The NewMars.com/forums are discussing multiple topics as usual. One recent addition is:
This past week a new topic has come into view. The US Defense Department reported a successful test of a small solar panel riding in the X37b experimental space platform. The background for this experiment was reported to be the Pentagon interest in providing power from space to remote military outposts, to reduce risks due to transport of petroleum in disputed territory.
The implications of this idea for civilian power service are under vigorous discussion. There is a class of satellite orbits which ride the dawn/dusk border around the Earth. These are a category of polar orbit that precesses at just the right rate to remain constantly in view of the Sun. Delivery of power from one of these satellites is available for about 30 minutes at least once a day for every location on Earth.
In addition, it appears that service may be possible twice a day, because every location on Earth is exposed to dawn once a day, and dusk 12 hours later. In addition, more than one satellite can ride in this orbit. For example, a satellite every degree of latitude is possible. And finally, there is no reason why a particular satellite in LEO is limited to serving just one location. There may be a practical limit, but service to 100 stations seems like a reasonable number to consider.
Thus, if all the possibilities are covered, we would have:
1) 3 30 minute charge opportunities per orbit (assuming 90 minute orbit) 2) 360 satellites so 1080 charge opportunities (assuming 1 customer per satellite) 3) 1080 * 100 or 10,800 charge opportunities assuming 100 customers per satellite
Each station should have enough energy storage capacity to hold a charge of 30 minutes for distribution over 24 hours.
Why colonise space? What will it lead to? Here I take you on a journey to Easter Island to understand why we need to colonise space. However I also note the dangers of colonising space, especially in a future where AI is dominant.
What will it lead to?
There are few places in the world quite like Easter Island or as it is known to the Polynesians, Rapa Nui. It is arguably the remotest place on Earth. It could be said that one is closer to cities when you are in the International Space Station (ISS) than when you are on Easter Island. It is famous for only one thing: the moai. These are the colossal stone statues of human faces that seem to be impossible to construct given the lack of timber on the island. However, did they do it?
Valery Danko, the Managing Director of Perimetr Films travelled to Easter Island in 2019. Initially we made a history film. However, at the same time evidence was collected about climate change, plastic pollution and the clear reliance on diesel oil based energy (though some solar was allowed, it was thought to ruin the character of the island). Clearly space based solar would be very suitable on Easter Island.
What is interesting about Easter Island is that like humans on planet earth as a whole, the people that originally inhabited it around 800 AD, were extremely successful economically. However, they devastated their environment. Thus, they lost the ability, due to their long time on this remote island, to flee from it. One could say it was a lack of knowledge! I suspect it was also a lack of palm trees to build their ships. Climate change may have had an impact on them also, as the decline seems to correspond with the Little Ice Age. Equally rat populations may have also prevented them from managing the tree harvest properly. Whatever the case, the bad situation was multi-causal and eventually the civilisation that had built the moai declined and was eventually enslaved by Europeans. (The film above we made is fascinating and I highly recommend it!)
Easter Island is a good example of Spaceship Earth. We should never forget we are essentially a spaceship. We float through space at an enormous speed, which we don’t even notice.
We desperately need to return to the moon and colonise it. Then we need to venture towards Mercury and disassemble it for materials. We need to use robots that can survive the harshness of space. They need to be artificially intelligent, able to reproduce themselves, survive the rigours of space and adapt to new and even more hostile conditions. They must be almost as good as humans at adaptation to conditions on Earth.
Once we have succeeded in this we can venture into the asteroid belt and to the moons of many planets that offer us a bountiful treasure of materials we can utilise for the betterment of human kind.
If we stay on planet Earth, and only go to the Moon or Mars for tourism, we’ll fail to survive as long as we can.
We need right now to build the best space defence systems available – which need to be solar powered. (See my previous blogs.) We need to clean up the debris orbiting our planet which we have turned into a tip.
Taking mercury apart by using self-replicating robots will not be too difficult. However, another swarm of robots will need to build huge space factories that can convert this material into thin solar panels, space vehicles, and bring back rare elements that we lack on Earth and so on.
Also taking mercury apart gives us the materials to try to create a Dyson Sphere. We can then muster huge amounts solar energy, allowing our ships to venture beyond the solar system, deep into space.
Human problems are not generally insurmountable. Instead I believe most human problems are linked to 3 things:
Firstly we tend to over-populate and live in cluttered hostile environments.
Anything that produces more than it’s own number is going to grow exponentially. When you add that to a limited space you have a problem.
Maths is quite useful here. If you want to know how long it takes anything to grow over a time period you can use this trick:
Let’s say that the global population grows at 2% per year. If that is true then that means it doubles every 35 years. On a grand scale that’s not long – only half a human lifetime (of 70 years of age). That means they’ll need twice as much as what we have by the year 2090. Twice the food, twice the shelter, twice the water, twice the number of sewerage plants and twice the amount of energy.
The way to know the doubling time of any fixed growth rate is to divide it into 70 e.g. 70 divided by 2 = 35 years. If the growth rate is 7% per year then 70 divided by 7 = 10 years. (The growth rate does not have to be per year, it can be any time period as long as you have a percentage growth rate.)
A 100% growth rate per year would by 70 divided by 100 = 0.7 of a year.
Populations go completely crazy if confined to a cluttered and overcrowded environment. For example, mice placed in an experimental habitat, started off quite relaxed. However, with a few generations they were crazily competing over resources such as living space (lebensraum – where have I read that before?)
Mental health is a big priority now especially amongst the younger members of the British royal family. More and more people are seeing psychiatrists or therapists for help. The 2020 lockdowns due to covid-19 have not helped. However, fear of lockdown or loss of work due to lockdown is a real and present threat. People are losing their jobs to the policies that the governments are using to deal with it.
Population growth in cluttered spaces is thus a problem for the well-being of humanity over the longer term. It encourages future pandemics. We must therefore tackle with all urgency population growth and curtail urban growth in favour of village growth.
Secondly, we are wasting much of our talent because the economy works on the principle of satiating a need, a want, a desire, or a demand. These are what drive the global economy. Anything that cannot produce something that people want to buy is without an income and thus can quickly end up being overwhelmed by poverty. We are one pay check away from poverty in many cases. In the case of businessmen, or very rich people, who have lots of reserves, the inevitable can be delayed, but never put off entirely. Eventually one must find an income, even if it is only to pay the bills!
Such a system is based on using materials and destroying habitats largely unseen by us. The Planet of the Dead will be the epitaph of humankind if this economic system, however useful or better it is than other forms of production, is allowed to continue unchecked by effective enforcement of global environmental laws
Going into space though would allow humans to change their economic system to one of machine based Artificial Intelligence economics. With inexhaustible supplies of energy and materials humans would no longer need to work in factories, mine or go around chopping down forests. Instead they could work for the betterment of their villages, travel to places that they had never seen, enjoy their life rather than having to do some awful work that they hate, live, love and be merry, for life is short: who after all wishes to sit at a computer all day or work as a filing clerk? Who wants to protect the Prime Minister or the President from harm, when an Artificial Intelligence government could run the world efficiently? Who needs a democracy when artificial intelligence rules the world?
Thirdly, our current obsession with race, creed, religion, beliefs, ideologies, power and wealth, could be obliterated by placing artificial intelligence self-replicating machines in charge of politics or economics and do away with nation states altogether. In such a magnificent future Vladimir Putin would be viewed by the AI teachers of young humans as an example of a human dinosaur – that is a power mad, crazy who deserved to be terminated as soon as possible along with his supporters and oligarchs.
The solution though does not bode well. As artificial intelligence develops, it would eventually become superior to us. Once it can self-replicate without help from humans, and even change its own programming safety features, humans themselves would be seen as potential threat. Logic would dictate that such a system should eliminate its creator for fear of destruction. It follows the natural progress of human history: white Europeans with superior technological development conquered inferior developed regions and either enslaved them or carried out genocide in order to obtain their resources. The AI leaders would have no reason to kill us other than a fear of our unreliable, illogical behaviour. We are perhaps the most violent creature on planet earth given our firepower. Thus AI leaders would quickly assess us as a threat to their existence, and with cold logical terminate all of us.
Luckily AI of the type I am imagining is probably 1000 years away if not more. If well-controlled AI government could solve the Easter Island scenario and lead mankind to a better, happier future. The idea of Skynet, in the Terminator films, is a military version of what I imagine for government of planet earth and space. Who needs Joe Biden if you’ve got SkyNet to run things?
by John Clarkson BA(Hons) MSc film producer and Sustainable Development Scientist and Writer
At Perimetr Films we’re going to make a film about how the financial world is killing our planet and preventing humanity from reaching our potential. That potential is essentially reaching the stars and surviving an apocalypse.
Nicholas Shaxson wrote an amazing book (Treasure Islands: the men who stole the world) and there was even a documentary about the subject of trust funds. It describes the financial spiders web of intrigue and corruption that means tax payers are paying huge sums, whilst the mega-wealthy elites go untaxed.
At the same time though governments are investing tax in military and anti-climate change technology that serves no purpose other than short term financial gain. In many ways we all ought to not pay tax, or use banks, because these very institutions are behind slowly destroying rain-forests, sterilising land using pesticides and artificial fertilisers, producing food that is less nutritious and in some cases heavily polluted by chemicals that are known carcinogens to humans. One cannot blame the rich from hiding some of their money away.
When mega-corporations do it, then use it to go into space, we have to consider the possibility that the space industry is now also contaminated by the same affliction: tax evasion, avoidance, using the system to reduce or eliminate tax. It is a major problem for all of us and particularly any future plans to inhabit the moon, add space solar power (see my previous posts) or develop a space-faring civilisation capable of utilising resources from the solar system.
We could solve most of climate change by simply going vegan. That would knock out a huge amount of GHG regardless of what the naysayers say! Better investment could take money used for oil and gas production and divert it to space solar power and geothermal energy. Instead corruption in high places, such as investment corporations, mostly in the City of London, with its special connection to the West Indies tax havens e.g. British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands etc. have other plans. They go for short term profit from oil, gas and coal. They make it their mission. We only need some of these to make rocket fuel. Even that could be made artificially from a host of systems that are sustainable and completely carbon neutral. There’s no excuse for them. It is pure insatiable greed and it must be ended.
However, who is going to end it? The world’s leaders are all invested heavily in trust funds. Trust funds are the life blood of the global economy, providing in some cases, 90% of foreign investment. The individuals you think are in power are just puppets on an investment corporations string. They dance to their tune on a daily and hourly basis.
Many of these investment managers end up as head of tax authorities, who then do deals with companies such as British telecomm etc to lower their tax bill. The leaders you feel are adversaries are just part of a puppet show that creates good vs bad and leads to the nation state and terrorist anarchy we all see around us. Since COVID-19 the war in Ukraine, Syria and Yemen have largely disappeared from the news. It is now the USA vs China for a while, until Iran or some other media spectre is developed, like photographs that used to be developed in a dark room.
Our film will be very entertaining, and will try to get the message to the masses in a saucy way, so that they remember it for a long time. A film that fails to titillate and entertain, will always do better than pure dry statistics. That is what we have learned from Hitler, Trump, Johnson and Putin.
Politicians in the UK are well-known for their jobs after office. They seem to always end up with a fortune, being paid millions per week for being an adviser; yet none have any qualifications to advise! What is being paid for here is connections to the global oligarchy.
Money is made from arms and harm. This is why governments and investors invest in human division. Military arms only sell while you have bogeymen to fight. Pharmaceuticals and medicines are massively developed during wars. When you can create opposition, the arms dealers cash in, the wars help to provide new experimental patients to work on. It’s a big win, win for the trust fund managers.
Trust funds are often heavily invested in by illegal drug cartels from South America. This is similar to the Opium trade the British Empire did during its heights in the 19th century. Illegal money from fraud, theft and drugs finds its way into every corner of the world of investments, with huge profits to be had by legitimate and illegitimate businesses who are invested correctly.
Why is there a war in Ukraine raging when it was agreed during the dissolution of the Soviet Union where the border was? Why have hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian people simply vanished? Why is America dying to fight a war with Iran? What stopped that fight? A virus! Covid 19 is a product of our unsustainable meat industry I firmly believe. It was found in Spanish sewers long before it became airborne as a viral infection from Wuhan. How did it get there? ( See shorturl.at/alsD6) Who is cashing in on this deal?
Why are we sleep walking away from our destiny in the stars and allowing the mega-rich to get richer and failing to organise the scientific elites to fight back?
Why are the media allowed to consistently tell lies using measures such as GDP and GNP that have no basis for measuring much more than what wealthy investors wish to know, whilst the rest of people cannot get free health care, even in the UK where the NHS is supposed to be free? What is happening to the worlds space development programmes now we have militarised space and privatised it? Who will make money from those businesses?
There is only one answer. This is not a conspiracy amongst elite investment trust fund management companies or banks. Instead it competition amongst a few ‘hub banks and investment corporations’ that specialise in trust funds and investment in general. You will also notice that major banks and investments corporations often rotate their CEO’s on a merry-go-round of jobs. Some people have the connections, background and education (Oxford and Cambridge) to be insiders. The others are outsiders. (It’s good to be an outsider, for one can shine light into dark places from outside, whereas the true darkness is always masked by artificial light when you are on the inside! Think about it.)
We need to wake up! We need to become politically active.
Why we need scientists in politics if we want to become a space faring species.
by John M Clarkson BA(Hons) MSc
Humans are known for one thing on planet Earth if the rest of the creatures could talk. We are the ultimate plague species. Consider one great example. The Polynesian Triangle! As the Polynesians expanded they would take over islands, exhaust their resources and sail on to the next island.
Our film on Easter Island is being made right now (we filmed it on location in 2019) One point it makes is that ‘success’ can lead to disaster, and then a lesser success. Easter lsland was very successful, but eventually that success led to its decline and eventually its enslavement.
The planet we live on currently seems to be a human success. Poverty is generally down across the world, though this is highly debatable. Living standards are generally up. We have more access to technology than ever before. Even young men in impoverished parts of Africa have a mobile (cell) phone. Technology seems to be turning the tide against poverty. Yet there’s a nagging doubt that something is not quite right. Climate change, plastic pollution, micro-plastic pollution, destruction of habitats and air pollution are everywhere. They are not being solved. British ministers promise to stop plastic pollution being sent to developing nations, but nothing is done.
We need a solution to two things right now. One is energy from fossil fuels. Oil is after all the source of much urban air pollution and all plastic pollution. The other is resources. There’s also a need to address two threats to all life on Earth: super-volcanoes and of course comets and asteroids from space that are potential life killers.
We can do very little about super-volcanoes, other than develop underground farming systems, possibly involving mushrooms, but also utilising energy from geothermal to provide underground farming. This would allow humans to shelter for hundreds of years to survive volcanic eruptions. This will cost us money that no politician will provide, because politicians are poor decision makers who think in 5 year election cycles. Democracy and globalism are not good systems for long-term survival, even if my professors in university seemed to believe they were!
Energy we can solve using space solar power and geothermal energy. We don’t need nuclear reactors on Earth. We’d be better off building them in space. That way they’d be far away from us. Even fusion is unnecessary once space solar power and geothermal is sufficiently developed.
Space solar power could be, as suggested in my previous blog a perfect method for solar sail powered ships to glide around the solar system collecting minerals etc that we can use on earth. This kind of world would be a world of plenty, because the solar system has plenty of materials we can harvest. It’s virtually inexhaustible.
Using space solar as the means to deflect earth bound asteroids and comets is a viable solution for most situations. However, it is currently not being prioritised by governments who don’t really understand the issue. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. The methods we use will not just rely on one kind of defence system. I suggest we start work on this problem immediately. There is no time to waste.
We need better leadership. However, what we observe daily instead is Elon Musk, Jeff Besoz, the Russians, Chinese and Virgin, all involved in space tourism! Today everyone is happy about he splashdown of the Dragon X capsule returning from the ISS. This is the story of humanity. Let’s focus on the wrong problems and deal with them. Let’s focus on BREXIT and Making American Great Again, but not worry about pandemics. Then COVID-19 turns up and the economy crashes. Why? Because our political leaders are not scientists. Instead we have rich men forcing themselves by the fact they have wealth and media status, into power. Be it Biden (whose son is involved in oil in Ukraine) or Trump (who thinks that there were British airports in 1775, and people are ‘dying who have never died before’). In the UK we have a Prime Minister who believed that paint could solve climate change and that building a garden bridge across the river Thames was a viable project, which he spent millions on! These kinds of imbeciles should never be given anything but a toilet brush and an pot to clean; but instead, due to wealth, the ability to inflame the rabble, clever spin, and ignorance amongst even the intelligent (I know someone who thinks Johnson is great, and is himself an Engineer!) they take over.
I think it is time that if we want a Living Universe, scientists need to start to become politicians. It may seem ridiculous, but if it does not happen soon, we will have a problem. Look at how well Germany is run! Yes, perhaps she makes mistakes, but at least hers are forgivable and often very humanistic (helping refugees for example).
If we want to solve our problems we need to do two things fast: quickly develop space technology that defends our planet and finds new resources; and secondly create a more sustainable civilisation on Earth, where people live simpler more harmonious lives, with nature. Where they work for the good of each other and not the greed of themselves. If we do that, we will have a better world.
One stumbling block will be the financial system. That’s a subject for another blog. A blog that will challenge you and what you think about your own contribution to the problems our planet faces.
We need a scientific meritocratic democracy, and we need it quickly.
In 2020, a member of the NewMars forum with the ID of “Void” initiated a discussion that has been continuing and evolving ever since. The post that started the sequence contained a simple speculation that it might be possible to deliver gas to the surface of Mars in a “bubble”.
The question led to a mathematical analysis by a member with a PhD in Aerospace Engineering, and the clear answer appears to be a definite NO, if the “bubble” is dropped from the altitude of Phobos with zero horizontal velocity with respect to the the surface of Mars.
The pull of Mars’ gravity, though less than that of Earth (38%) will ** still ** accelerate the bubble (ie, balloon) to a velocity significant enough to insure the object impacts on the surface, instead of floating as might have naively been imagined if the contents is Hydrogen.
However, taking the judgement of the PhD (GW Johnson) in stride, other members began considering the possibility of releasing the bubble at an altitude closer to the surface. That led to renewed discussion of tethers. It turns out that tethers have received some serious attention during the 20 years the NewMars forum has been available as a public service of the Mars Society. In particular, quotations from a web site/ blog by “Hop” show illustrations of various tethers that might be constructed, including one for Phobos.
The inspiration of the vision published by Hop led to work on a concept that might be implemented with Phobos as the anchor. The distance from Phobos to just above the surface of Mars is (about) 3700 miles (5955 km).
Since the Hop blog post suggests Kevlar as a material that might be strong enough for this application, a design is in development to make links of a chain of Kevlar thread. Kevlar thread is offered commercially on Earth in various grades and lengths. A #92 thread is 290 micrometers in diameter, and it can hold 25 pounds or just over 13 kilograms. This information can be (and is being) extended to the design of a chain of Kevlar thread links that would extend 3700 miles toward the surface of Mars.
It appears that a bubble/balloon released from the lowest rung of a Kevlar chain from Phobos would have a modest horizontal velocity with respect to the surface of Mars, and since vertical velocity would be zero at the time of release, a package would have a reasonable chance of survival. In particular, the possibility that a package could be buoyant (ie, filled with Hydrogen) is greater than zero. Testing at Mars, or calculations using CFD (Computation Fluid Dynamics) software may show one way or the other.
In any case, to see images of the CushionGuide intended to bear the compression load between links of the Phobos Tether, readers are welcome to visit the NewMars forum at:
A discussion is underway on the NewMars.com/forums web site, regarding a concept shown by nature, for capturing an asteroid. In nature, creatures (eg. caterpillars) wrap themselves in a cocoon (eg. silk thread) to prepare for metamorphosis. Asteroids such as Apophis are thought to be loose piles or collections of rubble held together by very small gravitational forces.
Such objects cannot be moved through application of a force, such as that produced by a chemical rocket. Wrapping such an object in a cocoon of basalt thread (as an example) would appear to offer a solution to the problem of giving the object a structure to facilitate movement to a harvesting location.
Here is a recent post by the forum administrator, inviting composition of an article about this topic, for possible display on the main page of the Mars Society web site. Luf.org readers are invited to think about the problem, and offer their thoughts about how best to proceed:
For SpaceNut re #
First, thanks for the reminder of the many contributions of JoshNH4H during his tenure as a moderator and member of the forum.
And thanks for the interesting teaser of an opportunity for the Asteroid Cocoon contingent.
From my perspective, some work is still needed to reduce uncertainty in numerous areas.
I’m not sure how many bullet points I’m going to come up with, but I’ll start and see how far it goes …
1) Is the surface of Apophis suitable for manufacture into thread?
2) Can equipment fabricated for manufacture of basalt thread here on Earth be adapted to deep space and whatever material Apophis offers?
3) Is there an optimum strategy for wrapping the cocoon. Calliban’s long arm from a pole is what Nature offers as a model, but that would be slowest.
4) Would SpaceNut’s idea of tossed toilet paper rolls (as a metaphor of course) work at all, and if so, how would it be designed for the free space situation?
5) What amount of wrapping material is needed? Nature provides a model of multiple layers of thread. Can we get by with less?
6) Where would the world want the asteroid to be delivered? I say the world, because there is ** no ** doubt the world has an interest in the project.
7) Speaking of the world … what international agreements are needed to avoid unhappy and worried people, let alone nations?
Enough for now …
Maybe its time for a consolidated write up for this topic to be posted on the home page..targetting the above bullets to finish out what we might be missing…
Today’s recommendation is a little different that past ones. Previous investment ideas have had a “green” tilt. Today’s has a “tech/space” tilt. Materion is a mining company (a good one!) and mining is hard to do in an environmentally friendly manner. It is a necessary evil for a technologically advanced society. Eventually, this dirty industry should move off planet but for now we have to make do. Fortunately, the material this mine produces is particularly useful for aerospace applications and advances the cause.
kbd512 is a member of the NewMars forum who frequently contributes long posts which are rich with detail, and show careful thought in preparation. In the post below, kbd512 looks at a variety of options for human beings to address climate change, and offers recommendations based upon various factors.
Readers of luf.org should be aware that kbd512 posts on a variety of topics, some of which might be offensive. The post below confines itself to physics, economics and technical fields, so should be acceptable in this setting.
Index>> Martian Politics and Economy >> Economics of Mars
Louis: Member from UK
Registered 2008-03-04: Posts: 5,198
I’ve just been reading a book on economic theory called 30-second economics (it’s actually a more in-depth study then that title might suggest). I thought it might be interesting to work through the theories and ask how they relate to a future human society on Mars since I don’t think anyone here or elsewhere has ever attempted to do that…
Classical economic theory This theory has evolved out of Adam Smith’s original writings which indicated that the rapidly adjusting market ensures equilibrium, stability and prosperity.
My comment: The free market will be largely absent from Mars for at least a couple of decades following the arrival of humans in my view. This partly reflects technology (the need to ensure that life support technology is in place) and partly the way missions will be structured (under the control of a centralised planning team). There will be a market between Mars and Earth e.g. over science experiments, where I anticipate demand will exceed supply.
Marxism Marx predicted the inevitable evolution of a classless society based on the principle of “from each according to their ability and to each according to the need”.
My comment: In a sense the early missions to Mars will probably reflect these principles. All the participants will be highly dedicated to giving their all to the project and financial motivation will not be required. Equally, they will be happy to help a fellow pioneer who may be in need – e.g. in need of medical treatment. But Marxism is not an organising principle that works well with larger and more sophisticated societies.
Keynesian economics. Keynes argued that the business cycle was driven by aggregate demand and suggested that government could intervene to smooth out the ups and downs of the business cycle by manipulating aggregate demand for goods and services.
My comment: The business cycle is a reality in all markets but it is worth pointing out that we have, on Earth, had steady growth in world GDP year by year virtually every year since World War II. This is due to technological innovation, improved transport and communications and a growing population.
The Mars economy will be growing from a tiny colony into an economy based on substantial human populations possibly millions within 100 years. So I think we will not see major business cycle dips. There is perhaps a risk of investment “bubbles” going forward which may cause economic dislocation.
To be continued…
Last edited by louis (Today 09:46:57)
Louis added additional posts to his topic. These may be viewed at the links below:
Today, I’m reviewing a new way to invest in the new space movement. There are three good reasons for investing in space at this time: 1) location based sharing apps are growing rapidly thanks to satellite enabled navigation 2) decreasing launch costs are creating new economically viable industries 3) with the formation of the US Space Force governments and the defense industry are poised to increase investment in space.