My Thoughts After Curiosity’s Landing

I am so pleased to see that the landing on Mars was pulled off without a hitch. My friend Ryan suggested that the degree of difficulty alone should earn JPL an Olympic gold medal for each of the engineers involved in the Curiosity landing. After all, we stuck our landing from 35 million miles away. I concur, it’s god damn right, no one really seems to comprehend just how difficult it was to accomplish what that team of scientists and engineers made look so simple.

Ryan works in a hotel and apparently one of the mouth breathers that he checked in as a guest yesterday informed him that the only reason we sent a rover to Mars was because Democrats think we’re destroying the environment and they sold the government on colonization. A truly absurd declaration, a bit paranoid and ill informed, but it did get me thinking about colonization.

Colonization of Mars is, or should be, an imperative without any need to sell a particular government on the idea. Only the functionally retarded would think that it was part of some insidious agenda to suggest such a thing. If you lived in immediate proximity to an active volcano, you fucking move away from it…if you have an ounce of common sense.

The same goes for us as a species. The further we spread out, the safer we are. Colonizing Mars may be expensive, but we damn well should be doing it. Not because we have fucked up our environment here on Earth, but because we are no more safe here than the goddamn dinosaurs were.

The reality is that we aren’t prepping for colonization, no matter how much we should be. Curiosity is all about trying to increase our knowledge and understanding of the universe around us…and the first real steps are to become more familiar with our neighborhood.

I find it sad that we don’t have human beings on the surface of Mars already. At the very least we should have adaptive intelligence of some kind there…a rover with the capacity to redefine mission parameters to suit the conditions it discovers. Even if it isn’t cost effective to send a human being, we should be sending a swarm of networked robots…something with an approximation of a neural network, something that can learn as it goes, troubleshooting and problem solving.

Maybe we should send death row inmates, get them some training and ship a bunch of them to Mars; put them to use collecting samples, collating data, and constructing long-term habitats. The same sort of thing worked for Australia. Give them the opportunity to give something back to the society that has otherwise been providing their care and well-being since incarceration. Hell, the responsibility and need to depend on one another for survival might actually rehabilitate them in a way that no known prison system ever could.

The irony, Ryan says, is that he would go out and kill someone just for a ticket to Mars. I can’t even blame him for it. But, if we were committed to sending human beings out there, I imagine that we would be sending volunteers as well…something akin to the Homesteader’s Act back in the mid-1800s here in America. I would probably sign up for that, even if it was guaranteed to be a one-way ticket with a higher than normal risk of fatality.

Collect a mixed bag of volunteers, criminals, and the like…put them through an astronaut/scientist boot camp…a few months of study and preparation…ship them off to the red planet. Drop supplies and equipment beforehand as well as additional supplies and such along with the passenger transports, redundancy is key when it comes to proper engineering…make sure that there is more than is necessary to insure that there is enough to fit the needs of the colonists.

We could get a couple hundred people up there on Mars; digging tunnels, establishing habitats, setting up greenhouses, water reclamation systems, and scientific outposts. Fuck terraforming, just set up pockets of safe, secure, underground inhabitation zones. Underground colonies would be our safest bet. Dig and dig, reinforce the walls with combinations of concretes and plastics to hold in our artificial atmosphere.

We could easily have a few thousand people living permanently on Mars in less than a century and thus we would have increased our odds of survival dramatically.

There is little to no core activity on Mars, no active volcanic behavior or quakes. They would be safer living underground than we are above. The thinner atmosphere makes those terrifying looking storms nothing more than dust storms, not even enough to damage household window glass; so we could easily build domes for above ground purposes.

Surround Mars with satellites for GPS and communication purposes and it would ultimately be no more inconvenient than living on Earth, but with a sense of wonder and exploration that is lacking here.

Experiment with breeding flora that can thrive outside of domes and caverns, some fauna as well; it could open up huge new avenues of exploration for genetics and agriculture.

And, best of all, once we have firmly shown that we can survive and thrive there on Mars; we could jump to the next option, Ganymede (which is barely smaller than Mars) and possibly Callisto.

From Jupiter orbits we would have a suitable base of operations for studying Europa. I envision massive submarine cities anchored to the underside of the ice on Europa, or slowly floating through the oceans there.

From there we can spread out to the moons around Saturn and Neptune, maybe even Pluto/Charon. Hell, there’s no really good reason not to go further and set up smaller colonies on the larger Kuiper Belt objects.

There’s no good reason not to do any of these things. There’s nothing to say that we couldn’t have colonies of at least hundreds (if not thousands) of people littering the solar system, including permanent station-based orbital colonies within the asteroid belt.

The economic forces could change substantially, with no need for Earth-based products given adequate time especially on the larger, nearer Earth colonies.

The asteroid colonies could be hollowing out larger bodies, turning asteroids into hollowed out structures for additional colonization; or, better yet, into durable substrates for additional exploration, cored asteroids as vessels.

Even if we acted conservatively we could easily have people exiting the solar system in less than a thousand years. By all rights though, even if we took our sweet time I see no reason why we couldn’t have huge colonies all over the solar system in less than 500 years. The Americas have been colonized from the European expansion for only about that long and look what we’ve built.

Some of those transoceanic voyages for our ancestors took just as long as the voyages between planets would require, and were far more costly both in terms of proportionate economics and human survival.

Just having a network of humanity spread out through our own solar system would greatly increase our knowledge. The discoveries we would experience are greater than I can actually imagine (not having been out there). Who knows how vast our understanding of the universe could become from something so small. The social implications alone would be amazing, to learn how cultures would change and evolve from one colonized region to the next. Over thousands of years we could even begin to see small changes in our species as different gravities, atmospheres, and keys to survival impacted natural selection.

The payout from colonization of just nearby regions of the moon, Mars, and the asteroid belt could be massive. They could easily become self-sustained with no further need of anything from Earth, and they could even provide resources that would more than return the initial investment.

All we have are excuses as to why we aren’t doing these things…no reasons.

We should have underground cities on the moon and Mars already…they should have been established since before I even reached my 20s. These were things that should have been done right along with the assembly of the ISS. We might have brought nations together in ways that we have otherwise never been able to manage.

How long before people forget about being Japanese, American, Palestinian…and begin to see themselves in the more realistic terms of being Martian, Lunar, Jovian, or whatever? That might be what it takes to beat the reality into our thick fucking human skulls.

How petty and stupid would imaginary borders look from the perspective of people who are millions of miles away, separated literally by being worlds apart.

We live in a world of myopic, juvenile little nation states…populated by people who are somehow stupid enough to believe that an imaginary line drawn in the sand makes me a citizen here, but four steps in another direction a foreigner. That is ludicrous beyond belief.

That’s all; I just wanted to babble a little bit. Hopefully it wasn’t terribly disjointed and impossible to follow.



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