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Ten Reasons Not To Live On Mars

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Ten Reasons Not To Live On Mars

Mars is a fascinating planet, the most like Earth of all the planets in the solar system, and may help us to understand much about the origins of life on Earth. Undoubtedly, it's a wonderful place to explore, especially with augmented reality vision. But though it was quite Earth-like in its first few hundred million years, it is not at all Earth like now. Earth remains by far the most habitable place in our solar system. The most inhospitable places on Earth, such as Antarctica, even in the depths of winter, and at the centre of the continent, are far more habitable than anywhere else in our solar system. Space colonies and the poles of the Moon, are both more easily habitable than Mars, and more easy to make self sufficient. Why is that?

Read on to find Ten Reasons not to go!

http://www.science20.com/robert_inventor/blog/ten_reasons_not_live_mars_great_place_explore-118531

well thats convinced me for sure

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I'll give you one big reason, its not earth.

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I just read it and I was surprised that the article didn't mention anything I would bring up.

First, gravity. We are optimized for the current gravity of Earth and microgravity will wreak havoc in our body. We will lose calcium and other minerals in out body very quickly.

And there's this issue with biological clock. This is the main reason why we need to find a planet with similar rotations and revolutions with Earth.

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And if you stand still too long, your feet sink in the melted chocolate!

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There are a some good reasons in that article. Doesn't matter, though, people are going to do it anyway. I think Walker is wasting his breath.

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I'm surprised nobody has made this joke yet.

Complete lack of three breasted prostitutes!

Insert Arnold joke now...

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Whats the point of living in misery on Mars,when you can do that on Earth,if you so desire.

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I'll give you one big reason, its not earth.

I'll give you one good reason why we should live on Mars, it's not Earth. Any single planet species is destined for extinction. Mars is a good place to start learning to live off of Earth

First, gravity. We are optimized for the current gravity of Earth and microgravity will wreak havoc in our body. We will lose calcium and other minerals in out body very quickly.

Firstly you are using the term "microgravity" totally incorrectly. Microgravity is what is commonly called zero G.

As for low gravity environments such as the Moon or Mars there is no data so we simply do not know if the same problems that astronauts experience in microgravity will be replicated by living on Mars.

And there's this issue with biological clock. This is the main reason why we need to find a planet with similar rotations and revolutions with Earth.

As Mars has a day of 24 hours 37 minutes I don't see your objection.

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I think the first reason -- to not have humanity restricted to a single ship, is the best.

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Hi there, I'm the author of the article. I've just had to disable comments there because of a burst of spam about 100 replies to delete in two or three hours was spending much of my time just deleting spam (never appears on the website but you still have to delete it).

On gravity yes we know that zero g is bad for human health, leads to bone loss as one of the worst effects, losing up to 20% of your bone mass in six months

http://science1.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2001/ast01oct_1/

Other effects include muscle atrophy, weakening of immune system, decreased production of red blood cells, and possibility of severe eyesight problems.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weightlessness#Human_health_effects

However no-one knows if any of those happen if you have low g rather than zero g. We simply can't simulate low g on Earth for any sustained period of time to investigate it. The zero g effects were unexpected, so we also can't model what is going to happen with any degree of confidence as I understand.

So Martian g might be completely safe, lunar g also, but we simply don't know yet, and as you say, might cause severe problems.

I do mention it in the article, but not as a separate topic. I lumped low g along with the UV and cosmic radiation into the section

10. Mars is too small to be worth colonizing

As for biological cycle, then the day is close enough to Earth's just a few minutes difference, not heard anyone suggest that would be an issue. But the year of 687 days is nearly twice as long as an Earth year. That might be confusing for trees, and for ecosystems, more relevant for terraforming if that is ever done. I've seen it mentioned as an issue though probably not a major one.

I just read it and I was surprised that the article didn't mention anything I would bring up.

First, gravity. We are optimized for the current gravity of Earth and microgravity will wreak havoc in our body. We will lose calcium and other minerals in out body very quickly.

And there's this issue with biological clock. This is the main reason why we need to find a planet with similar rotations and revolutions with Earth.

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Hi there, I'm the author of the article. I've just had to disable comments there because of a burst of spam about 100 replies to delete in two or three hours was spending much of my time just deleting spam (never appears on the website but you still have to delete it).

On gravity yes we know that zero g is bad for human health, leads to bone loss as one of the worst effects, losing up to 20% of your bone mass in six months

http://science1.nasa...001/ast01oct_1/

Other effects include muscle atrophy, weakening of immune system, decreased production of red blood cells, and possibility of severe eyesight problems.

http://en.wikipedia...._health_effects

However no-one knows if any of those happen if you have low g rather than zero g. We simply can't simulate low g on Earth for any sustained period of time to investigate it. The zero g effects were unexpected, so we also can't model what is going to happen with any degree of confidence as I understand.

So Martian g might be completely safe, lunar g also, but we simply don't know yet, and as you say, might cause severe problems.

I do mention it in the article, but not as a separate topic. I lumped low g along with the UV and cosmic radiation into the section

10. Mars is too small to be worth colonizing

As for biological cycle, then the day is close enough to Earth's just a few minutes difference, not heard anyone suggest that would be an issue. But the year of 687 days is nearly twice as long as an Earth year. That might be confusing for trees, and for ecosystems, more relevant for terraforming if that is ever done. I've seen it mentioned as an issue though probably not a major one.

:tu: Welcome to the madhouse, er, Unexplained Mysteries! I thought it a good article, so its my fault I started it here.

No doubt Waspie Dwarf will say Hi soon ....

.

.

Edited by seeder

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I answer that in the article. A space colony or colonizing the Moon is a better way to achieve that if that is your aim.

That's because the Moon at its poles and a space colony is more habitable than Mars, it's like colonizing the tropics instead of Antarctica.

That's also why I feel that human colonization of Mars does not need to be inevitable, if the reasons in the article hold good and others accept them too. It's been fairly easy to keep Antarctica pristine because it is, though marginally habitable like Mars, yet, not the most desirable or easy of places for humans to colonize, again like Mars.

The science value of Antarctica is also widely understood, and the main visitors, tourists, also organized by companies that themselves have a lot of motivation to keep Antarctica pristine for their clients. And it is also protected by international treaty of course.

So Mars I see as a similar situation. Of far more science value than Antarctica. Far more inhospitable than Antarctica. Far more inaccessible than Antarctica, minimum journey to get there is many months.

Also, current international treaties prohibit contamination of Mars and would not be easy to change, a legal process that would require many years of international negotiation, and might fail if there is significant opposition as I think there would be from exobiologists and general public if the situation is widely understood and publicised.

If you also have telepresence exploration of Mars, and exciting results from that, and especially if evidence is found either of present day life or interesting evidence of past life on Mars - then will get a lot of motivation to keep Mars pristine just like Antarctica.

For Antarctica to keep it pristine the visitors have to clean their boots before they land on the continent, and be careful in many ways not to bring new life to the continent, so that is carefully regulated - but the micro-organisms in our breath, and on our skin etc. are not an issue.

But on Mars the only way to keep it pristine, for science, as far as i can see, is to absolutely prohibit humans from landing there in the near future. That's open for research, am saying that we need to be very confident that humans won't contaminate it before they can land on the surface.

Though they can explore it as much as they like and exploit it as much as they like via telerobots and telepresence (perhaps with some "planetary parks" set aside that need to be kept in their present day state).

Really you will only get Mars colonized if there is a big push to do so. It needs countries or companies or individuals putting in billions of dollars into it which they don't expect any near term return on - rather it would continue to be hundreds of millions and quite probably billions of dollars per year outlay for years and decades to come. Any colony would be dependent on continuing supplies from Earth. Although you could make glass and so on on Mars eventually, yet it needs high technology just to survive the extreme conditions there, extreme cold and vacuum, and in many ways would depend on Earth.

I am suggesting it makes much more sense to put that push into colonizing the Moon or using NEOs to create space habitats close to Earth. It might seem not so exciting because it "has been done already" but then as soon as you get your first colonists on Mars then it will also fall into that same situation of something that "has been done" and if you feel that the Moon and NEOs are not exciting for that reason, then the momentum to colonize Mars would soon abate just a few years after the first attempt, for just the same reason that the general public has lost interest in the Moon and habitats closer to Earth.

So that was the idea I put in the article. Hope that's a bit clearer, interested to hear what you think about it.

I think the first reason -- to not have humanity restricted to a single ship, is the best.

Edited by robertinventor

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That's fine glad you liked the article :). And thanks for the welcome.

:tu: Welcome to the madhouse, er, Unexplained Mysteries! I thought it a good article, so its my fault I started it here.

No doubt Waspie Dwarf will say Hi soon ....

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I enjoyed your article, and while I have always wanted to go to Mars (from when I was a small child) I recognize that I never will, and for a long time (centuries?) no one will except for a few scientists perhaps...

Reading your article I was struck by the notion that the fear of contamination (not of us but of the world we might visit) might keep us for ever going anywhere... If scientists are this protective of

a few possible micro-organisms... How will they feel about a planet around another star (if we ever get there) that has a lush bio-sphere?... Will we ever be allowed to expand and in so doing ensure that

our species can not be exterminated by a single cosmic event?

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Hi Taun,

Thanks, glad you like the article. I think we just can't know, that far ahead. With Mars also - right now it is of utmost interest for exobiologists. But in the future once it is well studied, and other locations of the solar system are studied, who can tell?

Also, it's not just exobiologists, even if you have no interest in biology, our best nanotechnology is biology. So much of modern civilization is based on products of biology, directly or indirectly (as in oil). And our experiments are nowhere near able to recreate the process of evolution in the lab, as far as primitive living cells, there is a big gap between non life and the most primitive of life, and synthetic biology (creation of living organisms from scratch) is in its infancy.

So, if you think of it as an alternative nanotechnology, that may help to show how it may be of value not just for scientific understanding, but for everyone.

In the future though, if Mars turns out to be less interesting, or our understanding of astrobiology is great - also another idea is that once you get to the point where you can make kilometer square habitats in space, you could have Mars habitats for Mars lifeforms if they turn out to be of great interest. It might also be possible to preserve areas of the surface of Mars in their pristine state. And it might turn out that Earth and Mars life can co-exist without any problems.

So I can see many ways we could colonize Mars long term, but it would depend on greatly increased understanding of Mars, and of biology, to be sure we can do it safely, both for humans and to be sure we aren't losing knowledge and understanding that would be of great value to us.

As for exoplanets - again - depends on what we find out. There is one theory according to which the DNA on Earth actually must have originated on another planet, because the earliest life conclusively identified on Earth seems to be too complex for it to evolve in the short period available of a few hundred million years. It seems more likely that it is already many billion years old before it got to Earth. If that is so life on Earth could have been seeded by a planet that passed through the proto sun gas disk while it was collapsing, perhaps before Earth formed or not long after. If so then maybe life around nearby stars would have the same biological basis, same DNA etc.

If so then maybe we could live on them as they are.

If not though they are probably based on a different biology, not using DNA, and it would mean probably that though lush and maybe many living creatures and even intelligent beings possibly, that we can't eat any of the food there. It might be poisonous for us, or simply inedible. That's perhaps the most likely situation.

So then terraforming those planets would involve exterminating all the existing lifeforms on the planet first most likely, or introducing life that you know would drive them all to extinction (to make most of the surface habitable for humans), a major ethical dilemma.

But if we can coe-exist and not cause major problems for the planet, then it's not such a problem ethically. So again depends on what we find out.

Anyway travel to another planet around another star is way beyond our technology except for the closest stars. The nearby stars we could explore using nuclear propulsion (possibly eventually fusion power once discovered).. I see that as maybe possible a few decades from now depending how our technology improves. It could be done right now by detonating hydrogen bombs below a massive "pusher plate", but that would of course violate the nuclear test ban treaty and would also lead indirectly to many deaths due to the radiation produced during the launch from the Earth's surface which is one of the main reasons Project Orion was abandoned.

Sending a light weight probe to another star for a fast fly by is something we could almost do now with enough money poured into it, maybe laser propelled from Earth, take several decades to get there. And we could eventually visit the nearest exoplanets maybe by the end of this century??

But perhaps the best ones to colonize if that decision is made would be ones that are almost habitable but need to be terraformed, especially if life is common in our solar system, unless we turn out to be amazingly compatible with existing life there.

Nuclear propulsion might be less of an issue if the hydrogen bombs or other nuclear fuel for it are created in space or if we have the technology to transport all our nuclear arsenal into space to be used for Project Orion and start the interstellar spaceship up somewhere well away from Earth to prevent contamination.

BTW for anyone who doesn't know about it, here is the wikipedia article about Project Orion, the only way we know to get to another star within a human lifetime using present day already developed technology, mainly an engineering and social rather than a theoretical problem.

As for avoiding extermination - say by asteroid impact - a colony on the Moon would deal with most of those possibilities, if self sustaining. Also space colonies, are not so vulnerable to large meteorites as you might think since smaller targets and so easier to divert any meteorites to avoid the impact, and low probability of impact in the first case, so long as they are able to monitor them as they approach from a great distance. With cosmic radiation shielding as well I see them as as safe as Earth or other planetary colonies.

I enjoyed your article, and while I have always wanted to go to Mars (from when I was a small child) I recognize that I never will, and for a long time (centuries?) no one will except for a few scientists perhaps...

Reading your article I was struck by the notion that the fear of contamination (not of us but of the world we might visit) might keep us for ever going anywhere... If scientists are this protective of

a few possible micro-organisms... How will they feel about a planet around another star (if we ever get there) that has a lush bio-sphere?... Will we ever be allowed to expand and in so doing ensure that

our species can not be exterminated by a single cosmic event?

Edited by robertinventor
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Some great replies Robert, Im just dipping in again before leaving for a couple of weeks, so basically then, the Mars One plan is probably doomed from the start, or maybe not doomed, but if it goes ahead, Im not entirely sure those going will enjoy it for long. Id go stir crazy being cooped up in a living pod or whatever they send.

Still, as with all explorations, someone has to give it a try first I guess

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Hi seeder, I hope that the Mars One people could change their goal in some way, if they are fixated on the Mars surface yes I do see it as doomed, or at any rate unless something radically changes in our knowledge of Mars rather hard to see how it could work out. It's not just me that says that of course, the plans were met with a lot of skepticisim in many quarters.

But if they start closer to home, a colony on the Moon or in the L1 or L2 position first, that could work out. The "peaks of almost eternal sunlight" on the Moon would be rather exciting places for a colony I think, at least as awe inspiring a place to live as Mars for ordinary people, and much brighter, I think the dim greyish red light of the Mars landscape would be depressing for humans long term (not mentioned that in the article).

Or if they are really keen to go to Mars, then maybe an orbital colony and explore the surface by telepresence. With the current not very complete understanding of ways to keep a self sustained habitat going for months, is pretty hard to do that too, and I think such an expedition would need some members who are very technical and able to solve complex technical emergencies quickly by themselves if necessary, similar to the original Apollo astronauts. And it would be a great shame to send an expedition to Mars orbit without any exobiologists on board, or at least people highly trained in biology and science as a second subject, so they can assist with real time biological experiments on the surface.

But - if Mars One did raise billions of dollars, I have wondered, could they do a big international collaborative expedition with the scientists who are so keen to go there? Could that be a mixed mission of maybe a dozen people some ordinary folk from Mars One and some specialist scientists and some highly trained astronauts? And of course also at least one trained as a doctor, for a distant long term mission like that, not just a paramedic. Would that work? Would there be enough interesting things for the less highly trained people to do (e.g. driving and flying rovers on the surface via telerobotics perhaps, with a well funded expedition you could have numerous telerobots on the surface, and growing plants in greenhouses, mining Deimos for resources, or whatever, plus simply entertainment, keeping everyone happy, cooking, and poets, musicians etc able to respond to the situation and journalist types able to describe it very well for those of us back home). I'm sure with a reasonably large habitat in orbit, and budget, you could have a wide variety of people with different skills and that it would work well and probably be better than a purely science and astronauts mix. For smaller habitats not sure and don't know how many you need for it to be safe to have a mix of specialities and skills like that.

So those are my thoughts on it, for what it is worth. And the one positive thing about Mars One, I really like the idea of sending ordinary folk to go exploring especially artistic and musical etc, I think there are artistic and societal, and other discoveries to be made in space, not just scientific ones.

FWIW, with a smaller mission even to Mars orbit (easy to return to Earth), if just say two or four or six astronauts, and none or few of them highly trained, I would be deeply concerned about their personal safety, at current state of knowledge and technology. It would seems to me that it would be too easy for some emergency to arise that needs fast action which they can't solve by communication with experts on Earth quickly enough, with 8 minute delays between each message in the support communications.

And for a surface mission, it would basically all be for nothing as I think an all out push to colonize Mars would lead to the "it's been done syndrome". Also seems that they would almost certainly contaminate Mars irreversibly at some point or other, which would be a depressing thing from them too, to know that that is what they achieved as the main thing they would be known for, after all the effort to go there.

Perhaps though (if my analysis is right) it can be turned to a more positive direction somehow?

Some great replies Robert, Im just dipping in again before leaving for a couple of weeks, so basically then, the Mars One plan is probably doomed from the start, or maybe not doomed, but if it goes ahead, Im not entirely sure those going will enjoy it for long. Id go stir crazy being cooped up in a living pod or whatever they send.

Still, as with all explorations, someone has to give it a try first I guess

Edited by robertinventor
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It's probably not right up there in the top 10 reasons, but how would you construct a natal chart for someone born on Mars? Or even the moon, for that matter.

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Welcome to UM RobertInventor, I really enjoyed your article and glad you made your way to UM. :tu:

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Once the problems are solved, I think we'll colonize Mars. Maybe not in my lifetime (most likely not), but we'll get there.

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Once the problems are solved, I think we'll colonize Mars. Maybe not in my lifetime (most likely not), but we'll get there.

unless the middle east crisis doesn't see us all blown up first in world wars. Or some earthly catastrophe. Oh well, fingers crossed eh?

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Hi there, I'm the author of the article. I've just had to disable comments there because of a burst of spam about 100 replies to delete in two or three hours was spending much of my time just deleting spam (never appears on the website but you still have to delete it).

On gravity yes we know that zero g is bad for human health, leads to bone loss as one of the worst effects, losing up to 20% of your bone mass in six months

http://science1.nasa...001/ast01oct_1/

Other effects include muscle atrophy, weakening of immune system, decreased production of red blood cells, and possibility of severe eyesight problems.

http://en.wikipedia...._health_effects

However no-one knows if any of those happen if you have low g rather than zero g. We simply can't simulate low g on Earth for any sustained period of time to investigate it. The zero g effects were unexpected, so we also can't model what is going to happen with any degree of confidence as I understand.

So Martian g might be completely safe, lunar g also, but we simply don't know yet, and as you say, might cause severe problems.

I do mention it in the article, but not as a separate topic. I lumped low g along with the UV and cosmic radiation into the section

10. Mars is too small to be worth colonizing

As for biological cycle, then the day is close enough to Earth's just a few minutes difference, not heard anyone suggest that would be an issue. But the year of 687 days is nearly twice as long as an Earth year. That might be confusing for trees, and for ecosystems, more relevant for terraforming if that is ever done. I've seen it mentioned as an issue though probably not a major one.

I noticed you left "It's far too awesome a place" off you list.

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It's probably not right up there in the top 10 reasons, but how would you construct a natal chart for someone born on Mars? Or even the moon, for that matter.

I would hope that anyone that were giving birth on the moon or mars would be far far from the belief in something as dull as astrology.

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Actually that can be a reason for not colonizing it too. Because it is too awesome and amazing to spoil it by contaminating it with Earth life before you have a chance to study it. I talk a bit about that here, How Valuable is Pristine Mars for Humanity - Opinion Piece? - at the end, under "What if the decision is to keep Mars biologically pristine for ever?"

And - the Moon is pretty awesome too, especially I think the peaks of eternal sunlight. If you can forget about the "it's been done" feeling for the Moon and try to look at it afresh, it would be pretty awesome if humans were to colonize the Moon.

I think the awesomeness of Mars for humans is overrated, because to unaided human vision it wouldn't look like the images Nasa produces - because those are white balanced to help geologists to identify the rocks, and that's covered in

To human vision though it might be rather depressing, long term, because the only colours are dull reddish greys and browns and light levels are lower than for Earth. That's on the list as number 8,

PIA16800_modest.jpg

The one in the middle is what it looks like to unaided human eyes.

And in a duststorm:

mer-20070719-browse.jpg

With telerobotics you can explore it more thoroughly and with immersive experience - and what's more not just the Mars explorers but their video feeds could be streamed right back to Earth so we all see Mars just as they see it with their telerobots. And explore anywhere on the surface where there's a rover, jump from one to another.

Also it's just about reasons not to colonize it right now. As for the future, well that would depend on what we discover.

I noticed you left "It's far too awesome a place" off you list.

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Actually that can be a reason for not colonizing it too. Because it is too awesome and amazing to spoil it by contaminating it with Earth life before you have a chance to study it. I talk a bit about that here, How Valuable is Pristine Mars for Humanity - Opinion Piece? - at the end, under "What if the decision is to keep Mars biologically pristine for ever?"

And - the Moon is pretty awesome too, especially I think the peaks of eternal sunlight. If you can forget about the "it's been done" feeling for the Moon and try to look at it afresh, it would be pretty awesome if humans were to colonize the Moon.

I think the awesomeness of Mars for humans is overrated, because to unaided human vision it wouldn't look like the images Nasa produces - because those are white balanced to help geologists to identify the rocks, and that's covered in

To human vision though it might be rather depressing, long term, because the only colours are dull reddish greys and browns and light levels are lower than for Earth. That's on the list as number 8,

PIA16800_modest.jpg

The one in the middle is what it looks like to unaided human eyes.

And in a duststorm:

mer-20070719-browse.jpg

With telerobotics you can explore it more thoroughly and with immersive experience - and what's more not just the Mars explorers but their video feeds could be streamed right back to Earth so we all see Mars just as they see it with their telerobots. And explore anywhere on the surface where there's a rover, jump from one to another.

Also it's just about reasons not to colonize it right now. As for the future, well that would depend on what we discover.

I understand what you are saying, however, I also believe that we need to get off of this rock.

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