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Author Topic: Nuke Mars  (Read 3222 times)
Maets
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« on: September 14, 2015, 02:32:12 pm »

Elon Musk wants to nuke Mars as a way to make it livable for humans.

Article talks about several ideas to terraform the planet Mars.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/elon-musk-nuke-mars_55f1c071e4b093be51bdfffc?utm_hp_ref=science&ir=Science&section=science

What do you think?
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« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2015, 03:18:22 pm »

maybe we should be very sure we're not killing anything first... we destroy our own world, no need to destroy the whole solar system, is there?
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« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2015, 06:11:30 pm »

Oh, sure...Just heat the place up a bit...And not be able to live there for several thousand years.

There's fast, and there's safe. The two aren't always compatible.
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Maets
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2015, 06:25:41 pm »

One of the "ideas" is to send old refrigerators to Mars as freon is a great greenhouse gas.
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« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2015, 06:38:55 pm »

But knowing us, we'll overdo that, as well. Like we need a planet-sized Texas.
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Atterton
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« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2015, 07:08:06 pm »

Mars has 95% CO2 as I recall, I don't think more greenhouse gases will help.
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« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2015, 07:14:26 pm »

Hmm. I did not know that.
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Miranda.T
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« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2015, 08:04:12 pm »

Just investigating all the possible environments on Mars for any life that may be clinging on will be a massive undertaking in itself, but even if that turned up nothing then I wouldn't think nuking the place would be a terribly great idea...

I'd get a lot more water to Mars - grab some 'snowballs' from the Kuiper belt, stick ion drives on them to ferry them back to Mars orbit and drop them into the Martian basins. Cover the ice with 'soot' (some sort of dark material) and then use solar reflectors in orbit to focus sunlight onto the ice not just to melt it but to get a lot more water vapor into the atmosphere, as that's a pretty strong greenhouse gas too. Then seed the planet with genetically modified single-celled organisms to release oxygen into the atmosphere (or possibly use some of the collected solar energy to drive electrolytic dissociation of some of the water into hydrogen and oxygen). As engineering challenges go, it might be easier to make city-sized (or bigger) self-sustaining artificial habitats (as in Rendezvous with Rama)...

Yours,
Miranda.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2015, 08:09:05 pm by Miranda.T » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2015, 08:07:02 pm »

I'm curious what would happen if we just made a giant lens that would block most sunlight from reaching Venus. How far could that go towards making it a more hospitable place?
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« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2015, 08:13:32 pm »

I'm curious what would happen if we just made a giant lens that would block most sunlight from reaching Venus. How far could that go towards making it a more hospitable place?

The atmosphere is incredibly dense (90 times more so than the Earth's, which means 90 times atmospheric pressure at the surface), and if I recall correctly it rains concentrated sulphuric acid, so even if you could somehow drop the temperature its would still one of the least hospitable places in the solar-system. Oh, and on the (much) longer scale, it's possible that every billion years or so the entire surface is reshaped in a planet-wide extrusion of larva. So, aside from the lack of demons with pitchforks, Venus is indeed Hell...

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Miranda.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2015, 08:21:55 pm by Miranda.T » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2015, 09:44:43 pm »

I'm curious what would happen if we just made a giant lens that would block most sunlight from reaching Venus. How far could that go towards making it a more hospitable place?

The atmosphere is incredibly dense (90 times more so than the Earth's, which means 90 times atmospheric pressure at the surface), and if I recall correctly it rains concentrated sulphuric acid, so even if you could somehow drop the temperature its would still one of the least hospitable places in the solar-system. Oh, and on the (much) longer scale, it's possible that every billion years or so the entire surface is reshaped in a planet-wide extrusion of larva. So, aside from the lack of demons with pitchforks, Venus is indeed Hell...

Yours,
Miranda.



Actually, blocking sunlight would decrease the planet's surface temperature (a somewhat toasty 400 degrees Celsius...), which will in turn reduce the atmospheric pressure and affect the chemical processes producing the highly toxic and acidic atmosphere. You would need to block at least 90% sunlight from reaching the planet to see an effect in a reasonable period of time.

Sadly that would also take a long time as the atmosphere is rather good at preventing heat from radiating into space, and the specific heat capacity of a medium size rocky planet is rather large...  Also I suspect the rapid (geologically speaking) cooling of the planet's crust would lead to a period of geological instability and increased activity lasting millennia.  Undecided

With the addition of some genetically modified extremophile bacteria to the liquid seas or lakes that condensed out from the thick cloudy atmosphere, once the liquid has reached a more chilly 100deg C or so, the process of converting the atmospheric gasses into something more suitable to life can begin.


All that should only take around half a Billion years or so, a very rapid change for a planet!...  Wink
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« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2015, 02:25:24 am »

No wonder the Martians want to kill us!  Grin
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« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2015, 06:22:18 am »

Mars has 95% CO2 as I recall, I don't think more greenhouse gases will help.
Yeah, but that's 95% of Sweet Diddly Squat. The freon idea is not to raise the concentration of greenhouse gases, but to raise the absolute quantity of gases in general. Using greenhouse gases to do it is simply killing two inhospitable environments with one molecule.
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« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2015, 08:03:22 am »

Isn't the main problem with terraforming Mars the lack of a molten core and magnetosphere? Even if you could pump mars full of greenhouse gasses, a new atmosphere, and terraforming bacteria, the planet still lacks the magnetospheric (sp?) protection from the nastier components of solar radiation.

Ive heard theories that mars did have an atmosphere like earth when the core of the planet was molten, but after it cooled and solidified the magnetosphere dissapeared and the atmosphere (and most of the water) was stripped away by solar winds/magnetisim.
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« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2015, 01:04:11 pm »

How about using that much knowledge or what have you and concentrating it towards our selves and this planet?

Oh, wait, then we wouldn't be completely wasting everything.
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« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2015, 06:35:08 pm »

How about using that much knowledge or what have you and concentrating it towards our selves and this planet?
...Because by learning how to make another planet habitable we just might learn better ways to salvage this one?
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« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2015, 07:10:37 pm »

Also they don't let you play around with nukes on Earth.
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« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2015, 07:41:22 pm »

Took a series of astronomy courses back in college. One of the theories brought forth about why Mars has no Earthlike atmo was that it had it originally, but for reasons such as those already mentioned here by Alexis, (no magnetosphere and no molten core) among others, it lacks protection from radiation, and perhaps even more inportantly, it lacks a chunk of Earth's gravity (a molten core, or rather the lack thereof, apparently tends to subtract a lot from a planet's overall mass, and thus from the innate gravity of said planet).

Lots of other things were added to the mix in the text, but in the end, what the text said, or I suppose "presented as the dominant theory," was that the original atmo boiled off and departed, since Mars lacked the radiation protection to prevent overheating, and the level of gravity required to hold the resulting gaseous components on-planet.

If that is in fact what happened, pumping Mars full of greenhouse this or amospheric that, neon, freon, car exhaust, propane, butane, argon, nitrous oxide, bovine farts, or any other gases, (not to mention the water that we have yet to find anywjere but in the - admit it, people - pitifully diminutive amounts of ice at the poles) would probably be futile without constant and massive resupply. Sure, a recent probe found "traces" that hinted at the possibiity of "possible reserves," but that's actually evidence of not very damned much, considering we haven't actually found any such reserves.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2015, 07:45:54 pm by MWBailey » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2015, 08:09:56 pm »

What he said. That's why I've also always been under the impression that the only way to colonize Mars would be in a series self-contained domed environments.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2015, 08:45:01 pm by GCCC » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2015, 08:20:46 pm »

I believe national geographic (Junior, don't blame me I was like...12) did an article about this several years ago...I'll see if I have the magazine laying around
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Miranda.T
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« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2015, 11:27:49 pm »

Isn't the main problem with terraforming Mars the lack of a molten core and magnetosphere? Even if you could pump mars full of greenhouse gasses, a new atmosphere, and terraforming bacteria, the planet still lacks the magnetospheric (sp?) protection from the nastier components of solar radiation.

(snip)

The dangerous radiation bombarding a planet can be broken down into two broad groups - neutral (UV, X-ray, gamma, neutrons) and charged (protons, electrons). A magnetosphere of course does nothing for the neutral stuff - that needs a nice thick atmosphere (with a healthy ozone layer) to reduce. As for the charged particles, the atmosphere will stop a proportion of those too, and good 'space weather' forcasting could inform colonists to get into extra shelter and initiate protective procedures for electrical equipment if there was a particularly big solar storm on the way.

(snip)

If that is in fact what happened, pumping Mars full of greenhouse this or amospheric that, neon, freon, car exhaust, propane, butane, argon, nitrous oxide, bovine farts, or any other gases, (not to mention the water that we have yet to find anywjere but in the - admit it, people - pitifully diminutive amounts of ice at the poles) would probably be futile without constant and massive resupply. Sure, a recent probe found "traces" that hinted at the possibiity of "possible reserves," but that's actually evidence of not very damned much, considering we haven't actually found any such reserves.

The atmosphere would definitely need 'topping up' as time goes by, although if I recall correctly isn't it estimated Mars held on to an atmosphere thick enough for liquid water at the surface for about a billion years?

(snip)

Actually, blocking sunlight would decrease the planet's surface temperature (a somewhat toasty 400 degrees Celsius...), which will in turn reduce the atmospheric pressure and affect the chemical processes producing the highly toxic and acidic atmosphere. You would need to block at least 90% sunlight from reaching the planet to see an effect in a reasonable period of time.
(snip)

This has got me thinking; if the temperature at Venus' surface could be dropped, would that reduce the pressure or would it reduce the overall volume of the atmosphere, increasing its density and keeping the pressure much the same?

Here's my thinking, but it does contain some stupifying simplifications (as it's far too late at night to do the calculus...) I'm assuming the Venusian atmosphere to have a uniform temperature and density, and that g for Venus does not vary significantly over the height of the atmosphere (I said they were stupifying  Roll Eyes)

The atmosphere's pressure, volume and temperature are related by

pV = nRT (also assuming to be an ideal gas  Roll Eyes)

The pressure is also given by hDg (I'm having to use D for density as I don't know how to get rho here...)

So hDgV = nRT

Since D = m/V (m is the mass of the atmosphere),

h(m/V)gV = hmg = nRT

If m and n are constant (not losing any atmosphere), then h is proportional to T.

If we assume h << R (R is the radius of Venus at the surface) then V is approximately 4piR2h

So V is proportional to h and therefore T. So as T drops, V decreases, D increases and p stays much the same.

Make sense (as a 'back of an envelope' calculation) or have I missed something obvious?

Yours,
Miranda.
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« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2015, 03:33:40 pm »

(Raises hand.)

"Miss? Will this be on the test?"
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« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2015, 03:37:07 pm »

(Raises hand.)

"Miss? Will this be on the test?"

I don't know what to say but I want you to know I just spit out my milk reading that.
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« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2015, 04:11:15 pm »

I don't know what to say but I want you to know I just spit out my milk reading that.

Mission.

Accomplished.
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« Reply #24 on: September 16, 2015, 04:48:41 pm »

....there's milk on my screen... and keyboard....and couch....
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