Mars is less than half the size of planet Earth, has an average temperature of 245 Kelvin. It has an atmosphere that’s roughly 100 times thinner than that of Earth, and is 96% carbon dioxide. Under conditions like these, colonizing Mars seems like it can’t exist out of science fiction.
Though it isn’t that great of a place to live; but it’s the best one we have managed to explore.
Why The Heck Would We Colonize Mars?
The planet might not seem like the best place to colonize, but it’s the most habitable one in our solar system. We take long enough to get to the moon, so we need to make sure that we can transport our people alive. And well; not have generations die inside our space vehicles.
Colonizing Mars might sound like a useless science fiction concept. But we’re screwing Earth up fast enough to turn it into a requirement.
And that’s the reason Mars is our best shot – until we can learn to manipulate wormholes. Or maybe build high-speed space vehicles that can travel faster than the speed of light without turning us into a soup of protoplasm.
What Would It Look Like?
Initial Phase: Lots Of Travel
The beginning of the process of colonizing Mars is going to involve us in a lot of inevitable travel. It will take a lot of money, engineering, time, preparation, and worldwide effort to pull this off.
We’re going to need a lot of water to survive on, which is ridiculously heavy and difficult to transport to Mars from Earth. Hopefully, Mars has enough ice, as well as soil and atmosphere humidity for us to extract water from it and sustain human life.
We need oxygen to survive, and like water, it’s pretty hard to get it to Mars from Earth. Now, there’s a lot of oxygen on Mars, but we can’t breathe it – because it’s bonded to carbon. Extracting oxygen from Mars’ atmosphere might sound like it can only occur in science fiction, but we have managed to develop machines that can do the job. Hopefully, we can now extract pure oxygen from this compound, and maybe create a habitable environment for us to breathe in.
Mars has an extremely thin atmosphere compared to that of Earth, and has a lot of radiation piercing its atmosphere to the surface. Us humans have managed to develop fairly comfortable spacesuits that’ll help us endure the low atmospheric pressures of the planet.
For us to be able to grow enough food and run a sustainable ecosystem on Mars, it will need to have water flowing on the ground. And that’s nowhere near easy to produce. So, a lot of our food will have to come from Earth, and get re-hydrated on Mars; science fiction style.
It’s certainly not impossible to build planned cities on Mars, but it’ll take a lot of time, exploration, and learning to get to that point. Around the beginning, we just might have to build underground caves.
Cover image courtesy : National Geographic