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neilzero
2013-Jun-28, 09:59 AM
Short term a moon colony would be less costly, but a Mars colony might eventually be self sufficient but that is very unlikely for the moon for about a dozen reasons:
1. Days and nights are 14 times longer on the moon than Mars, so the Moon's surface is much colder just before sunrise. 2 The Moon has less than half the surface gravity of Mars = possibly both are too low for healthy humans. 3 Mars likely has more abundant rich ores of most kinds than the Moon 4 Mars surface exposes humans to about 1/4 as much dangerous radiation. 5 Mars has about a million times more atmosphere and Mars can likely have 50 times more atmosphere which may allow plants to grow and an oxygen breathing mask without a space suit. 6 Many dark colored solids are dangerously hot exposed to sunlight on the Moon several days per month but Mars is cold to cool. 7 A disaster for Earth, might also kill moon colonies, but Mars would be much less effected. Please refute or expand. Neil

ASTRO BOY
2013-Jun-28, 08:41 PM
In the course of time, I see colonies on both bodies.
Otherwise your points seem valid.

Paul Wally
2013-Jun-28, 09:33 PM
Also, Mars has plenty of water.

JustAFriend
2013-Jun-28, 09:39 PM
Any reasonable Moon colony would be deep underground (see 2001s Clavius base landing sequence) which would make 1, 4, 5, and 6 moot.

We don't have any long-term knowledge that lunar gravity is bad for you. Some might find it beneficial.

As for 3, some argue that the Moon may hold vast deposits of Helium3 that would be highly useable as fuel for fusion plants and there is none on Mars.

redshifter
2013-Jun-28, 10:05 PM
1. Days and nights are 14 times longer on the moon than Mars, so the Moon's surface is much colder just before sunrise.
Mars is still very cold at night (and in the majority of cases, very cold during the day as well), either way, I don't know if there's much of an advantage here.

5 Mars has about a million times more atmosphere and Mars can likely have 50 times more atmosphere which may allow plants to grow and an oxygen breathing mask without a space suit.

Mars' atmosphere is about 1% as dense as Earth's, you're gonna need a full space suit on either the moon or mars; or at least some sort of pressure suit, insulation, and life support equipment. You'll need a greenhouse for plants on either Mars or the Moon.

Given the proximity of the Moon compared to Mars, I'd imagine a Moon colony would be cheaper. Seems like you'd need similar equipment at either place, but it'll cost less to go to the Moon. Not to mention the hazards of a month's long space journey to Mars(extended exposure to 0 g, etc.).

I'm not sure it makes sense to say one is 'better' than the other, a colony in either location would probably have different missions and objectives.

neilzero
2013-Jun-29, 12:30 AM
I agree 1, 4, 5, and 6 are mostly solved by living a few meters below the surface of either Moon or Mars. Possibly you are thinking 100 kilometers below the surface, which likely is tolerably cool both places, but trade with the rest of the Solar system and waste heat disposal would be difficult 100 kilometers below the surface, but that would allow some important science, as Earth is much too hot 100 kilometers below the surface, and the pressure is dangerous.
My 50 times increase in air pressure for Mars is still below Earth sea level pressure, but is possibly achievable with early terraforming. An oxygen mask would be necessary for humans, but some plants are ok with negligible oxygen. Mars already has enough carbon dioxide. Huge mirrors could heat the before sunrise to a comfortable temperature. Plants would need water and fertilizer, but possibly not a green house. With 50 times the present pressure, Mars would have not much more ionizing radiation than the Earth's magnetic poles and high mountain tops. Less if we can use huge super conductors to produce a local magnetic field for the colony. Neil

JustAFriend
2013-Jun-29, 06:20 PM
Personally I get uncomfortable when people casually toss out the word terraforming.

We are SO many centuries from being able to do that kind of project.
We certainly dont have any way to start messing with the atmosphere of Mars to increase the pressure.

The only technology we might be able to use for terraforming in the next century would be to slam some small asteroids into Mars, and that would have pretty devastating (and probably bad) consequences.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jun-29, 06:27 PM
Short term a moon colony would be less costly, but a Mars colony might eventually be self sufficient but that is very unlikely for the moon for about a dozen reasons:

1. Days and nights are 14 times longer on the moon than Mars, so the Moon's surface is much colder just before sunrise.So? there are ways to solve that with ease or with complicated machinery. People live in the arctic and antarctic when it's cold. As others have mentioned, putting the habitat underground might help regulate thermal variations. Additionally or alternately, we might use solar shades and reflectors to cool the sun-ward side and warm the dark side.


2 The Moon has less than half the surface gravity of Mars = possibly both are too low for healthy humans.We don't know if it's a problem yet. We don't know if exercise or pharmaceuticals would help. There's always the option of spinning a lunar habitat for artificial gravity.


3 Mars likely has more abundant rich ores of most kinds than the MoonDue to water processes, this is probably true. Also possibly true is that such geologic and hydrologic activity has made ores harder to reach. On the moon, the materials of interest might be right on the surface (Helium3), near the surface in light shielded areas such as craters (water or gold), or mixed so evenly in the regolith that we can simply sift through vast quantities to extract it. And if we can't find the stuff we want, we can still do a lot with the ones we can reach.


4 Mars surface exposes humans to about 1/4 as much dangerous radiation.At night both are relatively safe from solar radiation, so the issue would be GCR. Plenty of regolith shielding can be used, by burying structures and incorporating shielding materials into surface vehicles.


5 Mars has about a million times more atmosphere and Mars can likely have 50 times more atmosphere which may allow plants to grow and an oxygen breathing mask without a space suit.The moon can also hold an atmosphere for a while if we were to give it one. However, we may prefer the moon to not have an atmosphere since we'll likely use it for different purposes.


6 Many dark colored solids are dangerously hot exposed to sunlight on the Moon several days per month but Mars is cold to cool.So, we'll use gloves, tongs, robots or backhoes.


7 A disaster for Earth, might also kill moon colonies, but Mars would be much less effected. Please refute or expand. NeilAny likely disaster that can affect both Earth and the Moon, like a GRB, would affect Mars as well. The only disaster I can think of that would be that large and yet that specific might be from an interloping rogue planet or an interloping star of some sort. Or do you think a comet that breaks into a string of pearls will hit both Earth and the Moon and be able to destroy life on both?


Possibly you are thinking 100 kilometers below the surface, which likely is tolerably cool both places, but trade with the rest of the Solar system and waste heat disposal would be difficult 100 kilometers below the surface, but that would allow some important science, as Earth is much too hot 100 kilometers below the surface, and the pressure is dangerous.The Earth is too hot even 1 km below the surface (the geothermal gradient is 25C per km of depth). Other objects may be cooler, but that doesn't mean they're cold, especially at 100 km below the surface.

neilzero
2013-Jun-29, 07:55 PM
Personally I get uncomfortable when people casually toss out the word terraforming.

We are SO many centuries from being able to do that kind of project.
We certainly dont have any way to start messing with the atmosphere of Mars to increase the pressure.

The only technology we might be able to use for terraforming in the next century would be to slam some small asteroids into Mars, and that would have pretty devastating (and probably bad) consequences.
Sorry, I share your doubt about early terraforming. Lots of small asteroids hits might get Mars surface to ten millibars average, which might be enough for some hardy plant varieties, but still negligible for humans. The tiny heat gain from the bombardment would be mostly radiated to space in one Mars year after the bombardment stopped. We can perhaps gain 0.5 c = 0.9 f average temperature gain with huge space mirrors. One expert thought a few million tons of CFC (or a billion tons of water vapor or methane) would each warm Mars about that much by green house warming. Most of those are less applicable to our Moon. Neil

neilzero
2013-Jun-29, 08:13 PM
Hi Ara. Those are all good points, except the the 25 c per kilometer which would make the upper mantal of Earth 2500 c = 4532 f at a depth of 100 kilometers. If lots of energy is available we can likely cool 200 c = 392 f rock temperature (Is that a reasonable guess for the Moon and Mars 100 kilometers below the surface?) to tolerable using several stage heat pumps. Rock is a rather poor thermal conductor. Neil

Ara Pacis
2013-Jun-30, 06:36 AM
Hi Ara. Those are all good points, except the the 25 c per kilometer which would make the upper mantal of Earth 2500 c = 4532 f at a depth of 100 kilometers.It's not perfectly linear (http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/eoc/teachers/t_tectonics/p_geotherm.html).


If lots of energy is available we can likely cool 200 c = 392 f rock temperature (Is that a reasonable guess for the Moon and Mars 100 kilometers below the surface?) to tolerable using several stage heat pumps.Where are you going to put that heat?


Rock is a rather poor thermal conductor. NeilIt may be the gases you need to look out for.

neilzero
2013-Jun-30, 11:57 AM
"It may be gases that you have to look out for" I agree; gas and volitiles are likely 100 kilometers below the surface of most everything, and the pressure is likely to be very high.
The heat needs to be sent all the way to the surface, unless it can be put in a stream of moving volitiles. How do they do it in that gold mine 8 miles deep in Japan which was being used to see if a proton would decay? Neil

DougSpace
2013-Jul-01, 12:13 AM
1. Day / Night Cycle - An initial base at a lunar pole has nearly continuous sunlight which is good for
continuous power.

2. Moon vs Mars gravity - For long-term, optimal health, both are probably insufficient. Both may*need sleeping rooms at the ends of long centrifuge arms. The Moon's lower gravity means there will be less vertical torque at the end of the arms.

3. Abundant ores on Mars - Initial need is for any metal in order to melt and cast for robotic parts. *Meteorite pieces make up a significant percent of lunar regolith and can be extracted easily using a magnetic rake. *For biology, the most important elements are CHON. These are present in adequate quantities in the lunar polar icy regolith in the permanently shadowed craters. Plants can extract their micronutrients from lunar regolith easily enough.

4. 1/4 as much dangerous radiation on Mars - Reference please? Shielded indoor living with occasional outings when there is no solar particle event makes radiation manageable. You absolutely don't need to be 100 km below the surface. Try 3-5 meters (e.g. into a hillside). Temperatures at the lunar poles are steady and cold. With concentrated sunlight tubed in, it can be a constant room temperature.

5. Mars atmosphere - Mars atmosphere is so thin and without oxygen. mTo live on Mars or the Moon you'd have to create your atmosphere either way. Terraforming Mars would take an unreasonably long time. Far more cost effective and far faster to paraterraform Mars (i.e. sealed greenhouses) and fill it with Earth-like atmosphere.

6. Dark colored solids are hot - Not near the lunar poles.

7. Earth disaster might kill moon colonies - Disasters could be an asteroid or a bio, chemical, or nano "infection". There are practically no more unknown asteroids > 10 km any more. Statistically, humanity is highly unlikely to be wiped out by either an asteroid or comet. Besides, the Moon is 500 times further than LEO and 100 times further than our GEO sats. Lunar bases would also be under significant shielding.

The far greater threat is by self-replicating tech (e.g. biotech). Both a Moon and Mars base should have a portion which is isolated from visitors from Earth.

- Mars water - For the first few hundred years, the Moon will have enough water, especially if recycled. *By that time, harvested comets could supply however much water one wished.

- He-3 - The concentrations are so low it is not practical to mine it.

Arguments for the Moon
1) It is within telerobotic distance

2) Radiation exposure while traveling is much less than for a trip to Mars.

3) It's poles can supply the water to fuel a cis-lunar transportation system servicing multiple already-existing and emerging markets.

4) At only three days away, it is far safer for humans when developing the first permanent colony. An Apollo 13-like breakdown to Mars = a dead crew.

5) The low gravity and lack of atmosphere is perfect for mass drivers.

6) Permanently-shadowed craters at cryogenic temperatures would be a great place for a long-term BioPreserve for samples of nearly all species.


The most important small but self-sufficient colony will be the first one. That's when humanity's life insurance policy will be purchased. It is easiest, less expensive, and safest to establish that colony on the Moon.

neilzero
2013-Jul-01, 02:22 AM
I agree the primary objective is the first long term completly self sufficient colony or group of self sufficient off Earth colonies = at some future date Earth may not be able to export anything to space. Without the Star trek replicator, that may take centuries of massive funding, even with hundreds of different approaches more or less in parallel, so let's start the multiple approaches as soon as possible, as the failure date of Earth to space is unknown, thus possibly quite soon. Possibly few humans need to make long trips though the vacuum of space as more humans can be born in the off planet colonies with the help of sperm and embryo banks from Earth and other off Earth colonies. Neil

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-01, 07:22 AM
"It may be gases that you have to look out for" I agree; gas and volitiles are likely 100 kilometers below the surface of most everything, and the pressure is likely to be very high.
The heat needs to be sent all the way to the surface, unless it can be put in a stream of moving volitiles. How do they do it in that gold mine 8 miles deep in Japan which was being used to see if a proton would decay? Neil

What gold mine 8 miles deep in Japan? From googling, I find that the deepest mine in the world is in South Africa, and it's only 2.4 miles deep, and it's pretty hot at 131 F.

Hlafordlaes
2013-Jul-01, 11:54 AM
Arguments for the Moon
1) It is within telerobotic distance

2) Radiation exposure while traveling is much less than for a trip to Mars.

3) It's poles can supply the water to fuel a cis-lunar transportation system servicing multiple already-existing and emerging markets.

4) At only three days away, it is far safer for humans when developing the first permanent colony. An Apollo 13-like breakdown to Mars = a dead crew.

5) The low gravity and lack of atmosphere is perfect for mass drivers.

6) Permanently-shadowed craters at cryogenic temperatures would be a great place for a long-term BioPreserve for samples of nearly all species.


The most important small but self-sufficient colony will be the first one. That's when humanity's life insurance policy will be purchased. It is easiest, less expensive, and safest to establish that colony on the Moon.

All good reasons imo. Add in the economics, and Moon first becomes a clear case. Mars colonization would also become a lot easier if trips were Moon<->Mars, wouldn't they?

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-01, 03:41 PM
Mars colonization would also become a lot easier if trips were Moon<->Mars, wouldn't they?

I can't think of a good reason why it would. I think that maneuvers from the moon would cost more delta-v than they would provide, unless you had a big, honkin' space gun, and even then there are issues.

MaDeR
2013-Jul-01, 04:33 PM
"Selfsufficient" in this context will probably never happen, barring magic-level technology. Mars or moon colony left alone will die, period. You cannot barely get by, like North Korea. You must meet certain criteria, otherwise your colonists are very, very dead. On Earth you at least have basic commodities like water, air etc for free all around you. Extraterrestial colony must make it for itself.
I cannot understand why so many people are so hung up on "self-sufficient (autarkic) colony" fantasy.

FarmMarsNow
2013-Jul-01, 04:40 PM
It is not 'Fantasy' yet. Its more like a wish or a hope combined with the technical ability to try it. Surely a self-sufficient colony is more desireable than a dependent one? It is part fantasy, but it is not impossible necessarily. Sure, it probably won't happen right away; but I'm willing to look beyond my own life's span and to value things that happen after I die.

neilzero
2013-Jul-02, 03:02 AM
If there is no long term self sufficient colony nor group of colonies, then there is no back up for Earth = all the off Earth colonies die, if Earth can't or won't send supplies.
100 years of supplies may be practical soon, but many supplies deteriate to useless after 100 years = that is one reason we can't travel outside our solar system = we don't know how to do completely self sufficient off Earth. Neil

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-02, 04:25 AM
"Selfsufficient" in this context will probably never happen, barring magic-level technology. Mars or moon colony left alone will die, period. You cannot barely get by, like North Korea. You must meet certain criteria, otherwise your colonists are very, very dead. On Earth you at least have basic commodities like water, air etc for free all around you. Extraterrestial colony must make it for itself.
I cannot understand why so many people are so hung up on "self-sufficient (autarkic) colony" fantasy.

Never is a long time away. It won't be cheap, but I bet it's possible given enough time and money.

Warren Platts
2013-Jul-03, 10:31 PM
HAHA! What a joke!

MaDeR
2013-Jul-04, 09:15 PM
Surely a self-sufficient colony is more desireable than a dependent one?
I personally find pink unicorns very desirable.


Never is a long time away. It won't be cheap, but I bet it's possible given enough time and money.
Nope. It will be possible with magic-level tech. For example, nanobots capable of making everything from materials around you. Otherwise, forget it.

And why everyone thinks that I am against self-sufficient colonies? I am saying they are practically impossible, not that they are bad thing/undesirable/whatever you want to see. :rolleyes:

Only plausible scenario that i can imagine is redundancy, not so-called "self-sufficient colonies".
Colonize various planets in solar neighbourhood, make social/economic/political/whatever links and grow. After thousand year or two human civilization should be perfectly capable of losing one of these planets (for example, Earth) and survive, nasty economic shock nothwithstanding.

We need many baskets with many eggs, not one big basket full of eggs with one egg outside.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-04, 11:33 PM
I personally find pink unicorns very desirable.


Nope. It will be possible with magic-level tech. For example, nanobots capable of making everything from materials around you. Otherwise, forget it.

And why everyone thinks that I am against self-sufficient colonies? I am saying they are practically impossible, not that they are bad thing/undesirable/whatever you want to see. :rolleyes:

Only plausible scenario that i can imagine is redundancy, not so-called "self-sufficient colonies".
Colonize various planets in solar neighbourhood, make social/economic/political/whatever links and grow. After thousand year or two human civilization should be perfectly capable of losing one of these planets (for example, Earth) and survive, nasty economic shock nothwithstanding.

We need many baskets with many eggs, not one big basket full of eggs with one egg outside.

So, in other words, you're agreeing with me, but want to be snide about it.

neilzero
2013-Jul-05, 01:33 AM
There are perhaps 5 mountain peaks at the Lunar North and South pole where the sun shines more than 8700 hours per Earth year = 8766 hours. Viewed from these peaks the sun is always just above or just below the horizon. Fortunately hydroponics are arranged vertically so the green house can have an opaque roof, and transparent cylinder sides to receive the horizontal sun rays. Some food plants will do ok on as little as 3000 hours of sunlight per year provided, none of the dark periods are more than about 100 hours. Longer dark periods will require replanting from scratch after each longer period of darkness. Possibly there are 10 more peaks that meet this agricultural requirement as we need to use the first 5 tiny spots at the peaks to make electricity. Photovoltac panels and possibly concentrating solar panels, need to make about 13 rotations per Earth year, but 2 rotations may be enough if we unwind the wires during the dark periods. Alternately the electricity can be delivered with the help of slip rings as used in ac motors and generators. The permanently shaded craters are typically several kilometers from the peaks over very torturous terrain. Average temperatures are not much more than 100 degrees k with twilight light levels, except rarely, so there are few good locations for the human habitats. In some respects Mars is much simpler, but different. Sorry all my numbers are educated guesses. Have any of you seen more rigorous numbers? Neil

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-05, 03:41 AM
There are perhaps 5 mountain peaks at the Lunar North and South pole where the sun shines more than 8700 hours per Earth year = 8766 hours. Viewed from these peaks the sun is always just above or just below the horizon. Fortunately hydroponics are arranged vertically so the green house can have an opaque roof, and transparent cylinder sides to receive the horizontal sun rays. Some food plants will do ok on as little as 3000 hours of sunlight per year provided, none of the dark periods are more than about 100 hours. Longer dark periods will require replanting from scratch after each longer period of darkness. Possibly there are 10 more peaks that meet this agricultural requirement as we need to use the first 5 tiny spots at the peaks to make electricity. Photovoltac panels and possibly concentrating solar panels, need to make about 13 rotations per Earth year, but 2 rotations may be enough if we unwind the wires during the dark periods. Alternately the electricity can be delivered with the help of slip rings as used in ac motors and generators. The permanently shaded craters are typically several kilometers from the peaks over very torturous terrain. Average temperatures are not much more than 100 degrees k with twilight light levels, except rarely, so there are few good locations for the human habitats. In some respects Mars is much simpler, but different. Sorry all my numbers are educated guesses. Have any of you seen more rigorous numbers? Neil

You can also spread that light over a larger area and still have an effective dose of energy. A lot of the sun's energy at the earth's surface is blocked by the atmosphere and even then, it can be more than plants can use.

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-05, 04:05 AM
I'm not getting why people are saying that it'd be nearly impossible for a Martian or Lunar colony to be self-sufficient. Unless launch costs drop to about the same as that for air travel, any such colony would have to be self-sufficient.

NEOWatcher
2013-Jul-05, 12:56 PM
You can also spread that light over a larger area and still have an effective dose of energy. A lot of the sun's energy at the earth's surface is blocked by the atmosphere and even then, it can be more than plants can use.
I'm not sure about the spectrum of light needed for plants, but everything I can find points to mostly in the visible range.
Our atmosphere blocks very little (http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr162/lect/light/windows.html) in that range.
Of course, not everywhere on Earth is perpendicular to the sun, so I can see spreading it out maybe around another 50%?

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-05, 04:27 PM
I'm not sure about the spectrum of light needed for plants, but everything I can find points to mostly in the visible range.
Our atmosphere blocks very little (http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr162/lect/light/windows.html) in that range.
Of course, not everywhere on Earth is perpendicular to the sun, so I can see spreading it out maybe around another 50%?

I'm not sure that page makes your argument. It's referring to half-absorption altitude, not insolation at ground level. The resolution doesn't appear to be high enough to draw any conclusions. Besides, the evidence is obvious that plants don't need the maximum insolation for our orbital distance, otherwise plants would only grow near the equator, which I think you were suggesting.

I've posted stuff about this in another Mars thread in this forum. It depends on the plant, but plants often don't need full sunlight. And I'm not sure if it's related to light or heat, but I've read that some plants stop growing when sunlight exceeds a certain threshold.

NEOWatcher
2013-Jul-05, 05:03 PM
I'm not sure that page makes your argument. It's referring to half-absorption altitude, not insolation at ground level.
I only used it for illustration purposes that visible light is not blocked nearly as much as other wavelengths.

But; If we extend the idea that the half-absorption is near ground level, then it reasons that you are still getting nearly half the light.
So; now analyzing it a bit better, it seems like you can double your size, plus whatever percentage is applicable to a plant at certain latitudes, which brings it to 2 to ~3 times the area.

If plants use enough outside the visible range, the peaks for IR and UV show that you could increase it dramatically.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-05, 06:23 PM
I only used it for illustration purposes that visible light is not blocked nearly as much as other wavelengths.

But; If we extend the idea that the half-absorption is near ground level, then it reasons that you are still getting nearly half the light.
So; now analyzing it a bit better, it seems like you can double your size, plus whatever percentage is applicable to a plant at certain latitudes, which brings it to 2 to ~3 times the area.

If plants use enough outside the visible range, the peaks for IR and UV show that you could increase it dramatically.

I'm not sure the chart has enough resolution for that, but no matter, the specific plants can be tested for what is maximal, minimal and optimal and adjust as necessary. Additionally, we might use fluorescence to convert UV to visible light for the plants. And, if we have Solar PV using non-visible wavelengths, we can convert those to visible light to increase lighting for plants even more.

Noclevername
2013-Jul-07, 06:06 PM
Nope. It will be possible with magic-level tech. For example, nanobots capable of making everything from materials around you. Otherwise, forget it.

And why everyone thinks that I am against self-sufficient colonies? I am saying they are practically impossible, not that they are bad thing/undesirable/whatever you want to see.

In what ways are they "impossible"? List any and all problems that cannot be overcome.

TheBrett
2013-Jul-07, 06:14 PM
Same here. They don't strike me as impossible, just difficult. You'd either need a large population on site to produce the diverse set of goods and services a colony needs to survive, or your colonists need some combination of very good automation and really good 3D Printers/Sterelithographs/CAD machines to produce everything they'd need on site. Neither's impossible, but it's probably not something that's going to happen any time soon.

neilzero
2013-Jul-07, 11:02 PM
The plants that need less sunlight will be near the middle of the green house at the top of a mountain peak near the lunar pole of rotation with respect to the Sun. The need more sunlight plants will be close to the 360 cylindrical window. Yes we likely need some mirrors to provide some light in weeks when the sun is on the opposite side of the green house and some LED grow lights for the longer dark periods. Portable PV = photovoltaic panels can be placed on plants that are done making food. Tall peaks near the horizon will sometimes shade the green house
The usable volume is increased if we build the green house at the top of a tower on the mountain peak = effectively making the mountain taller. Neil

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-08, 03:40 AM
In what ways are they "impossible"? List any and all problems that cannot be overcome.


Same here. They don't strike me as impossible, just difficult. You'd either need a large population on site to produce the diverse set of goods and services a colony needs to survive, or your colonists need some combination of very good automation and really good 3D Printers/Sterelithographs/CAD machines to produce everything they'd need on site. Neither's impossible, but it's probably not something that's going to happen any time soon.
I wondered the same thing, but so far I haven't gotten an answer. (http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php?144983-Mars-colony-better-than-Moon-colony&p=2143192#post2143192)

Jens
2013-Jul-08, 03:55 AM
they are practically impossible


In what ways are they "impossible"? List any and all problems that cannot be overcome.

Are you blind to adverbs?

You might have asked what it means, because I think "practically" has two general meanings, either "in practice" or (typically in American usage) "nearly," or in other words not impossible but extremely difficult.

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-08, 04:24 AM
Are you blind to adverbs?

You might have asked what it means, because I think "practically" has two general meanings, either "in practice" or (typically in American usage) "nearly," or in other words not impossible but extremely difficult.Jens, I dunno about Noclevername, but I'm not even seeing where the words "practically" or "impossible" are warranted in this instance.

Jens
2013-Jul-08, 09:36 AM
To me, practically impossible seems pretty fair. What would you do if something broke?

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-08, 12:44 PM
Fix it, of course.

neilzero
2013-Jul-08, 12:50 PM
Someone skilled in repairs of most everything is likely the first 70 years, but we have no guarantees of a repair person in the 2nd and third generation. Repair persons are becoming rare as humans are becoming increasingly a throw away society. Worse, the replacement part may have died of old age without ever being put to use. Long term self sufficient definitely requires a highly diversified manufacturing infrastructure, which seems unlikely with a few hundred humans aboard a generation space craft. Can subsequent generations be motivated to learn the detailed theory of operation of the numerous gadgets that are essential? They will likely prefer to learn details about the play toys and other non-essentials. Neil

Jens
2013-Jul-08, 01:20 PM
Fix it, of course.

Yes, but suppose the piece is plastic, or suppose you need tape. Where are you going to get it?

Jens
2013-Jul-08, 01:23 PM
Someone skilled in repairs of most everything is likely the first 70 years, but we have no guarantees of a repair person in the 2nd and third generation.

And it's not just the repairman, but the materials as well. Suppose you need a new screw or nail. Where are you going to find it?

Noclevername
2013-Jul-08, 08:02 PM
Someone skilled in repairs of most everything is likely the first 70 years, but we have no guarantees of a repair person in the 2nd and third generation. Repair persons are becoming rare as humans are becoming increasingly a throw away society. Worse, the replacement part may have died of old age without ever being put to use. Long term self sufficient definitely requires a highly diversified manufacturing infrastructure, which seems unlikely with a few hundred humans aboard a generation space craft. Can subsequent generations be motivated to learn the detailed theory of operation of the numerous gadgets that are essential? They will likely prefer to learn details about the play toys and other non-essentials. Neil

No one said anything about small numbers of humans, or anything about a generation spacecraft. Moon colony, Mars colony; Listed in the thread title. And how will a colony get repairmen? Education and necessity. For most of human history, people have lived in societies where a large variety of complex skills were necessary for the majority of the population. Very few chose to be educated in only a few limited areas, they learned what they needed to because they had to for survival. And taught their children accordingly.


And it's not just the repairman, but the materials as well. Suppose you need a new screw or nail. Where are you going to find it?

Bring the manufacturing equipment to make all that you need, preferably with the most flexible capacity to produce a wide range of tools including more manufacturing equipment. It would be a very poorly planned colony if you didn't.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-08, 10:05 PM
And it's not just the repairman, but the materials as well. Suppose you need a new screw or nail. Where are you going to find it?

They'd make it the same way it's made on earth. They'd probably thread a blank, or die cast it. Maybe they could print it.

Jens
2013-Jul-08, 11:17 PM
They'd make it the same way it's made on earth. They'd probably thread a blank, or die cast it. Maybe they could print it.

That sounds reasonable, so you have a casting machine (either to make the screw or the blank). Where will you get the steel from?

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-09, 12:59 AM
That sounds reasonable, so you have a casting machine (either to make the screw or the blank). Where will you get the steel from?
Make it. Lots of iron on Mars and plenty of carbon. The iron's easier to get on Mars than it is on Earth, because we've already mined the easy stuff.

Let's take a semi-realistic look at what you'd need for a self-sufficient Mars colony for a moment. (I say "semi-realistic" because I'm going to artificially constrain the technology involved to specifically exclude things like advanced 3D printers, which we'll probably have in 10 or so years.) The first thing you're going to want to do is have a "constrained" design for as many things as possible. If you look around your house, you'll notice that things like the legs on your tables all look different from those on the other tables. There's no reason to do that, other than aesthetics. Even the different lengths of legs could be identical to one another and you could have tables of different heights simply by bolting another leg length on to them. Now, imagine if the standard leg length (we'll say its 1 ft/25cm) is the structural basis for all supports, including those in the walls of any buildings you might have. By doing this, you reduce the variety of parts you have to bring from Earth (which will be needed until you get the colony fully self-sustaining), this also reduces the amount of tooling you'll need to make replacement/new parts once you get to Mars. As the colony progresses, you'll be able to branch out and do more creative things, but in the beginning that's the kind of thing you want.

Now, take that philosophy and expand it to other things that the colony will need as well. Currently, your typical smartphone is roughly equivalent to a new laptop that was built 5 years ago (and vastly out paces the supercomputers NASA had during the Apollo era). They're also very small devices and can be made even smaller if you delete things like the screen and battery. Instead of having a bunch of different computers running everything, you standardize on a generic device that can be plugged into anything which needs computer control. Its more than what you'd need to monitor a pump, but it has enough horsepower to handle the computing needs that colonists are going to have until they get to the point to where they're designing their own chips/devices (a decade or so after the colony lands). Another advantage to do this is that you make it easier for anyone to replace a broken computer component. They don't have to know if its a Matisui 720/G or a Matisui 735/S unit. They're all the same and they hook up identically to one another.

If you have one machine shop (with standard automated equipment, so that you don't have to have someone there running the machines most of the time), you have enough equipment to make whatever the colony might need. The military and your big racing organizations (NASCAR, Formula 1, etc.) all have complete machine shops that can fit into a standard semi-trailer, and the military is moving towards ditching sending spare parts, in lieu of deploying these machine shops, since its more economical to send the shop and a bunch of metal, than it is to send spare parts (and they're going to need the machine shop anyway).

I would imagine that one of the first things that the colonists would do after they landed, would be to start building a second machine shop (for redundancy purposes, if nothing else). If you've standardized on one computer form (the aforementioned smartphone), then you only need one set of tooling to make the chips, which could fit in another semi-trailer sized container.

You'd wind up with a colony that constructed itself in the way someone builds things with LEGO. You've got a few standard units, which are flexible enough to allow you to put together anything you might need. As you build up redundancy in colonial structures (i.e. more than enough greenhouses to provide food and air, ample living quarters and transportation equipment, etc.), the colonists can begin to create their own designs, rather than relying on the same basic components that they've been using since they arrived.

neilzero
2013-Jul-09, 01:39 AM
Thank you tuckerfan. I'm encouraged that we might make the colony workable. How soon can we do a simulation with convicts near the South pole of Earth? I think many converts would volunteer, in spite of the potential for deep suffering. With careful preselection they might out perform 3 d generation colonists. Neil

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-09, 04:44 AM
Why bother with the convicts or mucking about in Antarctica? I'm a machinist and I'll gladly hop a rocket to Mars tomorrow. If you're in Antarctica there's the chance of rescue, on Mars, you either do or die, which has a wonderful way of focusing the mind.

Jens
2013-Jul-09, 04:57 AM
I don't think it would have to be Antarctica, but I do think it would be useful to set up the system on earth first and make sure it works OK. "Do or die" might be a nice thing, but you don't want a situation where suddenly, it's like "OK, who brought the fuel rods for the nuclear plant"? You could built it in a desert somewhere, like Nazca, and give them a rover to pick up ores or something if they wanted.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-09, 05:11 AM
That sounds reasonable, so you have a casting machine (either to make the screw or the blank). Where will you get the steel from?

You could mine it or recycle scrap. I'm not sure what you or MaDeR were thinking of, but I'd expect to be sending millions of tons over decades. I don't think anyone here has delusions about a self-sufficient colony that fits on a single rocket launch. And even if they have the capability to be self-sufficient, they almost certainly won't be. They'll want trade, which will tend to drive economic interdependence. There will be plenty of labs and machine-shops and forges, but they will probably be backups for imported goods, and will probably end up doing what small and remote shops do here on earth: custom work.

I know that will fly in the face of the rockets-are-perennially-expensive crowd, but if we have enough rockets going up to send that much mass to Mars, we will have established a paradigm where we can continue to send that much mass to Mars. In that market environment, mass production costs may become more important than delivery costs. This will be even more true if the materials are sourced from the Moon.

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-10, 02:16 AM
I don't think it would have to be Antarctica, but I do think it would be useful to set up the system on earth first and make sure it works OK. "Do or die" might be a nice thing, but you don't want a situation where suddenly, it's like "OK, who brought the fuel rods for the nuclear plant"? You could built it in a desert somewhere, like Nazca, and give them a rover to pick up ores or something if they wanted.
Much of the tech is well established already (lathes are some of the oldest machines made by man), and, of course, you'd have to do some full scale mock ups to make sure you got all the kinks out of the designs, but the bulk of the technology already exists, though not necessarily in the form necessary for it to be shipped to Mars.

And now that I think about it, let me say that any Martian base is effectively going to have to be self-sufficient. We have an optimal launch window to send things to Mars once every two years, a significant lag time in radio communication between Earth and Mars, and unless we put up a bunch of communication satellites around Mars, the two planets can only talk to one another once a day. So, if something goes wrong, the folks on Mars are probably going to have to solve all of it on their own, with little to no help from the Earth. You can't exactly wait 2+ years for a new toilet to be shipped from the Earth.

Jens
2013-Jul-10, 02:42 AM
Much of the tech is well established already (lathes are some of the oldest machines made by man), and, of course, you'd have to do some full scale mock ups to make sure you got all the kinks out of the designs, but the bulk of the technology already exists, though not necessarily in the form necessary for it to be shipped to Mars.

I assume that if there are going to be machines, there will be a need for lubrication and perhaps cooling. For lubricants, you are going to need vegetable oils I suppose. Or can the grease be fully recycled?

FarmMarsNow
2013-Jul-10, 03:10 AM
How about dry lubricants. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_lubricant

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-10, 04:27 AM
I assume that if there are going to be machines, there will be a need for lubrication and perhaps cooling. For lubricants, you are going to need vegetable oils I suppose. Or can the grease be fully recycled?
As FMN points out, dry lubricants can be used for some applications, but vegetable oils will work for a number of applications as well. Assuming a robustly redundant design for the colony, you're going to have livestock with you (you bring a few young females of a species, along with lots of frozen embryos of the different breeds for each species, so you can quickly have a variety of breeds of animals), and as you slaughter the animals for food, you can use their fat for lubricants and cutting fluids. Of course, you don't necessarily have to wait to slaughter the animals to make use of their products. Milk, believe it or not, is one of the best cutting fluids for machining certain metals.

I'd expect that a serious design would use as low a variety of lubricants and fluids as possible, in order that they could do double duty. So, the coolants needed solely by the spacecraft getting the colonists to Mars could also work as cutting fluids in the machine shop.

DougSpace
2013-Jul-10, 04:44 AM
I don't think anyone here has delusions about a self-sufficient colony that fits on a single rocket launch.

No, but within the first 10 launches, could we reduce the mass that would need to be delivered by 90%?

My concept at CisLunarOne.com calls for a Falcon Heavy to deliver (one-way) nine tonnes of teleoperating lunar ice harvesting and processing equipment including an extra excavator, dextrous telerobot, spare parts, and sufficient thin-film solar sheets. At 5.6% of the icy regolith being water, I think there would be a decent chance at producing enough water for propellant to refuel the craft for cis-lunar deliveries of water for propellant sales.

Subsequent payload deliveries from Earth would include redundant equipment, spare parts, equipment to extract metal asteroid bits from the regolith, a solar concentrating oven / foundry, machining equipment, greenhouses, and inflatable habitats. Then people would arrive to their shielded habitats in order to do any maintenance work that the dextrous telerobots couldn't do.

At that point water, propellant, air, fertilizer, metals, ceramics, brick, glass, organic material such as plastics, and perhaps silicon could be produced. Then, low-mass but high-tech items could be sent in very high quantities per delivery from Earth.

So, at that point, how close is such a small but permanent base to being self sufficient?


And even if they have the capability to be self-sufficient, they almost certainly won't be. They'll want trade, which will tend to drive economic interdependence.

Yes and no. To ensure a part of the colony doesn't get infected from any biological or technologic outbreak from Earth, I could see a rationale for having one part of the colony being entirely isolated from the rest. But otherwise there will always be good reasons for the rest of the colony to be economically and logistically connected.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-10, 05:07 AM
No, but within the first 10 launches, could we reduce the mass that would need to be delivered by 90%?

My concept at CisLunarOne.com calls for a Falcon Heavy to deliver (one-way) nine tonnes of teleoperating lunar ice harvesting and processing equipment including an extra excavator, dextrous telerobot, spare parts, and sufficient thin-film solar sheets. At 5.6% of the icy regolith being water, I think there would be a decent chance at producing enough water for propellant to refuel the craft for cis-lunar deliveries of water for propellant sales.

Subsequent payload deliveries from Earth would include redundant equipment, spare parts, equipment to extract metal asteroid bits from the regolith, a solar concentrating oven / foundry, machining equipment, greenhouses, and inflatable habitats. Then people would arrive to their shielded habitats in order to do any maintenance work that the dextrous telerobots couldn't do.

At that point water, propellant, air, fertilizer, metals, ceramics, brick, glass, organic material such as plastics, and perhaps silicon could be produced. Then, low-mass but high-tech items could be sent in very high quantities per delivery from Earth.

So, at that point, how close is such a small but permanent base to being self sufficient?



Yes and no. To ensure a part of the colony doesn't get infected from any biological or technologic outbreak from Earth, I could see a rationale for having one part of the colony being entirely isolated from the rest. But otherwise there will always be good reasons for the rest of the colony to be economically and logistically connected.

I'd need more data. For example, I'm not sure if you're referring to a colony on the Moon or on Mars. How many people would be living at the "colony"? What is your definition of a colony vs. a mere outpost?

neilzero
2013-Jul-10, 02:12 PM
In paragraph 2 Ara Pacis mentions lunar, so moon, more important pole or equator, since the water, and other volitiles may be thousands of kilometers away at the Equator and there are many other differences for both the Moon and Mars depending on location. In some respects tiny asteroids are still better as local distances are tiny. A space suit is needed everywhere off Earth except inside the habitat and possibly cloud top habitats where an oxygen mask may surfice.
Two females and an embrio bank and/or sperm bank are a colony if bigger is one of the future intents and at least partial living off the land is another intent. Machine shops, farming and mining suggest 100 plus humans in the third generation where more than half of the humans may be worse than useless. Worse than useless is about half of present Earth humans, in many locals, since most of us can't operate a machine shop, raise a tomato, diagnose a system malfuction nor separate materials from ore, Many of us would not recognize recognise the tools or the ore, so it would be difficult to instruct us if we were distracted, or have a bad attitude. 3 year olds and 90 year old humans are rarely helpful = useless eaters. We may live longer in reduced gravity, but only a few decades of useful. Neil

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-10, 03:34 PM
In paragraph 2 Ara Pacis mentions lunar, so moon, more important pole or equator, since the water, and other volitiles may be thousands of kilometers away at the Equator and there are many other differences for both the Moon and Mars depending on location. In some respects tiny asteroids are still better as local distances are tiny. A space suit is needed everywhere off Earth except inside the habitat and possibly cloud top habitats where an oxygen mask may surfice.
Two females and an embrio bank and/or sperm bank are a colony if bigger is one of the future intents and at least partial living off the land is another intent. Machine shops, farming and mining suggest 100 plus humans in the third generation where more than half of the humans may be worse than useless. Worse than useless is about half of present Earth humans, in many locals, since most of us can't operate a machine shop, raise a tomato, diagnose a system malfuction nor separate materials from ore, Many of us would not recognize recognise the tools or the ore, so it would be difficult to instruct us if we were distracted, or have a bad attitude. 3 year olds and 90 year old humans are rarely helpful = useless eaters. We may live longer in reduced gravity, but only a few decades of useful. Neil

Why do you need a baby factory?

MaDeR
2013-Jul-10, 05:57 PM
So, in other words, you're agreeing with me, but want to be snide about it.
No. You claim self-sufficient colonies are possible.
No nation of Earth is capable of surviving in state of autarkia and still maintain its state (as in not failing catastrophically to level of North Korea). On Earth, where we have things like air and water for free! This is why I treat any "self-sufficience" of extraterrestial colony as wishful thinking on part of many people here.


I'm not getting why people are saying that it'd be nearly impossible for a Martian or Lunar colony to be self-sufficient. Unless launch costs drop to about the same as that for air travel, any such colony would have to be self-sufficient.
They will be dependent on cargo from Mother Earth. Food, spare parts, new modules, rovers etc. If you insist that colony have to be self-sufficient from moment of landing of first manned rocket ever, you will never have any colony of any kind whatsoever.


And now that I think about it, let me say that any Martian base is effectively going to have to be self-sufficient. We have an optimal launch window to send things to Mars once every two years, a significant lag time in radio communication between Earth and Mars, and unless we put up a bunch of communication satellites around Mars, the two planets can only talk to one another once a day. So, if something goes wrong, the folks on Mars are probably going to have to solve all of it on their own, with little to no help from the Earth.
Uhhhhh... you are equating "being able to survive two years on its own" with "self-sufficient". Wrong. These two are very, very different things.


In what ways are they "impossible"? List any and all problems that cannot be overcome.
I guess you mean problems that cannot be overcomed without magic-level tech.

First thing that came to my head was already talked on, what if something breaks? It changed into this kind of defence:

No one said anything about small numbers of humans, or anything about a generation spacecraft. Moon colony, Mars colony; Listed in the thread title.
I need your definition of Martian colony that would be capable of being "self-sufficient".

neilzero
2013-Jul-10, 06:53 PM
We need to make a few babies to establish that the colony can make babies, otherwise people are another import from Earth or somewhere off Earth that makes surplus babies. Also making and raising babies is a usual definition of colony, and a skill that needs to be transferred to the next generation. Neil

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-10, 10:21 PM
No. You claim self-sufficient colonies are possible.
No nation of Earth is capable of surviving in state of autarkia and still maintain its state (as in not failing catastrophically to level of North Korea). On Earth, where we have things like air and water for free! This is why I treat any "self-sufficience" of extraterrestial colony as wishful thinking on part of many people here.

What the heck ever gave you that idea?

Jens
2013-Jul-11, 12:57 AM
This is why I treat any "self-sufficience" of extraterrestial colony as wishful thinking on part of many people here.

I'm a little bit unclear about your motivation for participating in this thread. I think my position is a little softer than yours: I see enormous difficulties in having a self-sufficient colony, but I think that it will probably be best for any colony on Mars or the moon to be as self-sufficient as possible, so I don't see anything wrong with trying to work out what can be done and what can't. When you talk about things like "wishful thinking" and "magical technology" it almost sounds like you're trying to win an argument rather than trying to contribute to hopefully a more realistic plan of what might be achieved. So I just wanted to be clear that our motivation as skeptics in this regard is to help make these types of plans more realistic by bringing up the potential difficulties.

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-11, 01:42 AM
They will be dependent on cargo from Mother Earth. Food, spare parts, new modules, rovers etc. If you insist that colony have to be self-sufficient from moment of landing of first manned rocket ever, you will never have any colony of any kind whatsoever.Never said anything about it being self-sufficient from the landing of the first manned rocket.



Uhhhhh... you are equating "being able to survive two years on its own" with "self-sufficient". Wrong. These two are very, very different things.Not really, because nobody can see two years into the future. The launch window that opens up every two years lasts for roughly 30 days, and it would probably take 30 days to prep resupply rockets in order to launch them on time. Suppose, during the 30 day prep period before the launch window, there's a design flaw discovered in the design of the components or rockets heading towards Mars (or even a change in the geo-political situation) meaning that they can't be launched on schedule. Or if they are launched, you've no idea if they'll make it to Mars. A colony which must be resupplied every two years is likely to be dead when the next window opens up, if they can't get supplies on time. So any colony sent to Mars is going to have to be capable of making it, even if they don't get the necessary supplies on schedule. Or they have to be prepared to return to Earth if its found that Earth can't get them the supplies they need.

Jens
2013-Jul-11, 04:03 AM
I think one issue that is going to be very difficult to deal with is medicine. I suppose you could grow poppies and the create a supply of heroin and then basically take the stance that once a person gets sick, you just make the end as comfortable as possible. But if you are going to be doing dental and medical work, then you're going to have to manufacture high-precision needles and surgical instruments and then somehow manufacture the anti-cancer and other drugs that today require an enormous infrastructure. I think it would be quite a difficult task to create such an infrastructure.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-11, 05:38 AM
I think one issue that is going to be very difficult to deal with is medicine. I suppose you could grow poppies and the create a supply of heroin and then basically take the stance that once a person gets sick, you just make the end as comfortable as possible. But if you are going to be doing dental and medical work, then you're going to have to manufacture high-precision needles and surgical instruments and then somehow manufacture the anti-cancer and other drugs that today require an enormous infrastructure. I think it would be quite a difficult task to create such an infrastructure.

Or they could just re-use syringes and scalpels. Is there a reason autoclaves won't work on Mars? Does Mars have obsidian? That can be used to make sharp edges. Even prehistoric people used them on weapons and hunting tools.

Jens
2013-Jul-11, 09:16 AM
And what about the drugs?

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-11, 03:57 PM
And what about the drugs?

I didn't mention drugs, but if you want me to prognosticate, I can. Many drugs come from plants, so they may take those plants with them and process what they need as they need it. If they can't manufacture it or can't afford it, then they won't use it and those people who could have used a drug will die, but that's not much different from current medical reality. I've read that a lot of drugs also pass through the body unprocessed, so perhaps they will figure out a way to extract residual drugs from urine.

DougSpace
2013-Jul-12, 03:16 PM
I'd need more data. For example, I'm not sure if you're referring to a colony on the Moon or on Mars. How many people would be living at the "colony"? What is your definition of a colony vs. a mere outpost?

Let's say a colony on the Moon because it is safely nearby and can be helped to be initially set up by telerobots being operated by a large number of people on Earth. In other words, I believe it cheaper and hence sooner to achieve a colony on the Moon than Mars despite Mars having a convenient atmosphere and somewhat more gravity. As for size, because sooner (and hence cost) is most important, I would say that the size should be as small as possible and yet self-sufficient.

To clarify definitions, I make a difference between self-sufficient and self-sustaining. Self-sustaining means that it is able to produce all of its needs such that it would be able to survive essentially indefinitely. On the other hand, self-sufficient means that it has sufficient stocks of high-tech items (e.g. computer chips) such that it can operate for enough time such that the colony would be able to implement plans to build the equipment necessary to produce the stocked high-tech items thereby becoming self-sustaining.

So, back to size, what is the minimum size necessary to ensure the survival of the colony? Genetics is not the limiting criteria. A single female could have a container of 1,000 genetically diverse frozen embryos and hence have a family of females that would eventually give birth to all those 1,000 individuals and you'd have a viable population.

Rather, the minimum size would be determined by how many people would be needed in order to produce those items necessary for the colony's survival and some back-up in case some are lost due to death. Interior decoration, used car salesman, etc are not needed for the limited critical technologies for maintaining a minimalist colony. So I don't believe you need an entire civilization in order to survive. You need someone who can produce the necessary raw materials from the lunar ice and dirt. You need a physician and a biologist. You need a roboticist and a geologist. And you need to cross-train them. So I'm thinking something like 20 or so people.

Ilya
2013-Jul-12, 03:54 PM
No. You claim self-sufficient colonies are possible.
No nation of Earth is capable of surviving in state of autarkia and still maintain its state (as in not failing catastrophically to level of North Korea). On Earth, where we have things like air and water for free! This is why I treat any "self-sufficience" of extraterrestial colony as wishful thinking on part of many people here.

What the heck ever gave you that idea?
The fact that it is true?

Name a truly self-sufficient modern country. There aren't any. Number of people to maintain 21st level of technology may well approach Earth's population.

Ilya
2013-Jul-12, 04:00 PM
And Earth's biosphere.

For any self-sufficient colony you need mining. Miners like to have access to explosives. Most explosives are made from nitrates---which come from plant/animal products or from the atmosphere. Uh oh! Then you have to turn ore (a mixed iron oxide/silicon-oxide product) into iron. Smelting requires lots of heat, oxygen, elemental carbon or methane, and calcium carbonate. Oops, those are all basically biomass products. On Mars, they're precious substances that you eke out of a solar-powered electrolysis process you brought with you from Earth. (Maybe you can find some Martian travertine for the calcium carbonate.) Did you want some vanadium in your steel? Some phosphates in your greenhouse soils? Some acetylene for cutting metals? Sorry, no, you're in an airless basalt wasteland.

Some minerals really require biomass to form. Lead-zinc "skarn" ores form when (a) hot, acidic groundwater leaches through a body of generic crust/mantle rock, picking up lead ions in solution, then (b) flows into a seam of coal or limestone, whereupon (c) the water's pH changes and the lead precipitates out. On Mars? No limestone, no skarn ores whatsoever. Better hope there's a sedimentary deposit somewhere.

And then there's the biomass itself. On Earth, if you want to make some plastic, you go drill for some oil -- until this century, it was practically sitting on the surface waiting for you -- and do some easy chemistry to it. Don't have oil? Cut down a tree, burn half of it, use the heat to pyrolyze the other the other half, and you've got sort-of-expensive-but-not-too-bad oil. On Mars, you're starting with carbon dioxide and doing very energy-expensive chemistry to it. Phosphorus and nitrogen? Calcium carbonate? Totally biogenic. No diatoms? No phosphate ores. No seabirds pooping on islands over millions of years? No nitrate ores. Back to the expensive chem lab to get trace nitrogen/phosphorus out of some igneous rocks. You want to make cement? You can't cook limestone, because Mars doesn't have limestone. You have to go find some rare one-off geothermal travertine deposit, or find an ancient cave and mine it for stalagmites.

Now, Earth isn't exactly drowning in rich ores. If you were an asteroid-based life form, contemplating a colony on Earth, you'd probably look at it and say "Good heavens, where will we get any iridium down there? Where's the nickel?". It took centuries of prospecting to find all of the ores we know about today. If you landed a rover in Miami, gave it a 500-mile driving range, and told it to find some mercury ore, well, it's just screwed, because there ain't no mercury ore within 500 miles of Miami. But we're lucky we have as much geological diversity as we have. Mars generally will have less diversity. Less hydrothermal geology, less volcanism, less uplift, less erosion, less metamorphism, no biomass.

You know what's even worse? The moon.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-12, 09:43 PM
The fact that it is true?

Name a truly self-sufficient modern country. There aren't any. Number of people to maintain 21st level of technology may well approach Earth's population.

Define "truly self-sufficient" and why it's "impossible" for a modern country to be one. Using some arbitrary aspect of technological modernity as a definitional component would almost certainly result in selection bias, so make it a simply list of what we absolutely must import and why we can't live without it and why there's no substitution for it and no way to get around not having it or merely having less of it.

neilzero
2013-Jul-12, 09:47 PM
I can't confirm any of what Ilya typed, but it is sufficiently detailed to be correct, so I tentatively agree, some strategic minerals will be Much more costly to extract than to import from Earth, especially on the moon and some asteroids and comets, so the colony better produce something Earth will pay dearly for, otherwise the colony is a charity case. Near term, Earth will finance good science from the colony, but perhaps not long term. The colonists better be good at making do with what is readily available.
Neil

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-12, 09:48 PM
And Earth's biosphere.

For any self-sufficient colony you need mining. Miners like to have access to explosives.Wants are not necessarily the same thing as needs.

If there are things that are needed, they will either make them the hard way or import enough and recycle it as needed. How much mass do you think that would take, millions of tons?

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-12, 09:55 PM
I can't confirm any of what Ilya typed, but it is sufficiently detailed to be correct, so I tentatively agree, some strategic minerals will be more costly to extract than to import from Earth, especially on the moon and some asteroids and comets, so the colony better produce something Earth will pay dearly for, otherwise the colony is a charity case. Neil

I can't confirm anything either of you say, but I can tentatively assume you're wrong, since it's usually the case. :)

There are ways to pay for things that don't require physical trade, but I suspect there will be some. I think we've had dozens or even hundreds of threads about what services and products might be supplied off-Earth to either Earth or other off-Earth locations.

neilzero
2013-Jul-12, 10:10 PM
20 very skilled people may be enough, but to get that many, in the third generation may require a population of 100 plus. Loss of just one specialist may prove a tragedy, so we need a back up for each of the colony's most capable persons.
If we send Michio Kaku and me from Earth we may not be much help at filling a vacancy. Neil

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-12, 10:10 PM
Number of people to maintain 21st level of technology may well approach Earth's population.

I didn't touch on this too much, because I think it's arbitrary, but we've already got a thread where people argue about this and I don't think anyone else agrees with you that it takes 6-7 billion. Lots of people are permanently unemployed, and of those who are employed, the vast majority are in competition with each other many times over which means the economic system has an excessive amount of redundancy. With a managed economy, you wouldn't need any redundancy. Most manufacturers and servicers have excess capacity, so managing production scheduled could mean a further reduction in the time, energy and personnel needed. There's probably a minimal amount of economy of scale that we might want to maintain (though we may not need to maintain that scale), but that can be reduced by time-shifting schedules for batch processing: in other words, manufacturers and servicers can retool for different production runs, which is what already tends to happen.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-12, 10:36 PM
Let's say a colony on the Moon because it is safely nearby and can be helped to be initially set up by telerobots being operated by a large number of people on Earth. In other words, I believe it cheaper and hence sooner to achieve a colony on the Moon than Mars despite Mars having a convenient atmosphere and somewhat more gravity. As for size, because sooner (and hence cost) is most important, I would say that the size should be as small as possible and yet self-sufficient.To setup, sure, but it won't be going solo until the teleoperated robots are no longer doing necessary work. Whether telerobotics controlled from earth for non-essential tasks as an economic data-product is a different discussion.


To clarify definitions, I make a difference between self-sufficient and self-sustaining. Self-sustaining means that it is able to produce all of its needs such that it would be able to survive essentially indefinitely. On the other hand, self-sufficient means that it has sufficient stocks of high-tech items (e.g. computer chips) such that it can operate for enough time such that the colony would be able to implement plans to build the equipment necessary to produce the stocked high-tech items thereby becoming self-sustaining.Who else makes that distinction? That's not how I was interpreting it, so now I have to reconsider if or how I might agree or disagree.


So, back to size, what is the minimum size necessary to ensure the survival of the colony? Genetics is not the limiting criteria. A single female could have a container of 1,000 genetically diverse frozen embryos and hence have a family of females that would eventually give birth to all those 1,000 individuals and you'd have a viable population.

Rather, the minimum size would be determined by how many people would be needed in order to produce those items necessary for the colony's survival and some back-up in case some are lost due to death. Interior decoration, used car salesman, etc are not needed for the limited critical technologies for maintaining a minimalist colony. So I don't believe you need an entire civilization in order to survive. You need someone who can produce the necessary raw materials from the lunar ice and dirt. You need a physician and a biologist. You need a roboticist and a geologist. And you need to cross-train them. So I'm thinking something like 20 or so people.

That might work for an outpost, but for a colony that will tend to grow, you'll need to have room resources for expansion. Or you could kill off one person whenever another person is born. You'll need people who can watch over babies, and a person who can teach youngsters, and someone who can cook while someone else does all that, and while the geologist is busy geologing and the roboticist is busy robotting, etc. I'd expect that number to be at least one order of magnitude higher (hundreds) and my preference (to allow for leisure and family unity) would be to increase it at least 2 orders of magnitude (thousands, but perhaps less than <10k)


20 very skilled people may be enough, but to get that many, in the third generation may require a population of 100 plus. Loss of just one specialist may prove a tragedy, so we need a back up for each of the colonies most capable persons. Neil

I agree with Neil on this point. There needs to be some redundancy to make up for mortality, morbidity, retirement and resentment (when someone decides they don't want to do what the powers that be have decided they should spend the rest of their life doing). Furthermore, I think there is a critical mass of people for any discipline to maintain "institutional memory". I know some people, including some scifi books think that people can wear multiple hats, and while that might work temporarily, specialization is what's needed long-term.

MaDeR
2013-Jul-13, 12:18 PM
Define "truly self-sufficient" and why it's "impossible" for a modern country to be one.
For me, "truly self-sufficient" is being able to survive without external help on current level of technology, life quality etc. Currently humanity on Earth as a whole is truly self-sufficient. There is no other entity that is or can be truly self-sufficient.


Using some arbitrary aspect of technological modernity as a definitional component would almost certainly result in selection bias, so make it a simply list of what we absolutely must import and why we can't live without it and why there's no substitution for it and no way to get around not having it or merely having less of it.
Hey, if you are fine with North Korea-level of life quality, then sure, autarkia is possible. They merely have less of it, right?
Only problem is that NK lived as long as is because there is a lot of humanitarian help each year. Oops, it is worse than I thought previously.

You want true self-sufficiency on small scale? You get prehistoric tribe in savanna. Forget about modern USA, forget about Mars colony. These times are gone long, long ago.


Never said anything about it being self-sufficient from the landing of the first manned rocket.

A colony which must be resupplied every two years is likely to be dead when the next window opens up, if they can't get supplies on time. So any colony sent to Mars is going to have to be capable of making it, even if they don't get the necessary supplies on schedule.
You effectively said exactly what you just denied: that it must be "self-sufficient from the landing of the first manned rocket".

More generally, if colony is not self-sufficient, then, by definition, any prolonged lack of communication and lack of exchange with mother world will cause demise of the colony. Well, DUH.

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-14, 06:21 AM
And Earth's biosphere.

For any self-sufficient colony you need mining. Miners like to have access to explosives.Like? I would like a trip to Europe, but I certainly can live without one. Miners don't randomly blow things up, what with there being methane in mines and all. Explosives have their uses, but they're not the only method of making holes in the ground. We humans were mining stuff before gunpowder was discovered, and with modern machines, we can bore deep holes without ever blowing anything up if we so choose.


Most explosives are made from nitrates---which come from plant/animal products or from the atmosphere. Uh oh! Then you have to turn ore (a mixed iron oxide/silicon-oxide product) into iron. Smelting requires lots of heat, oxygen, elemental carbon or methane, and calcium carbonate. Oops, those are all basically biomass products. On Mars, they're precious substances that you eke out of a solar-powered electrolysis process you brought with you from Earth. (Maybe you can find some Martian travertine for the calcium carbonate.) Did you want some vanadium in your steel? Some phosphates in your greenhouse soils? Some acetylene for cutting metals? Sorry, no, you're in an airless basalt wasteland.Decades ago the French proved you could melt steel with nothing more than solar power. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont-Louis_Solar_Furnace) What's that you say? Mars is farther away from the sun than the Earth? Yeah, but you see, since Mars doesn't have nearly the same amount of clouds as the Earth, it works out that more solar energy strikes Mars than the Earth. (Robert A. Heinlein mentions this in passing in his book Expanded Universe.) Carbon? Gee, I don't know where on Mars one could get carbon, what with a colony growing plants (a carbon based lifeform) and the atmosphere being over 90% CO2. Ever seen how a traditional Samurai sword is made? It involves taking a sheet of iron, covering it with rice straw, folding it over the rice straw, hammering the crap out of it, and repeating the process until you have a wickedly sharp steel sword. If you need phosphorus, it turns out there is some on Mars. (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10389-soil-minerals-point-to-planetwide-ocean-on-mars.html) Vanadium? Calcium? They exist on Earth, so they should exist on Mars, they are, after all, elements, and don't rely on biologic processes to be produced at all. Given that we've barely explored an area barely more than 1,000 square miles of Mars, with equipment that can't penetrate more than a few inches, the fact that we don't know its there is meaningless.

Some minerals really require biomass to form. Lead-zinc "skarn" ores form when (a) hot, acidic groundwater leaches through a body of generic crust/mantle rock, picking up lead ions in solution, then (b) flows into a seam of coal or limestone, whereupon (c) the water's pH changes and the lead precipitates out. On Mars? No limestone, no skarn ores whatsoever. Better hope there's a sedimentary deposit somewhere. This might come as a shock to you, but lead is really hazardous to life as we know it, so the lack of lead (which probably owes more to our ignorance of Mars than anything else) would be seen as a bonus, not a problem.


And then there's the biomass itself. On Earth, if you want to make some plastic, you go drill for some oil -- until this century, it was practically sitting on the surface waiting for you -- and do some easy chemistry to it. Don't have oil? Cut down a tree, burn half of it, use the heat to pyrolyze the other the other half, and you've got sort-of-expensive-but-not-too-bad oil. On Mars, you're starting with carbon dioxide and doing very energy-expensive chemistry to it. Phosphorus and nitrogen? Calcium carbonate? Totally biogenic. No diatoms? No phosphate ores. No seabirds pooping on islands over millions of years? No nitrate ores. Back to the expensive chem lab to get trace nitrogen/phosphorus out of some igneous rocks. You want to make cement? You can't cook limestone, because Mars doesn't have limestone. You have to go find some rare one-off geothermal travertine deposit, or find an ancient cave and mine it for stalagmites. Where do I start? Plastics? There are any number of alternatives. You can make it from hemp. (http://www.hempplastic.com/) Or even milk. (http://www.imaginationstationtoledo.org/content/2009/11/plastic-milk/) Carbon fiber works, too.


Now, Earth isn't exactly drowning in rich ores. If you were an asteroid-based life form, contemplating a colony on Earth, you'd probably look at it and say "Good heavens, where will we get any iridium down there? Where's the nickel?". It took centuries of prospecting to find all of the ores we know about today. If you landed a rover in Miami, gave it a 500-mile driving range, and told it to find some mercury ore, well, it's just screwed, because there ain't no mercury ore within 500 miles of Miami. But we're lucky we have as much geological diversity as we have. Mars generally will have less diversity. Less hydrothermal geology, less volcanism, less uplift, less erosion, less metamorphism, no biomass. All of which means precisely nada. The comparisons between Earth today and Mars are absolutely meaningless. We humans have vastly reshaped the planet in the 200K+ years that we've been mucking about. A dead world, like Mars, is a wildly different subject.

You know what's even worse? The moon.Ok, I'll bite. Why?

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-14, 09:26 AM
For me, "truly self-sufficient" is being able to survive without external help on current level of technology, life quality etc. Currently humanity on Earth as a whole is truly self-sufficient. There is no other entity that is or can be truly self-sufficient.Ah. Okay. Then I disagree.


Hey, if you are fine with North Korea-level of life quality, then sure, autarkia is possible. They merely have less of it, right?
Only problem is that NK lived as long as is because there is a lot of humanitarian help each year. Oops, it is worse than I thought previously.

You want true self-sufficiency on small scale? You get prehistoric tribe in savanna. Forget about modern USA, forget about Mars colony. These times are gone long, long ago.

I wouldn't choose the DPRK as a target economic model, but I would choose the USA. While it is not currently self-sufficient, I think it could be. There might be some reductions, but I don't think they would be to DPRK levels, unless we're talking about importation of specifics, like Kiwi fruit or Russian caviar.

Jens
2013-Jul-15, 07:53 AM
Define "truly self-sufficient" and why it's "impossible" for a modern country to be one. Using some arbitrary aspect of technological modernity as a definitional component would almost certainly result in selection bias, so make it a simply list of what we absolutely must import and why we can't live without it and why there's no substitution for it and no way to get around not having it or merely having less of it.

This may be a bit obvious, but no country on earth ever needs to be self-sufficient. Human beings can survive without a country, consuming the air, water, and nutrients that are given basically for free.

I think Ilya's post provides a good idea of just how difficulty. It seems like we would have to import an enormous number of plants probably with soil from the earth as well.

neilzero
2013-Jul-15, 01:53 PM
Possibly some plants require soil bacteria from Earth, but I presume a small sample of the bacteria can be cultured to as much as the colonists need. At Disney World, Florida, Epcot, the Land, a hydroponics tour has operated for about 30 years without soil, suppyling some of the food that guests eat. It is not surprising that the lecture omits soil bacteria as some of the guests will be eating the hydroponic grown food following the tour.
Additions to this tour are a working fish cultivation pool and a tiny patch of plants growing in lunar soil retuned by the Apollo astronaugths. I believe the tour is about as accurate as science topics in general

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-15, 04:10 PM
This may be a bit obvious, but no country on earth ever needs to be self-sufficient. Human beings can survive without a country, consuming the air, water, and nutrients that are given basically for free.

I think Ilya's post provides a good idea of just how difficulty. It seems like we would have to import an enormous number of plants probably with soil from the earth as well.

If soil nutrients are available in space, then it might be cheaper to get them from there to start-up. Then they recycle what they have, if we want to limit self-sufficiency/self-sustainability/self-whatever to that which is inside the bounds of the colony instead of letting them forage for it off the reservation.

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-16, 03:21 AM
first[/I] manned rocket".

More generally, if colony is not self-sufficient, then, by definition, any prolonged lack of communication and lack of exchange with mother world will cause demise of the colony. Well, DUH.I don't think that the first manned rocket will be there to start a colony. It'll be a research outpost, with manned colonies coming later. If the research outpost is designed to be restocked/resupplied every two to four years, then I'd expect the researchers to bring fabrication tools with them, and basic materials which they can rework as needed during the mission. I would not expect them to bring the necessary equipment to do any large scale resource extraction from Mars. They could do experimental extraction and test processes in order that when colonists do arrive, all the kinks have been worked out.

Remember, the lowest price quoted for getting something to Mars, is $500/lb., cheaper than what it currently is by an order of magnitude, but still an order of magnitude larger than what it costs to send something via air on Earth. Without space elevators on both Earth and Mars (which would drive the cost to below $500/lb. presumably), you're not going to see any significant trade between Earth and Mars. Its vastly cheaper to go out and mine asteroids for the materials needed, than dig them up on Mars, and ship them all the way to the Earth. The only kinds of goods you'd see being shipped between the two worlds (and not in large quantities, either), would be luxury items. No doubt many people on Earth would pay big money for Martian whiskey or statues carved from Martian stone. Demand wouldn't necessarily be high for those things, due to the high cost, and for some of them, it'd be years after the colony was established before they would be ready to be shipped to Earth (whiskey needs time to age, artists need time to sculpt). Until then, and probably for a considerable period of time afterwards, the colonies would be a financial drain on Earth, returning only scientific knowledge, not material goods.

Mind you, the technology of 3D printing is developing at an astonishing rate, and its entirely possible that before 2040, it'll be almost indistinguishable from the Star Trek replicators. At that point, it effectively becomes free to ship things to and from Mars, and the colonists will have a life almost indistinguishable from that on Earth.

DougSpace
2013-Jul-17, 02:10 PM
Re: medications...You do not need medication to be self-sustaining. A small, self-sustaining village in Africa does not have access to modern medicine. Yet they survive indefinitely and so are self-sustaining.

Granted, when their children get deathly ill, they just die and are replaced by having more children. This is unacceptable to modern people including us here. So, even though medication isn't essential to being self-sustaining, what could be done?

First of all, the WHO has a basic set of meds (about 20) which will address about 80% of cases. For example, you dont need the hundreds of antibiotics, just a representative few.

Some meds come from biological sources such as plants or mold. So one could take their seeds and spores. Teas from medicinal herbs treat any number of conditions. A 9 tonne payload could deliver about 90 million seeds. Obviously we don't need that many. So you can deliver an entire formulary of herbal seeds in a small box.

For those medications that don't come from plants and cannot be easily synthesized chemically from them, one could select the most important and deliver a payload of them in concentrated form. *Many meds are in the milligram dosage level. You ship the active ingredients and then compound them on the Moon with locally-grown filler. The active ingredients would have to be stored at cryogenic temps (naturally available at the lunar poles) for decades-long shelf-life.

This is an example of how you don't need an entire industry with all of the supporting economy ( e.g. Starbucks workers) in order to provide for the needs of a self-sufficient colony.

Jens
2013-Jul-17, 02:27 PM
First of all, the WHO has a basic set of meds (about 20) which will address about 80% of cases. For example, you dont need the hundreds of antibiotics, just a representative few.

Could you give me a list of those 20 medicines? I'm having difficulty finding it.

I do know of a WHO list of essential drugs, but it has about 320 drugs.

neilzero
2013-Jul-17, 04:28 PM
I did not find the sevants that curiosity measured, but I agree it needs to be annualized for times of year, elevation and latitudes on Mars.
Details of the Mars lander, Mars spacesuits and additional shielding, if any, for the first Mars mission can only be estimated. At worst the astronauts have a high probability of returning to Earth before they die of cancer. At best, the radiation exposure will be such that the astronauts have a high probability of death in old age from something other than cancer.
The 6 months travel time, each way is likely much worse than a year on the surface of Mars because solutions add rapidly to the weight at lift off from Earth. Thick shielding has not been adequitly tested off Earth nor has magnetic nor electrostatic shielding. Testing on Earth and calculations look encouraging if the travel time can be shortened. Radiation is perhaps 10% of the manned Mars mission problems, so some breakthoughs are desirable to lower the cost and the risk.
320 drugs is not a big weight problem as many doses are a few milligrams, so a million doses is a few kilograms. The usual fillers, coatings and capsules can be omitted to reduce weight. I'm guessing. Neil

DougSpace
2013-Jul-17, 05:42 PM
Name a truly self-sufficient modern country. There aren't any.

This is perhaps the main misunderstanding on this thread. The goal is to be self-sufficient at the critical needs level. These needs are:
1) Protection from vacuum,
2) Thermal control,
3) Air,
4) Water,
5) Food, and
6) the ability to reproduce.
Can these be achieved without 21st technology and the large civilizations needed to provide all of that technology? Obviously just getting to the Moon or Mars requires late 20th century technology. But once you're there, can the colonists meet the six fundamental needs by themselves?

With that design constraint in mind, one doesn't start by looking at how our society in 2013 provides for itself but by starting with what simple technologies are sufficient to achieve those six needs.

To do so requires either:
- Easily reproduced modern technology and/or
- What I will call 1940s technology.
Velcro is modern technology but it is not high-tech. It can be easily reproduced. The integrated circuit is modern, hard-to-reproduce technology. It came out in 1958. But before we had it, we had cars, phones, jet aircraft, cameras, and even computers. We may not need any of that to produce, for example steel for the pressure vessels. Indeed the Chinese were routinely producing steel more than 2,000 years ago.

So I think that, for an initial minimalist colony developed specifically for the purpose of achieving a self-sufficient colony (i.e. for survival purposes), it will be some combination of various technologies. The thing to focus on is easy reproducibility.

DougSpace
2013-Jul-17, 06:51 PM
Jens,

It is a different list for each nation. You can see it referred to in the section titled: Definition of Access to Essential Medicines:
http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/documents/TF5-medicines-Chapter1.pdf

I believe that the WHO and UNICEF provided kits with about 20 medicines to rural clinics free of charge. But these are for the outpatient setting. We would need some more emergency and surgical meds as well.

If we start to get into having options (e.g. a second anti-hypertensive if the first one failed) and add in more meds for quality-of-life purposes then I think we'd be up to about 90 meds. But it would be a very interesting process to select meds because one would also have to look at issues such as which can be grown/produced, which are short-term use versus chronic, and which are for annoyances (e.g. dandruff) versus real suffering (e.g. migraines). There's also the interesting situations where certain diseases wouldn't exist such as malaria, TB, STDs, and vaccine-preventable diseases. One could also screen the frozen embryos and hence greatly reduce the likelihood of needing meds for certain genetic-related conditions (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis).

Jens
2013-Jul-17, 11:18 PM
Jens,

It is a different list for each nation. You can see it referred to in the section titled: Definition of Access to Essential Medicines:
http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/documents/TF5-medicines-Chapter1.pdf


Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a list. I think they are simply referring to the ratio of population that has access to at least 20 of the 320 essential drugs, if you are aware of any such list, meaning an actual list with actual names of drugs, I'd love to see it because I think it would make a good start for discussing actual specifics of what you would need.

Jens
2013-Jul-17, 11:31 PM
With that design constraint in mind, one doesn't start by looking at how our society in 2013 provides for itself but by starting with what simple technologies are sufficient to achieve those six needs.

Sort of, but I would modify that to say: what technologies are needed to provide for the last five needs in the context of having to protect yourself from a hostile environment.

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-18, 12:22 AM
As for medications, I think that a large number of them could be eliminated simply because the odds of them being needed by the colonists would be zero. I doubt if anyone on Mars would be in danger of catching malaria, for example.

neilzero
2013-Jul-18, 12:58 AM
Asteroids are 200 million kilometers from Mars for 20 years or more then come within ten million kilometers of Mars for perhaps as long as one week. About the same for the moon, That makes trading opportunities rare except with colonies on Phobos and Demos, the two tiny moons of Mars plus any habitats orbiting Mars. Building roads, airplane runways and railroad tracks on Mars (and the Moon/airplanes are not possible on the Moon) will be about as costly as on Earth so locations more than a kilometer apart on Mars will trade rarely. Neil

Jens
2013-Jul-18, 01:31 AM
As for medications, I think that a large number of them could be eliminated simply because the odds of them being needed by the colonists would be zero. I doubt if anyone on Mars would be in danger of catching malaria, for example.

Some can be eliminated for sure, but I'm not sure it would be a "large number". You can look through the WHO's list of "essential medicines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Health_Organization_Essential_Medici nes)." There are a few categories that wouldn't be needed, but I don't think it's that many. First, one of the biggest dangers is surely going to be trauma, so I presume you would want all those drugs, like anesthetics and things like atropine and ephinephrine that are used in emergency medicine. You'll want something like lidocaine. You'll want painkillers. You don't need poison antidotes, but you will surely want anti-allergy drugs. You'll probably want some anticonvulsants just in case. You would certainly want antibacterials, and probably antifungals, though probably not antivirals. I don't know about antimigraine medicine, are they necessary? Anticancer drugs might be a luxury you could do without. You'd probably want things like anticoagulants, because accidents are bound to happen. And what about blood plasma products? There are many other types on the list, and I think it would be possible to make a sort of basic list of what you would and wouldn't want. And then you can start to figure out how to make them if the colony is going to be self-reliant.

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-18, 03:26 AM
Some can be eliminated for sure, but I'm not sure it would be a "large number". You can look through the WHO's list of "essential medicines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Health_Organization_Essential_Medici nes)." There are a few categories that wouldn't be needed, but I don't think it's that many. First, one of the biggest dangers is surely going to be trauma, so I presume you would want all those drugs, like anesthetics and things like atropine and ephinephrine that are used in emergency medicine. Ephinephrine, IIRC, can be derived from plants. Ether makes a good anesthetic and can be easily produced from common ingredients if you know what you're doing.
You'll want something like lidocaine.Which can be derived from the coca plant.
You'll want painkillers.I'd think something like simple opiates would be enough, and could be easily produced from poppies (which would also provide color to the colony).
You don't need poison antidotes, but you will surely want anti-allergy drugs.I'd say anyone who was at risk of a fatal allergic reaction to anything would be barred from going to Mars for at least a generation or two. I doubt hayfever will be much of an issue.
You'll probably want some anticonvulsants just in case. Certainly would be nice to have.
You would certainly want antibacterials, and probably antifungals, though probably not antivirals.Which raise some interesting issues. You're going to want to have any colonists in strict isolation for 28 days (or so) before they leave, so that they don't catch anything that might make them sick on the way out. You're also going to want to sterilize the heck out of everything so that you don't have fungus or bacteria growing out of control, but at the same time, you're going to want to take certain bacteria and fungi along with you, because they're useful in a variety of situations. Of course, you'll have to keep a close eye on them, to make sure that they don't evolve into something harmful. Silver, BTW, has been shown to dramatically boost the effectiveness of antibiotics, so you'd probably want to have that, which would allow you to reduce the dosage of antibiotics given for any particular disease.
I don't know about antimigraine medicine, are they necessary?They are if you're prone to migraines, but I think they'd try and screen those folks out as much as possible.
Anticancer drugs might be a luxury you could do without.Again, folks most likely to contract cancers would be screened out, or be required to have prophylactic surgery before leaving.
You'd probably want things like anticoagulants, because accidents are bound to happen.Aspirin, derived from plant sources, works well in most cases, even if its not as good many modern medications.
And what about blood plasma products?Start siphoning the crew.
There are many other types on the list, and I think it would be possible to make a sort of basic list of what you would and wouldn't want. And then you can start to figure out how to make them if the colony is going to be self-reliant.Health screenings for astronauts would have to be mandatory, because the healthier the colonists are when they leave, the less medications they're going to need when they get there. You're also going to want drugs that are "multi-use" whenever possible, if they're not the ideal treatment for a condition, because that reduces the amount of things you're going to have to carry out with you. You'd also want to screen your astronauts to make sure that none of them had something like a rare blood type, that way transfusions aren't incredibly complicated affairs.

Note that GM crops offer a great potential in drug production. Someone's spliced an insulin producing gene into plants which enables you to easily extract the insulin from plants, but won't cause any health problems in people who eat the untreated plant material. Similar things could be done with other drugs, and any livestock brought along, could be engineered to be as healthy to consume as possible.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-18, 06:24 AM
Asteroids are 200 million kilometers from Mars for 20 years or more then come within ten million kilometers of Mars for perhaps as long as one week. About the same for the moon, That makes trading opportunities rare except with colonies on Phobos and Demos, the two tiny moons of Mars plus any habitats orbiting Mars. Building roads, airplane runways and railroad tracks on Mars (and the Moon/airplanes are not possible on the Moon) will be at about as costly as on Earth so locations more than a kilometer apart on Mars will trade rarely. Neil

Are you planning on sending cripples to Mars instead of people who are capable of walking?

Dune buggies have already been used on the moon. Something similar should work on Mars.

And many roads and airstrips are merely flat dirt.

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-19, 03:29 AM
Are you planning on sending cripples to Mars instead of people who are capable of walking?

Dune buggies have already been used on the moon. Something similar should work on Mars.

And many roads and airstrips are merely flat dirt.I'm not going to go digging for the cites, but the Apollo crews covered the same amount of ground in a few days that it's taken the Mars rovers years to cover.

DougSpace
2013-Jul-22, 06:49 PM
> but many supplies deteriate to useless after 100 years

If the supplies are kept in a permanently cold environment with little if any thermal mobility of the atoms, why would they deteriorate?

neilzero
2013-Jul-22, 07:10 PM
We haven't tried injecting or eating anything that has been stored at 10 degrees k or 200 degrees k for a century so possibly it would be safe to use. Possibly there would be some crystal structure change or a bit of sublination? Gamma and other radiation exposure is not zero. Neil

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-23, 03:39 AM
Stalin supposedly ate meat from a mammoth had been found frozen in Siberia. No idea if that story's true, or how the meat might have tasted. I know that people have dug up caches of walrus meat that the Inuit had buried a century or more ago and found it edible, if not exactly tasty.

neilzero
2013-Jul-23, 06:01 AM
Sending cripples to Mars has the advantage that they would be more mobile (due to 0.38 g) in their habitat, and possibly in a space suit outside, and could even carry a small load while crawling over Mars rocks on the way to the next colony a kilometer away. The rovers we have built so far, travel slowly to reduce the probability of flipping over (or stuck) in rough terrain. One kilometer would be tiring and take 20 minutes, possibly longer without a slightly improved trail. Probably I should have typed ten kilometers apart. Neil

NEOWatcher
2013-Jul-23, 11:52 AM
The rovers we have built so far, travel slowly to reduce the probability of flipping over (or stuck) in rough terrain. One kilometer would be tiring and take 20 minutes, possibly longer without a slightly improved trail. Probably I should have typed ten kilometers apart. Neil
But; aren't we talking about manned vehicles? Compared to the LRV, that 1k trip would take less than 4 minutes.
Not only that, but the Moon and Mars rovers were designed with severe weight and onsight assembly limitations. By the time we got to building a colony, I would think we would be able to afford something a bit more robust.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-24, 04:19 PM
Sending cripples to Mars has the advantage that they would be more mobile (due to 0.38 g) in their habitat, and possibly in a space suit outside, and could even carry a small load while crawling over Mars rocks on the way to the next colony a kilometer away. The rovers we have built so far, travel slowly to reduce the probability of flipping over (or stuck) in rough terrain. One kilometer would be tiring and take 20 minutes, possibly longer without a slightly improved trail. Probably I should have typed ten kilometers apart. Neil

And why would a road not be improved. A bulldozer can do a lot. So can a suitable application of high explosives.

neilzero
2013-Jul-24, 04:57 PM
The bull dozer broke partway though getting enough dirt on the roof of the habitat. They are a few details from having a ton of explosives. About 100 things such as air, water and food have higher priority than fixing the bull dozer, or completing the explosives. Neil

Githyanki
2013-Jul-25, 01:38 AM
If there was a colony on Mars or the Asteroid belt, I'd doubt they'd waste fuel and resources to "trade"; it would be better just to produce the materials you need on-site...

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-25, 04:27 AM
The bull dozer broke partway though getting enough dirt on the roof of the habitat. They are a few details from having a ton of explosives. About 100 things such as air, water and food have higher priority than fixing the bull dozer, or completing the explosives. Neil

No really, the food and water are recycled and would be set at making a certain amount using the limited resources available. Fixing the dozer would use different resources, so it's unlikely to impact food and water production. Besides, they'd just use the spare. Or else they'd all be dead from radiation poisoning before the first crop's harvested.

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-25, 09:49 PM
I was listening to a Guardian Science podcast today and they were talking about someone who'd developed a water filtration system designed to extract the medications excreted in urine (since only a percentage of any dose of medication is absorbed by the body) in order that it could be reused (the medication, not necessarily the urine). Even though I know all water on Earth contains dinosaur pee, the idea of taking meds that had once passed through someone else's body kind of squicks me out. (Certainly the kind of technology one would want on a Mars colony.)

Jens
2013-Jul-25, 11:25 PM
Even though I know all water on Earth contains dinosaur pee, the idea of taking meds that had once passed through someone else's body kind of squicks me out.)

How would you feel about breathing oxygen that's gone through somebody else's body? :)

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-26, 12:16 AM
How would you feel about breathing oxygen that's gone through somebody else's body? :)

What if it was Adolph Hitler's body?

Tuckerfan
2013-Jul-26, 02:01 AM
How would you feel about breathing oxygen that's gone through somebody else's body? :)That's why I mentioned the bit about dinosaur pee. Its not really something that should bother me, logically speaking, but on an emotional level, knowing the source of the meds is just "icky."