Science: Terraforming
Mercury 2.0 (the planet)   (+12, -6)  [vote for, against]
Tidally lock Mercury to the Sun and make it a hydroelectic power plant.

Quick review for those who don't know everything about your solar system. Mercury is the smallest planet of the eight remaining. It is the planet that is really close to the sun. at 40% of the diameter of earth and a view of the sun that makes it look 2.5 times as wide. It gets as much sun as all earth because the sun is 6.25 times stronger there at some point in it's eccentric orbit. It does not have much atmosphere to speak of and doesn't hold it's heat making the daily highs and lows swing by 1100 f. Without it's atmosphere it's heat cannot compete with Venus for hottest planet. It has days of 1.5 Mercury years. It has no seasonal irregularity like earth because it's poles are always perpendicular to the sun. It's poles are thought to contain ice in the bottom of craters because they haven't seen sunlight ever. The planet has more gravity than Mars, though it weighs less it is denser with a huge Iron core. It is only second to Earth in density.

I am not especially interested in the presented goals of Nasa. I think the use people's interest in aliens and the search for life to their advantage. I think people want to push for the stars in a never ending search to disprove the absence of life elsewhere. I don't necessarily doubt that their is life out there, I doubt we will ever find any and my interest is very marginal in looking. Also I think they play on people wanting a new earth copy. Mars is just cold! There is nothing there that is useful and if you want to make it useful for something, you will have to go big or stay home. What is the difference between Antarctica and Mars?

I see something more reasonable in the works for Nasa. Keep in mind I never said they were stupid. There is a probe "Messenger" that it working it's way inward and should be in proper Mercury orbit in 2011. Let me tell you how we see Mercury. It was once thought that Mercury was tidally locked like the moon is with earth. That is how I wanted it because that is the most useful way to be. If you want to generate energy you want a big temperature differential. I was thinking steam engines at first and then I thought about how to capture the steam because we don't want it to get ionized in the solar wind and carried off. Then I thought about the condensation end of things and making it take full advantage of the shadow cone of Mercury. There is no use in making the thing complicated, just get it right the first time. Rising steam condenses on the dark side of Mercury and is used to power turbines Dam style. The cooling cone can rise 500 Km. In Mercury's low gravity of .38G you can give the dark side a lot of heat radiation area. This will probably result in an overall egg shaped world. This design Gives few concentrated moving parts and Constant temperature and pressure and no tidal shifts of any significance. A low maintenance dream of Petawatt significance.

How do we get from here to there and what do we do with it when we get there?

The poles are magical stepping stones with both intense sun and abundant heat radiating area both within arm's length. Just dig a little and there is Iron. For all I know it doesn't even need smelted, just like meteorite Iron. First thing is stop the planet from rotating and correct it's orbit. Solar sails are 6.25 times as effective with 6.25 times as much sun. It will take a little time but you can move planets, Mercury easiest of all. Iron rails, Iron rail cars and Iron mirrors can be moved down towards the equator to just sit there reflecting some sunlight towards the approaching dawn. The planet will stop, expanding the poles into a ring of eternal twilight. From there on I am sure you get the picture. fairly normal construction techniques can proceed. Where is the water though? There might be some at the poles, not enough by any means. You can use many other liquids in similar manners. You can use ammonia, you can use hydrocarbons for similar results. You can extract lots of these elements from the crust. You can deionize the ions from the solar wind which is of course much thicker and is also slower kind of near vacuum near the Sun. This is a process that actually generates electricity. This can get you there in some finite amount of time You can build up heat sinking and heat dissipation in parallel.

When you get done what do you have? This would not be some inaccessible source of power on some other planet. You have the four gods of space travel energy. 1.You have access to fissionable material that you don’t have to worry about spreading across earth’s atmosphere accidentally to get into space. 2 You have power for lasers to push things near and far from the sun. 3 You have He-3 imbedded in the crust because of direct ion bombardment from the sun, just like on the Moon. And 4 you have a large power source for generation of Antimatter.

These are things that Matter and make a discernable difference between Antarctica and some other small inhospitable planet. This makes trade, space travel, mining and terraforming all very achievable elsewhere. And if you are interested in science Mercury probably has the best core for study, it is probably solidified and you can examine the core in person. Anyone need a test bed for your science experiment? Cheap energy, controlled environments, No environment that needs protecting. I dislike the false dichotomy of the Moon or Mars. On my list Mars is not even second or third. If you want anything done it takes energy. So no, I am not going to waste energy heating up Mars with lasers. If you want it warmer we will move the thing. If you want a sustainable idea for heat management check out “Venus 2.0” the idea that my title is knocked off from.

I think NASA is thinking along these lines because of Messenger’s surprisingly large budget chunk. I have also run into NASA’s appeal for to the scientific community for directly solar pumped laser specifications. My imagination says that this will involve something like black body cavity and some kind of lasing material that likes being pumped with infrared. These lasing materials can be pumped in closer proximity to each other on Mercury than at our distance from the Sun and will probably be something like the shorter burst lasers but with more power available to make a continuous beam. I am not sure what kind of heat sinking that would require or if that is possible with today’s technology but necessity is the mother of invention. This is certainly one of the necessities for fast and dirty laser light production. I imagine they are not presenting such dreams in a finished publicly accessible and understandable vision format is because historically Both Mars and Venus have been big disappointments when the facts came to light. Mars has a very inhospitable atmosphere with not much that can be processed into atmosphere and no magnetic protection. Venus is just plain hot and is in a nearly irreversible greenhouse. Mercury has only had 45% of it’s surface mapped and we technically know roughly jack squat. People need real numbers but Given the assumptions however it is better than the anything else. Other than some sort of unforeseen whacked out neutron bombardment that makes working there impossible I think this plan should be doable and the next step.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 26 2007

Venus 2.0 Venus_202_2e0
namesake and a fine idea that might come after mine. [MercuryNotMars, Jan 26 2007]

Automatic text summarizer http://search.iiit....ummarizer/index.cgi
Mandatory for verbose posters [DenholmRicshaw, Jan 27 2007]

Optical Frequency Rectennas
As mentioned in an annotation [Vernon, Jan 29 2007]

Laser cooling http://www.colorado...0/bec/lascool1.html
Learn about one form of entropy, This helps grasp the concept [MercuryNotMars, Jan 30 2007]

Heat radiation, just as I thought http://www.belmont....rmalmanagement.html
Because the power system will be located in an essentially airless environment, rejecting waste heat becomes a limiting aspect of it. [MercuryNotMars, Jan 30 2007]

Kirchoff's law of thermal radiation http://en.wikipedia...f_thermal_radiation
Think about this in parking Thermal heat dissapation systems next to each other [MercuryNotMars, Jan 30 2007]

100 G survival pod 100_20G_20survival_20pod
Shameless self promotion [MercuryNotMars, Jan 30 2007]

Stirling Engine http://en.wikipedia...iki/Stirling_engine
[jhomrighaus, Jan 30 2007]

Microwave Paint on a solar sail http://space.newsci...s?id=mg18524846.500
1 hour of great accelleration. [MercuryNotMars, Mar 01 2007]

photonic laser propulsion http://advancednano...ser-propulsion.html
multibounce style [MercuryNotMars, Mar 02 2007]

Mercury Engine Mercury_20Engine
Similar idea. Same planet. Same hot / cold. [bungston, Mar 16 2007]

Mercury http://universe-rev.../I07-12-Mercury.jpg
Mercury sort of looks like our moon, but it has a temporary atmosphere that fluctuates with gaseous emissions from beneath the rocky surface. [quantum_flux, Jun 23 2007]

//First thing is stop the planet from rotating and correct it's orbit// - better get started then as this bit will only take a few billion years....... + for the enthusiastic passion of this idea, and for the mad ambition of it all - Bake on !
-- xenzag, Jan 26 2007

The idea--from what I gather by skimming this, for it is too long and too rambling--is to stop Mercury from rotating by reflecting sunlight, which would surely take longer than the life of the sun.
-- ldischler, Jan 26 2007

What [xenzag] said.
-- normzone, Jan 26 2007

Take longer than the life of the sun? Billions of years? I think you guys are whacked on that issue we are talking about a kilogram of force per square kilometer on a planet that is rotating at a speed next to stopped with tides that are in our favor. I don't think I can walk that slow without falling down. But thanks for the buns. I can't imagine it taking more than a lifetime. //better get started// though, I can't help but agree there.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 26 2007

Are you sure you are thinking big enough?(+)
-- Galbinus_Caeli, Jan 26 2007

I like this idea a lot. Vernonesque, too. Now link up all the background reading we need to understand Mercury and you will really be in the mode.

The thing I don't like about this idea is the requirement to stop rotation. That requires technology we don't have, and with solar sails or anything else it would take an ungodly long time - you mentioned how massive mercury is.

Why not just rotate the power generation apparatus to track the shadow? You already propose the iron tracks. With a day length of 54 earth days, the thing, whatever it is, would not need to move that fast. The closer to a pole you are the slower you can go and the less track you need. Also a circumplanetary track would allow the living quarters to rotate too and stay in the shade.

Mars is cold, but it is easy to get warm if you are inside. I think sunrise on Mercury would be pretty formidable to any inhabitants. You would have 53 days to dig a deep tunnel.
-- bungston, Jan 26 2007

//I can't imagine it taking more than a lifetime.//

On the earth, solar and lunar tides dissipate 3.75 million million watts of power, all of that energy coming from the rotational kinetic energy of the planet. How much does that slow down the earth’s rotation? By about 2.2 seconds every 100,000 years.
-- ldischler, Jan 26 2007

I appreciate your comments. But I think I had better post a correction to one of the facts. A day on mercury is not 54 earth days. A sidreal day on mercury is 58.65 days. A Mercury year is 87.97 earth days. If it had a sidereal day of 87.97 (88)earth days it would be tidally locked. The actual mercury day is sunrise to sunrise is 176 earth days. This thing is rotating at 2.23 Miles per hour for those of you who want to figure up energy that would be 1 meter per second at the equator (wikepedia says 10km/h 3m/s and is probably refering to the sidreal day which we are not interested in). at 2439 KM radius. I am not interested in calculating that precicely. But with a modest estimate of some surface area of the radius squared 6 million suare kilometers and a modest 1 kg of thrust per km^2 I estimate 6 million kg of thrust. just doing linear thrust F=MA we have 6000000kg = 3.303x10^23kg X A A= 1.87x10-17 is 1.7 billion years to linearly accelerate the whole thing 1 meter per second. I think I will go check my numbers again.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 26 2007

sidereal - a 1. Of or pertaining to the stars.

1647 H. MORE Pref. to Antipsychopannychia, Upon which pure bright sydereal phantasms unprejudiced reason may safely work.
-- bungston, Jan 26 2007

With a day length of 176 Earth days, it would be even easier for a power station on treads to crawl along, pacing the day/night interface.

Actually you would not need to keep it so precise. If you could trail behind the sunset, you could capture energy radiating away from rocks recently heated.
-- bungston, Jan 26 2007

MercuryNotMars - you should have called yourself Vernon 2.0
-- xenzag, Jan 26 2007

Modified Goals intermediat goal: solar sails are evidently not workable and if we tried to shift weight to take advantage of the Tidal assistance we would probably just deform the planet for the most part and cancel out the tidal difference but reflecting light is barely using light. It appears that carrying heavy loads at 45 degrees from the sun would be the other thing that might help. But building a world on rails appears to be the only other option. I am slightly dejected and might have to admit an idea is not as great as I thought.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 26 2007

I have thought of another way to take advantage of tidal force of the sun to dirrectly affect the rotation of the planet. Mass Drivers that are twice the speed of the planet could shoot projectiles at twice the orbital speed of the planet and set it in a retrograde orbit around the sun to contact the planet a half a year on the opposite side of the planet and on the opposite side of the sun. There are other trajectories that work but this one might be more easily visualized. You could even do regenerative breaking. If you don't like shooting things at 100 km/s try visualizing shooting the object away from the sun at the appropriate angle to catch it in the barrel of the gun. These two are not free energy methods they are just ballast methods hard as they might be to pull off technically there should be energy to be made in this though I doubt we will find the gain. The other things that come to mind would be a Girdle at 45 degrees from the sun and possibly Gyroscopes. I suppose Gyroscopes work but I don't understand those so well.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 27 2007

I used an online text summarizer (see link) to render this down to one sentence.

"A low maintenance dream of Petawatt significance."

-- DenholmRicshaw, Jan 27 2007

There's a settlement on Mercury in the third book of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy. It runs on rails around the planet, driven only by the thermal expansion of the rails in sunlight.
-- BunsenHoneydew, Jan 27 2007

That is probably what I should have written to begin with. "Lets make a power plant on mercury that is a low maintainence dream of petawatt signifigance. Who is with me?" and just stopped right there. I am sure everyone would have agreed.

Maybe it takes verbosity to see that great minds think alike, and summarizations for everyone else to notice it.

Maybe it takes a lot of white noise for people to see patterns that are not there.

"We're sailors on the moon, we carry a harpoon, but there ain't no whales so tell this tale and sing our whaling tune!"

you be the judge.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 27 2007

what [xenzag] said
(farther down) second anno
-- xandram, Jan 28 2007

Doing stuff on Mercury is fine, but this particular stuff can be bettered. A lot. Mercury should be a manufacturing base for orbital solar power collectors. The parts would be made there and electromagnetically launched into CLOSE Solar orbit, closer than Mercury's. By the time the planet is used up, most of the light from the Sun will be getting intercepted by collectors, and not the trivial/puny amount that currently is intercepted by Mercury.
-- Vernon, Jan 29 2007

Thanks [Vernon], that helps to understand things.
-- xandram, Jan 29 2007

Closer orbit? The Messenger probe is using solar cells that are 70% reflectors. Solar cells work best at room temperature. Flat solar cells with current technology therefore have a maximum closeness that is optimum. Probably more like Venus.

I agree that a second earth is a waste of material. But, Solar pumped lasers would probably be the only thing that would matter little about the distance just so long as you have enough surface area to radiate waste heat.

I am pretty sure that waste heat removal is the ultimate barrier to effeciency. You would probably get more energy that way but you will run into two barriers.

By the time you intercept //most of the light from the sun// you will be emmitting and reemmitting lots of infarred. Your temperature Gradient will decline and your heat radiation will approach that of flat solar cell panels and the only way to boost power is reduce entropy of a high entropic energy source (the sun has many wavelenghts and more angles at that proximity) The other thing you can do is boost heat tolerances of your materials to boost the temperature gradient. which has it's limits. and the third thing is orbit farther out and get more heat radiation area. This is the ultimate limit.

The second and nearer term problem is energy distribution. You have at that point already mined Mercury The hard way. I presented my idea as a more short term way to get the ball rolling. It sounds like you want to get there while skipping past my idea. Your idea sounds more feasable on a smaller scale. Using the sun at 100% effeciency is not 100% effecient. Science is advanced in parrallel and economic decisions are the fastest route to success. Not all computer memory is the fastest. We have different levels of memory in a computer because we can ecconomically use it in that manner. If you were to get the best computer in the world you probably would lose out in the long run by not being able to buy another computer for a long time. You will never find people market a computer which only utilizes the best memory available.

You will never use all of Mercury because you will bump into a few economic principles. Energy distribution in the form of the need for large facilities for certain specialized tasks. You will not be exporting fisionalbe material(already mined) you will not be exporting He-3 hard to collect, hard to store, hard to move. You will probably not be generating antimatter in small sattelites any time soon, it also faces the problems of He-3 though it contains more energy. The process is very inefficient and requires at least short term research. You will probably be using lasers.

Economics of lasers in space will require safety measures. Constant communications or updated programs that are not hackable. Repair will be hard without people. People will require appropriate climates within which to work. Slow feedback from utility robots that cannot be hackable will require a lot of patience and personel. The solution will probably be a laser beam rectifier stations. to allow the thousands even millions of beams to be alligned to allow for efficient usage of a more finite array of targets. Economics says that a beam should be bounced around as many times as possible. to push each target as much as possible. I am pretty sure this requires a massive rectifier station. because a common usage of beams is to bounce back at it's source. This is best acheaved by a massive laser array attached to the rectifier but can probably be worked around. The other thing is that a planet can make it accomodating for people and technology to be tested and upgraded which is much more efficient than making everything and then having only the option to upgrade by scrapping fast and dirty equiptment that got overbuilt thus lowering it's operational lifespan. The more ecconomic multiplier of the efficiency of lasers is massive relativly non moving mirror stations based on planetoids.

My idea is simply look for energy to make things happen, not the closest approximation of Antarctica that we can find. Your idea is not comparable to colonizing Mars as the next step of space. It is an idea for further expanding energy production and comes into focus as soon as it is the economically viable option.

The very first step is to create a market for space energy. Things that count on and use Mercury are the things that will utilize your idea. Gasoline engines started using ethanol. Gasoline and the car matched up to expand the market and the idea of cars and energy distribution. This makes way for some other ideas and improvements and rehashing of old ideas. My idea is Gasoline and your idea is biofules. I am going to eventally make your idea at least marginally econimically viable.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 29 2007

[MercuryNotMars], you seem to be ignoring the fact that the end-result of the Second Industrial Revolution (automation) is that machines will be building machines, and repairing them, too. Machines need not be paid, unless true Artificial Intelligence is involved. So, while having some market for energy is needed to start, any surplus energy can be cycled into bootstrapping production without significant cost (all done by machines), to expand the solar-power-collector network.

Next, I did not say that the "solar power collectors" would use ordinary solar cells. There are alternatives, the theoretical best of which appears to be "optical-frequency rectennas" (see link). This is not fundamentally a heat-sensitive approach, although I agree that making it work in close Solar orbit might be challenging.
-- Vernon, Jan 29 2007

Perhaps a dumb question but the environment in Mercury's orbit would be an ideal location for some variation on a Stirling type engine, utilizing a Black body absorber on the sun side and radiator on the space side. Generate laser or microwave for transmission direct or through relay to point of use. Heck even batteries that are collected would be relatively efficient, very easy to construct and require minimal maintenance.
-- jhomrighaus, Jan 29 2007

I think Cartman on South Park had one of those Rectennas. Installed by aliens, of course.
-- bungston, Jan 29 2007

I am sure there will be facinating technologies in the future. What you showed me reminded me that you can transmit energy for electricity fairly easily with Microwaves. That might be a fairly good way to transfer energy. This is not however doable. You can make your distance closer by the inverse of the square root of inefficiency. There is a fundimental limit to how much you can reduce the amount of heat you have to loose. I think you will understand it with understanding laser cooling. This process reduces temperature by increasing the entropy of light. I could care less what you use, there is an absolute and definable limit. A single sun satelitte is limited by it's shadow cone and a continuous sphere is limited by it's area.

You can decrease the inefficiency to the limit.

You can increase the temperature tolerance to the limit.

You can increase the size of the sphere to loose waste heat, or decreas the surface area covered

I doubt such a sphere could exist within Mercury's orbit. I doubt there is enough material to build a sphere the appropriate size in our solar system. It would make the sun hotter. Though I do like the idea of a slowly rotating dyson sphere with one hole shooting out a beam like a pulsar to hit Jupiter and maybe a few holes that open up for other planets as it passes between them and the sun. for the other planets Redirrecting light back at the sun to a target that can be oriented. You might be able to make sort of a second solar system out of jupiter and control the light to be usable amounts on the first 5 or so planets with a simple design. My guess is that mirrors are entropy in entropy out so they would have their current fundimental limit for waste heat, and run out of material to make them much later.

The sun could probably convert the waste heat or any light that hits it into all wavelenghts but would tend towards bluer as it got hotter of course. I wonder if that would affect it's lifespan. This is my vision of the fast and dirty next step with a few more planetoids or satelites devoted to energy production in rossette orbits outside the rotating ring of the dyson sphere with L1 fresnel mirrors so that you don't have to waste light to illuminate the powerstation. Also, lollipops for everyone! In the mean time I think Mercury is more useful than Mars.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 29 2007

Not sure what your talking about there Hg but I was thinking about a Stirling engine the size of a large office building floating out there is space. Bunch as many as you want in close proximity which eliminates your transmission issues.
-- jhomrighaus, Jan 29 2007

Same limit I am talking about. It doesn't just need heat it needs a heat gradient. That requires coolness, We are talking Megafonzies. I also don't think this is an improvement on Hydropower idea. You don't gain any more energy by coupling them or anything. You just gain moving parts. I thought about pistons and garbage already. But if you are taling about smaller scale in space with little gravity that is the way you would probably do it. You have got to move them away from each other so that they can cool off.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 29 2007

//it needs a heat gradient//

Space has one of the greatest heat gradients you can find. The gradient is only required within the machine. A basic screen is all that is needed to create the gradient.
-- jhomrighaus, Jan 29 2007

Your ability to do work is limited by your ability to get rid of heat. Space does not suck heat out of objects because it is space. It is actually a perfect insulator. Any particalse you encounter up there are only going to add heat. While you may be used to Radiators with fins on them here that does not work in space since there is no air. Radiating surfaces might as well be flat and smooth. There is no point in more surface area that radiates onto another surface area. Right? If you want to radiate more heat your surface must be hotter or bigger without radiating onto itself. If you make it hotter you decrease your temperature gradient within the machine, or push the materials to hotter design specifications. Hotter design specifications implies that people cannot get near it or do maintainance on it without wasting a lot of energy. And what you are proposing certainly does not do the dyson sphere float which is necessary to make a orbitless sphere. No it doesn't eliminate my transmission issues. I may not understand heat radiation but I don't think you can radiate it and just reflect it away instead of reabsorbing it. It sounds like something akin to one way mirror box that only lets light in. I am pretty sure that to emit heat you have an equal inability to reflect it. If you have a surface like a corner mirror for example, I don't think you can radiate more than a flat surface of the same material.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 30 2007

These are the kind of ideas I come here for.+
-- pydor, Jan 30 2007

You don't understand the concept, I will try to illustrate for you at a later time. Screen is to reflect sun from radiator side of unit(so it is not being heated by solar radiation)

The radiator side is simply an elliptical or hemispherical surface shielded from the sun, radiating heat into space, with no air to insulate it it should be quite effective.

Microwave transmission in space should be quite efficient compared to its earthly equivalent.
-- jhomrighaus, Jan 30 2007

a hemisphere will radiate into the other hemispheres around it if you put them close together. //no air to insulate it it should be quite effective.// A vacuum is an absolute conductive insulator. With no greenhouse gasses it can be mire effective at radiating heat than it might otherwise have been. There is however no difference between a hemisphere and a flat surface if you put them next to each other. DO you acknowlege this jhom? I just found a great link

"The radiator can only reject heat when the temperature is higher than that of the environment. In space, the optimum radiation efficiency is gained by aiming the radiator at free space. Radiating toward an illuminated surface is less effective, and the radiator must be shielded from direct sunlight."

You seem to understand the sunlight sheilding part but not the part about pointing toward open space and not radiating radiators on each other.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 30 2007

oh man, [MNM], keep it going! you're one eloquent fella, and i'm just having fun reading anything you write...

can i stir things up a bit with my nonsense? sure? ok, here goes:

you said mercury was basically a lump of iron. it's close to a bloody large fusion reactor, and is surrounded by charged particles. why not figure out a way to generate as much power, from some self-assembling/replicating whatever device, and pump the power into aforementioned chunk of iron. create a vast magnetic field within the core and use it to interact with the solar wind and/or the sun's magnetic field?

i'm envisioning the planet kicking off giant twisters of charged particles at the poles in the same direction as it's rotating, thus generating a torque to slow the planet. maybe it would look like the jets coming from a black hole?

perhaps, if you were really smart, you could find a way to 'boot up' the magnetic field, then make it self-sustaining, powered by the solar wind itself, like field-windings in an alternator.

another thought would be to fire chunks of the planet into orbit and create a moon (orbiting in the direction of mercury's rotation). when you've removed enough mass to stop the rotation of mercury, you'd have a nice chunk of orbiting rubble with which to build many fun toys.
-- TIB, Jan 30 2007

I though about that but I have the general feeling that the magnetic field would not be shaped like the classical loop through the center of the planet. It probably would have to be asymetrical or something and would probably be as insignificant as my first idea. But the first place I would try to capture solar wind would be on one side and if somehow I would get too much hydrogen which I doubt will happen any time soon I would eject it on the other side at least out of principle. While The solar wind is thicker there it is still considered a vacuum. There is not much to play around with. I get a lot of comments that I go on and on to much but it is nice to hear you enjoy your imagination as much as I do. You have read my other idea The 100 G survival pod for shooting people into space? I'll post a link.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 30 2007

I wonder that if the eddy current effect was used to slow the planet down, then the heat generated would melt the core, or not.
-- Ling, Jan 30 2007

I never took physics for scientists and engineers II electricity and magnatism But I get the strange feeling that it just doesn't work like that, creating eddies and slowing down a planet. I am not sure if I understand the right hand rule but if we ran electrical current in some toroidial spiral maybe it does spin all that wind around it. I got no clue. But I think part of what is supposed to generate a magneto would be the spin of the planet as well. Jump starting a core to do what earths does would probably not do what we want because it would get weaker as we approach reaching the goal. I don't especially want the core that hot. I don't recall heating up that much when I stop walking 1 meter per second. I am sure that is a lot of energy but it is distributed amongst a lot of mass.

One thing you can look into if you understand it is the fact that the solar wind is supposedly driven by the sun's magnetic field rotation. I think it is only like mach 3 near mercury and pickes up to mach 7 out here. I am not for sure how fast but I did note that It picks up speed as it goes out instead of loosing speed due to gravity like you would expect. This would surely slow down the sun but the poles are not (at least generally) perpendicular to the plane of the solar system. They also change. You might be able to predict them as they would have something resembling a period and a durration.

Like 7 particles per cubic centimeter out here. if they all come from the Sun and they are going that much slower at mercury it is like 156 Ions per cubic centimeter (not much). Given avagadro's number and a compositon of mostly hydrogen That is about 3 million square killometers per gram. At 15 kilometers per second with a sweep of 18.6 million Km^2 That is 93 grams per second That is about 8000 Kg of mostly hydrogen a day That makes about 72,000 Kg of water if you have the oxygen. I wonder how doable this really is to come near these numbers.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 30 2007

// You seem to understand the sunlight sheilding part but not the part about pointing toward open space and not radiating radiators on each other//

You talk a lot and dont seem to understand what you read. I thought it was pretty clear that one side was shielded from the the sun, the point of the Hemispherical/Ellipsoidal radiator surface was to maximize the surface area that is able to radiate while ensuring that it is focused into space.

"the total amount of heat radiated is proportional to the surface area of the radiator" from your link.

I never said these things would be positioned 10 feet from each other, rather they would probably be separated by mile or greater distances. The combination of the Sun shield and distance will ensure that each has as effective as possible radiation .
-- jhomrighaus, Jan 30 2007

If you stack hemispheres next to hemispheres that all radiate into each other then you have in effect a radiator that is equivalent to a flat one. That is true of one radiator. You however have not maximize surface area with a hemisphere. one interpretation would be a cone encompassing the entire shadow. and a wrong interpretation would be something turned in on itself several times like a brain or a earth radiator conduction radiator. There is no advantage to hemispheres parked next to each other and there is no advantage to cones parked next to each other and there is no advantage to a radiator surface turned in on itself. If you have a dyson sphere shaped object its effective radiation area is the surface of a sphere. That totally depends on distance from the sun. There is absolutely nothing special about the shape of a hemisphere in any way.

The reason I went with a sphere "egg" shape is there is a maximum amount that a gas will rise given pressure and density in gravity. and if you approach that then you loose ability to dissapate heat and do work. Otherwise the idea would have been a cone on the back side of Mercury. Why didn't the guy talk about making the radiator's rough surfaced to maximise heat dissapation? It would increase surface area. Each individual spot in space receives the waste heat based on Veiwable area of the radiator and temperature of the radiator. Space cannot veiw more sphere if it is hiding behind another sphere. If you put a binary sun in a solar system while one is eclipsing the other You might as well have only 1 sun where you are at that time because that is all the light they can shine you. The also heat each other up with that light you don't get in the eclipse zones and change the heat gradient making them both a little hotter. If they are the same temperature the effective surface area for radiation is decreased by the amount that the other sun takes up of their sky. I am saying you have diminishing return for radiators that are not flat when you start putting them next to each other in space. If your system cannot work with a flat radiator then it is not a scaleable system of stackable components, it doesn't solve any energy distribution problem. You might as well put a partial reflector on the front or move it farther out into space or not stack them so close together so that they can each properly radiate. I imagine the best you can do is something like a flattened ring formation with a wedge radiator. If you are going to do the dyson sphere shaped power collector idea you are just too close. It will get hotter on the inside too and I can't imagine many materials holding up. Most of the radiation of any such machine will usually come off the hot side. The total amount of heat that radiates of the system will have to come off the back side, meaning that the radiator will be hotter than the front side is normally. Imagine how hot the front side will be.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 30 2007

You really don't read what is written do you. The dyson sphere thing is something you concocted on your own, I never said a thing about it. Further the amount of heat to be rejected will be less than that received. The sun side will have at least the same area as the radiator side, but in the interim work will be done by the engine thus requiring that the amount of heat to be rejected will be less than that received. For the same material with same properties that would mean that for equivalent area the material will emit an equivalent amount of radiation as it received Make the radiator larger in area and you would then be able to reject more heat than is received or put another way your heat extraction efficiency would be greater allowing for greater differential within the Stirling engine allowing for more power output for the same size engine. Even using the flat plate idea this idea works just fine, you just calibrate the absorbing surface as needed to tune for optimal efficiency.
-- jhomrighaus, Jan 30 2007

Oh, and there is no "focus" to radiating heat. In case you did not know there is no bias that says it should come off perpendicular to the plane of the surface. Just thought I would say that since I didn't cover that possible misconception which might lead to your conclusion. You were probably just using a word loosely.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 30 2007

Yeah, I did forget about what I said about efficiency. You got me there. but you have to remove the energy some other way than using it on site. which is back to lasers only That is the only thing that efficient that I know of. Using energy on site means removing waste heat and hotter than the front side would probably still hold unless endothermic reactions such as lasers were a large percentage. My statement holds if you are going to play around with generating antimatter and haven't thought of an efficient way yet. You would have to do such work in spurts or something utilizing some sort of power storage. But you are right about efficiency.
-- MercuryNotMars, Jan 30 2007

See link for Stirling info.

If you could achieve 70% efficiency with the engine and 95% with a generator you could capture more than 60% of the available energy. Which is quite good compared to solar cells and especially good when the costs or considered. If you package in large numbers power transmission could be handled very efficiently. The other advantage is this can be done farther out than mercury and is based on readily available technology.
-- jhomrighaus, Jan 30 2007

//Bunch as many as you want in close proximity which eliminates your transmission issues.//

You did say that and you were playing off of Vernon who said.

//The parts would be made there and electromagnetically launched into CLOSE Solar orbit, closer than Mercury's. By the time the planet is used up, most of the light from the Sun will be getting intercepted by collectors, and not the trivial/puny amount that currently is intercepted by Mercury.//

Intercepting most of the light means that somewhere they are close together.

In the middle of my explaination of the limits of such an idea and the decreasing return on investment. you come in telling me that you can put them close together and that will fix the issue of transmission issues I raised which would limit you to many distributed lasers as about the only way I could think of to use the energy from Vernon's plan. I am not completely confused anyway. It appears we are on the same side. I am glad that I was forced to research my notions on heat dissapation. I think the conversation did us all some good.
-- MercuryNotMars, Feb 01 2007

\\Mercury is the smallest planet of the eight remaining\\ I really like this sentence. It seems rather ominous. Should I warn Neptune?
-- hidden truths, Feb 01 2007

"Call the men of science and let them hear this song Tell them Albert Einstein and Copernicus were wrong The world's address A place that's worn A sad pun that reflects a sadder mess I'll repeat it for those who may not have already guessed

The world's address"

-They might be Giants

I was mainly refering to the change in definition that excludes Pluto from the list, for the reason that Ceres is excluded. They have not cleared out their pear group in their orbital field. I reccomend that you sevearly warn Neptune not to break up into smaller planets of roughly the same order of magnitude in size, otherwise we can't be friends anymore. Furthermore if it swallows Triton I am going to be really mad. I was planning on giving it to Vernon.
-- MercuryNotMars, Feb 01 2007

Questions that maybe you could answer:

1)What planets/moons/other bodies in our solar system do we know very much about?

2)Which of these are known to have abundant water vapor or ice on them?
-- quantum_flux, Feb 28 2007

I think I can speak to that in a fairly educated manner but, you can look it up too.

I eagerly await messenger's results.
-- MercuryNotMars, Feb 28 2007

I could look it up just about as much as you could look up Von Braun's original plans for NASA which included sending manned nuclear rockets to mars and venus by 1980, and having a permanent mars base by 1987.
-- quantum_flux, Feb 28 2007

Von Braun's plan was before they knew that Mars didn't have a oxygen nitrogen atmosphere. The atmosphere was a big disappointment. It is now considered rocked fuel ingredients.

Where are you going to get energy from when you get there? I doubt seriously that people are going to let you shoot Radioactive materials into space.

Mercury may have a larger Delta V but it also has more sunlight on the way. The amount of materials to collect energy is different and if Mercury has water, which it probably does, it has it right where you want to live. Is the same true of Mars?

Like I said I eagerly await Messenger's results. I imagine everything from a foothold to a purpose is much more favorable on Mercury. If you hear any different let me know.
-- MercuryNotMars, Feb 28 2007

Wouldn't the radiation issues preclude an easy colony on Mercury. The radiation will be very intense and with no atmosphere or magnetosphere to shield it there will be significant issues in your colonization plan.
-- jhomrighaus, Feb 28 2007

I don't know. There is more magnetosphere on Mercury than on Mars. Mercury has 1% of earths magnetic field.

I assume that you would dig down anyway. I assume anything coming from the sun would be at right angles to your colony and I assume a lot but I assume this stuff goes pretty straight. If that is true then 10 feet down is miles of crust in between you and the sun. some craters are already built.

The solar wind should be whipping by at mach 3 and solar flares tend to go at about .01C. There would be a little atmosphere but lack of atmosphere might be an advantage if you want to prevent new vectors on radiation. I have no idea where to start in such assesment.

I wonder if people plan on building shielding for ships that can handle anything on the trip to Mars but not all things on a trip to Mercury. If you accomplish one how far away really are you from accomplishing the other?

Possibly as I mentioned we would be using a magnetic scoop to collect protons anyway, it might kill two birds with one stone. More sun is more power to waste on shielding.
-- MercuryNotMars, Mar 01 2007

Where there is a will there is a way. We could go to both mercury and mars in the future, it doesn't have to just be 1 or the other.

Werhner Von Braun also had plans for building a permanent moonbase, the space shuttle, the earth space-station, extensive robotic missions to study and map mars, nuclear rockets that could carry 26 people to mars and venus in a single trip, a mars space station, and a permanent mars base all by 1988.... but NASA's budget for all this was cut after Apollo 17, and then it just aimlessly became a series of robotic missions to mars, a spaceshuttle, a hubble telescope, an earth based spacestation, and a series of satelites to other planets.

President Bush reinstated Von Braun's original vision with his new space initiative of the Moon, Mars, and Beyond in 2003, and that is why it's Mars or bust for NASA (the political wheels have already been set in motion and there is no changing the course now). You're really going to have to trust me that where there is a will, there is a way, and the will just seems to be the moon and mars first, and then everything else later. But it's good to have people like Von Braun or you looking to the far off future and having a vision, even if it doesn't happen on the timeline that you want because of a lack of funding or politics, it will eventually happen someday so long as the vision is worthwhile. [+]

BTW: Awesome link on laser cooling! Made me realize the connection between absolute zero and the uncertainty principle. I've still yet to read the one on optical frequency rectenas ....

~also, the sun's energy is equivalent to a million billion nuclear bombs going off each second (that's a ballpark figure), and the radiation is very similar, so I think the public just needs to be less paranoid about launching nuclear propulsion rockets in space.~
-- quantum_flux, Mar 01 2007

I agree that the public is way to uptight about Nuclear but the analogy is not the same.

Hydrogen bombs still have fission triggers. If we could do just pure hydrogen bombs then we could do the Orion project with earth based launches only raising radiation levels 1% above that 1950's level. The estimate was rosy. Fission triggers are probably not going to be launched into space any time soon

I seriously think that Mars is a waste of time beyond planning missions. I think we won't go to Mars until we build our second space needle and fly that over there.

Building a power station on Mercury has enough benefits to be the first priority. If you don't go big you will fail to have any permanent accomplishment. Beyond answering planning quesitons we have no bussiness on Mars without an economic goal. I think the short term do something, do anything goal is in the way of the long term goal.

I don't doubt one bit that a positive water results from Messenger will change those stated goals. I think that solar sail technology will change the delta V paradigm. I think there is a lot of leftover momentum from older ideas and older calculations and there are probably individual scientists that have not seen the grand vision of what their work implies. I think the publicity of 2011 will get people to re evaluate long term objectives.

I think there are people afraid that public criticism by scientists will breed public doubt. Space is a PR campaign. They are not going to express any doubts until they get a positive result.
-- MercuryNotMars, Mar 01 2007

Solar sails accelerate too slow though, and are only practical for interstellar travel and only when used in conjunction with chemical and nuclear stages first. Anyway, the next step in manned exploration is trying to build a permanent biosphere on the moon and mining the moon for fusion fuel. If we get hooked on that stuff (He-3), then maybe mercury will be the step after that since it obviously has a much thicker layer of the stuff.
-- quantum_flux, Mar 01 2007

Solar sails are only practical for Solar system travel since they have to have sunlight. You have that totally backwards. I think you are refering to laser sails.

There is no need to use Rockets on anything other than people or to get things into space and landing. Slow matters when you have people, and slow is no longer the case when you are accelerating more. Technically when you factor out time they are both the same distance. When you factor in time Mercury is closer. with more sunlight for propulsion. Reusable sail moduals. A solar sail can catch a rocket that burns for a few minutes even on a timeline like a journey to Mars.

I found a fun idea just now that would favor a solar sail style format further. It would probably have to replace a rocket design. It is microwaving the paint off a solar sail. My guess is this would also favor a Moon base. I'll post the link.
-- MercuryNotMars, Mar 01 2007

I could mention a notion I encountered some years ago. It involves using a rectenna array to absorb a transmitted beam of microwaves. That is, Earth transmits the beam and the spaceship receives it. The electric power produced is then used for an ion drive. The spacecraft weighs less than if it had some sort of onboard power plant, and so can carry extra fuel and go farther/faster.
-- Vernon, Mar 02 2007

I still say my "solar system pinball" idea is good even if it is (as I found out later) not original. I haven't seen you comment on that one [Vernon].

I think you would enjoy the notion. Technically you can get more push than there is energy in the photon. I am not sure how many bounces that would be, it would probably not be typical. Just ignore the fishbones. I'll post a link to the site I found, here.

This is the shape of things to come.
-- MercuryNotMars, Mar 02 2007

[+] for the sheer effort involved in writing up such a long winded proposal.
-- nuclear hobo, Mar 02 2007

MercuryNotMars: To do any of this would, i'm guessing, require at least a few people living on Mercury for quite awhile. Do you have any numbers for how long it would take ionizing radiation there to kill people? Days? Weeks? Anything?
-- Moonguy, Jun 23 2007

//Do you have any numbers for how long it would take ionizing radiation there to kill people? Days? Weeks? Anything?//

Excellent point. Populate the planet with condemned criminals. They would either die, or would have to migrate around the planet endlessly until they came up with some clever way to spot the rotation.
-- ldischler, Jun 23 2007

Idischler: Absolutely not what I was suggesting! We already have efficient ways of killing people right here on Earth. I was seriously wondering just how long a newly arriving crew would have until they soaked up too many sieverts or whatever it is they're calling radiation these days. Mercury settlement - and it is not as silly an idea as you might think - rests on this one point alone. Any ideas?
-- Moonguy, Jun 25 2007

//Populate the planet with condemned criminals.//

"Krikey mates, what's a crook got to do to get sentenced to life on Mercury!?"

Oh wait a second, 'life on Mercury' sounds like a really cool political slogan, you should seriously start a campaign about this [MercuryNotMars].
-- quantum_flux, Jun 25 2007

Mercury can be reached and inhabited with pretty much the same equipment used for going to the Moon or Mars. So why is everyone assuming it has to wait for some far future time? Really good launch windows occur at about seven year intervals and even the less favorable windows require propellant masses just over three times that required (per payload mass unit) for Mars. A payload for a manned flight would be about 42% of the mass as its Mars counterpart as the flight duration (hence the food and consumables required) is less than half - around 107 days, one way. Yws it takes more propellant tpo get to Mercury than Mars, but not so much as the delta-V alone suggests. Then to, there are solar sails to consider. . . !
-- Moonguy, Jun 30 2007

Mercury as a manufacturing and station base for solar/laser sail technology. We need 3-4 Solar Orbiting Laser Stations around the sun to take turns blasting interstellar probes' sails on their way(Centauri). The first probe to any other solar system would be a combination of another solar orbiting laser station and another probe. Upon arriving, a blast of some sort would separate the two, imparting momentum to the probe to continue further out, and decreasing the velocity of the "receiver" solar/laser station in order to go into orbit around the new star. At that point the station would be used to slow incoming transports from Sol. With solar/laser sail tech, it is not inconceivable for a ship to reach a decent fraction of light speed.

The Orbiting Stations would obviously be of use for solar system transportation as well, though not as much as interstellar. While not being used for interstellar motivation, they could be used to generate an immense amount of power beaming to other locations at will, solar science, perhaps massive food production facilities....multi-tasking design is the way to make stuff pay off.
-- nrwingate, Jul 12 2007

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