Powered flight. The First “flight” was of a balloon on Venus back in the 1980s.
As to Ingenuity, the bigger thing for me is the chip that’s powering it. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor.
Perseverance uses an old intel Chip for the late 1990s, which is far more typical for missions like this. Aerospace willing to take a bet on a far more modern ARM chip, without the same flight heritage, is a big step up. It’ll open the door to NASA trying to release swarms of such drones in the future, along with far more intricate robotic set ups.
The atmosphere on Mars is about 1/100th of what it is on earth. This makes this flight even more remarkable.
The woke crowd will have little interest in this. Back after the first moon flight over 50 years ago, some civil rights leaders complained about how much money was spent “to bring back a box of rocks” that could have been spent on welfare.
Do you know if they’ve taken any precautions against radiation damaging the tiny features in any modern microprocessor? The lack of a magnetosphere on Mars lets in a lot more radiation than we get on Earth.
I’ve enjoyed an awful lot of novels about humans going to and sometimes living on Mars. But I’m shocked at the number of people that actually think life on Mars would be practical. And many of them have been brainwashed into thinking that the earth’s ecosystem is so messed up that life on Mars would actually be better! Grief.
Novels aside, these are the downsides I see for human colonization of Mars:
Insufficient gravity to maintain bone health,
Low air pressure would always require wearing a space suit outside,
Insufficient atmosphere to burn up deadly meteorite showers,
No magnetosphere to shield against harmful radiation,
No native plants or animals to eat or enjoy,
No arable soil or enough air to grow plants outside,
If water exists, it’s a scarce resource, as is oxygen,
Probable dependence on supplies from distant Earth forever,
Not very much sunlight and a consistently boring landscape,
Actually, not so anymore. As talked about by one of the astronauts on Joe Rogan, resistance and heavy weight training seems to maintain bone health pretty well. Early machines were more light weight or cardio based and produced poor results for that reason.
And that’s on the ISS, in microgravity.
Given, there can be other health effects from 1/3 gravity we don’t know of yet, but I’m sure plenty of people would think it’s worth taking the risk.
Same answer to all; 3D printed shelters and subterrenean dwellings.
Does it make sense now why Elon also has the Boring company?
Plenty of ways to grow your own, and Elon has a brother whose part of the movement for growing plants in hydroponic and no-soil farming in dense urban areas.
Right out of shipping containers.
Not that would need to be no-soil forever, we’ve actually been successful in growing plants in Martian soil analogues. I personally wasn’t expecting that, but it’s a neat find.
Starship baby, it’s in situ fuel making and orbit-refuel capability isn’t just so it can reach Mars, but so it can leap frog across the solar system as it pleases.
In this context, for reaching comets and water-rich asteroids.
But btw, according to ground penetrating radar scans, large bodies of liquid water do exist towards the poles. You’d just have to dig for it.
For highly industrialized goods like microchips, not basic supplies.
Sounds like going back home to Alaska, especially the taiga regions.
The water problem is being approached the same way for the Moon, that’s why they’re landing on the poles there too.
I did forget about the Sabatier Process, which is how they’re going to produce fuel on Mars. It also produces water.
That’s not incidental to Musk’s plans; it’s built in. It’s half the reason the Raptor engines on Starship run on methane.
“A 2011 prototype test operation that harvested CO2 from a simulated Martian atmosphere and reacted it with H2, produced methane rocket propellant at a rate of 1 kg/day, operating autonomously for 5 consecutive days, maintaining a nearly 100% conversion rate. An optimised system of this design massing 50 kg "is projected to produce 1 kg/day of O2:CH4 propellant … with a methane purity of 98+% while consuming ~17 kWh per day of electrical power (at a continuous power of 700 W). Overall unit conversion rate expected from the optimised system is one tonne of propellant per 17 MWh energy input.”
So yes, doable. As Robert Zubrin has been saying for over 20 years.
I do wonder if we would ever bother trying to colonize mars (assuming Earth becomes uninhabitable). If we could easily travel light years to an Earth-like planet it could be worth it, but I think if we could make mars livable we could definitely make Earth livable with less effort.
The bone problem is NOT solved! You presented a work-around that’s only practical for short durations. And hydroponics is obviously what they would have to rely on, but it’s fragile and by no means a solution to my original downside: “No native plants or animals to eat or enjoy”.
These are work-arounds. They may well fulfill the need, but they do not adequately counter my original downside: “If water exists, it’s a scarce resource, as is oxygen”.
Yes, it probably is. But I made a whole list of reasons why the people who are setting their hopes on Mars for humanity’s future will be sorely disappointed.
It sounds like you might agree with my downside: “Probable dependence on supplies from distant Earth forever”.
And BTW, Alaska’s coldest day on record was -80°F, fifty years ago. But the daily temperature on Mars averages-81°F, though of course this varies widely, meaning it gets much colder. So you can’t glibly brush off my final downside: “It’s abysmally COLD all the time.”
If people migrate there, there will be babies born on Mars at some point. It’s hard to get children to even eat their vegetables, so at what age do you impose a mandatory regimen of “resistance and heavy weight training” on them?
And an awful lot of people have good intentions but get fat and lazy anyway. That would have more dire consequences on Mars than on Earth.
But few places on earth have month long dust storms that not only block the sun but may well remove the top layer of glass or plastic exposing sensitive innards.
If Mars warms up (how?) without a higher air pressure, much of that precious water will flash to steam and get away.
OK. You go. I’ll stay on bad old earth.
But there are a couple things mentioned in Kim Stanley Robinson’s excellent Mars trilogy that I would love to see implemented. One is the space elevator. Such a cool concept! And it’s much more practical in Mars’ low gravity than on Earth due to the tensile strength of materials.
The second is the nitrogen mining. They went to Triton, the huge moon of Neptune, excavated big chunks of frozen nitrogen and launched them into space at such a direction and speed that they eventually entered a decaying orbit around Mars. Friction caused them to sublime and provided nitrogen to enhance the atmosphere. I just wonder if they could really toss them that accurately. Wouldn’t it be harder than hitting a target in Alaska with a bullet fired from a gun in Florida?
1 You didn’t even address where I called out (and Ken also touched on) the fact that this was with top-notch disciplined astronauts, and a year or so isn’t a lifetime, which will be faced by less-disciplined colonists. Not to mention what Ken said about babies born on Mars. And yes, relatively speaking, short duration.
2 He did not. The original argument was about colonizing Mars. Babies will be a part of that. Babies don’t exercise vigorously; neither do five-year-olds.
3 Somehow I doubt that “a few minutes” will be adequate. Further, between the need to provide a high-tech (with all the complexity and potential for problems that goes with it) environment just for immediate survival, long-term needs (food, water, power (Ken mentioned the sandstorm issue with solar panels) and a host of other things, that centrifugal force machine is yet another thing that must work for long-term survival. You’d have to have multiple so as to cover for scheduled and unscheduled down time.
4 I wasn’t aware that it was the atmosphere that did damage in a sandstorm. It’s the 300 mph sand particles. And they’re just as big as sand particles are on Earth.