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Thread: Terraforming other planets

  1. #1 Terraforming other planets 
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    I've been researching terraforming for a while now but I'm stuggling to find anything on the political problems that could potentially occur-wont there be a race to get to terraform it in the first place? and what happens when we get there... who's going to run a whole new planet?
    I'm sure people must have thought about this before but I really can't find anything on it... I hope someone can help me!
    thanks in advance, E Roe


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    Political problems will only result if the planets are terraformable in the first place, and the two likeliest candidates in out solar system, Mars and Venus, are extremely poor ones.

    It's far more likely resources will be spent in developing space stations at Lagrangian points in the Earth's orbit.


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    I don't think that anyone will care who terraforms the planet- all they care about is getting to reap the rewards. Also, your question was probably asked by the explorers going off to find a new world (not columbus, but those after).
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    Not for the first time I recommend the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. It explores in considerable detail the evolving power struggles associated with the terraforming and populating of Mars.
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    As in red, blue, and green mars?
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    Terraforming is a very long term project. If, for example, Mars would get terraformed, it is likely to happen literally centuries after colonisation, and while people live in sealed habitats, probably underground.

    The politics, therefore, will be the politics prevailing at the time, on Mars. Since we cannot predict what political structure will exist then, we cannot predict the political implications of terraforming.

    Personally, I do not think there will be much conflict. After all, the whole project is likely to take 1000 plus years. No-one will actually see much change in one lifetime, and so there will not be any real need to argue over it.
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    Maybe you are right about terraforming politics, assuming there are no giant leaps in technology.
    Colonization is another matter. How do you think that will progress?
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    Colonisation is also long term, though less so than terraforming. Perhaps there may be a small colony on Mars within 100 years? However, I do not think such a colony will become essentially independent from Earth for a long time to come.

    Frankly I see more value in colonising space. That is : instead of building a sealed habitat on the surface of Mars (or underground), build a sealed habitat in space, orbiting the Earth. Spin it for gravity.

    The great thing about a space colony is that there is no need to fight gravity wells to move anywhere. A semi self sufficient habitat in space could easily move to the asteroid belt, or the rings of Saturn to collect resources. It could move back to Earth orbit for trade purposes. The main trade commodity for it to buy and sell would have to be information, since moving goods out of Earth's gravity is so expensive.

    If many colonies existed in space, they could trade among themselves, very easily, including bulk goods.

    The other thing about space colonies that is very, very cool, is that one could easily become the first coloniser of another star system. Boost its propulsion, and be prepared for a journey that takes many decades, and the destination could be Alpha Centauri. If it is already geared to surviving off resources taken from comets, asteroids, and small moons, then it could thrive around another star system.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 15uliane
    As in red, blue, and green mars?
    Exactly so. An excellent series, both as a tale and in the scientific elements within it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Colonisation is also long term, though less so than terraforming. Perhaps there may be a small colony on Mars within 100 years? However, I do not think such a colony will become essentially independent from Earth for a long time to come.

    Frankly I see more value in colonising space. That is : instead of building a sealed habitat on the surface of Mars (or underground), build a sealed habitat in space, orbiting the Earth. Spin it for gravity.
    I would say to put these space stations in orbit around Mars or the Moon, then have mining operations on the surface, but utilizing workers that live in the space stations when they're not working. You can't really live on the surface of Mars or the Moon for too long without suffering bone density loss from the reduced gravity, but I'm sure there are minerals down there that would be worth extracting once the infrastructure were in place to do so on a large enough scale.



    If many colonies existed in space, they could trade among themselves, very easily, including bulk goods.
    Yeah. Space is like the ocean, only more so. With the ocean, you can move a large barge full of goods expending minimal energy to do so. In space, you can do the same thing without expending any energy at all (after you've given it an initial acceleration, anyway)


    The other thing about space colonies that is very, very cool, is that one could easily become the first coloniser of another star system. Boost its propulsion, and be prepared for a journey that takes many decades, and the destination could be Alpha Centauri. If it is already geared to surviving off resources taken from comets, asteroids, and small moons, then it could thrive around another star system.
    You'd probably be looking at centuries or milenia, rather than decades, but it's a sound concept. You'd just have to be content with it being your descendants who actually arrive, instead of you.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    Re centuries, millennia, or decades.

    I based my suggestion of decades on an article in Scientific American, about 10 years back, written by a couple of NASA guys.

    Their feeling was that, in 500 to 1000 years, humans would develop the technology to accelerate to something like 10% light speed (0.1c).

    Assuming 10 years to accelerate to 0.1c, and another 10 to decelerate again, the trip to Alpha Centauri would take 55 years.

    I am well aware that current technology would require a space vehicle to take tens of thousands of years for that voyage. If an ark ship set off some time in the next 100 years, their descendants would arrive to find the Alpha Centauri system filled with people to overpopulation. Embarassing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The great thing about a space colony is that there is no need to fight gravity wells to move anywhere. A semi self sufficient habitat in space could easily move to the asteroid belt, or the rings of Saturn to collect resources. It could move back to Earth orbit for trade purposes. The main trade commodity for it to buy and sell would have to be information, since moving goods out of Earth's gravity is so expensive.
    No it wouldn't be easy. You are still in the sun's gravity well and changing your heliocentric orbit takes delta V.

    Let's say you're in a space colony at the Earth Moon L5. And you're going to Saturn's B ring. You're going to need about 18 km/sec delta V.

    Leaving earth's surface and landing on Mars takes around 14 km/sec.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The great thing about a space colony is that there is no need to fight gravity wells to move anywhere. A semi self sufficient habitat in space could easily move to the asteroid belt, or the rings of Saturn to collect resources. It could move back to Earth orbit for trade purposes. The main trade commodity for it to buy and sell would have to be information, since moving goods out of Earth's gravity is so expensive.
    No it wouldn't be easy. You are still in the sun's gravity well and changing your heliocentric orbit takes delta V.

    Let's say you're in a space colony at the Earth Moon L5. And you're going to Saturn's B ring. You're going to need about 18 km/sec delta V.

    Leaving earth's surface and landing on Mars takes around 14 km/sec.
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    HopDavid

    Understood. The thing is, though, that you do not need to lift mass against a lot of gravity, as in leaving the Earth. You are merely changing from one solar orbit to another. That can be done with low thrust engines, and there would be no reason to have to do it quickly. Unlike leaving a planet's gravity well, high accelerations are unnecessary.

    End result - using an ion drive low thrust but high exhaust velocity engine will do the job.
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    If a planet is found with it's own life, should it be colonised and terraformed?

    In SF it's virtually given that if colonising another world is possible it will be - but SF is a genre that predates widespread concern for wilderness and undisturbed ecosystems and has tended to continue to play with existing themes, including interstellar expansion and colonisation of suitable worlds. Except for world's with 'sentient life', they are treated as there for the taking.
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    The late Carl Sagan said the silliest things about terraforming, including his outlandish claim that we would "suck the life out of" meteors rich in "plastics, water and hydrocarbons."

    Sagan spoke of "moving worlds around" as if it were a very simple matter.

    He was a raving leftist and agnostic who was supremely condescending to conservatives and Christians. His books were replete with his own ignorance and intolerance.
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    Got a source for the claim you quoted?
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacNewton
    The late Carl Sagan said the silliest things about terraforming,
    Be so good as to identify three silly things he said about terraforming, stating where he said them, being sure you provide adequate context, and explain and justify what was silly about them.

    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacNewton
    ...including his outlandish claim that we would "suck the life out of" meteors rich in "plastics, water and hydrocarbons."
    Are you seriously denying that meteors are rich in water and organic materials, from which plastics could be manufactured? I mean, seriously? You are denying that? You think that is outlandish? Or do you doubt our ability to apply the technology in time?

    In short, is your foolish statement a failure of your education, or of your imagination?

    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacNewton
    Sagan spoke of "moving worlds around" as if it were a very simple matter.
    You will be familiar with Moore's Law. (If you are not what amazing arrogance to think you have something of value to contribute on an internet forum.) Technologies are advancing steadily, often at accelerating rates. If we can envisage a means of 'moving worlds around', then - if we do not destroy our planet first, through global warming - then we shall certainly 'move worlds around'. Without engaging in rhetoric demonstrate why this is false. Can you? I doubt it.

    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacNewton
    He was a raving leftist.
    Preferable to ossified conservatives.

    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacNewton
    who was supremely condescending to conservatives and Christians.
    I'm pleased to see you acknowledge his supremacy.

    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacNewton
    books were replete with his own ignorance and intolerance.
    How wonderful that you have been able to avoid these character defects in your own works.
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    [quote="Ophiolite"]
    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacNewton
    The late Carl Sagan said the silliest things about terraforming,
    Be so good as to identify three silly things he said about terraforming, stating where he said them, being sure you provide adequate context, and explain and justify what was silly about them.

    A world 10 kilometers across could be transported from Saturn, say, to Mars through nuclear burning of the hydrogen in an icy comet a kilometer across. - Pale Blue Dot, page 335

    You need ME to explain and justify what is silly about this?
    All right. It took years for one of our satellites to reach Saturn. Years. And you think you're going to go there to "transport" a "world" from Saturn to Mars? Bring lots of food and books to read. Oh, and don't run out of oxygen.

    “Inside the right kind of asteroid, a carbonaceous one, you can find materials for manufacturing stone, metal, and plastic construction and plentiful water . . . “ - Ibid, page 331

    To pretend that we will be able to carry bulldozers, oxygen to run them, materials to build enclosures, and on and on, and find asteroids and land on them....
    Please. The habitat created to be self-sustaining in the Arizona desert was a miserable failure. We can't even sustain a few people here on earth. The silly argument that we can do so on an asteroid is pure lunacy.

    “We could investigate whether there really are commercially valuable resources – metals or minerals - on Nereus.” - Ibid, page 307

    Go ahead. I'm staying right here.



    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacNewton
    ...including his outlandish claim that we would "suck the life out of" meteors rich in "plastics, water and hydrocarbons."
    Are you seriously denying that meteors are rich in water and organic materials, from which plastics could be manufactured? I mean, seriously? You are denying that? You think that is outlandish? Or do you doubt our ability to apply the technology in time?

    In short, is your foolish statement a failure of your education, or of your imagination?

    Sagan's pretentious inference is that humans will exploit these worlds.

    There you go again with hateful, condescending pejoratives, in violation of the rules supposed to be utilized in posts here.

    tsk, tsk
    Most unscientific and anti-intellectual of you.


    You will be familiar with Moore's Law. (If you are not what amazing arrogance to think you have something of value to contribute on an internet forum.) Technologies are advancing steadily, often at accelerating rates. If we can envisage a means of 'moving worlds around', then - if we do not destroy our planet first, through global warming - then we shall certainly 'move worlds around'. Without engaging in rhetoric demonstrate why this is false. Can you? I doubt it.
    "We shall certainly move worlds around" you claim, with the same arrogant certitude that leftists, like you, assure the world that humans are quickly destroying Mother Gaia, raising the sea level, utilizing the last of the fossil fuels, overpopulating earth, etc, etc. Now YOU will be familiar with the infamous and supremely ignorant Club of Rome which decades ago predicted global starvation on a massive scale. It did not happen.

    YOU will be familiar with then president of the Royal Society, Lord Kelvin, who confidently predicted, on the basis of his scientific acumen and training, that human flight in heavier than air vehicles was "impossible." This was around 1895. Look it up yourself. Some 10 years later, he was proven to be a complete ass by two.... bicycle mechanics.


    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacNewton
    He was a raving leftist.
    Preferable to ossified conservatives.

    Such as, oh James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin.......

    Darn those "right wing religious extremists" who founded "One Nation, Under God."

    Incidentally, agnostic Carl Sagan, who railed against conservatives, Christians, and even God, had his memorial service held at St. John the Divine Church in New York City. How amusing. No Christian I know ever had his memorial service held in an atheist shrine.
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    Sagan was also certain, without evidence, that aliens technologically advanced enough to cross space to Solar System would be benevolent.

    History of planet shows that technologically advanced beings crossing oceans were anything BUT benevolent, as history of colonialism demonstrates.

    And these beings were same species, needless to belabor point.

    All same, oxygen to run bulldozers is not an issue, as bulldozers are of limited utility in asteroid mining, even Prince is knowing this... :-D
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    As far as exploiting comets etc. are concerned, there is no bar in theory to doing so. We still have a long way to go before we can do this, but so what.

    Nuclear power has the potential to provide essentially unlimited energy for a space colony. Imagine a city in space - essentially a giant cylinder rotating for gravity, and with several metres of water ice around the outer shell to filter out radiation. The propulsion system is an advanced ion drive engine, spitting ionised water molecules out the back at a high fraction of light speed. All of this is possible in theory.

    Such a vessel can move from asteroid to asteroid or from moon of Saturn to moon of Saturn. From those items of space debris, it can harvest water ice, and rocks for their mineral content. With sufficient scientific development, such a city and such a society could be developed able to live in space indefinitely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacNewton
    The late Carl Sagan said the silliest things about terraforming, including his outlandish claim that we would "suck the life out of" meteors rich in "plastics, water and hydrocarbons."

    Sagan spoke of "moving worlds around" as if it were a very simple matter.

    He was a raving leftist and agnostic who was supremely condescending to conservatives and Christians. His books were replete with his own ignorance and intolerance.
    I live in the UK.
    Quite some time ago I regularly bought the American current affairs magazine "Encounter". The general editorial line was support for free market capitalism (with all its faults) and deep hostility towards totalitarianism. I suppose the best description would be neo- conservative.
    I believed it was an intelligent and well-written periodical and so I am not hostile to Christianity or conservatism altho' I do believe the word "liberal" has, to a certain extent, been hijacked by the Left.
    I suppose many people would have called "Encounter" a right wing magazine, but its stance, on the issues of the day, had nothing in common with the idiotic views you put forward.
    I do feel concerned that the ideas you espouse appear to be attracting growing support in the USA.
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    Sagan had an imagination and wasn't afraid to contemplate man's nearly unlimited potential. There's nothing wrong with that.

    --
    Isaac this is an environmental thread, not a political commentary. Please keep it that way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince
    Sagan was also certain, without evidence, that aliens technologically advanced enough to cross space to Solar System would be benevolent.

    History of planet shows that technologically advanced beings crossing oceans were anything BUT benevolent, as history of colonialism demonstrates.

    And these beings were same species, needless to belabor point.

    All same, oxygen to run bulldozers is not an issue, as bulldozers are of limited utility in asteroid mining, even Prince is knowing this... :-D
    You're going to mine minerals on a stone asteroid.... how? Precisely?
    Picks and hammers, right?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    Sagan had an imagination and wasn't afraid to contemplate man's nearly unlimited potential. There's nothing wrong with that.

    --
    Isaac this is an environmental thread, not a political commentary. Please keep it that way.
    Leftists have grotesquely politicized "environmentalism," space travel, education, and all things science.

    The pretense by lettered men that no amount of taxpayer dollars for "research" is too much is just another Big Lie of the litany of Big Lies endlessly reiterated by the Left.

    I have to do some "research" on how many fish I can catch over regions of the Pacific Ocean I have carefully plotted out. For what purpose, you may ask?
    Who knows. One never knows where or when the benefits of *research* will be obtained. That we *scientists* strive onward and upward is quite enough.

    For this, a government grant of, oh, $350,000 should suffice. For the first year, that is.

    ::::: sniff :::::::
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacNewton
    Leftists have grotesquely politicized "environmentalism," space travel, education, and all things science.

    The pretense by lettered men that no amount of taxpayer dollars for "research" is too much is just another Big Lie of the litany of Big Lies endlessly reiterated by the Left.
    Huh? What planet do you live on? It is the right wing alleged conservatives that call environmentalists "tree huggers". It is those who want to cut taxes no matter what bad things happen that don't want to fund space exploration. It's the right wing nuts who want to cut off all education funding, damn the consequences. It's the right wing nuts who believe in creationism, say the earth is 6000 years old, and dinosaurs lived with man.

    You apparently live in some other fantasy world.

    And BTW, this thread does now belong in politics, since it sure ain't science...
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacNewton
    Leftists have grotesquely politicized "environmentalism," space travel, education, and all things science.

    The pretense by lettered men that no amount of taxpayer dollars for "research" is too much is just another Big Lie of the litany of Big Lies endlessly reiterated by the Left.
    Its better to spend that money on scientific pursuits and actual education than pseudoscience and nonsense like Intelligent design. Which is what we "leftists," are trying to do. I think MeteorWayne makes a very good point.
    "For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled." Hunter S Thompson

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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacNewton
    You're going to mine minerals on a stone asteroid.... how? Precisely?
    Picks and hammers, right?
    When I was younger, I worked for a company that had, as one of its products, an insulating mineral fibre. They made this from basalt rock by liquifying it in an electric arc furnace, and blowing the liquid rock out into thin fibres. Iron was an impurity in that rock that was a nuisance and had to be removed, which they did by allowing the iron to settle out. They made iron ingots which they sold as a by-product. In space, the settling process could be done under centrifuge.

    The point is that iron can be extracted from rock very easily using the technology of 50 years ago. Other minerals could be extracted also, if the cooling and removal process was a bit more sophisticated. A space factory, with nuclear power, and electric arc furnaces, could readily mine minerals from a stone asteroid.

    Other kinds of rocks contain substantial amounts of different minerals. There is no theoretical barrier to extracting any and all of them, given unlimited energy.
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    One major problem with the potential terraforming of Mars is its lack of a strong magnetic field and its relatively mass- so weak gravity. This means that any atmosphere we try to build up on Mars will be rapidly "stripped away" by the solar wind- as is theorised to be what happened for Mars billions of years ago. So, the problem is trying to find a way to dramatically reduce the effect of the solar wind upon Mars- creating a magnetic field for the red planet is out of the question as this would require magnets of several hundred-thousand orders of the magnitude if our strongest magnets.

    However, if a solution is found to this major problem, then I think the terraforming of Mars should be carried out promptly- it'd severely reduce the risk of human extinction if we spread ourselves to two planets instead of one. I am no expert of terraforming technologies, but I don't think terraforming Venus would be as successful as terraforming Mara- Venus is a boiling hot (well, around 400°C in the daytime) world with little hope of being transformed.
    "Nature doesn't care what we call it, she just does it anyway" - R. Feynman
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    Quote Originally Posted by x(x-y)
    One major problem with the potential terraforming of Mars is its lack of a strong magnetic field and its relatively mass- so weak gravity. This means that any atmosphere we try to build up on Mars will be rapidly "stripped away" by the solar wind- as is theorised to be what happened for Mars billions of years ago. So, the problem is trying to find a way to dramatically reduce the effect of the solar wind upon Mars- creating a magnetic field for the red planet is out of the question as this would require magnets of several hundred-thousand orders of the magnitude if our strongest magnets.
    I actually attended the Geological Society of America's 2010 conference in Denver, and one of the seminars that I attended had to do with terraforming. I remember that they were working on solving that problem, along with several others.

    One of the researchers was talking about using martian caves as places to initially set up. However, a big issue with that was the texture of the rocks and the ease with which our spacesuits tear. So they spent a large amount of time focusing on that issue.
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    Quote Originally Posted by x(x-y)
    One major problem with the potential terraforming of Mars is its lack of a strong magnetic field and its relatively mass- so weak gravity. This means that any atmosphere we try to build up on Mars will be rapidly "stripped away" by the solar wind.
    Hate to have to tell you this. That is not even a problem. It has been calculated that a breathable atmosphere on the moon would last about a million years. One on Mars would last much, much longer. Sure, it would eventually be stripped away - in terms of astronomical time. In terms of human time, it is next to eternal.
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