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Mars Space Television Entertainment

Ask Bas Lansdorp About Going to Mars, One Way 540

Posted by timothy
from the bring-plenty-of-coffee dept.
NASA's been solicited ideas for exploring Mars, but Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp is already planning a different kind of trip than is likely to come from the U.S. government. Lansdorp's Mars One project has the goal of putting humans on Mars in 2022, with a twist that might dampen many people's hopes to be a Mars-exploring astronaut: the trip Lansdorp plans is one-way only. That means dramatically less fuel on board, because unlike typical Mars voyage plans, there would be no need (or ability) to carry the mechanism or the energy storage to return to Earth. If you (and three close companions) are willing to go be the first people to die on Mars, you'll also need to give up more than a pinch of privacy, because the Mars One plan to obtain the necessary funding is straightforward: create a media spectacle, and monetize it through advertising. (Note: If Elon Musk's optimistic sounding predictions are right, maybe one-way Marstronauts can get a return ticket, after all.) Many questions about the proposed journey are answered in the project's FAQ; check there before formulating questions. Ask Lansdorp about the practicalities and impracticalities of reaching Mars with as many questions as you'd like, but (lest ye be modded down) please only one question per post.
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Ask Bas Lansdorp About Going to Mars, One Way

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  • by GodInHell (258915) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @02:12PM (#40455437) Homepage
    According to the FAQ they plan to send 8 un-manned missions ahead of the first crew.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @02:14PM (#40455459)

    In vacuum, or in the almost-like-vacuum kind of atmosphere that Mars has, losing pressure means losing consciousness within ten seconds or so. Not much time for pain, I'd say.

    Have you asked anyone who was nearly asphyxiated about the brevity and painlessness of their experience, and the extent to which they were aware of it? Consciousness and discomfort will persist a lot longer than 10 seconds. The near vacuum outside your skin on Mars is essentially irrelevant, and would greatly diminish the effect of the low temperature.

    Here's a quick experiment you can do at home (but don't overdo it, obviously). Breathe out fully, and don't breathe in again for a while. Even without any special preparation, a fit person can hold out longer than 10 seconds before having to breathe in again, with their consciousness quite intact. I can easily get well past 10 seconds and I'm mid-50ish and not particularly athletic.

    The GP is correct, in a vacuum you'll be out in 10-15 seconds. So we are told in our aircraft safety seminars. (We have a research plane that gets to ~ 50,000 feet.) And that's why the nice flight attendants tell you to put on your mask first in case of loss of pressurization. If you try to help someone else first and don't immediately succeed, you'll both faint. And die.
    Losing consciousness from lack of O2 while continuing to breathe is quite different then being prevented from breathing. Increasing CO2 in the blood is what causes the desperation for air. As long as that is being exhaled there isn't any panic and you'll quietly pass out from lack of oxygen. It happens frequently when somebody goes into a sewer for instance, where the oxygen has been consumed. After a few moments, they simply pass out. Many years ago I watched a science program where the host, with a mask, breathed his own exhaled air, only the CO2 was chemically scrubbed out, as he wrote what he was experiencing. As his available oxygen diminished, his writing became sloppy, but he expressed (and showed) no signs of distress as he sagged, wobbled in his chair, and started to slump before the folks came in with the oxygen to revive him.

    SB

  • by Latent Heat (558884) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @02:30PM (#40455723)
    Even if you breathe out as much as you can, there is still a lot of oxygen in the residual volume of your lungs. Your ability to hold your breath, I am told, is not limited by oxygen but by your ability to toleerate buildup of CO2, which triggers certain reflexes.

    Exposed to vacuum, I would think that even your residual lung volume gets vented. A similar thing occurs with asphyxiation with inert gas, say the pure nitrogen atmosphere in the X-15 cockpit outside the pilot's pressure suit. Milton Thompson wrote about how guys would lift their faceplate to scratch their nose, but they held their breath -- breathe in an you are dead. This inert gas asphyxiation danger has taken lives of farmers entering silos, where fermentation displaces the oxygen.

    That is also why they train pilots in altitude chambers to give them some measure of the symptoms of oxygen starvation and how to react. Exposure to low pressure is not like retaining your residual lung volume, although the first instinct would be to think otherwise.

    I am also told that Project Mercury had a fatal accident in a ground test of a pure nitrogen atmosphere, hence the switch to pure oxygen in the cabin, which in turn created the risk for the Apollo fire.

    Now with regard to the passing of consciousness and then life, Stephen Jay Gould wrote about how Lavoisier, if I have this right, was condemned to the guillotine during the Terror of the French Revolution for being a stinkin' aristocrat (Gould suggested that Lavoisier was a stinkin' "tax farmer", i.e., a middle class person who set up shop as a tax collector, where under the King, the tax collector would get a percentage of receipts -- kind of like the hated tax collectors in the Bible). Anyway, Lavoisier was curious how long a person could stay conscious/alive after having their head sliced at the neck, and we worked out some kind of eye-blink code for his last seconds of consciousness, for the good of science as they say.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @03:02PM (#40456267) Homepage

    There's no discomfort in a vacuum. The discomfort/craving for air is caused by buildup of CO2, not lack of O2.

    Hypoxia (lack of O2) gives you a sort of high then you pass out.

  • by spire3661 (1038968) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @03:15PM (#40456463) Journal
    i propose that motorcycles should be illegal on public roads. If we force people in steel cages to wear seat belts, then why do we allow people to ride on a bare motor with wheels and a seat? Its an unsafe contraption that has no place on public roads, given current safety policy.

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