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Friday, August 12, 2005

New Article: Mars as an Investment in Earth

Mars can work for Earth.
Mars can work for Earth.
Credit: Unknown
Space has always spawned many spinoff products and technologies here on Earth, but can you imagine what colonizing another planet would do for the advancement of science? Steven Wintergerst has submitted a new article entitled Mars as an Investment in Earth. The article covers the many scientific fields that would be greatly enhanced if we were to colonize Mars. From robotics to medicine to recycling, the Earth (and the human race) would benefit. He does however criticize the notion that the transporation of rare metals can be a means of sustaining a popular colonization movement. In the process Steven advocates the careful conservation of materials on Mars. Here's a snippet:

It is cheaper, and easier to recycle metals on earth than it is to mine them. Unlike helium, or hydrogen, once a metal is “used” on earth, it does not boil off into space, but merely becomes a recyclable waste material. Even if we should find some way of entirely disposing of our metallic resources, our active plate tectonics, and huge iron-nickel core ensure us with a replenishing supply of metals.

On Mars, the iron-nickel core is much smaller, and inactive. Obtaining metal from anywhere but near-surface deposits will require enormous digging on a scale that is not made much easier by the lower gravitational pull of the planet.

Since excavation equipment tends to be massive, shipping it to Mars will be difficult. Much of this equipment also requires precision manufacturing for optimal performance. Thus, it would be far more desirable on Mars if the items used there could be re-used, or recycled with ease.

- posted by Alex @ 19:46 EST