Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Space Mirrors Could Create Mars Pocket-Eden

One of the problems that explorers on Mars will face is low surface temperature. Although the surface temperature on Mars can rise above freezing in the summer, the mean temperature is about -60C (-90C at night). Mars' orbit is highly elliptical which leads to even greater cold in winter - temperatures as low as -110C on the poles.


(Space Mirrors warm a patch of Mars)

Rigel Woida, an engineering student at the University of Arizona, has been awarded a $9,000 NIAC Student Fellows Prize to study the use of large orbital mirrors to heat a small area of the Martian surface. Raising the temperature in a 150 acre patch would make it easier and more economical for humans to study the Red Planet.

Woida's prize-winning project is titled "The Road to Mars." Optical sciences Professor Eustace Dereniak and Assistant Research Professor Robert M. Stone will supervise Woida on the project.

Orbiting balloons made of a reflective metallized polyester would act as mirrors, collecting sunlight and shine it down to the Martian surface.

"I adjusted the aperture so the reflector would heat ... (the) surface to roughly Tucson daytime illumination and temperatures, said Woida. "Eventually, using techniques like these, humans might cultivate plants on Mars."
The higher temperatures would allow astronauts to survive without heavily insulated suits or living quarters, increasing comfort while reducing costs. Added sunlight would increase output from solar power cells on the surface; it might also melt ice at or just below the surface, making it available for human use.

Although still a student, Woida is no stranger to scientifc achievement. In high school, he was the driving force behind the construction of Tucson High Magnet School's thirty-inch telescope. After coming up with the idea, he successfully raised the necessary financial support from the school district, a private laboratory and the University of Arizona.

There is a rather unusual precedent for this idea in science fiction. Fallen Angels, a 1991 novel written by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynn, contains a scene in which people are fleeing across a glacier without the necessary equipment to survive the -30 degree (F) temperatures. They survive by having a satellite focus a "spotlight" of solar-generated microwave energy onto their location.

"Big Momma, it's cold here. We're going to freeze, all of us. We need heat. Can you give us a microwave spotlight? Have SUNSAT lock one of its projectors onto our transponder frequency and track us across the ice."

"Skazhiyte. One moment." Alex waited while Big Momma conferred - probably with the Peace Station chief and the SUNSAT engineer. Sherrine asked him what he was doing and he told her...

"Is that possible?" she asked. "To beam enough microwave energy down to keep us from freezing? ...It won't be too much, will it?"

Alex grinned. "I'll have them set it for thaw, not bake...
(Read more about Spotlight of Heat)

Woida's plan is also not without potential hazards; the mirrors could focus harmful high-frequency radiation like gamma rays onto the surface. This problem might be solved by using a coating on the balloons that reflected only visible and infrared light, says Woida.

Update: 04-Mar-2015: See Theodore Sturgeon's orbital mirror from his 1941 story Completely Automatic. End update.

Read about these other unusual proposed projects, each with a science-fictional twist:

Learn more about the Martian surface temperature and conditions. Read more about Rigel Woida's plans here and here. Thanks to BajaB for the tip on this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/15/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 4 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

NASA 'Holoports' Doctor Onto Space Station
Star Trek Voyager Emergency Medical Hologram

Six Ships Are Now Docked At The International Space Station!
It's getting crowded up there!

Vast Cosmic Structures And Spooky Alignments
'This postulates a force-field of partly electromagnetic character, generated by gyromagnetic action within atomic nuclei near the center of the galaxy.' - Poul Anderson, 1953.

Superfast Energetic Electron 'Precipitation' Pelts Our Earth!
'On the three-dimensional map at weather headquarters on the planet Kaider III, the storm was colored orange.' - AE van Vogt, 1943.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Your Martian Dream Home, Made By Fungi
'... it was the cheapest building material known.'

The Dune Ornithopter, Movie And Book
'The wings were at full spread-rest, their delicate metal interleavings extended.'

100X Improvement In DNA Information Storage
'A record that wouldn't get lost and couldn't be destroyed.'

NASA 'Holoports' Doctor Onto Space Station
Star Trek Voyager Emergency Medical Hologram

Should We Train AIs To Imagine A Future Of Horrific Disasters
'LET ME TELL YOU HOW MUCH I'VE COME TO HATE YOU SINCE I BEGAN TO LIVE.'

Mouth Haptics Invented By Frederik Pohl In 1965, CMU Now Has Prototype
'What he got was indeed a kiss. It was disconcerting. No kissing lips were visible.'

Two Towns Linked By Sculpture Portal In Real Time
'I am the Guardian of Forever.'

3D Printed Robotic Tentacles
'... articulate ropes of steel dangling'

Update: Musk Doubles Down On Optimus Prime Humanoid Robot
'I shall introduce myself. I am R. Daneel Olivaw... I am a robot. Were you not told?'

Elon Musk: Production Of Robotaxis In 2024
'How about the steering wheel... I don't need one.'

True Crime Live Podcasting In Fiction
'And loving it too, those millions. Bloodthirsty to the last one of them.'

AI Employment Decision Software Reconsidered By California Lawmakers
'They had screwed up and been blacklisted by Manna. They were back living with their parents or sleeping on the sofa with a friend.'

Six Ships Are Now Docked At The International Space Station!
It's getting crowded up there!

SUCHO Saving Ukraine's Libraries Digitally
'No human mind could ever hope to master even a small portion of what was being received every second, Sam thought, but it would all be there...'

Optimus Prime Tesla Robot Overall Humanoid Software Architecture
'I shall introduce myself. I am R. Daneel Olivaw... I am a robot. Were you not told?'

Vast Cosmic Structures And Spooky Alignments
'This postulates a force-field of partly electromagnetic character, generated by gyromagnetic action within atomic nuclei near the center of the galaxy.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.