Building a Marsbase is a Horrible Idea - Let’s do it!

Hostile deserts, to the lonely islands and the highest mountains, wherever there is space to develop, humans develop. So it's not surprising that we are already preparing to set foot on Mars, And to create the first permanent colony outside Earth - Maybe even terra-form another planet, and transform it into a second blue house.

 Before we can get to all these beautiful things of the future

We must first complete the second phase of colonization; Create a semi-permanent outpost ... Prepare the ground for a greater human presence. But it will be horrible. Even for an expansionist species like us, March is extreme. At first glance, Mars looks familiar - There are polar caps, large valleys, liquid water under its surface, and a day barely longer than that of Earth. The perfect place for us. Unfortunately, Mars is actually a cold, radioactive desert where the soil is toxic and where to breathe is impossible. March is awful.

You certainly don't want to go there. The pioneers who will work on Mars will have an intensely stressful life, ... filled with incredibly difficult problems, never encountered before. But there are a lot of people ready to do this job ... ... and we have the technology to allow them to do that. For this post, we will assume that there have been previous missions to Mars ... ... to look for a good place for an outpost ... ... store resources and equipment ... ..and that there is already a lunar base that serves as a hub for Mars missions. The first major challenge for our outpost is the fact that Mars is very poor in energy. Because of its distance from the sun, solar energy is only 40% more efficient than on Earth. But even this weakened sun is often obscured for days by huge dust storms.

Solar energy alone probably won't be enough.

 Alternatives, such as wind power, and geothermal energy are also impracticable because there is practically no atmosphere and the interior of Mars is much too cold. Basic nuclear technology would be the only option. Since Mars did not easily accessible radioactive elements ... ... nuclear fuel has to come from Earth with the reactor. If we put this solution in place, it could supply our little outpost for the first few years. Unfortunately all this energy won't be very helpful if we can't breathe.

The atmosphere of Mars is only 1% as dense as that of Earth .... and is mainly composed of CO2. So now the habitats have to be pressurized and filled with an artificial atmosphere ...... made of nitrogen and oxygen, which bring other problems. The corners and the flat walls are weak points ...... so that the habitats will have rounded and smooth shapes ...... to manage the stress of large pressure differences between inside and outside. Airlocks must be very airtight and work perfectly every time. Without an extensive magnetosphere, or a dense atmosphere ..... half of all radiation from space reaches the ground.

A person on the surface would be subject at 50 times the radiation on Earth. 

Three years on the surface of Mars exceeds the radiation dose limits imposed on NASA astronauts throughout their careers. This greatly increases the risk of cancer. To avoid this, we could protect our habitats with a thick layer of frozen CO2, which can be harvested directly from the atmosphere. Cover dry ice with one meter of soil, would further increase the level of protection.Unfortunately, this means that there would be almost no windows. Inside, most living spaces would be windowless tunnels. From the outside, It would look like burial mounds.

All this would not prevent all the radiation, but reduces it just enough to survive for long periods. This will not, however, protect those who venture outside. So remote-controlled robots would be used for routine surface work, while our crew stays inside. Staying indoors is a good idea for another reason: March dust. It’s much finer than the dust on Earth, She could find her way in the gears or electronics of our machines. Because it is also very dry, it is electro-statically charged ... ... it sticks to everything, like space suits. It would be impossible to avoid transporting a lot of dust from Mars in our habitat ... and spread it to the lungs of our crew.

To make matters worse, the soil of Mars is filled with very toxic perchlorate salts. Constant exposure could be fatal. This problem can be overcome. Spacesuits, for example, could be made so that they never really fit into the base ... ... but attached outside the habitats. Okay ! Great. Now we have safely isolated humans in terms of energy and air ... ... and we protected them from cancer, we just need to feed them. Water is easy to find if a base is located near the Martian poles with their thick layers of ice. Growing food is another type of challenge, however. Mars' soils are alkaline, lacking vital nitrogen compounds that plants need to grow. Before you can grow anything, we will have to decontaminate the soil ... ... which is difficult and expensive.

Then the soil can be fertilized using recycled biological waste. All of this will take a long time, and is very energy intensive. So we could use aquaponics to raise fish and plants together. Make the astronaut diet more varied and tasty at the same time. It will be a huge psychological boost for our overworked crew. However, all of these things do not solve a fundamental problem: Mars only has 38% of the gravity of the Earth’s surface, which could cause muscle wasting, bone loss and cardiovascular problems. Although this can be resolved in the future by developing rotating living spaces ... ... for now, our crew must live with low gravity ... ... and exercise a lot to slow down the degradation.

The crews will probably have to be replaced every few years, after being stuck inside in tight spaces without windows. With the same people, perform the same routines day after day with few contacts from the outside world, and a lot of worries. Like Antarctic scientists or submarine personnel ... they will undergo intense psychological screening ... ... to make sure they are mentally resilient enough to manage this lifestyle for several years. The establishment of the first real infrastructure on Mars will be extremely hard work ... ... that only a group of very determined and competent people can do. Fortunately, we have had enough on Earth.

And There you go ! You have it !

 A small base on Mars that will survive for at least a few decades ... ... as long as there is a constant supply of resources ... ... in parts, nuclear fuel and Earth crews. Unfortunately, Mars and Earth are separated by millions of kilometers and the orbital periods leave only a narrow travel window every two years. If there is an emergency in the colony, Earth wouldn't be able to help until the next possible travel window. Aid can reach a planet then filled with corpses. Getting to Mars will be the most difficult challenge we have ever faced.

It will be an awful job to build the infrastructure we need. But we are stubborn, and we like extreme challenges. If we enter phase two of colonization, anything is possible. Cities illuminating the Martian dark night ... ... a hub for traveling between planets ... ... industries setting up in orbit ... terraforming a true multi-planetary future. Going to Mars is a difficult mission but it is worth it. And if we're lucky, we could see that happen in very soon ... ... and encourage the people who take up these challenges for the benefit of all.

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