At 6/11/12 12:38 AM, Ravariel wrote:
At 6/11/12 12:15 AM, Dawnslayer wrote:
Except that as test-runs go, a base on the moon is one that will teach us a LOT about things we need to know. In fact, our first lunar lander would never have come back if not for the probes we sent to the moon prior, due to the conditions for which we would have been unprepared otherwise. The regolith (moon dust) is so fine, that with earlier designs of the lander, it would have infiltrated many of the systems, completely shut down their ability to take off, and likely rendered their suits unusable. There are hundreds of things that we can learn from a moon base that would help the success chances of one on Mars.
We've also sent probes to Mars, and they have collected a wealth of information about the environment there. Indeed, we know that Martian dust has very similar properties to lunar dust that cause the same issues, and existing plans for Mars missions already take that and other known factors into account. If we already know how the Martian environment would affect an operation there, what would a lunar base teach us that brings a significant contribution to the table?
At 6/11/12 12:42 AM, Ketzelkab wrote:
-it's only really efficient to plan trips within a certain frame of orbit where it will be closest
True, but we've already figured out how to seize that launch window, which if I remember correctly comes around once or twice a year. There's no reason we can't send people to Mars the same way we do probes; we only need extra fuel to compensate for the extra mass.
-the risk of error is greater in comparison to the moon with current technology (I believe by 2200 we could learn much from lunar base experimentation)
As far as getting there, I agree. That's why I would recommend not putting all our eggs in one basket. My idea is this: instead of sending one ship to Mars, we send three. Assuming we use an Ares launch system, this plan would involve loading all three vessels onto one Ares V rocket (which normally delivers cargo); once they break away from Earth, these vessels separate and follow slightly different courses, so as to arrive at Mars roughly one day apart from each other. This way if one ship runs into a problem (say, getting pummeled to bits by an unexpected meteor shower), the other two vessels avoid running into the same danger. Granted, this plan would definitely test the limits of our launch window, but I believe it would be feasible.
I also heard, although it's unverified, that they would be utilizing the moons porous surface to have bases in tunnels and such, and not just a bubble on the surface like the cliche space colony image.
There's no reason the same couldn't be done on Mars; in fact, it might be easier, because Mars has geographic features not found on the Moon - canyons, caverns, cliffsides, etc. - which could be drilled into horizontally. This could also provide better protection from the outside environmental hazards, such as the radiation from solar flares. An aerial survey probe might be able to scout out locations like these with relative ease.
At 6/11/12 03:18 PM, DoctorStrongbad wrote:
It would be interesting to see how Mars is divided up.
Current international law states that no country can declare any celestial body as part of its territory. Assuming this law remains in effect, any "divvying" of Mars would be strictly based on usage rights, akin to setting up an oil rig in international waters. Of course, in the scenario of mass colonization this law would probably have to change under the circumstances; in that case, I think founding new sovereign states on the planet, rather than expanding those from Earth, would be the best and most viable option.