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Forum » SpaceEngine » Science and Astronomy Discussions » Mercury and Venus thread (Anything about the Solar system's innermost planets)
Mercury and Venus thread
HarbingerDawnDate: Sunday, 02.12.2012, 15:21 | Message # 16
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Quote (Watsisname)
On the subject of occultations, there's a great free program called Occult which will calculate when things like eclipses, transits and occultations of various objects will occur, even down to asteroids passing in front of stars. Very handy little tool.

Thanks smile

Quote (Watsisname)
Though part of me still thinks I caught aliens in the act of stealing the planet (presumably they need metals to build more ships for the upcoming invasion of Earth)

I was writing a sci-fi story one time in which Mercury had been destroyed (in the backstory anyway). It was in the year 2200 and we put virtually all of our nuclear weapons onto this giant barge orbiting the Moon, and we sent it to a specific point on Mercury where we blew them up, destroyed a good chunk of the planet, and decreased its orbit enough to sent it spiraling into the sun. Highly implausible of course, and I would never have written that bit in today, but I thought it was pretty cool when I was 15 wink





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midtskogenDate: Sunday, 02.12.2012, 15:39 | Message # 17
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Quote (Antza2)
http://blogs.discovery.com/inscide....nt.html
I can honestly say that i didn't see this coming.


Our solar system is full of surprises, so we should not be looking for the expected. I think it's a mistake to send all these probes to Mars if there could be more missions to Mercury and Venus instead. Life on Mars (fossil or not) has become so expected, that I'm getting more and more convinced that Mars is totally dead and always has been. Life on Venus or Mercury, however, would be a surprise, and I think the chances of finding anything there is greater than on Mars.

The biggest problem with missions to Venus, however, is that the word "Venusian" would appear everywhere. It's a horrible word. Venerean is better despite the connotation with "venereal".





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Edited by midtskogen - Sunday, 02.12.2012, 15:49
 
HarbingerDawnDate: Sunday, 02.12.2012, 16:13 | Message # 18
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Life on Mars (fossil or not) has become so expected, that I'm getting more and more convinced that Mars is totally dead and always has been

That is faulty reasoning. How much we expect an outcome has no bearing on how likely it is to be true. There is actually some compelling evidence that Mars is not only habitable for life, but in fact has life today. Within the next couple of decades we will probably know for sure. You must draw conclusions based upon evidence rather than what people tend to expect; that is the essence of science.

Quote (midtskogen)
I think the chances of finding anything there is greater than on Mars.

I'm sorry to say this, but that is a pretty absurd statement. What evidence do you base this idea on?

Also, water on Mercury was not unexpected. We have been aware of the possibility for decades, and many people (myself included) did expect to find water there. So this discovery was actually not a surprise, just a confirmation. The discovery of the dark material on top of the ice is (I think) more exciting than the discovery of the ice itself.





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Edited by HarbingerDawn - Sunday, 02.12.2012, 16:21
 
apenpaapDate: Sunday, 02.12.2012, 16:42 | Message # 19
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Quote (HarbingerDawn)
I was writing a sci-fi story one time in which Mercury had been destroyed (in the backstory anyway). It was in the year 2200 and we put virtually all of our nuclear weapons onto this giant barge orbiting the Moon, and we sent it to a specific point on Mercury where we blew them up, destroyed a good chunk of the planet, and decreased its orbit enough to sent it spiraling into the sun. Highly implausible of course, and I would never have written that bit in today, but I thought it was pretty cool when I was 15 wink


Hehe, why did we do that? For the lols? tongue





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HarbingerDawnDate: Sunday, 02.12.2012, 16:44 | Message # 20
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Hehe, why did we do that?

To get rid of our nukes, and to demonstrate how close we came to destroying ourselves.





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DisasterpieceDate: Sunday, 02.12.2012, 18:18 | Message # 21
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Quote (HarbingerDawn)
None of these cool things ever happen where I am (or when they do it's always cloudy...)


Exactly my situation. If there is a meteor shower tonight, it will be raining, snowing or cloudy.





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HarbingerDawnDate: Sunday, 02.12.2012, 18:22 | Message # 22
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If there is a meteor shower tonight

I can't really see meteor showers anyway because of light pollution sad Showers are very sensitive to light, so even a good shower will produce very few visible meteors even with moderate light pollution.





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midtskogenDate: Sunday, 02.12.2012, 18:57 | Message # 23
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That is faulty reasoning. How much we expect an outcome has no bearing on how likely it is to be true.

Of course it hasn't. But see below.

Quote (HarbingerDawn)
You must draw conclusions based upon evidence rather than what people tend to expect; that is the essence of science.

What I'm speaking about is confirmation bias. It happens in science all the time. For instance, finding some rocks on Mars that look like having been eroded by running water, doesn't mean ithey were shaped by water. There might be other explanations, but if you're looking for evidence of water, chances are that water gets regarded as the most likely explanation for something.

Quote (HarbingerDawn)
I'm sorry to say this, but that is a pretty absurd statement. What evidence do you base this idea on?

We've been examining Mars relatively extensively and it looks pretty dead. I agree though that if there has been life there it still is there. Life is pretty hard to wipe out. Other places have been less explored, so less can still be rules out.





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HarbingerDawnDate: Sunday, 02.12.2012, 19:38 | Message # 24
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What I'm speaking about is confirmation bias.

Of course, but you are by no means the only person who is aware of this phenomenon. Many different people from all over the world have put forth many wildly different hypotheses to explain the things we see on Mars and elsewhere. We explore these ideas and rule out the ones that are incompatible with the information, eventually arriving at whatever conclusion remains. Morphological features on Mars - while they were the first evidence we found of past water - are not the primary evidence we have, just as fossil evidence is not the primary evidence for evolution. Chemical and mineralogical evidence overwhelmingly supports the water hypothesis, as do observations of Mars which show that there is an enormous amount of water still on the planet today, most if it frozen. It is certain that Mars was a wet place in the past, there are many independent lines of evidence which overwhelmingly suggest this, and liquid water is one of the only criteria needed by terrestrial biology to thrive. Therefore, ancient Mars was likely a place conducive to the types of chemical processes that all known life depends on. The same can not be said of Mercury, nor of Venus with any degree of reliability. Therefore, Mars is the best candidate for finding life in the inner Solar system. Not because we're looking for it, but because no proposed alternate histories of the planet which would contradict that have withstood close scrutiny.

Quote (midtskogen)
We've been examining Mars relatively extensively and it looks pretty dead.

There are places on Earth that look pretty dead and where scientists did not expect to find life which are known today to harbor life. So how a place "looks" is irrelevant. What is important is learning what is actually there. And since you can not search everywhere at once, you must be selective and choose whichever place is most likely to have what you're looking for or which will best allow you to accomplish your objectives. Since Mars is the most likely place to find evidence of other life in the inner Solar system, and since we have other reasons for going to Mars as well (it is the only place which humans could easily visit or live on) then that is where we go.





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midtskogenDate: Sunday, 02.12.2012, 20:37 | Message # 25
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There are places on Earth that look pretty dead and where scientists did not expect to find life which are known today to harbor life. So how a place "looks" is irrelevant.

I'm therefore arguing that we should do a good scratch on the surface for all reachable places first despite "looks", then dig deeper. We've already scratched the surface on Mars, and I think we should do likewise on the other places before doing more difficult things on Mars. I fear we focus too much on Mars because there is this "there must be life there" attitude.

Mercury might not be a likely candidate. But if things can live in the ice on Mars, perhaps so on Mercury. Still, I think Venus deserves more attention. First its atmosphere.

Quote (HarbingerDawn)
Since Mars is the most likely place to find evidence of other life in the inner Solar system, and since we have other reasons for going to Mars as well (it is the only place which humans could easily visit or live on) then that is where we go.

Mars is still not a good place for humans. The gravity and thin atomsphere make it closer to the moon than to earth. A base floating in the atmosphere of Venus at an altitude where pressure and temperature is right sounds better for permanent habitation. Or simply a spinning space station. If we are to establish populations in the million or billions on other worlds, I'm afraid we are out of options at least in this solar system.





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HarbingerDawnDate: Sunday, 02.12.2012, 21:09 | Message # 26
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I fear we focus too much on Mars because there is this "there must be life there" attitude.

I don't know many people with that attitude. Most of the people who are focused on Mars are interested in it for other reasons. Personally I hope that there is no life there, it would make human settlement a less complicated matter. In recent years it seems to me that most people have adopted the "Mars is dead" attitude rather than the "Mars is alive" attitude most people had in the past.

Quote (midtskogen)
A base floating in the atmosphere of Venus at an altitude where pressure and temperature is right sounds better for permanent habitation.

Absolutely not. Where would they get their resources from? Where would they get materials to expand the base? How would they add on to it? Most vital resources and manufactured goods for such a place would have to be imported from off world, which would make it astoundingly expensive to operate and maintain. For an outpost on the Moon it would be more self-sufficient, and one on Mars would be almost completely self-sufficient. Venus is not a good place for colonization. Maybe aerostat colonies there could be vacation resorts for the very rich (I would certainly go if I could), but other than that they would make no sense.

Quote (midtskogen)
Mars is still not a good place for humans. The gravity and thin atomsphere make it closer to the moon than to earth.

Mars' gravity is 0.38 time that of Earth, a pretty reasonable amount. Its atmosphere, while thin, makes its surface environment much more like Earth than the Moon. It is made of carbon dioxide, which would be great for plants to use, and which could be compressed into a large enclosed volume (like a dome) to make a pressurized atmosphere. This would allow people to walk outside without pressure suits, and only need breathing masks. Mars also has just about every resource we could possibly need to survive and build a self-sustaining colony.

Quote (midtskogen)
But if things can live in the ice on Mars, perhaps so on Mercury.

Ice on Mars and ice on Mercury are not equivalent. What is more important is the history of the planet. Mercury seems to have been a hot radiation-blasted airless world for its entire history. Mars was clearly very different. Mars today, as hostile as it is, is still more friendly to life than Mercury ever was, and we know that Mars was even more habitable in the past. We look to ice as evidence of past and present water activity in context with other features. We do not look to ice as evidence of habitability. If we did, then we would need to declare nearly every world in the Solar system habitable.

And if you're so keen to look for life on Mercury, why not look on the Moon first? Its environment is at least as well suited for life as Mercury's, and it's a lot easier to get to. There is simply no reason to go to Mercury in lieu of another destination. We should only do an in-depth study of it when we can afford to do so. Until then, we must pick the more interesting, varied, and dynamic places to study in detail, since those require more missions to properly understand.





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midtskogenDate: Sunday, 02.12.2012, 22:30 | Message # 27
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Absolutely not. Where would they get their resources from? Where would they get materials to expand the base? How would they add on to it? Most vital resources and manufactured goods for such a place would have to be imported from off world, which would make it astoundingly expensive to operate and maintain.

I think you will find any off world settlement astoundingly expensive to operate and maintain. A base needs to be prebuilt and completed with the key in the door before humans arrive. And once humans are there, getting the additional resources and materials needed to expand isn't a matter of getting outside and pick it up. Well, perhaps pure ice can be found, but anything else to expand the base? You need huge machines to mine, and not to mention to turn rocks into something useful. And the energy for that? It isn't entirely clear to me what's going to be the cheaper alternative: ship power plants, machines and entire factories from earth capable of building a city, or simply ship the whole city that the machinery was inteded to build.

Perhaps someday we can send robots that, given years and decades if not centuries, can start with almost nothing and work through all the necessary advances of technology to reach the level of infrastructure required by humans to accellerate the expansion. But we're not yet able to build such things, and until we are and know what they will be like, who knows where they would work best. Perhaps it's not on Mars.





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HarbingerDawnDate: Sunday, 02.12.2012, 23:11 | Message # 28
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It will always be easier to ship the things needed to get started, because after a time you will never need to ship anything else, while in the case of a completely dependent colony you would need to ship them almost everything they need forever. The longer those places are occupied (and colonies are permanent settlements) then the more expensive it is to operate a colony depending on imports. You will always have startup costs no matter which method you choose, but the costs in the long term cannot be ignored.

Maybe you are not aware, but a lot of work has been done on this problem, and it seems very possible to start a self-sufficient Mars colony with a relatively small amount of equipment. Advances in in-situ resource utilization, and 3D printing manufacturing techniques have made it possible to accomplish a great deal of mineral extraction and construction and manufacture without the need for large amounts of huge vehicles and factories. Today's technology is already up to the challenge. A colony set up in 40 years will certainly have even more advanced technology than we do. It's not as hard as you might think.





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midtskogenDate: Monday, 03.12.2012, 09:16 | Message # 29
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A colony set up in 40 years will certainly have even more advanced technology than we do. It's not as hard as you might think.

We should also recall that it's more than 40 years since humans walked on the moon. Few would have guessed back then that we haven't returned by now and wont in the near future. It's not because technology hasn't advanced. It's still just too expensive, and technology doesn't always advance in the areas that we envision.

It's even more expensive to go to Mars, and too expensive to establish anything more self sufficient than what basically is a familiar space station that happens to sit on the surface of Mars. I find it hard to see how the costs can become low enough with current technology. Perhaps we need to look for caves, in which relatively light weight inflatable compartments could be fitted in order to get some living space.





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SpaceEngineerDate: Monday, 03.12.2012, 10:25 | Message # 30
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It's still just too expensive, and technology doesn't always advance in the areas that we envision.

It's not so expensive, something like 1% of USA military budget. And as SpaceX shows, removing the huge ladder of bureaucracy makes rockets 10-100 times cheaper. Going to the Moon is certainly possible to a single company like Google or Intel. I hope SpaceX and other space companies will do that one day in the near future.

*





 
Forum » SpaceEngine » Science and Astronomy Discussions » Mercury and Venus thread (Anything about the Solar system's innermost planets)
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