Space Travel and the Water Dilemma

water

One of the biggest obstacles to long-term space travel is: water. Water’s heavy and apparently non-compressible. And, so, trips to Mars are not slated for the near future …

But, what if there were another solution?

First, let’s examine the concept that water isn’t compressible. There are countless scientific studies, formulas, and evidence that can demonstrate water isn’t compressible. But, what happens to water when it freezes? Yep – molecules compress. Oh, but that’s not liquid. What happens to water at the bottom of the ocean under incredible levels of pressure? Yes, it compresses. The arguments for and against the level of compression differ greatly in science. But, even if water’s not compressible … gas is.

1 mole of water (H2O), as 18 grams mass. The difference between water as a gas and water as a liquid is 1700 times the volume. There are 8.36 x 10^24 molecules of water in a cup. However, under 2500 psi, one cubic foot holds roughly 200 cubic feet of hydrogen and even more oxygen. In other words, an 8000 gallon tank could potentially hold more than 13 million gallons of water … but in gaseous form (I’m sure my math isn’t dead on – but it’s too hot and late at night to fine tune it … the point is still the same). Therefore, at 2500 psi, a space shuttle would not have to have very large tanks to store 10 times the amount of water astronauts would require.

Hydrogen-Bonds-Colored-JC_2012

Again – this is only in gaseous form. One of the keys to transform water from a gas into a liquid is: cold temperatures and condensation. And, fortunately, in the vacuum of space, there’s no shortage of cold air. Why this hasn’t been considered is … well … there is no real good answer for this.

MarsPolarIcecaps

But, what about our arrival on Mars? What about water, then? At last check, the southern ice cap on mars is comprised of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. If the Mars colony were only a few meters outside of the polar ice cap edge … access to water wouldn’t be an issue.

Ultimately, while shows like Approaching the Unknown offer a very dramatic and cool look into the potential dangers of traveling to Mars, with a little out-of-the box thinking, there are a variety solutions that could be employed to make the mission a reality.

So – the future of our travel to Mars? Well – if no one at NASA can get creative, maybe they’ll just read this article 🙂

Pleasant travels! Live long, and Prosper.

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.

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