It's not going to do any good to land on Mars if we're stupid.
April 3, 2013 3:38 PM   Subscribe


 
But we can stop in Barstow halfway for smokes right?
posted by The Whelk at 3:44 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Those stars are going a bit fast. Parallax is a somewhat smaller effect. Just a tad, you know?
posted by edd at 3:46 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Might as well, and pick me up one of those microwavable shit burgers while you're in there.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:49 PM on April 3, 2013




Also the stars are a repeating pattern, so you get aliasing and it looks terrible. But if you showed them parallaxing instead of just translating then you would get no sense of speed. If you time it right, the distance from earth to mars is .5 AU. The distance from summer earth to summer earth is 2 AU - and the stars we can see in both seasons (the north and south ones) don't look all that different over the course of the year.
posted by aubilenon at 3:51 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's a good soundtrack if you plan on bringing your kids along for the ride

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise a kid.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:52 PM on April 3, 2013 [22 favorites]


WERE. If the Earth WERE 100 pixels wide.
posted by Longtime Listener at 3:54 PM on April 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


So, here's a question: would it be quicker to go to Mars for real or to go to the nearest known inhabitable planet at the speed on that website graphic?

Assuming, for the moment, that the handful of planets we think might be habitable actually are.
posted by Jehan at 3:57 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Previously in "holy shit the solar system is huge."
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:01 PM on April 3, 2013


Distance to Proxima Centauri is 4.35 LY, and the animation was simulating 0.20 c. So real travel to Mars is quicker*.

*Depending on your frame of reference.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 4:01 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


jehan: That page gets up to 1/5 the speed of light? The nearest star, inhabitable planets or no, is 5 light years away. We can get to mars in less than 25 years, and in fact, we might even do that.
posted by aubilenon at 4:02 PM on April 3, 2013


This is a good lesson on distance but I'd be interested in seeing something scaled to fuel costs. I suspect that every orbit in our system would be compressed to a few pixels just outside of earth's gravity well.
posted by fartron at 4:07 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now show how long it would take go get to Uranus!
posted by item at 4:07 PM on April 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Mars is for chumps. Look at how much trouble we're having getting out of our current gravity well. Why would we drop our first extraterrestrial settlement at the bottom of another deep gravity well?

~25 meters of rock will provide long-term shielding against cosmic radiation. Go to Luna or an asteroid and dig. Even easier, try the giant lava tube cave in Marius crater. It's pretty much ideal.

Mining and manufacturing on a low gravity moon or minor planet would make the second extraterrestrial colony far easier to build than the first. Sure, go to Mars, but not first.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:08 PM on April 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


Just as the message comes up that the travel speed's the equivalent of 7000 pixels/second the whole screen goes white. Very "Event Horizon". It also means that you can count me out of the rescue mission - I've seen the movie.
posted by Zack_Replica at 4:10 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, if I learned anything from those Apollo mission transcripts from earlier today, there are going to be a LOT of sticky turds floating around the spaceship if it takes that long to get there.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 4:19 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mars barred.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:25 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


@Longtime Listener

I don't think it's "were."

Were is past tense plural, was is singular.

The earth was beautiful today.

The earth were beautiful today. (No)
posted by dave78981 at 4:26 PM on April 3, 2013


But if you showed them parallaxing instead of just translating then you would get no sense of speed.
I know I'm being a miserable spoilsport but... just draw a flipping ruler.

Really, parallax is very literally the first step on the ladder to us understanding just how big all this shit is. Let's not abuse it.
posted by edd at 4:31 PM on April 3, 2013


Wow. And I thought it was a long way to the Chemist's.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:31 PM on April 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Now show how long it would take go get to Uranus!

Much faster with dinner and a movie
posted by Renoroc at 4:38 PM on April 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Here's a good soundtrack if you plan on bringing your kids along for the ride

Here's a good soundtrack if you're bringing Aphex Twin fans along for the ride.

posted by benbenson at 4:42 PM on April 3, 2013


Her name is Terra. "Earth" is synonymous with dirt.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 4:48 PM on April 3, 2013


The question is, do we get there faster with IE, Firefox, Safari or Chrome?
posted by Chuffy at 4:52 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Terra" is also synonymous with dirt.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:53 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dave78981 - "were" in this case is not past tense, it's the subjunctive.
posted by tdismukes at 4:55 PM on April 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


"if the earth were" - About 3,130,000 results
"if the earth was" - About 1,850,000 results

GoogleGrammarTM has the answer.
posted by vidur at 4:57 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's the subjunctive!
posted by blue_beetle at 5:10 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is why I just call it Planet Dirt.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:12 PM on April 3, 2013


We have so few subjunctive forms. Let's hang onto them! It should be were, as the earth isn't 100 pixels wide.
posted by multivalent at 5:14 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


0.2 c is unrealistic, even with the most extreme available technology. Exhaust velocity is a limiting factor. Even hydrogen bomb propulsion starts becoming inefficient beyond 0.1 c (possibly as low as 0.01 c).

Source: a publication by Freeman Dyson on Project Orion.

Let's walk before we can run. Extrasolar planets are ridiculously far away. Earth's moon and/or near-earth asteroids are the place to start.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:16 PM on April 3, 2013


We're past tents, we live in bungalows now. This is the mechanical age, after all.
posted by gimonca at 5:31 PM on April 3, 2013


If we use a retina display there will be more pixels per inch, so Mars will be closer. Isn't technology wonderful?
posted by Kabanos at 5:31 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mining and manufacturing on a low gravity moon or minor planet would make the second extraterrestrial colony far easier to build than the first. Sure, go to Mars, but not first.

Maybe it makes sense to wait to colonize Mars until after we have a permanent manufacturing platform on the Moon, but this is just about scrolling our browser over there.

Seriously though, I'm not sure this really does make sense. Any material we would need on Mars that we can get from the Moon, we probably can also get on Mars. Which would mean that a lot of this stuff we'd just be bringing from Earth anyway, at which point stopping on the moon is not sounding so great. Plus, some resources (e.g., water) may be more plentiful on Mars than the moon. And it's less than 10 times as much work to get stuff out of Earth's gravity well from the earth as it is from the moon.* So I'm not sure it's that clear cut, from an energy point of view. The fact that travel time is so much less might make the Moon a more attractive first settlement, but if your goal is to go to Mars, it'd probably be a lot cheaper to skip setting up a moon base on the way.


* The moon has 1/6th of the gravity of earth, but once you've broken free of the moon, you're still in earth's orbit. The combined escape velocities is about a third of the escape velocity from earth's surface. Energy is what matters, not velocity, so square the 1/3.
posted by aubilenon at 5:38 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm going to need a new finger if we're going from Mars to Jupiter.
posted by arcticseal at 5:49 PM on April 3, 2013



The question is, do we get there faster with IE, Firefox, Safari or Chrome?


I'm using Pale Moon, which is based on Firefox's code base. I can reach the moon, but when I try to go to Mars a lot stars fly by, some text pops up on the page, and then the screen goes white. So my take is that the distance to Mars is much less important than the fact that whenever we go there we explode.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:52 PM on April 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Actually having gone back to the tab, it seems I did eventually get to Mars; it's just the stars stopped. So the real danger is no explosion but running out of space.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:55 PM on April 3, 2013


Check this out in 800*600, takes fucking ages
posted by mattoxic at 6:17 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It should be "were" -- past subjunctive form in a counter-factual if clause.
posted by pbrim at 6:24 PM on April 3, 2013


So, here's a question: would it be quicker to go to Mars for real or to go to the nearest known inhabitable planet at the speed on that website graphic?

This has to be a troll, right?

As it stands, we're not gonna set foot on any non-Solar body in any of our lifetimes. Unless it's a comet, and technically they're Solar, right?
posted by Sphinx at 6:25 PM on April 3, 2013


I don't see why it must be in the subjunctive mood. What is your basis for saying that the Earth isn't one hundred pixels wide?
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:34 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just as the message comes up that the travel speed's the equivalent of 7000 pixels/second the whole screen goes white.

This happened for me as well. I assumed I had made the jump into hyperspace.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:38 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


What makes me very happy is that when I hit the back button on the browser I were not made to watch the return journey.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 6:43 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wait, are you implying there is actually something we can not do "in the browser"?
posted by sammyo at 6:43 PM on April 3, 2013


This has to be a troll, right?

Most likely not. Generally, people have no idea how far away stuff is from us. Just, no fucking clue.
posted by odinsdream at 6:55 PM on April 3, 2013


What was that, like 50 seconds or something? I don't see what the big deal is.
posted by sourwookie at 7:13 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm wild for space exploration but when G. W. Bush announced a manned mission to Mars - I really wanted to reach into the TV screen and smack him.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:21 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought it said Pixies. 100 Pixies. See, if the Earth were 100 pixies wide, you have to use were, because, obviously, it isn't.

And besides, you can't go paragliding on the Moon. Well, if the Moon were to have an atmosphere you could. But it doesn't. That's why we should go to Mars.

I think the rule is the same for pixels. But I agree that we should explore he asterisks first.
posted by mule98J at 7:25 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really like the idea of going to Mars and back to the Moon. However, I kind of doubt that there will be any permanent settlements on them unless there is something truly valuable there to mine that we do not have easily accessible on earth. Otherwise, well, which is easier to live in, the Arica desert in Chile or a crater on the Moon? How about Antarctica? At least in those locations, even if you have no water coming from the sky, you don't have to worry about oxygen. Hell, in a way it'd be easier to set up a permanent settlement on the peak of Mt. Everest, as there at least you have some oxygen and plenty of water.

I don't know what will get permanent bases on the moon/other planets/other moons (given the radiation Jupiter produces, is it even possible to think about Europa?) but I am afraid that it will take more than just a spirit of adventure.

Also, given that Mars lacks a magnetosphere, if we ever did manage to terraform it, what would protect it from having the atmosphere stripped away by solar wind, like what happened before?

Now that I've burst everyone's bubble, I still believe we should go to Mars. It's almost possible (if not a good idea) with current technology and the morale value in reaching another planet is worth multiple rovers, as cool and useful as they are. People in space make it more interesting to most folks than machines in space. And if we someone manage not to destroy ourselves with the coming interesting times, whatever species we evolve into will eventually need to get off this planet.
posted by Hactar at 7:40 PM on April 3, 2013


aubilenon, keep in mind that low gravity is not the moon's only advantage. The moon has no atmosphere, which makes using a railgun/coilgun to get to interplanetary space much more practical, removing the need for rocket fuel.

Any material we would need on Mars that we can get from the Moon, we probably can also get on Mars.

True, but material gathered on Mars can only be used on Mars (relatively high escape velocity, thick atmosphere). Material mined in low gravity can be transferred to anywhere in the solar system at comparatively sensible cost.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:40 PM on April 3, 2013


Every other MeFite probably knows about it, but I only just discovered the Voyager odometer and have been checking it obsessively for the last couple days.
posted by Creosote at 8:18 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, here's a question: would it be quicker to go to Mars for real or to go to the nearest known inhabitable planet at the speed on that website graphic?
Wait, there's nothing trollish about that question. It's both a fun exercise and entirely on-topic. What's more, the actual comparison is close enough that I credit the person who asked with keen intuition when it comes to the distances involved. (Maybe the other comments assumed the question referred to the speed written down in text on the website graphic? I assume the question is referring instead to the speed that you'd have to be travelling to get to mars as quickly as happens in real time when viewing that page.)

It looks like the website didn't use a realistic path to get to mars; they just took some value close to the minimum distance to mars and traversed it in one minute. If assume their distance scaling and that the traversal is happening in real time, then we're travelling at 7000 pixels/s times 1.2e3 km/pixel, or around 0.9 pc/year. The closest star is 1.3 pc away. So, you couldn't quite get to the nearest star at website speed in the time it takes to get to mars. Depending on what you mean by habitable, and how likely such planets are, you're talking about tens to hundreds of years to get to one. But, it's close enough to be interesting. You could certainly get to quite a few extra-solar planets before the first mars colonists died of old age.

Also, surely all those little specs are meant to be zodiacal dust streaming past the windshield, right? I mean, there wasn't any text bubble about engaging a warp drive, so they can't possibly be parallax-defying stars whooshing by.
posted by eotvos at 8:19 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I understand this correctly, all we have to do to invent warp drive is figure out how to drag the scroll thumb on the rightmost edge of the universe.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:31 PM on April 3, 2013


It is subjunctive but, as one Wiki article on subjunctive case points out, in English the form is not obligatory. I take this to mean that either form is correct and meaning is inferred from context.

Using subjunctive is probably "more correct" but I doubt anyone misunderstood the meaning of the sentence as it was written, ie it conveyed the meaning of the idea in the writer's head, the whole purpose of language to begin with.
posted by dave78981 at 9:20 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think "current state of space technology" means what they think it means. "Current state of funded space technology", maybe.
posted by cthuljew at 10:07 PM on April 3, 2013


0.2 c is unrealistic, even with the most extreme available technology. Exhaust velocity is a limiting factor. Even hydrogen bomb propulsion starts becoming inefficient beyond 0.1 c (possibly as low as 0.01 c).

All we have to do is get into the warp, go faster than the speed of light, colonize the galaxy. Granted, those damn chaos gods will all drive us insane and the Emperor will devour our souls, but BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!!

sorry, couldn't resist.
posted by usagizero at 10:45 PM on April 3, 2013


Scroll to top, skip to bottom. Metafilter has already figured out the distance problem.
posted by roboton666 at 10:55 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Any material we would need on Mars that we can get from the Moon, we probably can also get on Mars.--aubilenon

What's weird is that your argument convinces me that we should go to the Moon. What I hear is something like this: "You can get this cereal at the grocery store down the street, or you can fly to France to get it." Uh, I think I'll just walk down the street, if you don't mind. I'd love to go to France, but I can't frigging afford it right now!

Which is what's really the point. We can't afford to go to Mars. Not even close. Yet, there are investors willing to put money up to go check out asteroids. If someone else is willing to pay for it, let's go for it! Having a moon base might even be useful for this.
posted by eye of newt at 11:49 PM on April 3, 2013


WERE. If the Earth WERE 100 pixels wide.

Oh, look, the dying remnant of the past subjunctive!

If we want a real past subjunctive mood, great. But this one case is all we have of it, and if actual usage wants to haul it out back and kill it, fine by me.

Indeed, the present subjunctive is pretty thin, but at least there are enough cases that it's clearly useful, even if the form basically only appears in third person singular.

If the language was rational, it would fix that - just as it is fixing the one singular remaining past subjunctive.
posted by eriko at 5:54 AM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why would you want to put your colony on Mars OR on the Moon? They both have huge gravity wells, neither is even slightly hospitable, and Mars is inconveniently far away. If you're going to move to space, why not move to space? Collect a few asteroids and start building stuff. I don't see why you don't need any rocks bigger than you can process into equipment.
posted by Hizonner at 7:14 AM on April 4, 2013


Just want to say the website when it said it was travelling at 7,000 pixels per second it had a parenthetical below it saying it was 200,000 kph. Nowhere near 0.2c.
posted by Phantomx at 7:34 AM on April 4, 2013


aubilenon: The distance from summer earth to summer earth is 2 AU
Pretty sure you're overestimating that distance by about 2 AU.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:56 AM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


In a weird coincidence I just saw The Bad Astronomer talking about the comet ISON that is approaching the sun later this year. Here is the article and about halfway down he speaks about the hellish pass of the sun it will do and at is perihelion it will be travelling at a million miles an hour which is about .2c. I laughed at the coincidence and had to share it here.
posted by Phantomx at 2:11 PM on April 4, 2013


aubilenon: "The nearest star, inhabitable planets or no, is 5 light years away."

What put this all in perspective for me is when they said that Voyager, at the edge of our solar system, is only 16 light hours away. Of course now that Voyager odometer Creosote linked says they are at 28 and 34 light hours.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:07 PM on April 4, 2013


Which is what's really the point. We can't afford to go to Mars. Not even close. Yet, there are investors willing to put money up to go check out asteroids. If someone else is willing to pay for it, let's go for it! Having a moon base might even be useful for this.

Not really. Going to the Moon means you pay the cost of getting out of Earth's gravity well. Going somewhere from the moon means you pay the cost of getting out of both the Moon's and the Earth's gravity well.

In spaceflight, it is all about ΔV, and ΔV spent on landing/taking off from the Moon is ΔV not spent going elsewhere. If you want to go to the Moon, go to the Moon. If you want to go somewhere else, go there. Do not go to the Moon first. LEO is far cheaper than the Moon, and unlike the Moon, it doesn't cost you anything extra to reach.
posted by eriko at 9:16 PM on April 4, 2013


million miles an hour which is about .2c.

c is 186,000 miles per second, or 11,600,000 miles per minute, which is 669,000,000 miles per hour. So, a million miles an hour is about 0.0015c.

When you're off by three orders of magnitude, I have to point it out -- that's like thinking it'll cost $20 and finding out it'll cost $20K -- or two cents.
posted by eriko at 9:24 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]




Of course the earth isn't 100 pixels wide. Everyone knows it's only 0.12 pixels wide.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:27 PM on April 5, 2013


summer Earth to summer Earth: C= 2πr, where r = 1 Au.

....just saying...

..ah, and I forgot: put the transit station at the LaGrange point, and the rail-guns on the Moon.

Home, home on LaGrange, not far from the Pebble In The Sky.
posted by mule98J at 11:48 AM on April 6, 2013


Sorry, I meant to type summer earth to winter earth. That's the biggest parallax we see, it's not very much, and the distance from Earth to Mars only ranges from 1/4 that distance to 3/2 times it.

Conveniently the parsec unit of measurement is defined by this so it's really easy to give exact details. If an object is 1 parsec above or below the sun, that means the angle between the Earth, that object, and the Sun is one second of arc. Going between Earth and Mars, the nearest star, Alpha Proxima would shift by about 0.65 arc-seconds. For comparison, the moon subtends about 3000x as much of our view.

But actually there is no single correct answer for how the stars in this demonstration should move, because it depends on how far the "camera" is from the Earth. In this case there is no parallax, so we know that this is an orthographic projection, which is equivalent to the camera being infinitely far from Earth, and is probably fitted with an infinitely expensive zoom lens.

The background repeating every 952 pixels, however, is not consistent with any currently popular cosmological theories.
posted by aubilenon at 12:20 PM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ooops, eriko you're totally right. I just looked back at it and he had said 0.2 percent. That's what I get for not doing a simple check. I've never been good at remembering any approximations of the speed of light.
posted by Phantomx at 7:22 AM on April 7, 2013






Please send Donald Trump Please send Donald Trump Please send Donald Trump Please send Donald Trump!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:50 PM on April 16, 2013






homunculus: Mars One mission could go horribly wrong — if it ever gets off the ground
So, if I'm reading your article correctly, homunculus, apparently there's some sort of "risk", or even "danger", involved in so-called space exploration.

I'll alert the press.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:49 PM on April 28, 2013






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