Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Mars Rocks: Why are we traveling so far for information?

Mars rocks are interesting. No one on earth has ever held one.

Yet, consider if there was a way to hold a rock from Mars in the near future.

It is possible. I'm not talking about traveling to Mars.

I'm suggesting we take another approach. Consider the genome sequencing. Scientists can look at tiny things and figure out how their composition.

These patterns can be analyzed. Studied.

We also know that things can be copied. Dolly the sheep was just a copy. Replicated.

We have shown through the internet that we can take information from one location, and put it to use somewhere else.

Why not simply send to Mars devices that can analyze the microscopic composition of the Mars rocks, transmit that understanding into data, and then have that data stream used to re-create that object back on earth.

It's not an actual Mars Rock. But its pretty darn close.

How do we do it?

We could use the basic elements we find on Mars, and then use computers to create random combinations of elements. Then we could compare what the computers predict with what we actually find on Mars, so that we might come to understand "why some combinations of chemicals" are actually found, why others are not.

We could also use this information to determine whether photo-observed patterns are reliable, or wethher images are not realible. The images of Mars rocks may mean that "the actual observation" we see in the photos can only be explained not through simple chemistry, but biology.

Assist astro-nauts with earth-based training

Astronauts have some nice training facilities at NASA. Large areas of rocks to practice walking.

What if they actually had Mars-like Rocks they could hold in their hands.

Before we went to the moon, there were alot of rovers looking at Rocks. For Mars, we'd only have to send one ship, one-way, and we would not have to send humans.

This method could save time, and help prepare for actual geological surveys on Mars. All the "rocky study" could be done back on earth. That way, "when we finally arrive on Mars" we could have a better idea of "what we really want to go after".

The Mars-survey-plans would be based on what the scients actually held in their hands, not just the images.


Having thrown this out for others to read, let's actually consider the prospects of such a proposal. I'm not talking in terms of the actual scientific method to accomplish this feat.

Rather, I'm suggesting a method to "adequately review any proposals related to the above" so that we might screen out the fraud and scams from something that will actually work.

I'm not going to speculate on the feasibility of the concept; rather, on "signs that a proposal, project, or public announcement of such an effort" was bordering on fraud.

They need to have a track records, and have an earth-based demonstration of the concept. This seems like a no=brainer. However, the proof is in the pudding.

What's also needed is a truly independent method to evaluate the merits of the proposed concept and preliminary design.

This means much more than a technical evaluation by engineers. Also what's needed is a validation that the concept is both workable, and feasible in terms of funding, logistics, and popular support within government contracting and program management.

Clearly, the obvious question will be: "If they have rovers on Mars now, why can they not already send this data back to earth?" That's a good point. We need to understand what quantum leap in technology is required to go from "what they have" to "what is required to meet this objective."

Clearly, the notion of Star Trek's transporter comes to mind. Scientists have suggest that such a proposal is questionable. Again, the above idea doesn't propose to physically transport anything; merely analyze in great detail the molecular elements of the rocks, and send that data to be used as a template elsewhere.

Another issue is whether devices that can analyze the microscopic details required to replicate the DNA-level atomic structures can be safely transported to Mars.

The other risk area is the relative advantage of having completed this project, prior to sending humans to mars. It is possible that the "time required to create an actual Mars-safe rover that can analyze Mars rocks" would exceed the time required to develop, test, and deploy a human to Mars. Further, the technical advanatges of reviewing "Mars-like rocks developed from detailed analysis" may fall far short of the costs incurred to develop the system.

In short, the risk is that "by the time they've created the device that can physically analyze the rocks on Mars, then convert that data to something that can be used to create something on earth" could very well exceed the time required to simply send humans to Mars; and that humans might have already returned from Mars, rocks in hand, before the final glitches on earth were ironed out.

What is not known is the tradeoff. For example, if there were a commercial product that could be created that didn't necessarily copy rocks, but used this "to be developed technology" [Science fiction] to apply it to some other useful end. Again, the merits of such proposed applications are beyond the scope of this note.