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Down and Out on Mars and Venus

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Nobel Hobos 2
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Down and Out on Mars and Venus

Postby Nobel Hobos 2 » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:06 am

This thread is now about terraforming Mars AND Venus
Not necessarily both at the same time.


Mars. It's a planet, it's quite big (surface area nearly the same as Earth's land), and as it is now it is very hostile to human life. If we're going to talk terraforming, understand that it's a big job.

Mars has a negligible magnetic field. Earth's strong magnetic field protects us from some of the sun's radiation, but more importantly (in the long term) our magnetic field protects us from having our atmosphere stripped away by solar wind. Mars once had an atmosphere, despite its smaller mass, and some theories have it that Mars had a magnetic field to protect that atmosphere. I tend more towards the theory that the Martian magnetic field never was enough and it just ran out of gas.

Giving Mars a magnetic field and waiting for it to capture its own atmosphere, doesn't seem like a practical course to me. But a magnetic field would be fantastic, if you can think of a way. The next section deals with ways of providing an atmosphere, and atmosphere itself protects against solar radiation. The added protection of a magnetic field would be bonanza.

Okay, atmosphere. I propose to intercept comets and crash them into Mars. Comets are mostly water.

An atmosphere of water vapour would be a great start. Wait you say, Mars is far too cold for that. Well actually. If you put enough ice on the surface it would sublimate, creating an atmosphere which captures and retains heat (water vapor is a greenhouse gas) which would melt the ice around the equator and evaporate some of it. With feedback like that, we'd have an atmosphere of water vapour in no time. Say a few decades.

Then solar radiation beats up on the water molecules, creating hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is far more mobile and escapes the planet's gravity more easily than oxygen does (though even oxygen escapes more easily than H2O) and we have an unbreathable atmosphere with some oxygen and some oxides.

We have nowhere near made Mars habitable for humans, though. Mars is covered in reactive minerals. The available oxygen is going to get used up, for centuries, no matter how many comets we crash into it. In fact, we can't go too far with adding water that way or we'll make a deep atmosphere with clouds (like Venus has) and solar degradation won't do much to it.

Ideally we would add pure oxygen but I don't see where we would get that. Oxygen on earth is a product of life, it's scarce to us. While extracting oxygen (eg from water in Mars orbit) would take too much energy.

Is the terraforming of Mars a century out of our grasp? Or is there some clever way I haven't thought of?
Last edited by Nobel Hobos 2 on Thu Feb 27, 2020 12:07 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Waldoven » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:18 am

By adding pure oxygen you can add some animals, which will increase the carbon levels so why don't we add plants. By adding plants we get more oxygen, also why not throw a little bit of pure nitrogen and argon into the mix? Anddd you just created a habitable planet. But we need a magnetic field. That's the problem. We need to create a magnetic field and we need to figure out how. When we've done that we can colonize mars.. or we could just keep on adding oxygen, nitrogen and argon manually if we can't make a magnetic field
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Postby The World Capitalist Confederation » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:25 am

We could build a massive magnetic field in front of Mars (i.e. closer to the Sun) and leave Mars in the magnetotail, allowing Mars to have less radiation and solar wind stripping than even Earth.

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Postby Nobel Hobos 2 » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:27 am

Waldoven wrote:By adding pure oxygen you can add some animals, which will increase the carbon levels so why don't we add plants. By adding plants we get more oxygen, also why not throw a little bit of pure nitrogen and argon into the mix? Anddd you just created a habitable planet. But we need a magnetic field. That's the problem. We need to create a magnetic field and we need to figure out how. When we've done that we can colonize mars.. or we could just keep on adding oxygen, nitrogen and argon manually if we can't make a magnetic field


The process of atmosphere being stripped away by solar wind, is quite slow. On the scale of millions of years (from basic, plant supporting atmosphere to none at all). So don't worry too much about the magnetic field.

Adding plants DEFINITELY comes before adding animals. Biology is not a strong point of mine, but I think all plants need nitrogen and carbon dioxide. If we can put oxygen on Mars we will surely have carbon dioxide from all those reactive minerals I mentioned. Nitrogen I'm not so sure, but maybe oxygen would pry it loose from the minerals. Some plants I understand get their nitrogen from the soil but between my vagueness about the Martian soil and my vagueness about plants and their roots ... I cannot say.
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Postby Nobel Hobos 2 » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:29 am

The World Capitalist Confederation wrote:We could build a massive magnetic field in front of Mars (i.e. closer to the Sun) and leave Mars in the magnetotail, allowing Mars to have less radiation and solar wind stripping than even Earth.


Ambitious! I like it.
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Postby Vivolkha » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:45 am

A few comments:
  • Mars has a total surface area similar to that of Earth's continents. But if we flood Mars, the available area would be much smaller.
  • Mars has significant amounts of water ice in the planet, that we could melt to make oceans once we have an atmosphere stable enough.
  • Mars has significant amounts of frozen carbon dioxide at its polar caps that could trigger a greenhouse effect. This could help with terraforming or destroy such efforts, depending on the exact moment when such carbon dioxide melts.
  • Mars doesn't have enough gravity to keep an atmosphere for long in geological terms, but at human scale the loss would barely be relevant over several generations. Mars continues to lose its atmosphere to space right now.
  • Martian soil is toxic to humans because of a high perchlorate concentration. Might as well try to fix that as well.
  • The asteroid belt has a few "main-belt" comets to bring material to Mars. Their composition is different from those from the Kuiper belt because they are much closer to the Sun. They could bring extra water to Mars.
  • Comets and other objects from the Kuiper belt often have frozen surfaces of nitrogen ice and organic compounds. The former would be helpful to form a thick Earth-like atmosphere and the latter could be helpful as nutrients.
  • As Mars is further away from the Sun than Earth (while technically still being in the habitable zone) it has a few perks worth mentioning: it will be habitable for longer as the Sun brightens over time (Earth will be uninhabitable in 1 billion years) and it does not receive as much UV radiation so less ozone protection is needed.
  • Phobos is on a crashing course with Mars. It is expected to impact in 50-100 million years. Not much to be worried about but then again it is a 11 km rock we could easily move away.
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Postby 3rdBritan » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:51 am

Algea is the only plant that could live on arshes right now if you set it on there, but only in the poles
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Postby Waldoven » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:52 am

We could speed up its collision and make Phobos collide now, it would increase global temperatures and melt the ice caps faster. Though I don't think a lot of people will like that idea because we're gonna basically murder Phobos
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Postby New yugoslavaia » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:53 am

On the note of plants, apparantly the Martian soil is really toxic.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martian_soil

"Martian soil is toxic, due to relatively high concentrations of perchlorate compounds containing chlorine. Elemental chlorine was first discovered during localised investigations by Mars rover Sojourner, and has been confirmed by Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity. The Mars Odyssey orbiter has also detected perchlorates across the surface of the planet."
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Postby Nobel Hobos 2 » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:57 am

Vivolkha wrote:A few comments:
  • Mars has a total surface area similar to that of Earth's continents. But if we flood Mars, the available area would be much smaller.
  • Mars has significant amounts of water ice in the planet, that we could melt to make oceans once we have an atmosphere stable enough.
  • Mars has significant amounts of frozen carbon dioxide at its polar caps that could trigger a greenhouse effect. This could help with terraforming or destroy such efforts, depending on the exact moment when such carbon dioxide melts.
  • Mars doesn't have enough gravity to keep an atmosphere for long in geological terms, but at human scale the loss would barely be relevant over several generations. Mars continues to lose its atmosphere to space right now.
  • Martian soil is toxic to humans because of a high perchlorate concentration. Might as well try to fix that as well.
  • The asteroid belt has a few "main-belt" comets to bring material to Mars. Their composition is different from those from the Kuiper belt because they are much closer to the Sun. They could bring extra water to Mars.
  • Comets and other objects from the Kuiper belt often have frozen surfaces of nitrogen ice and organic compounds. The former would be helpful to form a thick Earth-like atmosphere and the latter could be helpful as nutrients.
  • As Mars is further away from the Sun than Earth (while technically still being in the habitable zone) it has a few perks worth mentioning: it will be habitable for longer as the Sun brightens over time (Earth will be uninhabitable in 1 billion years) and it does not receive as much UV radiation so less ozone protection is needed.
  • Phobos is on a crashing course with Mars. It is expected to impact in 50-100 million years. Not much to be worried about but then again it is a 11 km rock we could easily move away.


Excellent post. I'm only going to take up a couple of points:

•Mars has significant amounts of frozen carbon dioxide at its polar caps that could trigger a greenhouse effect. This could help with terraforming or destroy such efforts, depending on the exact moment when such carbon dioxide melts.


CO2 is of course a greenhouse gas. It's also a vitally important gas for plants (when we get to that stage). I'm thinking to melt it early in the process.

•Martian soil is toxic to humans because of a high perchlorate concentration. Might as well try to fix that as well.


Perchlorates are powerful oxidants? Could they perhaps be used as fuel?
Last edited by Nobel Hobos 2 on Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Vivolkha » Sun Feb 23, 2020 4:57 am

Waldoven wrote:We could speed up its collision and make Phobos collide now, it would increase global temperatures and melt the ice caps faster. Though I don't think a lot of people will like that idea because we're gonna basically murder Phobos

As I said, Phobos is just a 11 km rock. You could crash it on Mars now, but it would have next to no effect. In fact, better do it now, because if we give Mars an Earth-like atmosphere, it would be extended in space (like Titan's) due to its lower gravity, and the extra atmospheric drag could cause Phobos to spiral inwards faster.
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Postby Nobel Hobos 2 » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:01 am

Waldoven wrote:We could speed up its collision and make Phobos collide now, it would increase global temperatures and melt the ice caps faster. Though I don't think a lot of people will like that idea because we're gonna basically murder Phobos


Kinetic warming isn't out of the question. I have to ask for an energy requirement though, it seems expensive.
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Postby 3rdBritan » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:03 am

Nobel Hobos 2 wrote:
Waldoven wrote:We could speed up its collision and make Phobos collide now, it would increase global temperatures and melt the ice caps faster. Though I don't think a lot of people will like that idea because we're gonna basically murder Phobos


Kinetic warming isn't out of the question. I have to ask for an energy requirement though, it seems expensive.

Algea a insulator that needs no gravity and can survive a vacum

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Postby Vivolkha » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:10 am

Nobel Hobos 2 wrote:Excellent post. I'm only going to take up a couple of points:

•Mars has significant amounts of frozen carbon dioxide at its polar caps that could trigger a greenhouse effect. This could help with terraforming or destroy such efforts, depending on the exact moment when such carbon dioxide melts.


CO2 is of course a greenhouse gas. It's also a vitally important gas for plants (when we get to that stage). I'm thinking to melt it early in the process.

•Martian soil is toxic to humans because of a high perchlorate concentration. Might as well try to fix that as well.


Perchlorates are powerful oxidants? Could they perhaps be used as fuel?

The problem is that most if not all perchlorates are explosive, making them hard to store.

The biggest priority when terraforming Mars would be increasing atmospheric pressure (needed: lots of nitrogen, for an Earth-like atmosphere). This could trigger the melting of the carbon dioxide, increasing temperatures, which we would need to watch carefully to avoid them spiraling out of control (the amount of carbon dioxide might not be enough for that though). A thick atmosphere would also redistribute temperatures across the planet, making it more livable and preventing the equator temperatures from rising too much (as during summer they can reach 25 ºC = 77 ºF already).

Water ice melting should be controlled (needed: lots of energy). See, Mars's southern hemisphere is a gigantic impact crater (the largest in the entire Solar System by far). In other words, terrain there is at a lower height than the northern hemisphere, that is, a perfect place to flood to get an ocean while keeping the northern hemisphere above sea level (if I remember correctly, Mars has enough water to flood the planet to a few meters deep, but we would rather make an ocean and leave some continents for us to live in!).

The first life in Mars should be algae. Forget plants, most of Earth's oxigen comes from phytoplankton. Once oxigen levels rise (hopefully forming an ozone layer, but it might not be even necessary) we could bring plankton, and soon after basically every macroscopic life form, starting with plants and aquatic life.

We might not even need a magnetic field. Mars would eventually lose the new atmosphere we give it... in a few million years, which is much longer than humankind has ever existed in the first place.
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Postby Nobel Hobos 2 » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:11 am

3rdBritan wrote:
Nobel Hobos 2 wrote:
Kinetic warming isn't out of the question. I have to ask for an energy requirement though, it seems expensive.

Algea a insulator that needs no gravity and can survive a vacum


OK 3rdBritan, when your great great grandchild asks you. You worked in the Algae lab.

Seriously, it's not all nuking asteroids in the future. Someone has to do the icky stuff like algae.
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Postby Vivolkha » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:18 am

Something to watch for would be Mars's seasonal cycle. Mars has a relatively high orbital eccentricity, i.e. its orbit is not nearly as circular as Earth's. Unlike Earth, such eccentricity is high enough to have an effect on seasons. Mars also has an Earth-like axial tilt (currently some 2º higher) to add even more climatic variation.
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Postby Waldoven » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:20 am

Nobel Hobos 2 wrote:
Waldoven wrote:We could speed up its collision and make Phobos collide now, it would increase global temperatures and melt the ice caps faster. Though I don't think a lot of people will like that idea because we're gonna basically murder Phobos


Kinetic warming isn't out of the question. I have to ask for an energy requirement though, it seems expensive.

we smash it with an asteroid from the asteroid belt but we need energy first and to that, we need to smash it with an asteroid from the asteroid belt but we need energy first and to that, we need to smash it with an asteroid from the asteroid belt but we need energy first and to that, we need to smash it with an asteroid from the asteroid belt but we need energy first and to tha-or we could use rockets
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Postby Nobel Hobos 2 » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:25 am

Vivolkha wrote:
Nobel Hobos 2 wrote:Excellent post. I'm only going to take up a couple of points:

•Mars has significant amounts of frozen carbon dioxide at its polar caps that could trigger a greenhouse effect. This could help with terraforming or destroy such efforts, depending on the exact moment when such carbon dioxide melts.


CO2 is of course a greenhouse gas. It's also a vitally important gas for plants (when we get to that stage). I'm thinking to melt it early in the process.

•Martian soil is toxic to humans because of a high perchlorate concentration. Might as well try to fix that as well.


Perchlorates are powerful oxidants? Could they perhaps be used as fuel?

The problem is that most if not all perchlorates are explosive, making them hard to store.

The biggest priority when terraforming Mars would be increasing atmospheric pressure (needed: lots of nitrogen, for an Earth-like atmosphere). This could trigger the melting of the carbon dioxide, increasing temperatures, which we would need to watch carefully to avoid them spiraling out of control (the amount of carbon dioxide might not be enough for that though). A thick atmosphere would also redistribute temperatures across the planet, making it more livable and preventing the equator temperatures from rising too much (as during summer they can reach 25 ºC = 77 ºF already).


Well that's down to lack of atmosphere. An atmosphere once established stabilizes temperature (night to day) and to some extent distributes it between equator and poles.

A new atmosphere would be a wild ride, but I don't expect any people will be there while it's happening.

Water ice melting should be controlled (needed: lots of energy). See, Mars's southern hemisphere is a gigantic impact crater (the largest in the entire Solar System by far). In other words, terrain there is at a lower height than the northern hemisphere, that is, a perfect place to flood to get an ocean while keeping the northern hemisphere above sea level (if I remember correctly, Mars has enough water to flood the planet to a few meters deep, but we would rather make an ocean and leave some continents for us to live in!).


Ah, now I see why you're careful with the South Pole.

Me, I was just "evaporate the sucker, get more atmosphere" and I'm still thinking some of it will be needed for that purpose.

The first life in Mars should be algae. Forget plants, most of Earth's oxigen comes from phytoplankton. Once oxigen levels rise (hopefully forming an ozone layer, but it might not be even necessary) we could bring plankton, and soon after basically every macroscopic life form, starting with plants and aquatic life.


I was six when Armstrong walked on the Moon. Guess what I wanted to be. No, it wasn't an algae scientist.

We might not even need a magnetic field. Mars would eventually lose the new atmosphere we give it... in a few million years, which is much longer than humankind has ever existed in the first place.


Yes, I read that point and agree with it. Mars took hundreds of millions of years to lose its atmosphere, a new atmosphere if we can create it will last easily long enough for our interests.

In fact that's one of the points I wanted to make right from the start. Lacking a magnetic field doesn't mean Mars can't have an atmosphere. It's just why after billions of years, it doesn't.
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Postby Nobel Hobos 2 » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:34 am

Waldoven wrote:
Nobel Hobos 2 wrote:
Kinetic warming isn't out of the question. I have to ask for an energy requirement though, it seems expensive.

we smash it with an asteroid from the asteroid belt but we need energy first and to that, we need to smash it with an asteroid from the asteroid belt but we need energy first and to that, we need to smash it with an asteroid from the asteroid belt but we need energy first and to that, we need to smash it with an asteroid from the asteroid belt but we need energy first and to tha-or we could use rockets


Nukes. Unless you have some future tech idea, it's going to be fusion detonation or it's just not worth the price of the ride.
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Postby Kannap » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:38 am

Or we could always try to stop destroying the planet we're on instead of dreaming of Mars as our savior.
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Postby An Alan Smithee Nation » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:39 am

I think you would start with bacteria and lichens... then marijuana.
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Postby Nobel Hobos 2 » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:43 am

Kannap wrote:Or we could always try to stop destroying the planet we're on instead of dreaming of Mars as our savior.


Sure we can do that.

Also.
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Postby Vivolkha » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:45 am

Vivolkha wrote:Water ice melting should be controlled (needed: lots of energy). See, Mars's southern hemisphere is a gigantic impact crater (the largest in the entire Solar System by far). In other words, terrain there is at a lower height than the northern hemisphere, that is, a perfect place to flood to get an ocean while keeping the northern hemisphere above sea level (if I remember correctly, Mars has enough water to flood the planet to a few meters deep, but we would rather make an ocean and leave some continents for us to live in!).

My bad, it's actually the northern pole, but point still stands. We can easily flood the areas painted blue and keep the red ones above sea level.
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Postby Unstoppable Empire of Doom » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:48 am

2050: space ships begin dragging asteroids to Mars to increase its mass so as to be able to sustain life.

2100: Ran out of asteroids in the near vicinity. Space ships are fully automated.

2900: *records missing*

3550: work is halfway complete, Mars is fully industrialized and the atmosphere has been destroyed regardless.

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40000: 10001100101111011000001111010001100001001111

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100111000101010010111000001110100100110111111100101
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Postby Dumb Ideologies » Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:53 am

Water. It needs tons of water. Make it into space Venice. It's going to be great.
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