What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

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What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby higgs-boson » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:35 am UTC

Today's What-If: Drain the Oceans: Part II

"Supposing you did Drain the Oceans, and dumped the water on top of the Curiosity rover, how would Mars change as the water accumulated?

–Iain"


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This looks like a very wet Wall-E.

Maybe the flyin' Dutchmen are yet to be underestimated. Earth should be "Netherlands-3", Mars "Netherlands-4", since they are cruising around Netherlands (formerly known as Sol)9. New Netherlands? We'll have to wait for it. Voyager One will tell.

9Discussion about Netherlands-9 still ongoing.
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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Klear » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:46 am UTC

Oh cool! I wanted to ask this, but I assumed Randall won't elaborate on the last question. good thing somebody else thought otherwise.

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby coffeetable » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:48 am UTC

Would it eventually freeze? Going off mean temperatures (because they're the best data I can find for the effort I'm prepared to put in), you're adding 1.3 billion cubic kilometers of water at 67C above the Mars surface mean, for a total of ~5 * 10^24 joules (5 yottajoules). That's about six years' worth of the energy received by Mars from the Sun. It'd certainly drag the surface temp up to above-zero, and the huge pile of water vapour added would likely thicken the atmosphere up to the point where you just need a gas mask rather than a pressure suit. Water vapour is also one of the best greenhouse gasses known, what with forming clouds and all.

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Flumble » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:57 am UTC

Randall starts out talking about how liquid water refuses to stay liquid on Mars and then quickly discards the effect on the water pouring out of the portal.
I agree the water doesn't have time to solidify (or vaporise) for the first few (hunderds of) square kilometres but from that moment on I think the surface area -or rather its edge- becomes large enough for the 'new' water to freeze before it reaches the coast.

Therefore after a few days/weeks/months it'll not be a sea that's accumulating but it'll be a mountain of ice. A steep mountain of ice with a circumference of hundreds of kilometres and reaching many many kilometres into the sky by the time the oceans are drained.
Inside the mountain there will probably be a pocket of liquid water (because of the pressure). I wonder what happens to that pocket over time.
Last edited by Flumble on Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:22 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby yellow103 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:02 pm UTC

I was hopping for this, but i didn't think it would happen. A Part III would be nice, something about how the atmosphere would get 'better'. OF course solar winds would where it away, but how long would that even take?

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby coffeetable » Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:29 pm UTC

Flumble wrote:Randall starts out talking about how liquid water refuses to stay liquid on Mars and then quickly discards the effect on the water pouring out of the portal.
I agree the water doesn't have time to solidify (or vaporise) for the first few (hunderds of) square kilometres but from that moment on I think the surface area -or rather its edge- becomes large enough for the 'new' water to freeze before it reaches the coast.


The thermal mass of the Earth's oceans is far, far greater than the thermal mass of the atmosphere of Mars plus the upper few kilometres of its crust. The new mean temperature would be very close to 4C, which is the average temperature of the oceans on Earth.

Also, having read a lil' more: the vapour pressure of water at 4C is about 800Pa. That's tiny by Earth standards, but on Mars, where average atmospheric pressure is 600Pa, it means the oceans would outgas until a large fraction of the atmospheric pressure is due to water vapour. The greenhouse effect would be immense.
Last edited by coffeetable on Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:23 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby cellocgw » Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:52 pm UTC

Flumble wrote:Randall starts out talking about how liquid water refuses to stay liquid on Mars and then quickly discards the effect on the water pouring out of the portal.
I agree the water doesn't have time to solidify (or vaporise) for the first few (hunderds of) square kilometres but from that moment on I think the surface area -or rather its edge- becomes large enough for the 'new' water to freeze before it reaches the coast.

Therefore after a few days/weeks/months it'll not be a sea that's accumulating but it'll be a mountain of ice. A steep mountain of ice with a circumference of hundreds of kilometres and reaching many many kilometres into the sky by the time the oceans are drained.
Inside the mountain there will probably be a pocket of liquid water (because of the pressure). I wonder what happens to that pocket over time.


Simple: we'll place a new portal at the bottom of that pocket and drain the water back into the Colorado River. It's just about gone dry w/ all that agriculture in the desert, and could use a refill.
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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby thisisnotdan » Tue Jul 16, 2013 1:08 pm UTC

Wouldn't the water on either side of the portals reach equilibrium long before Mars becomes so completely submerged? Or are we assuming a one-way portal here? That just sounds so unrealistic.

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Ciber » Tue Jul 16, 2013 1:16 pm UTC

That is not how rivers work.
At what height is the portal above mars surface?

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby cellocgw » Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:06 pm UTC

Ciber wrote:That is not how rivers work.
At what height is the portal above mars surface?


What are you referring to? If you're asking about the river on Mars, all that matters is the height of the water in the source basin. So long as the water entering the portal has enough force behind it to maintain (or increase) the "lake" level, a river which runs downhill from there will continue to flow.
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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby eran_rathan » Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:33 pm UTC

Enjoys that Randall mentions the Cat.


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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Someguy945 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:55 pm UTC

yellow103 wrote:I was hopping for this, but i didn't think it would happen. A Part III would be nice, something about how the atmosphere would get 'better'. OF course solar winds would where it away, but how long would that even take?


I feel like he said all that needs to be said at the end: It will be good for a while, but then all freeze.

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Himself » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:38 pm UTC

I was considering the height of the portal above Mars' surface as well. If the portal is not place high enough the pressure at the Earth side and the Mars side of the portal would be the same and the flow would stop.
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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Klear » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:59 pm UTC

I could have sworn Randall specifies the height somewhere in the article... I've got "9 km" stuck in my head, but no idea where it came from.

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby ZeroTheConfused » Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:10 pm UTC

Woah woah woah, Okay, so I get MOST of the water on mars freezes after some time (ignoring dutch attempts to keep it warm) But on earth, the portal is still open. Even if the water level equalizes on earth, leaving some water in the challenger deep, heat transfer from earth to mars...shouldn't it keep the portal area warm enough to be liquid? That, and with so much water, couldn't it form an ice shield like europa is theorized to have, with liquid water at/near the bottom? (Yes Europa's water if it exists is kept liquid by tidal interactions but still, going back to heat transfew from Earth...)

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Ehsanit » Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:46 pm UTC

ZeroTheConfused wrote:Woah woah woah, Okay, so I get MOST of the water on mars freezes after some time (ignoring dutch attempts to keep it warm) But on earth, the portal is still open. Even if the water level equalizes on earth, leaving some water in the challenger deep, heat transfer from earth to mars...shouldn't it keep the portal area warm enough to be liquid? That, and with so much water, couldn't it form an ice shield like europa is theorized to have, with liquid water at/near the bottom? (Yes Europa's water if it exists is kept liquid by tidal interactions but still, going back to heat transfew from Earth...)


While we're at it, we could move the earth portal near the sun. That ought to sort out the little details like things getting too cold.

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby SemisolidSnake » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:09 pm UTC

So where on that map is Dragon Roost Island?

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Richard Pau » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:34 pm UTC

Just a thought from a Dutch houseman. (Writing this on the ground floor of my house at 4 mtrs under sealevel in the lovely province of Groningen.)
How high should we start making our dikes if the sealevel rises in the worst case scenario considering recent predictions? :) And should we extend them along the coasts of neighbouring countries?

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby siliconrose » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:06 pm UTC

I can't explain why, but I really want a T-shirt of Curiosity getting deluged.

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:10 pm UTC

thisisnotdan wrote:Wouldn't the water on either side of the portals reach equilibrium long before Mars becomes so completely submerged? Or are we assuming a one-way portal here? That just sounds so unrealistic.
Not if the Mars-side portal is far enough above the surface to stay out of the water, at least until near the end of the process.

And even if it is on the surface, Mars's gravity is only 38% of Earth's, meaning that a column of water on Earth would only have to be 38% as high as one on mars to adequately balance out the pressure. Considering how deep the Earth-side portal is, our oceans could still mostly drain before even a Mars-surface (well, Mars-seabottom) portal developed enough back-pressure to stop the flow.
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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Guardian of the Cloud » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:32 pm UTC

I can't stop laughing at the A-Minus-Minus reference in the mouse over text. :D

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby J. Curwen » Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:25 pm UTC

Image
Instead of being sad forever, like Spirit, here's a rover that's briefly very happy!

The chip Ford had taken out was the one which contained the instructions for all the conditions that had to be fulfilled in order for the robot to feel happy. The robot would be happy when a tiny electrical charge from a point just to the left of the chip reached another point just to the right of the chip. The chip determined whether the charge got there or not.
Ford pulled out a small length of wire that had been threaded into the towel. He dug one end of it into the top left hole of the chip socket and the other into the bottom right hole.
That was all it took. Now the robot would be happy whatever happened.
[...]
The robot rapidly reported back to its central control that everything was now for the best in this best of all possible worlds [...].
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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby keithl » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:10 pm UTC

Klear wrote:I could have sworn Randall specifies the height somewhere in the article... I've got "9 km" stuck in my head, but no idea where it came from.


I did the calculation including the 9km result on a Monday evening entry to the What-If 0053: "Drain the Oceans" forum (and as I write, the last entry). Sorry to be late to that party, but I was igniting the Eta Carinae supernova and my FTL drive broke down part way home. Don't worry, earthlings, you have 7743 years to dig in before the X-rays hit.

The volume of the Earth's oceans are about 1.35 billion km3. Mars is 3396 km radius, the surface is around 145 million km2. If all the seawater moved, and nothing stuck up too far on Mars, the height of the water would be 1350/145 or 9.5 km. But not all the seawater reaches the Earthside portal(s), and there are some enormous Martian mountains poking up above 9 km, so 9±1 km is a reasonable ballpark guess for how high the portal must be for water to keep flowing.

In that previous posting, I suggested enormous steel stoppers ("drain plugs") to manage the flow, and passing down the stream in plummeting submarines to colonize Mars. Better still, submarines can rendezvous with airlocks on the earth-side of the stoppers, while the flow is stopped. A 14 km or Kevlar tether can be lowered through the portal from inside the Earth stopper to the Martian surface - a baby space elevator. Even better, a loop of tether running between two large pulleys. This loop is powered by paddle wheels in whatever small flow is allowed through the stopper. I love the idea of interplanetary travel powered by water wheels.

For extra credit, compute the amount of hydropower that can be generated from the pressurized flow coming in, and from the further 9 to 14 kilometer drop (at 3.7m/s2 gravity) down to Lake Gale (I prefer the Gale Sea, see?). That should be enough to electrolyze 900,000 km3 of water and create a breathable 20KPa oxygen atmosphere for Mars.

We only need to send through enough water to create a habitable Mars, a tiny fraction of the 1350 million km3 of Earth ocean water available. Air dropped through the portal would also fall to Mars, but rather than move ordinary air, we can separate and drop only CO2, which, along with a lot of methane, might create enough of a greenhouse effect to keep Mars warm for a while.

After colonizing Mars, we can resume our space program from there. The escape velocity from Mars is only 5 km/s, so single stage to orbit rockets will be much easier than Earth's 11km/s. Using another portal to go directly to into space would not be sporting. The moons of Mars are also much closer and easier to land on, so a wussy little space program should be able to reach them. Luxembourg to the moon!

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby LittleBunnyFuFu » Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:52 am UTC

Has anyone done the math to determine the total mass of the ocean that would go through the portal? I'm wondering if it's enough to effect gravity on either earth or mars.
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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:32 am UTC

Yeah, the mass is noted in the other thread. Solutes and compression barely change the one metric ton / m^3 density of the water at all, so it's ~1.35E18 tons. So that's 0.000022% of Earth's mass and 0.00021% of Mars'. I really doubt it's significant....
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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Icalasari » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:31 am UTC

Flumble wrote:Therefore after a few days/weeks/months it'll not be a sea that's accumulating but it'll be a mountain of ice. A steep mountain of ice with a circumference of hundreds of kilometres and reaching many many kilometres into the sky by the time the oceans are drained.


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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby M.qrius » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:06 am UTC

As a Dutch person:

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A+++, would buy again! Now, let's drain Neptune into Jupiter and get a real empire going!

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby teelo » Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:41 pm UTC

Son of a bitch, he gave credit for MY question to someone else :evil:

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Klear » Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:50 pm UTC

teelo wrote:Son of a bitch, he gave credit for MY question to someone else :evil:


Yeah... it's not like anybody beat you to it...

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby stianhat » Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:17 pm UTC

IMO the water would rapidly freeze, not because of the thermal mass of the crust or the martian atmosphere, but due to the sublimation / vaporization of the water. There will be water vapour in the atmosphere but it will quickly become snow, drizzle down, increase planetary albedo to a point that it is certain to be as cold as Titan...

What would happen if you swapped the atmosphere of mars for the atmosphere of venus though... that could possibly create some sort of habitable temperature. (although extremely corrosive...)

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby keithl » Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:17 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Yeah, the mass is noted in the other thread. Solutes and compression barely change the one metric ton / m^3 density of the water at all, so it's ~1.35E18 tons. So that's 0.000022% of Earth's mass and 0.00021% of Mars'. I really doubt it's significant....


There would be something seriously weird going on with gravity for water to flow from Earth to Mars.

Including solar orbit kinetic energy, Earth is 107 MJ/kg deeper in the sun's gravity well than Mars, and the Earth's planetary gravity well is 99 MJ/kg deeper than Mars. So if the portal was somewhere up in Mar's thin atmosphere, and nothing was done to add or subtract energy, very thin Martian air would fall INTO the portal, and come shooting out the Earth end of the portal at about 20 km/s, in a direction dependent on time of day on Earth and the relative position of the Earth and Mars in their orbits. If density of the atmosphere around the hole was about 10 g/m3, and it was falling into the hole at 300 m/s, and the hole area was 300 m2, the mass flow rate would be 900kg/s and the power flow rate about 190 GW, the energy equivalent of a megaton bomb every 6 hours, but without the fallout. That would have about the same effect as a volcanic vent down in the Challenger Deep.

For seawater to get sucked into the portal and sent to Mars, the portal must add 200MJ of energy per kilogram of water, and pumping an "ocean-centimeter" of water a day to Mars would require more than 3 petawatts.

Image

For water to fall into the hole, the outlet must be energetically "downhill". Venus would be interesting. Mercury would be more spectacular. Perhaps Part III will discuss that, and the temporary cooling and long term heating effects on those planets.

(edit) It would also take some pretty serious forces to hold the portal stationary with respect to Mars and the Earth. Without those forces, at some point in the Martian day the portal will thrust into the Martian surface and start gobbling prodigious amounts of rock. The result at the Earth end will make Krakatoa look tame.

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:41 pm UTC

Nicely composed, and you're right, but as noted in the thread for Part I, and indirectly noted in Part I itself, the portal simply ignores gravity wells. I'm pretty sure it's a Portal portal. Any such portal creates and destroys energy at will.

Part I wrote:Just how far away is this portal? If we put it near the Earth, the ocean would just fall back down into the atmosphere. As it fell, it would heat up and turn to steam, which would condense and fall right back into the ocean as rain. The energy input into the atmosphere alone would also wreak all kinds of havoc with our climate, to say nothing of the huge clouds of high-altitude steam.
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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:12 pm UTC

Yeah, if your magic physically impossible teleportation portal worked differently than surmised in the what-if, things would turn out differently, it turns out.

Edit:
stianhat wrote:IMO the water would rapidly freeze, not because of the thermal mass of the crust or the martian atmosphere, but due to the sublimation / vaporization of the water. There will be water vapour in the atmosphere but it will quickly become snow, drizzle down, increase planetary albedo to a point that it is certain to be as cold as Titan...
You say that's in your opinion, but what about facts?

The thermal energy in the water has to go somewhere, regardless of how that may happen. If it freezes, that energy will heat up the atmosphere. If that happens enough, it will stop being cold enough to freeze the water so quickly. If it vaporizes and sublimates, that energy will increase atmospheric pressure. If that happens enough, it will stop being vacuum-like enough to vaporize the water so quickly.

Incidentally, it is already possible to have liquid water below the Mars datum elevation even at current atmospheric pressures, though of course it would have to be much warmer than Mars currently is. But since the water pouring through the portal is itself much warmer than Mars currently is, that'll help.
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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Patrik3 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:00 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
stianhat wrote:IMO the water would rapidly freeze, not because of the thermal mass of the crust or the martian atmosphere, but due to the sublimation / vaporization of the water. There will be water vapour in the atmosphere but it will quickly become snow, drizzle down, increase planetary albedo to a point that it is certain to be as cold as Titan...
You say that's in your opinion, but what about facts?

The thermal energy in the water has to go somewhere, regardless of how that may happen. If it freezes, that energy will heat up the atmosphere. If that happens enough, it will stop being cold enough to freeze the water so quickly. If it vaporizes and sublimates, that energy will increase atmospheric pressure. If that happens enough, it will stop being vacuum-like enough to vaporize the water so quickly.


Really? I would've thought that the energy transferred to the atmosphere would be then radiated into space almost instantaneously. Also, if the atmospheric pressure increases planet-wide whilst the gravity stays the same, wouldn't that just mean that the top layer of atmosphere is lost to space? Although, I guess that the gravity on Mars could change a little bit, after having all that extra mass dumped upon it.

Also, has no one mentioned the fact that our oceans contain lots and lots of life, in the form of seaweed and fish? Obviously at first, the water pressure going through the portal would probably crush all but the trench dwelling life, but after most of the oceans have drained, some of the seaweed and fish will have survived the trip to Mars. Even if the Netherlands don't expand their empire, there would still be life on Mars!

(Oh, and... would that new Martian ecosystem have any effect on the atmosphere?

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:30 pm UTC

Why would the energy immediately be lost to space? Earth's isn't.

Atmosphere, like heat, would *eventually* go away, sure, but there's no reason to assume it would happen super quickly.

While this obviously isn't one of the more commonly suggested ways to terraform Mars, the fact that there are any implies it's possible to keep the heat and pressure there for at least a good long while.

And yes: organisms that produce oxygen here would do the same there if they survive at all.
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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby keithl » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:17 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:I'm pretty sure it's a Portal portal.
As in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal_%28video_game%29? I do not grok these earthling rituals. Will there be cake?

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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby Patrik3 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:07 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Why would the energy immediately be lost to space? Earth's isn't.


Oh, I just remember reading some article about Deep Impact - about how even if the asteroid was broken up before it entered the atmosphere, the massive sudden change in heat/pressure in the atmosphere would cause the Earth to shed a lot of atmosphere. If the energy from the water was transferred quickly into the martian atmosphere, I'd guess that the same sort of thing would happen; if the energy was transferred slowly into the atmosphere, then maybe it would be too slow before it is radiated into space - after all, Mars' atmosphere is far thinner than Earth's.

I'm guessing that the reason that Earth doesn't lose atmosphere when it's heated up is because it's usually only heated up locally - the sun heats one side of the planet up, whilst the air on the other side of the planet cools down...

I got good grades in school, but I'm not super-great at physics so I don't claim that these are any more than reasoned guesses... I just thought, if there's only a limited amount of gravity, then as soon as you increase the heat/pressure, then there's more of a push force away from Mars, so the top layer will be lost. Also, I just realized that even though the water's mass could increase gravity and bring some of the air back, it's also displacing the bottom 8 km of atmosphere.

teelo
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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby teelo » Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:38 am UTC

Klear wrote:
teelo wrote:Son of a bitch, he gave credit for MY question to someone else :evil:


Yeah... it's not like anybody beat you to it...

I hereby play the "tl;dr" card.

LosDovakins
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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby LosDovakins » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:33 am UTC

thisisnotdan wrote:Wouldn't the water on either side of the portals reach equilibrium long before Mars becomes so completely submerged? Or are we assuming a one-way portal here? That just sounds so unrealistic.

I would assume that as long as the portal is high enough the water pressure is far more than enough to keep the stream going indefinitely long. I'd say it's more unrealistic to believe that the Netherlands could conquer the Earth and New Netherlands

ijuin
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Re: What-If 0054: "Drain the Oceans: Part II"

Postby ijuin » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:11 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Incidentally, it is already possible to have liquid water below the Mars datum elevation even at current atmospheric pressures, though of course it would have to be much warmer than Mars currently is. But since the water pouring through the portal is itself much warmer than Mars currently is, that'll help.


Trivia: the Mars datum altitude was selected specifically because it is the altitude at which the average atmospheric pressure is sufficient to allow liquid water at 0C.


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