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How could habitats etc. on Mars and other planets be protect

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Sun Jan 07, 2007 11:10 am
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How could habitats etc. on Mars and other planets be protect 
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Post How could habitats etc. on Mars and other planets be protect   Posted on: Sun Jan 07, 2007 11:10 am
Recnetly it was reported that the impact rate of meteors on Mars is that high that the qiuestion arises how safe astronauts will be there and if they could sufficiently protected. This was illustrated by images of fresh martian craters caused in the past nine years.

In the thread about populating Mars I mentioned that a colony there would be very fragile - and thought since then about if and how it might be protected.

Recently I got a raw thought when looking on a huge interesteing grey building in the midst of Hamburg when I went by car. That building is a very higher bunker from the second world war. After the war the Britsh as well as the Germans tried to destroy that bunker by explosves - but both failed completely.

The damages are that small that that building is used fro bureaus, labs and the like today - may be that there are in fact NO damages.

I know of more such bunkers in Germany.

It would be very interesting what explosives have been applied and where regarding that building. Then it would be possible to compare their power to meteors and asteroids.

Such bunkers might be models for safe habitats on Mars perhaps - egarding colonies and settlements. Their disdavnatge is that their lack of windows though.

What about it? It might be sufficient to live subsurface and install a bunker-like "roof" on the surface in the soil.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Jan 30, 2007 6:16 pm
From what I have seen making concrete from various soils should be fairly easy.

Some form of shielding would have to be done anyways if only to block out radiation with the mass of the roof.

The other thing is that I don't think that we know how prone the surface of mars is to strikes by objects like asteroids.

There may be recent craters, but worrying too much about such things if the probability is small would be like worrying about such things on the surface of our planet. We don't reinforce our buildings to withstand such objects.

Mars does not have much of a protecting atmosphere, but is a smaller target to balance that.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jan 30, 2007 8:00 pm
Well, first of all, you probably know better then me or any of us how massive those bunkers were. I've seen some 'small' bunkers at the beaches of Normandie and elsewhere and thse bunkers where Ekkehard is talking about are simply mindblowing, at least to me. That said, to use protection like that is a little bit overkill. Apart from the engineering and construction problematics of a first colony on mars built in a giant bunker, it's also very silly.

Yes there are still debris/rocks/etc raining down on Mars, Earth and our moon. But what are the chances that one piece hits a tiny point where your colony is based. You don't have to be a genius to know that those odds are fairly small.

But me being positive and not stupid also knows that it's better to be safe then sorry, since you can't simply dial 911 or 112 to call for help. The best way to protect your colony, or habitat, is to either dig it into the soil or simply cover it with as much soil as is practicly feasible. Regarding this, it would be much better to absorb any impact then simply 'destroying' the debris on impact. And you don't absorb energy very effectively with high density material to my knowledge. A spunge-structured-wall would be better. Disadvantage of this way is that you need to manufacture it thus needing even more equipement to bring to the surface so not very practical at all.

Simplest way, don't protect to the big debris since that's to much trouble for early habitats. A more practical, and in my humble view the most practical, is one supposed by dr. Zubrin to simply put some 'sandbags' on top of the habitat to absorb the radiaton. If you would built your habitat with a hollow extra outer wall, you could also fill that with martian dust/rocks/sand and tadaaa even more protection. And it comes in handy if a small meteorite with somehow be able to hit your habitat from the side.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Jan 31, 2007 9:54 am
Hello, Stefan,

very good thoughts - Thank You Very Much.

I personally don't have in mind the idea to build such bunkers on Mars like the one here in Hamburg very close to the building my bureau is located in. I merely have in mind the way it has been got that withstanding against bombs and explosives etc. - it is located in that region of Hamburg that was burnt down completely nearly but survived thea storm of fire.

The idea to go subsurface or subsea I am assisting. It might be a good idea though to strengthen the layer of soil or ice above the subsurface habitat(s), settlement, colony by a buried layer of that strength that bunker proved to have.

I also could imagine to base that layer on a kind of spring or elastic material.

What about that?



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Post    Posted on: Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:00 am
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
I also could imagine to base that layer on a kind of spring or elastic material.

What about that?


The spring is not really practical since it would only absorb energy in one particular direction. At least, the springs i'm aware of like you have in cars. The elastic material would be a lot better if it could absorb a lot of energy withouth shaking so much that the layered soil on top of it would move off the elastic material.

But that's something for the second or third generation of habitats on Mars when there is at least some capability of an industry with machinery and the sorts.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 07, 2007 11:01 am
Just this moment I remember something I might have spoken of elsewhere already. There is a liquid that has special properties - it is like a solid material normally and cannot be distinguished from concrete or the like normally - but if it hammered or something crahses into it it at once becomes liquid.

Perhaps a layer of such a particular liquid might be of help if an asteroid crashes into layers above a colony. The layer wouldn't be destroyed but become liquid - the asteroid wouldn't be stopped as early as in the case of the same layer being solid but would be decelerated by the liquid. I am not sure if that particular liquid is of particular density but if it is then it would decelerate the asteroid quickly I suppose.

There could be layers of this liquid as well as layers consisting of what the bunker here in Hamburg round the corner of my bureau consists of an layers of even other materials plus some springs perhaps for what separates the layers from each other.

What about that? Stefan, what do you as Chemist know about such liquids I described above?



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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 07, 2007 11:09 am
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
What about that? Stefan, what do you as Chemist know about such liquids I described above?

Hold right there :P I'm not a chemist, never said that i was. I'm on the road to become a mechanical engineer, so there is material engineering involved there. Beside that, i have a vivid imagination and a common sense.

I'll respond tonigh on the rest of it, have to go now.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 07, 2007 11:30 am
Hello, Stefan,

very sorry for the error - I am puzzled what made me think that you were a chemist.

In between I had two additional ideas.

1. The asteroid would damage what ever would separate the layers. What about handling this problems the way self-repairing vehicle-hulls work? There is a thread about it.

2. There could be layers filled with dense heavy gases to burn and decelerate the asteroid even further perhaps. On Mars in particular this could be a substitute for the missing density and thickness of the atmosphere.

3. If point 1 and point 2 would be combined - what about keeping the gas-layer empty first but fill it if a separation above it is damaged and removing the gas once the layer below it is damaged?



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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 19, 2007 7:58 pm
In teh thread about the prototype of a self-healing vehicle hull I posted the information that there is an article reporting that it has been found that nanocarbontubes are capable of self-repair and that it has been found by the circumstance that plasitcs including nanocarbontubes are stronger than plastics without them.

Which ways could this be used for or contribute to the protetction of habitats etc. in the case of an asteroid impact?



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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 19, 2007 8:51 pm
Depends on its absorption capabilities. You can have a very very strong material, but that could be a shocker of an energy-absorber. That's what important.

Not sure exactly when, but in case you are not a motorsport enthousiast, you wouldn't know this, if you are, then you allready know this. In the, i think, the 70's and 80's the cars, especially the indycars, became incredibly stronger and stronger. I'm not sure which accident it was, but a guy crashes on an oval, steps out perfectly okay, is checked out at the hospital, they don't find any broken bones and releases the guy. Next day, he's dead because of internal injuries. Now what had happened was that all the energy of the impact with the wall, was relayed/transfered to the body of the driver. The car itself was barely damaged, so it didn't absorb much of the impactenergy. When they understood this, they made the cars not stronger, but they made the cars in such a way that it absorbs the energy and that the car would disintegrate, except for the monocoque off course. Now we all have seen major major wrecks where there are huge g-forces on the driver, and the driver survives.

To put this into effect on a base would be difficult. You don't want the whole base designed to absorb all the energy of a very rare impact, but just enough to let the vital part survive, crew habitats. Unofrtunately, we're talking about tremendous amounts of energy which requires large amount/mass of material to absorb. You would have to be way underground to shield yourself.

But, since the chance of an asteroid hitting your tiny basecamp is astronomical small, so imo the best thing you would have to to is maximize the chance of survival by having a large base spread out over a large area of the surface of mars. Simply decrease the chance of the total destruction of your base by building more bases. I know this doesn't sound pretty, you might even find it gruesome. But that is what statistics do/say/proof. Everybody travels in cars these days because it's reliable, more or less cheap and it is safe. Yet, hundreds of people die in caraccidents every week. So, why is it statistical very safe to drive your car the next morning? Because we have bloody a lot of them. Milions and milions of people drive cars every day. So, if a few people get killed this week, but the rest of 'm all drive withouth problem, that won't do much to the statistical numbers.

Yes it is hars and cold, but so is Mars.


On a sidenote. You could also decrease the threat by thickening the atmosphere so the asteroid would loose more of it's energy and mass on entry ;)


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Post    Posted on: Tue Feb 20, 2007 8:04 am
Hello, Stefan,

I didn't have in mind energy-absorption in my previous post - sorry for the misunderstanding.

The thought was if the finding reported might provide the possibility to enable the protective bunker-roof-like combination of layers to repair itself. On Mars this would increase safety very much (on the Moon too of course...)



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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 22, 2007 8:59 am
How about the following. On earth, we are protected by the magnetic field to, at least, minimize the radiation that eventually hits us. Can't we create a conductive hull around the base and create a magnetic field strong enough to deflect the most part of the radiation. Or do you need such a great power source to keep it running?


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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 22, 2007 9:16 am
Hello, Stefan,

this I also have been thinking about a bit posting in another thread.

There is the a thread about radiation protection based on a NASA concept to apply spheres. There would be several of them. Some of them would be high above the area and deflect protons while the others would be closer to the surface and deflect electrons.

The amount of energy/electricity required is still under investigation if I remember correct.

Your idea would mean that the habitat not-exposed to the sunlight is located in a very large sphere that deflects electrons. Would the conductive hull have impacts on the electrics and electronics of and inside the habitat? This question will be inetersting in the radiation-thread...

Might it be possible to use the solar wind or electricty generated via solar cells to activate the self-repair-capabilities I was mentioning?



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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 07, 2007 3:08 pm
Guys, I like the thread of your thoughts, but perhaps you've missed a trick here. What if you move your focus from protection to avoidance? There are some really huge canyons on mars. What if you located your space port on the surface, and a short drive away, a lift or train took you down to a habitat located in a canyon. If the walls of the canyon are steep enough, the chances of an object reaching the habitat are much reduced. Martian storms would be lessened here also.

I can of course imagine that this would cause as many problems as it solves, but as always, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Or so they say.

Hey, howabout finding a sunlit cliff, building into the side of it? Or just admit that we're not going to have enough light anyway, and send robot rovers ahead, to dig in, making a huge manufactured cavern. A manned mission following later, could bring in the kit to fill it, heat it, light it.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Mar 08, 2007 3:04 am
I don't think that there is much point in worrying about meteors. The chances of getting hit are vanishingly small. Sure it would be very tragic but I think that is just one of the risks until a larger population with the economy to drive more robust development moves in.

Radiation presents a far bigger problem but even then the trouble is more from long term exposure. simply erecting your shelter in the shade should do wonders. Maybe take along some conventional explosives to make a nice hole to hide in. I don't see alot of excavation / manufacturing happening for a while simply becuase the tools required are too big to get there and if miniturized.. expensive.


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