I wrote a plan for placing a mile-long image of a banana on Mars to be used as an antenna and telemetry tool in visual recognition systems. The plan was submitted to a comment box on Space X’s website, and, so, no longer mine, it is free to the public. Should cost less than $1 billion. What a deal!
Is it possible to place a banana for scale aboard a spacecraft going to Mars, something made of 20nm Mylar that could be unfurled on a spool over the course of a mile?
It would weigh about, at .5 grams per sq. ft for structure and fabric, so, at 1320 ft x 5280 foot (5:264) scale of standard 3 inch * 9 inch banana, we are looking at roughly 6,969,600 sq. feet of fabric that is 20 nm thick, which, folded nine times, would yield a piece of fabric that was 880 foot to a side, which could be folded in half 8 times and result in a 2.67732128599 inch cube of 20 nm thick Mylar, without any additional paint.
I have calculated the weight of a 4 x 4 – foot sheet “U” would weigh about 6/10 of a gram, so, this fabric, at 435.6k U, would weigh 261.36 kg, an astonishing amount, a hair over 576.2 pounds, about the same cubic weight of ochre. Astrobotics in Pittsburgh sets their payload manifest at $1.32 million a kilogram. I had to abandon the kickstart idea of sending up a 1 gram payload, and now I’m just turning it over to people who could manufacture, transport, and install a mile long, 1/3 mile high banana on the side of a crater of Mars, and do it with a degree of professionalism and finesse I could never hope to even comprehend, much less appreciate. It’s important to have high standards and to strive to reach them.
Installation, Pros & Cons
Presumably, a scaffold to hold the fabric which must be fluted to allow for wind to pass through it, would triple the weight. Ideally, this is affixed to the wall of a crater to eliminate weight, but wind could be a serious problem, so it would need to placed low on the wall of a crater. I am just assuming this would weigh less than a laser used to etch the banana into the side of the rock, but would lose out to the lithographic potential of hydrocarbons hit and tuned with lasers to form a giant, slightly curved 1-5 nm thick aerosol banana antenna that would stretch a mile long and form a half cardioidal curve of sorts for a continuously changing curve across the arc, and of course the final 1/10th of the top curve of the banana is inverted on one side and scaled 1:3 to allow for the contour to meet at the tip. For the purpose of MEMS radar, and such, Mylar is cheap, and reflective, and placed around the inside of a crater, it would focus data streams to a central location, too.
Cost and Considerations
In any case, this would weigh about 800 pounds and cost me personally about 445 million just to send it there, much less install it. Cost of labor, and it would set me back the annual GDP of three Micronesias, and who has three of those to spare, amirite?
Asking for a friend.