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#1 2004-04-22 20:25:33

Hazer
Member
From: Texas/Oklahoma
Registered: 2003-10-26
Posts: 173

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid0]If Mars once had oceans of liquid/solid water, as recent findings suggest, then there must have been something that caused the planet to dry out and lose the atmosphere that allowed liquid water to exist.

Was it a gradual process, or an abrupt process that caused this change?  How did Mars lose its atmosphere?  Personally, I favor an abrupt, widespread process.

The reddish oxides covering the planet suggests to me that the process involved bombardment of the planet with meteorites.  Mind you, I do not think that these were the huge things of "Deep Impact" or "Armageddon." 
They were likely smaller meteorites, just large enough to slam into the ground and kick up lots of dust which then interacted with the Oxygen. 
Perhaps Phobos and Deimos are remnants of larger bodies that were captured by Mars' gravity.  The reason I ask this is that large bodies orbiting a planet could conceivably collide and shatter, raining pieces of themselves upon the Martian surface. 

Once we understand how Mars became the dry, thin-atmosphered world it is today, we can better understand how to live on it and eventually terraform it.[/color:post_uid0]


In the interests of my species
I am a firm supporter of stepping out into this great universe both armed and dangerous.

Bootprints in red dust, or bust!

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#2 2004-04-22 22:18:24

kippy
Member
From: Chicago area
Registered: 2003-11-06
Posts: 70

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Well, I guess the things that come to my mind are:

- L2 mirror to melt to poles (M2P2 or Mylar).
- pump lots of PCFs into the atmosphere
- crash comets to bring water and other stuff
- nuclear bombardment of the poles
- soot factories to inclease the albido
- electromagnet(s) at L1 point to block solar wind
- importation of nitrogen from titan
- importation of hydrogen from the outer gas giants
- concentrated sunlight lasered out from inner solar system
- introduction of plant/incect life

Some of those are "easy", some are long term, some are well agreed upon and some are my own crazy ideas.[/color:post_uid0]

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#3 2004-04-23 03:03:25

The Fed Man
Member
From: Earth
Registered: 2004-04-19
Posts: 24

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid0]You could also:

Cover the poles with regolith
pump aquifiers to the surface

Or like in KSR Mars triogy we could have a soletta to increase the suns intensity all over the planet and then use a mirror to direct the light int small areas melting the regolith and putting volatiles into the air.

Could this actually be done?[/color:post_uid0]

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#4 2004-04-23 14:00:17

kippy
Member
From: Chicago area
Registered: 2003-11-06
Posts: 70

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid0]nuclear blasts or comet impacts on the poles would kick up dust onto the poles.  likewise soot factories placed near the poles would darken them without having to truck dirt all over the place.

I've thought about the soletta a bit.  to work it would have to have a diameter larger than Mars.  Otherwise, it wouldn't catch any light that would miss the planet.  KSR had a big aluminum foil structure. 

It seems to me like something that massive yet flimsy would be prone to failure.  Not to mention the difficulty of making it in the first place [i:post_uid0]and[/i:post_uid0] it had moving parts.  KSR just threw some robots and an asteroid together and *poof* soletta.  Personally, I don't think it would be that easy.

One alternative for a quick and dirty solleta would be a web of M2P2 thingies at a modified L1 point.  Let's say you have 2 big solar powered electromagnets bound together and you place them at the L1 point.  You could spin them then start reeling them outward from one another on a long tether.  It would have to be something like 5000km but let's assume we have something like carbon nanotube fibers that could handle it.

So now you have a line segment spinning clockwise (or counterclockwise) in front of the sun with electromagnets at the endpoints.  Now you fire up the electromagnets and sprinkle some charged aluminum dust in the magnetic fields.  Assuming you can make the field large enough, you effectively have a big mirror on each end.  If you angle it correctly, you would see the sun flanked by two "sunlets" rotating around it from the surface of the planet.

Now just scale up and add as many line segments as you can near the L1 point and the Sun will have a necklace of reflective disks increasing the amount of sun hitting the surface.

Seems a lot easier to construct than a foil-based structure.  You would have to deal with the push from solar wind and light pressure but you would just place it a bit sun-side to compensate.  The dust would be lost after some time but you could just send up a craft with a few tons more every now and then.[/color:post_uid0]

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#5 2004-04-23 18:33:24

bolbuyk
Member
From: Utrecht, Netherlands
Registered: 2004-04-07
Posts: 178

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid1]What about KSR's moholes?[/color:post_uid1]

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#6 2004-04-23 21:07:16

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,626

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Yeah, the moholes...

relatively easy to do, robotically, at least in theory... And it would make for one hell of a geologic excavation, to boot!

Bit off topic: Bolbuyk, you're Dutch, aren't you? Go to BBC News, there's a fairly lenghty (20 mins) video interview with Andre Kuipers (sp?) on the ISS, most of it in Dutch... (I'm Flemish, so could enjoy it too, heh) I guess you need broadband to enjoy it.
Michael Foale has a lot to say, too... Amongst other things, the issue with the gyro's...

(EDIT: link already gone from the BBC mainpages, so here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsa....apr.ram )[/color:post_uid0]

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#7 2004-04-23 21:48:06

kippy
Member
From: Chicago area
Registered: 2003-11-06
Posts: 70

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Bolbuyk's Dutch!  Awesome, he's a natural terraformer!

I never got a good vibe from the mohole idea.  First, even as a green, they seem pretty destructive to the landscape.  Second, how much heat would they really give off?  Would it even be worth the trouble?  Would you just be better off spending the energy of digging on plain-old heaters? Or converting CO2 into O2 and graphite to blaken the surface?

That gets back to the old question of what methods to take.  If  the payback of one method is more than another, it doesn't make sense to start on anything else until you've maxed out on the first method.  pumping a few millibars of PFCs into the air and blasting off nukes seems to be the first steps.  The PFCs will stay around for a while and lock in whatever other heat making gains you make later.  and blowing up existing stockpiles of nukes is like getting terrawatts for free. 

After a greenhouse is established, then do cheap stuff like nukes.  Space mirrors later, albido changes later still.  Moholes seem like they are pretty far down on the list.[/color:post_uid0]

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#8 2004-04-23 22:02:14

The Fed Man
Member
From: Earth
Registered: 2004-04-19
Posts: 24

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid0]I think that a few mohole should be built where the lithosphere is the thinnest so that volcanoes could be made. Also where oceans are going to be because ice should collect before there is a lot of liquid water and the moholes could help heat it from underneath. Also I don't think that they would be that hard. It could all be automated.[/color:post_uid0]

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#9 2004-04-23 23:29:19

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,626

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Not too sure about starting vulcanoes, but I agree 200% with the moholes being placed in 'natural' sea floors... If/when terraformation takes off, a mohole in that place could help keeping a vast amount of water liquid, forcing a global' water-cycle much earlier than normally would be the case. Imagine a (still speculative) aquifier being 'decapped' in the vincinity, it would cause a freezing river/glacier, due to the low temp (and much subliming)... When the glacier would reach the mohole, the ice would be heated, forcing much more H2O to reach the atmosphere in a short time... That could precipitate elsewhere ('snow')[/color:post_uid0]

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#10 2004-04-23 23:30:39

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,626

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid0]And, of course, a mohole on a seafloor would be invisible in the long run, so not too disturbing for the landscape....[/color:post_uid0]

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#11 2004-04-24 10:08:02

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,626

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid0]

kippy: That gets back to the old question of what methods to take.  If  the payback of one method is more than another, it doesn't make sense to start on anything else until you've maxed out on the first method[/quote:post_uid0]

Using several methods in tandem gives you the advantage of a "sum being bigger than its constituents", in some cases...

(wild cocoction following:) Like Moholes (Again, heh) plus aquifiers plus soot plus extremophyles, for instance... If you had a good environmental map of average wind patterns (possible with doppler-shift radar (?)) you could place a mohole in a setting where the 'hot' updraft gets spread by prevailing (stable?) wind patterns in a more or less predictale way... add an 'uncapped' aquifier to make that predictable wind more moist, and it might precipitate om a reasonably predictable area where the winds 'drop' and that you 'blackened' by a soot-spewing factory... If that soot is somewhat hydrophilic (sp?) it could lead to a periodically  relatively warm, (because dark) MOIST upper-layer once the bulk of the white 'snow' sublimes, and a part of it gets trapped in the soot for some time, giving (black or dark) extremophyles a starting-point to live... If you make the soot carbon-based... you have the added adavantage the extremophyles have something to 'eat', to boot... 
Lather, rince, repeate...[/color:post_uid0]

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#12 2004-04-24 19:49:39

bolbuyk
Member
From: Utrecht, Netherlands
Registered: 2004-04-07
Posts: 178

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid1]Rxke: Dank je voor je advies om te kijken. Overigens heb ik het niet gezien, ik heb geen TV! Maar ik zie er nog wel meer dan genoeg van terug de komende dagen.

Sorry, but I had to say something in Dutch, because of Kuipers. I'll never do it again! big_smile[/color:post_uid1]

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#13 2004-04-25 01:42:41

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid14]A good reply, Rxke. As usual, you put forward a very well reasoned argument and it makes good sense to me.
    I loved the "lather, rinse, repeat .." bit, too.  :laugh:

    And Bolbuyk, I have no objection if you use a little Dutch occasionally. Perhaps if you were to do us the honour of translating some of it into English, we might learn something from you.  smile

    I remember scraps of French and German from highschool but, in general, I'm really quite ashamed of my linguistic stupidity and envious of your very much broader linguistic skills. So I certainly don't object to a little Dutch creeping into the argument here and there. (But please remember your less cultured colleagues and give us a few clues as to what's going on.)
                                      yikes   smile[/color:post_uid14]


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#14 2004-04-25 02:49:13

eric_apollo_tech
Member
From: Wouldn't you like to know
Registered: 2004-04-18
Posts: 9

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid0]I read somewhere once that, a group of Russian Scientists proposed that Mars was indeed hit by a planet killing Asteroid, and that the impact was at an angle.  The major force of impact was mostly absorbed by Mars, and two large peices of debris from the Asteroid had enough velosity left over to achieve stable orbit.

The sudden force of the impact blew the atmosphere away from the planet like a soap bubble when it pops.  The surface and remaining atmosphere was instantly freeze dried.  A massive dust feild engulfed the planet stopping all sun light from reaching the surface, and over time all settled to the surface.  They proposed this is why the fine layer of surface debris exists on Mars today.

Techtonic forces from the impact warped the Mars surface, and created a great surface tear, and also destabilized the planets core, and instantly causing great and sudden volcanos planet wide.

They also addressed the lack of maganetic feild as maybe resulting from the sudden massive disturbance in the planets core.

They also postulated that if life did exist, that it may remain freeze dried under the dust and surface like the woolly mamoths in siberia.

Anyway I always wondered about his work, and have since seen it proposed.  I think its worth a little more thought and investigation!

-----

Apollo!  Why did we stop!  Dammed if I know?[/color:post_uid0]

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#15 2004-04-25 07:42:50

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,626

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid0]

Rxke: Dank je voor je advies om te kijken. Overigens heb ik het niet gezien, ik heb geen TV! Maar ik zie er nog wel meer dan genoeg van terug de komende dagen.[/quote:post_uid0]
attempt to word-for-word literally translation, so this will sound a bit strange: "Rxke: Thank you for your advice for to look. Anyway have I it not seen, I have no TV! But I (will) see thereof ('nog wel': hard to translate: kind of making stronger the point... very roughly:  'surely') more than enough back (ie: again) the coming days.

You will notice the striking similarities w English... (pronuncition is quite different, though...)  BTW Old English and Old Dutch ('Diets') had even much more in common, even grammatically...[/color:post_uid0]

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#16 2004-04-25 12:40:56

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid5]Thanks for the translation, Rxke. I think it would take me quite some time to get a handle on the Dutch language, even though there are some distinct similarities with English here and there.
    There are some obviously similar words in German too, but then German grammatical rules ruin everything for non-German-speaking people by being so ponderously complex. Does Dutch has difficult rules of grammar also?

    For anyone here who may be interested, I can remember a few words in German which hardly need translating into English at all because they're so similar. These were a great comfort to us novice students of German because of their familiar appearance! :-

              [u:post_uid5]English[/u:post_uid5]                         [u:post_uid5]German[/u:post_uid5]

                House                                   Haus
                Mouse                                   Maus
                Sun                                      Sonne
                Father                                  Vater
                Mother                                  Mutter
                Sister                                   Schwester
                One                                      Ein
                Four                                     Vier
                Seven                                   Sieben
                Eight                                     Acht
                Blue                                      Blau
                Green                                    Grun
                Table                                    Tafel
                Blood                                     Blut

    I noticed some similarities between Dutch and German in Bolbuyk's sentences too:-
    I have (English)  Ich habe (German)  Ik heb (Dutch)

    It's not difficult to imagine that these three, and no doubt other languages, were all the same language a few centuries ago.
    Apparently, if we English-speaking people were to be exposed to the English of several centuries ago, we would have great difficulty understanding it. In fact, having lived in England myself, and having had occasion to listen to numerous accents and colloquialisms from various parts of the British Isles, I can tell you that, even today, you can have considerable trouble understanding and making yourself understood!    yikes   :laugh:


    But enough of this digression from the subject of the thread. How did we get so far off course?  tongue
    Yes, Eric, it seems that many people have been casting around for some way to explain the various paradoxes of Mars. There's evidence suggestive of early tectonic activity but no evidence of tectonic mountain building. There's extensive evidence of plentiful water all over Mars at some stage(s) in Mars' history but there's olivine all over the place too - even in the depths of low-lying terrain like the floor of Mariner Valley. The planet is small and should have been volcanically dead for maybe two billion years but there are large areas which have been resurfaced by massive flows of lava in the last ten million years or less (depending on the accuracy of crater-counts). Much of the northern hemisphere is apparently much younger than most of the southern hemisphere, and on average 5 kilometres lower too - but nobody has a clue why!
    The Russian group's explanation isn't really anything very new. The idea that a major impact might be the root cause of most of the present martian mysteries has been 'doing the rounds' for some time now. It would be interesting to know the Russians' estimates for how big the impactor was, where on the surface it struck, how steep the angle was, and when it hit. Is the Hellas Basin supposed to be the scar from their impactor?
    One obvious difficulty with their hypothesis involves Phobos and Deimos. These two martian moons have densities and albedos which make them virtually indistinguishable from  carbonaceous chondrites found in the asteroid belt. It seems very much more likely that they are captured satellites rather than orbiting impact ejecta.
    But, while we're on the subject of trying to explain Mars' enigmas, the two martian moons themselves only add to the mystery. It appears that their histories are not identical. While both moons are about as densely cratered as the lunar uplands, Phobos's craters appear fresh and sharp, while those on Deimos are wholly or partially filled in with dust. I haven't heard any official explanation for this anomaly but I might suggest one in passing. Perhaps Mars was subjected, relatively recently, to a significant but short-lived shower of debris (asteroids?) from one direction. Perhaps Phobos happened to be on the affected side of Mars at the time, while Deimos was on the opposite side of the planet and therefore shielded. Dust from the impacts on Phobos may have circled Mars and settled on Deimos preferentially, for some reason. Some of the impacts on Phobos (perhaps including the one responsible for the major crater Stickney) could have shifted it to its present unstable orbit, which is inside the Roche limit.
    Just a few thoughts. I'll stop rambling now![/color:post_uid5]


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#17 2004-04-25 16:58:39

Hazer
Member
From: Texas/Oklahoma
Registered: 2003-10-26
Posts: 173

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Thanks for the helpful suggestions Shaun and Eric.[/color:post_uid0]


In the interests of my species
I am a firm supporter of stepping out into this great universe both armed and dangerous.

Bootprints in red dust, or bust!

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#18 2005-05-17 18:35:14

mars2015
Member
From: Ohio,USA
Registered: 2005-05-16
Posts: 26

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid0]

Well, I guess the things that come to my mind are:

- L2 mirror to melt to poles (M2P2 or Mylar).
- pump lots of PCFs into the atmosphere
- crash comets to bring water and other stuff
- nuclear bombardment of the poles
- soot factories to inclease the albido
- electromagnet(s) at L1 point to block solar wind
- importation of nitrogen from titan
- importation of hydrogen from the outer gas giants
- concentrated sunlight lasered out from inner solar system
- introduction of plant/incect life

Some of those are "easy", some are long term, some are well agreed upon and some are my own crazy ideas.[/quote:post_uid0]
I say we put a soletta at the L point between Mars and the sun. Like this:[img:post_uid0]http://img288.echo.cx/img288/8868/mirror3ji.jpg[/img:post_uid0]

Thats a single unit with two mirrors attached to reflect sun back to the planet.  Offset it just enough that there will be the effect of a "double sun" in the Martian sky.  With allowance for a less than 100% efficiency we should get about 75% of earth sun level compared to Mars' natural sunlight of 44%.

This way we don't have to light the night side and throw off day length.[/color:post_uid0]

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#19 2005-05-17 23:30:55

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

[color=#000000:post_uid4]Mars2015:-

Thats a single unit with two mirrors attached to reflect sun back to the planet.  Offset it just enough that there will be the effect of a "double sun" in the Martian sky.  With allowance for a less than 100% efficiency we should get about 75% of earth sun level compared to Mars' natural sunlight of 44%.

This way we don't have to light the night side and throw off day length.[/quote:post_uid4]
    Interesting idea. I like the fact that it doesn't interfere with the day/night thing - just increases daytime insolation.
    But we'll still need at least one North Pole soletta, especially if we manage to produce a new Northern Ocean. Otherwise that reconstituted ocean, sitting right over the Pole, will be permanently frozen and will increase Mars' albedo substantially. That would be disastrous for terraforming.  ???   smile[/color:post_uid4]


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#20 2007-07-09 02:42:28

RickSmith
Member
From: Vancouver B.C.
Registered: 2007-02-17
Posts: 244

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

I've thought about the soletta a bit.  to work it would have to have a diameter larger than Mars.  Otherwise, it wouldn't catch any light that would miss the planet.

Hi everyone, Kippy.

Actually this is not the case.

Robert Forward showed that a mirror could hover above the pole using light pressure.  He called this a "Statite" (for Stationary satillite). Most terraforming plans use a big Satites well behind the planet so that the light they reflect will hit the planet.  (So the 'south pole statite' actually hovers above and behind the north pole of the planet.)

Another way of doing this is to have satillites in polar orbit facing the sun.  They form a ring around the terminator of the night day edge of the planet.  They reflect light down giving them a slight lift.  Now instead of having them directly over the terminator, you put them slightly behind it, so they NEED that lift to stay in orbit.

(You have to make sure that they precess so that they keep facing the sun as Mars goes around in its orbit.)

Any way there are two ways that I know of that allow you to use mirrors with out them being larger than Mars itself.

Hey Shawn,
I think that mirrors warming both the north AND south poles are needed.  Otherwise the water will move to the poles and be locked up.  Even with the mirrors (unless they are huge) you will get ice caps but I would like a significant amount of them to melt each year to feed rivers and lakes.

Warm regards, Rick.

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#21 2007-07-12 14:18:32

SpaceNut
Moderator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 6,236

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

The Road to Mars; A computer modeled analysis of the feasibility of using Large Deployable Reflectors to redirecting solar radiation to the Martian surface.

Projections show that a network of two to three hundred, 150 meter diameter reflectors in monolith form or a series of small clustered
groups would provide roughly the same irradiance as on earth to the Mars surface.

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#22 2007-07-18 00:27:49

RickSmith
Member
From: Vancouver B.C.
Registered: 2007-02-17
Posts: 244

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

The Road to Mars; A computer modeled analysis of the feasibility of using Large Deployable Reflectors to redirecting solar radiation to the Martian surface.

Projections show that a network of two to three hundred, 150 meter diameter reflectors in monolith form or a series of small clustered
groups would provide roughly the same irradiance as on earth to the Mars surface.

That can't be right.  Let's do some math.

The radius of Mars is: 3398 km.
So the area of the sun's light absorbed by Mars (assuming it is a sphere) is equal to a circle of that radius.

A = PI r^2  = 3.1415... * 3398km ^ 2 = 36,274,098 km^2

The area of one of those mirrors is:

A = PI * 0.15 ^2 = 0.071 km^2 (rounding up).

So 300 of them would have an area of 21 km^2.

The insolation is about 1/2 what it is at Earth so assuming that the mirrors are 100% reflective then we would need about 36,275,000 square km of mirrors to bring the total amount of energy reaching Mars to that of Earth.

In Robert Zubrin's plan, he does not try to heat up the whole planet, just the south pole.  And he suggests using a mirror 125 km in diameter.


The original question was how did Mars lose its atmosphere.  I think that what happened is likely on the lines of:

1) Less iron on Mars sank to the core.  Mars is enriched in surface iron.
2) Photo-disassociation of water left Mars oxygen rich.
3) This rusted the iron.
4) Lightning reacted the nitrogen creating nitrate beds.
5) The carbon dioxide is locked up in the soil, in dry ice at the poles and in water ice clathrates.

I'm not sure this is what happened of course, but I think that this by itself would explain the current conditions with out other events.

Warm regards, Rick.

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#23 2007-07-18 12:57:18

noosfractal
Member
From: Biosphere 1
Registered: 2005-10-04
Posts: 824
Website

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

I think the 300 x 150m reflectors was to "microterraform" just 1 km^2.  The plan is to light up this patch 24x7 (as it were), and by avoiding the chilling effects of the Martian night, achieve a constant 20 Celsius.  The big advantage is that you wouldn't have to walk around on blocks of aerogel to stop your feet from freezing.

There is some interesting stuff in the paper, it's worth a read.  I don't see it for exploration to be honest, but I think the idea is quite interesting for settlement. 

I don't really like the design (shiny inflatable balloons constantly adjusted in orbit with thrusters) but I like the idea.  We should be able to drop the mass by a couple of orders of magnitude at least (three would be great), the whole orbital maintenance (and aiming?) system needs rethinking otherwise we are just going to be throwing these things away when they run out of fuel, and although I haven't yet done the math, using convex shapes just seems wrong to me.


Fan of Red Oasis

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#24 2007-07-21 23:27:31

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-21
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Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

2) Photo-disassociation of water left Mars oxygen rich.
3) This rusted the iron.
4) Lightning reacted the nitrogen creating nitrate beds.
5) The carbon dioxide is locked up in the soil, in dry ice at the poles and in water ice clathrates.

Very interesting! Every since reading that Mars Express found ammonia in the atmosphere, I thought it could be formed by alkali metal nitride. It's known that alkali metal nitrides such as sodium nitride and potassium nitride on contact with water will dissociate into metal oxide and ammonia. One British reporter scooped the scientist's discovery, claiming it is clear evidence of microbial life. As a result that scientist didn't report ammonia in his presentation at that conference; scientists are very cautious. Since then I tried to think of an alternative to life to form ammonia, obviously the scientist wasn't ready to bet is career on that claim. My conclusion was alkali metal nitride. The mechanism is a warm summer day melts permafrost, liquid water runs down hill and soaks into the soil, water then contacts alkali metal nitride. The reaction is immediate, ammonia will be released in seconds. The big question is whether there are alkali metal nitrides in the soil.

Speculation: nitrates were formed as Mars froze, when superoxides formed in the surface material it stole oxygen from nitrates converting them to nitride. Nitrate is a salt ion, formula NO2-; nitrite is NO--; nitride is just N. So something near the surface had to strip away both oxygen atoms of nitrate molecules. Super oxides were described in the paper "Evidence That the Reactivity the Martian Soil Is Due to Superoxide Ions" by A. S. Yen, S. S. Kim, M. H. Hecht, M. S. Frant, B. Murray, published in Science, Vol 289, 15 September 2000. They did a Mars jar experiment with Mars regolith simulant. With Mars atmospheric gasses at Mars temperature and pressure, and UV at Mars intensity, they formed superoxides on the regolith simulant. I don't know the oxygen affinity in ionizing environments, my chemical knowledge is stiochiometric (heh, big word to cover my butt). Could this process reduce nitrates to become nitrides?

The other interesting thing from Rick's post is clathrates. Estimates of Mars CO2 budget have been based on current atmosphere, polar dry ice caps, and CO2 adsorbed in the soil. No one talked about clathrates before; possibly because science previously thought there wasn't much water on Mars. Now that we know there is, could clathrates form? The south polar ice cap was most probably formed as snow that never melted, forming the same way a glacier forms. It would have trapped gas bubbles, capturing samples of the ancient Mars atmosphere at the time it formed. It will be glacial, so not likely clathrates. The north polar ice cap is what was left of the northern ocean when the planet finally froze. Since it is frozen ocean water, it could contain clathrates of whatever gasses were dissolved in the deep ocean. Interesting. We could have a lot of gas available for terraforming.

Ps. Scientists would drool over ice cores taken from those two ice caps.

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#25 2007-07-22 02:16:00

RickSmith
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From: Vancouver B.C.
Registered: 2007-02-17
Posts: 244

Re: Methods of terraforming - How to go from bone dry & lifeless

Hi Robert,
  In "Mars a Warmer Wetter Planet" by Jeffrey S. Kargel he makes a strong case for CO2 clathrates existing on Mars.  (A clathrate is when ice's crystal structure incorporates CO2.)  This is good (Mars' CO2 reservers are higher) and bad (it is a lot harder to get at this CO2 than if it was dry ice at the south pole).

  He argues that Mars is a planet that's history has been dominated by TWO volitiles, H2O and CO2.  To understand Mars' geohistory, you have to consider that there will always be CO2 in solution in water and ice which changes how H2O behaves.  A truely excellent read.

  When I was typing up Mars Data for the FAQ I thought of a line of evidence that argues against the idea that Mars lost its atmosphere to a massive impact.  Argon is highly concentrated in Mars' atmosphere.  It likely started out with a dense atmosphere (rich in volitiles as it formed far from the sun).  It gradually lost the other volitiles but the Ar remained at its origional partial pressure.  In a massive impact Ar would be lost at the same time as the rest of the atmosphere.

  Warm regards, Rick.

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