Re: teraforming mars

Doug Jones (
Thu, 19 Aug 1999 12:07:40 -0700

Gregory Hather wrote:
> Why mars won't be teraformed for a long time...
> 1. The atmasphere is to thin. If we tried to add more, it would
> just float off because mars's gravity is too weak. (surface
> gravety = .4*earth surface gravity)

Wrong. Loss rate of oxygen and nitrogen from Mars' atmosphere would have a time constant in the tens of millions to hundreds of millions of years. A primary goal would be to create an oxygen-bearing atmosphere quickly so that an ozone layer would form, producing a stratospheric cold trap. This would prevent water vapor from reaching the ionosphere to be photodissociated and the hydrogen lost- this is the real concern, but solvable.

> 2. It would be cheaper to "teraform" the Aulstralian desert or
> build taller buildings.

Cheaper, true, but the land area of Mars (without seas) is equal to the land area of earth. Higher cost, higher return- and economics after nanotech are debatable...

> 3. Space flight takes too long. Asuming you acellarate at 1 g,
> it would take at least 6 months to reach mars.

Wrong. Six month transfer times can be achieved with Hohman transfer orbits; at one gee Mars would be only days away.

d=(1/2)at^2 rearranging: t=sqrt(2d/a)

if a=10 m/s, d=50E6 km = 50E9 m (half of distance to Mars), then t=100,000 s to midpoint, 200,000 s for full trip; 2.3 days total.

> 4. There is no infastructure, and no one to live with.

So you bring them from Earth and elsewhere. I'd personally prefer to leave Bob Zubrin behind, though, he's just too damn abrasive ;)

> 5. Everyone benifits from teraforming, no matter who pays.

Ever heard of membership fees? Property rights would have to be arranged beforehand, but immigrants would likely have to pay to join. None of this "common heritage of all mankind" bullshit, Mars would be privately owned.

> 6. No one on earth will allow the transfer of oxygen.

You really have no clue as to how terraforming would be done, do you? The main premise is to use resources *not* taken from Earth, and it may be possible to terraform Mars without bringing in more material (such as comets) from elsewhere. Warming, melting, and chemical transformation (reduction of CO2 to biomass and O2) would be key points.

> 7. A teraformed planet may require matenance.

Yep. So? Earth could use some major maintenance too, but nobody is doing it. Even without ongoing work, a fully terraformed planet should remain viable for millions of years before "running down". Mars apparently has little tectonic recycling, so minerals would not be returned to the biosphere via volcanoes as they are on Earth, but robust self-replicating systems might be built to serve the purpose.

> 8. It is too big of a project for any corporation or nation to
> pay for it.

At this time, yes. After a few economic doubling periods, it would be within the reach of wealthy individuals. Greed is good ;)

Read up on terraforming, think about it some more, and do some basic calculations before you make oracular pronouncements, friend. And you might try using a spellchecker, too- you have some really obvious errors.

Doug Jones, Freelance Rocket Plumber