[extropy-chat] MARS: Because it is hard

Robert J. Bradbury bradbury at aeiveos.com
Mon Apr 12 10:37:37 UTC 2004

On Sun, 11 Apr 2004, Mike Lorrey wrote:

> > Shouldn't we explore first, before dismantling?  You could be
> > destroying the fossil record of an early branch of life in the solar
> > system.  I really would hate to see any planet destroyed before it
> > was completely explored.
> A very good point. Why can't a mass of nanogoo record every molecule's
> placement as they are disassembled? A virtual planet accurate down to
> the molecule is just as explorable....

Well, you have to dismantle something to have the material in which
to store the bits...  Atomic level records of the top few (hundred?)
meters of a planet are going to require a fair amount of storage space.
I suspect that for a while it will require several orders of magnitude
more atoms to store the space location records of a number of atoms
unless you have a very good compression algorithm.  (Though that might
be possible.)  We can do "subatomic" storage now where the bits would
be encoded in the energy levels of the electrons of individual atoms.
But doing it on the scale of the amount of data required would be
a project I can't begin to imagine at this time (and as we know I've got
a good imagination).

But I generally agree with both of you -- having the potential fossil
record is perhaps useful and compiling it as you disassemble seems
feasible.  So some decisions are going to have to be made up front
about exactly how much information is "useful".  [Thats something I
don't think has been incorporated into extropian philosophy yet --
how do you value the information to decide what to throw away.
For example -- do we want to know all craters down to 1m, 1mm, 1nm,

> That being said, I'd prefer to go an even more destructive route and
> terraform Mars. Make lots of erosion and destructive organic processes.

Mike, Terraforming isn't the answer.  If we still have a lot of people
around at that time who want to remain in embodied form the best way
to go is O'Neill colonies.  You could make them more robust (more
like asteroids) so they could survive everything from impacts of
micrometeorites to atomic bombs as well as provide shielding from
supernovas or gamma ray bursts.   Needless to say being at the
bottom of a smaller gravity well makes launching probes and large
telescopes much easier.  You sacrifice a bit unless you go to the
trouble of generating an artificial magnetic field but I don't think
that is too difficult a problem to solve.

Here is an interesting idea -- instead of using the Earth's moon
as the staging base for the exploration of Mars -- what about using
one of the Mars moons?  Spike -- what is the energy cost differential
of going to a Mars moon instead of our moon?


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