Friday, August 7, 2009

Martian Spelunking

A thought I've pondered for a while:

Caves, caves, caves! Why are we not looking at Martian caves? Should people do it, or just robots?

I like the human exploration of caves on Mars thought, but then again we run into the cost issue. I guess if we're going to send people to Mars, that should be their mission mandate? I would think that it would be a serious option. Either that, or landing them close to Cydonia just to really see what the hell is down there. :)

About the caves though, I bet the risk of spelunking on Mars is better suited for rovers. Now, the people on Mars can drive the rover in real time, doing better research by bringing samples out to them and not having to deal with time delays, but actually going into an unknown area with a clunker of a space suit...hell, regular cave exploration on Earth is risky enough without that extra baggage.


데이빛 / Mithridates said...

Couldn't find a better place for this comment (unrelated to Martian spelunking) so I'll write it here. After finding out that 1994 CC has two tiny moons of its own I began thinking about sending a manned mission to a system like that instead of just a single asteroid, but also about an unmanned mission. It would be a kind of New Millenium Program-type probe that would make its way to the system and land three probes on each body. The best way would probably be to use an ion drive not only to get there but also for the fine maneuvering that would be necessary after arriving, and it would start out as a single craft, land on the first moon, leave one lander behind, make its way to the second, leave a lander behind there, and then make its way to the main body.

Do you think a mission like that would be worth the cost? The landers could be extremely simple and wouldn't need to move since the other sides of the bodies could be observed by the other landers as the asteroid and its moons circle each other.

Douglas Mallette said...

Mith - What would be the purpose of the mission? You covered the way to get there, or what would be used, but what would be done?

Robotic: Is it simply a piggy back mission so we can track where the asteroid flies? Would you want to stick Hi-Def Cameras on the Landers so we could get sweet pictures of not only the asteroid, but video of its travels?

Manned: Why? What to do?

It's small asteroid. I figure if we're going to send people to an asteroid, it should be a huge one to provide more research options.

데이빛 / Mithridates said...

Purpose of the mission: studying not only asteroids but also binary/trinary systems since ofttimes an asteroid coming towards the Earth will be seen later to be not one but two or three. I remember 2008 BT18 that passed by last year turned out to be a binary system as well.

Robotic: I think all robotic missions should have hi-def cameras since we all remember how Lunar Prospector was barely noticed by the public at large due to having no snazzy photos to send back.

As for manned, it would be in line with this:

...but to a more interesting double or triple asteroid instead. A manned mission would have to be to an NEO which would make it relatively small. I suppose a robotic mission could be sent to a larger trinary system, though that might not be as helpful in understanding asteroids that could potentially hit the Earth.

Norman Copeland said...


I personally suspect your enthusiasm to be purely nostalgic as we haven't developed technology capable of saving us from such a strike. Yes, I realise thats one of the reasons your saying lets have a closer look at these sorts of objects, but, personally, I agree with Douglas, though I would like the suggestion of probably visiting one of these objects while on the way to another more important mission.

Well you'd say what is more important than our planet's security? I'd say our other planets security! I think its time we should all start thinking BIGGER, MORE MISSIONS, MORE RESULTS PER DOLLAR, MORE ASTRONAUTS, MORE DATA, MORE PHOTOGRAPHIC DATA, MORE INVESTMENT, LESS CRITISISM, AND MORE SCIENCE RESEARCH CONCERNING SPACE TRAVEL. [This is all happening].

Cheer up buddy, its getting bigger, better, and more people are getting the jist of how important it is.