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posted by janrinok on Tuesday November 23, @06:05AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the R-x-F dept.

An absolutely bonkers plan to give Mars an artificial magnetosphere:

As the study points out, if you want a good planetary magnetic field, what you really need is a strong flow of charged particles, either within the planet or around the planet. Since the former isn't a great option for Mars, the team looks at the latter. It turns out you can create a ring of charged particles around Mars, thanks to its moon Phobos.

Phobos is the larger of the two Martian moons, and it orbits the planet quite closely—so closely that it makes a trip around Mars every eight hours. So the team proposes using Phobos by ionizing particles from its surface, then accelerating them so they create a plasma torus along the orbit of Phobos. This would create a magnetic field strong enough to protect a terraformed Mars.

It's a bold plan, and while it seems achievable, the engineering hurdles would be significant. But as the authors point out, this is the time for ideas. Start thinking about the problems we need to solve, and how we can solve them, so when humanity does reach Mars, we will be ready to put the best ideas to the test.

Simple solution, really. It's the dependencies that are a bear...

Journal Reference:
R. A. Bamford, B. J. Kelletta, J. L. Green, et al How to create an artificial magnetosphere for Mars How to create an artificial magnetosphere for Mars (DOI: doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2021.09.023https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2021.09.023


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @06:31AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @06:31AM (#1198826)

    It's the dependencies that are a bear...

    Wait, there are bears on Mars? Are they worse than Australia's drop bears?

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @07:39AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @07:39AM (#1198834)

      Don't be silly, there are no trees on Mars and with 1/3rd gravity element of surprise is lost. So more likely of the jump bear variety.

  • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Tuesday November 23, @07:55AM (2 children)

    by fustakrakich (6150) on Tuesday November 23, @07:55AM (#1198836) Journal

    What, we're gonna cover it with strip mines and tar sands and concrete?

    For your magnetic field, reheat the core and get the juices flowing again, should be ready in a few million years...

    --
    Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @03:06PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @03:06PM (#1198890)

      I dunno, I saw some Mars terraforming thing with Arnold Schwartzenegger that did that and it worked pretty quickly. Also had a nice user interface to turn it on.

      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday November 23, @04:07PM

        by Freeman (732) on Tuesday November 23, @04:07PM (#1198919) Journal

        The new Total Recall reboot was almost more believable. Except for the whole, drill through the earth thing . . . I mean, seriously. That is so far fetched, it's mind boggling. It is much, much, much easier to send a rocket to space, and land it on the other side of the Earth than it would be to create a tunnel that got anywhere near earth's core. Let alone one that was structurally sound that led from Australia to Great Britain. Sure, it didn't go through the core on their little diagram, but the depth that it reached likely hasn't actually ever been reached.

        --
        Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by PiMuNu on Tuesday November 23, @10:04AM (1 child)

    by PiMuNu (3823) on Tuesday November 23, @10:04AM (#1198845)

    Few GigaAmps required. Use space stations periodically arranged to contain the plasma torus.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday November 23, @03:07PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday November 23, @03:07PM (#1198891)

      If solar panels can be manufactured in place using mostly local materials on the moon's surface, it would be an interesting thing to study the dynamics of.

      The charged torus is easy enough to imagine, but what are they doing with the other half of the charge balance equation? Is the planet itself a good sink for the other charges, or should they be dispersed wider field, maybe on a collision course with the Sun.... oooh, there's a disaster movie script starter: Terraforming operations slowly charge-unbalance the sun until it starts belching extreme flares to restore the balance...

      --
      John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @11:46AM (11 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @11:46AM (#1198857)

    Check out Sabine Hossenfelder on YouPube
    "Terraforming Mars in Just 3 Simple Steps!"

    Not sure what the rush is for Mars.
    If you get there after all the radiation bathing and coffin life you have to go through and there happens to be a magnetic field to protect you, due to low gravity you are basically dissolving as your bones and teeth decay to calcify your soft tissues.

    But no worries, McDonalds Mars, Starbucks Mars, and Coke Mars will make life wonderful with Happy Meals that contain counter measures to keep you fit like on Earth.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Tuesday November 23, @01:01PM (10 children)

      by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 23, @01:01PM (#1198867) Journal

      Colonizing Mars is a lot of wishful thinking. The dark reason to do it is as a backup in case we're so stupid we make Earth uninhabitable, killing ourselves off here. From our new Martian home, we will be able to restore Earth! I don't see that basic plan as at all feasible. I suspect we are more enmeshed with our Earthly environment than is widely appreciated, and may find it impossible to live without, as well as extraordinarily difficult to establish on Mars. It is also too late in that we have nuclear weapons now, and other means. We can't evade having to deal with our own tendencies to violence by running to Mars. The idea is basically a repeat of the narrative in which the "New World" (the Americas) provided an escape from the tyrannies and oppressions of Medieval Europe, a place where a democracy could flower.

      > But no worries, McDonalds Mars, Starbucks Mars, and Coke Mars will make life wonderful

      Yeah, even if we could, running to Mars will not help if we just make the same old, tired inadequate society we already have here. A pathological lying demagogue who cares nothing for peace was not supposed to ever come close to being allowed to lead the Free World. But now we have all been shown that it can happen.

      • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @02:12PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @02:12PM (#1198878)

        Didn't you hear the news, Biden defeated Trump

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @03:10PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @03:10PM (#1198892)
        Maybe Mars gravity is enough for most humans, maybe not. Scientific experiments need to be done first to find out whether Mars gravity is enough (for humans, chickens, pigs, etc), then we can talk about spending lots of time and resources on going to Mars. Doing things the other way around is just retarded.

        If Mars gravity isn't enough then space colonies make far more sense than trying to put habitats on Mars. When you're in orbit (whether around the Sun or Earth or the Moon) it's easier to set the levels of "gravity" you want. Can't do that on Mars.

        And most of the advantages of Mars (lots of land) can't really be exploited due to the effectively nonexistent atmosphere. If you need to cover all your farmland on Mars and pressurize it, that's not going to be much cheaper than a farm in space.
        • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Tuesday November 23, @10:16PM (1 child)

          by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 23, @10:16PM (#1199056) Journal

          I have read that microgravity, essentially weightlessness, is a health hazard. Really need some gravity, enough to give a sense of up and down, and that continual drag on motion. How little is the question. If the moon's gravity is enough, then Mars will do just fine on that. It's all the other problems-- the thin atmosphere that we can't breathe, the lack of a magnetic field to shield us from radiation, and let's not forget that it's just plain damn cold. By comparison, Antarctica is positively balmy. The killers are those problems we do not yet know are problems. For instance, suppose Mars is highly enriched in the heavier isotopes. We can't live exclusively on heavy water, we'd die of deuterium poisoning.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 26, @07:26AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 26, @07:26AM (#1199740)

            I have read that microgravity, essentially weightlessness

            How little is the question.

            Yes and when you're in orbit, with our current tech levels you can set artificial gravity to 1G, Mars G, Moon G, etc and take all the guesswork out of the picture and actually start answering those questions. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_gravity [wikipedia.org]

            You can't do that on Mars.

            But no, instead of spending money and time doing actual science to figure out useful stuff like that which will be useful for many generations (e.g. if we build space colonies and need to reduce artificial gravity to cut costs in some places), they're spending time and money on "let's go to Mars before we're scientifically ready".

            There's some centrifuge stuff on the ISS but it's quite a recent thing and not very big: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/Spinning_Science_MVP_Arrives_At_ISS/ [nasa.gov]

            The original one was cancelled: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centrifuge_Accommodations_Module [wikipedia.org]

            No money for that but there was money for many trips to Hawaii[1] to answer questions that have mostly been answered by the US nuclear submarine bunch.

            [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HI-SEAS [wikipedia.org]

        • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Wednesday November 24, @08:31PM

          by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Wednesday November 24, @08:31PM (#1199327) Homepage Journal

          Imagine you were a third generation Martian, living in radiation-proof domes. Then imagine you go to Earth [mcgrewbooks.com] on a business trip, going from a steady temperature, never previously seeing storms, or insects, or dogs, or that crushing weight...

          --
          Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday November 23, @03:15PM (4 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday November 23, @03:15PM (#1198896)

        I suspect we are more enmeshed with our Earthly environment than is widely appreciated

        We can't even permanently colonize the shallow ocean floors - been tried since the 1960s, conclusions are consistently: "too expensive."

        We put highly trained military personnel into artificial environments for a few months at a time, at extreme costs, with extreme supply chain requirements. Submarine crews dine on steak and lobster as inadequate compensation for the pressures of life in their artificial environment. I'm sure we _could_ start an isolated colony of 30+ people and have them pro-create, but only at the expense of literally millions of people working to put them there and support their continued inadequate efforts at self sufficiency for decades.

        When I was 6 (1973) I thought we should be doing everything we can to "get out there" and colonize the moon, Mars and beyond. And, we still should. We should get over our domestic and international squabbles and cooperate to solve these bigger challenges. but until we do put this economic competition aside in favor of cooperation, we're going to be stuck in the mud. Six year old me didn't appreciate the bigger problems standing in the way - the science of space travel obviously worked, why weren't we continuing to develop it?

        Teachers of the mid 1970s would point out: Columbus sailed the ocean blue in good 'ol 1492, but Plymouth colony didn't stick until 1621 - 129 years later. While we like to think that we make faster progress today, and we do in technical matters, nationalist crowd psychology is barely advanced, if at all, from where it was 500 years ago.

        --
        John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
        • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Tuesday November 23, @07:20PM (1 child)

          by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 23, @07:20PM (#1198985) Journal

          Part of me thinks that colonizing the solar system will be accomplished by private players. They'll take all the risks, figure out what works, and enjoy a halcyon period before the criminals who call themselves governments try to muscle in on the action.

          Maybe, though, with decentralization in software, and increasingly hardware, it may not pan out the same way it always has. It used to be that governments and the powerful had a monopoly on information, but now that monopoly has been broken. We're still going through that process, of course, but we can see the light at the end of that tunnel. It's possible that we can see that phenomenon spread to hardware and energy.

          Maybe we'll get human colonies that successfully maintain their autonomy. They'll attract the best and brightest and become incubators for the next quantum leap in human capabilities. Ganymede, Mars, Europa, Enceladus will form the constellation of competition for the title among our grand kids. It's far-fetched, but then the world we live in now wasn't even a twinkle in the eye when I was a kid.

          --
          Washington DC delenda est.
          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday November 23, @07:53PM

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday November 23, @07:53PM (#1199001)

            The current culture of openness, and the tech revolution that made spying / copying trivial, should continue to be transformative. Anybody with the resources (Bezos through Branson - pretty thin slice of the population, really) should be able to pull off manned launches to wherever they have the balls to pay for. However, the billionaires exist as a result of each other's tolerance. If one gets too far out of line, the others will take him down. If one starts behaving badly on the Moon, according to the others, I believe they will quickly find their operational profit margins flipped into the red - it's amazing how easy that is to do with government incentives, taxes, and regulatory filing requirements.

            --
            John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
        • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Tuesday November 23, @10:34PM (1 child)

          by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 23, @10:34PM (#1199066) Journal

          Underwater colonies is a good point. I've been thinking of Antarctica and the most inhospitable deserts on Earth as examples of much easier places to live than Mars, but which we mostly still find not worth the trouble.

          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday November 23, @11:15PM

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday November 23, @11:15PM (#1199081)

            I mean, shallow (like 10-20 meter) seafloor colonies have so much going for them: relatively protected from storms, near constant temperatures which can be in comfortable ranges, abundant oxygen, relatively easy to access potable water, and even food sources nearby. These days, you could put up a windfarm right in the colony for power. If you're just offshore from a major city you've got quick access to advanced medical care (particularly if you're saturated to 10m or less depth, even if you're saturated to 20m decompression is quicker and easier than a de-orbit from LEO). Certainly instant communication as good as anywhere on the surface. Appealing views out the windows... And, other than commercial (oil) operations, I believe there have been fewer long-term residents in underwater habitats during the last 20 years than we have had on the ISS during the same time period.

            --
            John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @02:23PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @02:23PM (#1198881)

    create a plasma torus along the orbit of Phobo

    So like electrons in a wire making an electromagnet but now charged atomic nuclei in orbit.
    Wouldn't the nuclei eventually recapture electrons from the solar wind, turning the magnetic effect off?

  • (Score: 2) by jb on Wednesday November 24, @04:23AM

    by jb (338) on Wednesday November 24, @04:23AM (#1199143)

    So the team proposes using Phobos by ionizing particles from its surface, then accelerating them so they create a plasma torus along the orbit of Phobos

    Won't the Leather Goddesses be a little upset about that?

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