Mars, as everybody knows, has two moons. In earlier science fiction, these two moons were presented as romantic objects in the sky, shining big and bright, with one of them, Phobos, rising two or three times a night. One or two stories even pointed out that Phobos rises in the WEST, instead of the east. I don't know if any mentioned that Phobos, while traveling across the sky from west to east two or three times a night, goes through the entire set of phases each time. WOW!
Unfortunately, while all of this exotic movement and phasing is true, the moons of Mars are mere captured asteroids. Not only are they mere captured asteroids, but they are very disappointing as seen from the surface of Mars. We now have images from our landers and rovers, and "the hurtling moons of Barsoom" these little rocks are not. Even Phobos will not be nearly as large in the sky as Earth's own moon, will be eclipsed part of the time, and is invisible from substantial parts of Mars. Deimos... just pathetic.
I think that we can do something about that, but only once we have a truly space-faring civilization (and until then, what's the point in mucking around with the Martian moons anyway?).
Here's a suggested future:
As more frequent launches, improvements in launch technology, and a growing infrastructure and population outside of Earth's gravity well makes the cost of even interplanetary travel something the wealthy can save up for, and growing standards of living bring more and more people into the wealthy category, eventually some group will decide they'd rather orbit Mars than orbit Earth. Indeed, some group will decide that, practical or not, life on the Martian surface is what they want. AND! they will have the means to have what they want.
Now, the people of Mars may well resent the growing orbital traffic. Some O'Neillian habitats, with their solar panels and heat radiators, may well outshine Phobos and Deimos, and that's just not right!
Phobos masses 10 trillion tonnes. An O'Neil type space habitat (Island Three) masses 1 billion tons. So, just 0.1% of the mass of Phobos (10 billion tonnes) would be enough to build ten Island Threes.
Ten Island Threes is enough to house one hundred million people in comfort, and at any gravity level from zero-G to one G (including Martian gravity, if desired).
So a full 1% of Phobos would be enough to house a billion. Seven percent and you've got room for more people to live in comfort and affluence than currently live on Earth, where we live in conditions ranging from squalor to splendor. Seven hundred Island Threes, at any gravity. Deimos is smaller, but still substantial, a whole lot more than 7% Phobos.
So here's an idea: how about we gain the support of the Martians by offering to build them new moons? Each would be a nice, big, round radiation shield for multiple habitats (gonna need radiation shielding anyway). Each shell has one thousand Island Threes inside, packed as close together as is practical. From the surface of Mars, they will look like big, beautiful moons. Make them mostly grey, with lighter and darker areas, maybe a bit of orange or purple, just for the sake of exotica. Let the Martians choose the color scheme; after all, it's their sky. Oh, and let's incline the orbits to 45° so that the new Phobos can be seen over all or most of the planet. Do something similar for Deimos. Mirrors and heat radiators and such would be on the far side, and thus invisible from Mars. We get our orbital civilization, the Martians get a romantic planet, and everybody is happy.
How big do these radiation shields need to be? I'd suppose Neodeimos as seen from Mars would be, say, half to two-thirds the size of a full moon as seen from Earth? That's 0.25° to 0.33333°. Neophobos at, I don't know, 0.66666° to 0.75°? Bigger than a full moon on Earth. It should still have the fast orbit, go through the full set of phases every night, and rise in the west.
If each habitat has its own shield (maybe we're doing electromagnetic shielding by now) then the New Moons don't need to be complete spheres and they don't need to be two metres thick. They could be something more like shallow domes, with the convex side pointed at Mars. They could be ten cm thick.
Recent discussions in the Science Fiction forum
AnnouncementRead fresh new science fiction stories - and help take them to the next level
|13||May 9, 2016|
AnnouncementImportant announcement from Amazon
|190||Jul 2, 2014|
AnnouncementNew Star Wars Release: The Jedi Path now available. Read the author's insider notes...
|31||Sep 3, 2015|
|Noticed a price drop on these books...||126||15 hours ago|
|SF is mostly slug-it-out: just HIGH-TECH CAVEMAN||3||15 hours ago|
|It's May 2017. What sci-fi books are you reading?||8||16 hours ago|
|lighthearted sci-fi without major character deaths or angst||72||9 days ago|
|How about LitRPG (MMO-based virtual reality books)?||187||15 days ago|
|Hard SF Novels With Strong Characterization||262||20 days ago|
|How To Rule The Universe And Punish Evil PDF Article||1||21 days ago|
|Generation Ships||27||22 days ago|
|Name of an Old Science Fiction Book from the 50's||2||24 days ago|