Thursday, September 6, 2007

579 Marsville

Message no. 579[Branch from no. 573] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Friday, March 9, 2007 4:01pm Subject: Re: Pats Marsville Midterm exam project

Pat this is terrific! I thoroughly enjoyed the way you integrated quotes from the text, links to articles on the web, topical photographs and personal drawings scanned in (yours? Your family's? Who were the artists?) and your own practical experience, preferences and imaginative ideas along with ideas from the chapters we have been reading. Your martian eutopia proposal was a synthesis of everything we have been reading and discussing and doing. Good job!

Improvements? Well of course there are many technical issues involved in creating a New Horizon on Mars that are enormously complex. I don't have time tonight to go into them, but I will do so, because one of the things I've enjoyed doing in the past is joining the UCLA Astrobiology Society meetings where we simulate create a civilization on Mars. Prior to that I was a Challenger Fellow, teaching space science, and created a video called "Marsville" for the NASA Challenger Center for Space Science Education; they have called me Mr. Marsville ever since! I also taught at the Jet Propulsion Labs, training teachers in Space Science education. So you picked a topic I am quite obsessed with!

The most serious issue I see in your presentation (and in those of almost everybody I know who thinks about creating off world eutopias, me included) is the idea that the environment on Mars will somehow be better than what we have on earth. In reality, Mars is a terrible environment for human beings -- it is what the earth might look like after a nuclear holocaust plunges us into nuclear winter. It is freezing cold, covered by ferocious dust storms whose microparticles of dust will contaminate everything we put up there (imagine trying to dust the house after one of those!). It has no atmosophere to speak of, certainly no air, and no liquid water. Yes, as you have so well pointed out in your presentation, we CAN make it livable (the process is called TERRAFORMING) but it will take hundreds of years. The best we can hope for in our lifetime is to build sealed habitats, like the BIOSPHERE II project tried to do in preparation for going to Mars. But as we learned, even their 100 million dollar experiment fell apart after two years. Oh my, it will be very very hard to build our eutopia on Mars!

Nonetheless I am one of those optimists who has and will continue to dedicate some of my life to trying to doing exactly what you suggest in your presentation. I think it is the greatest challenge our generation and our childrens and grandchildrens faces (for our great great grandchildren the challenge of moving further away from home -- to the moons of Jupiter or Saturn, will be the big challenge worth investing in!)

But we should never forget that even at its WORST, planet Earth, our home, CAN NEVER BE AS BAD AND INHOSPITABLE AS MARS OR ANY OTHER PLANET WE KNOW OF.

The Earth is really special.

The irony is that if we find we have the technology and will to survive comfortably on Mars, we will discover that we have 1000 times what we need to make a paradise of the planet Earth, because it already is a planet of life and love. So I believe fervently that in attempting to turn the hellish conditions of another planet into eutopia we will find that in the process we will heal our own mother earth, and this is one reason I support space habitat construction so much!

Didn't you find that the process of trying to plan your own eutopia on Mars made you more aware of what we can do right here at home?

This was fun --

You might now consider the following -- from now on, as you read more chapters, see if you can relate what you learn to improving the possibilities of New Horizon being successful. You have created a little world -- now let's make it grow!

By the way, here are links to the Marsville Project -- you might want to get you and your family involved -- you've taken the first step, and this is a real international project that goes on in schools all over the world:

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