Arnold had a full grill in Total Recall,
August 28, 2001 8:56 AM   Subscribe

Arnold had a full grill in Total Recall, but Hopes for manned — and especially a "womanned" mission to Mars — might hinge on teeth. The bone-weakening effects of zero-gravity environments might lead to permanent tooth loss, says a government dentist. via Slashdot
posted by adampsyche (13 comments total)
Surely the answer is to provide some kind of gravity then? I mean, rotating space ships have always been considered before... BTW - the link doesn't work for the rest of us, I'm afraid...
posted by barbelith at 9:05 AM on August 28, 2001

??? Works ok for me. They did mention the possibility of "creating" gravity, but I have not heard of this being actually done. Anyone?
posted by adampsyche at 9:13 AM on August 28, 2001

See 2001: A Space Odyssey. Now if we could only afford to build like that . . .
posted by D.C. at 9:31 AM on August 28, 2001

So send John Glen. He won't lose denture density.
posted by chino at 9:55 AM on August 28, 2001

"You have the chance to go to Mars, but you might lose some teeth in the process."

Is there anyone here who wouldn't take the trip on those terms?
posted by kindall at 9:58 AM on August 28, 2001

Yeah... Me. I can see barren, desolate, rock anywhere -- and keep my teeth!
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:12 AM on August 28, 2001

I'd willingly go to Mars if NASA said "We'll guarantee that you'll get there OK, we'll guarantee two months of useful survival once there (and good science), and then you'll die because we can't get you back or resupply you."

Similarly, if NASA said they could get me to another star system in less than a year, but that I'd die three days later, I'd still go.
posted by aramaic at 10:35 AM on August 28, 2001

Nice post on /. on why the moon would be a more profitable (in money and science) colony attempt than Mars. I just roll my eyes at all these billions to land a couple homo sapiens on Mars for a few days when we could have a permanent moon colony for about the same amount.
posted by skallas at 1:33 PM on August 28, 2001

Back in college I was writing some fiction, and tried out a story idea with some friends. What if there were something, I asked, that made space travel so frightening nobody would go? I had in mind more insanity than anything else, but my sounding boards universally thought it was a silly idea. We'd sent astronauts to space and they all came back fine, right? Ha!

Actually there have been concerns for some time that the job of astronaut comes nowhere near OSHA standards, and that's not a joke. That this talk was given at the Mars Society convention is rather interesting (they the ones of the Devon Island "Mars mission simulator"), since they're often accused of starry-eyed optimism about the difficulties of such missions. Instead from what I can tell they're quite concerned with the practicalities on both a technological and political level, and are probably more starry-eyed about the latter if anything.

There's another aspect to the bone loss issues. After six months in space, bouncing around on a planet surface, even in 1/3 gravity, could easily result in a broken bone. Treatment would be exceedingly difficult. Given the tight personnel requirements it would be a major challenge to complete mission goals and return to Earth with a severely injured crewmember.

The answer may well be to provide artifical gravity in the form of centripetal force. Though building a big cylindrical ship is probably impractical, taking two evenly-matched vehicles, tethering them together, and spinning, could be the way to go. We'd need an impressively reliable tether, though, since a break would mean an unrecoverable loss of the crew.

skallas: creating a colony is one thing; sustaining it is another. I tend to feel that a moon colony could not survive without expensive Earth-based resupply, while a Mars colony would have no choice but to be self-sustaining. If the goal is merely to "get there" there's equal incentive, but if one has very long term goals, Mars is a much better choice.
posted by dhartung at 1:43 PM on August 28, 2001

dhartung, at this point any off earth colony/space station would require all sorts of support from earth be it supplies, crews changes, emergency help, etc. A moon colony is almost as practical as a space station and its infamous darkside would be invaluable for space science.

What can humans do on Mars in a few days that would cost taxpayers between $50-150 billion that a bunch of robot launches couldn't do for a fraction of that cost? No big propaganda win is all I can think of.
posted by skallas at 2:01 PM on August 28, 2001

>taking two evenly-matched vehicles,
>tethering them together, and spinning,
>could be the way to go.

I just watched a really campy 1999 TV movie on HBO called "Escape from Mars" which used that premise: a space shuttle tethered to a series of rockets, then the whole tether-system rotating to provide gravity. Part way through the movie, a rocket misfired, sending a series of deadly undulations down the tether, which damaged the shuttle badly.
posted by brownpau at 5:39 PM on August 28, 2001

... could easily result in a broken bone

Am I the only one with an image of an astronaut sitting in a geodome on mars, with a cast signed by all his friends?
posted by geoff. at 6:11 PM on August 28, 2001

Back in college I was writing some fiction, and tried out a story idea with some friends. What if there were something, I asked, that made space travel so frightening nobody would go?

Return From The Stars. This one is truly scary, Solaris is more of a psychological/monster/space thriller, but Return From The Stars deals with more realistic issues. What will happen when humans finally go on long term/high speed extra-solar excursions? What would happen when, due to the effects of relatavisitic aging, 20 years passes for you on your space trip, but 200 years have passed back home on Earth? Return From The Stars deals with just that. By the time the protagonist, one of the worlds first astronauts to go on such a trip,returns home expecting to find fanfare and parades, and to be welcomed as a hero. What he finds is complete indifference. What was a groundbreaking, monumental event when it first happpened, is by now an every day occurance. Anyway, it's an excellent book, and I highly recomend it (along with nearly every other Stanislaw Lem book!).
posted by skwm at 7:36 PM on August 28, 2001

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