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29 votes

Is there any economical way to move the water from the Martian poles to the people?

You don't care about transporting H₂O. You want to transport hydrogen and oxygen atoms, and if that includes a few other atoms as baggage, that's no big deal. One easily available atom is carbon, as ...
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28 votes

Could liquid airlocks work?

The diagram you show would work only for specific instances. A few things that it relies on: Gravity is required for this to work, or else all of the liquid will escape. The diagram you show works ...
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23 votes
Accepted

Could permanent self-sustaining biodomes be built on Mars?

There are no technological barriers, provided one is not too ideological about biospheres. In a comment on the question it is remarked that self-sustaining biodomes have not yet been successful on ...
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21 votes
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Is it real to patch an opening to the vacuum with plastic tarp and duct tape as in Martian?

The fix as show in the movie wouldn't work. To seal off the atmosphere in a more permanent manner, one would need to have something much stronger than Duct tape, or any tape. That wouldn't hold a seal....
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18 votes

Could Curiosity dig itself a burrow?

No, it couldn't. The Curiosity rover is 2.9 meters by 2.7 meters by 2.2 meters. It's tiny little scoop is 7 centimeters by 4.5 centimeters by 2 centimeters (or so; I can't find a reference on the ...
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17 votes
Accepted

Do you need a mattress on the Moon?

Probably not. A good measure of comfort is how much external body pressure is induced from laying on a hard surface. Earth gravity is enough to cause an adult considerable discomfort when lying on a ...
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  • 1,308
16 votes

Would a sufficiently deep cavern on Mars provide habitable temperature and atmospheric pressure? Was Dick Tracy wrong?

Looks like it's not possible: To get Earth-normal pressure we need 55km https://astronomy.stackexchange.com/questions/14871/at-what-depth-on-mars-would-the-atmosphere-have-equal-pressure-of-that-on-...
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13 votes

Is there any economical way to move the water from the Martian poles to the people?

Canals? It's too cold on Mars for water to be liquid, so canals are not going to work. Pipes? ...would need to be constantly heated, so they would require quite a lot of energy. Hydrogen ...
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11 votes
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Is it possible to map the caves of Phobos?

How could a probe detect and map voids? Are there techniques for this? Ground-penetrating radar? Radar, either GPR (Ground-Penetrating Radar) or SIR (Subsurface Interface Radar) would seem the ...
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11 votes
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Sunroofs on Mars - durable transparent structural plastics lighter than glass to ship from Earth?

In practise, a composite approach would be used, combining the strengths of different materials. The required layers can be summarized as: A bladder which contains the atmosphere An open weave ...
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  • 4,133
10 votes

On building future sustainable Mars habitat

Yes, eventually, but we would first have to establish structural stability of any such rocks, get a sense of Martian subsurface seismic activity, seasonal changes to its thermal characteristics, how ...
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8 votes

Do you need a mattress on the Moon?

A rock surface might or might not be comfortable, but certainly there are lighter and more compact alternatives to mattresses that would be comfortable in lunar gravity. In the Apollo Lunar Module ...
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8 votes

Could Curiosity dig itself a burrow?

It probably could, but with its wheels, not with the drill on its robotic arm. But why would it do that? The Curiosity rover has independent drive on all six of its wheels so technically all it would ...
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  • 75.3k
8 votes

Could liquid airlocks work?

In order for a liquid airlock to work, some points must be considered; they have been mentioned in some of the other answers, but I will try to combine them and suggest some new implementations. ...
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  • 540
8 votes

Could liquid airlocks work?

The only reason to have an airlock is to move through it: if you're not going to move through it, you'd just replace the whole thing with a steel plate. NaK is a total non-starter for this. It is ...
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7 votes

Could magnetic "boots" be used to simulate the effects of gravity for asteroid ships?

The strength of a magnetic field is proportional to $1/r^3$, so if you build magnets into the floor, there's a huge difference in field strength between your head and feet. So using a suit to provide ...
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  • 121k
7 votes
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What kind of leak rates do modern habitat modules have?

With the right google search you can find just about anything. This link has details about the leak from each module and the volume of each module. You can average the values or find whichever you ...
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  • 4,361
7 votes

Is there likely to be life in Venus's upper atmosphere?

For life as we know it, it is not likely it could exist ! Even bacteria need metal ions like $\text{K}^+$ and $\text{Mg}^{2+}$ in their cytoplasm, and these metals have not been detected in the ...
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  • 7,050
7 votes

What is the current state of commercial space stations?

Were these all pipe dreams from the start? Some most certainly were. Some most likely were worse than pipe dreams; they were just schemes to part foolish investors from their monies. I won't name ...
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6 votes

Are exoplanets in the habitable zone suitable for human colonization?

There's a few different definitions of circumstellar habitable zone (CHZ), and it goes by a few names, but in a nutshell, no, planets orbiting within this zone are not necessarily habitable for humans ...
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6 votes

Could magnetic "boots" be used to simulate the effects of gravity for asteroid ships?

Diamagnetic gravity would require absurdly strong magnetic fields. The field strength required is proportional to the product of the field strength and the rate of field strength change; in order to ...
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  • 11.5k
6 votes

Could Curiosity dig itself a burrow?

No. It can scoop up only 1 to 30 cubic centimeters of soil at a time. It has done so only few times during its two years on Mars. By locking some of the wheels while driving it can make some marks on ...
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  • 26.2k
6 votes
Accepted

Why do space settlement designers use tori instead of cylinders for space settlements?

Despite the obvious reason - a torus looks much more elegant than a barrel - I can come up with several points that favor a toroid: Rounded shapes can withstand the pressure difference between inside ...
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  • 12.7k
5 votes

What are the challenges in building a supercritical CO2 gas turbine power plant for a Mars habitat of 6 astronauts?

Any type of steam cycle of a Stirling engine or a closed-cycle gas turbine would face significant heat exchange challenges on Mars, so what little you saved on size and mass in improved heat transport ...
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  • 75.3k
5 votes

Why such a large gap between ISS construction and inhabitation?

Should be noted that Zvezda was planned to be launched soon after Zarya and Unity. It was delayed by Proton launch failure in 5 July 1999, and by another failure in 27 October 1999. https://en....
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5 votes

Is it real to patch an opening to the vacuum with plastic tarp and duct tape as in Martian?

No normal Duct Tape adhesive works in cold temperatures. I live on Earth, in Ottawa Ontario... And I can't get Duct tape to stick between November to April. And that is still warmer then most areas on ...
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5 votes

How can a non-floored habitat be sealed on Mars?

In an answer to another question, I suggested that a double or nested dome could be used: The basic idea is that if the outer dome is a bit leaky it's not a big deal because the leakage can be ...
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  • 4,133
5 votes
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How much radiation shielding would be required for a habitat at Mercury–Sun L5?

You have to worry about the solar wind - the charged particles that are emitted by the Sun, and which are quite effectively shielded by the Earth's magnetic field. The magnetic field of Mercury is ...
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  • 456
5 votes

What is the current state of commercial space stations?

We are quite close. For example, Axiom Space really wants to make its off-Earth outpost — the first pieces of which are scheduled to launch in 2020. The station will be serving as a base for research ...
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  • 151
4 votes
Accepted

What is the hollow asteroid concept in "Mining the Sky"

I have a copy of that book -- autographed by J. S. Lewis! Most of the book is factual. But occasionally Lewis will indulge in little science fiction vignettes. He describes an imaginary asteroid hab ...
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