The Scientific Exploration of Mars
Frederic W. Taylor 2010 / Beaverton 523.43 TAY
Interesting, but flawed, and somewhat dated. Dr. Taylor is an Emeritus planetary atmospheric scientist at Oxford.
Launch loops will someday make travel to Mars vastly less expensive. However, a 5 km deep gravity well, a high curvature planet in a thin and unreliable atmosphere, and three year missions, makes travel there very difficult. Dr. Taylor's book discusses this, but does not discuss the exponentially-increasing costs of perhaps 20 km/s more mission delta V than the Moon landings.
Making Mars habitable would be vastly more difficult than, say, restoring the Earth after a complete, full-arsenal-expended nuclear war.
We go there for knowledge; the most profitable knowledge will be xenobiological. Life transforms energy gradients into maximized global entropy; cold, dry, irradiated, poisonous Mars has (and had?) very different energy gradients. Earth may have shared microbes with Mars during the Late Heavy Bombardment, but different conditions predicate different solutions ... or NO solutions. Finding evidence of those different solutions, especially billion-years-decayed evidence, will be extremely difficult. Finding that evidence after a crashed human landing deposits quintillions of microbes may be MUCH harder than surviving a nuclear holocaust on Earth.
However, if xenobiology found a very different solution to life's puzzle, it would extend our biological reach as much as parallax taught us about the size and shape of our universe. Terrestrial molecular biology establishes a "point" in the solution space; Mars molecular biology, if it exists, establishes a line through the solution space. Without that line, can only grope in the dark. With the line, we can create quintillions of dollars worth of permanent value, striking out from there in all directions.
So - definitely send humans near Mars. 10 RPM centrifugal habitats 18 meters in diameter provide 1 gee. Most people can adapt to 30 RPM in a few days. Place the habitats in lined circular trenches on Deimos, then cover them with tents and 5 meters of Deimos dust. We can expect "Deimos Dust" to be as nasty as Moondust, but not nearly as nasty as bacteriocidal Mars dust. From Deimos, through a constellation of laser-connected relay satellites, robots on the Martian surface are only 200 milliseconds away, speed-of-light round trip, and sample returns can be delivered in hours. The round trip to Earth will be 8 km/s shorter, and the trip from Deimos to "home" on an Aldrin cycler colony might be days.
Want to send astronauts someplace special? Send them to Apophis, a near Earth object that may smash into Earth any century now. Know your enemy!
- NO REFERENCES, besides occasional in-page cites.
- No mention of perchlorates, very poisonous, and 0.5% of Martian dust. We established this soon after this book was written.
Much discussion of Mars Net. A misnomer; perhaps "Mars Grid" is a better description of many distributed observation stations. A network of orbiting comsats, with high bandwidth links to telescope/receivers in Earth orbit, will be required beforehand, to forward the data from the observation stations. A network of server sky thinsat constellations could do this with millimeter wave communication, but well-aimed lasers would be far more energy efficient. Perhaps someday, we will learn to build phased-array laser thinsats. Learning how will be as important as learning about Mars itself.
Many references to ExoMars, a 2016 ESA/Roscosmos mission with a working orbiter and a failed lander.
=== Page Notes:
p149 Noachian > 3.7 Gya , heavy bombardment; Hesperian 3.7 to 2.9 Gya, Amazonian < 2.9 Gya
- p157 Martian volcanos 10-100 times larger than Earth. Tharsis region: Arsia Mons, Pavonis Mons, Ascraeus Mons. Olympus Mons is 600 km diameter, 25 km high. Plate lock kept volcanos over hotspots, rather than moving under new volcano sites, like Hawaii
- p162 pictures of "water flows". Recent papers suggest dust flows instead.
- p170 Axial tilt, obliquity. Larger for Mars, cycled faster by Jupiter tides. Recent papers suggest obliquity variations up to 85 degrees, which would bake or freeze the poles.
- p209 More gulleys. Dust?
- p212 ... "the different mechanisms that may have contributed to this vast tapestry. They are the same for Mars and Earth, the differences only a matter of degree.
- Er, no. Earth chemistry was quite different. The Moon (and the crash that formed it), and Earth's powerful magnetic field are absent from Mars. Earth's radioactive heat production is quite a bit higher per square meter. etc.
- p213 Water may flow deep under solid ice.
- p214-215 "Some recent calculations suggest that obliquities as high as eighty-two degress can occur."
p218 "it now seems possible that the sunfall on Mars (and Earth) was actually greater four billion years ago than it is now" CITE??
p301 forward contamination - a 2017 paper by Wadsworth and Cockell (cite above) suggests survival and replication of Earth bacteria cannot happen. However, delivering a few hextillion bacterial molecules in a human lander crash may make the search for a few surviving Mars bacterial molecules practically impossible.
p309-323: fictional Mayflower III international Mars mission, Europeans and (pan)Americans. No China, no private. What a difference a decade makes.
p312 Spin gravity: "...nausea induced by the moving background through the window ports and the Coriolis forces on everything that moved ... was a delusion". Nonsense. With high-res cameras, why cut holes through spacecraft hulls? Adaption to Coriolis force happens in days; watch a gymnast or ice skater. Ask Dr. Joan Vernikos about spin gravity.
p314 Hypothetical landing spot on Meriadani Planum, locations discovered by Mars Science Laboratory in 2015. Actually, Opportunity landed in Meriadani Planum 2°S 354°E, and lasted for 14 years, 55 times the design lifespan. MSL landed in Gale Crater, 4.6°S 137.4°E, on the opposite side of the planet.
p317 Mayflower II orbiter aerocapture failure 2 years earlier, crash in Ganges Chasma. "Install a plaque at the wreckage" - how about looking at the spread of contaminants?
- p330 Appendix B missions to Mars up to 2007, my summary: