Thursday, January 23, 2014

Red Mars "mars was empty before we came"

I have been using Kim Stanley Robinson's book "Red Mars" as a source of ideas for thoughts about going to Mars with humans. At the beginning of Part 1, Festival Night, there are two pages, in the 1983 Bantam paper back edition, that provide an introduction to the story that follows. If your Google search works as mine did, you can read them here. - Mars was empty before we came.

Mars has been viewed by humans by just looking up with the naked eye, then with telescopes, and more recently with mechanical explorers, both in its sky and on the ground. Ideas of what was there have changed as our technology has improved.

Our mechanical eyes have not found any Martians, big or small, but the red planet still holds our attention and for some a desire to go there, even if the only life found will be what we put there.  

Since I have been looking at "Red Mars" I should mention that not everyone agrees with all of the praise you might read inside the cover, nor will everyone agree that sending humans to Mars is the right thing to do. Still, reading reviews and comments can give you a flavor for what might be expected should we be able to promote an expedition to Mars with humans and since it comes up, it can't hurt to read some of them.

Red Mars and Green Mars
Random House LLCMay 27, 2003 - Fiction - 592 pages

In his most ambitious project to date, award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson utilizes years of research and cutting-edge science in the first of three novels that will chronicle the colonization of Mars.
for eons, sandstorms have swept the barren desolate landscape of the red planet. For centuries, Mars has beckoned to mankind to come and conquer its hostile climate. Now, in the year 2026, a group of one hundred colonists is about to fulfill that destiny.
John Boone, Maya Toitavna, Frank Chalmers, and Arkady Bogdanov lead a mission whose ultimate goal is the terraforming of Mars. For some, Mars will become a passion driving them to daring acts of courage and madness; for others it offers and opportunity to strip the planet of its riches. And for the genetic "alchemists, " Mars presents a chance to create a biomedical miracle, a breakthrough that could change all we know about life... and death.
The colonists place giant satellite mirrors in Martian orbit to reflect light to the planets surface. black dust sprinkled on the polar caps will capture warmth and melt the ice. And massive tunnels, kilometers in depth, will be drilled into the Martian mantle to create stupendous vents of hot gases. Against this backdrop of epic upheaval, rivalries, loves, and friendships will form and fall to pieces--for there are those who will fight to the death to prevent Mars from ever being changed.
Brilliantly imagined, breathtaking in scope and ingenuity, "Red Mars" is an epic scientific saga, chronicling the next step in human evolution and creating a world in its entirety. "Red Mars" shows us a future, with both glory and tarnish, that awes with complexity and inspires with vision.
"The best tale of space colonization--a lyrical, beautiful, accurate legend of the future by one of the best writers of our time." -- David Brin
Great science meets great story telling. - Goodreads 
Pacing was somewhat difficult at times - Goodreads 
Great sci-fi if you skim past the weird sex scenes. - Goodreads 
I just was not a fan of the writing style. - Goodreads 
An amazing amount of research went into this book. - Goodreads 
Great science, minimal characterizations. - Goodreads

Review: Red Mars (Mars Trilogy #1)

User Review  - Fb - Goodreads
good story, too much detail Read full review

Review: Red Mars (Mars Trilogy #1)

User Review  - Heather kranz - Goodreads
Wow, the long journey is finally over. It took me about seven months to read this book - about the same length of time it would take to travel to Mars! After reading it, I realize that I no longer ... Read full review
All 1003 reviews »


The subject of manned missions to Mars is not limited to science fiction.
There are a number of challenges and the Wikipedia articles lists some of them.
- LRK -

manned mission to Mars has been the subject of science fictionengineering, and scientific proposals throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century. The plans comprise proposals not only to land on but in the end for settling on and terraforming Mars, while exploiting its moons Phobos and Deimos.
Preliminary work for missions has been undertaken since the 1950s, with planned missions typically taking place 10 to 30 years in the future. The list of manned Mars mission plans in the 20th century shows the various mission proposals that have been put forth by multiple organizations and space agencies in this field of space exploration.
There are several key challenges that a human mission to Mars must overcome:
  1. The cost of sending people to Mars has been the main obstacle of any mission. Estimates of cost have ranged from $6 billion to $500 billion for various crewed programs.[5][6][7]
  2. The health threat from exposure to high-energy cosmic rays and other ionizing radiation.[8][9] On 31 May 2013, NASA scientists reported that a possible manned mission to Mars may involve a great radiation risk based on the amount of energetic particle radiation detected by the RAD on the Mars Science Laboratory while traveling from the Earth to Mars in 2011-2012. The calculated radiation dose was 0.66 sieverts round-trip. The agency's career radiation limit for astronauts is 1 sievert.[2][3][4][10]
  3. The negative effects of a prolonged low-gravity environment on human health, including eyesight loss.[11][12][13]
  4. The psychological effects of isolation from Earth and, by extension, the lack of community due to impossibility of real-time connections with Earth.
  5. The social effects of several humans living under crowded conditions for more than one Earth year, possibly two or three years, on the mission to Mars, and a comparable length of time on the return to Earth.
  6. The inaccessibility of terrestrial medical facilities.
  7. Possible equipment failure of propulsion or life-support systems.
  8. Avoiding forward contamination of potential habitable zones.[14]
  9. Avoiding potential back contamination of Earth with possible Martian microbes.
  10. Some of these issues were estimated statistically in the HUMEX study.[15] Ehlmann and others have reviewed political and economic concerns, as well as technological and biological feasibility aspects.[16] While fuel for roundtrip travel could be a challenge, methane and oxygen can be produced using Martian H2O (preferably as water ice instead of liquid water) and atmospheric CO2 with mature technology.[17]

I will leave you with this Wikipedia article on previously proposed manned missions.
- LRK -

This list of manned Mars mission plans in the 20th century is a listing of formal proposals, studies, and plans for a human manned mission to Mars during the 20th century. It is limited to serious studies done with engineering and scientific knowledge about the capabilities of then current technology, typically for high-budget space agencies likeNASA. Mission profiles included manned flybys, manned landers, or other types of Mars system encounter strategies. For later plans see Manned mission to Mars.
Many mission concepts for expeditions to Mars were proposed in the late 1900s. David Portree's history volumeHumans to Mars: Fifty Years of Mission Planning, 1950—2000 discusses many of these.[1] Portee notes, every 26 Earth months a lower energy Earth to Mars transfer opportunity opens,[1] so missions typically coincide with one of these windows. In addition, the lowest available transfer energy varies on a roughly 16 year cycle, with a minimum in the 1969 and 1971 launch windows, rising to a peak in the late 70s, and hitting another low in 1986 and 1988.[1] Also of note, the Mariner 4 Mars flyby in 1965 provided radically more accurate data about the planet; a surfaceatmospheric pressure of about 1% of Earth's and daytime temperatures of -100 degrees Celsius (-148 degrees Fahrenheit) were estimated. No magnetic field[2][3] or Martian radiation belts[4] were detected. The new data meant redesigns for planned Martian landers, and showed life would have a more difficult time surviving there than previously anticipated.[5][6][7][8] Later NASA probes in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s confirmed the findings about Mars environmental conditions.
The first "engineering analysis" of a manned mission to Mars was made by Wernher von Braun in 1948.[9] It was originally published as Das Marsprojekt in West Germany in 1952, and as The Mars Project in English in the United States in 1953. Von Braun's Mars "flotilla" included ten 4,000-ton ships with 70 crewmembers.[10] The expected launch year was 1965.[9]

Thanks for looking up with me. 
- LRK -