellants (1)

jTurbo (35048) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224416)

Slighltly off topic but here goes:

I recently read about the vasimr engine, a plasma drive running on helium and elctricity. I was thinking what if we tried to combine a fusion plant (it uses plasma and produces helium exhaust) with the vasimr and we should have a efficient impulse drive (just to throw in som st techno babble)

I know fusion plants are not yet mature technology :)

Re:Gravity == Acceleration? (2, Informative)

Meddel (152734) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224324)

You're right in that providing artificial gravity is a possibility, but the amount of fuel to accelerate at 9.8 m^2 half way there is huge, and there's not really a reason for doing it like that.

There are two good alternatives, though, which have been tossed around, and have the same effect, though with very little fuel use. One is to send a cylindrical ship, and spin it about it's axis, so that there is a force pushing the astronauts to the outside walls. Like in 2001.

That works, but it creates some weird design problems, as far as headroom and living on the walls.

The other option is to let out a tether with a countermass on the end of it, and then spin around a central point on the tether. With a big enough countermass, or a long enough tether, this works really well, and it's comfortable for the astronauts, as they can stay oriented to the 'floor' of their ship.

There was originally a plan to put something necessary at the other end of the tether, like fuel for the return trip or something, but it turns out to be much more efficient if you can just put something disposable on it (like one of those big boosters you used to leave Earth). That way you can just pop a bolt when you get to Mars, and don't have to worry about the tether snagging when you try to reel it back in.

A book that talks a lot about this is Robert Zubrin's "The Case for Mars". He's the president of the Mars Society, and is pretty knowledgeable about this stuff. I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in some of the design challenges, and why we can beat them.

Return trip? (1)

mortonda (5175) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224402)

That way you can just pop a bolt when you get to Mars,

Um, what about the return trip? Do we not want gravity for that too? Or have we not planned for the return trip?

Re:Return trip? (1)

Goonie (8651) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224426)

Once you're in orbit, the rocket engine that lifts you off Mars is expendable. Hence, you get another rope and hook it up for the return trip.

I should point out that in Zubrin's Mars Direct architecture the habitat that you do the trip there on, and the vehicle you use for Earth return, are two different vehicles, but even if they were one and the same it doesn't pose a major problem.

Re:Gravity == Acceleration? (1)

Mals (159840) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224354)

I'm quite sure that in order to create artificial gravity the force or acceleration would have to be pointed in a downward direction in reference to where the astronaut was standing. I don't think that by accelerating the ship to 9.8 m/s^2 we will be able to create artificial gravity but just a thrust force or that launching feeling. Something similar to what happens when you accelerate hard in a car. Plus the amount of fuel that would be required would be enormous and highly expensive.

But to answer your question, Gravity that we experience on Earth does equal acceleration but it has to be pointed downward or towards the centre of an object to have the same effect that it does on Earth.

Re:Gravity == Acceleration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224385)

the force or acceleration would have to be pointed in a downward direction in reference to where the astronaut was standing.

Just orient the astronaut and his furniture based on the ship acceleration, not the other way around, you silly meatball.

Re:Gravity == Acceleration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224417)

'I'm quite sure that in order to create artificial gravity the force or acceleration would have to be pointed in a downward direction in reference to where the astronaut was standing.'

There wouldn't be any problem here...you just chage the configuration of the craft to have the 'floor' be in the same direction of the booster (This a correctly dorected Normal Force)
'I don't think that by accelerating the ship to 9.8 m/s^2 we will be able to create artificial gravity but just a thrust force or that launching feeling. Something similar to what happens when you accelerate hard in a car.'

You don't accelerate to 9.8 m/s^2, you constantly accelerate at this rate (For Example: you leave your foot on the gas petal forever; and this 'car' has no top speed...while the speed of light...but thats a different story). Thus since F=ma (with mass being semi-constant...fuel loss and stuff, and a sustained 9.8 m/s^2 acceleration or 1G) you have gravity for your entire trip. (Minus the inital/ending manouvering and the 180 that you would have to pull in the middle of the flight)
It would require so much fuel it wouldn't be practical without fusion, anti-matter, riding lasers, a series of explosions, ion drives, etc... but it COULD be done in this method.
And Centripetal force takes so much less energy to sustain anyway so....

womaned mission and teeth loss, a dream come true! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224282)

hot-in-the-ass astronaut bitches sucking my dick with no teeth!

What is wrong with Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224284)

IE 6.0 is out. Time to spread the word. Go download it here [microsoft.com] .

Re:Thank You Brother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224303)

We are the only believers. Do You believe my brother? Do You? I do!

ummm.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224285)

last i checked, mars had gravity... then again, I haven't been there in a while...


- god

Re:ummm.... (1)

mughi (32874) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224313)

last i checked, mars had gravity... then again, I haven't been there in a while...

Yes... but if you read the story you might notice that it mentions a mission with one year of zero-g. That's pretty much 6 months out and then 6 months back.

reds on the red planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224294)

don't believe me? just look at their propaganda [akamaitech.net] !!! That's right! On the "woman" explorer's (ha!) shoulder you see the rising sun of that goddamn commie facist japan. Those asians won't only collonize mars first, but they'll communize it too! My fellow countrymen, you disgusting canadians, and any of you frogs who don't piss yourself everytime a dog barks: WE MUST ERADICATE THE MENACE FROM THE EAST!!!

thank you for your time, gentlemen.

shoot for the moon (1)

xted (125437) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224295)

Why are we trying to colonize mars when we have the moon soclose? Think about the possibilities.. If raw materials such as iron where to be refined, the cost to transfer the materials would be cheaper because of the short distance.
Even looking at it from a safety standpoint.. If something were to happen where an evacuation needed to take place, they are that much closer to home. I guess we are just trying to see how far humans can reach into space.

Re:shoot for the moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224323)

I heard somewhere (Starcon 2 maybe) that the moon is comprised of worthless elements. The asteroid belt, OTOH, contains huge hunks of really high grade nickle-iron and there's no gravity well to deal with. Ever see that plan for making an EZ asteroid-bubble habitat? Giant mirrors. molten-asteroid-iron-steam-balloon. Spin it. Fill it with dirt&light. Read Larry Niven.

Re:shoot for the moon (5, Interesting)

Goonie (8651) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224411)

Why are we trying to colonize mars when we have the moon soclose? Think about the possibilities.. If raw materials such as iron where to be refined, the cost to transfer the materials would be cheaper because of the short distance.

Because the Moon, in some ways, is actually not closer to us at all, and there are a lot more things worth having on Mars when we get there.

Firstly, Mars has a day almost identical in length to Earth's. Why is this so important? Because it means you might be able to grow plants there by the natural light. Growing plants under artificial light is very inefficient - the only ones that we can afford to do so for are kind of illegal in many places :) You can't grow plants by natural light on the moon because the two-week night would kill most plants (let alone the problems of your greenhouse heating up to boiling point during the two-week day).

Secondly, Mars has almost certainly got a lot more water available than the Moon does. The moon has virtually no water available. You can't have a colony without a water supply :)

Thirdly, just because Mars is further away doesn't mean it's more difficult to get stuff to and from it. The travel time is an important issue for humans, but for cargo it often doesn't matter, and for cargo it takes *less* fuel to land stuff on Mars because you can use the Martian atmosphere to slow down when you get there, unlike the moon where you have to use more fuel slowing down. Going the other way, it's easier to get stuff off the Moon than Mars (because the moon has less gravity), but you can make rocket fuel for your rocket a lot more easily on Mars than you can on the Moon (because if you have water, you can use electrolysis to get hydrogen and oxygen - instant rocket fuel).

Finally, if you're going to run a self-sustaining colony which pays its own way, to pay for imports from Earth you need something you can export back. From what we know about the composition of the moon, we're fairly sure that there's not much there of value (except for Helium-3, which is a fuel that might be used in fusion power plants in the future but is very difficult to extract), but on Mars there's a distinct possibility of finding high-grade deposits of gold, platinum, and other commercially valuable metals. In addition, if we ever mine the asteroids (many of which are virtually pure precious metal and are thus incredibly valuable), it's much easier to supply the miners with food and supplies from Mars than from the Earth or Moon.

In any case, we're not really trying to colonize either yet. As to the interest in exploring Mars, we've been to the Moon and have a fairly good idea of what it's like. Mars is the next step along the line.

Even looking at it from a safety standpoint.. If something were to happen where an evacuation needed to take place, they are that much closer to home. I guess we are just trying to see how far humans can reach into space.

Re:shoot for the moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224425)

Although shooting at the moon would be a logical step.

Fire payloads up using a mass driver (a.k.a. Big Cargo Magnetic Accelerator) and cut down on a good amount of launch costs. Then build the craft in space.

(Of course a orbital platform would be better then the moon...but the title isn't Shoot For The ISS)

Correct url... (1)

edgrale (216858) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224300)

the correct url is http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20010827/mars teeth.html

ps. get rid of the horrid 20sec "delay", it's annoying as hell.

Re:Correct url... (1)

edgrale (216858) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224308)

okay, so screw slashdot, after that remove the space between the words mars and teeth and you'll have the correct url...

ps. nice bug :)

So much for 0g slowing the aging process... (2)

hillct (230132) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224301)

That's right. Go into space, become old and degrepit. Die young, with no teeth.

I'd have to say that NASA will need a more effective marketing campeign.

NASA: So, you want to be an astronaut?

John DOe: I realize I don't have to worry about the space shuttle blowing up, but I don't want to die young, with no teeth either...

Re:So much for 0g slowing the aging process... (1)

noVox (471260) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224322)

However, the first manned mission to Mars televised would be a reality show worth watching. I mean, you could stay sane for 6 1/2 months, but how many people would go nuts? I'd like to see that!

Re:So much for 0g slowing the aging process... (2)

loraksus (171574) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224338)

Rumor is that CBS Executives have been taking to Nasa about Big Brother 68, where those voted off are dumped out of the airlock.

Re:So much for 0g slowing the aging process... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224410)

The more time you spend around old people the less of a bummer dying young will appear to you.

Send John Glenn (5, Funny)

Swaffs (470184) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224305)

He probably doesn't have any teeth left anyway.

Sign of the times.... (1)

case_igl (103589) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224316)

In the old days, explorers ventured into the unknown. If they were very lucky, a third of the original crew returned, crammed into the last ship that wasn't lost in a storm or on an uncharted shallow.

Those who did make it back had suffered - rotting food, no medical care...Peglegs, eye patches, anyone?

Here we are hundreds of years later and our explorers are worrying if they can smile for the cameras when they get back. If they can come up with a way to prevent it, great - but don't set a mission back five years to design around teeth!

I mean...I don't think it's wise to waste men and equipment on a fruitless undertaking, but no new worlds have ever been conquered without a fair amount of casualties. Missing teeth stopping the first landing on another planet (and potentially settling the question of life off our own planet) would be an insult to every great explorer that man has produced.

We need to grow a backbone if we expect to explore, but we won't...Politics and the media make it impossible. Kind of sucks, doesn't it?

Re:Sign of the times.... (2)

number one duck (319827) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224363)

As good as this parallel is, there is a substantial inversion going on nowadays. In the old days of exploring, most of the crew were essentially thugs, biomass to keep the ship/sled/canoes going. All the *truly* intellegent people, ignoring the single great explorer on each of these expeditions (grudgingly giving them the benefit of a clue) stayed at home, and didn't have these problems with their fingers rotting off and discovering that fruits really are good for you in moderation. Nowadays we send our absolute best and brightest (or at least the best and brightest we can muster). These folks are precisely the people that wanted to keep their teeth and other extremities in the first place.

Besides, in the olden days of exploration, most people didn't even start with teeth and all their fingers...

Are you volunteering? (1)

Jagin (243283) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224367)

Heh.. I mean.. its in the name of adventure and exploration, right? I'm sure NASA would love to hear from guys like yourself.

Re:Sign of the times.... (1)

windi (231689) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224415)

->In the old days, explorers ventured into the unknown. If they were very lucky, a third of the original crew returned, crammed into the last ship that wasn't lost in a storm or on an uncharted shallow.

That's true, we have become lazy assed bastards that sit on our butt all day, but you also have to remember that the explorers of old didn't have to worry about finding air to breath and if they where hungry, they just cast out a fishing line.

But still, we have to take chances, even if, after a failed mission, NASA gets attacked everywhere, even here. And we here should know that working on anything advanced, whether it's an operating system or a spaceship automatically leads you to failures. It's what comes out in the end that counts.
So would you please stop attaching NASA the next time they lose a probe. Every larg projects come up with difficulty sometime or other, but problems are solved, even if it has to be iwth a second probe.

Re:Sign of the times.... (1)

ariux (95093) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224423)

Course, in those days, not only were the risks of travel balanced by the rewards of escaping the local law's short arm or coming back with (possibly someone else's) valuable cargo, but your alternative was to stay home, eat boot leather in bad years, and probably die of typhus or cholera.

Our best and brightest aren't going to take up the torch of discovery if it's too much harder than the advanced life of relative ease and comfort they can have right here on Earth.

my teef (1)

Pilferer (311795) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224317)

So all those dreams recently, where my teeth fall out.. are on Mars! I knew something was strange.. wait, am I dreaming that? or is this part of my Rekall vacation?

FUKK THE MARTIANS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224319)

l00k acr0ss the h0r1zon and s33 a111 th3 myst1ca1 tr011z

b00!

Artificial Gravity? (4, Interesting)

John_Booty (149925) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224325)

What if they just created artificial gravity via centripetal force by simply rotating the craft about its axis on the way to Mars? I don't know the physics involved here, maybe it's just not possible to create enough gravity that way unless you have a spacecraft with a really big radius, such as the space station in 2001.

I'm sure that more-informed minds then mine have already considered this simple idea, I'm just wondering why it's not feasible.

If the manned Mars spacecraft wasn't big enough to create sufficient gravity that way, maybe they could just hire really fat astronauts, in order to make the most of the limited gravity. just kidding...

Re:Artificial Gravity? (4, Interesting)

Goonie (8651) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224352)

It's quite possible. The trouble is that the smaller the "orbit", the faster you have to spin to get decent gravity, and you start getting rather disorienting side effects. However, what you do is get a big heavy piece of stuff (for instance, a spent upper stage of a rocket), a nice big strong (but actually not all that heavy) rope, and attach your Mars vehicle to that, and set the system spinning. If you make your rope reasonably long, the rotation can be nice and slow, and when you get to Mars you just cut the rope and let the useless spent upper stage go.

In Robert Zubrin's book The Case For Mars he proposes just such a system. I haven't checked the physics myself, but it's introductory college physics to do (in fact, I should probably grab my old physics book and do the math just to see if I still can :) )

Re:Artificial Gravity? (1)

podom (139468) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224386)

Artificial gravity would seem to be the way to go. How do you do it? There have been a lot of proposals, of course, and everyone has seen movies like 2001 with big rotating spacecraft and huge spoke-wheeled space stations. One of the most interesting proposals I've seen would use a spacecraft that starts as a single small module for launch, but then seperates into two pieces. Linked together by a long tether, the two halves of the craft rotate about each other during transit in order to create centripetal gravity. I believe that the tether is also used as a power cable, and the power source is in one module with the crew and provisions in the other. In this way, you get a small, light ship with the artificaial gravity benefits that come from have a very long rotational axis. If you're using a nuclear power source, you also get distance-based shielding. --I like flat panel monitors, but fish tastes good.

It's possible indeed (1)

jeti (105266) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224390)

It is possible to use last, burnt out stage of the rocket as a counterweight. You tether the stage and the landing module together and give the components a spin.

Calculations suggest that this is indeed possible. I think the idea is explained in more detail in
"The Case for Mars" [amazon.com] , a highly recommended, factional book.

Re:Artificial Gravity? (2)

quintessent (197518) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224392)

What if they just created artificial gravity via centripetal force by simply rotating the craft about its axis on the way to Mars?

That's exactly what HAL's ship from 2001: A Space Odyssey did on the way to Jupiter. I remember going to the playground as a kid and sitting on a merry-go-round while others pushed. Once it's going fast enough, you'll feel plenty of force. And without friction, it will just keep spinning. Actually, I wonder how much influnce people moving around in there would have. It ought to be easy to compensate for.

Here's another idea for getting gravity on the voyage:

If they could get a large mass to follow them the whole way, then they'd have plenty of gravity. Of course, its size would need to be on the order of the Earth's, but I'll leave the details of implementation to someone else.

Re:Artificial Gravity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224407)

Artifical Gravity [spacefuture.com] < 1 RPM is bad.

It's important that any design is comfortable.

ways to combat body atrophy (2, Insightful)

tcyun (80828) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224333)

As I recall, most astronauts who are in space for any extended period of time have a fairly rigorous workout routine to prevent muscle atrophy. Obviously, exercising with spring based machines (as it is fairly pointless to try to "lift" weights) helps to keep muscles in shape but also stresses the bones also helps maintain bone mass.

The Discovery article states "...in both older women and weightless astronauts, the bone-repair mechanisms in the body shut down." Are there any doctors out there that can explain (in detail) what happens to the body in low gravity that causes bones to atrophy?

Re:ways to combat body atrophy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224336)

Wasn't the . [soloflex.com] invented to prevent muscular dystrophy in microgravity environments?

Admitted at last (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224335)

AP: August 2001

In a shock move today Linus Torvalds finally admitted that Linux has ceased to be an operating system and bcome a religiion

"for some time now we have realised that to keep up the charade of an operating system was pointless' Said Mr Torvalds. "After all an Operating System is by default something that companies want to use because it is controlled and stable - and we realised linux didn't quite fit"

Mr torvalds then went on to outline how the decision that Linux was a religion came about " we were sitting around one day and we realised that we had all the hallmarks of a religion - we had loyal and vocal supporters willing to believe what they were told by the elders, they would willingly donate their time and money to the good of the cause and were used to irrational behaviour and insane actions and they never miss an opportunity to evangalise the word of the penguin at any occasion"

"plus they already had displayed religious zealotry in the form of Microsoft bashing and abuse of anyone with a different point of view showing the intolerance any major religion needs"

Mr torvalds outlined the basic belief systems of the church and its deities - "the great satan is of course bill gates ! and Microsoft will henceforth be known as "The Great Evil". We have decided to adopt as our symbol and image of Dimitri Skylarov crucified on a cross and the Penguin will of course be our sacred animal"

Mr torvalds went on to declare a jihad on Microsoft, The RIAA, The US Government, FBI, CIA, Every windows user, trolls and Steve Jobs. He also announced a rolling series of tent evagalist shows promising to show people the ture power of the penguin and outlined his plan to follow the hare krishnas and hand out linux distribution cd's to unsuspecting travelers and bus stops and airports.

Bill Gates was unable to be reached for comment due to his being 'doubled over laughing his head off' according to his secretary. Steve Ballmer just jumped around and made stpid noises as usual.

Analysts immedaitely advised customers to sell all of their stock in Linux companies such as VA Linux and Red Hat.

It is not known if this announcement is linked to Dennis Ritchies recent acknowledgment that UNIX was a "college prank that got out of hand"

Centrifugal force (1)

Mad Marlin (96929) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224337)

Why can't the crew habitat section rotate around the common axis of the vessel (two modules actually, in order to neutralize the torque generated, spinning opposite of each other). You know, like all of those wheel-shaped space stations you read about in science fiction, just on on a ship instead. Then they could have Earth-normal gravity the whole trip.

Story may be toothless, what about Devon Island? (1)

dinotrac (18304) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224339)

Hope they figure out that tooth problem. Would hate to have our astronauts miss that golden fresh Martian sweet corn.

BTW: Did anybody else get a hoot out of those videos from Devan (spelling?) Island. I think it's wild that grown up, presumably intelligent, people are trying to simulate extended stays on the Martian surface.

Not only do they learn a lot, but they get to wear those neato space suits.

She is so sexy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224340)

I like that chick in the story. She is so sexy, even without teeth.

Tooth Faerie (1)

Amon CMB (157028) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224344)

Does the tooth faerie require a space suit?

How much spin? (1)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224345)

Even better would be to avoid the problem altogether by building a spacecraft that spins, generating artificial gravity, said Marsh Cuttino...

Uhhh, just how much spin would be needed to generate enough simulated gravity to cancel the onset of osteoporosis, and can you imagine the havoc that would play on the spacecraft's structure over time? Hell of an engineering problem to wrestle with...

On the other hand can you imagine a year of zero G sex?

Mars Fact Sheet (1)

dragons_flight (515217) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224346)

Here is the Mars Fact Sheet [nasa.gov] from NASA [nasa.gov] . The surface gravity on Mars is 0.377 times that of Earth, which I would expect to cause at least some bone loss, but of course IANAD.

Incidently the year in space, 6 months each way, seems somewhat short to me. I thought they generally planned for closer to a 9 month journey when sending things over there. Of course the really important point is whether we can make more fuel once we get there. Carrying all the fuel for a return trip with you would make for a lot heavier and slower trip.

In any case men won't be going there soon. We haven't even been to the moon in ages, and we might as well test whatever technology we plan on using on some long duration lunar missions.

Re: Fuel can be generated (1)

jeti (105266) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224381)

As Robert Zubrin describes in his book "The Case for Mars" [amazon.com] , rocket fuel can be generated with a simple, proven reaction from the martian atmosphere.

And no - the book is NOT a fictional work. Robert Zubrin is the guy convinced the NASA to change the plans for manned mars mission to the "long trip model".

No more cavaties (1)

bee-yotch (323219) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224357)

What are teeth good for anyway? I'm sure they can just get nasa to hook them up with all liquid food, I hear it's pretty tasty. ;)

So much for THAT stereotype! (2)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224358)

So much for the standard picture of the intrepid space explorer! I doubt Doc Smith would have sold so many books if his main character in the Lensman series was named Kimball "Gums" Kinnison.

Simulated Gravity En Route, Gravity On Mars (1)

JohnPerkins (243021) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224362)

Cost aside (ha!), if they were to build something like the Leonov in "2001", making the arms longer would increase the apparent gravity at the ends. Balance the relationship between arm length and angular velocity to get 1g at the ends. Do that many of the degeneration/atrophy issues ought to disappear.

On Earth, it's 1 g, on Earth's moon it's about 1/6 g, on Mars it's about 1/3 g.

Maybe I ought to take a crack an idea I had a few years ago for a cheap launch vehicle- sort of a motorized bolas...

Mmmy gawwd, iss fuwl au staawsss. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224364)

(How I'd imagine it pronounced; sans teeth)...

Other problems to be concerned about... (1)

hound3000 (238628) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224369)

Tooth loss is one thing I never really thought about for a manned mission to Mars, but it is just one thing. What are the other problems we have to solve to send humans to another planet? Besides the obvious DVD region jokes, and money from Washington DC?

  • You have to send enough people so that they all don't go crazy. We will have to a system like HAL in the long run?
  • Creating Artificial Gravity, most likely only way to go...
  • Are there any ideas to shorten trip time?
  • Are we going to send a unmanned mission to set up a nice cushy environment for the astronauts to stay at once we're there? A small bio-dome? How will that work?
  • What exactly are we going for anyways? Search for water, search for life like bacteria? Origins of the universe or solar system?
  • How long will it take for permanent Moon/Mars colonies, 100+ years? Why will we need those?
Is there any better comprehensive list out there listing all the dangers with possible solutions on space travel out there?

Nice headline (1)

Faust7 (314817) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224370)

I'll just say kudos to Hemos for the attention-grabbing headline. Made me giggle even before I read the story. :)

IE 6.0 is ready for the downloading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224377)

I found a brief article on ZDnet that announces the release of IE 6.0 for download. The article is here [zdnet.com]

ahh life is good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224380)

jerking off while browsing at -1... mmm mmm mmm...

Lost teeth? (0)

Trollificus (253741) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224388)

"Expert: Mars Astronauts Would Lose Teeth"

Not if they leave them in the cup next to their bed at night. ;)

IE 6.0 has been released (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224391)

Read about the release of the new Internet Explorer 6.0 here [cnet.com] on news.com

Feed them lots of taffy! 1 meal = no more problem (1)

stevarooski (121971) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224394)

Bone weakening? Lost teeth? Sounds like the normal effect of a 'geek' diet to me. Bring it on!

-s

teef? (1)

FFON (266696) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224399)

i already got no teef... can i be a astronot?

A perfect solution: (2)

quintessent (197518) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224400)

If they switch the minty-fresh taste of colgate, their teeth will stay strong, white, and clean.

Time to start downloading the new IE 6.0 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2224408)

Microsoft today has released there next generation browser Internet Explorer 6.0 avaiable for immediate download. Don't wait another second. Preview a few of the the technology enhancments that come in Windows XP now. The download is a reasonable 12Megs for minimum install or about 16Megs for a typical install. You can get IE 6.0 here [microsoft.com]

Permanent tooth loss (1)

WhatWasThat (515995) | more than 13 years ago | (#2224412)

"The bone-weakening effects of zero-gravity environments might lead to permanent tooth loss, says a government dentist. "

Can it be non permanent ??!!
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