NewMars topic SPS in LEO

The 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.


Kevlar Tether for Phobos

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:


Cocoon for Apophis

Cocoon for Apophis from NewMars forums

A discussion is underway on the 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. readers are invited to think about the problem, and offer their thoughts about how best to proceed:

tahanson43206 wrote:

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…

Climate Change Fuel Options

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 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.

Continue reading “Climate Change Fuel Options”

Economics of Mars

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:

Post #1

Post #4

Post #5

Post #6

Post #7

Slow Glass Concept for Mars Habitats

The NewMars forum runs a number of parallel discussions. Some are fairly serious discussion of rocket engineering, mission planning or similar interests of contributors.

Among the topics which show up from time to time are considerations of how life can be made interesting and rewarding for workers on Mars, far from home on Earth and constantly threatened by countless natural forces trying to kill them.

One of these topics is “Slow Glass”. The concept itself can be traced (for just one of many possible origins) to Science Fiction, where the concept has been employed as the theme of stories in Analog Science Fact and Fiction, and quite likely elsewhere.

Here is a recent post from the NewMars forum on the subject:

Amidst the serious discussion underway in other topics, about numbers of starships needed for Mars settlement, and propulsion chemistry, I’d like to invite anyone interested to take a look out my “Slow Glass” “window” in my hab in Sagan City (2018).

To my amazement, a Blue Jay showed up in the view.  It may be on it’s way South, but it may have stopped in because it saw squirrels munching on peanuts.  It took a break at the water bowl (heated now that freezing weather has arrived).

There are still some leaves on the trees, but they are definitely looking raggedy.

A relative and I’ve been discussing wildlife in our respective locations.

He reported having to trap a raccoon which had (cleverly in my opinion) climbed up the stone chimney and crept under the roof overhang to spend the night.

I had reported missing the ants, which are a feature of life in the 90+ year old house where I live.  Each little worker is (to my way of thinking) a marvel of nanotechnology on full display.  During the warmer seasons, when pulses of workers find their way into crevasses that (obviously) exist, some make there way (unwisely) into view of my ant capture equipment. 

Wisdom may not be the appropriate property to assign to an ant, but a collective of ants often shows remarkable “intelligence” in the art of survival.

Ants are unlikely to be present on Mars during early years, but there may be a way in which they and other insects turn out to be important for a healthy biological infrastructure.

In any case, there are no ants visible in my “Slow Glass” display at this time of the Earth year.


Daily Calendar On Mars

The planet Mars is progressing around the Sun in its annual orbit.

Humans have arbitrarily chosen a moment in time to mark the beginning of a calendar for Mars, and members of the NewMars forum are tracking the progress of the planet in its current year. There have been many suggestions for a calendar suitable for Earth humans living on Mars. The one in use for the daily report is chosen to most nearly approximate the calendar in use on Earth in 2019. The proposed calendar has 24 months of 28 days each, with one day removed each quarter to achieve equilibrium with the actual physical orbit. A final adjustment is made at the end of the year, when whatever difference exists between the calendar and the physical orbit is allocated to a long New Year’s Day.

Continue reading “Daily Calendar On Mars”

Introducing Tom Hanson – Mars Society Correspondent

2019/09/20 Cornerstone for NewMars Updates

Since participating in the 2011 Reboot of Lufteam in Yahoo Groups, I’ve been invited into the posting community at NewMars.Com/forums.

Because settlement of Mars was one of Marshall Savage’s objectives for the Millennial Project, I am hoping activity on the NewMars forum will (occasionally) be of interest to readers here.

The NewMars forum started as a function of the Mars Society in (about) 2001, and it has been operating since then, with occasional interruptions due to outside forces, such as equipment failure and attacks by hackers.

I am currently supporting two initiatives which may be of interest to the LUF community:

  1. My Hacienda
  2. Asteroid Miner’s Navigation App

My Hacienda is a topic evolving from the “creation” of a (mythical) Sagan City (2018). It envisions 2750 plots of one square kilometer each laid out around a location on Mars arbitrarily chosen by a member named “Louis” in 2018. The intention of the topic is to bring together 2750 people who will accept responsibility for Division of Labor and Open Market trading to build a virtual community able to deliver comfortable living at the level of first tier cultures on Earth in 2019. The environment is considered to exist after the initial hard scrabble colonization phase, which is explored in great detail elsewhere on NewMars forum.

The Asteroid Miner’s Navigation App undertaking arises from the presence in the NewMars community several veterans of the American space program from the 1960’s forward. The expertise of these veterans is a perishable resource, and I am hoping to capture that expertise for posterity, by capturing it in software that can be run on a smart device to plan a trip between celestial objects, the way first tier citizens on Earth today can plan a trip between cities using GPS.

Update 2019/10/16: SpaceNut is the Administrator of the NewMars forum.

Recently, SpaceNut found a NASA web site that appears to perform many of the services described in the paragraph above, about the Asteroid Miner’s Navigation App. The site is offered for academic research, particularly by researchers thinking about a possible mission. … ature.html