Monday, September 28, 2015

Let's Go To Mars! Designing the MARS Habitat

A Few More Engineering Design Suggestions and Diagrams
for Establishing the Mars Habitat

Bio-mass manual utility screw and heat tracing Martian habitat pipe

1. Preparing and moving material into the BioMass

Astronauts will be facing the task of moving sewage or manually shredding green house trimmings for addition to the BioMass tank. To make this task easier while avoiding as much transport weight as possible, equip them with a manually operated nylon screw assembly which can be inserted in each feed pipe. It is unlikely that this can be accomplished by gravity because the camp will be sited on a level field.  Steps must also be taken to avoid introducing a vacuum at the habitat end of a sewer pipe.

2. Piping Insulation and Heat Trace

Generally, habitat structures should be located in fairly close proximity to each other, yet some pipe runs may still be necessary. These should be heat traced and insulated sufficiently to withstand the Martian surface temperatures. An additional consideration may be to jacket the insulation surrounding the pipes with UV protection to prevent deterioration of the insulation foam.

If electrical conductors need to be routed to the same destinations, they can be kept warm by being placed in a channel next to the carrier pipe shown in the pipe section detail. There may be metal fatigue, excessive "brittleness" [extreme cold can strip the carbon out of steel exposed to it], or other deterioration in conductor material at Martian surface temperature. No one wants to be the guy looking for a broken wire somewhere on the surface of Mars.

For gas piping the runs would still need to be insulated, but insulated victaulic connections made for the Martian equivalent to PVC could be used for closer containment integrity. The low atmospheric pressure [high differential pressure between inside and outside of pipe] will aggravate the potential for small leaks even when internal pipe pressure is relatively low.

Payload modules design for MARS transit and re-use

3. Designing Payload Containers for Re-Use

The "alternative" to re-using payload containers is the resulting necessity of transporting significant numbers of air lock and double hatch components to be installed in habitat structures. Complete air lock assemblies could be built into the standard design for mission payload containers. Depending on the final size the containers will take, they offer ready made additions to habitat quarters.

If they are too small for a human to walk through them, they can be made for easy dis-assembly with the air locks used for habitat and the remainder used for storage -- certainly including gas storage containers once they are sealed again.

The standard design should include manufacturing modifications which will make it easier for men in space suits with come-alongs to move them. The standard design should also include insulation and radiation shielding.
On site construction of rigid foam modules for MARS habitat

4. Constructing large foam habitat structures on site

There will be a difficult shortage of room unless structures can be manufacturing on Mars. The "rigid foam in a balloon" scheme seems to be the most effective way to accomplish this while reducing the manual work and time required for alternate methods. The diagram suggests a means to anchor and stabilize such structures while taking advantage of local features of the Martian surface.

Although there are dust storms, the Martian "wind" is much less of a structural problem than on Earth thanks to the low inertial mass of the extremely rarefied atmosphere. However, UV radiation, high for the same reason, could degrade the foam material over time with continuous exposure. This would require a UV protection to be incorporated in the "balloon" shell, but this will only be a materials problem.
Air tight connections and air locks between habitat structures

5. Connecting Payload Containers to Foam Habitats

Without having to bother with the details -- and work -- of dragging an air lock hatch assembly from where it landed over to a newly made foam structure and installing it, a re-used payload cargo container could add a small amount of "bonus" floor space and two fully assembled air lock hatch sets.

Likewise, payload containers with an air lock hatch and chamber set built into both ends can be used to connect one foam structure to another. This arrangement makes it possible to isolate individual habitat areas in the event of a micro-meteor penetration in one of them.

Connecting a used container could actually be easier than installing a separate air lock in the wall of a rigid foam structure. In addition to the built in air lock sets, payload containers could be manufactured to include easy, ready made connections for habitat air and electricity. The air locks could also be detached from the containers if necessary for installation in spots where there was no room for a full container.

The rigid foam habitat structures could have holes carved into them to receive a container with something like an electric chain saw able to operate at Martian temperatures. The foam collar connection is straight from Arctic designs only with significantly thicker foam insulation. It is a very sensible design which makes creating an atmospheric seal much simpler.

6. Initiating Earth-like habitat processes

After living in a space ship and the Mars orbital station for months Mars humans might really appreciate an actual commode. Once the camp's water supply has had the time to build up a solid surplus, such a thing would be quite reasonable although it might still require a few "design adjustments" to integrate with the BioMass "sewage system" and internal atmosphere requirements. The tightly closed habitats will definitely require an aggressive air purification system. There cannot be any vents releasing habitat environmental air into the Martian atmosphere.

There is no such thing as "fresh air" on Mars. All the air in the habitat will be air generated by the reactor hydrolysis, and it will be constantly used and reused. Without constant and aggressive air purification and treatment habitat air will inevitably develop an almost intolerable stench.

Along with the commode the Martian humans could also very reasonably construct something similar to a "hot shower" and even a small steam sauna. Working in the Arctic for an extended period made such things not only very attractive, but showers and sauna also served as necessary tools to maintain health. In the Arctic during winter the humidity was almost zero, but the ambient humidity on the Martian surface is zero. Even with a humidifier inside the habitat, the humidity will remain low.

7. Nitrogen

It is an almost automatic response to the habitat's environmental requirements to turn the attention to oxygen. However, oxygen's "quiet sister" presents a quite different yet equally important challenge. On the day the Earth men arrive they will be breathing air containing nitrogen [N2] brought from Earth. However, by the time the first large foam habitat structures are in place there will be a requirement for lots of nitrogen to prepare those environments.

[The trace gases in Earth-like atmosphere can reasonably be shipped to Mars in a pressurized tank. Even a small supply could fulfill these requirements for a long time.]

Short Term: Produce large initial quantities of N2 on Mars

CURIOSITY found significant amounts of ionic nitrate compounds in Martian dust which could be released in gas form [N2] by applying heat. There will almost certainly be other gases released in this process, but defining the task of purifying the nitrogen will depend on having a better picture of what else is expected to be released in the process.

Applying this much heat energy from an electrical source such as the Stirling generators may be a problem. Although this could definitely be done, it might take a long time to produce the amounts of nitrogen gas needed. An alternate plan would use reactor heat directly through a high temperature heat exchanger.

An obvious possibility is to use the "module environment" heat exchanger. While the long term purpose of this is to provide the reactor module with an internal heat source to "host" the generator sets, it could be diverted to "nitrogen generation duty" long enough to produce sufficient nitrogen to initially provide for the habitat structures. 

The physical/mechanical requirements would be relatively simple. Martian soil could be placed in a closed vessel near the reactor module with the heat exchanger connected. The NO3 - N2 process could  be approached almost passively -- with the possible exception of some sort of slowly rotating baffle to continuously bring soil from the bottom to the warmer layers at the top. The N2 being generated this way would already bring the benefit of being at a significantly higher gas pressure than Martian atmospheric pressure so it would flow through the vessel's exhaust port to the habitat more or less on its own without requiring a pump.

This process would not be a rapid one. However, the mechanics required for it could be probably be  set up and initiated robotically prior to the arrival of the humans.

Long Term: Establish self sustaining nitrogen cycle for the habitat

MARS Habitat full nitrogen cycle, waste handling, greenhouse
Habitat/Green House Nitrogen Cycle
While there is not a shortage of the feed stock materials to produce nitrogen for the habitat atmosphere, the additional needs of the green house process will demand even more forms, primarily as ionic compounds needed for plant life. Given time, the habitat's nitrogen cycle can balance the consumption and output by all "participants," but it will not do so as a "forgiving coincidence."

Generating sufficient nitrogen for human habitat requirements will be the first task, proceeding before BioMass and green house priorities. If we were to eliminate the lower half of the Habitat Environmental Nitrogen Chart, we would see conditions existing at the time of first arrival of humans.

Greenhouse, nitrogen and bio-mass process for habitat

The initial generation of N2 from Martian soil can satisfy the habitat's initial requirements. However, to permanently sustain the habitat's environment a continuous source of additional N2 will need to be generated by habitat systems. A combination of a BioMass "composting" tank, a functioning aquaponics tank and a hydroponic green house can accomplish this.

The Habitat Environmental Nitrogen diagram illustrates roughly the process which will need to gradually become established for this purpose. Although it will never be possible to precisely control the size of the populations of nitrification and denitrification bacteria, once these composting processes have been initiated with bacteria imported from Earth, the system should function fairly autonomously. Importantly, it will also "scale up" easily to accommodate a larger green house or additional human residents.

The diagram also posts a question mark on the necessity for storing surplus N2 along with the other hydrolysis products. A few reasonable estimates for the initial habitat's floor space and the rate at which N2 can be produced will determine whether or not it will be necessary to generate and store reserve surpluses of it. When projects designed for greater habitat floor space or higher residency are begun in the future, a slowly developed surplus of available N2 will be required. Further, we can assume that the habitat structures will "leak" habitat atmosphere, and although these "leaks" might be quite small, replacement atmospheric gases will be required from time to time.

Is an Aquaponics System really practical?

Right away this contest's admonition about "unworkable suggestions" casts a shadow on the aquaponics idea. However, all the complications and cost of shipping an aquaponics tank, not to mention the necessary live fish, may well be justified by the increased efficiency and productivity of a hydroponic green house which is supplied by aquaponic nutrients, especially dissolved forms of nitrogen from an aquaponic source.

Food production rates in a hydroponic Martian green house can make or break both the permanence and the sustainability of this mission. If the addition of a modest aquaponics tank could increase green house food production by even as little as 10% - 15%, the idea's merit becomes much more attractive.

BioMass, Algae Beds, Bio-Diversity and Sustainability

The idea of operating and maintaining a BioMass system almost seems contradictory to work one might normally associate with being an astronaut living on another planet, but when there is no "default BioMass" system whatsoever already in place and easily accessed, the critical and unavoidable importance of that tank of smelly, bubbling, bacterial, decomposing matter quickly becomes clear.

There will be a role for Martian soil even in the hydroponic green house process. Mixing the distinctively  "Earthly" BioMass with native soil might be tricky, but it will become necessary as the demand for  both larger quantities and wider varieties of "local" food increases. There are currently and will, very likely, continue to be questions about the details of what is contained in Martian soil. In this case those questions will center on the impact that extra-terrestrial mix will have on living Earth plants.

An obvious first possibility for acquiring quantities of Martian soil in an "un-frozen" state will be the re-use of the slurry and sediment discarded during reactor liquefaction of ice drill returns.

Still, we can see the important role which will be played by the habitat's BioMass itself -- beginning with its part in maintaining habitat N2 levels, but extending immediately to the production of "soil materials" suitable for the hydroponic process in the green house. On Earth humans are quite selective in deciding what might be added to a compost. On Mars that question has a direct answer: absolutely everything possible.

The Mars habitat may, as time passes, have a "landfill" of sorts, but it will be a very, very small one. It will cost $10,000 per kilogram to transport something there to thrown into it.

Perhaps its most "Earth-like" feature of the BioMass will be the simple fact that it is not under the control of carefully developed planning, but instead, represents the apparently "nicely" chaotic nature of Earthly Great Nature "herself." 

Every scrap of everything humans are importing, consuming or discarding should be a candidate for addition to the BioMass. The nature of things destined to be transported to the Mars colony must reflect this. There won't be water for washing clothes, so make bundles of coveralls from biodegradable paper which can be digested after use. The design of every package used for shipping anything to Mars should include the possibility of its ultimate dissolution into some kind of usable residue in the BioMass.

Likewise, many of the microscopic "inhabitants" of a functioning BioMass are going to end up there through a very natural "Mother Earth" style sequence of coincidence, over sight and accident even though every one of these has been hauled all the way to Mars. Count on it. Future Martian "residents" will look back on the requirement of making sure that rovers were completely sterile as being a very curious idea.

Part of the green house must ultimately be devoted to algae beds. The reasons are obvious.

When the sustainability process has settled into some sort of routine, mission controllers will be facing questions about adding such things as moss, rodents, houseflies, bees and mosquitoes to the mix. It is already clear that pollinators will be an early necessity for a functional green house. In time perhaps common farm yard creatures such as rabbits or chickens can be introduced into the biological mix -- and into the diets of astronauts hungry for a taste of "Earth food."

Considering the aquaponic tank, the BioMass tank and the green house as a single "biological" system, a serious Martian environmental problem emerges. Agricultural food production, life in the BioMass tank, the green house component of oxygen production, fish in the aquaponic system and any stray Earth creatures such as chickens or rabbits can be lost almost instantly if exposed to external Martian atmospheric pressure or temperatures.

Although the "living elements" of these will be destroyed, the chemical contents could be thawed and "re-populated" if there were another, parallel system which remained undamaged. Such a parallel system would also have to be complete, containing each of the components. This compartmentalized approach reinforces the "two of everything" idea, and the parallel system be a "future plan," it will need to be constructed simultaneously with the first system.

Aside from managing to control habitat carbon dioxide levels,  creating the first Martin tomato and a supplying a constant flow of habitat oxygen, green house lights can provide an alternative to the sunlight exposure required by humans on Earth.

8. Carbon dioxide

Beyond the oxygen and nitrogen requirements continuous human presence in the habit will also introduce a carbon dioxide challenge. The optimum place for an excessively high carbon dioxide concentration will be in the hydroponic green house, but this will require a method by which excess carbon dioxide can be captured in the habitat living quarters and later released in the green house atmosphere where it can be consumed by plants which will, in turn, augment the available oxygen levels.

Carbon dioxide levels in the green house should not be allowed to become so high that humans could not enter without masks. "Self sustaining" necessarily means "balanced." The green house will require a substantial amount of manual work.

There is existing CO2 collection technology in use on nuclear submarines for carbon dioxide collection and removal, but these would require extensive modification before they were adaptable to the Martian mission. However, researchers at Columbia have developed a "sorbent" scrubber material which can sequester CO2 at normal pressure and then release it when heated. [Professor Klaus Lackner, Ewing-Worzel Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering at Columbia University]

A relatively small diameter transit pipe with a screw mounted in it could move granules of this solid "sorbent" to the green house from the carbon dioxide rich habitat where it could be heated to release the CO2. Once the CO2 had been released, a return pipe could auger the granules back to the habitat for more collection.

A Message from MeanMesa
That would be: "A message to the young..."

At 73 years MeanMesa is far to old to realistically dream of a trip to Mars, but if YOU are in your twenties, thirties or forties -- well, let's get dreaming!

Projects like this one begin as dreams!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Billionaires Look Funny When They're Terrified

The Wall Street Journal proudly fabricated this story -- then most of the rest of the media grabbed it. The billionaires are quaking...

TUE SEP 15, 2015 AT 11:36 AM PDT

The Wall Street Journal, perhaps fearing Bernie Sanders working his way up in the polls, does some good old-fashioned fearmongeringTuesday, with a story claiming that Sander's proposals will cost the nation $18 trillion over the next decade. Hogwash, says Sanders. And he's right.

"That is not the reality, and we will be responding to the Wall Street Journal on that. I think most of the expense that they put in there, the expenditures, have to do with a single-payer health care system," the independent Vermont senator said in an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday.

Sanders said the WSJ had "significantly exaggerated" those costs, and hadn't accounted for the benefits of "eliminating the cost that you incur with private health insurance." […]

"The truth of the matter right now is that as a nation, we spend far far more on health care per person than the people of any other nation. And yet we continue to have about 30 million people who have no health insurance, many more who are underinsured and we pay, again, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs," Sanders said. "No question to my mind that moving toward a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program is the most cost-effective way to provide health care to all of our people." […]

"Second point, which they really didn't get into, is: We are going to demand that the wealthiest people and the largest corporations in this country do start paying their fair share of taxes," Sanders said. "When we have massive income and wealth inequality—when 58 percent of all income is going to the top 1 percent, when you have major corporations in a given year paying zero in federal income taxes, yes we need real tax reform to bring in substantially more revenue."Apparently the WSJ thought that attacking him on his tax plan was going to make their motives just a little too transparent. And, as Greg Sargent points out, they weren't even really looking at a Sanders' healthcare plan, because he hasn't released one yet. They were using another single-payer plan that's been introduced in the Senate and has a $15 trillion price tag, so they just used it.

Here's what they ignored: "At the moment, total health care spending in the United States runs over $3 trillion a year; according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, over the next decade (from 2015-2024), America will spend a total of $42 trillion on health care." That's a lot more than $15 trillion! Here's how it works—the money that we wouldn't be spending on healthcare premiums to private insurance will be going to the government to pay for health insurance for everyone. Except that those tax payments would be progressive—the lower income people wouldn't have to be paying as much as the rich. The majority wouldn't have to be paying as much in taxes as they are now for health insurance and everybody would have coverage. That's also been proven to save a lot of money in every other developed nation in the world that has some form of a single-payer plan to provide universal health care. That's a just a minor fact that the big economic brains of the WSJ overlooked in this article.

Sanders, though, should be flattered and heartened. The WSJ is scared enough of him to start attacking.

[Read the original article here Daily KOS]

Let's Go To Mars!

Maybe We've All Seen Too Many Movies
Sci-Fi tales got us dreaming.
Now it's time for nuts and bolts.

Probably not like this -- at least for a while.[image]
Yes, the Earthlings are, actually, this close to "taking humanity's great first step" -- the largest "first step" we've ever taken.

NASA is unquestionably preparing to get serious with plans for inhabiting Mars. They even conducted a contest soliciting ideas from ordinary citizens which might be useful in "keeping the Mars astronauts safe."

Naturally, this little blog was anxious to "jump right into the competition." 

All these suggestion will be listed by number, but even before we begin the list, here are a couple of suggestion which aren't particularly about the "Martian-side" of things.

Notably, Earth men living on Mars are not, actually, "astronauts." They were "astronauts" while they were on their way to Mars, but once having arrived there, they're going to have to have a new description.

Also, forget the "keeping safe" idea. Mars isn't going to be a convincingly safe place for Earthly types for years. In fact, since a "disaster" on Mars could conceivably detour the entire project for decades, it will be important to not promote the idea that habitation is anything similar to a "sure fire" expedition, It will also be important to tailor design suggestions about Mars habitation with as much redundancy as reasonable to give those who go and the entire mission the best chances possible for success.

The highest priority for keeping the astronauts "safe" is to create the highest degree of independent life support sustainability as possible. These suggestions target that goal.

Although no one has much experience about Martian designs, MeanMesa can offer a few decades of experience in engineering for Arctic designs. While the "cold" on Mars is quite beyond the "cold" encountered in the oil field at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, [400 miles north of the Arctic Circle], a few of the same design considerations may be helpful.

With this said, let's look at some suggestions. When the harsh Martian environment offers an actual advantage to some part of this, we'll be sure to note it.

1.  Everything In Pairs

All the life support equipment which will be sent to support the Mars mission needs to be in pairs -- two of everything. Think of this as a plan to establish an "alpha camp" and a "beta camp," copies of each other and each one equipped to sustain life.

This approach will offer dividends in the future even if nothing occurs to send astronauts from one to the other. For one thing, having two complete camps will allow safe opportunities to test modifications and other changes in the future. Later, when it's time to increase the human presence on Mars, most of the equipment required for a start will already be there and operating.

One of the most serious "threats" to habitation will be from micro-meteor bombardment through Mars' near vacuum atmosphere. Two separated camps will limit the likelihood of meteor damage to both.

2. We'll Need a Reactor

By this, we're talking about a new type of reactor. Humans have already developed gigantic reactors to provide electricity to cities and tiny [unshielded] reactors to provide electricity to space probes. Mars habitation will require one sized in between -- perhaps around the size of a residential refrigerator.

All reactors "come with baggage," but a reactor suitable for Martian service has different "baggage" than one designed for Earth service. Some of the most obvious of the "different" challenges emerge right away. There is not going to be any surplus water on Mars for quite some time, and typical Earth bound reactors gobble up water for cooling, spent fuel storage and heat exchange like drunken sailors.

The size and capacity of a Martian reactor will also require some specific design. The habitat power system will need to be much larger than the tiny reactors which have been built into space probes, but for many other reasons, much smaller and more compact than the gigantic plants dotting the coastline in California. The reactors designed for nuclear submarines will probably be more similar in size, but a different process will be required for Martian service.

Low pressure thorium, molten salt reactor [diagram]
From the choices currently available in Earth bound reactor technology, a molten salt thorium process offers many compelling design advantages. This design was actually developed years ago on Earth, but competing processes became the norm leading to the adoption of the reactors in service today.

Reactors using the MSR process [shown at left] could meet many of the restraints inherent in the Mars project. [Read more about molten salt, thorium reactors  here_CEN]

We can consider this very preliminary idea of the basic operational requirements for electricity and heat. Although quite conceptual, the diagram illustrates a few "multiple constraint" issues but it also illustrates some "environmental opportunities." The best way to communicate all of this is "by the numbers."

1. Reactor

The reactor's single mission is to provide a constant supply of heat. Mars is cold, and it is far enough away from the sun to limit the amount of electricity which can be generated by solar panels. This was enough to power a rover, but a human habitat will require substantially more. A properly designed "pocket reactor" would offer more dependability while representing a lower transportation mass than the number of photoelectric panels required to do the same job.

Take a look at the following diagram.

The heat exchangers would receive heat energy from the reactor via a molten stream conceivably propelled by "field stator" induced charge. Steam or fluid heat transfer plans would have too much additional "baggage" thanks to the temperature and the availability of water. Obviously, cooling water could not be a required commodity for reactor operation. The actual material finally selected to move reactor heat to the various heat exchangers will require materials development to accommodate dependability and efficiency requirements. [Existing two phase reactor heat transfer designs are close, but still not ready for Mars use.]
Habitat Reactor and Process Diagram
[diagram MeanMesa]

While the area [orange] would be a logical limit for reactor encasement, other parts of this process system could be included in the reactor module based on the size of transport module required. This is the area which would require radiation shielding.

The shielding requirements would not be nearly as rigid as the ones imposed on Earth reactor designs. Chart elements 8, 9, 10 and 11 would necessarily be located close to the habitat, but all the rest could be located remotely --  either integrated into the reactor module itself or adjacent to it. There would be two gas lines [O and H] and an insulated [heat traced] water pipe to storage units, but all the other connections to the habitat would be electrical conductors.

2. Reactor Module Environmental Heat Exchanger

This would maintain heat for the environment immediately around the reactor's exterior. If the interior temperature of the reactor module were simply allowed to settle at Mars surface temperature of -200 F, the cold could complicate the delivery of the heat exchanger streams. It is likely that the reactor would need to be operating at a minimum level of heat generation when being launched and during the long trip to Mars orbit in order to prevent the heat exchanger streams from solidifying before becoming operational on the Martian surface.

If the reactor's transport module design turns out to require a heated environment in space, this heat exchanger would accommodate that.

3. Generator Heat Exchanger, and
4. Stirling Generator Set

These items are combined for a reason which has more to do with the idea of using a Stirling generator than with the reactor process itself.

The original concept for a Stirling "air engine" is from the last century. When it was first proposed and tested, the design had some "non-recoverable" defects: a. the necessary materials were not available, and b. steam engines were just becoming popular. Today, NASA should have little trouble developing materials for the Martian environment and for a "Stirling-type" generator motor, and on a planet where producing every ounce of liquid water will require significant work, steam engines are not particular attractive as design alternatives.

Martian Environmental Design Advantage:
Low Temperatures on Martian Surface

On the other hand, this may be one of those opportunities to use the Martian environment as a design advantage. A Stirling engine is powered by an available heat differential. Using the reactor heat to provide the "hot side," when first designed an "Earthly limit" was imposed by the availability of a "heat sink" cold enough to sustain the necessary temperature differential. 

Mars' -200 F environment offers a "heat sink" of extra-planetary potency!

Stirling Engine Diagram [image]
Further, the pocket reactor offers a "heat source" generous enough that not even a rather "sloppy" Stirling-style engine's single use "waste" would present much of a problem in terms of energy conservation. Raising the local Martian surface temperature by a few degrees Fahrenheit as a result of running such an engine would make very little difference -- even over an extended period.

The design challenge is centered on the apparatus at the top of the diagram, but it is not an insurmountable challenge. Even considering the various inefficiencies, the "trade-off" is quite attractive.

Finally, a Stirling engine requires a gas body inside the cylinders which can be sequentially heated and cooled. Reviewing the diagram, there are a few choices. Although nitrogen or carbon dioxide are available, these would have to be extracted from the Martian atmosphere. The other choice seems to be using the hydrogen gas being generated by the electrolysis process. [Hydrogen is not explosive in an atmosphere where there is almost no oxygen.]

While the diagram only mentions "generator set," the "generator" part will also be a design challenge. If the Stirling and its heat exchanger are located within the heated environment of the reactor module, the generator design becomes a little simpler. In this case a more or less standard design generator -- probably incorporating special low temperature and wear resistant metals -- should be able to function quite reliably on Mars.

5. Electric Ice Drill

Because any concept of Martian habitation requires a reliable source of water ice, the camps will necessarily be located where ice is readily available. This part of the plan will be left to the orbital satellite observers and their conclusions, but the positive side is that the rovers have already "detected"  traces of water ice below the surface in a number of places.

For human habitation these "detected trace" ice quantities will, of course, be quite insufficient. The camps have to be sited in locations where sub-surface ice deposits are the robust equivalent of "proven reserves" as the oil hungry Earthlings speak of them. Everything depends on this, and it may well require that these first habitats be placed on Mars' polar regions where water ice may be more abundant and closer to the surface. [Actually, everything depends on everything, but this isn't news. However, this is why the expense of "double everything" can be justified. We don't need to be trying to inhabit another planet "on the cheap."]

Martian Environmental Design Advantage:
Sub-Surface Ice Deposits

With sufficient electrical generation an effective ice drill becomes feasible. This would be one heavy motor -- designed with low temp metals -- which couldn't really be replaced by a lighter weight alternative. On the bright side, there is almost certainly good access to significant water ice within a few feet of the Martian surface -- especially at the poles.

Habitat Ice Drilling Process Diagram

Ice drilling holds the same uncertainties on Mars as similar processes hold on Earth. If the drill encounters a "rocky bottom" to the ice deposit first selected, it must be moved -- by astronauts -- but not necessarily very far, perhaps no more than a few yards. The drilling prospects might change considerably at another location close to the first. The chart's use of the term "liquefaction" suggests that the "material returned" from ice drilling may have a high percentage content of soil or gravel. It will almost certainly need to be heated to a state of "slurry" before any further processes can begin.

On the other hand if one of the drilling sites proves very positive and the ice returned is relatively clean, the drilling operation at that site might, at some later point, be replaced by a reactor driven "heat wand" which could simply liquefy the ice enough to retrieve it for hydrolysis and water supply. [Note: The water being produced at lower right of this diagram is the feed water shown on subsequent diagrams.]

6. Ice Liquefaction Heat Exchanger, and
7. Hydrolysis Plant
9. And 10. The Gas Storage Tanks

Flow controls on any of the elements of the reactor's stream heat exchanger feeds [Stirling generator, ice liquefaction or reactor module environmental heat radiator] may be testy. What is proposed here is basically no flow control valves beyond an emergency shut off. The difficulty will arise from the reactor flow cooling to a solid state. This means that both the generator set exchanger and the ice liquefaction process exchanger must be calibrated to proceed essentially autonomously for as long as the reactor is capable of producing heat.

With respect to the ice liquefaction process, this will require either a suitably sized slurry retention tank which is large enough to continue to provide water the the rest of the process even if the ice drill has to be shut down and moved.

Further, there will need to be a staged water purification process either before hydrolysis or, at least, before potable water production. Hydrolysis will not require entirely purified water, but it will require water with most particulates and sediments removed. There is no requirement for duplicated water purification. Preliminary purification can feed both hydrolysis and then go on to secondary purification in route to potable water storage.

Martian Environmental Design Advantage:
Low Atmospheric Pressure & Cold Ambient Temperature

The volumes of oxygen and hydrogen gas produced by hydrolysis will need to be compressed prior to entering the gas storage tanks, but a low ambient temperature will make gas storage less energy intensive. The low atmospheric pressure will increase the efficiency of the hydrolysis. Both storage tanks will need to be constructed to hold a pressure differential generally higher than what is required in Earth atmosphere, but -- on the plus side -- tank size will not matter much. These storage tanks could be very large containers which are inflated by the entrance of the hydrolysis gases. Redundancy suggests a number of such tanks, but flow control valving in the gas feed distribution piping should not be difficult. [Pressure gauges for the storage tanks might be a little more complicated.]

The Martian Version of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell

The hydrogen generated in hydrolysis suddenly has very limited usefulness in an environment which provides essentially no oxygen. However, there may be a solution to this. The fact that hydrolysis is energy intensive is justified by the production of the oxygen, but part of that "expense" is also retained in the hydrogen produced. 

With hydrolysis operating at a significant production level, some of the gasses produced might be stored in the Martian equivalent of a hydrogen fuel cell. Naturally, such a fuel cell would have to supply its own oxygen, but if oxygen were plentiful, making fuel cells containing both oxygen and hydrogen might make sense. Storing a good number of these fully charged fuel cells would give the advantage of 1. using the oxygen in them for breathing if necessary, and 2. essentially creating the equivalent of "batteries" which could provide some of the electrical energy previously consumed in the hydrolysis if there were an emergency.

8. Potable Water Storage

There is no telling what might be found in Martian "ice water" when the need arises to actually drink some. There is very little possibility that such water might be contaminated by any of the pollutants [created by intelligent creatures]  typically ruining water on Earth, and there is, likewise, little chance that Martian "ice water" would suffer from organic Earth-style problems such as eutrophication.

However, the water's chemical content might be "off the chart." Worse, some of those chemicals might be quite unsuspected, dangerous to humans, hard to detect or difficult to remove. If this turns out to be the case, the Martian "ice water" will need to be distilled. If distillation is required, essential ions, minerals and electrolytes required for humans will be have to be added before it can be used, and those will probably need to come from the "home planet." [Try to imagine a country western song about crewing on a space ship making a salt run to Mars...]

Of course, a water storage tank will require some serious insulation and a continuous heat trace. Additionally, these suggestions would be quite incomplete if they didn't include a hydroponic green house. This water business is serious.

11. Habitat Electrical and Heat

We can dismiss the idea of a reactor driven heat exchanger to provide habitat heat because of the complications inherent in such a plan. Further, it would be a good design feature to separate the habitat quarters from the reactor/ice drilling/hydrolysis mechanics anyway. Running insulated electrical conductors and insulated, heat traced pipe to service the habitat makes sense.

Having a dependable, plentiful supply of electricity is also serious business. The fuel cells might also come in very handy if they're needed. [They should theoretically also be able to be used to "make water" since the essential components are right there.]

These suggestion include a little more about habitat construction, but power, heat and lights will be a good start.

3. Making the Transportation Problem Easier

The last complex rover landing was, indeed, both inspirational and hair raising. However, Mars habitation is going to take lots of equipment and lots of trips from the Earth to Mars. By "lots" we should assume something in the range of 50 to 100 heavy lift launch payloads. The entire enterprise needs to be consolidated into something like its own "single purpose agency" as a "wing" of NASA. The scope, complexity and intricacies of establishing a functioning habitat on Mars could, otherwise, bury the very legitimate work and responsibilities of NASA which is responsible for accomplishing "other" science priorities at the same time.

Once the "list" on everything that will need to be sent to Mars begins to fill out, the scope of work will also start to become clear. The current model is to conduct serious preparation for a launch project for a long time, culminating on some sunny morning at Cape Canaveral. The Mars project will present a much more "production oriented" attitude resembling an assembly line approach.

The Mars Train: The 500 day transit window will become a picture of an interplanetary train with payloads spaced out all along the way and arriving at Mars like a regularly scheduled prelude to an invasion. There is simply too much to do for the project to go in "fits and spurts." MeanMesa is also concerned about the likely problems with fickle Congressional financing.

Streamlining the Run to Low Earth Orbit: There will not be many considerations about specific payloads which will particularly differ much. The task of lifting these packages to LEO can be streamlined, and the per ton costs reduced with a little practice. We can expect improvements in technology to be appearing all along the way.

Streamlining the Trip to Mars: It makes good sense to consider the "long leg" of the trip as separate from the "lift off leg." The separate tasks of targeting and accelerating orbital payloads is far more manageable when handled alone than lumping everything together and tasking lift off rockets with the whole work. Something akin to a "space tug boat" will be need for this work. [Make two of them...and, don't forget that we'll need a gas truck.] It can pick up payloads in LEO, fine tune the trajectory and accelerate them in space instead of battling Earth's gravity and then accelerating them in space.

NASA has collected a very enviable think tank of innovative problem solvers capable of inventing their way through really complicated project requirements, and this should be at the disposal of the Mars group. Just as the MSR-thorium reactor and the Stirling Heat Engine generator sets are based on research from years ago, the task of moving a significant number of payloads to our neighboring planet might also benefit from an old design, in this case, the nuclear propulsion concepts of the old Orion Project.

A nuclear "locomotive for the Mars train" [Orion WIKI]
The Orion Project proposed using small atomic explosions to provide the thrust needed for launching space craft. Don't groan. The idea actually had a number of very attractive advantages, but the 1963 Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty prohibited such nuclear explosions. [Read more about the treaty here 1963 Test Ban Treaty-US State Dept] The Treaty was a good idea at the time because we were rapidly introducing so much radiation into the planet's atmosphere.

Nonetheless, it may have turned out to be a case of "throwing the baby out with the bath water." MeanMesa is proposing it again here because if it were used to propel payloads to a Mars habitat, the nuclear explosions would be occurring much farther away from our planet. The additional fact that the payload shipments would be unmanned makes the idea even more appealing -- the bursts of thrust ["G's"] developed by such propellant  systems would be brutal, but the transit velocities would be exceptionally high. [For visitors unfamiliar with the basic concept of the Orion propulsion design, here is a video of some of the "proof of concept" testing done in the 1950's. Project Orion]

The Mars Orbital Warehouse Crew: With payload packages arriving in Mars orbit every week, each one needing to be "landed" with a very close accuracy on targets [alpha and beta camps] on the Martian surface, there is a definite need for a crew orbiting Mars to "handle the details." This looks like it might require "the other space tug" plus a really scaled down version of the ISS to handle crew quarters, planning and communications, etc.

A good portion of the equipment can be positioned and landed before astronauts arrive. The orbital Mars station will also be a good place to prepare astronauts -- even long before the permanent descent. A crew of three or four along with two or three astronauts could handle this work.

The Mars Orbit to Surface Run: There HAS to be a better way than dangling a payload by a cable and firing retro rockets! MeanMesa was, just like most other observers, dangling on the edge of his chair while watching the latest rover landing strategy unfold. Although successful, it was a hair raising, Rube Goldberg thriller!

Martian Environmental Design Advantage:
Low Planetary Gravity and Low Atmospheric Density

The low Martian orbital escape velocity should make not only accurately placing the payload packages more successful, but also it should offer an opportunity for astronauts to visit the camps before committing to a more permanent residence.  This one is a problem perfectly prepared for NASA propulsion and guidance experts, so we can leave it there.

Still, some sort of shuttle vehicle is going to be needed for the leg from Mars orbit to the surface. Although the invitation to enter the contest specifically discouraged "un-workable" suggestions, there have been plenty of enticing "un-workable" suggestions already made: the orbital ring, the space tether and the space elevator to name a few. Each of these become slightly less "un-workable" given the specific planetary physics of Mars compared to those of Earth.

In fact, materials and rocket technology has been improving annually since most of them were first categorized as "un-workable."

Maximizing Utility of Payload Containers: Naturally, all the payload containers will need to be standardized as much as possible.  Payload weights will also need to be standardized. This will allow the design for each phase of the trip to also become much more standardized, too. Further, this really doesn't mean giant payloads -- it means lots of payloads which are the same size and roughly the same weight.

Also, these payload containers will ultimately be on the ground on Mars. The standard design should encompass every possible feature which can even possibly be used in the camp structures later. Reusing payloads fundamentally expands the "cost benefit" calculation for the whole mission.
  • air locks built into both ends
  • radiation shielding -- even just weight efficient partial shielding
  • heavy insulation for Martian temperatures
  • design accommodations for the containers to be joined or modified once on Mars
  • repair ability -- for patching if needed
  • pre-manufactured access for habitat utilities
  • design considerations to make them movable once they are landed

Equipment like the reactor and generator set, the ice drilling equipment and the various storage tanks can all land as individual payload containers, but this also makes being able to move them around, at least a little ways, important. They will have to be organized and connected to each other for both astronaut access and piping and wiring, and this will probably require more control for placement than can be expected from the maneuvering capability of a loaded "space tug" hauling them down from Mars orbit.

This will require a "surface tugger" with enough power and traction to drag one of these payload containers a few feet into place. This can be a multi-use vehicle, and it might be simpler if it were powered by a fuel cell. The same vehicle might also be needed to level a site before placing the containers in a camp site.

Don't forget to also pack a good long pry bar and a "come-along" made from low temp steel! There will be some of this which is destined to be common labor even if it is hard to think about performing manual work in a space suit.

4. A Few Habitat Ideas

On Site Habitat Construction Concept - Rigid Foam Structures
[graphics - MeanMesa]

For Arctic applications, polyurethane foam is widely used to control thermal migration. The foam is provided in pressurized cans, is exothermic and becomes quite structurally rigid after it is applied. The foam expands by forming a gas which fills the voids in the foam's polyurethane.

The polyurethane idea would have to be modified chemically to function in a similar way in Martian temperatures -- for example, the exothermic rate of the reaction causing the gas creation mix would have to be "heated up."

Also, when applied in Earth's atmospheric pressure, the foam's expansion reaches a "balance point" and stops expanding. On Mars the foam idea can only work when the foam is released into a closed, flexible containment, otherwise, it would continue to expand almost without limit, forming an unusable structure which would not take a usable form or be structurally rigid,

The usable flexibility of the material forming the bladders could benefit from the temporary heating caused as the foam reaction takes place to generate the gas. the NASA materials innovation department has to take this from here.

The foam structures created this way could be large enough when combined to form a sizable habitat structure. They would "join" relatively easily -- possibly with the application of the same kind of foam at unions to create air containment. Insulation thickness would be determined by the shape of the bladders when they were manufactured. For example, a structure large enough to provide space for a functioning hydroponic garden could be fabricated in this manner.

Adding any kind of "sprayed on" coating to the outside of the foam structures would be a problem. However, thin sheets of material to repel dust abrasion in wind storms, add radiation protection [foil] or even flexible photo-voltaic material such as the recently developed fabric form could be applied by men wearing spacesuits.

Also, these foam structures, once the foam is fully rigid, could be cut open in order to join them to other foam structures or payload containers.

Also, payload containers with air locks already manufactured into both of their ends could be joined
Mars settlement. [image]
to the foam structures very effectively. The foam could also be used to repair micro-meteor penetrations in either the foam structures or the payload containers.

Insulated windows for installation into the foam structures would be too heavy to justify the cost of their transportation, but they could be built into the payload containers at the time of manufacture.

Constructing a Martian base camp something like the fictional picture [above] might actually be significantly easier that one first thought. After taking only a glimpse of the art work, and considering the estimates and suggestions made in this proposal, the 50 to 100 payloads of equipment begins to appear quite reasonable. Although things may at first seem very primitive, as the mission goes along, good ideas will begin changing and improving everything in no time.

There will be a following post on this same topic which provides more details about designing the Martian habitat. If this is "piquing" your interest, please drop into Short Current Essays in a day or two.

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Anomaly of Trusting Trump

Who's listening to Donald Trump?
Who's believing that they can trust him?

First of All, Quit Laughing
Take a deep breath and pause long enough
 to remember that this is real.

[A note from MeanMesa: This post has been "fermenting" for a few days. In the meantime The House Speaker has "walked off the job," the Pope has been to town and Trump's poll numbers have finally either "slid a little" or, at least, "fluctuated" for the first time in his campaign's heretofore "meteoric ascent." However, even given all of this we should still take a look at what the New York real estate mogul and reality show host has revealed about the base of Republican Party voters.]

While it may be easy -- and in some ways, curiously satisfying -- to ridicule the wild machinations of the Trump Presidential rhetoric, a better, more constructive goal might be an effort to really analyze the structure and strategy of such a strangely successful political game. There really is a phenomenon here, and this phenomenon can yield far more than self-placating sarcasm.

Anomaly: something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.

Somehow, Mr. Trump has determined and isolated the precise tone which is able to "reach" the gravely disgruntled among the circus varieties of the GOP base. No matter the degree of disdain visitors to this little high desert blog might hold for Trump himself, the intricate mechanism of this unlikely, yet successful political strategy and the almost astonishing accuracy with which it has been deployed in Trump's fascinatingly chaotic political rhetoric holds a "fine prize," indeed, for those attempting to model the logic and causes driving the 2015 political scene.

This is one of those things which merit the effort to extract as complete an understanding as possible. MeanMesa suspects that what can be revealed about the strange effectiveness of this kind of politics will remain painfully relevant for a long and tedious segment of our country's political future.

De-Professionalizing the Presidency
Absolutely anyone can do it, right?

A subtle component of the oligarchs' "take over" scheme is the de-professionalizing of people pursuing absolutely any trade, career or other social responsibility in an effort to reduce such efforts to a "commodity status." 

We have seen union hating, political billionaires show an increasing reluctance to support the financing of public schools -- as if the teachers in those schools amounted to little more than modestly trained union hacks. Likewise, we have watched the Congress lavish the health insurance and pharmaceutical magnates with new, "mechanical" structures for diagnosis and treatment in order to limit coverage and "standardize" insured costs. [I.e. DSM]

Gradually every sort of individually motivated job performance conducted by policemen has also been "standardized" to the point of an almost robotic approach whenever a crime is detected. This litany of de-professionalizing efforts could include many more examples. 

When a profession is de-professionalized, it loses its traditional reliance on meritocracy [Are the outcomes good?] as the control of approval for such job performance shifts toward "business" considerations and away from individual efforts and responsibility for the outcome of the professional labor.

Well, for a significant part of the American electorate a similar inclination has now encompassed the Presidency.

Traditionally, Presidents are exceptional for more reasons than simply their external qualities and accomplishments -- educational achievements, business success or specific, relevant experience such as service as Secretary of State. There is a very visible, yet immaterial, "quality of being" about each of them which is evidence for some degree of the "remarkable nature" intuitively persuasive to the governed. Once elected and wrapped in the accouterments accompanying such a high office, they often tend to gradually appear even more exceptional as their terms continue.

Yet, Americans have always been inclined to attribute just about everything the US government might accomplish to the executive sitting in the Oval Office. This is even evident in the curious syntax often used to describe such "happenings." [For example "During Bush, unemployment increased by 700,000 monthly." "Under FDR, hope was restored to millions of Americans."]

The unspoken implication behind comments like these has consistently been that the executive has always been the one who planned, supported and implemented these things as a singular individual. Ironically, the same general idea also seems to support an almost opposite conclusion. That "counter thought" is that the single individual occupying the Oval Office is actually required to do very little!

This idea is based on the presumption that the executive has available every sort of "assistance" which will almost automatically do the real work of being President for him [or her], rendering the immediate task of directly governing little more than coming up with a few new ideas or giving a few orders. While such a hypothesis may, at first, seem to be a dangerously over simplified model, in the nature of this post it may be chillingly relevant.

Vast numbers of American voters now see Donald Trump as a viable choice to serve in the next Presidency. MeanMesa thinks this is a phenomenon more than worthy of some careful analysis. The simple fact that we have arrived at such a place strongly suggests that we may not be understanding the actual thinking process driving this large block of voters. 

What Have We Missed in the Minds
 of Trump's Electorate?
Are we making some structural errors
 in our presumptions about what motivations are at play?

In order to keep this post organized, and in hopes of making it just as riveting and intellectually challenging as the Republican debates themselves, we shall consider various aspects of the hypothesis in a structure of questions and answers. [Granted, MeanMesa already knows what the questions in this post will be and how they shall be answered, so -- in this sense -- there is no possible way to make this discussion as thought provoking, insightful, shocking and spontaneous as the Republican debates. Nonetheless, even confronted with such formidable competition, we shall still, very bravely of course, strive to do our best.]

See? She's really, really, really happy. [image_source_COMMENTARY_MAGAZINE]

1. Is Trump's artful campaigning by design or serendipity?

Donald Trump has obviously appeared on the political stage with a personality, but, absent any history of governing, is what we see the actual Trump personality or has it been dissected and reassembled to meet the political opportunities present only in 2015? Further, what, precisely, were those political opportunities lurking in 30% of Republican Primary voters?

There is a real possibility that, hidden away in some basement bunker below Trump Tower, there is a team of exceptionally good political analysts. For those less inclined for raw conspiracy theories, the alternative is one of very suspiciously formidable good luck. In the latter scenario Trump's "organic" personality has just happened to be precisely what all these Republican base voters have been craving all along.

Remember, those base voters don't know any more about Donald Trump than anyone else! Their attraction is focused on his speeches and some hazy sort of "elevated presence" associated with his wealth. Trump's current base support is not the result of his reputation, his record, his personality or his campaign promises -- it is almost entirely a construct of the psychological reaction to his shockingly inauthentic "persona" in the background thoughts of his information challenged base.

2. Did Trump ever actually intend to serve as President? 

We have to assume that Donald Trump does, in fact, know full well that should he ever serve as President, things will not possibly be as simple as his campaign rhetoric might suggest. It is not likely that the man is a much "out of touch" as one would garner from his campaign. Yes, he was born wealthy, and it shows, but on the other hand, Trump has conducted his inherited business interests at least modestly well.

MeanMesa thinks that, at least for Trump, the most reassuring development in the Trump Campaign is that the candidate's popularity is beginning to sag. As the favorable numbers gradually decline, the likelihood that Donald Trump will eventually face the full responsibilities of being President become more distant. Again ironically, the most disturbing part of this conjecture rests squarely with the profound void of electability among Trump's competitors for the nomination.

None of Trump's competition is particularly competitive, and this makes the possibility of his facing a withering national campaign -- not to mention the Presidency, itself -- truly intimidating for him as these outcomes become more and more likely. We may be briefly puzzled as we watch Donald desperately seeking refuge in poll numbers showing another Republican candidate rapidly overtaking him in popularity, but Trump, himself, will find this development an incredible relief -- one serving to make his ever actually being President constantly less likely .

3. Are Trump's politics maneuvering to serve "behind the scene" interests? 

We have become quite accustomed to politicians who barely disguise their eagerness to serve corporate or other plutocratic interests once they are elected. Although common with Congressmen and Senators, the horrible example of Bush W. represents the most recent case when such "conflicted loyalties" accompanied a Presidential candidate as he took office.

Donald Trump has taken great pains to repeatedly proclaim that he is acting exclusively in his own interest in hopes of defeating the negative suspicions that he is actually some sort of shill for other special interests which might benefit from his election. He has been systematically refusing proffered campaign donations, always accompanying such refusals with the explanation for his supporters that he "is safe" and "cannot be bought" simply because he is so rich.

MeanMesa suspects that, should he ever be elected, Donald Trump would, indeed, serve the special interests around Washington in a spectacular way at levels beyond our worst, dark imaginings. He may do this as a deeply corrupted politician, or he may do this simply as the adult form of a spectacularly spoiled, insulated, child. Who cares which it is?

4. How much does the Trump phenomenon depend of the conditions of 2015?

Do Trump and his team fully realize that the campaign is "surfing on the wave of the moment?" The remarkably early onset of this particular election season reveals that voters from both sides of the "conflict" are quite angry with the prospect of another round of "more of the same." This accounts for the startling rejection of every GOP Primary candidate who could boast of even the most minor amount of experience -- or even involvement -- with the government.

With respect to Trump's side of the current picture educationally challenged, wildly conservative voters are now, officially, utterly disgusted with the "we never win" narrative issuing forth from the Congress and the media. The "angst" of these primary voters can no longer be soothed by the traditional "laying of the blame" on the nearest scapegoat, either.

While Trump has already "drunk deeply" from the "whose fault" question, he has also indulged just as deeply with his unabashed embrace of "simply winning." "Winning so much that you'll become bored with it!" Rotating eerily amid this almost completely "detail free" rhetoric, campaign utterances such as this one, although largely beyond any explanation suggested by the useless questions in the corporate opinion polls, still seem to exert a considerable traction with the nearly blind GOP base.

This Republican base -- as it systematically turns out every "insider" candidate, is exhibiting much more than the usual passive disgust with the status quo. At least the "likely primary voters" among this aging base are clearly prepared to conduct a hair tearing, "holy war" in their "all bets are off - no more Mr. Nice Guy" madness to get everything they ever wanted as they "take their country back."

Further, although these "establishment" candidates now litter the low end of the FOX polls with single digit results from GOP base voters willing to vote for them, can this animosity -- given time -- ever turn to attack even Trump's popularity? It is not inconceivable that even Trump's vacuous "policy proposals" will begin to appear far too similar to that of the "old school insiders" of the GOP for the taste of the hill billies and bigots currently comprising his 30% of primary voters.

5. How concerned should the GOP be about "permanent damage?"

MeanMesa has never seen the current level of "party anarchy" and general pathos in the Republican Party. For decades the GOP has stumbled forward with an almost hypnotic unanimity on practically every policy the Party Owners ordered. During the Bush W. autocracy the comments -- eerily synchronized by morning emails from the Party's think tank bunkers -- issuing forth daily from both legislators and the wing nut voices of the conveniently obedient industrial media without containing even any different words.

However, 2015 clearly contains very little of the "joyous homogeneity" of those halcyon days. The voters considered to be Party loyalists are completely fed up with both the gaseous,  fraudulent "party unity" and the decades old Republican axiom that absolutely no policy needed to provide anything with any sort of actual value to the voters electing GOP bosses. While the more orthodox candidates in the current crop still adhere to this idea, Trump is capitalizing on a very modest deviation from it by "promising" tantalizing, yet undefined, possibilities such as those in his "terrific," "successes" and "winning" rhetoric.

Perhaps the most interesting question now is whether his candidacy's success is simply an indication of a "pausing point" defined only by imagined policies [imagined by Trump supporters] which are specifically only "less intolerable" compared to those of other candidates which are now clearly definable as "more intolerable" or simply "too intolerable?" [Trump's closest competitor, Dr. Ben Carson, may have perceived this, resulting in adopting his strikingly "closed mouth" approach to campaigning.]

6. How many more political mistakes the Trump campaign is wrecked?

The Trump campaign has already committed enough political faux pas that, if these were more normal times, it would have been nothing more than "non-newsworthy political debris" by this point. However, MeanMesa joins many other observers watching in astonishment as these serious campaigning mistakes essentially turn into positives when interpreted by his base voters.

There are, in fact, certain technological aspects required to operate a Presidential campaign -- or at least there have been in the past. Perhaps foremost among the responsibilities of a professional campaign staff would be the duty of steering the candidate clear of embarrassment. A Presidential candidate -- just like a President -- really can't afford to be duped, coerced, intentionally angered or otherwise manipulated. His image could not bear it.

Yet, Trump has staggered through one "field error" after another, for example the fictional abortion video or his highly televised battleship fund raiser for the "one man, phony veterans group." While a competent campaign manager would have spotted such disasters while they were still politically distant enough for "tactical avoidance," Trump just wandered into the middle of the pond. But even amid this obvious "awkwardness," Trump supporters seemed to only grow more fervent in their support, perhaps attracted by the fact that their candidate was showing that he was capable of the same types of stupid mistakes that they were.

MeanMesa suspects that Trump is unable to trust a campaign manager in the traditional sense. Instead, he has reverted to the business model with which he is more familiar, relegating the position of campaign manager as the executive directing the candidate's team to something else, perhaps more akin to an administrative assistant.

An actual campaign manager could have introduced the full utility of a think tank filled with psychological experts capable of discerning voter issues and incorporating them into campaign speeches, but this would have been the "classical" model. Trump is convinced that he can prevail without such help, and it shows. On the other hand his success even in the absence of such assistance is revealing some politically dangerous truths about the actual mind set of the voters which have been, heretofore, duped into casting GOP ballots.

Even on the day Trump announced his candidacy, the news broke that many of those gathered in the "cheering crowd" were actually hired actors who usually filled the cinematic role of "extras." [Read more Trump_Hired_Paid_Actors_for_Announcement_DAILY_MAIL]

It remains to be seen if the blistering editorial in the Des Moines Register [Read the editorial here_Des_Moines_Register_Trump_Editorial. Read Trump's response here_ Des_Moines_Register_Trump's_Response] or the surprisingly weak spirited Club For Growth attack ads [Read more here_Club_For_Growth_attacks_Trump_POLITICO and Trump's response here_Donald_Trump_Club-for-Growth_USATODAY] will have much impact of Trump's poll numbers. Given the non-response to his previous gaffes, MeanMesa suspect that these will follow suit, that is, they will serve as additional reminders that he is an "outsider" which will only fire up his base even more.

What We Can Conclude.

In the words of Mike Malloy [The Mike Malloy Show, 10 PM weekdays, KABQ Albuquerque, 1350 AM]:

"The Republican Party has become a ghoulish cult."

In the words of MeanMesa:
 "Donald Trump, whatever he is, has ushered in this darkness."