Re: But on further reflection...

Posted by Southern Man on Jun 02, 2002 at 08:39

Re: But on further reflection... (bobbapink)

“The only problem would be getting the whole "factory" down safely to the surface on a locale conducive to boring and within easy reach of the subsurface water.”

Let me make sure I understand this. You want to bore a hole and dump in plutonium so that the unshielded and uncontrolled reaction when it hits water will produce steam that you will harness to run a turbine to generate electricity that will be used to electrolysize some of the water into hydrogen and oxygen that will be collected to use as rocket fuel? Or to make it simpler you will just use an RTG ( to make DC electricity directly?

I’ll pass on the former suggestion (we have enough trouble building a geothermal power generator here on earth to try to deal with radioactive steam on another planet with no one available to make repairs – the idea is to make the fuel for a return trip in a reasonable amount of time or are we going to send technicians to permanently live on Mars with no food/water/air for the decade or so that this reactor is going to take to get operating normally?)

On the RTG suggestion I come back to how long is it going to take to generate enough hydrogen for a return trip. 300 WH/hour takes how long to lift enough air/water/food and people from Mars and accelerate to a velocity high enough to get to earth in 6 months?

Can all the details be worked out? Eventually with enough time and money. All I’m saying is that finding water on Mars might make living there permanently a little easier but it isn’t the last major hurdle. Water is not rocket fuel to be used for short visits. It is wishful thinking to expect all the other problems to be solved in the next decade or even in the next century. It is still easier at this point to take all the fuel/water/air/food that you will need for the entire trip than to expect to use “native” materials to survive. If the water isn’t on the surface (which it can’t be because of the low atmospheric pressure) it might as well be on another planet.

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