Question Hi! I was thinking of colonization of the solar system and it struck me that a good theoretical (don't know about practicality) plan would be to break Mars apart and use the iron of Mars to build space habitats. The mass of Mars is 6.41693 × 1023 kilograms so how much of that mass is iron? A Stanford torus capable of supporting ten thousand people would have a mass of 10 million tons. So how many Stanford toruses would we be able to build from the iron in Mars? And is there any theoretical (and if there is a practical) way to break a planet like Mars to pieces to use it to build space habitats?
Answer Mars rock is still largely calcium and carbon and sulfur. Until we do a sample return mission, no one can do anything but speculate about the core. Even if a Stanford torus (a ridiculous idea, btw) only weighed 10 million tons and Mars was onle 0.01% iron, obviously you can do the math. That's still billions of toruses, actually 6 billion. Equal to one for every person on the planet...but how would you get them into space? The fuel required is ridiculous in comparison. That's the first of a looooong list of problems here.
Fusion, solar flares, cosmic rays, radiation in space, and stellar physics questions. Generally, nuclear-related astrophysics, but I can usually point you in the right direction if it's not nuclear-related or if it's nuclear but not astrophysics.
Just moved from being a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin into government work. Doctoral dissertation was on a reaction in CNO-cycle fusion, worked in gamma-ray astronomy in the space science division of the naval research laboratory in the high-energy space environment branch.
Organizations Government work as a physical scientist with a nuclear focus.
Education/Credentials Ph.D. in physics, research was on nuclear fusion reactions important in stellar fusion, further work on space telescope technology.