Case for Mars
Case for Mars

Case for Mars

Mars’ atmosphere, on the other hand, is sufficiently dense to protect crops grown on the surface against solar flares. On Mars, as we have seen, large inflatable greenhouses protected by geodesic domes could be readily deployed, rapidly creating huge temperate-environment domains for crop growth. (Location 3669)

How fertile is Martian land? It’s hard to say, but on the basis of what we know now, Martian soil is likely to prove an excellent medium for crop growth, considerably better than most land on Earth, in fact. In Table 7.1 we show a comparison of plant nutrient elements in terrestrial and Martian soils. (Location 3689)

As stated earlier, the Martian greenhouses will be pressurized at 5 psi (340 mbar), or around one-third of Earth sea-level pressure. (Location 3708)

One is to use mushrooms. At Purdue University, for example, a NASA-funded space-agriculture research center has isolated species of mushrooms that will grow on the waste portions of plants and turn 70 percent of their material into edible protein that is as high in quality as soy (which is considerably better than goat). (Location 3735)

Orchards will also be desirable to produce fruit. Therefore, wood will eventually be available as well. This wood can be used as such, to make furniture and so forth. (Location 3742)

In the modern age, silicon has emerged as perhaps the third most important metal after steel and aluminum, as it is central to the manufacture of all electronics. It will be even more important on Mars, because by manufacturing silicon we will be able to produce photovoltaic panels, thereby continually increasing the base’s power supply. (Location 3783)

Yes, it’s quite true that silicon dioxide is as common on the Moon as anyone could ask for, but the carbon and hydrogen necessary to turn it into silicon metal is absent. (Location 3822)

As a further supplement to base power, wind is a possibility. Windmills have operated on Earth for centuries, and their low-tech nature makes them attractive potential items for Mars base manufacture. (Location 3883)

However high this should turn out, it should be remembered that on Mars we would be erecting the windmill in a 38 percent gravity field—it may be practical to build windmill towers that Earthlings would consider outlandishly tall. (Location 3890)

On Earth, geothermal power is the fourth largest source of power, after combustion, hydroelectric, and nuclear, providing about 11,000 MWe or 0.1 percent of all power used by humanity. (Location 3905)

Furthermore, as we have seen, Mars possesses large supplies of water, with a liquid water table probably existing within a kilometer of the surface at least in some places. (Location 3921)

Once it is possible to produce solar, wind, and especially geothermal power on Mars, the growth of the base will become exponential. (Location 3943)

The base’s sponsors will probably offer large financial bonuses to those who choose to do so. (Location 4000)

To be viable, a real Martian civilization must be either completely autarkic (very unlikely until the far future) or be able to produce some kind of export that allows it to pay for the imports it requires. (Location 4024)

Among extraterrestrial bodies in our solar system, Mars is singular in that it possesses all the raw materials required to support not only life, but a new branch of human civilization. (Location 4054)

Earth initially, and later on they can be manufactured on Mars out of indigenous materials. (Location 4092)

Mars is thus a place where an actual civilization, not just a mining or scientific outpost, can be developed. And significantly for interplanetary commerce, Mars and Earth are the only two locations in the solar system where humans will be able to grow crops for export. (Location 4100)

As shown in the table below, Mars has an overwhelming positional advantage as a location from which to conduct such trade. This advantage results from the fact that the rocket propulsion ΔVs required to reach the asteroid belt from Mars are much less than those from Earth, and as a result, the mass ratio (a spacecraft’s fully fueled mass divided by its dry mass) required of spacecraft leaving Mars is also much less. (Location 4171)

Mars supplying low-technology manufactured goods and food staples to the asteroid belt and possibly to the Moon as well, and the asteroids sending metals (and perhaps the Moon sending helium-3) back to Earth. (Location 4223)

However, colonization is, by definition, a one-way trip, and it is this fact that makes it possible to transport the large numbers of people that a colony in a new world needs to succeed. (Location 4229)

This wage differential, precisely analogous to the wage differential between Europe and America during most of the past four centuries, can make emigration to Mars both desirable and possible for the individual. (Location 4292)

That emigrant, in turn, would proceed to earn enough money to bring the rest of the family over. (Location 4295)

In short, Martian civilization will be practical because it will have to be, just as nineteenth-century American civilization (Location 4301)

was. This forced pragmatism will give Mars an enormous advantage in competing with the less-stressed and therefore more tradition-bound society remaining behind on Earth. (Location 4302)

Therefore, they will bring income to Mars (via terrestrial licensing) while at the same time they disrupt the labor-rich terrestrial society’s inherent tendency toward stagnation. (Location 4306)

Martian real estate can be broken down into two categories: habitable and open. By habitable real estate I mean that which is under a dome, allowing human settlers to live there in a relatively conventional shirtsleeve environment. Open real estate, on the other hand, is that which lies outside the domes. (Location 4313)

For one, at least a few people believed that the land would be exploitable someday, and a juridical arrangement existed in the form of British Crown land patents that allowed trans-Appalachian land to be privately owned. (Location 4320)

Once that is in place, however, even the undeveloped open real estate on Mars represents a tremendous source of capital to finance the initial development of Martian settlements. (Location 4331)

For these reasons, as with land speculators on Earth in the past, the owners of open unexplored real estate on Mars will exercise all their influence to further the exploration of, and encourage the settlement of, land under their control. (Location 4337)

daily life will make it ever harder for strong spirits to find adequate means for expressing their creative drive and initiative on Earth. (Location 4345)

The primary analogy I wish to draw is that Mars is to the new age of exploration what North America was to the last. (Location 4353)

Though Mars’ atmosphere currently is rather thin, most researchers believe that there are enough reserves of carbon dioxide on the planet to substantially thicken it. (Location 4536)

or by releasing bacteria that could produce natural greenhouse gases more powerful than carbon dioxide (but much less so than halocarbons) such as ammonia or methane, once acceptable living conditions for bacteria were produced on Mars by one of the other methods. (Location 4550)

Chief among them is that of positive feedback, a phenomenon that occurs when the output of a system enhances what is input to the system. (Location 4553)

In computational studies, Chris McKay and I utilized Mars climate models to reveal that a small but sustained change in temperature at the Martian south pole—just 4°C—can initiate a runaway greenhouse effect in the polar region that will result in the evaporation of the polar cap. (Location 4565)

short, a modest 4°C rise in temperature at the south pole can globally raise temperatures by tens of degrees and transform a 6 millibar atmosphere into one measured in hundreds of millibars. (Location 4569)

Note that the curve approaches the 273°K freezing point of water, or, in terms of what interests us for terraforming, the melting point of water ice. With the addition of modest ongoing artificial greenhouse efforts, water ice and permafrost will begin to melt. (Location 4633)

Mars appear to be the use of orbital mirrors to change the heat balance of the south polar cap (thereby causing its carbon dioxide reservoir to vaporize); the mass production of artificial halocarbon (CFC) gases in industrial facilities on the Martian surface; and the creation of widespread bacterial ecosystems capable of warming the planet through emission of large amounts of strong natural greenhouse gases such as ammonia and methane. (Location 4719)

A much more practical idea would be to construct a more modest mirror capable of warming a limited area of Mars by a few degrees. (Location 4726)

Kelvin, it turns out that a space-based mirror with a radius of 125 kilometers could reflect enough sunlight to raise the entire area south of 70° south latitude by 5° Kelvin—more than enough. (Location 4730)

In Table 9.2, we show the amount of halocarbon gases needed in Mars’ atmosphere to create a given temperature rise, and the power that would be needed on the Martian surface to produce the required CFCs over a period of twenty years. If the gases have an atmospheric lifetime of one hundred years, then approximately one-fifth the power levels shown in the table will be needed to maintain the CFC concentration after it has been built up. (Location 4756)

In addition to its minority presence in the atmosphere, nitrogen can likely be found on Mars in substantial amounts in regolith nitrate beds. (Location 4770)

Plants, however, offer the advantage that once established they can propagate themselves. (Location 4815)

It might be said that Bush Senior lost Mars while yachting at Kennebunk-port, and Bush Junior lost the Moon while mountain-biking at Crawford. (Location 4965)

In fact, the downturn of U.S. space spending at the end of Apollo was followed by a slowdown of the U.S. economy, which has remained comparatively sluggish ever since. (Location 5031)

The J.F.K. model is a proven success; successful both at realizing an impossible dream of getting humans to the Moon, advancing space technology, and in generating the greatest period of economic growth in the United States’ postwar economic history. (Location 5052)

Success or failure with this approach depends solely upon the ingenuity of the American people and the workings of the free enterprise system, not upon political wrangling. (Location 5122)

Readers may recall that when Charles Lindbergh flew the Atlantic, he did not do it as part of a government-funded program, but in pursuit of a privately posted prize. (Location 5126)

The prize system would change all that, because the company’s profit would be the value of the prize, minus their costs, period. (Location 5145)

Furthermore, their actual base costs would be lower, since their accounting and documentation burden would be much less. (Location 5147)

A prime example of the Martian frontier driving new technology will undoubtedly be found in the arena of energy production. (Location 5446)

On twenty-first-century Mars, on the other hand, conditions of labor shortage will apply with a vengeance. Indeed, it can be safely said that no commodity on twenty-first-century Mars will be more precious and more highly valued than human labor time. (Location 5458)

The frontier drove the development of democracy in America by creating a self-reliant population that insisted on the right to self-government. (Location 5463)

These threats are the spread of various sorts of anti-human ideologies and the development of political institutions that incorporate the notions that spring from them as a basis of operation. (Location 5474)

Western humanist civilization as we know and value it today was born in expansion, grew in expansion, and can only exist in a dynamic expanding state. (Location 5498)

The universe is vast. Its resources, if we can access them, truly are infinite. (Location 5509)

Yet, Mars itself is about 100,000 times as far from Earth as America is from Europe. (Location 5512)

We still possess the greatest gift of the inheritance of a four-hundred-year-long Renaissance: To wit, the capacity to initiate another by opening the Martian frontier. If we fail to do so, our culture will not have that capacity long. Mars is harsh. Its settlers will need not only technology, but the scientific outlook, creativity, and free-thinking inventiveness that stand behind it. Mars will not allow itself to be settled by people from a static society—those people won’t have what it takes. We still do. Mars today waits for the children of the old frontier. But Mars will not wait forever. (Location 5520)