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Minerals of Mars

PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:26 am
by Intranaut
Does anybody know what the lithosphere of Mars is like?
More specifically, is there any area with an abundance of fluorapatite? Is there any at all?

Re: Minerals of Mars

PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 6:15 pm
by RickLewis
I've tried and failed to Google the answer to that one! :)

What is the significance of fluorapatite?

Re: Minerals of Mars

PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 9:49 pm
by JamesG
Its hypothesized that Mars' lithosphere is very thick and what tectonic and volcanic activity it had is long over. Its mantle and core are either sluggish or completely solid. This is not to say that Mars' internal structure and composition won't be interesting. Late in the Bombardment period, Mars got clobbered by a very large object about a fourth its final size. The planet is still a bit out of round because of it. This might mean that its not as stratified as otherwise and that some heavy materials might be readily accessible.

Yeah why the interest in fluorapatite?

Re: Minerals of Mars

PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 7:27 am
by Intranaut
I'm a bit sheepish to try and mention it around you now James, but I'll do my best to sound feasible :P
So for the continuation of a story I'm trying to write (I will here unabashedly put in the plug for it and say you can find it in the science fiction forum under 'The Science Fiction Writer') Mars is being colonised. And in my plan for the story there is a conflict between those trying to terraform it and those who want to preserve it for science and/or for the sake of simply keeping things as one finds them. Mostly science though.
Before the conflict arises, construction begins on mines/factories that take fluorine from fluoroapatite to pump perflurocarbons into the atmosphere. Supposedly the temperature needs to be raised on Mars by 4K to begin melting the dry ice that forms at the poles in winter, increasing the overall pressure and greenhouse capacities of the barely tangible atmosphere. Without the dry ice, the albedo effect of the poles are reduced and a runaway greenhouse effect is believed to be possible.
Perfluorocarbons are supposedly 10000 times more (powerful? What would be the right word here?) as greenhouse gases and are supposed to be very hardy in the atmosphere. But as you've pointed out James, how well they can in fact hold on on Mars is another thing.

Re: Minerals of Mars

PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 1:40 pm
by JamesG
I can be your reality/fact check. :twisted:

1. Albedo effect - Probably minimally effective because Mars receives much less solar radiation in the visible and IR spectrum than Earth and its poles are at high obliqueness to the Sun most of the time. Also its thin atmosphere probably does not conduct or convect nearly as effectively as Earth's. On Earth most of the atmospheric heat transfer is done by the oceans (why the UK isn't as cold as Scandinavia) Its winter and summer polar caps also vary greatly which reduces yet further the magnitude of effect removing the winter frost.

2. Perfluorocarbons - Might want to check how stable they are under high ultraviolet and ionizing radiation. Both of which are more abundant on Mars than Earth.

You might want to recast your plot and conflict as between a group who irrationally (perhaps with a religious "mission from God" undertone) wants to "terraform" Mars even thought it is known/accepted that it won't work vs. those who either don't want to try or change it to either "preserve" Mars or simply want to get on with the business of strip mining it for resources. You could even have an unholy alliance of industrialists and "green party" (reds? oranges?) type activists. This would make it more realistic scientifically, and also allow you to make commentary on current terrestrial events.

Then you can have a plot twist where the "terraforming" DOES work better than anyone imagined, but wakes up a dormant Martian microorganism that is pathogenic to Terran life, takes over Earth, and annihilates mankind. That's if you insist on playing along with the cliche Mars theme.


Re: Minerals of Mars

PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:38 pm
by Intranaut
Well perhaps not religious, but yes, setting the terraformers up against the strip-miners would be good. And then there will also be a separate group who want to keep it for science, though they really aren't persuading anyone. So now it's colonisers vs. economists. WHO WILL WIN?

Re: Minerals of Mars

PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:53 pm
by JamesG
Its actually an very interesting twist. The "terraformers" who want to create a "green" world, actually want to pollute the world, where the "industrialists" want to preserve it, (or at least not bother).

I don't know how you really novelize that without it sounding like a thesis paper though.....

Re: Minerals of Mars

PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:16 am
by Intranaut
Well I'm not sure if it'll turn out to quite be a novel, possibly a bit short, but I would like some messages in it rather than just being a story. The extended prologue is here:

Although I've just realised that there are a few grammatical errors and missing words, but if you do read it, I hope you can fill the gaps :D