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Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

Posted February 08, 2017 3:44 PM by HUSH
Pathfinder Tags: Mars settlement space exploration
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File another engineering project under super-ambitious and suspicious. In this case the project belongs to the Lake Matthew Team, and their proposal to terraform a swathe of Mars to make it both inhabitable and self-sustaining.

As we steadily come closer to Elon Musk’s goal of being an interplanetary species, there is a lot of conjecture about how the first human settlement on the red planet will come to be. It’s becoming more and more likely that private enterprise will be the ones responsible for bring humanity there.

For the Lake Matthew Team, one of the major challenges of establishing a Martian outpost will be the massive amounts of supplies that need to be put in orbit and delivered safely 140 million miles away. According to their plan, not only would their settlement be able to provide food and water for thousands of Martian settlers, but it would also be able to provide enough natural resources for some to be shipped back to Earth.

But first, it starts with an extra-ambiguous promise to deliver a devastating impact to the surface of Mars. Such an impact will leave a 9 km wide crater with its bedrock harboring 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one quintillion—I just like the figure) Joules of residual impact heat energy. LMT has said that the impact won’t be nuclear, but will instead use a ‘Shepard’ spacecraft to deflect a current space body towards Mars. The crater wouldn’t be a viable settlement location for several years while the dust and debris settle around the crater.

The abundant ice on Mars would fill the impact crater with water, yet water on Mars at an Earthly room temperature would boil off quickly. The crater, more than 1 km deep, would also have a higher atmospheric pressure than the open plains of Mars. According to LMT, a heat exchanger could maintain the liquid water in the crater at about 11° C year round. This water would be used by settlers and the greenhouses, as well as by the dome structure, which is made of ETFE fabric or film, as well as scavenged materials from delivery vessels. Wastewater would run throughout conduit in the structure to provide stability and radiation shielding.

Electricity for Lake Matthew would be provided by solar power in the Martian summer and by hydroelectricity in the winter. Per the official website, “in summer ice-rich upland terrain can be sealed and overheated to force high-volume melt. Meltwater accelerates down a channel cut into the crater wall, delivering tens of TeraJoules of kinetic energy at lakeside. That energy is stored via pump-turbine in elevated hydroelectric brine reservoirs for release in winter.”

Also of note, is the estimate that Mars’s Southern Highlands may harbor trillions of dollars of rare metals, that can be processed by companies that have leased space at Lake Matthew or shipped back to Earth. Either way, Lake Matthew is at least partially self-funding.

Of course, this is an elementary review of plans to get humans living and thriving on Mars, although they are the first proposals brought forth by a private organization. LMT hopes that a consortium of private companies can band together to create a consortium to profit from the resources on Mars thanks to the 2015 U.S. SPACE Act, although who knows if Lake Matthews ever materializes beyond talk.

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#1

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/08/2017 6:40 PM

Where's the Beach?

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/08/2017 7:43 PM

Love the aircraft, designed for a dense atmosphere like Earth's. Must've been the same outfit that advised The Martian's windstorm FX. The wings and control surfaces on a real (rocket-propelled) Martian aircraft would have to be enormous to fly in Mars' tenuous atmosphere. Ah well.

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#4
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Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/08/2017 8:34 PM

haha that's the only problem you spot?...At some point I guess reality will collide with SciFi fantasy and a harsh depressing scenario will emerge...as if living in the desert isn't bad enough, you have to choose one with no air? No thanks, I'll stick with the beach....Mars is probably worse than North Dakota....ooops hides in conch shell...

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/08/2017 8:55 PM

I've lived in the desert and I greatly enjoyed it. Especially in the evenings. Very comfortable and, even on the hottest days, by nightfall you still need a sweater. The nights are also extraordinarily clear and the stars are like diamonds strewn on black velvet. Even 'air conditioning' is less expensive to run than in humid areas like Florida. Evaporative "swamp" coolers work very well and use far less electricity whilst adding much-needed moisture to the air. I much prefer desert living over living in a humid environment.

But a Martian desert? Going everywhere in basically a space suit, unprotected from brain-damaging cosmic rays and X-class solar storms? Mars has no magnetosphere to protect us from that. Nah, I'd rather deal with scorpions and rattlesnakes right here on Earth.

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#7
In reply to #4

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/09/2017 9:05 AM

I think you faked that Martian landing and took a photo of something in the oil patch in North Dakota

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#6
In reply to #3

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/09/2017 9:04 AM

They forgot to mention the anti-gravitation impulse engines?

Not to mention also the new anti-chafing underwear for extra-dome excursions.

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#8
In reply to #3

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/09/2017 10:59 AM

The wings and control surfaces on a real (rocket-propelled) Martian aircraft would have to be enormous to fly in Mars' tenuous atmosphere.

Or fly really, really fast!

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/09/2017 11:08 AM

True, a VTOL aircraft of some sort as its wings will be worthless at low speeds.

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#10
In reply to #3

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/09/2017 3:02 PM
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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/09/2017 4:14 PM

Yes. And such aircraft could conceivably be solar-powered with lots of wing area for lightweight, efficient PV cells; some of the power diverted to batteries for night flight. These could be used for exploration as well as, say, providing continuous over-the-horizon communications.

At Mars' distance, sunlight's areal power density is a little more than half of what Earth receives: about 590 W/m2 versus about 1000 W/m2 here. Dust accumulation is a significant problem with the solar-powered rovers but may not be an issue with flying aircraft unless there's quite a build-up of static charge on the wings causing dust to bind to the surface, though the charge could be bled-off using trailing radioactive static-discharge wicks. The bigger problem would be Mars' globe-girdling dust storms that darken Mars' skies for days or weeks at a time to altitudes approaching 60-80 km. I doubt winged craft could fly over them.

Dust accumulation will also pose problems for that dome structure pictured. Mars is a very dusty place.

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/09/2017 6:18 PM

I only see one problem: There aren't any landing fields down there, and those rocks look pretty hazardous!

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#13
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Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/09/2017 6:22 PM

Well, none right now. No domes either.

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#32
In reply to #11

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/16/2017 2:29 PM

PV power is certainly limited. One flight option: Mars Magnus Aerobot. Extra lift from Magnus effect can give this craft the heaviest working payload of any current Mars aircraft design, though night flight would not be feasible due to the PV limitation.

"Dust accumulation will also pose problems for that dome structure pictured. Mars is a very dusty place."

MATT domes are subaqueous btw, for protection from radiation, and, incidentally, dust. Also it would make sense to suspend a light tenting of ETFE foil above all facilities, for greater dust protection.

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#33
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Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/16/2017 2:45 PM

Who says you have to use PV to power this? Maybe some could be, but why not have one that uses some form of nuclear energy, especially if it just a drone.

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#16
In reply to #10

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/10/2017 9:52 AM

Yes, I agree with Westman, that during a major dust blow, this aircraft will fly right to the scene of the crash.

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#2

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/08/2017 7:15 PM

I can see an asteroid making a big hole. After that, I don't think it will be so easy, IMHO. (Hopefully, a lake will appear...) And as far as shipping raw materials back to earth, I'm thinking the shipping costs might be a bit pricey.

But it's fun to think about.

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#20
In reply to #2

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/10/2017 4:18 PM

i agree with you about the pricey bit, that's why I can't square with the issue regarding Mars. It seems reading through the comments private companies are expected to fund the enterprise, as we all know businesses do not run on charity. They expect gain on their investment and the chances are diminishing.

But it will be fun to imagine it.

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#26
In reply to #20

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/13/2017 2:31 PM

"businesses do not run on charity. They expect gain on their investment"

Actually at our site we sketch three investor exits for MATT:

  1. hab space leasing
  2. ISRU provisioning
  3. Mars near-surface core-asteroid metal mining

Each is a multi-billion-dollar exit. And as each exit is likely larger than the last, each makes a business case for re-investment into the next phase of the business plan.

Another option: the MATT licensee could take a much earlier exit, by improving the invention in-house, and then reselling the improved invention license to the builder of the Shepherd.

Just some points on investment gain to keep in mind.

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#27
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Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/13/2017 3:08 PM

Hi there. Yes, we expect a lake will appear, just because the selected site has abundant ground ice that will melt toward crater center, for thousands of years. Also external near-surface ice and confined and unconfined aquifers can all conceivably act as additional sources of water for the lake etc.

A few refs that place Omaha Crater's "Lake Matthew" in geological context:

  • Barnhart, Charles J., Francis Nimmo, and Bryan J. Travis. "Martian post-impact hydrothermal systems incorporating freezing." Icarus 208.1 (2010): 101-117.
  • Newsom, Horton E., et al. "Impact crater lakes on Mars." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 101.E6 (1996): 14951-14955.
  • Rathbun, Julie A., and Steven W. Squyres. "Hydrothermal systems associated with Martian impact craters." Icarus 157.2 (2002): 362-372.
  • Schwenzer, S. P., et al. "Puncturing Mars: How impact craters interact with the Martian cryosphere." Earth and Planetary Science Letters 335 (2012): 9-17.
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#14

Did anyone notice

02/09/2017 11:38 PM

We have completely given up on the Moon-a heck of alot closer and not completely understood. We already have a decent head start and the cost would be a fraction of Mars.

I am all about exploration, but what is going on?

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Did anyone notice

02/09/2017 11:43 PM

Indeed. Public perception that our presence on the Moon is "so yesterday" and that Mars is so much more exciting? Almost like the American Southwest, etc. etc.

It would make a lot more sense to build a Moon base and make our mistakes there first.

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#28
In reply to #15

Re: Did anyone notice

02/13/2017 11:34 PM

Yes, there's a case to be made for at least a small lunar base as the final testing ground for settlement tech, prior to Mars launch. Make the first mistakes close to home, where problems are more easily solved.

In some ways the Moon presents the harsher environment, but that's actually desirable in this case: after all, you'd want settlement tech to prove itself in extreme planetary conditions, over some years of use, for final certification. The harsher the conditions, the faster the proof.

It's likely the ESA would back a small base, especially if it were structured as a variation on the ESA's "International Moon Village" theme.

One tech of special interest: high-intensity food production. Over 3 months a quarter-acre wheat plot can produce 15 million grain calories, and a 1000-liter Perfect Day dairy reactor can produce 2 million dairy calories. Theoretically. Such high-yield targets one would like to see achieved at a lunar base, prior to scale-up for Mars, due to the high value of self-sufficient provisioning on Mars. (Wheat estimate from Bugbee & Salisbury 1988. Perfect Day estimate from executive personal communication, LMT.)

Also, and notably, the Moon provides an excellent proving ground for remote ore prospecting tech and for semi-autonomous telerobotics for ore recovery and processing. Just for practice, 'til Omaha Crater comes online. ;)

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#29
In reply to #28

Re: Did anyone notice

02/14/2017 8:22 AM

No Omaha crater on Luna? Why not? Are we certain the moon is so dry after all, that no water can be obtained? No lava tubes? Just poking a few questions your direction.

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#30
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Re: Did anyone notice

02/14/2017 10:53 AM

MATT pushes a Mars site well past the triple point of water, to enable a lake, brine reservoirs, hydroelectric canal, and all else that follows from physics on the sunny side of the triple point. Not possible on the airless Moon, regardless of ice availability.

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#31
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Re: Did anyone notice

02/15/2017 9:28 AM

Ok, so colonization of Luna will have to be in terms of bespoke habitats, and whatever gleaned resources can be had.

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#17
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Re: Did anyone notice

02/10/2017 9:53 AM

It is called money, and no cold war, to propel us onward. I noticed that you changed the name of the thread.

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#21
In reply to #14

Re: Did anyone notice

02/11/2017 12:21 AM

All we have to do is discover gold on the moon, we'll have it colonized in no time....

Hey that's not cheese,,,it's GOLD!!!

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#22
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Re: Did anyone notice

02/11/2017 12:25 AM

Even more valuable elements. Helium-3.

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#24
In reply to #22

Re: Did anyone notice

02/13/2017 11:41 AM

Very good answer, had totally forgot that one.

Is Helium 3 even remotely radioactive?

Is there also some rare to earth Lithium isotope there?

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#23
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Re: Did anyone notice

02/13/2017 11:41 AM

You mean NASA forgot to mention the gold in the moon rocks and Lunar dust? Dern it!

I agree. All that glitters is not gold. There are things worth far more than gold, and these have no glitter in them at all!

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#18

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/10/2017 10:10 AM

If we saw it in a SciFi movie then it must be true.

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#19
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Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/10/2017 10:23 AM

Bad kitty!

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#25

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/13/2017 2:19 PM

"super-ambitious and suspicious"

We're ambitious, surely, but "suspicious"? Never. :) And thanks for the write-up, HUSH. Much appreciated.

MATT has several innovations held under NDA during licensing discussions, but of course anyone with professional interest in MATT can apply for an NDA presentation, which shows everything -- even the "unobvious flight plan" for our customized impactor.

(Hint to enterprising IEEE investigative blog reporter HUSH, et al.)

Meanwhile everything not covered by NDA is fair game in public forum. For example many correspondents have questions/assertions about MATT's "Omaha Crater". To fill in some blanks, we've written up a few notes on the crater's exhumation, bedrock heat profile, useful lifespan, water management and atmosphere, in a forum post titled "Omaha Crater". Maybe useful.

"According to LMT, a heat exchanger could maintain the liquid water in the crater at about 11° C year round."

Max 11 C, to prevent boil-off. Ideally the engineered depression that's selected for Lake Matthew would be one positioned atop the heat lens at the 0 C radius. This positioning would allow Lake Matthew to hold water near freezing point at depth, passively, minimizing the need for heat exchange.

"The crater wouldn’t be a viable settlement location for several years while the dust and debris settle around the crater."

Actually most dust and debris should settle in days - not that dust ever completely settles on Mars. Upslope debris catchers protect worksites from the start. So crews should be able to get to work very quickly after impact in 2036.

Ed. sp: "shepherd"

If MATT's interesting, do spread the word, with our thanks. We enjoy creative exchanges. We can be reached through our site. Email: LakeMatthewTeam at gmail.com

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#34

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/16/2017 10:05 PM

"The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it."
- Omar Khayyam

Omar knew journalism, apparently.

Not to dwell - we're upbeat - but HUSH didn't ask us about our invention and didn't correct the various mistakes we noted in comment and mail.

Having writ, etc.

So for the record:

  • It's "Shepherd", not "Shepard".
  • It's "an extra-ambitious promise", not "an extra-ambiguous promise".
  • It's not that "a consortium of private companies can band together to create a consortium", but that... ah... some phrasing not accidentally recursive, ok?

Those are the trivial edits, but that's a start -- and you judge our text suspicious? Oh, hush HUSH.

Now nicked finger, move on.

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#35
In reply to #34

Re: Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

02/17/2017 2:44 PM

How can a consortium band into anything further than what they are already banded (finger bleeds a bit and moves on).

..."recursive": def. A West Texan repeating what the just swore.

alt.def.: scribling back over a line of cursive writing to make it bold, or clear up the letters, or to freaking make it completely unreadable.

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