Astro-Urban Dynamics

Nerds Conversing: A Scientist and an Engineer

By Matt Johnson

I wanted to share this conversation with you. It is a short excerpt from earlier today between myself, a scientist, and a friend of mine who is an engineer. He is responding to my recent article Classifying Cities: The Big Picture.

The Engineer,

Well there are launch pads already on the optimum locations to launch from earth. Also most of the time an orbit transfer is used to get to another body. As there is no current technology to make a direct line to a orbiting body. Gravity is a pain in space.

So in turn with what we have here, on the equator of the new planet is optimum for launching to get back. You utilize the rotation of the planet to get you an extra boost of speed.

To note to the article, in actual building of a city on a new body(planet or moon) I don’t think water will be the first area to get a city. Mostly due to water doesn’t exist enough on most bodies discovered. While that being said, I think the idea of how the city will simply be fascinating. The questions you pose make some great topics for discussion.

The Scientist,

[This] is exactly why I wanted you in this conversation…However, I would like to point out that there has been an abundance of water found off planet (Earth) and on other planetary bodies in this solar system. In fact, water exists at the poles on Mars and in some other areas of the planet. In addition, evidence suggests to geophysicists and astronomers that water occasionally does flow on the surface of Mars, although it doesn’t last long. In addition, water exists on many moons and dwarf planets in this solar system. And as a side note, H2O is the second most abundant molecule in this universe after H2. Engineers will need to develop new technologies and techniques to get at it.

The Engineer,

My only question is, is it a body of water and not various amounts here and there? In order to sustain a city, its going to have to be a large amount and have a the ability to replenish the source. IE: rain, a stream, etc.?

The Scientist,

[T]o address your questions, the water source may be different on different planets. How a city on the moon gets its water may be different from how a city gets its water on Mars or Ceres. We may have to change our thinking of how water is accessed, accumulated, and distributed because of the different planetary bodies and their respective environments. In regards to your second question, it poses a few interesting questions. First, how much water does a smaller city like Minneapolis use for all activities such as drinking and bathing to industry? Conversely, how much water does a larger city like Los Angeles use for all its activites? In other words, how much water is needed to support the city as a whole? And second, what kind of water system should be constructed for the Moon, Mars, and Ceres? Would they be the same systems, or would they be different? I ask this question because it doesn’t rain on the Moon or on Mars. There are no flowing rivers and creeks, at least not on the surface.

One last thought, the water concentration and distribution depends on the planetary body. It also depends on the size of the planetary body and the challenges that astronauts will face with different planetary environments. For example, Jupiter’s atmosphere retains a small amount of water compared to its size, and it’s a Jovian planet. So it provides unique challenges. It’s moon Europa, on the other hand, has water relative to its size and resembles a more familiar terrain, although it would have its own set of challenges.

Not only do I get to have these types of conversations, but it may lead to something really, really cool in the future! It’s nerdy, but it’s really awesome, too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s