[FPSPACE] "How?" is one question, "Why?" is another

E.P. Grondine epgrondine at hotmail.com
Fri Nov 21 12:28:56 EST 2008


Hi - 

Today's announcement of buried ice glaciers on Mars will get great play. 
But few realize that the ice raises the possibility of back contamination as 
a real problem. There's a reason for that.

One of the things that struck me was that the belief in an Earth-like
and easily utilized Mars was a key belief held by many space pioneers.
Indeed, such a belief is devoutely held by many "space enthusiasts" today.

Okay, let's say that space transportation costs dropped (whether by in-situ resources, 
some new engine technology or technologies) and that manned Mars flight dropped 
dramatically in cost. Then would it be worth it to fly a few men to Mars for say a couple of 
moths at most, when there are so many pressing problems here on Earth today? For that matter, why fly a few men to the Moon for say a couple of months, when there are so many pressing problems here on Earth today?

We can see that what drove rocket and early satellite development was military uses. 
The resulting satellite technologies have useful purposes - com sats, weather, Earth resources, gps, etc. But is there any justification for building heavy launchers in excess of defense and commercial needs?

Mars is not like the Earth. The only way its remaining water and gases could be released would be by a causing a massive impact by diverting either an asteroid or comet. And then you'd end up with a planet with no core, no magnetic shielding, a planet pounded by radiation.

About the only driver I can up with to justify manned Moon is the construction of impactor detection systems.  My first order estimate is that the impact hazard is that bad, and thus justifies the systems. And that the requirements exceed what can be done by platforms flying in free space.

One of the bizarre aspects of this is that manned Mars enthusiasts dominate discusssion here in the US - thus impact study money is limited, suppressed, for that matter. You did not find those detectors mentioned in the Moon science studies which Administrator Griffin et al. tried to enshrine as "THE" reasons for returning to the Moon. 

At least three of the potential candidates for NASA Administrator are fully aware of the hazard, though: Astronaut Schmitt, Astronaut Schweikert, and General Worden.

The how part is easy. As Zak pointed out in his review, you use lunar orbit, and work from there.
It's most mass effective:
http://www.geocities.com/epgrondine (from a long, long time ago)

The great Shawnee leader once advised to trouble no man about his religion.
The great US leader Jefferson demanded not to have to pay for anyone's religion.

E.P. Grondine
Man and Impact in the Americas
(if you haven't received copies of Volumes 1-4 of my History of Cosmonutics yet, then write me a note)

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