Terraforming

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Matt Wilson
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Terraforming

Postby Matt Wilson » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:13 pm

Assume for a moment a setting where there are no extrasolar planets with life of their own, at least not any that have been encountered within explored space. Anyplace you want to live, you need to provide your own happy atmosphere.

With Traveller TL12 technology, how long might it take to convert various candidate worlds to something habitable?

I'm thinking about it in terms of a setting that's reached N years of exploration and terraforming, and what the state of the various colony worlds might be. How long to convert X8A7000-0 to X867000-0, and so on...

Thoughts? The estimates for terraforming Mars don't take into consideration the maneuver drive and contra-grav, which I suspect would make the effort a lot easier. But still, plants need time to grow.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby sideranautae » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:27 pm

Without LOTS more details lf an actual planet there is no way of estimating.
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ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Terraforming

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:46 pm

Matt Wilson wrote:Assume for a moment a setting where there are no extrasolar planets with life of their own, at least not any that have been encountered within explored space. Anyplace you want to live, you need to provide your own happy atmosphere.

With Traveller TL12 technology, how long might it take to convert various candidate worlds to something habitable?

I'm thinking about it in terms of a setting that's reached N years of exploration and terraforming, and what the state of the various colony worlds might be. How long to convert X8A7000-0 to X867000-0, and so on...

Thoughts? The estimates for terraforming Mars don't take into consideration the maneuver drive and contra-grav, which I suspect would make the effort a lot easier. But still, plants need time to grow.
To planet build, I'd say a higher tech level is needed. Planets need to be moved to the right orbit, and have a magma center. Mars would need something to keep the Sun from blasting its new atmo away. Story-wise though, I'd say it takes 100 years.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby sideranautae » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:59 pm

ShawnDriscoll wrote:Mars would need something to keep the Sun from blasting its new atmo away. Story-wise though, I'd say it takes 100 years.

That "theory" was debunked once Venus' magnetic field strength was measured.
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alex_greene
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Re: Terraforming

Postby alex_greene » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:23 pm

sideranautae wrote:That "theory" was debunked once Venus' magnetic field strength was measured.
No need to put quotes around the word "theory" above.
It was a full scientific theory.
Until evidence to the contrary turned up and forced the astronomers to go back to the drawing board.
You know how science works, Sid.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby sideranautae » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:25 pm

alex_greene wrote:
sideranautae wrote:That "theory" was debunked once Venus' magnetic field strength was measured.
No need to put quotes around the word "theory" above.
It was a full scientific theory.
Until evidence to the contrary turned up and forced the astronomers to go back to the drawing board.
You know how science works, Sid.
Actually, I DO know. Hence, the quotes. At the time it was made, if was impossible to test. Do YOU know what THAT means vis-a-vis the Scientific Method?????
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sideranautae
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Re: Terraforming

Postby sideranautae » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:28 pm

sideranautae wrote:
alex_greene wrote:
sideranautae wrote:That "theory" was debunked once Venus' magnetic field strength was measured.
No need to put quotes around the word "theory" above.
It was a full scientific theory.
Until evidence to the contrary turned up and forced the astronomers to go back to the drawing board.
You know how science works, Sid.
Actually, I DO know. Hence, the quotes. At the time it was made, if was impossible to test. Do YOU know what THAT means vis-a-vis the Scientific Method?????
I didn't think you knew.
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alex_greene
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Re: Terraforming

Postby alex_greene » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:30 pm

sideranautae wrote:
alex_greene wrote:
sideranautae wrote:That "theory" was debunked once Venus' magnetic field strength was measured.
No need to put quotes around the word "theory" above.
It was a full scientific theory.
Until evidence to the contrary turned up and forced the astronomers to go back to the drawing board.
You know how science works, Sid.
Actually, I DO know. Hence, the quotes. At the time it was made, if was impossible to test. Do YOU know what THAT means vis-a-vis the Scientific Method?????
Yes. A hypothesis.
But it still passed the Popper falsifiability test, right up to the point where the evidence blew it away.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby sideranautae » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:32 pm

alex_greene wrote:
sideranautae wrote:
alex_greene wrote:[quote="sideranautae"es. A hypothesis.
But it still passed the Popper falsifiability test, right up to the point where the evidence blew it away.
Nope. Try again.
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sideranautae
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Re: Terraforming

Postby sideranautae » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:34 pm

alex_greene wrote:
sideranautae wrote:
alex_greene wrote:[quote="sideranautae"es. A hypothesis.
But it still passed the Popper falsifiability test, right up to the point where the evidence blew it away.
I means that it didn't qualify as a theory under the Scientific method. HENCE, the quotation marks. :roll:
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Re: Terraforming

Postby alex_greene » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:37 pm

sideranautae wrote:I means that it didn't qualify as a theory under the Scientific method. HENCE, the quotation marks. :roll:
If I were running a lab, I'd want you working in it.
But I'd keep you well away from the PR department ...
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Re: Terraforming

Postby sideranautae » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:39 pm

alex_greene wrote:
sideranautae wrote:I means that it didn't qualify as a theory under the Scientific method. HENCE, the quotation marks. :roll:
If I were running a lab, I'd want you working in it.
But I'd keep you well away from the PR department ...
LOL! Funny as I dealt with that (PR) for an ENTIRE major country. Got a Knighthood for it too.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby alex_greene » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:41 pm

sideranautae wrote:
alex_greene wrote:
sideranautae wrote:I means that it didn't qualify as a theory under the Scientific method. HENCE, the quotation marks. :roll:
If I were running a lab, I'd want you working in it.
But I'd keep you well away from the PR department ...
LOL! Funny as I dealt with that (PR) for an ENTIRE major country. Got a Knighthood for it too.
Is that one of the countries we've been at war with lately?
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Re: Terraforming

Postby rust » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:43 pm

Matt Wilson wrote: How long to convert X8A7000-0 to X867000-0 ...
Not much information there for an educated guess, but lets give it a try ... :wink:

This planet would start with a lot of water, which would make it comparatively easy to
enrich the atmosphere with oxygen with the help of genetically modified marine algae,
although a lot of that newly created oxygen would immediately disappear into the geo-
chemistry of the land areas. The oxygen content of the atmosphere should begin to in-
crease after just a couple of decades - but how long it would take to create a truly brea-
thable atmosphere would depend too much on the missing informations, I am afraid.

Mars would be a completely different animal ... ah, planet ... because of its lack of wa-
ter, which makes it extremely difficult to use living organisms for the terraforming. Any
purely technical, non-organic terraforming methods would almost certainly require far
more ressources and also take much longer than a biological terraforming.

Still, for game purposes about 100 years for your XBA7000-0 and perhaps 250 years for
a planet like Mars would seem acceptable (well, at least to me ... :) )
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Re: Terraforming

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Tue Dec 16, 2014 11:33 pm

sideranautae wrote:
ShawnDriscoll wrote:Mars would need something to keep the Sun from blasting its new atmo away. Story-wise though, I'd say it takes 100 years.

That "theory" was debunked once Venus' magnetic field strength was measured.
Venus has internal heat still. Mars does not.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Reynard » Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:42 am

Didn't Mars have water once and an atmosphere to hold the water but the weak gravity bled off the air over time and subsequently the water boiled away as the surface pressure decreased. Mars might be a poor candidate example for terraforming. IF there was some way to create and hold an atmosphere, the easiest way to introduce water is what Earth has being doing for eons, icy asteroid bombardment. Have tugs lob iceballs at Mars continuously.

Look how lousy we are at terraforming, or more likely reclamating Earth. Can't even control the pollution and climate issues. Localized clean up and minor terraforming begins at TL 12 while global terraforming doesn't START until TL 16! Might explain why most Traveller worlds are mostly what they were at initial colonization. I think what colonies do best is introduce lifeforms as compatible as humans to new homes. One think never addressed though is invasive species going wild with no balances. This is everything from viruses and bacteria to elephants.

Like most of Traveller, if we do go to Mars, we'll build protective domes and/or underground structures and we'll explore and exploit but won't be creating a sister Earth. Venus... forget it.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Matt Wilson » Wed Dec 17, 2014 2:32 am

Let's assume in this case that the candidate worlds are good candidates: decent size, sufficient volcanism, reasonable temperature, enough atm pressure, good magnetic field, and decent ocean coverage. Pre-life Earth is your ideal match. I have reason to believe pre-life Earth was a good candidate for life. :)

Take any atm 4-9 world with avg temp above 0 and decent surface water, change the atm to A, and there's your range of terraforming candidates. In that case, I think the lion's share of terraforming is in producing oxygen with plant life.

You'd need a step before that to ensure that the environment is optimal for plants, of course, and I have no idea how much work that would entail. Caveat: I'm not botanist! But I'm guessing that simple ocean plants like phytoplankton would probably require less prep than any comparable land plant. And since phytoplankton currently produce a lot of Earth's breathable oxygen, it's kind of a running start. Land plants probably need various microbes introduced to the soil first.

I read someplace that an average leaf produces 5 mL of oxygen per hour. So then you can do the math to figure out how much plant life you need in order to maintain enough ppO2 in a few billion cubic kilometers of air. Just need to wait for your seed crop to multiply its little plant butt off.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Dec 17, 2014 3:16 am

Reynard wrote:Look how lousy we are at terraforming, or more likely reclamating Earth. Can't even control the pollution and climate issues.
Or control how much oxygen people are allowed to breathe.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:38 am

Reynard wrote:Didn't Mars have water once and an atmosphere to hold the water but the weak gravity bled off the air over time and subsequently the water boiled away as the surface pressure decreased. Mars might be a poor candidate example for terraforming. IF there was some way to create and hold an atmosphere, the easiest way to introduce water is what Earth has being doing for eons, icy asteroid bombardment. Have tugs lob iceballs at Mars continuously.

Look how lousy we are at terraforming, or more likely reclamating Earth. Can't even control the pollution and climate issues. Localized clean up and minor terraforming begins at TL 12 while global terraforming doesn't START until TL 16! Might explain why most Traveller worlds are mostly what they were at initial colonization. I think what colonies do best is introduce lifeforms as compatible as humans to new homes. One think never addressed though is invasive species going wild with no balances. This is everything from viruses and bacteria to elephants.

Like most of Traveller, if we do go to Mars, we'll build protective domes and/or underground structures and we'll explore and exploit but won't be creating a sister Earth. Venus... forget it.
Venus needs some shade, some water, and some plant life. I think the best way to provide shade for Venus is to increase the cloud cover. Venus already reflects 75% of the Sunlight back into space, we need a cloud cover that reflects more than that. Nanotech cloud particles that deploy and reproduce under full Venusian sunlight will do the trick. If you prevent visible light from reaching the ground in the first place, it would be reradiated as thermal energy and thus be trapped by the Venusian Greenhouse effect. The nanotech could particles separate carbon from the carbon dioxide to build themselves, this creates free oxygen in the Venusian atmosphere, carbon snow flakes then rain down on to the surface of Venus and accumulate, eventually becoming embedded in the crust, more carbon snowflakes are produced freeing more oxygen, hydrogen is imported from Saturn to combine with the oxygen to produce water, the water produces oceans to which we add life. Life also fixes the nitrogen producing fertilizer for the soil, thus reducing the excess nitrogen in the Venusian Atmosphere The result eventually is an Earth like planet with almost no tilt, with a perpetual cloud cover and a retrograde day length of 240 and change Earth Days, Each Venusian hour is 10 Earth days, and a day equals a growing season, plants would go dormant during the 120 day long night.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby heron61 » Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:37 am

rust wrote:
Matt Wilson wrote: How long to convert X8A7000-0 to X867000-0 ...
Not much information there for an educated guess, but lets give it a try ... :wink:

This planet would start with a lot of water, which would make it comparatively easy to
enrich the atmosphere with oxygen with the help of genetically modified marine algae,
although a lot of that newly created oxygen would immediately disappear into the geo-
chemistry of the land areas. The oxygen content of the atmosphere should begin to in-
crease after just a couple of decades - but how long it would take to create a truly brea-
thable atmosphere would depend too much on the missing informations, I am afraid.
From no free oxygen to significant levels of free oxygen in the atmosphere took more than 100 million years on Earth, as truly vast amounts of minerals on the surface, dissolved in water, and on the ocean floor all oxidized. It might be possible to speed this process up, but barring the sort of nanotech that's indistinguishable from magic, I'd be shocked if this process could take less than 100,000 years, and likely much longer. The more I read about the Great Oxygenation Event, the clearer it is that terraforming, in the sense of taking a world w/o free oxygen and giving it free oxygen isn't going to be possible on any remotely reasonable timescale

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