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Mars Base Design Competition Open To Non-Scientific Professionals

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the print-a-home-for-a-nice-martian dept.

Mars 94

An anonymous reader writes "MakerBot, in collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is hosting a competition for the design of a future Mars base. The competition is open to any Thingiverse account holder regardless of professional or educational background. Winners will be chosen by a subjective panel of JPL and MakerBot employees based on scientific feasibility, creativity, and printability. Contest ends June 12, and contestants have to be at least 13 years old. The first place winner will receive a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D printer and three spools of MakerBot Filament. The second place winner will receive two spools, and the third place winner will receive one spool. All three will have their design featured on Thingiverse." You can also browse the entries so far.

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Us Men are being oppressed! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47189797)

Everyone with common sense knows that women are nothing more than sex objects that us men can derive pleasure from. Yet, some evil scumbags are trying to take away our natural right to pussyholes! These things are called "feminists," and they're committing crimes against humanity. They must be raped for their insolence. They need to know that women are simply objects to be used & discarded.

So, what say you, hm? Let's begin the revolution!

How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47189805)

Instead of creating "houses" or other type of infrastructure, which would require loads of resources to be shipped over. Why not just find a big enough cave or a system of caves which all you would need to do is seal the entrance with a steel door so the cave can be pressurized and oxygen to be flooded in.

And we're done!

Re:How about... (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | about 3 months ago | (#47189827)

Why not just find a big enough cave or a system of caves which all you would need to do is seal the entrance with a steel door so the cave can be pressurized and oxygen to be flooded in.

In his trilogy beginning with Red Mars [amazon.com] , Kim Stanley Robinson had the colonists struggling with the infiltration of ultrafine particles of dust even in sealed plastic habitats. The Martian regolith may be harmful to human lungs. The same fear is held about lunar regolith [universetoday.com] . Initial habitats will have to be well-sealed from the local environment before further studies can be done.

Re:How about... (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 3 months ago | (#47190117)

Easiest answer is nuke a polar icecap, gently lower a prefabbed nuclear powered station into the crater, and wait for the meltwater to pour back in. Or start shovelling, whichever is quicker.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47190167)

Because we are basing science on fiction. Yeah right.

Re:How about... (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 3 months ago | (#47190351)

More like the fiction was based on science and provides an entertaining way of getting up to speed with some the possible complications of human settlement of the Red Planet.

Re:How about... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 3 months ago | (#47191227)

More like the fiction was based on science

Humans have lived in close proximity to dirt for a long time. What is so special about Martian dirt that makes it more harmful than terrestrial dirt? Lunar dirt is different, because there is no wind or water erosion, so fine particles have sharp edges that never get rounded off. Mars doesn't have water, but it does have wind and dust storms, so it will be more like terrestrial dirt than lunar dirt.

Re:How about... (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 3 months ago | (#47191305)

What is so special about Martian dirt that makes it more harmful than terrestrial dirt?

This article [discovery.com] notes that scientists are worried about the high content of perchlorate and silicates in Mars regolith.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47190623)

That's not the point. The point of living underground has everything to do with the hazards of living in a vacuum. Underground your environment is protected from such things as,

1. micro-meteorites
2. solar wind
3. cosmic radiation

There is nothing preventing you from creating a seal on the rocks from the inside. It would be much cheaper to produce a thin, rock fitted seal than to have tiny, pressurized cabins topside. Think plastic bag.

On Mars people can only live like ants in ant-like colonies. Living on the surface is out of the question.

The first thing that needs to get to or produced on mars are tunnel boring machines and a power source, like a nuclear power plant. And then, once habitable tunnels are created, then and only then can you send colonists.

Sending people for long term habitation in any other scenario would be sending them to death, if you ask me.

The Martian regolith may be harmful to human lungs. The same fear is held about lunar regolith.

So is rock dust on Earth. We just avoid it thanks to water, and plants and other life which converts and covers most of it with living thing called soil.

Add water to dust, and you get concrete-like stuff. So you either keep humidity up enough in transfer areas from outside (like a water wash), or you live with a blank lung.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47192677)

I'm the original author of 'how about...'

Your 3 points above are exactly what I was thinking about when I posted. It's a perfect cost effective and feasible solution which could be done right now using robots. Robots could be sent to scout out a cave system and do the initial work to spray or in any way cover the inner walls (as well as the ground) with a material which would render the cave safe. After humans land on the red planet they can put up the door to seal the entrance further sterilize the cave and remove any foreign particles and you've got a shelter that protects you from everything space or the red planet can throw at you.

My only question, since it is a cave, are there any seismic events on Mars? I'm not sure if the current rovers on the planet have tested for any of that.

Re:How about... (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 3 months ago | (#47190913)

Is anyone other than me horrified that a person has just cited a work of fiction as scientific fact? This is a very disturbing trend, I've seen it elsewhere. I get the idea that modern people's brains spend so much time consuming media that they are unable to distinguish between reality and some shit that this guy wrote.

Re:How about... (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 3 months ago | (#47190947)

I brought up the work of fiction because 1) it comes from a canon of science-fiction classics that many Slashdotters are likely to have already read, and 2) it is a work of hard science-fiction and uses a fictional story to explore various scientific and technological challenges to colonizing Mars that Robinson had researched for years before the book's publication. Is not one of the attractions of the genre that it allows one to consider science in an entertaining way?

Re:How about... (-1, Troll)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 3 months ago | (#47191359)

Stop citing fiction as fact. Just...stop. Don't do it ever again, you are giving science a bad name. Why do you think it is called science FICTION, you moron. Never, ever again participate in a discussion like this, you are harming our cause.

Re:How about... (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 3 months ago | (#47191423)

If I had cited the book in question as fact, I would have said "Colonists went to Mars in 2026 and had problems with regolith", not mentioned that one creative personality made it a plot point as part of a popular-science presentation. As the other poster responding to you pointed out, fiction can be illustrative of scientific concepts even if the particular story is fiction. I should think that obvious. Well, perhaps you are autistic and that is unfair of me.

An interest in science-fiction is one of the distinguishing features of the nerd, you know, the demographic that Slashdot traditionally targets. If you are uncomfortable with science fiction, you might want to find another news site.

Re:How about... (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | about 3 months ago | (#47191055)

I read it as suggesting one of many possible difficulties with starting a mars base. Scientists have studied the issue of lunar dust toxicity, but further studies are needed. Mars has a lot of dust, and if it's toxic then extra precautions will need to be taken. A work of fiction has explored this possibility, so it's not a new idea. I don't think he was trying to imply that Red Mars is factual, merely that it is illustrative and partially based on a real potential problem.

Re:How about... (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47192169)

Inhaling Mars dust is a big problem! Especially when it has almost no atmosphere! You're breathing by sucking gas out of a friggin can, who cares about the toxicity of the dust? And by the way it should be normal silicate rock, you know, kind of like the stuff you find in riverbeds, volcano ash, or deserts.

Re:How about... (2)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | about 3 months ago | (#47192335)

So just as dangerous as any small particulate matter. It will stick to space suits, get in via airlocks, cover equipment that goes outside, etc. You don't want to be breathing fine rock dust. The levels in the pressurized areas will be low, but it's still something to be concerned with. Even if not breathing, it can get into mechanical components of suits and machinery and cause wear. Of course this is assuming a system with a pressurized base and the outside area having natural Martian atmosphere (tenuous and oxygen-free, but present.)

That said, dust can be dealt with. The US military has been learning how to do so in Iraq, dust gets into everything there. It takes quite a bit of effort to keep things clean and operational in a dusty desert environment.

As anyone who did old-school photography knows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47192083)

Electrostatics can capture dust that filters can't. plus given that they are already in a suit I see no reason why the airlock process can't also involve a stage where they are immersed in a water bath too. Even a chamber full of fog, 100% humidity, will trap dust. There are so many easy solutions to the problem of dust.

 

Re:How about... (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47189879)

You not only assume that the cave is otherwise airtight, you also assume that it contains no harmful minerals that could pose dangers to humans.

Re:How about... (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 months ago | (#47189885)

Dont need it airtight, just keep pressure high enough for .8 atmospheres.

Re:How about... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#47189901)

Potentially poisonous minerals remain a problem, though. Not to mention that oxygen is precious, it might not be an option to simply keep inflating a leaky balloon.

Re:How about... (1)

DeBaas (470886) | about 3 months ago | (#47190021)

Perhaps NASA can develop a spray paint kind of solution to fully seal the rock. That would probably weigh a lot less to transport to Mars than a structure strong enough to provide proper shelter against dust storms etc. Caves provide less extreme temperatures which might reduce the energy requirements as well.

Re:How about... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 months ago | (#47191097)

They already have that. very thick latex paint can do exactly what you talk about.

Re:How about... (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47192183)

The atmosphere is so thin on Mars, the storms are not that bad. The only reason why the dust floats is because gravity is so low. But going to Mars is like a waste of time when you can go to the Moon instead, and get your materials there for constructing a space station. It's a lot closer, and it has a lot less gravity too than Mars, ideal thing to mine for materials.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47189913)

Ok so it's late and my physics could be a bit out but... where are you going to generate your perpetual supply of clean air strong enough to counter bleed out and to keep the pressure that high?

Re:How about... (2)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47192237)

There is 2.7 % nitrogen and 1.6% argon, both of which work great for breathing gas, you can cryogenically separate the 95% CO2 which doesn't have to be cooled so much, after combusting the toxic carbon monoxide into CO2 also with heated copper oxide gauze. That should eliminate any nitrous oxides too generated by UV/cosmic rays.

For oxygen you can either use the standard but extremely energy hungry silicate rock oxygen extraction, or you can get it out of the CO2 you liquefied. The easiest way is to react it with hydrogen to methane+H2O, electrolyze the H2O, and graphitize your methane in absence of air into a tar/graphite, hence ending up with C and O2, recycling the H2. It should be much less energy intensive than extracting oxygen from silicate rock, and would need a smaller nuclear power module to get it done.

By the way nitrogen has a molecular weight of 34 for N2, oxygen 36 for O2, and argon 39 for Ar. Helium has a molecular weight of 4 as He, and inhaling it from balloons increases the pitch of sound coming from your vocal chords to something really funny. As Ar is so close to normal air, the pitch change should be almost unnoticeable, but toward the deeper sounds. Heavier stuff like Xenon(mw 131) or even Krypton(mw 84) might create difficulty with breathing (I have no clue, possibly diver's nitrogen bubble in blood issues) but it should produce a really deep sound as an oxygen diluent, on Mars. But sulfur hexafluoride which is not in the Martian atmosphere is best at lowering the pitch of sound as it has a molecular weight of 146. See the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org] page for discussion about effects on vocal chords.

Re:How about... (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47192255)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

is a youtube video about sulfur hexafluoride and helium effects comparison on voice.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47192725)

I'm the original author of 'how about...'

WOW! Just WOW!

I did not realize there were so many different ways to get at oxygen. I'm completely speechless. Thank god I made that post the stuff I learned from all the people on here is just above and beyond.

With all the above methods you mentioned above what are the most feasible in-terms of efficiency and oxygen generated when on Mars? Is it enough to support lets say half a dozen people living in a cave that has been completely sealed to prevent oxygen leakage?

Thank you very much!

Re:How about... (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47200057)

You don't seal the cave. You enlarge the cave and seal the huge rotating metal cylinder spaceship you put inside that has artificial gravity from spinning, a centrifugal effect, and you walk on the inner walls, your weight matching that on Earth..

On Mars the most energy efficient process of extracting oxygen is from carbon dioxide, and you get carbon as a valuable byproduct too. Or jut pressurize the atmosphere up, then let plants do their weak photosynthesis, and voila, you get oxygen, on Mars.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47189887)

Sure, if the right mixture for "Martian concrete" can be found which could be sprayed to the walls, sealing them and supporting the cave. Steel is hard to come by, so a reinforced plastic, or a concrete with plastic should do the trick. The key is to use local materials as much as possible, which requires some robotic research at the site beforehand. The primary solar array should be put to the orbit to reduce the maintenance, and beamed back to the surface. Same goes to the primary communication array. This way the amount base on the surface should be minimized, and a replacement units could be sent from Earth.

Re:How about... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 3 months ago | (#47189917)

If the martian regolith can be sintered or vitrified, perhaps that would be the best solution? Just apply some heat.

Re:How about... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 3 months ago | (#47190305)

The primary solar array should be put to the orbit to reduce the maintenance, and beamed back to the surface. Same goes to the primary communication array. This way the amount base on the surface should be minimized, and a replacement units could be sent from Earth.

And you don't have to worry about landing it.

Re: How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47191601)

Yeah, it is not like the red planet has anything like iron.

Re: How about... (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 3 months ago | (#47192021)

Yeah, it is not like the red planet has anything like iron.

OK, so we separate the iron out of the iron oxide, and use the iron as a building material, what are we supposed to do with all the extra oxygen, Mr. Smartypants, *breathe it* and *use it for fuel*?!?!

Oh... Wait...

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47192689)

I'm the original author of 'how about...'

That is exactly what I was thinking. Why bring resources over if you could possibly use existing resources on the planet itself. I've read all the replies above in-regards to hazardous materials within the cave which could range from poisonous dust particles, dangerous minerals, etc. The best option I see is treating the cave system as a quarantine area whereby the inner walls (and the ground) have to be covered with some form of material which would keep all that away from humans. The inner cave after it has been covered in the material will need further sterilization however it can be then inhabited safely.

How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47189919)

Or how about just live in the fucking space shuttle? Geniuses.

A while ago, NASA needed a pen that could write in space. They paid millions of dollars to develop a pen that could write in zero gravity and all conditions of space. The Russians used a pencil.

Re:How about... (2)

CRCulver (715279) | about 3 months ago | (#47189925)

A while ago, NASA needed a pen that could write in space. They paid millions of dollars to develop a pen that could write in zero gravity and all conditions of space. The Russians used a pencil.

This is an urban myth and has been thoroughly debunked [snopes.com] . Sad to see it being thrown forth on Slashot.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47190127)

HA HA HA HA!!!!

You're making the assumption that all Slashdotters are highly educated, intelligent and well-balanced people.

You must be new here.

Re:How about... (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47192325)

No no no, we should invest and waste all this time on finding a martian cave to live in like caveman, and then maybe we can go hunt for nonexisting martian dinosaur bones to use as weapons against the nonexisting martian martians.

Going to Mars in the first place is a major waste of time and taxpayer dollars, as the Moon is a lot closer with a lot less gravity to build a rotating cylinder centrifugal artificial gravity space station from. Then only thing Mars has going for it is the 100 x thinner than Earth's atmosphere atmosphere that has a lot of CO2, a good source of carbon should it be difficult to find in lunar rocks or meteorites, in a low gravity gravity well, but it's kinda far to go for it, and also solar panels and farming are less efficient that far away from the Sun. We should instead focus on turning Venus into a livable space, by smacking artificial comets into it to move it farther away from the Sun and to get it to start spinning and develop a magnetic field van Allen belt Aurora Borealis protection for its atmosphere from the solar wind, and possibly put up gigantic shades if we can't get it far enough from the Sun. It also has a lot of CO2 as carbon source for space station based life forms, such as more humans, especially if you end up with humans in the trillions instead of the 7 billion we have today, they need room to live and also lots of carbon to make up their bodies. There is a lot of room in outer space to put a lot of people, you just have to make it possible to live well surrounded by vacuum. Also Venus is a longterm project, and the biggest priority right now is setting up a Moon base, digging for silicate dust/rock and extracting oxygen and silicon and aluminum and iron and titanium via calcium reduction, making a gigantic tiltable solar panel/shade system at the Earth-Sun Lagrange point as an antidote for global warming, as a cooling effect, and then we can go berserk down here invading our deserts with greenhouse jungles, turning every livable place on the face of Earth green and full of life, instead of desert nothingness, and migrating sand dunes. What a waste of real estate deserts are, but you cannot invade them without upsetting the solar reflectivity of the Earth, and the heat budget. Of course even with a jungle invasion you still need to set up a few natural reservations for cactus and rattlesnakes and such, but much of the Sahara is full of nothing, almost 100% zero life. Once you can live on the Moon, you can also live in deserts, and then people don't have to get so congested in the good farming areas when there is 7 billion of them, or there can be a lot more of us to get the same congestion effect down here on Earth.

Taking a trip to outer space right now costs on the order of $10,000 /lb in rocket fuel alone, and for a 200 lb person that comes to like 2 million dollars, so it's really expensive to emigrate into space even if there were livable space stations and farmable areas, but it's only a matter of energy. If you can put up huge solar shades and solar panels all over outer space, you can get a lot of energy that you can convert into rocket fuel, and drop the price of taking a trip to space to something like an airplane ticket cost. But we're so stupid down here we can't even figure out a way to live well, and instead we pay $4/gallon for gas with $8/hr minimum wage. Idiocracy.

Re:How about... (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 3 months ago | (#47193205)

Taking a trip to outer space right now costs on the order of $10,000 /lb in rocket fuel alone, and for a 200 lb person that comes to like 2 million dollars, so it's really expensive to emigrate into space even if there were livable space stations and farmable areas, pace, you can get a lot of energy that you can convert into rocket fuel, and drop the price of taking a trip to space to something like an airplane ticket cost.

Falcon 9.1 costs are already $1867/lb, so you're off by a factor of over 5X, and the Falcon Heavy is on target for $709/lb, meaning you're off by a factor of 1X4 once that's up and running.

A DC-X would have had less of cost per lb than that, but really, who wants the average person with access to ceramic coated rebar having cheap access to space?

Re:How about... (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47200549)

Eventually when there are trillions of humans in existence, Earth will be kind of like a reservation with some jungle people here and there, and there will be a lot of space-age average persons in space, cuz there is a lot of room up there to put them. With ceramic rebars and whatnot. Some of them will be space-terrorists, and instead of mass shootings, they will create intentional holes in the walls and leaks inside space stations and let them go to full vacuum.

I like to see the price of shipping and handling to space drop. I still think it's very expensive, and think of really tiny people I've come across in life, they must have been like 4'10" at age 20 or so, they (or their kids assuming they'd be of tiny growth too) would make great cheap astronauts to keep sending up and down, all we gotta do is tell them what buttons to push when up there. Compared to a 200 lb person, even at $700/lb a saving of 120 lb comes to $84,000. Come to think of it $84,000 is not that much, except when you're talking about NASA, who's put on a shoestring budget by Obama and every penny counts. Obama sees keeping people from starving as his priority, not flying to outer space, and I can't talk enough on here that simply feeding people doesn't solve the problem, yes, indeed it does buy time, but achieving self sufficiency should be the ultimate goal, and in that you can't give everybody a job in this joblessness world, so you have to let them be self sufficient as Jefferson's yeoman's farmers. Fuck the economy if you can't fix it, let people be self sufficient irregardless of having a job or not, whether there is an economy or not, etc. You gotta figure out a way to buy land for them to get them off welfare, land which is impossible to procure, so the next best thing happens, urban areas are de-densified and streets that have gone empty and devoid of any buildings, well, eventually they are gonna be farming areas, not sufficient in area to feed yourself, but anything beats absolutely nothing.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47192793)

Sure you could but you would have to factor in the dangers listed by: http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=5254835&cid=47190623

Re:How about... (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47192147)

Because gravity ain't big enough on Mars for your skeletal and muscular system not to deteriorate under. On Earth g=9.806 m/s2, on Mars this is 3.711 m/s2, or 37.6% of g on Earth (meaning 100 lb person will weigh 37.6 lbs, a 200 lb person 75.2 lbs, etc) and on the Moon g is 1.622 m/s2, or 16.5% of g on Earth, (meaning a 100 lb person will weigh 16.5 lbs on the Moon, and a 200 lb person 33 lbs, etc.), while in outer space in a "free fall" circular or elliptic orbit around a gravitational object like the Earth, Mars, Moon, or the Sun, g=0, and your weight is 0 lbs, and you float in space. In all places your skeletomuscular systems deteriorate from nonuse and cause all kinds of systemic ailments, and there are records of length of times astronauts have spent in space, I think Russians stuck on their Mir )(meaning peace, btw. it has been intentionally allowed to burn up and destroyed by hitting the Earth's atmosphere like a shooting star meteorite) not having funds to haul their guys down and Nasa having to step in to use the Space Shuttle for the trip, hold the record. In all cases the astronauts had to be carried on hospital beds because they lost their muscles due to unuse and could not stand on their own feet.

The answer to such health problems is artificial gravity. The way to create artificial gravity is really simple, it happens in centrifuges, like washing machines, or even merry go rounds or rollercoasters going upside down in a circle going fast enough not to fall down but stick to the track upwards. In 0 g environment like in free space all you need is a rotating cylinder space station and you walk on the inside walls. On reduced gravity places like Mars and the Moon, a flat cylinder doesn't work, instead you need a conical cylinder, with the walls angled dependent on the outside gravity. In free space the cylinder walls should be parallel, but on the Moon and Mars at a certain degree. I'm too lazy to do the vector calculations right now, oh what the heck, here we go, you need to draw a vector diagram, basically you're looking for the angle of omega^2 x r + vector add g_of_planet = g_of_Earth, shorthand w^2.r + (vector+) g_P=g_E, changing vector add triangle into scalar terms using Pythagoras theorem for right triangles (w^2.r)^2+g_P^2=g_E^2, solve for w^2.r (for each (cylindrical-conical-belt) radius there is a different w2 angular velocity that gives the correct centripetal force), and tan(alpha)=w^2.r/g_P, from which the angle can be calculated as alpha=arctan(g_P/w^2.r), when g_P is 0 then angle being 0, or cylinder. So w^2.r=sqrt(g_E^2-g_P^2), on Mars this is w^2.r term is 9.806^2-3.711^2 = 96.16-13.77 = 84.39 m2/s4, square root of which is 9.19 m/s2, and alpha angle=arc tan (3.71/9.19)= arc tan (0.4037)= -.3837 radians angle, or, in degrees angle = (0.3837 rads /Pi * 180)=0.3837/3.1416*180 degrees=0.1221*180= degrees. So the walls of the cylinder have to be tilted 21.98 degrees,or 22 degrees tilt wall conical wall surface.

Suppose we have a 100 meter radius conical cylinder, as omega^2.100 m=9.19 m/s2, omega^2=0.0919 radians^32/s^2, or omega=sqrt(0.0919)=.303 rad/s, or .303/3.1416*180=17.36 degrees/s rotational speed.

For a tiny 10 meter radius conical cylinder the correct rotational speed is sqrt(0.919)/3.1416*180=54.9 degrees/s. If I didn't make a mistake in the calculations, which I often do.

Of course as a 22 degree tilt of the cylinder-cone walls on Mars modifies the radius, the actual g at the bottom and top of the cone will differ, and the corresponding angle against which you walk perpendicularly is more vertical toward the top due to higher than 9.8 g, and less at the bottom, again, I'm too lazy to do those calculations. So there is a spread of actual weights you will feel on a curved conical surface, weighing more toward the top than toward the bottom. What a healthy g is is up for debate, nobody who weighs 200 lbs wants to weigh 250, instead they'd rather weight 150 and still feel healthy, it also requires less food and oxygen to move around.

On the Moon, which is closer in gravity to free space, therefore the cylinder more vertical and less bent and less variation in g the higher you go, the angle should be, for a 100 m cylinder as follows: w^2r=sqrt(g_E^2-g_P^2)=sqrt(96.16-2.63)=9.67 m/s2, arctan (1.622/9.67)=0.1662 radians=9.5 degrees. instead of 22 degrees on Mars.

A 100 m radius 9.5 degree tilt cylinder-cone on the Moon needs w^2.r=9.67 m/s2, w^2=.0967 rad^2/s^2, w=.311 rad/s=17.8 degrees/second. A 10 meter radius conical belt would need w^2=.967 .., w=.983 rad/s=56.34 degrees/sec, or, to get rpms, 360/56.34=6.39 seconds/rotation,or 60 seconds/6.39=9.39 rpm, which is pretty fast for a 20 meter dia cylinder-cone (66 foot dia, 33 ft radius.)

Obviously the ideal choice is free space, because you can build a huge space station with constant gravity all over the cylinder surface that is not required to be angled, and you get constant weight of yourself wherever you walk, unless you climb up ladders or stairs towards the center. In fact you could have multiple floors, multiple cylinders rotating inside each other, and the top floor closest to the center rotating fastest, also you get the biggest difference between your feet being heavy and your head being light, so dizziest place, if you want to keep your weight, or optionally, no rotation and weightlessness is better for the top floors, and use it for sleeping quarters, suspended in a sleeping bag.

Re:How about... (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 3 months ago | (#47193525)

Because gravity ain't big enough on Mars for your skeletal and muscular system not to deteriorate under.

We actually don't know that at all. We know that there is deterioration in microgravity/freefall, but we don't know that ~1/3 Earth gravity or even ~1/6th will lead to any deterioration at all. We won't know until we've either had astronauts on an extended trip to Mars or the moon, or until we've tried some other experiment like centrifigul "artificial gravity" in orbit. It may very well be the case that there's no deterioration, or that it can be avoided by wearing weights or just maintaining a higher level of activity.

In all cases the astronauts had to be carried on hospital beds because they lost their muscles due to unuse and could not stand on their own feet.

Not exactly the case. They "had" to be carried due to an abundance of caution. Every last one of them was able to walk in much less time than they could have possibly recovered lost muscle mass. That makes it pretty clear that, while they were weaker than when they went up, the only problem most of them had was with remembering how to balance and walk.

Suppose we have a 100 meter radius conical cylinder, as omega^2.100 m=9.19 m/s2, omega^2=0.0919 radians^32/s^2, or omega=sqrt(0.0919)=.303 rad/s, or .303/3.1416*180=17.36 degrees/s rotational speed.

I've looked into this a bit myself. I consider it unlikely to be neccessary on Mars and probably the moon as well. One important consideration is human comfort. In any rotating system with rpm higher than about 2, some humans experience Coriolis forces that make them feel sick. Above 7 rpm is unbearable for pretty much everyone. I believe I calculated it as requiring something around a 230 meter radius to get 1 G with coriolis forces kept low enough that no-one would be uncomfortable. I envisioned it as a high speed train running on a sloped wall at a bit under 180 kph. Once again though, it's highly unlikely that it would be neccessary.

Re:How about... (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47200575)

We can build a 500 meter radius rotating cylinder, a kilometer or two long, out of Moon-mined metals no problem. We have the technology. Ca-thermite reaction with any silicate rock to get CaO, electrolyze CaO somewhat dissolved in water with a mercury cathode to get oxygen and a calcium amalgam, then strip the mercury amalgam with an aprotic ionic solvent that dissolves Ca well and electrolyze back the Ca from it, kinda like copper is refined, and repeat the thermite reaction with fresh materials.Silicate becomes oxygen and aluminum-silicon-magnesium-sodium-potassium-iron-titanium slag, separate the magnesium, sodium, potassium with vacuum heating in a retort, and separate using chlorine to get volatile chlorides from the rest, AlCl3, SiCl4, TiCL4, FeCl3.You can get very clean Al, Si, Ti Fe this way. Maybe bromine would be better.

Re:How about... (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47226583)

By the way with Ca amalgam electrolysis the coulombic efficiency is not 100% because of hydrogen gassing, and the hydrogen overpotential is current density dependent, high current densities lowering the waste, relatively speaking. There are additives that hog active catalytic hydrogen absorption, molecule formation, and surface tension bubble growth (which takes immense pressures at just above Brownian motion scale random bubble sizes), things such active site hogging acetylenic things as used in the steel picking industry that can pickle a rusty iron nail into a shiny thing in concentrated hydrochloric acid, without any hydrogen gassing or attacking the metallic portion of the nail. But these things turn into a nasty crud and tar under electrolytic conditions, so it's easier to just simply combust back the hydrogen into water, and live with some hydrogen production, for the sake of having a clean and long lasting process. Platinized platinum makes a hydrogen oxygen mix explode at room temperature, and it could be used, it would convert any hydrogen back into water with some of the oxygen, without having to worry about a pilot flame.

As far as metallic calcium vapor production CaF2/CaO electrolysis goes with iridium electrodes, of course other things such as rhenium, etc. should also be evaluated as anode materials. On the cathode side, or just in general, there is a caveat of platinum being badly corroded by metallic silicon even at 700C, which is very low, and cannot be used as a molten silicate electrolysis electrode, and similar corrosion issues of residual impurities of silicon, aluminum, etc in the CaO might be an issue, to where an water purification of the CaO, or converting into soluble chloride and purification like that may be needed, driving up the cost of this method a lot. The nice thing about CaO, burnt lime, is that it's devastated by water into quicklime, and reactive, unlike silicates and the other oxides, including , the , SiO2, Al2O3, FeO, silicates which are only difficultly reactive with such things as Ca thermite reaction, or carbo-chlorination (difficult, bottleneck is nonvolatile carbon, can be helped with sulfur volatile contamination), or simply sulfo-chlorination.By the way all this is ancient technology, from around 1850-1930, but lawyers can say things like, well it's novel in the way that is hasn't been applied to outer space, and then waste hours and hours deliberating the interpretations of uninterpretable patents, the litigation dragging out only for as many years as the lawyers have a need to make more money, without getting bored and finally closing the case, not by someone winning, but settling out of court in a cross-patent licensing deal, as in I agree not to sue you for your patents if you agree not to sue me for your patents plus a few million dollars either which way. That is why it's important to create and be armed with a lot of junk patents, so you can come to a standstill and break the tie with a cross licensing of bullshit, as opposed to being caught owning no bullshit patents, and then no cross licensing deal, and you're getting screwed bigtime then. Patents are like who's down with OPP, yeah you know me. Cuz I own your thoughts, whatever you can ever think of, I want to hog all that and own it, and whoever I happen to work for loves shoving one of those intellectual property agreements disguised as "confidentiality agreements for 10 years" under my nose, and I absolutely despise signing those, but it's not up for negotiation, if you say you want to work here but you're not willing to fill out a paperwork HR is sticking under your nose, they are like sorry, we can't process them without the signature, and you're welcome not to have a job but go jerk off somewhere, because it's not up for negotiation. You may try to negotiate it but there's the door, employment at will. And most people you talk to, one was on unemployment for 2 years, the other didn't have a job for 5, when someone gives you a job you have to respect that, but when they shove some intellectual property agreement under your nose, all you gotta do is shut your brain down and stop thinking. At least about technology. Luckily right now, unlike 2 months ago, I'm not under a binding agreement anymore, so i can freely discuss technology here, without running to my slave owner to present my ideas to to see if he wishes to protect any of them via patents, as in who's down with OPP, you signed an intellectual property slave contract, so anyway, as soon as I get one of those things, I have to stop discussing technology for a while, but I can keep up the political and social issue and computer science bitching, as long as it's bitching without coming up with viable solutions. Else someone might patent special voting ways, or smashing comets into Venus, or having a workout room inside a spinning cylinder surface specially curved, where you can do squats weighing 1.25x your normal body weight. Or scratching their asses the wrong way. Or one click purchases. Or the millions and gazillions of retarded things the patent office lets through, with the idea that they shall be later fought out in court, and that's what the lawyers love, it doesn't matter how nonsense the bullshit is in the patents, it's a chance to have something to talk about in court, and make some good money, doesn't really matter who wins, as the main goal of the opponents there is to clock a lot of hours. At 600 bux an hour, over bullshit. What a drain on society, or places like NASA, that don't even have an owner, but a government entity. See I rent in a place where a landlord both cares not to have the heat on on the floor below me to save the $25/mo gas company bullshit default fee, and instead try to heat everything from two floors below, only paying the connection fee once not twice, and if a pipe freeze break happens, well there is a calculated risk, and neither saying let's heat every floor so there is no breaks at all, or let's go with no heat whatsoever and fixing pipebreaks is cheaper, we just live with it, neither stance is correct, as a government bureaucracy without owners where nobody really cares would come up with, and only an owner can manage the devil is in the details of some rare pipebreaks with minimum amount of heat economic puzzles. The easiest solution would be to have to gas company stop blackmailing everyone with their default bullshit fee per month. In fact phone companies, or water companies, any natural monopoly should stop a bullshit minimum fee, if there is no consumption, unless they offer unlimited service. Ever since they deregulated gas companies and instituted free market competition in a monopoly situation, all I get is raped in the ass by their fees. My dream is to live in a place where I can leave the bugs alone and not cut the grass and flowers constantly like wherever the eye can see around me, what a massive waste of time and gas and bugs and flowering plants, and birds and snakes and pheasant or rabbits, or whatever else could live in the grass, and without having any utility bills whatsoever, especially water/sewer bullshit, but I'd like electric, only to figure out a way to pump more electric into the grid than I take out, from windmills and whatnot, and have the electric utility company provide me with an income for it so I can pay my bullshit high property taxes. And if they don't wanna pay, then fuckem, disconnect, and make aluminum to take to a scrap yard. I have a dream. Unfortunately in that dream people in the sticks keep steeling my windmills, cuz Da Man pays them to fuck with me.

Re:How about... (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47226643)

Oh, I forgot that sealed lead acid batteries can be sealed because of the special lead-calcium electrodes they used, as opposed to the old standard ones, mostly lead-antimony and other minor things, and I have no clue why that works, but it would be interesting to see if calcium also improves hydrogen overpotential in mercury, but then you might have to go really high on amalgam concentration, into the no longer fluid region.

By the way, if you can figure out an aprotic oxidation and reduction resistant ionic solvent that dissolves CaO at room temperature, you may get Ca and O directly, but good luck with that.

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47192771)

I'm the original author of 'how about...'

I've read each and every reply on here (and will be signing up to Slashdot shortly).

In everyone's humble opinion if the following could be done:
1) cave big enough can be found
2) cave can be covered in a material that would keep hazardous materials away from humans
3) cave can further be sterilized by humans post arrival
4) cave can be sealed for minimal or zero oxygen leakage
5) cave can be sealed 100%
6) oxygen can be generated from existing materials using chemical reactions (please see sillybilly's reply below) or a steady supply of oxygen containers can be sent to the planet from Earth
7) oxygen generated or supplied by Earth is enough to support a minimum of 6 - 12 people
8) enough food can be grown or steady supply of food can be sent from Earth ... that's all I can think of.

Given all of the above, please take a moment, would it be feasible to do this?

Lets say theoretically it is the future and 12 people have lived on Mars in a cave for 2 years without any issues. NASA or any other organization such as SpaceX could have sent additional materials to the colonists to further expand into the cave system or find and convert other cave systems into habitats for more people to colonize Mars.

You can tell I'm beyond excited at this whole idea so much stuff is pouring out of my mind so many what ifs. Please please keep replying with theories I want to know exactly what everyone thinks whether good or bad or a slap back into reality I want to know.

Re:How about... (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 3 months ago | (#47197523)

Why not just find a big enough cave or a system of caves which all you would need to do is seal the entrance with a steel door so the cave can be pressurized and oxygen to be flooded in.

You are assuming, quite incorrectly, that the walls, roof and floor of the putative cave will be impermeable. You'd need to at the least seal over the "fracture porosity" (I was discussing an oil well I drilled a few years ago with extensive fracture porosity with an evaluation engineer earlier today, on the off-chance that we have to use such evaluation techniques on the project we're currently employed on ; it's tedious detail, and not even a particularly rare situation). Which could mean grouting a crack in the wall every metre or so with some gas-tight relative of plaster-of-Paris. Or it could mean that you essentially have to coat the whole inner surface with a 500 micron thickness of an appropriate plastic, and then look for the remaining leaks.

It's not as easy as "sealing the entrance". But it would still be a whole lot easier than building out on the plain surface. And, essentially for free, you get all the radiation shielding you want, just by choosing a deep enough cave system.

I would recommend that you take a long trip down a terrestrial "lava tube cave" ; they're common enough that you shouldn't experience any difficulty in finding one. There you can examine in the walls the detailed structure of the lava beds which the tubes laid down as they were constructing themselves. That's if you don't want to take the advice of a geologist (points finger at myself) who is also a speleologist (different finger, same self), and who has gone on day-trips down such caves as part of a volcanology holiday (different finger, same self), and spent several hours discussing this exact point with a professor of volcanology (the holiday leader) while getting nose to the rocks to examine the evidence.

It may not be your idea of fun, but it is mine. And the wife quite enjoyed the scenery and the walking too.

Using lava tube caves as a base for accommodation in/ on Mars is a real prospect for establishing a research base there (I dismiss terraforming Mars ; by the time we have the technologies for that, we simply won't need them). The biggest hindrance would be in finding suitable caves (they are known, but they are also rare) and surveying their geotechnical (areotechnical?) competence, particularly in the roof. Even on Earth, our ability to remotely detect caverns is severely limited to those within a few metres of the rock surface, and those are likely to be the mechanically weakest and most poorly suitable ones. Robotic surveyors are a workable tool kit for doing this sort of work.

TL;DR version : It's not that easy, but it's certainly not impossible.

Boycott makerBot (2, Insightful)

gigne (990887) | about 3 months ago | (#47189807)

Bre Pettis is bad human.

MakerBot went closed source after taking community ideas
http://www.cnet.com/uk/news/pu... [cnet.com]

They patent community ideas
http://yro.slashdot.org/story/... [slashdot.org]

Do NOT use them or their services.

P.S what the best thingiverse replacement?

Re:Boycott makerBot (-1)

laird (2705) | about 3 months ago | (#47189961)

Yes, MBI started on an open platform (RepRap), then created proprietary aspects that they think give them a competitive advantage.

Most of them are minor, such as adding a bi-stable lever to the spring-tensioned extruder. But they didn't attempt to patent the community designs.

Most of the people freaking out are badly misreading the patents. That's not too surprising, since patents are pretty hard to read. But the parts where people are claiming MBI is patenting community designs are actually where MBI is documenting the prior art, which is exactly the opposite - they're documenting other people's designs because that's precisely what they're supposed to do, and they're not claiming those designs for MBI.

Don't propagate a misreading of the patents.

And MBI didn't "take" community ideas - everything that was open is still open, and MBI has contributed to open projects, and even started some open projects (e.g. Conveyor, Miracle Grue). And they strongly support open, shared designs, where they host hundreds of thousands of designs on Thingiverse for free.

MBI has been saying for years that they're making tools that are used by Makers, much like (for example) Epilog laser cutters. They don't feel that you can grow a large hardware company on purely open designs, because a competitor can come in that does no R&D and charge only for raw hardware costs and undercut on price, making the industry a "race to the bottom". So they keep open what they feel they can, and they keep closed the parts that they think protect them from "clones". You may disagree with their assessment, but they're being consistent.

As evidence that MBI might be right, there are several Chinese companies that took their open Replicator designs and crank out cheap copies, basically relying on MBI's design and software investments and selling at pure hardware cost. They're limited (legally) to using MBI's older designs, while MBI is attempting to innovate, and patent the innovations, to stay ahead of the cheap clones. And (amusingly) at least one of those cloner companies has now made enhancements to MBI's designs, and kept those enhancements proprietary, probably because they want a competitive advantage against smaller cloner^2 companies.

So you might prefer that MBI had stayed 100% open, and that's a reasonable discussion. There are certainly (smaller) companies that are purely open, and you'd perhaps be happier being their customer because you support that decision.

But when you make false accusations against MBI, instead of sticking to the facts, then it undermines your whole case.

Re:Boycott makerBot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47190157)

Thanks very much for the press release MakerBot PR guy!

Re:Boycott makerBot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47190343)

Another fucking MakerBot SHILL...

Re:Boycott makerBot (1)

laird (2705) | about 3 months ago | (#47190821)

Really, an AC calling a guy who's been on Slashdot kinda forever of being a shill?! I don't think so...

Re:Boycott makerBot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47190355)

But they didn't attempt to patent the community designs.

auto leveling utility patent.

But when you make false accusations against gigne, instead of sticking to the facts, then it undermines your whole case.

Re:Boycott makerBot (0)

laird (2705) | about 3 months ago | (#47190539)

Read the patent. It's not a patent on auto-leveling, it's a patent on using nozzle deflection to detect when the nozzle collides with something such as hitting a part of the print or for bed leveling. Bed leveling is properly disclosed as prior art. MBI's novel invention is using nozzle deflection (which their new extruder does) to detect collisions.

Really, you have to read patents more carefully. When a patent documents something as prior art, that's the opposite of claiming that it's your invention. Unfortunately the way patents are written is pretty confusing, but MBI's not claiming to have invented bed leveling, they claim to be first to use detecting nozzle deflection in 3D printing.

Re:Boycott makerBot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47190497)

As evidence that MBI might be right, there are several Chinese companies that took their open Replicator designs and crank out cheap copies, basically relying on MBI's design and software investments and selling at pure hardware cost. They're limited (legally) to using MBI's older designs, while MBI is attempting to innovate, and patent the innovations, to stay ahead of the cheap clones. And (amusingly) at least one of those cloner companies has now made enhancements to MBI's designs, and kept those enhancements proprietary, probably because they want a competitive advantage against smaller cloner^2 companies.

So the argument is that they patented it to protect them selves from the manufacturers who don't care about patents and will just make them and ship them anyway?

Re:Boycott makerBot (0)

laird (2705) | about 3 months ago | (#47190661)

As evidence that MBI might be right, there are several Chinese companies that took their open Replicator designs and crank out cheap copies, basically relying on MBI's design and software investments and selling at pure hardware cost. They're limited (legally) to using MBI's older designs, while MBI is attempting to innovate, and patent the innovations, to stay ahead of the cheap clones. And (amusingly) at least one of those cloner companies has now made enhancements to MBI's designs, and kept those enhancements proprietary, probably because they want a competitive advantage against smaller cloner^2 companies.

So the argument is that they patented it to protect them selves from the manufacturers who don't care about patents and will just make them and ship them anyway?

A cloner might not care about violating patents, but that's not the only factor, because the patents are enforced on import and within the markets. That is, if a cloner violates US patents, they can't sell product in the US, and the same in the EU, Japan, etc. So MBI, like the vast majority of companies doing engineering, files patents in the major markets (US, EU) so that if someone else blatantly copies their products they have legal leverage to stop them from selling into those markets.

This defense works in the real world. A few months ago, one of the cloners copied Makerbot's newer designs (the case design and control layout), and because MBI kept those proprietary, violating MBI's designs locked the cloner out of the US and EU. As a result, the cloner was forced to make their printer look different, and not identical to MBI's products.

The result is that, as I said before, companies that are cloning Makerbot's printers are using the open designs, or doing original work, because they don't want to get shut out of the US and EU. Copying open designs and making them cheaply is easy, they're good at it, and it's entirely legal so it's low risk. Copying proprietary designs is more work, and has more risk. Occasionally they try, but enforcement in the US and EU is effective in preventing cloners from blatantly copying proprietary designs.

Re:Boycott makerBot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47190479)

P.S what the best thingiverse replacement?

grabcad may be?

Re:Boycott makerBot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47191293)

Don't forget the Thingverse sneakly license change just spotted one year ago.

Added specific clauses in Thingiverse’s Terms of Use granting themselves a license to do whatever they want with your work, including selling your designs for money without you seeing a cent or even giving you attribution!. That is evil.

Re:Boycott makerBot (1)

coofercat (719737) | about 3 months ago | (#47193963)

It's a long way from brilliant, but all my designs are now on Youmagine.com - which I see is starting to get some really interesting stuff posted (far better than any of the tat I've come up with! ;-).

It's run by Ultimaker, so in theory vulnerable to the same problems as Thingiverse, but Ultimaker are quite responsive to their user base, so may do as we've suggested and create a foundation to run it instead. They're also a much smaller company, so don't expect quick turnaround as they're resource constrained, or indeed for this to be any sort of problem for some years yet (although YMMV).

The other good thing about Youmagine (and Ultimaker) is that they're European, and so not hamstrung by US patents, or indeed the litigation thereof.

MakerBot advert (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 3 months ago | (#47189933)

NASA lends its name for a publicity marketing bullshit event for half-assed gizmo outfit, making zero progress toward landing men on Mars.

MakerBot advert (1)

AchilleTalon (540925) | about 3 months ago | (#47190173)

NASA lends its name for a publicity marketing bullshit event for half-assed gizmo outfit, making zero progress toward landing men on Mars.

True!

Always void on Mars (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47189941)

Based on "Contest ... is void ... where taxed" phrase I'm under the impression this contest would be mainly open to Americans only, if even them. (Some weird legalese and syntax in the terms). Additionally, "All Entries must include a description of how and why the submitted MakerBot Mars Design is suitable for the living conditions of a Martian. For the purposes of this Contest, ÃoeMartianà is defined as a native inhabitant of the planet Mars." Given current science is fairly certain there are, in fact, no native Martians, I should probably submit a sold block with a description to that effect. Either that, or a petri dish.

Construction problem more than design (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 3 months ago | (#47189959)

The problem with building a human habitat in such a remote location is lack of heavy machinery and lack of energy source. It has to be almost self erecting and require very little (or at least very lightweight) material and only the power a human wearing a bulky suit can provide. Ideally it would be near a source of water and situated where the Sun and wind are favorable. Of course even if you could build it and get people moved in they wouldn't have anything to do that a robot couldn't do better.

Re:Construction problem more than design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47191645)

Here is my scheme for the colonization of mars. Anybody insane enough to use it I want the base naming after me

1, buy shares in Lego

2. prebuild lego 'builder' bots and glue the bricks here then shoot 1000's of them to mars let them build a 3d printer or so either and supply them with the needed feeding materials.

3) sell shares in Lego

4) print bigger Lego bricks to build the habitat out of and a very big balloon to make the inside air tight.

5) exploit the new indentured surfs err colonists - Profit.

Construction problem more than design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47195543)

Except make more humans.

Sand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47189963)

It's got a lot of sand, find some place that has good enough for glass, then use that for everything, walls, floors etc. Next, add the solar panels inside.

I'm curious if any of those designs will take advantage of the rarefied atmosphere and lower gravity.

Re:Sand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47191845)

Sand to glass? What do you use for a heat source? There's no fuel available locally, and you couldn't burn it anyway. Nuke is the only option there, but building or delivering a nuclear power plant and associated equipment is another problem

Solar panels inside? Mars gets much less little solar energy than Earth, and the atmosphere is murky/dusty. See Nuke power plant above.

Re:Sand (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 3 months ago | (#47193569)

Mars gets much less little solar energy than Earth, and the atmosphere is murky/dusty. See Nuke power plant above.

Mars has lower insolation than Earth due to distance from the sun, but it's not as bad as you think. Not least because you're exactly wrong about the murkiness/dustiness of the atmosphere. The Martian atmosphere is spectacularly clear. Even during the worst dust storms (which aren't really all that common) the amount of light reaching the ground is barely affected. So, although the average insolation on Earth is 250W/m^2 and the average on Mars is 150W/m^2, more of that power is actually usable on Mars. Based on the numbers I could find for Spirit and Opportunities 1.3 m^2 solar arrays, which average about 24 Watts electrical(that's an average, bear in mind), that's an average of something like 18.5 Watts per m^2. It's a peak of maybe something like 60 Watts.

It doesn't seem like all that much. You would need a 6m X 6m array just to run a heavy duty consumer microwave at midday. Whether it would be reasonable or not depends on how light the panels can be made compared to other power sources.

YOU FAIL IT?! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47190009)

*and I p8obably there are about 700 posts. Due to the

Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47190045)

q3dm17

Why not underground? (4, Informative)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 3 months ago | (#47190129)

Since Mars has no atmosphere, wouldn't living on Mars require shielding against micrometeorites? What about radiation?

Why build something above the ground? Make an underground city and you gain "free" extra-thick shielding and you also get real radiation shielding at the same time.

Re:Why not underground? (3, Informative)

frank249 (100528) | about 3 months ago | (#47190421)

Underground habitats are required not only due to the radiation threat but also due to the cold temperatures. The average temperature is -55C. Surface temperatures may reach a high of about 20 C (293 K; 68 F) at noon, at the equator, and a low of about 153 C (120 K; 243 F) at the poles. Actual temperature measurements at the Viking landers' site range from 17.2 C (256.0 K; 1.0 F) to 107 C (166 K; 161 F). The warmest soil temperature on the Mars surface estimated by the Viking Orbiter was 27 C (300 K; 81 F).

Images from the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter have revealed seven possible cave entrances on the flanks of the volcano Arsia Mons. The caves, named after loved ones of their discoverers, are collectively known as the "seven sisters." Cave entrances measure from 100 m to 252 m wide and they are believed to be at least 73 m to 96 m deep. Because light does not reach the floor of most of the caves, it is possible that they extend much deeper than these lower estimates and widen below the surface. "Dena" is the only exception; its floor is visible and was measured to be 130 m deep. The interiors of these caverns may be protected from micrometeoroids, UV radiation, solar flares and high energy particles that bombard the planet's surface.

Re:Why not underground? (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 3 months ago | (#47191363)

Ten thousand years of painful scientific advancement and we go back to living in caves.

Re:Why not underground? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47192425)

It's a good place to hide the elite people. Also meteorites in the meteorite belt past Mars can be used as disguised space stations, if you dig a hole in the middle of them. Great camouflage.

Re:Why not underground? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47191893)

107C = 161F?

Someone needs to check their units.

Re:Why not underground? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47192379)

The real reason for underground caverns on Mars is to secretly hide elite people who will proliferate all over the Universe, and keep all the dumb ones down here, well, dumb. Then even in case of a nuclear catastrophy or global disease outbreak, all the dumb ones down here will disappear, together with a few smart ones as collateral damage, but the smart ones can come back and recolonize Earth again. The Moon is gravitationally locked to us, always showing the same face, else it would have tides in its crust that would slow its rotation, so that means there is another side of the Moon never visible from Earth, and you can leave the lights on outside at night on your secret Moonbase as none of the idiots from Earth will see it, except the Chinese sending a most detailed lunar mapping probe up, as latecomers to the space age, to scan for secret bases already there, if any, and then you really have to hide well and conceal your caves when your spies tell you the Chinese are coming and looking for you, hide mofos, hide well! And turn the fuckin lights off outside! As Mars is rotating, you can never leave the lights on outside of your caves, and somebody with a good telescope might see it from Earth.

Re:Why not underground? (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 3 months ago | (#47193583)

Underground habitats are required not only due to the radiation threat but also due to the cold temperatures.

Temperature on Mars does not translate to temperature on Earth. The very thin atmosphere means that there's much less actual heat involved than the same temperature on Earth and also that a low temperature on Mars doesn't draw heat away as fast as a low temperature on Earth. Building underground is probably neccessary due to radiation concerns, but heat might actually be more of a problem below ground where the temperature is going to tend towards the average air temperature, so it's not actually going to be any warmer, but will suck heat from the compressed atmosphere in your tunnels.

Re:Why not underground? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47190787)

Since when does mars not have an atmosphere??

Re:Why not underground? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47192355)

Living on Earth also requires shielding against micrometeorites that didn't completely finish burning up as shooting stars. There are lots of mineralogists collecting meteorites, each of which successfully made it to the planet's surface. Meteorites were also a source of iron for ancients in Bible times before iron smelting was invented. So it's only a matter of time before you get hit on the head by a meteorite down here on Earth too, but chances are so small that most people make it safely to death. Same deal on Mars, chances are much larger, but you can probably make it safely to death without ever getting hit on the head by a meteorite there. Of course with huge space stations, the huger they are, the larger the chances, just like with buildings made out of glass down here on Earth.

Re:Why not underground? (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 3 months ago | (#47193573)

Since Mars has no atmosphere, wouldn't living on Mars require shielding against micrometeorites? What about radiation?

Mars has an atmosphere. It's very thin, so radiation and meteorites are a concern. Micrometeorites are not, however. They burn up or lose momentum in the atmosphere, thin as it is.

Coffins (3, Funny)

AchilleTalon (540925) | about 3 months ago | (#47190187)

Coffins would make the perfect Mars base since first settlers are likely to arrive dead.

Re:Coffins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47192463)

Bonus: even if some of them manage to survive, we still get to watch them be defeated by Voltron.

Wind turbines on Mars. :P (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47190251)

I'm amused by how many of the Thingiverse entries feature wind turbines. At 0.6% Earth atmospheric pressure, how could the Martian wind possibly spin a wind turbine?

Re:Wind turbines on Mars. :P (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47192431)

Hey it beats putting a wind turbine into the vacuum of outer space with 0.000..001% Earth atmospheric pressure.

The design must include: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47190285)

A place for a beer volcano and hookers.

Hire ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 months ago | (#47192117)

.. the urban planner that did District 9 [ejumpcut.org]

3D printing a Mars base? (0)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#47192571)

paid for in bitcoins and developed with a Raspberri Pi cluster.

Fuck, if you wanted to discredit 3D printers then fantasies about Mars bases would be perfect. Sorry, I don't get how technological anarchism shit and a $100 billion+ suicide mission to a cold underpressurized piece of rock relate together.
I can't wait for ISS to be deorbited in 2020 and then most manned space missions to be canceled. I don't give a fuck. Even pissing-contest yachts should be outllawed and seized by the owners's States without compensation. Stop wasting fuel by the millions gallons for your childish leisures.

Re:3D printing a Mars base? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47192881)

You seem like just the person to volunteer to live in a cave with minimal energy input.

June 13! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47192911)

Thanks for telling us! Wow, 4 days notice, I better get busy!

A moon base would make more sense -- or Venus (1)

ShoulderOfOrion (646118) | about 3 months ago | (#47193397)

Much closer, more scientifically useful.

If you want sustainably habitable, Venus is a better choice. Similar in size to the Earth, and much closer than Mars. Use 'global warming' mitigation techniques developed on Earth to convert Venus CO2 to oxygen, and then add hydrogen to create water. The biggest problem is figuring out how to speed up the rotation of Venus. That's a tough one.

Caves (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | about 3 months ago | (#47193931)

Humans have taken shelter in caves on earth before they had the means of building advanced structures. We might revert to caves on Mars too until we have sufficient technology there to build our own structures.

Destroy PHOBOS moon FIRST ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47198729)

Since the Martian Moon "Phobos" is predicted to crash into Mars, it would be a good idea to push Phobos away from Mars into open outer space while adding Mass to its larger moon "Deimos" (small meteors hurled at Deimos).

          This action solves two problems: the chaotic wobbly orbital axis of the planet is stabilized, AND now that the axis is stable there will be less chaotic weather on Mars, like snow storms and planet wide Dust storms. (The Mariner Probe encountered a planet wide dust storm in the 1960's)

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