Air: Generation Mars, Book One

The surface of Mars has the biggest volcanic mountains and deepest canyons in the solar system. There are the remains of water features everywhere, both tiny and vast, yet water hasn’t flowed on the surface for over three billion years. The whole planet is red because it’s rusty. Actually, it’s not really red—more of a brownish orange with blacks and greys and whites mixed in. But someone long ago called it “the red planet”, and the name stuck. A day on Mars is about 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth and is called a sol. The sunsets are upside down from those of Earth: shades of blue layering out from the Sun, diffusing into yellows and pinks and oranges above. Mars has two moons that move in opposite directions across the sky. There is very little atmosphere, and what there is consists mostly of carbon dioxide, the same gas that we exhale here on Earth. The wind blows hard at times, yet the atmosphere is so thin that you might barely notice it. Such winds can lift dust from the surface though, sometimes creating massive dust storms that blow for days. Occasionally, one of these storms will grow to cover the entire planet.

Which is all to say that it’s a weird place.

Air: Generation Mars, Book One

Available now: https://www.amazon.com/Air-Generation-Mars…/dp/1733731024

(image: composite logo with Luis Peres)

Scratching the Surface on Planetary Society list!

The Planetary Society’s Emily Lakdawalla publishes an annual list of recommended children’s books about space. Scratching the Surface made it onto this year’s list!

I’m honored to be included with all these other great titles.

Mars optimism

A succinct and optimistic piece from Chris Carberry and Rick Zucker at Explore Mars on why a commitment to putting humans on Mars is a good idea right now.
“After over 18 months of worldwide upheaval and social isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, people crave optimistic, ambitious, affordable and achievable programs that can help us overcome the negativity and division that hinders us.”

Coronal Mass Ejections

The Sun has been on a tear lately: hurling coronal mass ejections, one after another, across the solar system.

Here on Earth, the effects are mostly pretty (aurora) and occasionally annoying (power grid problems, satellite orientation issues).

On the surface of Mars, the effects would be more serious. With no magnetosphere and very little atmosphere to deflect and slow the incoming particle radiation, humans would have to seek shelter during the resulting solar particle event.

This is exactly what happens in my forthcoming book, Shelter: Generation Mars, Book Two. The sisters, Cas and Ori, and their parents are on an away mission when a solar particle event forces them to cut their plans short and find shelter where they can. A series of equipment failures makes their situation increasingly dire. Will the sisters be able to help the family survive? Find out in early 2022.

In the meantime, if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll see the aurora.

image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

#auroraborealis #solarsystem #spaceweather

Martian bioproduction of fuel

The ships and rovers in Generation Mars run on methane and oxygen, produced on Mars by electrolysis and the Sabatier reaction. I haven’t heard of 2,3-butanediol until now, but bioproduction of a Martian fuel sounds interesting.

Starship will change everything

This is a long read, but worthwhile. It is not hyperbole to say that Starship will change everything. And it will happen faster than the current space industry is prepared to adapt.

From the article:

“There are still major risks on the critical path between now and a fully reusable Starship, but no miracles are required to solve them.

Starship will change the way we do business in space, and now is the time to start preparing.

Annual capacity to LEO climbs from its current average of 500 T for the whole of our civilization to perhaps 500 T per week. Eventually, it could exceed 1,000,000 T/year. At the same time, launch costs drop as low as $50/kg, roughly 100x lower than the present. For the same budget in launch, supply will have increased by roughly 100x. How can the space industry saturate this increased launch supply?

Prior to Starship, heavy machinery for building a Moon base could only come from NASA, because only NASA has the expertise to build a rocket propelled titanium Moon tractor for a billion dollars per unit. After Starship, Caterpillar or Deere or Kamaz can space qualify their existing commodity products with very minimal changes and operate them in space.

Even if the space industry fully understood Starship, I think it would be very difficult for them to plan and adapt rapidly enough to match the coming explosion in launch capacity.”

William Shatner visits space

I love this reaction (at 2:45:50). I don’t think I’d want a champagne shower and party as I stepped out of that capsule either. Life-changing events require time to process. Thanks, William Shatner, for giving voice to that wonder.