Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Antique Fridge Could Keep Venus Rover Cool

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the hot-old-tech dept.

Space 229

Hugh Pickens writes "In the 1970s and 80s, several probes landed on Venus and returned data from the surface but they all expired less than 2 hours after landing because of Venus' tremendous heat. It's hard to keep a rover functioning when temperatures of 450 C are hot enough to melt lead but NASA researchers have designed a refrigeration system that might be able to keep a robotic rover going for as long as 50 Earth days using a reverse Stirling engine. NASA has not committed to a Venus rover mission, but a 2003 National Academies of Science study recommended that high priority be given to a robot mission to investigate the Venusian surface helping to answer such questions as why Venus ended up so different from Earth and if the changes have taken place relatively recently."

cancel ×

229 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

No problem. (5, Funny)

dozer (30790) | more than 6 years ago | (#21329777)

I've got an easier solution. Don't make the robot out of lead.

Re:No problem. (1)

DaleGlass (1068434) | more than 6 years ago | (#21329821)

What will you solder the electronics with? Or what will you make them from for that matter?

Re:No problem. (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330001)

Dude, no one uses lead for soldering any more.* Get with the times. [wikipedia.org]

* Except, ironically, NASA and the like, due to the tin whisker panic.**

** All the evidence I've seen is that tin whiskers are 99% a non-issue panic. The Wikipedia entry is definitely not NPOV with its inflammatory list of "nuclear power plant, satellites in orbit, aircraft in flight, and implanted medical pacemakers" for places that failures have been seen due to the phenomenon.

Re:No problem. (2, Funny)

s20451 (410424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330083)

All the evidence I've seen is that tin whiskers are 99% a non-issue panic.

Given that there are at least 100 nuclear reactors in the world, I'm not exactly reassured.

Re:No problem. (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330155)

The Wikipedia entry is definitely not NPOV with its inflammatory list of "nuclear power plant, satellites in orbit, aircraft in flight, and implanted medical pacemakers" for places that failures have been seen due to the phenomenon


Would you consider it more NPOV if they stated that aunt Hilda's radio also failed because of tin whiskers? I don't think it's necessary to add irrelevant cases just to make it "neutral".

Re:No problem. (2, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330279)

Would you consider it more NPOV if they stated that aunt Hilda's radio also failed because of tin whiskers? I don't think it's necessary to add irrelevant cases just to make it "neutral".

No, I don't think additional minor issues should be added. I think the examples included should be backed up by citation or removed. In this case, only the nuclear power plant has a citation, so the second sentence should be deleted entirely.

Re:No problem. (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330817)

The trouble is afaict only failures in places like nuke plants tend to get analised rigorously enough to diagnose this sort of thing.

There are so many possible causes of failure in electronics and there is so little reporting of how long equipment lasts and how it fails that drawing meaningfull conclusions on whether this is having a significant effect on the lifetime of consumer electronics is difficult to measure.

Re:No problem. (0)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21331113)

In this case, only the nuclear power plant has a citation, so the second sentence should be deleted entirely.
Not like you couldn't have done it. That's the entire point of an encyclopedia than anyone can edit.

Re:No problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21331155)

Not like you couldn't have done it. That's the entire point of an encyclopedia than anyone can edit.

That, or someone could add references between the time he complained about it and the time I read it ;) For instance, pacemakers: http://www.fda.gov/ora/inspect_ref/itg/itg42.html [fda.gov]

Re:No problem. (1)

cmowire (254489) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330557)

Well, do you tear down your failed electronics to see why it failed? I don't, I just junk the sucker.

Could be tons and tons of tin whisker failures. Well, might be in the future, now that all of the lead-based electronics are gone.

Re:No problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21331103)

Fixed that for you. Citations added.

Re:No problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330009)

Happy thoughts? Prayers and pixie dust?

Re:No problem. (1)

Monkeybaister (588525) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330335)

Dolomite [gotfuturama.com] , duh.

What happened to Venus? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21329793)

I'll tell you what happened to Venus: venusian-made global warming !! And if we don't decimate our fossil-fuel industries, we'll be NEXT!

But do not despair: there is enough energy to be had in land/space-based solar technology and nuclear technology that we can live more prosperously than in our wildest imaginations!

blow your slashload (1)

Asshat_Nazi (946431) | more than 6 years ago | (#21329811)

i'll blow it all over your ass

i've always said (5, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21329837)

venus is a better terraforming candidate than mars. oh sure, if you want to get somewhere as quickly as possible that is vaguely hospitable to settlement, mars beats venus hands down

but if you want to talk about recreating earthlike conditions (water, temperature, gravity, atmospheric density), i think it would easier (easier, not easy) to precipitate out venus' atmosphere than to bulk up mars'. and if you stood on venus right now, you would weigh roughly the same. big bonus right there

where is all the water going to come from? how the heck do you thin out the venusian atmosphere to earth-like densities? i don't know. but however you do it, it's an easier starting scenario than mars

Re:i've always said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21329889)

Same weight is a big bonus if you're not fat. Here's a story:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071111/ap_on_sc/global_warming_diet;_ylt=AszOz6v9fi81Lhr1v.PxVwZvieAA [yahoo.com]

Let's ship all the fat people to Mars along with a couple thousand tons of Twinkies and it'll terraform itself.

Re:i've always said (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330043)

So you'd get a planet full of people predisposed to have big appetites, and have them breed.
I'd get pretty scared once they get a taste for Terran ribs and start hunting us for food from their flying saucers.

With apologies to obese people. I suck.
(And I taste bad.)

Re:i've always said (2, Informative)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330013)

Isn't Venus outside Sol's habitable zone? (the region around a star where liquid water is possible)

Re:i've always said (5, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330051)

Prior to the global warming, Venus is generally believed to had surface water.

Re:i've always said (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330539)

My understanding is that Venus is considered to be on the edge. Whether it's in or not is a matter of opinion. Given that there are engineering solutions for reducing solar radiation (orbiting sun screens), this seems manageable for terraforming.

Re:i've always said (1)

Bee1zebub (1161221) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330617)

Venus is borderline habitable, as the sibling said. However, Mars is outside the habitable zone, sinc eht eonly potential liquid water is below the surface.

Re:i've always said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330819)

"Venus is borderline habitable, as the sibling said. However, Mars is outside the habitable zone, sinc eht eonly potential liquid water is below the surface."

Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!

Re:i've always said (3, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330033)

Well, in terraforming terms, finding stuff to make up the Martian atmosphere probably isn't that hard. There are significant CO2 ice caps, and there may be significant water available with modest effort. CO2 plus plants gives you O2. Also, there is some good evidence to suggest that the icecaps' existence is bistable -- that is, if you could mostly evaporate them, the additional greenhouse effect would warm the planet enough to finish the job and keep it that way.

Basically, the problem of terraforming is to find resources that are already available in almost the form you want, and find some way to leverage your input effort. You don't want to have to process every single megaton of atmosphere you want to add / remove. It's far easier to (for example) dust carbon black on the poles and add a few orbiting mirrors.

Of course, the only reference I have handy is Zubrin's The Case for Mars which is a bit dated but (I think) still basically correct. The details may well have changed thanks to newer lander data.

Re:i've always said (4, Interesting)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330199)

Isn't the problem with mars a lack of a magnetic field which allows the solar wind to strip away the atmosphere? I don't see how we could jump-start a magnetic field, so whats the point of even trying to rebuild the atmosphere if it's all going to blow away?

How about the lack of gravity? Can you build atmospheric pressure comparable to earth with lower gravity?

I saw Zurbin give a talk at my Univ a couple years ago and was going to ask him about it, but I forgot.

Re:i've always said (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330235)

Can you build atmospheric pressure comparable to earth with lower gravity?
Probably. I wouldn't bet too much on necessarily being able to breathe the atmosphere though.

Re:i've always said (2, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330531)

Yes, but it takes thousands of years for the solar wind to blow away the atmosphere. If we one day have the ability to make the atmosphere of Mars suitable for human habitation then surely we will also have the ability to maintain the atmosphere over such a long time period.

Re:i've always said (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330553)

We should move that atmosphere from Venus to Mars.

Re:i've always said (1)

capnchicken (664317) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330579)

I think you need a molten, spinning core to have a magnetic field. Good thing we have The Core [imdb.com] as reference material.

Re:i've always said (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330635)

Isn't the problem with mars a lack of a magnetic field which allows the solar wind to strip away the atmosphere? I don't see how we could jump-start a magnetic field, so whats the point of even trying to rebuild the atmosphere if it's all going to blow away?
it takes several million years for a sizable atmosphere to be sufficiently eroded without a magnetic field. We don't need to jump start the entire magnetic field on the planet, just create an artificial one- like say a *ton* of orbiting satillites using a thin helium plasma to extend the magnetic field generated several miles out in a large bubble, send up enough of them with each bubble overlapping and voila! a nice protective magnetic field. it's well beyond our current technology to pull it off but hey what will we be able to do in the few million years it takes the atmosphere to erode anyways?

How about the lack of gravity? Can you build atmospheric pressure comparable to earth with lower gravity?
yes. Mars at least might have a cool enough atmosphere and large enough mass to retain a thick atmosphere for several million years at the least. with our help it can last as long as we like when and if we get the proper technology. Venus on the other hand has far too much CO2 and too little hydrogen atoms available to be terraformed without some *serious* work and by serious I mean super-civilization capable of moving quadrillions of tons of material to and from different planets.

Re:i've always said (1)

Jarnin (925269) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330801)

Isn't the problem with mars a lack of a magnetic field which allows the solar wind to strip away the atmosphere?
Yes.

I don't see how we could jump-start a magnetic field, so whats the point of even trying to rebuild the atmosphere if it's all going to blow away?
It'll last for thousands of years if you suddenly stopped adding to it.

How about the lack of gravity?
Mars has 38% the gravity of Earth. The difference isn't too bad, and eventually people living on Mars will adapt to the lighter gravity.

Can you build atmospheric pressure comparable to earth with lower gravity?
No, but you wouldn't need to. A terraformed Mars isn't going to be like Africa or South America. It'll be more like living up in the mountains.

Re:i've always said (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330933)

Can you build atmospheric pressure comparable to earth with lower gravity? No, but you wouldn't need to. A terraformed Mars isn't going to be like Africa or South America. It'll be more like living up in the mountains.
so Titan doesn't exist? an atmosphere onyl escapes when the atmos in the upper part of the atmosphere attain a high enough energy to escape. The amount of energy available to do this is dependant on how warm the atmosphere is and the amount required to break free of the planet is dependant on the mass and radius of the relevant atmosphere. it takes millions of years for the atmosphere to erode, not thousands as has been suggested, so it's probably doable. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titan_(moon) [wikipedia.org]

all i'm saying is (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330227)

it is easier to destroy than it is to create

so with atmospheric density, it is easier to start some sort of process that would precipiate mass out of venus's atmosphere than it would be to bulk up mars somehow (and can mars' gravity hold the density?)

as for oxygen, i forgot about that (duh! ;-)

but getting oxygen (and water) in sufficient quantities is equally hard and daunting for mars or venus. venus has hydrogen and oxygen locked up just as much as mars does, and will require some chemical/ atomic manipulation to arrive at the proportional quantity we need just as much as mars does. so for oxygen and water, i think you are talking massive difficulties either way right there, it's a wash in comparing the two planets thatways. both will require heavy manipulation, with a huge energy input, using technology far beyond our current comprehension

and in considering gravity, venus wins without a second thought

and something neither of us considered: magnetic fields. on this measure, both mars and venus stink. so any colony on either orb will be irradiated daily. uggh

how about nuclear winter? (1)

joggle (594025) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330343)

I wonder how much Venus would cool if we simply dropped a couple hundred nukes on the surface. It would surely cool it by a few degrees, although I doubt it would cool it to anywhere close to comfortable temperatures.

Re:how about nuclear winter? (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330381)

Well one idea for quickly thermoforming venus is to drop comets on it, broken up before impact to impact all their energy into the atmosphere. The idea being that the simplest method to get rid of the atmosphere is to simply blow it into space. Sadly it seems that the energy required would be quite a lot, as in you'd need to hit the planet with a lot of comets or whatever other space junk you find.

Re:how about nuclear winter? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330383)

> I wonder how much Venus would cool if we simply dropped a couple hundred nukes on the
> surface. It would surely cool it by a few degrees...

More likely a few hundredths of a degree, but why do you think that would cool it at all?

Re:how about nuclear winter? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330453)

Nuclear winter is based on the idea that dust particles in the air will block sunlight. However, Venus has a thick cloud layer that blocks 60+% of the sunlight; the high temperatures are caused by a CO2 greenhouse effect. Chemically converting, trapping, or bleeding off the atmospheric CO2 would be required for any temperature adjustment.

Re:all i'm saying is (1)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330473)

Actually, Mars has lost a significant amount of hydrogen (as has Venus, but not as severely) and most of the surface rocks are highly oxidized. Really, you'd need to add back some hydrogen to make Mars really work. And as far as the radiation goes, Earth's atmosphere (and also Venus's) do a LOT to stop radiation. Sure it doesn't get all of it, but astronauts on the space station are getting a much higher radiation dose than you and I down at ground level.

Re:i've always said (3, Funny)

jimbojw (1010949) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330113)

but however you do it, it's an easier starting scenario than mars
That's ridiculous - everyone knows that as soon as Quaid activates the turbidium reactor, Mars' atmosphere will fill out nicely.

Re:i've always said (4, Interesting)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330167)

i don't know. but however you do it, it's an easier starting scenario than mars

Probably not due to the 243 day rotation.

Re:i've always said (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330433)

But it has GREAT all night parties!

uneven heating meets atmosphere (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330529)

and you get wicked weather at the night/ day interface, a blistering midday, and a chilling midnight. but it won't be as wicked a change as on mercury, because the atmosphere will conduct some heat (little, yes, but some is better than none)

and even with day length considered, venus is still ahead of mars, considering all the other variables, mars comes out a worse prospect still

but you are correct to point out that day length is a big impediment, i forgot to address that

Re:i've always said (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330569)

Probably not due to the 243 day rotation.

And the vampires thought Barrow, Alaska was a great place to vacation...

Re:i've always said (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330169)

venus is a better terraforming candidate than mars. oh sure, if you want to get somewhere as quickly as possible that is vaguely hospitable to settlement, mars beats venus hands down
 
but if you want to talk about recreating earthlike conditions (water, temperature, gravity, atmospheric density), i think it would easier (easier, not easy) to precipitate out venus' atmosphere than to bulk up mars'.

In some magical universe where you can safely sequester the billions of tons of carbon that will have to be removed from the atmosphere without a) having to perpetually pump energy into the storage or b) having billions of tons of flammable carbon compounds lying about.

you're a bore (0, Flamebait)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330303)

of course it is difficult to terraform planets. any attempt at terraforming any planet will require commanding and intricately directing massive amounts of energy many orders of mangitude well beyond anything mankind has even dreamed of mastering

but at the same time, ask a roman general 2,000 years ago to consider the existence of jet fighters, air craft carriers, and helicopters and you would get the same level of incredulity as you have now about being in a "magical universe"

which means his problem, and your problem, is that you lack imagination. you're a dullard. you think pointing out that terraforming planets is difficult is a useful comment to make

well shit, thanks for enlightening us. we had no idea, we thought it would be easy. where would we be without you?

Re:i've always said (2, Interesting)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330533)

Well, Earth has managed to safely sequester billions of tons of carbon. We have just as much of it as Venus, ours just happens to be locked up in nifty things like carbonate rocks. Venus could have carbonate rocks too if we could just get it a little cooler and get some water back on the surface to help with erosion. Just at present the reaction goes the wrong way and you have CaCO3 + SiO2 -> CaSiO3 + CO2, so there aren't a lot of carbonate rocks laying about. In terms of atmospheric composition if you removed most of the CO2 from Venus's atmosphere it'd have roughly the same amount of nitrogen, which is a good starting point, and you only need to liberate oxygen from a relatively small amount of the CO2 that's presently there for a breathable atmosphere.

Floating Cities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330171)

As to the overly dense atmosphere and colonisation of the solar system - one possibility now would be to put up floating cities around or where the pressure equals 1 earth atms, iirc someone at NASA suggested that but I can't find the link now.

Generating energy would be much more efficient via solar pannels because of it's proximity to earth. Or you could use giant vents with exits floating at different heights to drive rotors, and possibly move your cloud city so it is alway in daylight since venus' day is very long.

Re:i've always said (2, Informative)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330205)

They both lack magnetic fields which makes long term terraforming pointless which means we can just drop the whole idea.

magnetic fields are good for block radiation (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330507)

there are many ways to block radiation

but obviously, you are correct to point out this is a major impediment. but beggars can't be choosers. i don't see any other small rocky orbs close by to consider. mercury is way worse, and the gas giants are, well, gas giants, and their moons are too cold

Re:i've always said (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330581)

The technology required to terraform another planet will probably come along about the same time as making our own planetary-scale magnetic fields. I'll worry about it if we actually get to the point of being able to terraform and *can't* make a huge magnetic field. We should probably speed up the rotation of Venus while we're at it.

And by that time, I expect we'll be able to download our consciousnesses into artificial bodies, so we could probably live in just about any physical environment, anyway.

Still, all these theoretical abilities are insignificant next to the power of the Force. :)

Length of days is a problem (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330207)

if you want to talk about recreating earthlike conditions (water, temperature, gravity, atmospheric density)


Unfortunately, the rotation of Venus is ridiculously slow, that would create a problem, not only for human work cycles but, much worse, for managing temperature.


Suppose they create some kind of shield between Venus and the sun, for instance with a swarm of thin foil satellites. The surface temperature would fall down to bearable levels, perhaps to the point of solidifying the CO2, which would make the atmospheric pressure fall. But even assuming that kind of technology, I see no way to get Venus rotating close to the Earth and Mars rates of about 24 hours.

Re:Length of days is a problem (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330399)

The length of day isn't really a problem.

Venus had a habitable climate for billions of years. If you get the CO2 out of the air and back into the rocks, like on Earth, it could again, long length of
day or not. BTW, there are lots of people who live in arctic areas with roughly similar day / night distributions.

However, if you really needed to, you could hit the planet with a carefully aimed ice rich asteroid or (better yet) a comet. This would both add water and change the spin, in principle to whatever you want.

Re:Length of days is a problem (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330871)

Length of day IS a problem. more specifically, the length of NIGHT that goes along with it. During the "day" you would have the hot sun beating down constantly, and during the "night" you have the icy cold blackness of space into which all your heat radiates into.

Temperature swings would be a bitch.

Right now, the planet has a nice thick blanket of CO2 and dust to keep the warmth in and solar radiation out, so the temperature swings aren't that bad. We would need to strip that blanket off if we ever want to live on it without special suits, though.
=Smidge=

Re:Length of days is a problem (0, Troll)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 6 years ago | (#21331125)

I've read things that suggest that Venus might only be a few thousand years old, and not because that's when Jeebus got around to creationing it.

Things that suggest it might have been ejected from Jupiter's core.

Re:i've always said (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330347)

The real truth is all the other inner planets suck as terraforming cannidates. Mars is realitively benign compared to Venus. Its the high content of sulfuric acid that would hamper terraforming. Shifting the orbit to Earth orbit might help with the greenhousing and it might be possible to blast away part of the atmosphere but removing large amounts of sulfuric acid is going to be trickier. The concentrations are high enough to erode mountains on Venus. Mars may lack a dense atmosphere and has low gravity but we can keep humans alive with current technology. Itd take thousands and perhaps millions of years of hard work to get Venus to a level where even with a space suit humans could survive on it. Were definitely talking in the millions or tens of millions of years to terraform it. Itd almost be easier to start from scratch with asteroids and comets or collide enough of them with Mars to add more mass. The real problem with Mars is the lack of an iron core so solar radiation will be an issue even with an atmosphere. No shirt sleeve weather on Mars no matter how much terraforming you do, the sun tan will kill you. The truth is Earth is unique in this solar system and any colonizing for the next 10,000+ years will require domes or similar survival structures. Other than a few things like the dust problems, its a bigger issue than you think, the Moon is probably the best cannidate for colonizing. Gravity is the biggest problem with long term stays but most of the other problems can be solved with current technology. Water is a problem but mostly for fuel for ships since most of it would be recycled for human use. Energy would be far less of an issue with the strong sun exposure. Artificial planets, a Dysan sphere without a sun at the middle would be an option but even then rings like in Ringworld are superior since spinning them can reproduce the effects of gravity. Make one the diameter of the Earth and add a wall the height of our atmosphere and spin it and you effectively have a planet. Angle it to the sun and you can reproduce day and night. Youd have to cannibalize the asteroid belt and possibly part of the ort cloud for raw materials but it is possible. There are plenty of resources on the moons of the outer planets you just need to mine them and orbit the materials. Its far more practical than terraforming a known planet.

Re:i've always said (1)

jaxtherat (1165473) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330467)

For the love of pepsi, please use paragraphs!! If you don't know how to use html, post in plain text, it is wysiwyg.

Re:i've always said (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330611)

> The real truth is all the other inner planets suck as terraforming cannidates.

Earth seems like a fairly promising candidate. Just get rid of the humans...

> ...rings like in Ringworld are superior since spinning them can reproduce the effects of
> gravity. Make one the diameter of the Earth and add a wall the height of our atmosphere
> and spin it and you effectively have a planet.

Bit of a materials problem there.

Re:i've always said (1)

JebusIsLord (566856) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330487)

You can't just precipiate it out... I remember reading in (I think) some Carl Sagan book long ago, that if we did so, they'd end up with a layer of charcoal a few feet deep, plus around a hundred atmospheres of pure oxygen. Someone lights a match, and you're back to square one.

His best analysis was that we'd have to blow the atmosphere off by hitting the planet with asteroids. Not exactly as easy feat.

Re:i've always said (1)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330585)

Ga Zuh? "His best analysis was that we'd have to blow the atmosphere off by hitting the planet with asteroids. Not exactly as easy feat."

How exactly is that NOT easy? At least in any context where you're seriously discussing terraforming planets, striking the targets with planetoids is as easy as it gets. All you have to do is go out and identify likely sized asteroids (we're well on our way to doing that, with various catalogs of solar system objects), and then move them in to place using well placed nuclear detonations, a process only trivially (again, triviality being defined in terms of our discussion) more difficult than many maneuvers we use for solar system exploration today.

I'd also argue that straight up nuclear detonations on Venus would be another viable route. Correctly planned, you could jettison quite a bit of the atmosphere directly that way. The other big problem with Venus, the extremely slow rotation, can be resolved using similar strategies.

no, wrong (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330637)

and this is why: considering terraforming venus, mars, or any planet, you are already in a realm of technological futurism that is impossible. so, when you say it is impossible to keep an oxygen rich atmosphere off of willing chemical kindling, well, who is to say there wouldn't be some sort of technology by then that could dampen that effect

i mean, in a way, you and sagan are describing the earth: lots of oxygen, lots of kindling. as san diego proved a few weeks ago, that's a problem. and yet the earth maintained this seemingly thermodynamically impossible balance long before there were human firemen running around. so we're not considering an impossible situation when we describe lots of oxygen and lots of carbon lying around. there are a myriad ways to poison and dampen a runaway plantary fire. it's not in the realm of impossible to keep the kindling and oxygen away from each other

look, this whole concept is extremely daunting. with terraforming, we are in the realm of fine-tuned and at the same time massive amounts of energy of an order well beyond anything mankind's technology can remotely comprehend. therefore, keeping oxygen and kindling away from flareup will probablt be an afterthought by the time we even considering mastering what is needed to make this work

i would conjecture that terraforming any planet, including mars and venus, will consist of not just molecular and chemical manipulations, but atomic ones as well. because neither mars, nor venus, nor any other planet will have oxygen in water in the right ratios for mankind, or even in the potential ratios, considering just their atomic oxygen and hydrogen stores. so atomic manipulations will probably be necessary to artificially induce the right ratios. yes: massive amounts of intricately controlled energy in consideration here. so perhaps you could "poison" the atmosphere in terms of making sure there is enough of some inert or interfering chemical that would dampen a potential flareup as the terraforming proceeded. nitrogen, or a nobel gas, for instance

Re:i've always said (1)

geobeck (924637) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330607)

venus is a better terraforming candidate than mars.

True. In fact, we're doing our best to reverse-terraform Earth to be more like Venus every day.

good point (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330683)

we ARE turning our planet into venus

so, perversely and sadly, if we are going to survive to the point where terraforming venus ever becomes possible, to get to that point, we will have had to master the technology to cool down a hot planet already

yet another reason venus is a better candidate: a historically inevitable future technological convergence point. we will come to master the technology to cool down a hot planet no matter what, or we won't be around at all

Well, no... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330875)

The problem with Venus's atmosphere is that there is so damned much of it. In order to get rid of Venus's atmosphere, you need get rid of the mass of something the size of asteroid Vesta. Basically, you need either calcium or something the size of the asteroid Vesta, and gently put it on Venus, and that will precipate the carbon out as calcium carbonate. Or, you could try and find a Vesta sized chunk of hydrogen, and via some chemical wizardry, that will get rid of the carbon dioxide as well and leave water. But even that amount of water wouldn't be nearly as much as in earth's oceans. The Earth has -a lot- of water.

shave your slashpubes (1)

Asshat_Nazi_v2.0 (989409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21329853)

everyone likes a bald sack

Better make the bionic man first (1, Funny)

killdozer3k (779295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21329857)

If your going to have a Venus probe there is always the chance it will land on the earth and go berserk. So you need a bionic man or woman to fight it. Actually, why are we making Venus probes at all for a bunch of stupid textbook companies. Let them pay for th probe. what we need is to make fembots. I want fembots dammit. Affectionate fembots that can make flapjacks... Now that would be a worthwhile implementation of science.

Re:Better make the bionic man first (1)

kc2keo (694222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330797)

I'll drink to that!

Isn't It Obvious (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21329873)

Isn't it obvious. Venus is Global Warming run amuck. And we're next!

Stirling coolers (4, Informative)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 6 years ago | (#21329881)

While stirling engines are certainly old, the idea of using them as refrigerators is just recently catching on. Here in sleep Athens, OH a company called Global Cooling is the forefront producer of such devices (and is still hand-making a good number of them).

The nice little advantage to these coolers is that they operate with very high COP's, and are limited in lower temperature merely by available power and the boiling point of the working gas. In global cooling's case, Helium is typically used, so temperatures down to around 5K are obtainable (at which point the helium liquifies. Yeah. Cold.) Also, control of the device can be very precise, in that instead of a compressor kicking on and off, it operates constantly, quietly, and with good variable control.

LG is beginning to outfit refrigerators with Stirling pumps because they're so much better than current designs - only problem is they're not mass produced yet. Coleman has a portable unit shown here [coleman.com] that is quite a nice unit, albeit very pricey.

One of my professors here at school is one of the pioneers of Stirling refrigeration, so I've been exposed to it a lot. If the whole country switched their refrigerators to stirling compressors, California could shut off its power grid and we'd still have a surplus of energy country-wide.

Re:Stirling coolers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21329977)

> LG is beginning to outfit refrigerators with Stirling pumps because they're so much better than current designs - only problem is they're not mass produced yet. Coleman has a portable unit shown here that is quite a nice unit, albeit very pricey.

ITYMeant stirling engine...
But anyway, how much better are they than the current heat pump designs?

Re:Stirling coolers (4, Informative)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330099)

No, actually they're using the stirling design as the actual pump - that's the beauty of it. They're looking at using CO2 or helium as the refrigerant as well as the working fluid in the stirling cooler - especially with respect to helium, getting the gas-phase bubbles out of the fluid is as simple as letting it evaporate and leak back into the cooler itself. The design is much simpler this way, and leaks are quite benign.

That being said, helium is a bit more expensive than other refrigerants, and CO2 requires intensely high pressures, so much work is yet to be done. As a heat pump, Stirling cycle engines operate on the theoretical threshold (we evaluate them using the Carnot cycle) of efficiency, so they...well, blow other designs out of the water. For numbers, I don't have any here. To give you some perspective though, I've seend a 40 watt unit freeze the water in the air around it within seconds of being turned on.

Re:Stirling coolers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330401)

That sounds very clever and promising. I hope to see this technology soon.

Re:Stirling coolers (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330565)

These sterling 'refrigerators' are currently in use on the detectors in the antennas at the VLA.

Re:Stirling coolers (2, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330505)

in sleep Athens, OH a company called Global Cooling is the forefront producer of such devices (and is still hand-making a good number of them).

... and, in fact, Global Cooling licensed their free-piston Stirling engine technology from Sunpower (also of Athens, Ohio), and Sunpower works with NASA Glenn on the Stirling engine development. So they really are the cousins of the Venus engines.

If Stirling Coolers are so efficient (1)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330537)

If Stirling Coolers are so efficient, why are we not using them to cool our homes & office buildings?

Re:If Stirling Coolers are so efficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330913)

If I understand right, they're a bit of a pain to get right, manufacturing-wise, and require the two ends to be at widely varying temperatures (they basically work by thermal induction?)

I lived on Mars once. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21329887)

Had to leave. The Chuck Norris in the atmosphere depleted. I'm on Earth now, starting a GNU life.

another reason (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21329891)

Isn't the real reason we haven't been trying to rover there because it's just not a very interesting place? Wouldn't the rover just beam back "It's hot and everything's melted" over and over lol. If I remember correctly, there's no significant features to even study. You can't have mountains and ancient, dried up rivers and caves when everything's that hot. Mars is far more interesting.

Re:another reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21329991)

It's not the heat that disrupts the Venusian landscape. It's been theorized that Venus' plates build pressure and periodically vent it all at once (every few hundred thousand or million years) thus dramatically resurfacing the landscape.

Re:another reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330777)

That was the old theory, based on impact sites. More recent analysis has shown that Venus' surface is not as new as was once thought, and shows a more typical range of impact crater ages. I wish I could find you some background on this change, because I too was once under the impression that the "reshapes its surface like clockwork" theory was pretty much the accepted doctrine. Not anymore.

ROHS (1)

Biff Stu (654099) | more than 6 years ago | (#21329895)

Now that everybody has made the shift to ROHS electronics, who cares if the heat melts lead? They should be able to do it with all COTS parts.

Re:ROHS (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330251)

Apparently NASA doesn't trust tin so they still use lead. Go figure.

time for tubes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21329931)

Sounds like operating temperature for tubes. What happened to SED technology? What if you put sensors on the surface with tube-backed technology and keep an orbiter to process and send the info to Earth? In the 60s they had integrated tubes.

Re:time for tubes! (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330687)

Remember the Nuvistor? [wikipedia.org] It would be interesting if vacuum-tube technology got revived in order to make a space probe capable of surviving high temperatures.

Re:time for tubes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330731)

Remember them? I still use them! I have a nice collection of 7586 tubes but also a few Tektronix plugins for 500-series scopes. I also have Russian Nuvistors that seem to work fine.

1970's refrigerator? (3, Interesting)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21329941)

Sterling's are older than the 70's. I've been tinkering on using a sterling for cooling off an engine block for a few years now (pretty good results too, allowing me to generate electricity from the previously wasted heat).

the technology is not revolutionary but neat (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21329951)

My background is in thermodynamic/mechanical interfaces. The basics of a Sterling engine, the main mechanical components, a Stirling cryocooler are identical to a Stirling engine. The rotation of the axis of work will be created that compresses the gas to increase its temperature. This heat is then dispersed by placing against an exhaust gas heat. Heat would be of this gas in the heat exchanger, which are probably cooled by air currents or other fluids from the outside. The new rotation of the shaft is then extend the working time of gas.

As he had just chilled development is reduced even further its temperature. This very cold, the gas is pushed against the other heat exchanger and heat, it would be flowing in the gas. The external heat exchanger is in a thermally insulated, as a specialist refrigerator. That would once and for all rotation of the shaft. The heat is pumped into effect this specialty by the Working gas in the cryocooler and dumping in the environment. The temperature drops in the discipline, because its isolation prevents heat from the ambient air in to replace them, that pumped.

From the Stirling Engine article (5, Funny)

AnonymousCactus (810364) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330003)

Yeah, an engine, sure: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:BetaStirlingTG4web.jpg [wikipedia.org]

Re:From the Stirling Engine article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330477)

Well, that was a less controversial form of a link troll. ;)

The real test (4, Funny)

kaoshin (110328) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330045)

Yes, but can this device provide adequate cooling for a pair of NVIDIA 8800's in a brutal "room temperature" environment?

The many faces of counterproductivity (1)

liquiddark (719647) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330093)

They're going to power the 1) cooling unit for 2) the robot looking for life with 3) plutonium that will 4) generate heat Day 4 prediction: Mutant baby sulphur monsters come play in the pool of liquid robot.

Water and Plate Tectonics (1)

MaxEmerika (701730) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330257)

According to TFA, Venus's plate tectonics shut down when the last of its water boiled away. Can any of you geniuses explain to me why water is required for plate tectonics to function?

Re:Water and Plate Tectonics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330315)

It is the KY of the plate tectonics world....(lubrication for all you virgins out there)

Re:Water and Plate Tectonics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21330377)

all you virgins out there

I can assure you, both non-virgin readers of Slashdot found your KY joke hilarious.

Re:Water and Plate Tectonics (2, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330523)

Water lowers the viscosity of magma.

Venusian or Venutian? (1)

thenickboy (171660) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330391)

And how do you pronounce that?

Ven-u-shun?
Ven-u-zian?
Ven-u-sian?

I would rather put a Stirling on Venus... (2, Insightful)

rholland356 (466635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330419)

I would rather put a Stirling-cooled robot rover on Venus than pairs of human feet in the dust of the Moon.

Robotic exploration of our solar system is critically important and will achieve much more than a pair of glass-encased Lunar baby blues.

Albert Einstein invented a safer refrigerator (2, Interesting)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330501)

Back in his day, refrigerators used gaseous ammonia as the refrigerant, which is highly toxic. He was appalled to hear of a whole family being killed by a leaky refrigerator, so he and Leo Szilard invented one [wikipedia.org] that had no moving parts, and thus without the risk of leaky seals.

Leo Szilard was later instrumental in launching the US' Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. It was his idea, but he got Einstein to write the letter to President Roosevelt that convinced him to fund the project.

Obviously, Gore didn't make it in time... (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 6 years ago | (#21330963)

But there's still hope for this planet!

Almost a solution (2, Funny)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#21331109)

designed a refrigeration system that might be able to keep a robotic rover going for as long as 50 Earth days
Unfortunately, the refrigeration system only lasts 10 days. So the refrigeration system will have a refrigeration system which will make it last for 50 days. Unfortunately, that refrigeration system will only last 10 days. So NASA will construct a refrigeration system refrigeration system refrigeration system, which will make the refrigeration system refrigeration system last 50 days. Unfortunately, THAT refrigeration system will only last 10 days...
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?