[FPSPACE] Terraforming Ethics
Matula, Thomas L.
MATULAT at uhv.edu
Thu Apr 5 12:52:11 EDT 2007
One other note. Terraforming is no more likely to happen if life is forund there then Europes damming the Mediterranean to feed its energy needs is likely to happen.
Environmental ethics has changed greatly from the days when engineers proposed such projects like Altantropa (http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/10/atlantropa.php) unmindful of their potnetial for environmental destruction. Already a movement is starting to address the environmental issues of space. Here is a link to a conference on space ethics that will be broadcast over the Internet next week.
Space Ethics Panel & Live Webcast
Special Event & Webcast | 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 10
Likely as not if any life is found on Mars humans will be banned, by international treaty, from ever setting foot on it. Only properly sterilized rovers, managed from Mars Orbit will be allowed on the planet. That is another reason we need to move slow on Mars, to ensure we dont destroy the very ecosystem we a re going there to study. Indeed, it may be too late already given the many junk yards we created on Mars from failed missions. Hopefully none of the bacteria aboard those spacecraft survived, but you never know
In any case its basically impossible to send humans to Mars like Zubrin wants without causing widespread environmental damage to any native ecosystem. So unless we are 110% sure Mars if lifeless humans will likely never go there. We are maturing ethically when it comes to the environment and Mars should be a demonstration of that maturity in dealing with possible alien ecosystems.
From: Jens Kieffer-Olsen [mailto:dstdba at post4.tele.dk]
Sent: Thu 4/5/2007 1:30 AM
To: Matula, Thomas L.; FPSPACE at friends-partners.org
Subject: RE: NASA and NEOs[Scanned by MAIL]
From: Matula, Thomas L. [mailto:MATULAT at uhv.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, April 04, 2007 10:12 PM
> First I am not a fan of NASA's Mars program and I think NASA
> fixation on Mars more then other factor is what is killing
> the agency. As a verse from Jimmy Buffet (a famous country
> music singer) song Fruitcakes goes.
> [[[We lost our martian rocket ship
> The high paid spokesman said
> Looks like that silly rocket ship
> Has lost its cone shaped head
> We spent 90 jillion dollars trying to get a look at mars
> I hear universal laughter ringing out among the stars]]]
> From http://www.margaritaville.com/lyrics_fruitcakes.php
Mars is the one and only likely candidate for terraforming
within the solar system, so it is bound to attract interest
from all space buffs. That said, I entirely agree that a
premature mission to the Red Planet may well see mankind
leaving footprints in its soil, but with no resulting
ticker-tape parade in New York, since the return leg of
the journey is fraught with danger. - Phobos and Deimos
are much smarter destinations for travellers departing
Earth this century.
> If I was in charge of NASA I would pull the plug on the Mars
> program and transfer that funding to NEO and lunar missions.
> We have enough of an armada to keep Mars scientists afloat in
> data until retirement and beyond. And NASA is not planning
> on sending humans to Mars for at least another 30-40 years
> while it is planning to send humans to the Moon in another 15
> and perhaps to a NEO even before that. So that is where NASA
> needs to invest limited taxpayer funding for robotic
> missions, to prepare for the human missions just as was done
> with Ranger, Surveyor and Lunar Orbiter for Project Apollo.
> Not to search for bacteria on Mars. That could wait for a
> generation or two without any impact on the nation's future.
Unmanned exploration of Mars is a precursor for human visits.
Even if we are astute enough to let humans aim for the Martian
moonlets at first visit, we need to establish a communication
infrastructure. It's an appalling poor bandwidth that has been
on offer so far from Martian environs. Also an I/P protocol
robust enough to allow for the long minutes of transmission
delay is required. The Martian travellers should be guaranteed
reliable Internet access.
NASA suffers from some corporate inertia like all large
organizations. A while back one of their wiseguys conceived
the idea that the funding of Martian landers could be justified
in terms of searching for extra-terrestrial life there. Ever
since that argument has been shamelessly used by NASA, reused,
and stuffed down the public throat again and again.
> Indeed this is even something NY Times is now calling for,
> namely for NASA to redirect its efforts away from robotic
> missions to NEO Defense which it feels is far more important
> then the robotic missions NASA is doing.
Yes, but PHO detection is only small business to NASA. Their
problem is what responsibility this program implies. First of
all the new detection program is not including the objects most
likely to hit, that is objects in the range from 40m to 140m.
NASA heads are bound to roll, if a Tunguska-like impact takes
place which they missed despite spending billions of taxpayer
dollars. Therefore I believe PHO detection would be more
palatable to NASA, if the size limit was set to an ambitious
And as I wrote earlier, the implication to-day is that in the
unlikely event of spotting a PHO bound to collide with Earth
NASA will dispatch a deflection mission within 6-12 months.
The public doesn't appreciate that such a rescue scenario is
pure science fiction, NASA chiefs do!
> Finding Doomsday Asteroids
> [[[That is understandable. NASA is burdened with the need to
> finish the space station, build a successor to the shuttles,
> return to the moon and conduct wide-ranging research. It
> already has more jobs to perform than money to perform them.
> But finding asteroids that might threaten the planet, and
> studying their characteristics in the process, is probably
> more important than at least some of the other robotic
> missions mounted by NASA. Congress should either add funds to
> the agency's budget, or the agency should divert funds from
> other programs to accelerate the asteroid hunt.]]]
> Of course NASA Mars driven science policy making will ignore
> this call as it has others and continue to talk about how
> important it is to find life on Mars, as if anyone other then
> a handful of astrobiologists care..
> But NASA making NEO's its central focus is just not going to
> happen as the Mars science program has too many friends in
> high places at NASA for any but token cuts in it, unlike the
> lunar program which was axed completely except for one
> mapping mission.
> This lack of response to both the Congress and the public
> also shows that NASA spending and strategic planning is being
> driven more by science, not engineering, objectives despite
> what David claims. And that very fixation on Mars means that
> NASA will not really have its heart in developing the proper
> space systems for NEO detection even though groups like the
> By contrast the U.S. Air Force on the other hand already
> operates sensors arrays in space, the technology of which
> could be modified for space based NEO detection systems, just
> as they modified their ground based tracking systems to
> search for NEOs. It knows how to build and manage them. AND
> it wants to go after NEOs.
> I don't know if you are aware but in the first 2 years of
> operation their ground tracking system LINEAR made 3 MILLION
> observations of asteroids and discovered over 200,000 NEW
> asteroids, far more than ALL of the astronomy programs in the
> world had done in the first 200 YEARS since the first
> asteroid was discovered. The only reason NASA was able to
> meet their 1990's goal of locating the majority of large NEOs
> was thanks to the LINEAR program by the U.S. Air Force.
The PHO detection program should use state-of-the-art
interplanetary probes and supercomputers, not backyard
telescopes and abacuses.
> So you could either fight organization culture and mindset
> and force NASA to do a mission it has little taste for or be
> a realist and give it to an agency that has been quietly
> signaling its willingness for the mission for years and has
> the organizational capability and desire to quickly implement
> it. Personally I would go for the latter solution and the
> heck with the folks in space policy that feel giving the NEO
> mission to a branch of the military sends the wrong signals
> about America's intentions in space. After all the U.S. Army
> Corp of Engineers handles most of the flood control in the
> U.S. and no one thinks they are planning to use that
> technology to flood our enemies.
In principle a new agency - maybe MASA - could be created
to handle the issue. MASA for Military Astronautics and
Space Administration. But PHO detection is too small an
issue for a separate agency, and PHO deflection is too
distant a possibility.
Presumably deflection will not need to happen until such
time that we routinely do it for other reasons. Should
however the need arise this decade or next, NASA will
have to be jumpstarted into action. Deal the willing
a shot in the arm, and kick the rest in their teeth -
that will be the HR policy to all of a sudden adopt :-)
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