Terraforming Mars

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deschainXIX
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Terraforming Mars

Postby deschainXIX » 18 Jan 2014 17:37

Recently I wrote a short story (a science fiction future history) in which I mentioned the first planet we came to terraform: Mars. Terraforming is the process of altering a planet's atmosphere and/or biological composition so that an environment capable of sustaining human life can be created. It's a popular (and perhaps cliche) sci-fi plot component, but it's also something that is possible in the real world.
I looked up terraforming on Wikipedia to learn a bit more about it, and it turns out that NASA has been debating the possibility of terraforming Mars for years. (The process would be long, intricate and, most of all, expensive, and thus I didn't read into it with any real depth.)
But the question is, could it be a real possibility in our future? Will we be able to afford the terraforming technology (really, the development of such technology, or any advanced technology, is not a matter of scientific advancement, but a matter of economics and affordability). Or will we always be too divided amongst eachother on earth to pool our wealth and venture into the stars?
And also, what are the ethical dilemmas that would confront us as a race? Is it wrong to so corrupt the natural circulation of life in the universe? Or is it our duty to continue life in the universe and expand it as we create planets capable of sustaining it?
And there's always the possibility of destroying any natural life that may spring from the rocky barrens of desolate worlds in the future...
But one could also view it as providing a sort of insurance for future life to evolve and grow on previously hostile atmospheres.
What do you think?
Well said.

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Summerlander
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Re: Terraforming Mars

Postby Summerlander » 19 Jan 2014 12:46

I think terraforming Mars is quite possible in the near future and our technological advancement will only tend to increase with Moore's law and the spread of information.

We should not feel guilty about improving our quality of life either. The population keeps doubling and pretty soon we'll not only need the moon but we'll need Mars too. The natural order is imperfect. We possess the knowledge for inventions that can outdo nature and better suit our way of life. We can create artificial organs which are more efficient than the biological ones, for crying out loud!

Yes, I say alter everything to suit our needs. To bring the greatest happiness to the highest number possible. Alter the environment, our genome (so that we may be superhuman geniuses seen as what nature has done so far is mediocre - and scientists can see this and they can see that there is so much room for improvement), and yes make other worlds habitable for us. We finally have the capacity to mould reality as we see fit rather than be scared and avoiding danger. We are thinking and tackling problems and some people love this line of work. Scientists love the fact that there is a lot of work to do.

We have a chance to survive.

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"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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WildCat23
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Re: Terraforming Mars

Postby WildCat23 » 11 Feb 2014 02:30

Summerlander wrote:I think terraforming Mars is quite possible in the near future and our technological advancement will only tend to increase with Moore's law and the spread of information.

We should not feel guilty about improving our quality of life either. The population keeps doubling and pretty soon we'll not only need the moon but we'll need Mars too. The natural order is imperfect. We possess the knowledge for inventions that can outdo nature and better suit our way of life. We can create artificial organs which are more efficient than the biological ones, for crying out loud!

Yes, I say alter everything to suit our needs. To bring the greatest happiness to the highest number possible. Alter the environment, our genome (so that we may be superhuman geniuses seen as what nature has done so far is mediocre - and scientists can see this and they can see that there is so much room for improvement), and yes make other worlds habitable for us. We finally have the capacity to mould reality as we see fit rather than be scared and avoiding danger. We are thinking and tackling problems and some people love this line of work. Scientists love the fact that there is a lot of work to do.

We have a chance to survive.

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I agree with everything except one thing; the moon is not suited for long term settlement. It could not be terraformed (Like Mars likely could) and possesses relatively few usable resources.

Great conversation, I like it.
"I wandered home though the silent streets
And fell into a fitful sleep
Escape to realms beyond the night
Dream can't you show me the light? "
~2112

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Summerlander
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Re: Terraforming Mars

Postby Summerlander » 11 Feb 2014 11:08

Actually, we don't disagree on anything. The moon certainly can't be terraformed. There is no atmosphere and its gravity is incompatible. But there are other ways to colonise it. The Chinese are planning to be the first ones to do this. I'd imagine a scenario where domed structures are built on lunar soil and extractors are used to glean energy and other resources from our arid neighbour. There is a lot to discover still about the moon and let's not forget that it also contains frozen water at the poles. The moon would be a whole other project radically different from Martian terraforming. I suspect that, initially, the lunar colonies would have to be sustained by regular terrestrial imports. Whatever the case, the lunar affair will be read before the martian one, it seems.

Btw, I'm also enjoying this conversation! ;-)

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"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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Summerlander
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Re: Terraforming Mars

Postby Summerlander » 11 Feb 2014 11:10

*ready before the martian one.

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"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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deschainXIX
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Re: Terraforming Mars

Postby deschainXIX » 13 Feb 2014 21:06

Yeah, NASA has been discussing a sort of artificial atmosphere in a biodome as well as terraforming. Like a greenhouse I suppose.
Well said.

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Summerlander
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Re: Terraforming Mars

Postby Summerlander » 14 Feb 2014 00:15

It would be nice to see an Earthrise or Earthset. It would also be cool to see Earth as the "morning star" from Mars. 8-)
"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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WildCat23
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Re: Terraforming Mars

Postby WildCat23 » 16 Feb 2014 19:29

Summerlander wrote:Actually, we don't disagree on anything. The moon certainly can't be terraformed. There is no atmosphere and its gravity is incompatible. But there are other ways to colonise it. The Chinese are planning to be the first ones to do this. I'd imagine a scenario where domed structures are built on lunar soil and extractors are used to glean energy and other resources from our arid neighbour. There is a lot to discover still about the moon and let's not forget that it also contains frozen water at the poles. The moon would be a whole other project radically different from Martian terraforming. I suspect that, initially, the lunar colonies would have to be sustained by regular terrestrial imports. Whatever the case, the lunar affair will be read before the martian one, it seems.

Btw, I'm also enjoying this conversation! ;-)

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Actually, putting some thought into it, terraforming Mars does not appear to be that difficult. First, we would need to release the CO2 held in the poles to help create a atmosphere that would partially warm the planet, and allow us to walk around without spacesuits on. We would then need to create a magnetic field, which is technically doable today (and insanely expensive). We would likely need to create a little less than the current amount of electricity used on Earth, but on Mars. We could then create essentially a giant electromagnet on the surface, using the vast amounts of iron available there. Then, using algae, in a method similar to how Earth originally got its Oxygen, we could *eventually* make the air breathable.

Also, using Nuclear power on Mars could be much safer than here on Earth. Mars doesn't have Tectonic Plates (As far as we know) and we could dedicate a whole section of the planet specifically as storage.

This is something I have actually been thinking about for many years, and has always intrigued me. I really hope we do terraform Mars, I would desperately want to go.

PS: I'm currently working on developing an indie stealth game. The game is planned in 2 games, the first of which is in present time, the sequel will be roughly 500 years in the future. I plan to include a terraformed Mars and very urban Earth (Coruscant-esque?).
"I wandered home though the silent streets
And fell into a fitful sleep
Escape to realms beyond the night
Dream can't you show me the light? "
~2112

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Summerlander
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Re: Terraforming Mars

Postby Summerlander » 16 Feb 2014 23:42

You seem to have done your homework and have just aroused my interest in terraforming further. I must get a book about what they plan to do on Mars. Fascinating stuff. Educational and thanks for sharing.

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"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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WildCat23
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Re: Terraforming Mars

Postby WildCat23 » 20 Feb 2014 04:17

Summerlander wrote:You seem to have done your homework and have just aroused my interest in terraforming further. I must get a book about what they plan to do on Mars. Fascinating stuff. Educational and thanks for sharing.

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Definitely some interesting stuff. The interesting thing is getting rid of all the CO2 after we need it (based on the ideal circumstances of there being large supplies frozen in the surface). Considering that levels above 1% of total atmosphere being toxic, we would probably need to replace vast amounts of the atmosphere to make it breathable. Creating genetically engineered algae would probably suit this. However, there then remains the problem with Nitrogen (Practically none).

Man, I really feel that this is what the government should have NASA working on (Instead of space-ferry, or simply non-existent like present) and let private companies do the stuff that we've been able to do. Let NASA have a big enough budget and actually lead the way, like the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. We put men on the Moon with slide-rules for Christ's sake. Surely, it is not anywhere near as difficult or expensive to do now?
"I wandered home though the silent streets
And fell into a fitful sleep
Escape to realms beyond the night
Dream can't you show me the light? "
~2112


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