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Denis12
2006-Jan-27, 02:42 AM
Is a manned base With (robots) or humans a possiblity in the future? The only difficult thing is the severe cold on pluto ,we need good cold protected suits and buildings to go and stay there,but pluto has a (weak) atmosphere but difficult like it is on mars. I am very happy to await the first pictures of pluto from the (unmanned) spacecraft that is now on its way to the planet and it get finnaly in orbit of pluto. What do you think about a manned base on pluto? Or (eventually) its moon Charon. Denis.

The_Radiation_Specialist
2006-Jan-27, 04:13 AM
Is a manned base With (robots) or humans a possiblity in the future?
....What do you think about a manned base on pluto? Or (eventually) its moon Charon.

Yes, it is a possibility. I would say in the next centuries to come. We still havent made a base on our own moon after more than 40 years of sending a spacecraft there. The key question is why? Yes, its nice to tell your grandkids you worked on Pluto and everything, but Billions (or trillions) of dollors spend for that is a stupid thing to do. Maybe New horizons will be able to find very rare and useful elements on Pluto, to trigger some mining missions, but thats very unlikely.

mantiss
2006-Jan-27, 05:49 AM
What would be the point? There is, thus far, no interest into that chunk of frozen ices and rock except for the glam factor (Am here first!). :eh:

Apart from the Moon and Mars, I don't see a realistic horizon for manned human bases within the next 100 years.

Saluki
2006-Jan-27, 06:20 AM
Right now, and for the forseeable future it would be almost impossible from a technological standpoint. Getting to Pluto is not so tough, but slowing down enough to orbit is a killer. Actually landing with enough fuel to take back off and return to Earth is a pipe dream. You could possibly do it if you traveled very slowly, but even with an express trajectory such as New Horizon's, the explorers would be gone for at least 20 years.

Edit: The issue of protective suits would be trivial. I doubt you would need much more than the current suits with perhaps a little beefed up insulation/heating.

Denis12
2006-Jan-27, 01:52 PM
How will be the sunlight on pluto during its aphelion and its perihelion,because during its closest distance to the sun,he is closer to the sun than neptune and during its aphelion he is extreme far away from the sun,nearly the same distance from the sun as the voyager and pioneer spacecrafts ,you know that pluto is a dark and extreme cold world then at its aphelion. I think that going manned to pluto must be take place when he is at perihelion and closer to the sun than neptune,because its climate is still cold indeed but much less cold than at its greatest distance from the sun and more sunlight,but going to pluto at its aphelion is a very interesting thing because it is the darkest and coldest planet in the solarsystem then. What do you think about this and about the sunlight on pluto? Thank you. Denis.

Spherical
2006-Jan-27, 03:48 PM
Is a manned base With (robots) or humans a possiblity in the future? The only difficult thing is the severe cold on pluto ,we need good cold protected suits and buildings to go and stay there,but pluto has a (weak) atmosphere but difficult like it is on mars. I am very happy to await the first pictures of pluto from the (unmanned) spacecraft that is now on its way to the planet and it get finnaly in orbit of pluto. What do you think about a manned base on pluto? Or (eventually) its moon Charon. Denis.

Why establish a base at the bottom of a gravity well? Especially when we are going to have some major civil engineering problems when we do. Any kind of base we build this far out on the edge of the solar system is almost certainly going to take the form of a space station rather than establishing a base on a planet or moon.

You have to remember that from Pluto's perspective we are a lot like living flames. We would have major engineering headaches trying to establish a base on Pluto.

Doodler
2006-Jan-27, 06:45 PM
Actually, I think Pluto would be a great planet for an archive or library of some kind, considering the likelihood that its the planet most likely to survive the Sun's inevitable demise intact and unchanged.

The_Radiation_Specialist
2006-Jan-27, 07:07 PM
How will be the sunlight on pluto during its aphelion and its perihelion?
The difference between Pluto's Perihelion and aphelion is about 2800 Million km. Thats a lot! but because of the large distance from the sun the sunlight will change only a bit. Heres the magnitudes of sun from pluto (from Celestia):

Perihelion: -19.38
Aphelion: - 18.25


nearly the same distance from the sun as the voyager and pioneer spacecrafts
nope. Pluto has an average orbital radius of 40 AU. The pioneers and voyagers are between about 70- 100 AU from the sun right now.


but going to pluto at its aphelion is a very interesting thing because it is the darkest and coldest planet in the solarsystem then.
Interesting yes, but its damn hard to even orbit the planet.

Nicolas
2006-Jan-27, 08:32 PM
I am very happy to await the first pictures of pluto from the (unmanned) spacecraft that is now on its way to the planet and it get finnaly in orbit of pluto.

New Horizons will reach Pluto's orbit in 9 years, but it won't orbit Pluto. It will just pass, with a few weeks of good observations.


Like others said: the cold isn't an issue. If that were the only problem, we'd be up there now. Protecting against cold is not that hard.

mantiss
2006-Jan-27, 09:02 PM
Actually, I think Pluto would be a great planet for an archive or library of some kind, considering the likelihood that its the planet most likely to survive the Sun's inevitable demise intact and unchanged.

I wouldn't count on that, the TNOs and Scattered Disk realm is filled to capacity with potential impactors. Put your Encyclopedia Galactica in a safer zone, like Ulysses polar orbit ;)

Denis12
2006-Jan-27, 09:11 PM
Why not in orbit but only pass pluto? And after it has passes pluto ,where is the spacecraft then going to?

Doodler
2006-Jan-27, 09:15 PM
Why not in orbit but only pass pluto? And after it has passes pluto ,where is the spacecraft then going to?

I believe they're in the process of picking a candidate KBO for an extended mission flyby to compare it with Pluto. The odds are, the KBO that will end up being selected hasn't even been discovered yet. :)

Saluki
2006-Jan-27, 09:24 PM
Why not in orbit but only pass pluto? And after it has passes pluto ,where is the spacecraft then going to?

As you have been told repeatedly. Getting there is easy. Slowing down enough to orbit is an enormous technical hurdle, and is probably impossible with our current means.

Gullible Jones
2006-Jan-27, 09:49 PM
Well, getting there wouldn't be all that hard... A nuclear saltwater rocket could probably work, or a fusion rocket if we can come up with one. Continuous acceleration out to the midpoint, then start decelerating...

The problem would be keeping the place supplied, I think. You'd need a way to generate power - fusion would be best - and nutrients for hydroponic farming, which could probably be procurred Pluto itself, and other KBOs, with a bit of chemical processing.

voyager_3
2006-Jan-28, 11:47 AM
I think I can remember seeing the idea of a "Pluto Early Warning/Defence Base" in some sci-fi shows years ago? Has anyone come across anything similar? Seems like a bit of a silly idea to me, what if the aliens come in from the other side of the solar system? Your space citadel at Pluto would be redundant!

Regarding the idea of Pluto as a repository of human knowledge after the sun dies, I remember years ago watching (I think it may have been The Twilight Zone) a story, written by Arthur C. Clarke, of an Earth expedition that detects a beacon coming from a planet orbiting a white dwarf at roughly the same distance that Pluto orbits the Sun. They land on the planet and discover that the beacon leads them to a vault containing the records of a civilisation that had existed on a now destroyed terrestrial planet in the the original solar system. When the people of that civilisation knew that their sun was dying, they constructed the vault to preserve their knowledge and set the beacon to attract any space travellers. The expedition's chief scientist is a Catholic priest and he makes the shocking discovery that the light from the death of the original star would have been seen on Earth at the time of Christ's birth and that this was the Star of Bethlehem! This gave the priest a very diifficult conscience I think he came out with a line like "Did God destroy this civilisation to bring hope into our world?" That was probably more to do with Clarke's own views on God than any valid science though. Does anyone else remember this story?

Halcyon Dayz
2006-Jan-28, 12:15 PM
Sure do. It's a classic. The Star (http://www.enotes.com/star)
IIRC, it was also made into a episode of the Twilight Zone.

parallaxicality
2006-Jan-28, 12:50 PM
Pluto would be a fairly useless defence base. Given that the area Pluto must "patrol" comprises a sphere 4374349916000000000000000000 square miles in area, and given that it is smaller than our moon, and given that everyone knows exactly where it will be at any one time, it would be fairly easy for an extrastellar force to get around it.

Relmuis
2006-Jan-28, 12:52 PM
A manned base on Pluto, or a manned expedition to any other extremely cold world, would face some problems not faced by a Moon or Mars base: how to insulate the temperatures we need from the temperatures of the environment.

This works both ways: we can't stand the cold, and the environment can't stand the heat. If I am walking on a surface of frozen nitrogen, and my shoes don't insulate very well, the surface will start to melt (and perhaps even to boil) around me. If there is any kind of atmosphere (hydrogen and helium, for example) my heat may create a very small low pressure zone, winds may gather from all around me, and I end up being carried aloft by my very own personal tornado. Especially if there isn't all that much gravity to keep me on the ground.

A visitor to Earth who is comfortable in a bath of molten iron, would experience some of the same difficulties, but ours would be worse, due to a law in thermodynamics, which ensures that the heat capacity of materials goes to zero when temperatures approach absolute zero. Therefore, very little heat might be needed to considerably raise temperatures and to create some spectacular results.

Now consider landing on Pluto with rocket propulsion like it was done on the Moon. Or lifting off again. Great care would be needed to find a landing spot where the vessel will not end up immersed in a block of refrozen nitrogen. One would have to search for a place where underying rock pokes through the frozen gases, or use something akin to a parachute or to a helicopter for the final stage of the descent and the initial stage of the ascent.

A base on Pluto would probably need to have double walls with a vacuum between them, like a thermos bottle. Suits for short excursions would need to be made from plyable materials with very low thermal conductivity, with especially thick padding underneath the shoes. Even so, the Plutonauts would have to remain walking continually, and to avoid falling. And the air tubing would need especially good isolation, to prevent the carbon dioxide from freezing and obstructing the air flow.

Denis12
2006-Jan-28, 09:15 PM
What happens when you go out for a walk on pluto (whitout) a spacesuit? Is the atmosphere breathable? And maybe we can first send a pair of rovers or buggys like we have on mars ,to explore and photograph the surface. But i think that it is nessecary to land at the equator of pluto,because there is the (dim) sun nearly in the zenith ,and at the equator of pluto is the sunbrightness at its maximum and is the dimness of the sun a (little) bit less.What do you think? Denis.

parallaxicality
2006-Jan-28, 10:48 PM
Is the atmosphere breathable? I think the short answer to that would be No. Absolutely Not. No way, road, path or meandering stream in hell.

The atmosphere of Pluto is just over a millionth the density of Earth's. Even if you excluded the fact that it contains no free oxygen, which is the only gas we actually breathe, and is composed largely of nitrogen and carbon monoxide, both of which are toxic at high doses, and that the surface of Pluto is cold enough to freeze a human being solid in seconds, any attempt to breathe on Pluto would largely consist of choking on vacuum. Besides, the atmosphere of Pluto is frozen to the surface for most of its orbit, and by 2020 will probably remain frozen for another century.

Denis12
2006-Jan-28, 11:50 PM
What do you mean with ,that the atmosphere of pluto remain frozen by 2020 and onwards? I wish i was at pluto at its aphelion.

The Supreme Canuck
2006-Jan-29, 12:31 AM
the surface of Pluto is cold enough to freeze a human being solid in seconds

Not quite. It takes time to cool an object down, especially since radiation is the only way to remove heat in a vacuum. It would take a bit to freeze.

But that doesn't mean that you'd be an less dead. Sucking hard vacuum isn't fun.

Ilya
2006-Jan-29, 01:42 AM
This works both ways: we can't stand the cold, and the environment can't stand the heat. If I am walking on a surface of frozen nitrogen, and my shoes don't insulate very well, the surface will start to melt (and perhaps even to boil) around me. If there is any kind of atmosphere (hydrogen and helium, for example) my heat may create a very small low pressure zone, winds may gather from all around me, and I end up being carried aloft by my very own personal tornado. Especially if there isn't all that much gravity to keep me on the ground.

I am quite certain Pluto does not have enough air for this to become a problem. In one-millionth of an atmosphere even the fiercest tornado will barely shake a Coke bottle (which is about how much you'd weigh on Pluto).


A base on Pluto would probably need to have double walls with a vacuum between them, like a thermos bottle. Suits for short excursions would need to be made from plyable materials with very low thermal conductivity, with especially thick padding underneath the shoes. Even so, the Plutonauts would have to remain walking continually, and to avoid falling.
Pluto is not the worst place in that regard. Titan is about 100 centigrades "warmer", but dense atmosphere would carry away your body heat much more efficiently. Designing a suit for Titan would be a real challenge.

TheOrqwithVagrant
2006-Jan-29, 04:13 PM
nitrogen and carbon monoxide, both of which are toxic at high doses

Ehrm, what? No argument on the carbon monoxide, but since when did molecular nitrogen ever become "toxic at high doses"? Earth's atmosphere is 80% Nitrogen, after all, I think it's probably the gas we get the "highest doses" of throughout our lifetimes, even if oxygen is the one our bodies are actually making use of.
Now, nitrogen can get toxic at _high pressures_, but THAT is hardly likely to be an issue on Pluto, is it?
But as you pointed out, the fact that Pluto's atmosphere is, for all intents and purposes in terms of breathing, a vacuum, all such concerns are secondary. It wouldn't be any more or less lethal if it was pure flourine. You can't get deader than dead, after all.

parallaxicality
2006-Jan-29, 05:18 PM
OK, so I stretched it a bit. Somehow, "carbon monoxide, which is toxic in high doses, and nitrogen, which is toxic at high pressures," doesn't quite have the same ring, even if it is more accurate. My bad. Sacrificed accuracy in favour of economy of phrasing. Really shouldn't do that.

Halcyon Dayz
2006-Jan-29, 05:41 PM
Sacrificed accuracy in favour of economy of phrasing. Really shouldn't do that.Well, not on this board. ;)

Ilya
2006-Jan-29, 07:19 PM
OK, so I stretched it a bit. Somehow, "carbon monoxide, which is toxic in high doses, and nitrogen, which is toxic at high pressures," doesn't quite have the same ring, even if it is more accurate. My bad. Sacrificed accuracy in favour of economy of phrasing. Really shouldn't do that.
To be even more precise, nitrogen is not even toxic at high pressures. It is narcotic at high pressures, which is biophysical rather than chemical effect. I suppose at high enough pressure narcotic effects of N2 could kill you, but it would have to be so high that you would probably be dead from other reasons, such as heat imbalance.

Ara Pacis
2006-Jan-29, 09:35 PM
I'm guessing that if we were to go for a walk on one of the small cold planets in the solar system we'd just need to use styrofoam stilts. On Titan, maybe we'd need an articulated strofoam hard suit.

Damburger
2006-Jan-29, 10:24 PM
Even before New Horizons gets there, I can tell you right now it has one resource in more abundance than any other planet in the solar system: Solitude. It might not be your idea of a holiday spot, but it wouldn't make a bad retreat.

Planetwatcher
2006-Jan-31, 06:26 AM
With all the engineering chalenges of slowing a craft down once you got there, the frozen atmosphere which would react to what little heat radiates from the space suits, and the low gravity, Pluto would not be worth the effort.

If you think you want to build a base on the outer reaches of our Solar System, then Neptune's moon Triton would be a better choice.
The difference in distance is negliable, especially during the part when Pluto is actually closer then Neptune.

One can use Neptune's atmosphere to aero-brake a slow down and use less fuel. Triton has no atmosphere that we are aware of, so your walking around on the surface won't cause violent reactions, and Triton has a slightly stronger gravity then Pluto.

Actually a better yet place for building a base or bases would be the moons of Uranus. There are 4 good sized moons to choose from. Although all of them smaller then Pluto, and two more smaller moons still large enough to build a base.

Either way we are talking at least a hundred, if not more like 200 years before we reach such a point.

agingjb
2006-Jan-31, 08:50 AM
Agree that Triton may be a more interesting target than the KBOs (and is Triton itself a KBO?), but isn't the retrograde orbit going to make an approach to a landing interesting?

Ilya
2006-Jan-31, 02:08 PM
Agree that Triton may be a more interesting target than the KBOs (and is Triton itself a KBO?), but isn't the retrograde orbit going to make an approach to a landing interesting?
Not especially. You have to enter an orbit around Neptune first; you (aero)brake on Neptune's leading face instead of trailing one, and end up in retrograde orbit. After that matching orbits with Triton would not be difficult.

Ara Pacis
2006-Feb-01, 05:58 AM
I could do it in 50 years with enough resources, probably for less than a few billion $. Of course, that's via Luna, Mars, Ganymede, and Europa. I figure it'd be easier to justify building lots of bases to create a transit infrastructure with the bases being a means instead of an end.

Relmuis
2006-Feb-01, 05:12 PM
If Pluto has no appreciable atmosphere, all one will have to guard against is heat conduction to the ground. The suits would still need to have thickly padded shoes, and the Plutonauts would still have to remain walking, lest they sink into the surface. They would still be advised not to fall over, as this would cause contact between other parts of their suits and the surface. But they would run less risk of their airlines being clogged by frozen carbon dioxide.

The base would of course need no double walls with a vacuum between them, if it is already surrounded by a (near-)vacuum. But it would have to be built on thermally isolating stilts, to prevent it from sinking into the ground, unless it could be built on actual stone poking through the frozen gas.

The problems of landing on the surface and getting off again would not be mitigated; quite the reverse, in fact, as parachutes, gliders or helicopter-like devices would be rendered useless. If a rocketlike device could be built which expels a jet of cold hydrogen or helium, such a device might be used during the last seconds before touchdown, and the first seconds after liftoff.

dartmanx
2006-Feb-01, 09:44 PM
Of course, Arthur C Clarke (and probably others) have come up with the idea of throwing Kuiper Belt objects at Venus for terraforming purposes. A "base" at Pluto (or UB313, or wherever) would make sense as a base for that sort of operation.

publiusr
2006-Feb-01, 10:38 PM
The lift capacity you need for such a mission is pretty large. An SD HLLV that could put a man on the moon could place a Galileo or smaller craft in orbit of Pluto.

You need NSWR/Sea Dragon for Pluto bases and interstellar shots.

Ara Pacis
2006-Feb-02, 08:09 AM
Or just use multiple launches to get a modular system into orbit. Then assemble and scoot.

Damburger
2006-Feb-02, 11:59 AM
All this talk of heavy lift is interesting (and sort of freudian, ooh what a big powerful rocket etc.) but I think if you want to put some serious mass into the Pluto system alternative propulsion is the order of the day.

Resigning yourself to the fact you can't get their quickly, solar sails might be a good idea, if anyone were willing to invest serious money in them.

Romanus
2006-Feb-02, 03:42 PM
Triton would be the ideal base, indeed: easier to get to than Pluto, with an endless supply of hydrogen and methane nearby.

Re Pluto: A story I read a long time ago postulated a far future colony that was hewn out of the subsurface rock of Pluto; it was so well-insulated that they had a huge subterranean tropical sea and everything.

publiusr
2006-Feb-03, 04:21 PM
Or just use multiple launches to get a modular system into orbit. Then assemble and scoot.

That is also best done with HLLV.

Otherwise you have ISS. And that assembly process has been SO successful...

...right...

Five HLLVs and ISS would be done. Five more and I have a Mars ship:
www.safesimplesoon.com

A solar sail worth anything is also going to be heavy. 100 tons of very lightweight material gets you a solar sail--and you still need a big rocket for that.

Pokeh
2006-Feb-03, 06:52 PM
It would probobly be near impossible within the next 100 years or so.
Getting there would be kind-of easy, however, building the base without freezing would be tricky, plus in Plutos Winter the Atmosphere freezes, and if the base is suddenly snowed-in, you'll have to wait another 100 or so years until its Plutos summer, and by them you could have built a Space station.
So in all fairness, it seems utterly pointless to build a Base on Pluto, it would probobly be much more useful to set-up a base on the Kuiper Belt (Spelling?), because that can 'find the secrets to the early solar system'.

Ara Pacis
2006-Feb-04, 05:48 AM
Snow on Pluto, are you kidding? Just vent some heat and it will sublimate. But I would agree with building a base on pluto. It would be much easier to built an entire station in space and land it there.