New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

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New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby The Reaper » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:03 pm UTC

http://www.physorg.com/news167414717.html
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr., who's 62, told The Associated Press that his ultimate goal isn't just Mars - it's anywhere far from Earth.

"I did grow up watching Buck Rogers and Buck Rogers didn't stop at Mars," Bolden said in one of his first interviews since taking office last Friday. "In my lifetime, I will be incredibly disappointed if we have not at least reached Mars."

That appears to be a shift from the space policy set in motion by President George W. Bush, who proposed first returning to the moon by 2020 and then eventually going to Mars a decade or two later. Bolden didn't rule out using the moon as a stepping stone to Mars and beyond, but he talked more about Mars than the moon.

Bolden said NASA and other federal officials had too many conflicting views on how to get to Mars, including the existing Constellation project begun under Bush. That project calls for returning to the moon first, with a moon rocket design that Bolden's predecessor called "Apollo on steroids."

A new independent commission is reviewing that plan and alternatives to it. Bolden said his main job over the next few months will be to champion an "agreed-upon compromise strategy to get first to Mars and then beyond. And we don't have that yet."

Bolden, a former astronaut, also vowed to extend the life of the international space station beyond 2016, the year the Bush administration planned to abandon it.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Vaniver » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:34 pm UTC

Sigh. Perhaps focusing on science is a little more important than spending taxpayer dollars to play space cowboy?
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby The Reaper » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:39 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:Sigh. Perhaps focusing on science is a little more important than spending taxpayer dollars to play space cowboy?

Space cowboys want things to happen and push for it. Science happens as a result. :3

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:41 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:Sigh. Perhaps focusing on science is a little more important than spending taxpayer dollars to play space cowboy?


I don't disagree that public funds should goto more public endeavors, but surely you see the potential long term advantage to having an active and ambitious space program?
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Vaniver » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:45 pm UTC

The Reaper wrote:Space cowboys want things to happen and push for it. Science happens as a result. :3
Two main objections. First, NASA does two things- valuable monitoring (of the Earth, Solar System, and beyond) and public relations stunts. I would much rather the two be split and funded separately- so the president doesn't say "let's go to Mars!" and, when Congress doesn't fund that, NASA is pressured to divert funds from valuable things.

Second, science as a byproduct is worse than science as a product. Instead of having scientists figure out things relevant to moving animals well-suited to Earth to places they are not well-suited to, we could have them figure out things about the places they're exploring or figure out things that deepen our knowledge of the universe or make people better off.

Izawwlgood wrote:I don't disagree that public funds should goto more public endeavors, but surely you see the potential long term advantage to having an active and ambitious space program?
I don't see any potential long term advantage to a manned space program (which is what I imagine you mean by active and ambitious). Monkeying around in space (literally) is polluting the only valuable region of space, at no real benefit.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby The Reaper » Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:02 pm UTC

Robots aren't quite up to human level yet.

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Lycur » Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:Second, science as a byproduct is worse than science as a product.


A good part of innovation is serendipity. Science is not something easy to produce: fundamental innovations come about in the pursuit of answers to the kind of difficult questions that crop up when faced with this kind of endeavour. Human space tralvel is also (arguably) a worthy goal in its own right. There are no doubt many things the government spends money on that it shouldn't, but on a cost benefit basis I highly doubt that space travel is one of them.

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Walter.Horvath » Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:14 am UTC

Lycur wrote:
Vaniver wrote:Second, science as a byproduct is worse than science as a product.


A good part of innovation is serendipity. Science is not something easy to produce: fundamental innovations come about in the pursuit of answers to the kind of difficult questions that crop up when faced with this kind of endeavour. Human space tralvel is also (arguably) a worthy goal in its own right. There are no doubt many things the government spends money on that it shouldn't, but on a cost benefit basis I highly doubt that space travel is one of them.

Seconded; More than a handful of pre-contemporary sciency-thingies came about from not trying to... er... Yeah :P

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jul 23, 2009 2:26 am UTC

The so called 'spin-off' effect isn't an argument for space travel; indeed, the trillions spent on the space program since it's inception have not been repaid due to Tang, teflon, and aero-gel. Aside from the obvious benefits of Earth monitoring, the inspiration of countless scientists, and an increased respect in scientific achievement, I'd say the most direct tangible benefit space programs will have on the world around us will be a result of our astronomy advances.

Think about it. We've done some pretty impressive shit with the Hubble and Earth based radiotelescopes, but imagine how much better the dark side of the moon would be... The orbit around Pluto and Charon... Imagine how much we could learn from more precise observations of the moons of Jupiter. Some hefty advances to our way of thinking have come from astronomy, and we've been using the equivalent of a spyglass so far.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby SummerGlauFan » Thu Jul 23, 2009 2:31 am UTC

There's also the knowledge that long-term space travel will grant us; improved ways to control indoor environments, improved recycling/preserving technologies, better understanding of human and (possibly) animal and plant biology due to prolonged space travel, etc.

We stand to gain a bit more this time than Velcro or improved solar panels.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Vaniver » Thu Jul 23, 2009 2:36 am UTC

Lycur wrote:A good part of innovation is serendipity.
True- but serendipity doesn't favor space travel over other engineering projects, or other economic activity in general.

Izawwlgood wrote:Aside from the obvious benefits of Earth monitoring, the inspiration of countless scientists, and an increased respect in scientific achievement, I'd say the most direct tangible benefit space programs will have on the world around us will be a result of our astronomy advances.

Think about it. We've done some pretty impressive shit with the Hubble and Earth based radiotelescopes, but imagine how much better the dark side of the moon would be... The orbit around Pluto and Charon... Imagine how much we could learn from more precise observations of the moons of Jupiter. Some hefty advances to our way of thinking have come from astronomy, and we've been using the equivalent of a spyglass so far.
All of those things are far, far better done by shooting cameras into the sky, and having them send back their data, than shooting people up there, so one person can look into the eyepiece.

I mean, several of the IR telescopes that we sent up recently only work because they're operating at incredibly low temperatures- so the black body radiation from the camera doesn't overpower the signal. And this would be improved by animals suited to 300 degrees Kelvin?
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby The Reaper » Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:51 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:I mean, several of the IR telescopes that we sent up recently only work because they're operating at incredibly low temperatures- so the black body radiation from the camera doesn't overpower the signal. And this would be improved by animals suited to 300 degrees Kelvin?

A well trained person could in theory find places that are better to look at, as well as potentially dig holes and such that are deeper than our current brobots can dig. Now, if they could somehow automate a mining station, and send one to mars to get a core sample, and then send the core sample back to somewhere in earths orbit, that would be all kinds of pimp, cuz then eventually we could grab it on the way by or something and study it ourselves. The research would be so much quicker than when its done by humans operating at 50 bytes a minute data throughput, or whatever the current data speed is for mars stuff. But until we can fully automate the mining process (something I support alot, because it would make resources cheaper both on earth, the moon, asteroids, and other planets) sending a human up there to do it would be the better sciencey option.

That, or if we could enact some sort of laser data transmission that has a high bandwidth and high accuracy. That would be cool too. Tho it would be kinda like shooting an ant in a crater on the moon.


ALSO: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1 ... nline-news

Ion drive engines for 39 day space ride to mars.

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Silas » Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:31 am UTC

The Reaper wrote:A well trained person could ... potentially dig holes and such that are deeper than our current brobots can dig.

[doubletake] Did you really just suggest going to Mars to dig ditches? I think a shovel is probably something the eventual (and it's coming like a freight train) Mars mission will be ok leaving behind. If the culmination of your awesome technological project involves some guy doing manual labor, you're doing it wrong.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby The Reaper » Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:34 am UTC

Silas wrote:
The Reaper wrote:A well trained person could ... potentially dig holes and such that are deeper than our current brobots can dig.

[doubletake] Did you really just suggest going to Mars to dig ditches? I think a shovel is probably something the eventual (and it's coming like a freight train) Mars mission will be ok leaving behind. If the culmination of your awesome technological project involves some guy doing manual labor, you're doing it wrong.

Last I checked, that's what we've been sending robots up there to do. Dig holes. examine the soil, look for life, ID potential resources. Humans can do it much better, and show the survivability of a planet. Do you have a better idea than digging a hole, researching things, and building stuff for more humans to come and visit? On that note, do you have a better idea for the moon? Hell, why leave earth at all?

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Silas » Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:43 am UTC

Spending the resources it'd take to put a man on Mars, just to have him do things that we barely have people do on Earth, because we have machines that are so much better at it, is a waste of money and effort. If you want a hole dug on Mars, putting a human being there to dig it is an enormously wasteful way to proceed.

I mean, the reason our Mars brobots kind of suck is because they have to survive a brutal landing. As I understand it (and I admit I haven't looked into it recently), that's the real limiting factor- long before we solved that problem well enough to put living, breathing humans on the ground, we'd have been able to deliver effective remote-operated machinery. Simple reason: because the apparatus to keep people alive is more complicated than the apparatus to do the main things we're interested in.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Vaniver » Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:46 am UTC

The Reaper wrote:Humans can do it much better, and show the survivability of a planet.
No, no they can't. Mostly because the planet is lethal for humans. Robots, though? They're built for it. If your argument is that robots which have been happily doing science on Mars for five years would be better replaced by humans, then I wonder about your familiarity with the situation.

The Reaper wrote:Hell, why leave earth at all?
That's the question I'm asking.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby The Reaper » Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:50 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
The Reaper wrote:Humans can do it much better, and show the survivability of a planet.
No, no they can't. Mostly because the planet is lethal for humans. Robots, though? They're built for it. If your argument is that robots which have been happily doing science on Mars for five years would be better replaced by humans, then I wonder about your familiarity with the situation.

The Reaper wrote:Hell, why leave earth at all?
That's the question I'm asking.

I'm arguing that any scientific advances in the space area is beneficial for humans, and that in the case of mars, the amount of scientific advances needed for it to even be plausable would be greater than just building and sending up more robots. Also, humans can get more accomplished while they're up there, unless we start coming up with a more versetile robot with a large tool chest and the ability to mix and match tools, which I wouldn't be against.

And the arguement for leaving earth is "why not leave earth?" If we can, why not do it? It would be interesting. Curiosity may kill cats, but it hasn't wiped out humans yet, and happens to be one of our more endearing traits, IMO.

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Vaniver » Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:17 am UTC

The Reaper wrote:And the arguement for leaving earth is "why not leave earth?" If we can, why not do it? It would be interesting. Curiosity may kill cats, but it hasn't wiped out humans yet, and happens to be one of our more endearing traits, IMO.
Because the least pleasant place on Earth is nicer than anywhere else, and it's very, very expensive and dangerous to leave. If some people want to do it because they like doing interesting things, then they can pay for it- my problem is when they pretend it's a human obligation, or that taxpayers should fund it.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby SummerGlauFan » Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:19 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
The Reaper wrote:Hell, why leave earth at all?
That's the question I'm asking.


Oh, I dunno, maybe to eventually escape extinction? Or even better, propagate life elsewhere in the universe?

All that is going to require some human spaceflight beyond our orbit. You have to start that somewhere.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Silas » Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:23 am UTC

The Reaper wrote:And the arguement for leaving earth is "why not leave earth?" If we can, why not do it? It would be interesting. Curiosity may kill cats, but it hasn't wiped out humans yet, and happens to be one of our more endearing traits, IMO.

Because it's expensive, is why not. Grafting kittens onto your scalp could be interesting, and would drive serious advances in medical technology, but that's still no reason to try (here, curiosity would stand a good chance of killing not just the cat, but the human, too).

Don't get me wrong. I think the awesomesauce of going to Mars is probably worth the cost. I think there was a real, if hard-to-pin-down, value in reading MEN WALK ON MOON (Whether MEN WALK ON MARS would have the same effect is an open question). But the tangible benefits of doing it are exaggerated (see: opportunity cost), and if they do materialize down the line, they won't be closely associated with the people who spent the money. That is, we and our posterity can do almost as well by letting someone else go to Mars.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Sharlos » Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:32 am UTC

Sending robots to mars isn't going to help construct the infrastructure to put a self sufficient human colony on mars.

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Vaniver » Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:32 am UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:Oh, I dunno, maybe to eventually escape extinction? Or even better, propagate life elsewhere in the universe?

All that is going to require some human spaceflight beyond our orbit. You have to start that somewhere.
I have never seen raised an extinction threat that manned space travel can pose as a counter to. I also don't know what the point is of having life somewhere else.

Distance is bad. If you're on the moon, you're 1.26 seconds behind Earth. If you're on Mars, you're 3.3 minutes behind Earth. Both of those are workable- you can't hold an IM conversation with Mars, but it might be possible, if boring, on the moon. Leave the solar system, though? Now you're years behind Earth. And by the time interstellar space travel is possible, a year will be a very long time. A message sent from a computer on Earth to a computer on Alpha Centauri will be received by a computer with seven times its processing power. Its reply will be received by a computer with fifty two times the processing power of the first computer. What interesting things does 2005 have to say to us now, and what responses do we have that will be interesting in 2013?

And what's on other planets, besides a total lack of fertile conditions? Space? The surface of the Earth is four times larger than the surface of Mars, and we're hardly using all of it well. And by the time we are, we'd be better off to dig down hundreds of feet than fly billions of meters. Resources? It'll probably be cheaper to forge the elements we want at the atomic level than lift them out of another planet's gravity well, shoot them through space, and then brake them through Earth's gravity well.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Zamfir » Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:33 am UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:
Oh, I dunno, maybe to eventually escape extinction? Or even better, propagate life elsewhere in the universe?


If was there was some place out there where we could hope to live without a massive lifeline to earth, than yeah, these would be good reasons. But we have a pretty good idea what's out there, and regrettably it sucks. In the days of the original moon program, the solar system still had to be explored. People, especially non-experts, really could hope that there be would some place out there worth living. But there isn't.

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby The Reaper » Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:12 am UTC

Here's an interesting Master's Thesis I came across regarding the colonization of space by Europe, and the rest of the West.

http://hudsonfla.com/tsiolkovsky.pdf
The Reinvigoration of the West through Outer Space Development
Or, Tsiolkovsky’s Imperative in the 21st Century
By David J. Tamm
INDEKS NUMBER 1005929
Masters thesis written under the supervision of Prof. dr hab. Andrzej Nowak
October 2006 Kraków, Poland

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Kain » Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:44 am UTC

Considering that I am studying both astronomy and aerospace engineering (yay space telescopes!), I will limit my argument to a simple case: Lunar colony on the near side, preferably in a crater somewhere for radiation protection.

What would be the benifit, you might ask? Well, one thing NASA is good at is weather satillites. One thing NASA is bad at is continuous funding for the operation of said satellites. A permanently occupied station on the near side of the moon could provide constant survailence of, oh, 35% of the planet, I would guess (maybe 20 if the rims of the crater provide an obstruction, or if you want focused telescopes...).

Lets pretend, for the sake of the example, that the debate isnt weather this would be a good idea, but wether the station should be manned or robotic. While I am sure that a robotic station would work, transmitting its data to a group of three or more receivers, human caretakers would be able to adapt to errors that so often (think hubble) plague large observatories.

I was going to continue this, but it is almost 4 am here, and I kind of lost my train of thought, sorry...
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Iv » Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:03 pm UTC

Just a nitpicking question :
"In my lifetime, I will be incredibly disappointed if we have not at least reached Mars."

We == Americans ?
We == NATO people ?
We == Terrans ?
Because Chinese or Indians will probably walk on Mars before Americans do.

The manned exploration of space or manned colonization is useless. It fills none of mankind's needs. I would like to see asteroid mining, moon mining, asteroid deflection, space-based astronomy, orbital solar power plants but none of it requires human presence.

The focus on human presence in space is, in my humble opinion, outdated. Making the space colonization unmanned WILL bring many useful advances in robotics, mechanics, algorithmics and power management. Adding the constraints of a human habitat will slow down the progresses, and will make the costs skyrocket for no easily foreseeable useful advances.

I can see the usefulness of having a lab in micro-gravity, even having hospitals there, but I can't see the usefulness of any human presence outside LEO.

I can however see a pernicious effect if we ever manage to have an autonomous colony inside of Earth : "Screw our fragile ecosystem, we have a backup plan."

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Okita » Thu Jul 23, 2009 2:37 pm UTC

I am reminded of John F. Kennedy at Rice University:

J.F.K. wrote: We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.


Edit: And something I just thought of now:
I recall there are those who believe that we never went to the moon. That it was in fact a hoax, produced by the American government for the purpose of hiding the amount of money that was embezzled from such a goal.

I have no doubt that this is a hoax. But it makes me wonder... if we never went to the moon, is it not more imperative for us to go now? It has been over 30 years since we have been there. It is time to go back...and then to go further. To push the limits of what we consider the human frontier regardless of how far we pushed previously.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:00 pm UTC

For starters, the debate as to whether or not we should send humans into space has been hashed over here. (I hope I linked that properly?) I suggest reading that for some insight at least to the arguments that are made, because I haven't seen anything new in this thread.

Secondly, it is within current technology to set up sustainable, expandable, bases of human operation on Mars, but not on Luna.

Thirdly, completely aside from the use of humans in space, I think it's important to recognize on what side of the fence you stand with this issue; either you see no reason to leave Earth and all our endeavor should be done via autonomous robot, or you believe that until a robotic can actually replace everything about a human, we'll have to play a more hands on role in our endeavors. Personally, I feel the notion of fully autonomous robotics that don't require human babysitting, is much further away then fully self-sufficient extraterrestrial colonies.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Internetmeme » Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:04 pm UTC

It would also be a very good thing to have a self-sufficient colony on the moon. For one thing, if there's a total catastrophe on Earth the human race might still move on. That's the big thing right now in this stage, for Earth to colonize another planet, as somewhat of a life boat. I've heard Earth compared to a giant boat in space. The moon would serve as our life boat. Also, despite the moon quakes, we should be able to find a relatively stable area on the moon and dig down there as temporary barracks to evacuate to if something bad (meteor, WWIII, nuclear holocaust, raptor holocaust, etc...) ever happened that threatened to take out the human race. Also, it would likely be more economically feasable to have a colony on the moon instead of as a space station for the simple fact that on the moon, you have resources. You have iron, water, and all of the major resources found in the Earth's crust. Heck, you even have the stuff you need to build a nuclear plant for power. In the space station, while you can grow food and recycle water, no new resources are introduced into the system until a million dollar rocket ships the stuff you need up there. Plus, they cannot expand the living space while in the space station, but they could on the moon.

Autonomous robots can, and should, be used for areas where humans cannot go, like the crushing depths of the ocean trenches, or a moon on Saturn. They should build the settlement and then be used for maintenance.

I do also want the three laws of robots programmed in, al a I Robot.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Vaniver » Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:49 pm UTC

Kain wrote:What would be the benifit, you might ask? Well, one thing NASA is good at is weather satillites. One thing NASA is bad at is continuous funding for the operation of said satellites. A permanently occupied station on the near side of the moon could provide constant survailence of, oh, 35% of the planet, I would guess (maybe 20 if the rims of the crater provide an obstruction, or if you want focused telescopes...).
What are the relative costs of those two things? Because, I imagine, if you took all the money that a moon mission would take, and put it in a trust fund that Congress can't rob, the interest on the money in the fund would be enough to support several times the number of weather satellites we have now- which would give us better than 35% coverage.

Kain wrote:Lets pretend, for the sake of the example, that the debate isnt weather this would be a good idea, but wether the station should be manned or robotic. While I am sure that a robotic station would work, transmitting its data to a group of three or more receivers, human caretakers would be able to adapt to errors that so often (think hubble) plague large observatories.
My understanding is that the cost of making and launching (if you use disposable rockets) machines is dwarfed by the cost of sending humans out there to fix them (it's hard to verify, though, since the numbers I'm seeing for cost don't separate out design and manufacture).

Izawwlgood wrote:Secondly, it is within current technology to set up sustainable, expandable, bases of human operation on Mars, but not on Luna.
Really? The last time I heard of someone trying to make a self-sufficient, air-tight colony on Earth it didn't last very long.

Internetmeme wrote:For one thing, if there's a total catastrophe on Earth the human race might still move on.
What total catastrophe could occur on the Earth that would not wipe out a moon base? A global war, which magically doesn't spread to the moon? An environmental collapse, which makes the Earth still more livable than the moon? A gamma ray burst, that irradiates the entire Solar System? An asteroid, which causes a huge explosion and pollutes the Earth's atmosphere incredibly?

The last one is the only one that would possibly justify a moon base- but it just as easily justifies Vaults, or better asteroid monitoring and defense. The vaults / defense system will be cheaper, and will have the benefit of having survivors on the better planetary body, or of avoiding the catastrophe altogether.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:25 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:Really? The last time I heard of someone trying to make a self-sufficient, air-tight colony on Earth it didn't last very long.


Biosphere 2 wasn't a failure, despite having numerous shortcomings, most of which involved readily identifiable engineering mistakes and fund mismanagement. A number of experiments, some starting as early as the 70's, successfully and sustainably involved the closure of single humans in sealed chambers with algae. The systems haven't been perfected, but the technology is there and used and demonstrated to work. Furthermore, a number of long term research bases have operated in Antarctica with limited to no resupply for extended periods of time (couple of years, or, their stores were small and resupply was annual).

Internetmeme wrote:It would also be a very good thing to have a self-sufficient colony on the moon.


For telescopes on the dark side, construction, refueling, and potential He3 mining, sure. But a self-sufficient lunar colony has a HOST of incredibly difficult hurdles to overcome. Namely, zero radiation protection, lack of atmo, microgravity, and a 28-day light cycle (you can't grow crops using the sun).
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Iv » Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:35 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:Really? The last time I heard of someone trying to make a self-sufficient, air-tight colony on Earth it didn't last very long.

Just to give an information that I wish I had earlier : If you are thinking about the Biosphere 2 project, it was not really a serious scientific try. They had huge funds, but a hippy philosophy in place of real scientific background.

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby SummerGlauFan » Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:31 pm UTC

Sure, if any extinction-level event happens in the next couple of centuries, we are screwed. The point about manned spaceflight is that it lays the groundwork for such activities in the future, for we must eventually leave Earth if we are to survive. Even the best case scenario involves our sun dieing, so we have to leave before then.

If we wish humanity to survive, that is. I don't particularly care about humanity.

On the other hand, as I have said before, when we eventually do find other earth-like worlds in the galaxy and colonize them, we will undoubtedly screw them up as much as we have Earth, and I don't want that, either. So, I guess that is one benefit to never having manned space flight.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Vaniver » Thu Jul 23, 2009 9:03 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Furthermore, a number of long term research bases have operated in Antarctica with limited to no resupply for extended periods of time (couple of years, or, their stores were small and resupply was annual).
Antarctica has breathable air, though- which seems to be the worst bit of any self-sufficient system. Storing food or having algae vats of some sort isn't terribly difficult- but making sure you don't asphyxiate is.

SummerGlauFan wrote:for we must eventually leave Earth if we are to survive. Even the best case scenario involves our sun dieing, so we have to leave before then.
Any projections made about 5 billion years in the future aren't going to have much in the way of certainty.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Sharlos » Thu Jul 23, 2009 9:10 pm UTC

If we found a suitable planet for us to live on I really doubt we'll screw it up as much as we screwed earth. Very much less so I imagine. On a new world we wouldn't have 6 billion people and the accompanying infrastructure to work around. We could build eviromentally sustainable infrastructure from the ground up.

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Mother Superior » Thu Jul 23, 2009 9:11 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:The so called 'spin-off' effect isn't an argument for space travel; indeed, the trillions spent on the space program since it's inception have not been repaid due to Tang, teflon, and aero-gel.

NASA's total combined budget does still not exceed one trillion dollars. And from what I've heard, it does pretty much return that money, which, compared with other US government agencies is extremely low.

Oh, and manned space exploration is cool, it's exciting, and it's next.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Marquee Moon » Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:29 am UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:Sure, if any extinction-level event happens in the next couple of centuries, we are screwed. The point about manned spaceflight is that it lays the groundwork for such activities in the future, for we must eventually leave Earth if we are to survive. Even the best case scenario involves our sun dieing, so we have to leave before then.


First of all, solving problems we face in the short term should take priority to solving long term probems. Basically the time value of money. It's a concept mostly used in finance, but I think it's still relevant. Basically our ability to solve long term problems (like making lots of money or saving ourselves from extinction) is partially dependant on our short term 'strength' (like assets or number of scientists). For example, climate change is going to have a very large negative impact on human society in the next hundred years or so. If we don't put enough scientific effort into solving/mitigating this problem, not only will our economy/standards of living be negatively affected, but so will our scientific institutions since resources like public funding will need to be spent elsewhere. So even if we were purely interested in leaving earth to avoid extinction, it may not be in our interests to not spend funds on sending humans into space at this point in time.

Secondly, a problem as far into the future as running away from a dying sun could look very different by the time we get there. For example, humans may by then have escaped their fleshy prisons and uploaded their minds into supercomputers. In this case being able to transport living breathing organisms through space would be a fairly useless task.

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby SummerGlauFan » Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:11 am UTC

Marquee Moon wrote:
SummerGlauFan wrote:Sure, if any extinction-level event happens in the next couple of centuries, we are screwed. The point about manned spaceflight is that it lays the groundwork for such activities in the future, for we must eventually leave Earth if we are to survive. Even the best case scenario involves our sun dieing, so we have to leave before then.


First of all, solving problems we face in the short term should take priority to solving long term probems. Basically the time value of money. It's a concept mostly used in finance, but I think it's still relevant. Basically our ability to solve long term problems (like making lots of money or saving ourselves from extinction) is partially dependant on our short term 'strength' (like assets or number of scientists). For example, climate change is going to have a very large negative impact on human society in the next hundred years or so. If we don't put enough scientific effort into solving/mitigating this problem, not only will our economy/standards of living be negatively affected, but so will our scientific institutions since resources like public funding will need to be spent elsewhere. So even if we were purely interested in leaving earth to avoid extinction, it may not be in our interests to not spend funds on sending humans into space at this point in time.



They are not mutually exclusive. I really dislike when people say we have to ignore one set of problems and focus on another. To use the saying I have used here before, it's like saying we shouldn't work on protecting nature or building houses because "ZOMG! PEOPLE ARE DIEING! FOCUS ON THAT FIRST!!!" We do have the capacity to work on multiple problems at once, and currently NASA could serve a much better function than just playing grease monkey for our satellites.
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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:01 am UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:I really dislike when people say we have to ignore one set of problems and focus on another.


But I fail to see how "no people have walked on Mars" is much of a problem at all. It's a problem in the "I don't own a Ferrari" category of problems.

Sure, if going to Mars would give us the capability of shipping the entire human race to Mars when something disastrous happens to Earth, it would be worth some bucks I guess. But just imagine for a moment the evacuation of one country to another place on earth. I'd say there are more then enough challenges there before we have to worry about the getting to Mars part.

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Re: New NASA boss: Astronauts on Mars in his lifetime

Postby TheGuyWithTheHat » Fri Jul 24, 2009 11:25 am UTC

I'm sure they're getting the set ready now, just do a better job than you did with the moon landing. :wink:

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