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Scientists propose one-way trips to Mars

Discussion in 'World Affairs' started by ajtr, Nov 16, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr BANNED

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    Scientists propose one-way trips to Mars


    PULLMAN, Wash. – It's usually cheaper to fly one way, even to Mars.
    Two scientists are suggesting that colonization of the red planet could happen faster and more economically if astronauts behaved like the first settlers to come to North America — not expecting to go home.
    "The main point is to get Mars exploration moving," said Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a Washington State University professor who co-authored an article that seriously proposes what sounds like a preposterous idea.
    At least one moon-walking astronaut was not impressed.
    "This is premature," Ed Mitchell of Apollo 14 wrote in an e-mail. "We aren't ready for this yet."
    Also cool to the idea was NASA. President Barack Obama has already outlined a plan to go to Mars by the mid-2030s, but he never suggested these space travelers wouldn't come home.
    "We want our people back," NASA spokesman Michael Braukus said.
    The article titled "To Boldly Go" appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Cosmology, which featured more than 50 articles and essays on Mars exploration.
    Schulze-Makuch and Paul Davies, a physicist at Arizona State University, argue that humans must begin colonizing another planet as a hedge against a catastrophe on Earth. They believe the one-way trips could start in two decades.
    "You would send a little bit older folks, around 60 or something like that," Schulze-Makuch said, bringing to mind the aging heroes who saved the day in the movie "Space Cowboys."
    That's because the mission would undoubtedly reduce a person's lifespan, from a lack of medical care and exposure to radiation. Radiation could also damage reproductive organs, so sending people of childbearing age is not a good idea, Schulze-Makuch said.
    Mars is a six-month flight away, and it has surface gravity, a thin atmosphere, frozen water, carbon dioxide and essential minerals. The two scientists propose the missions begin with two two-person teams, in separate ships that would serve as living quarters on the planet. More colonists and regular supply ships would follow.
    The technology already exists, or is within easy reach, they wrote. By not taking the extra fuel and provisions necessary for a return trip to Earth, the mission could cut costs by 80 percent.
    Davies and Schulze-Makuch say it's important to realize they're not proposing a "suicide mission."
    "The astronauts would go to Mars with the intention of staying for the rest of their lives, as trailblazers of a permanent human Mars colony," they wrote.
    They acknowledge the proposal is a tough sell for NASA, with its focus on safety, and suggest the private sector might be more fertile ground.
    "What we would need is an eccentric billionaire," Schulze-Makuch said. "There are people who have the money to put this into reality."
    Indeed, British tycoon Richard Branson, PayPal founder Elon Musk and Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos are among the rich who are already involved in private space ventures.
    Isolated humans in space have long been a staple of science fiction movies, from "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" and "2001: A Space Odyssey" to a flurry of recent movies such as "Solaris" and "Moon." In many of the plots, lonely astronauts fall victim to computers, madness or aliens.
    Psychological profiling and training of the astronauts, plus constant communication with Earth, would reduce debilitating mental strains, the two scientists said.
    "They would, in fact, feel more connected to home than the early Antarctic explorers," they write in their article.
    The mental health of humans in space has been extensively studied. Depression can set in, people become irritated with each other, and sleep can be disrupted, studies have found. The knowledge that there is no quick return to Earth would likely make that worse.
    Davies' research focuses on cosmology, quantum field theory and astrobiology. He was an early proponent of the theory that life on Earth may have come from Mars in rocks ejected by asteroid and comet impacts.
    Schulze-Makuch is the author of two books about life on other planets. His focus is eco-hydrogeology, which includes the study of water on planets and moons of our solar system and how those could serve as a potential habitat for microbial life.
    Both men contend that Mars has abundant resources to help the colonists become self-sufficient over time. They write that the colony should be next to a large ice cave, to provide shelter from radiation, plus water and oxygen.
    Despite the lack of enthusiasm from NASA, Schulze-Makuch believes many people would be willing to make the sacrifice.
    He and Davies believe a Mars base would offer humanity a "lifeboat" if Earth became uninhabitable.
    "We are on a vulnerable planet," Schulze-Makuch said. "Asteroid impact can threaten us, or a supernova explosion. If we want to survive as a species, we have to expand into the solar system and likely beyond."
     
  2. gubbi

    gubbi SENIOR MEMBER

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    IMHO, it is indeed an excellent idea. Anyone seen MOON movie? Talks about a similar concept, except that there are clones having a 3 yr lifespan and its based on Moon.

    Like the authors and scientists suggest, sending older folks to get a foothold on Mars would be the most feasible idea. Such persons would survive for a decade at the most, given the harsh conditions in space and Mars. But enough time for them to set up an initial colony, a green house, a complex of shelters and may be initiate or sow the seeds for terraforming!

    The only incentive for them would be, I guess, dying on an alien planet! The first humans to ever die in space. Seems cruel, but think about it.
     
  3. Chinese-Dragon

    Chinese-Dragon PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    It is certainly an interesting idea...

    I wouldn't want to do it myself though, I would get bored if there were only a handful of people on the entire planet. :D
     
  4. gubbi

    gubbi SENIOR MEMBER

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    When I am old, I would definitely volunteer! Call me crazy, but I've always dreamt of voyages in space or walking on extra-terrestrial grounds! Also, it would immortalize you! The first steps to "to go where no man has gone before".....
     
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  5. Chinese-Dragon

    Chinese-Dragon PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    You do have a good point there. :cheers:

    I don't know, I just like having people around me lol. I live in one of the most densely populated cities on Earth, it would feel a bit eerie having no one around.

    But you're right, it would certainly be the right thing to do, after all... you would really be helping the cause of humanity.
     
  6. gubbi

    gubbi SENIOR MEMBER

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    Dont get me wrong here, but I too have always lived in densely populated areas and loved it. I am always surrounded by people, friends, never alone - I dont complain.

    But the lure of the unknown, the vast emptiness of space, the challenge of doing something which every other person fears, and the call for remaining forever in humanity's mind by undertaking such a venture is too much to resist! As for humanity, I am too selfish ;)

    Plus I would demand live streaming videos and cable TV on Mars, not to forget high speed internet! And a bevy of beautiful ladies to keep me company, a la Hugh Heifner!
     
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  7. roach

    roach FULL MEMBER

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    I'd volunteer. Hell yeah.

    I've recently decided that the way to go is alone. As in Dharma, a human being is supposed to complete his worldly duties, renounce the world, wealth and relationships and walk away into the woods to find salvation through meditation.

    Mars sounds awesome.
    (No, I'm not kidding. I'm getting sick of this re-incarnation stuff every time I die)
     
  8. Chinese-Dragon

    Chinese-Dragon PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    Does dying in space mean that you will end the cycle of reincarnation or something like that?

    My family has a lot of Buddhists who believe in reincarnation, but I don't know how it would apply to this scenario.
     
  9. flameboard

    flameboard FULL MEMBER

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    The big question is what would you take and what would you leave behind?
     
  10. gubbi

    gubbi SENIOR MEMBER

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    The concepts in of re-incarnation are not limited to Earth alone. They encompass the entire Universe(s). Infact, Carl Sagan in one of his "Cosmos" episodes (Episode 10 - The Edge of Forever) explicitly mentions about the various concepts of re-incarnation, rebirth cycles of birth and destruction as being very close to what Science knows about the Universe. I would presume that the ancients knew the concept of Singularity, Big Bang, Parallel Universes etc to speak about re-incarnation.
     
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  11. Unbeliever

    Unbeliever FULL MEMBER

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    I think it will certainly happen in our lifetime and it could be one of these "humanity rocks" moments like landing on the moon.

    Scientific Naturalism just kicks a$$. :)
    and there is soooooooooooooooooo much more to explore.
    watch in HD

    I hope to live to see at least some of the amazing wonders yet to be invented and discovered by scientists.
     
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  12. roach

    roach FULL MEMBER

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    No, where you die has no consequence-only the level of one's re-integration with the supreme consciousness. Buddhism (and Hinduism, recently I've found) are at the core, atheist in a way. There's no man in the sky.

    This re-integration is reached by the practice of Yoga, meditation and non-attachment to worldly desires.

    A trip to Mars and a stay there would be just what the doctor ordered.
     
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  13. Chinese-Dragon

    Chinese-Dragon PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    Thanks for the explanation. :cheers:

    (I probably should have known that though, given that most of my family are Buddhist.)
     
  14. Chogy

    Chogy PROFESSIONAL

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    I'd go if I didn't leave family behind. That would be the hard part. If you have a spouse or children and grandchildren, leaving them would be a selfish act.

    Part of the equipment would be a painless "end of life" kit, maybe a massive dose of morphine or something. If you get a horrible cancer, or are simply going utterly mad, it might be nice to have a way out.

    Overall, though, I'm pretty pessimistic about such things in the sense that no, it is not easy. Writers of these articles always make it look easier than it really is. Look at how many probes the U.S. sent to Mars that never made it. Now, we are talking about some sort of habitat module that is 1,000X the mass of a small probe. It would be unpleasant to travel for 8 months, only to burn up or crash on Mars.

    Food and water requirements are huge. I just don't think two guys in a module are going to be able to support themselves.
     
  15. Ahmad

    Ahmad SENIOR MEMBER

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    Interesting, and they should send male as well as female astronauts to start new generations of humen in mars.