Terraforming

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
rust
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Re: Terraforming

Postby rust » Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:27 am

heron61 wrote:From no free oxygen to significant levels of free oxygen in the atmosphere took more than 100 million years on Earth ...
It makes a difference whether one has to wait a couple of million years for
nature to develop highly efficient oxygen producing life forms or whether
one can start with the results of millions of years of biological evolution and
has the ability to genetically improve them even more. 8)
Hopeless
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Hopeless » Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:57 am

Forgive me for interrupting but would the addition of comets or asteroids composed of the necessary added elements to impact on the Martian surface help at all?

I was picturing establishing a space station linked maybe to one of Mars twin moons used as a relay station so they can send supplies down and relieve the staff aboard the station at intervals ( 6 months or so exactly how long is a return trip from Earth to Mars and back again?).

Establishing a base on the surface so they can begin the process for an eventual habitat large enough so they can begin building the first domed city but that doesn't take into account what they would need just to get that far.

So what would they need assuming this to help with the planned terraforming of Mars by giving them access to the information they'd need to even attempt this?
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Re: Terraforming

Postby rust » Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:06 pm

Hopeless wrote:Forgive me for interrupting but would the addition of comets or asteroids composed of the necessary added elements to impact on the Martian surface help at all?
I suspect that the impacts of asteroids or comets big enough to make a difference with
their content of water etc. could cause the equivalent of a "nuclear winter", similar to a
global ice age (see the theories about the impact which probably killed Earth's dinosaurs).
So the asteroids or comets would probably have to be lowered to the surface with grav
engines, or would have to be broken up into smaller pieces before the fall to the surface.
Overall this would seem a technological challenge, and rather a long term project.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Epicenter » Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:10 pm

Hopeless wrote:Forgive me for interrupting but would the addition of comets or asteroids composed of the necessary added elements to impact on the Martian surface help at all?
It would help, and a variety of sci-fi writers have proposed the idea over the decades to do exactly that.

However, I can't cite sources as I'm not even sure if I am remembering it correctly, but I think once some physics/chemistry/mathematician types started actually working out the numbers, it was figured out that you'd need an immense number of water-bearing bodies impacting with a world to make a difference. If I recall, one of the theories (I don't know if it current or not) was that Earth got most of its water from comets and similar bodies, but the theory said this took an immense number of impacts spread of a geologic time-scales for it to happen.

Regardless, the cost of finding so many water-bearing bodies and shooting them at a colonization candidate would be very expensive or take a very long time (an ion thruster attached to an asteroid might do the trick if you didn't mind waiting centuries or millennia and had a thruster that would last that long, the sooner you want/need it the more money it costs) and such water-bearing bodies might simply not be common enough in the closer areas (within a few AU) of the solar system to even make a difference.
Matt Wilson wrote:How long to convert X8A7000-0 to X867000-0, and so on...
Centuries, I would imagine.

I think if there was unlimited resources to apply towards terraforming a world, it might be done in a century, but more realistically, given the constraints of how much resources you can throw at a world, I think you're closer to centuries on end.

Particularly, "A" would require an actual explanation of what exactly is "exotic" about the atmosphere (an example of why UPPs are useless as "useful" data for actual people living in a Traveller universe, it's only useful for metagame users like gamemasters). Even if it "there's a lack of oxygen" the atmospheric makeup of the other gasses would have to described.

With sufficient resources, it might be possible to seed a lot of microorganisms needed to lay the groundwork for an oxygen cycle onto a world quickly, especially if the civilization had done it before. If they're doing it for the first time, I think it'd take a lot longer.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Matt Wilson » Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:48 pm

Yeah, if you provide the life yourself instead of waiting for it to evolve from nothing, you can probably skip a good portion of that hundred million years.

And I don't think anyone would bother terraforming Mars, and especially not Venus, if there are better candidates a jump or two away.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Reynard » Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:34 pm

Another point to consider is why one would terraform worlds. What is so important with a world or the system it's in that a star spanning civilization needs to make it more habitable rather than just using much cheaper protective means to live there? The biggest classical reason is expanding population simply to colonize as we see historically on Earth. Groups of people wanting to get away from the older populations for a variety of reasons not involving wealth outright. What other reasons would have incredible amounts of time, manpower and resources sunk into such a project?

The typical Traveller Universe has a low need for terraforming because it has so many readily habitable worlds conducive to humans. So far in our universe, all observations show a great lack of such earth like bodies. Maybe we'll find one that come close enough we could nudge it to make colonization less traumatic. I'd like to think though we would use the same advancements to fix our broken planet first rather than running from it.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Rikki Tikki Traveller » Wed Dec 17, 2014 2:59 pm

Leaning more towards a gaming solution than a scientific solution, I use the following general guidelines:

1000 years (divided by TL) to change an atmosphere by 1 (7 to 6 or A to 9). I know this assumes that all A atmospheres are Dense, but you have to start somewhere.

200 years (divided by TL) to change the Hydrographic value by 1 (1 to 2 or A to 9).

So, for your TL12 world: 8A7 to 867 is a 4 step change so:

4x1000/12 = 333 years.

If the world had been 8AA to 867, the hydrographic change of 3 would be:

3x200/12 = 50 years

Just for fun, I said that you could NOT do both at the same time. But that was just to make the colonies have to work a bit more and make some decisions.

Don't like my numbers? just change the base values of 1000 and 200 so something else.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Matt Wilson » Wed Dec 17, 2014 3:07 pm

Rikki Tikki Traveller wrote:Leaning more towards a gaming solution than a scientific solution, I use the following general guidelines:

1000 years (divided by TL) to change an atmosphere by 1 (7 to 6 or A to 9). I know this assumes that all A atmospheres are Dense, but you have to start somewhere.

200 years (divided by TL) to change the Hydrographic value by 1 (1 to 2 or A to 9).

So, for your TL12 world: 8A7 to 867 is a 4 step change so:

4x1000/12 = 333 years.

If the world had been 8AA to 867, the hydrographic change of 3 would be:

3x200/12 = 50 years

Just for fun, I said that you could NOT do both at the same time. But that was just to make the colonies have to work a bit more and make some decisions.

Don't like my numbers? just change the base values of 1000 and 200 so something else.
I like this as a starting point. To get around the density issue, I might say that the change is A to 7 to 6, if you assume that your A atm is within normal pressure ranges. A type 7 "contaminated" atmosphere would be "low O2" as per the TNE World Tamer's Book.

Probably you wouldn't worry too much about whether you end up with 5, 6 or 8 if you're already in that range.

And to get really gamey about it, I bet it'd be easier and faster to oxygenate an atmosphere if you have significant oceans, so maybe a time mod based on the starting Hyd number.

Thanks!
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Wed Dec 17, 2014 3:25 pm

Reynard wrote:Another point to consider is why one would terraform worlds. What is so important with a world or the system it's in that a star spanning civilization needs to make it more habitable rather than just using much cheaper protective means to live there? The biggest classical reason is expanding population simply to colonize as we see historically on Earth. Groups of people wanting to get away from the older populations for a variety of reasons not involving wealth outright. What other reasons would have incredible amounts of time, manpower and resources sunk into such a project?

The typical Traveller Universe has a low need for terraforming because it has so many readily habitable worlds conducive to humans. So far in our universe, all observations show a great lack of such earth like bodies. Maybe we'll find one that come close enough we could nudge it to make colonization less traumatic. I'd like to think though we would use the same advancements to fix our broken planet first rather than running from it.
Our planet is not broken, before we start geoengineering our own planet, it might be a good idea to try it out on planets like Mars and Venus first, that way if we make a mistake, no harm done. As for why they might do it in the Traveller Universe.

As for why they might do it in Traveller, one might ask, why build a skyscraper in Manhattan when there is plenty of land surrounding Manhattan in which one could build office space and apartments.

How is this timeline?
Year 0 Venus D8B0168-E
Year 1000 Venus C8A1368-F
Year 2000 Venus B892668-F
Year 3000 Venus A883768-F
Year 4000 Venus A884768-F
Year 5000 Venus A885868-F
Year 6000 Venus A886868-F
Year 7000 Venus A887868-F
Year 8000 Venus A868968-F
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Matt Wilson » Wed Dec 17, 2014 3:40 pm

As a side note, I've always wondered why Venus isn't listed as atm C. What atmosphere could be worse than Venus? 93x Earth's atm pressure*, twice as hot as an oven. If that's not insidious, I dunno what is.

*I think the "official" operating depth of most submarines is about a third that pressure.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Reynard » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:17 pm

By broken I mean the mess we've made of the land, sea and atmosphere. We've terraformed it to it's present state with melting ice caps and subsequent ocean rise, changing rivers and lakes, desertification and growing severe weather patterns. We should be able to reverse this and that's also a minor terraforming. No one wants to because of the costs in money and resources. If we can't pay to have Earth habitable again, why would we spend much greater amounts of a dried up ball millions of miles away? Why would we worry about terraforming in other star systems?

This is why terraforming in Traveller need a VERY good reason and I usually don't see the need even when it becomes probable at TL 15 when major terraforming, not global terraforming, technology as well as advancements in the fields of Robotics, Medical and energy makes it commercially feasible. By commercially feasible I mean Mega-corporations and subsector or larger government agencies.

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Re: Terraforming

Postby Epicenter » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:58 pm

Reynard wrote:This is why terraforming in Traveller need a VERY good reason.
Humans desire greatness and splendor, things that can look at and be proud of. We as a species really will do things, not because we should, but because we can. It may be a desire for immortality.

Turning Mars habitable would certainly be a testament to the greatness of humankind, an embodiment of our will and our dreams.

Why colonize some world light years distant when you can can colonize a world that's nearby?

There's no native peoples to worry about, no native ecosystem to ruin. You can lay down the world as you please.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:30 pm

Reynard wrote:By broken I mean the mess we've made of the land, sea and atmosphere. We've terraformed it to it's present state with melting ice caps and subsequent ocean rise, changing rivers and lakes, desertification and growing severe weather patterns. We should be able to reverse this and that's also a minor terraforming. No one wants to because of the costs in money and resources. If we can't pay to have Earth habitable again, why would we spend much greater amounts of a dried up ball millions of miles away? Why would we worry about terraforming in other star systems?

This is why terraforming in Traveller need a VERY good reason and I usually don't see the need even when it becomes probable at TL 15 when major terraforming, not global terraforming, technology as well as advancements in the fields of Robotics, Medical and energy makes it commercially feasible. By commercially feasible I mean Mega-corporations and subsector or larger government agencies.

Or Grandfather with a bit of spare time.
Where do you live exactly? All I know is some people say the ice caps are melting, I haven't seen the ocean levels rise, we have to take the "experts" word that the ice caps are melting, cause we can't see it for ourselves, and seeing how the ice caps aren't melted yet, the Earth isn't broke yet either, and for most of Earth's history it didn't have ice caps, or at least not ice caps on land. In order for ice caps to be on land, a landmass has to be positioned over one of the poles, this was not always the case, and if the ice caps are sitting on water, melting them doesn't raise the ocean levels, it is only ice that melts on land that does this. Even if the land ice caps do melt, this isn't a big deal, the Earth has been warmer in the past, way warmer! The Earth could get considerably warmer and still have life, so I wouldn't consider it broken. Venus is broken, Mars is broken, if you need to wear an environmental suit, then the planet does not support human life. I don't know about you, but I walked outside on many occasion without wearing a space suit.

Do humans alter the climate, sure, but then so does every other life form on the planet. Humans are part of the ecosystem, and the ecosystem always changes, it is not static, the Earth is always adjusting to new life and the extinction of old life. Without a series of environmental catastrophes, humans would never have evolved. If that asteroid did not strike the Earth, dinosaurs wouldn't have been wiped out and humans wouldn't have evolved.

As for deliberately trying to alter the environment, the Earth is a very complex ecosystem, I don't think we would know what we were doing if we tried, we could wipe out a number of species just by trying to prevent global warming, we could over do it for example and create an ice age. One idea for example is we could park a comet between the Earth and the Sun, the Comet's coma would block some of the Sunlight, and the coma of a comet can be huge! I'd say it would be better to mess with Mars and Venus, for those planets are already messed up and we can't really make them worse.

Oh by the way the entry for Venus mentions there are Ancient Ruins on Venus Remember the original Movie Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger? What if it was an Ancient Terraforming Kit, how might it work? Open up a wormhole to Saturn, let its hydrogen atmosphere mix with Venus, break apart the carbon dioxide, oh by the way Saturn's atmosphere is cold, by mixing it with Venus's this will go a considerable way towards cooling the planet, the hydrogen will combine with the free oxygen produced by the separation of carbon from carbon-dioxide, and oceans would form, lastly the artifact has to create a permanent could layer of dust in the upper atmosphere to reflect the excess sunlight back into space so Venus can remain cool indefinitely, one this is all done, the wormholes shut and you have a terraformed planet, Now if this happened in the classic Traveller setting, I'm sure the inhabitants of Terra would be quite alarmed if his happened quickly, say within a year for instance. Nanotech would then create vegetation and spread life forms over the planet's surface.
hiro

Re: Terraforming

Postby hiro » Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:16 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?
Traveller doesn't quite embrace the kind of tech that will potentially do this, but with some generous hand waving it can be done as people have suggested over anywhere from from several hundred years to more than is workable for any game. Traveller's system generation is also pretty light on the details and from what little I know (and no, I don't need to be reminded about just how little I know) it is very generous on it's creation of worlds friendly to humans, so technically in the OTU or versions sticking close to it, you don't need to worry about terraforming.
Matt Wilson wrote: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.
With Mars I think we need to discuss why it's lost it's atmosphere, as I understand it, Mars had water and more of an atmosphere. The magnetic field theory has gone, what's the current theory on why it couldn't maintain an atmosphere? There's precious little point starting to terraform it if it can't retain what changes are made.

It sounds to me like you're creating a near future hardish sci-fi setting. Maybe the answer to your question can be reversed? What do you want the states of various colonies to be? What will best suit your vision of the setting? From there you can set a time scale on terraforming. Coming up with the internal logic to get there is then just "creative writing"!

:)
hiro

Re: Terraforming

Postby hiro » Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:19 pm

Tom Kalbfus wrote:All I know is some people say the ice caps are melting, I haven't seen the ocean levels rise, we have to take the "experts" word that the ice caps are melting, cause we can't see it for ourselves, and seeing how the ice caps aren't melted yet
Thankfully Tom, I can't see you so you do not exist either. No expert opinion needed.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:32 pm

In my sci-fi games, Mars is already terraformed with no narration of how it was done. It's a common thing in the far future, so no one thinks anything more of it. http://youtu.be/oPklFy_iW-o?t=7s
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Matt Wilson » Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:43 pm

hiro wrote:
Tom Kalbfus wrote:All I know is some people say the ice caps are melting, I haven't seen the ocean levels rise, we have to take the "experts" word that the ice caps are melting, cause we can't see it for ourselves, and seeing how the ice caps aren't melted yet
Thankfully Tom, I can't see you so you do not exist either. No expert opinion needed.
LOL those good for nothing scientists with their stupid science!
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Reynard » Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:52 pm

Tom, reading just you first paragraph makes me realize why colonizing and terraforming other world will be absolutely necessary. We will need another boat as our own ship sinks because everyone denies we poked holes in it. The ones poking the most holes will also demand payment for the boat.

It all makes a point that the wildest things imaginable could be done for the most insane reasons. Maybe terraformed worlds should be known as Planets to Nowhere. That also brings up one more concern for these expensive projects - lowest bidders. A lot of work over a long time can lead to corruption and shoddy work. By the time Magrathea finishes over several lifetimes, the final planetary gated community might not look as good as the photo-shopped brochures. And gated? Yes, you don't make a planet for the poor or middle class, they come to work. Terraformed worlds are very much luxury planets made to order for the Best at Imperial taxpayer expense. Look around Earth and see if I lie.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Reynard » Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:56 pm

Oh wait, I forgot! Pyramids!!
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Matt Wilson » Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:00 pm

hiro wrote: With Mars I think we need to discuss why it's lost it's atmosphere, as I understand it, Mars had water and more of an atmosphere. The magnetic field theory has gone, what's the current theory on why it couldn't maintain an atmosphere?
There are a few theories, I think, and a complicated mix of reasons. Lower gravity, not enough volcanic outgassing to replenish, weak magnetic field all work together.

It sounds to me like you're creating a near future hardish sci-fi setting. Maybe the answer to your question can be reversed? What do you want the states of various colonies to be? What will best suit your vision of the setting? From there you can set a time scale on terraforming. Coming up with the internal logic to get there is then just "creative writing"!
Yeah probably, but you know how it is with Traveller. Flying tanks and talking lions are fine, but if you miscalculate the minimum molecular weight retention for a planet someone freaks out.

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