Could one make a skateboard on Mars? Here’s a start.
I’ve been meaning to write a short piece about something I noticed while watching the recent lunar eclipse, but I wanted to wait until the furor of eclipse pics died down.
Where I live, the eclipse was already under way when the Moon rose. I also have a small mountain between me and the eastern horizon, so there was a pretty big bite missing by the time I saw it. I pointed my little telescope at it, and the family took turns at the eyepiece. Every so often, I would tilt the telescope farther up to compensate for the Moon’s movement across the sky as we rotated beneath it.
I’ve been reading about existential risk lately. This article is not immediately relevant to Mars or our future there. But it also kinda is.
The Tanis fossil site, in North Dakota, appears to be showing us creatures directly killed by the Chicxulub asteroid impact. The picture of that leg is reminder that “geologic time” includes now, just as it did for these organisms on a day that changed the world, 66 million years ago.
From the article:
“We’ve got so many details with this site that tell us what happened moment by moment, it’s almost like watching it play out in the movies. You look at the rock column, you look at the fossils there, and it brings you back to that day,” says Robert DePalma, the University of Manchester, UK, graduate student who leads the Tanis dig.
I took a few minutes last night to stand out in the cold and look up at Mars. That bright orange dot, right there next to the Moon: we built a robot, and we threw it at that dot, and that robot used its own wits to find the perfect landing spot, and now it sits there, ready to look for past life. On that bright orange dot, right there next to the Moon.
“There will come a time,” said Sally, “when things will go wrong.” Her face was serious but kind. “Comms might go down. Your suit might get damaged. Your nose might itch.” Everybody smiled. And then everybody’s nose itched. “Things will go wrong,” Sally repeated, “often many things at once. It’s very easy to lose your cool when they do, and that’s guaranteed to make things worse. But if you keep calm and deal with each problem as it comes, there is always a way to make things better.”
Air: Generation Mars, Book One
Coming in October
image: NASA/JPL/MSSS; processing and mosaic: Olivier de Goursac (fr), 2014
This is an interesting paper estimating the minimum number of people required for a self-sufficient colony on Mars. Using a mathematical model to estimate work time requirements vs. work time capacity, the researchers come up with a surprisingly low number: 110.
In the forthcoming second book of the Generation Mars series, I peg the colony population at around 5000, so I think I’m good there.
What is the feasibility of survival on another planet and being self-sustaining? This question is of particular importance for the future of the space conquest and perhaps also for the future of humanity in general [1,2]. The use of in situ resources and different social organizations have been proposed [3–6,12–19] but there is still a…
Did a comet explode in Earth’s atmosphere at the end of the Pleistocene?