Mars One design not feasible, MIT researchers find

Discussion in 'Science and Nature' started by g0pher, Oct 17, 2014.

  1. #1 g0pher, Oct 17, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 17, 2014
    <div style="margin:2px 0px 7px 15px;">[​IMG]The non-profit company Mars One plans to establish the first human settlement on Mars by 2025. Pictured is an artist's rendering of a series of habitats. Solar panels (in the foreground), would supply the colony's electricity, while a system to extract water from the soil (in the background) would supply drinking water. (Credit: Bryan Versteeg  Mars One)

    MIT researchers have developed a detailed settlement-analysis tool to assess the feasibility of the Mars One plans to establish the first human colony on Mars by 2025,  finding that new technologies will be needed to keep humans alive on Mars.
    Mars One -  considered by some to be essentially a Dutch-made reality TV show - claims that the entire mission can be built upon technologies that already exist.
    The Mars One mission would initially send four astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars, where they would spend the rest of their lives building the first permanent human settlement.
    The MIT researchers found, for example, that if all food is obtained from locally grown crops, as Mars One envisions, the vegetation would produce unsafe levels of oxygen, which would set off a series of events that would eventually cause human inhabitants to suffocate. To avoid this scenario, a system to remove excess oxygen would have to be implemented - a technology that has not yet been developed for use in space.*
    [​IMG]More than 200,000 people around the world have applied to be the first Mars colonists (credit: Bryan Versteeg /Mars One)
    Similarly, the Mars Phoenix lander discovered evidence of ice on the Martian surface in 2008, suggesting that future settlers might be able to melt ice for drinking water - another Mars One goal.
    But according to the MIT analysis, current technologies designed to “bake” water from soil are not yet ready for deployment, particularly in space.
    The team also performed an integrated analysis of spare-parts resupply - how many spare parts would have to be delivered to a Martian colony at each opportunity to keep it going. The researchers found that as the colony grows, spare parts would quickly dominate future deliveries to Mars, making up as much as 62 percent of payloads from Earth.
    As for the actual voyage to Mars, the team also calculated the number of rockets required to establish the first four settlers and subsequent crews on the planet, as well as the journey's cost.
    According to the Mars One plan, six Falcon Heavy rockets would be required to send up initial supplies, before the astronauts' arrival. But the MIT assessment found that number to be “overly optimistic.” The team determined that the needed supplies would instead require 15 Falcon Heavy rockets.
    The transportation cost for this leg of the mission alone, combined with the astronauts' launch, would be $4.5 billion, a cost that would grow with additional crews and supplies to Mars. The researchers say this estimate does not include the cost of developing and purchasing equipment for the mission, which would further increase the overall cost.
    [+][​IMG]An artist's rendering of a Mars Lander, which will transport the first settlers to the Martian surface (credit: Mars One)
    Olivier de Weck, an MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems, says the prospect of building a human settlement on Mars is an exciting one. To make this goal a reality, however, will require innovations in a number of technologies and a rigorous systems perspective, he says.
    “We do think it's not really feasible under the assumptions they've made,”  de Weck says. “We're pointing to technologies that could be helpful to invest in with high priority, to move them along the feasibility path.”
    As the team found, spare parts, over time, would substantially inflate the cost of initial and future missions to Mars. Technologies such as 3D printing might enable settlers to manufacture spare parts on Mars. But the technology as it exists today is not advanced enough to reproduce the exact dimensions and functions of many space-rated parts. The MIT analysis found that 3-D printers will have to improve by leaps, or else the entire Mars settlement infrastructure will have to be redesigned so that its parts can be printed with existing technology.
    While this analysis may make the Mars One program look daunting, the researchers say the settlement-analysis tool they've developed may help determine the feasibility of various scenarios. For example, rather than sending crews on one-way trips to the planet, what would the overall mission cost be if crews were occasionally replaced?
    Some of the MIT students on this project were supported by NASA fellowships.
    Mars One co-founder and CEO Bas Lansdorp responded here.
    * Based on the typical work schedule, activity levels, and metabolic rates of astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS), the MIT researchers estimated that a settler would have to consume about 3,040 calories daily to stay alive and healthy on Mars. They determined crops that would provide a reasonably balanced diet, including beans, lettuce, peanuts, potatoes, and rice.
    The MIT researchers calculated that producing enough of these crops to sustain astronauts over the long term would require about 200 square meters of growing area, compared with Mars One's estimate of 50 square meters. If, as the project plans, crops are cultivated within the settlers' habitat, Do found that they would produce unsafe levels of oxygen that would exceed fire safety thresholds, requiring continuous introduction of nitrogen to reduce the oxygen level. Over time, this would deplete nitrogen tanks, leaving the habitat without a gas to compensate for leaks.
    As the air inside the habitat continued to leak, the total atmospheric pressure would drop, creating an oppressive environment that would suffocate the first settler within an estimated 68 days.

  2. Ive read this before.  I though the points/problems brought up by the MIT researchers were interesting, and definitely crucial to make not of and address when further developing Mars One.  However, I also think that although many of the points brought up don't seem feasible,  the team responsible for this mission are most likely fully aware of all of the obstacles needed to climb.  
    Its too early to say whether an idea/mission is impossible and cannot be done.  
  3. Most likely will not happen, if it does well they better have backup and backup. Plans for plans. Anything that will go wrong will and there on there own.
    On a cool note we might all be privy to a reality bloodbath show!
  4. Don't know till we try

  5. they will be on their own anyways, Its a one way flight to mars

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