You might have seen the Matt Damon movie known as The Martian. In the movie, Damon plays a botanist, which was very key to the plot of the movie. His character knew that there was a possibility you could grow crops on Mars, especially using fertilizer made from your own…well, you know. This was proven to be true by scientists at NASA and here is one thing you may be shocked by. You can actually grow crops in Martian soil as well. Of course, how this will occur is uncertain but we are positive that it’s possible to grow plants on the planet.
Yet most of the plants we’d grow will need oxygen, which Mars alone does not have. On top of this, they’ll need some sun but not as much solar power as Mars will want to offer them. This is why we’ll need to have greenhouses to grow our crops. The greenhouses will also likely need to be underground as well. Why would we need to go through all of this work? Radiation levels can be problematic and we’ll never be capable of escaping them entirely on the surface. Plus, if there is a storm or even a strong solar surge, we do not want to have to worry about food sources spoiling. Life on Mars would be much harder if we lost guaranteed food sources like this.
We are certain that Mars has ice and that means a guaranteed water source to utilize. The problem is that the ice is found in Mars’ polar regions, which can mean humans will need to move closer to the coldest areas of the planet to survive long-term. This can make life on Mars much tougher because we’re having to deal with temperatures that will be -100 to -200 degrees Fahrenheit most of the year. However, the big thing to wonder about is if Martian water will be safe to drink. Remember, there is already a possible issue with radiation affecting crops. It’s pretty clear water will have higher rads than we can drink. The United States Environmental Protection Agency claimed that there are three possible methods we can use to drink Martian water.
Those are ion exchange, reverse osmosis, and biological treatment. Ion Exchange usually reduces magnesium & calcium along with toxic metals. Reverse Osmosis removes a lot of minerals, which in the case of Mars can be toxic. Biological Treatment is designed specifically to degrade pollutants dissolved in effluents by the action of microorganisms. The latter is likely the most effective but would take the longest for us to do. Reverse Osmosis, while useful, can be problematic for long-term survival and Ion Exchange might not remove exact pollutants but could possibly be redesigned. Either way, for life on Mars to be habitable, we will need a guaranteed way to not only obtain water but make it safe to drink.
We’ve already established the fact that we will need to be capable of growing crops along with both finding & making water safe to drink. However, both of these things will take time to work. In fact, it could take weeks before the new settlers are able to live off of their small crop growth alone. This is why we have to send these settlers with a ton of supplies from seeds to enough water to last the entire team for several months. Keep in mind, it’ll take 6 months to reach Mars. The plan is to use the SpaceX Starship to reach Mars, which is one heck of a massive rocket.
Like with other SpaceX designs, it is supposed to be reusable but it would take far too long for the same rocket to go back to Earth and then come back to either pick up settlers or drop off supplies. Therefore, we can expect a supply drop every 6 months to a year with ships dropping stuff off and then leaving. We will need to stack them up with everything you can think of from seeds and water to fertilizer, medical supplies, and various pieces of technology. The tech needed will likely be determined initially by the specific settlers and their specialties. Over time, life on Mars will become less about scientific experiments and about life in general. Which means using all the same new technology those on Earth will be using.
There was a plan many years ago to utilize something known as the MOLAB, a mobile laboratory built by General Motors. The goal was to use it on the NASA mission to the Moon but the issue was that it ended up weighing in at over 4 tons. NASA knew they needed to cut unnecessary weight wherever they possibly could, resulting in the MOLAB being left behind. When it comes to the Mars mission, while the MOLAB may not come on the first trip out, a new version likely will be taken to the red planet eventually for testing purposes.
Essentially, the initial MOLAB was supposed to be capable of holding up to two astronauts and be completely pressurized. Capable of carrying enough oxygen for 2 weeks of survival. We’re pretty sure for life on Mars to be possible, we’ll need oxygen for sure. The initial design was also able to reach 21mph and reach over 60 miles on a charge. It is likely that we will see something newer with solar cells to remain in use energy-wise indefinitely. While mobile labs will be likely, having small lab equipment capable of going with someone on a day trip will be necessary too. Of course, there is also another likely development too.
What is a Martian Depot? Think of it as a checkpoint where people will be able to fuel up if they need to, but it’ll also work similarly to how a hostel works on Earth. It’ll have showers to clean off, beds to sleep in, food to eat, and water to drink. Essentially, it’ll operate as a literal rest stop for the settlers who are out conducting experiments in a specific area. While these depots will more than likely become less of a need the longer we colonize Mars, they will be a massive asset for at least the first 100 years we’re on the red planet. It is likely some of these places will operate as long-term places for people to stay if they are studying a specific region for a while.
Of course, supplies will be needed for these depots. Meaning there will eventually need to be Martian drones that carry supplies out to these depots, as we do not want to have a problem where any of them run out of necessary things. It is also likely that the depots will contain a water system that recycles any water that comes through. This means an advanced filtering system will take out any water and remove all the bad substances. It is also likely that specific “movements” of ours will be capable of being turned into necessary fertilizer for local crop growth. Life on Mars will be much easier with these depots, as they’ll be strategically built all around the main areas of Mars.
It is likely some of you are wondering where we’ll get the energy to power all of the equipment as well as future habitable domes. Heck, we’ll also need to power vehicles and much more. Energy options will be limited on Mars, at least for now. We know we cannot use a hydroelectric option for a multitude of reasons. We also know that we cannot rely on the use of a nuclear power plant or even the use of coal. That’s right, even the often terrible for the environment fossil fuels will not be around to use as an energy source. This means we’ll have to use the ever-reliable solar energy. While it is true that solar energy on Earth has had its problems, we’ve corrected a lot of them.
More importantly, Mars has been a proving ground for solar panels consistently as most of our rovers on the planet use solar panels right now. NASA reported that during rover missions, the solar arrays were able to produce about 900 watt-hours of energy per Martian day, also known as a Sol. Spirit & Opportunity rovers went through solar-rich areas and were able to get 410 watt-hours per Martian Sol too. Both lasted longer than anyone ever expected. More importantly, these are older models and they were still capable of getting great energy rates. We’ll need to be able to get energy rates even higher than this to be capable of long-term life on Mars. Most are confident we’ll be able to do so.
One clear need we will have is, simply put, how we’ll get from place to place. Clearly, we need a vehicle that can run without the need for common fuel systems like oil & gas. It also needs to be capable of not only holding a charge but being capable of charging quickly. We also need to be prepared for potential wild weather issues, as well as possible solar radiation exposure even if we’re wearing uniforms. Thus, most Martian vehicles will likely look a lot like some armored military vehicles you’ve likely seen or used on a Call of Duty or Battlefield video game. On top of some futuristic concepts too.
These vehicles will run on batteries that are specially designed to hold a charge for 600 regular miles or more. We’ll also be able to introduce solar panels to the vehicles where they will be able to potentially charge the battery while it is in use. Thereby never losing a charge and allowing someone to travel as long as they need to. This is only if the batteries are capable of not only charging fast but also do not need to have incredibly high solar energy rates to do so. While Mars does have a lot of solar energy to provide, we cannot expect this to always work in our favor. With Tesla being known for their batteries and Elon Musk wanting to provide aid to those on Mars, one would conclude that Tesla can make batteries capable of this.
Right now, hypersonic planes are currently in development that will allow us to travel into at least low-orbit space using these fast planes. Rather than using a jet engine that would burn through the air, these hypersonic space planes will use rocket engines that will burn liquid fuel instead. It is possible that a hybrid engine will be utilized that allows the plane to take off using a jet engine. However, once it reaches the Karman line (where space officially begins), it will be able to turn on the liquid fuel to use rockets for travel.
Since hypersonic planes literally pass the speed of sound with their speed, they are able to reach over 3,000 mph. This can be a huge asset that we’ll use on Earth. When it comes to Mars, these planes will likely be massive. While this is not fast enough to get us from Mars to Earth at a fast rate, it can allow for NASA or other space programs to land anywhere and be picked up by a hypersonic plane. This can be useful for supply drops, and it can also allow colonization to take place planet-wide. Thereby allowing for more widespread development on the planet as well as scientific experimentation. Life on Mars will be much easier with these things around.
Initially, Mars will not be a place where technological innovation will take place. We’ll be more focused on some experimentation, but for the most part, making settlements where people can survive. This is a key need for us as a species, therefore, we cannot forget that the true mission at first will literally be to “survive.” What of the long-term though? Well, if we’re going to make Mars a viable option for humans to stay for good, there will be needs. The cool part is that unlike what we see on Earth, the people of Mars will get all the supplies they technically need. This is where some great opportunities will come up.
While we’re still getting supplies, scientists and inventors can begin working on technology that will benefit those specifically on Mars. Yet they can also now try to use the nearly unlimited supplies Mars itself provides to make things. With 3D Printers now becoming incredibly advanced, it is likely for example that the printers will be able to use Martian rocks or soil. With resources being present, we can use them to make 3D Printed homes. We can also use them to make different devices. We might also discover Mars metals that can be even better than our own. It doesn’t end here, as we will have the room to do so much with endless supplies. This will be key to life on Mars being bearable for people long-term. Reaching a planet with advanced tech can feel like you never left home.
Let’s face it, gravity levels on Mars are going to become a huge problem for the long-term health of human beings. We might not be able to do much about this for the first decade or two of Martian colonization. However, this will not be possible to ignore for much longer than that if humans are to remain on Mars long-term. We need to have the ability to control gravitational levels. You might be thinking, “How can we change Martian gravity to fit our needs? That would be nearly impossible to do!” You are not wrong to think this. This is why we’ll need to create artificial gravity inside buildings and especially inside our homes.
It is possible that we might not be able to do this on a large scale at first, giving rise to artificial gravity bubbles where people will need to spend at least 20 to 40 hours during a Martian week. It is likely we’ll be able to make several of these bubbles, allowing for every new Martian citizen to spend time in them each day. As we’re able to expand the artificial gravity rates, we’ll be able to increase the size of bubbles. Eventually, we’ll be capable of putting artificial gravity into every dome, building, and home on Mars. Robotics and 3D Printing will likely become a huge help with this. Having this will also be useful for future space exploration too.
Remember that whole “technology” thing discussion we had a few entries back? It is clear that we need to have more advanced technology but perhaps the one thing hurting Mars from being anywhere close to Earth-like is its terrible magnetosphere. The atmosphere here cannot improve at all due to it. Radiation levels from the atmosphere as well as what comes from our Sun are deadly. How do we correct this? Well, the answer is simple but the execution is clearly not. We correct this by fixing the magnetosphere. However, doing this is pretty much impossible.
The best thing we can do, instead, is to eventually create a forcefield that can block out solar issues to make our planet similar to Earth in how it is protected from solar and even some cosmic energy threats. Earth’s magnetosphere is insanely massive and it’s likely why we’re even alive today. Humans cannot last on a planet without a strong magnetosphere, at least not without protective gear. This is why if we want to make Mars similar to Earth, we need to create a forcefield that will help us. It might be small at first, but it remains in one spot to block out the Sun, connected by Martian Gravity. Eventually, it’ll need to cover the entire planet.
While hypersonic planes will likely be a huge asset for us to use on Mars to get necessary supplies to people all over the Martian planet, we need to get to Earth quicker. If we’re being honest, we really need Earth rockets to get supplies to Mars much faster. As settlements expand, it is likely that supplies and resources can run out much quicker than intended. This is especially true if children are ever born on the planet. How do we fix this predicament? Simple. We just make rockets much faster. The question is, well, how can we do that? There are actually already several proposals for this. One recent thing NASA has been working on involves nuclear thermal & nuclear electric propulsion systems.
It is claimed that rockets using these will be able to cut Mars trips down from 6 to 7 months all the way to just 45 days. We need you to comprehend that for a second. Just under a month and a half versus 6 to 7 months. By the way, that is even when factoring in Mars being further. Another idea has been the use of antimatter as a fuel source. Technically, when antimatter comes in contact with the mass of a particle it annihilates, it creates pure energy. Yet it cannot be used as a fuel source alone. This is when we’d need atom smashers, which use powerful super magnets to propel atoms at near-light speed according to CERN. For life on Mars to be possible, we need supplies to get from Earth faster and these can be viable options to help.
Initially, housing on Mars is going to be quite limited. The plan is to use Robotic AI to craft buildings for us, likely with the use of specialized 3D Printers. Yet even with this stuff, housing is going to be restricted to some small buildings. This means you might see something that is big enough for 1 to 4 people, acting as a home for you alone. This will likely result in several pod-like homes being in the same spot. Life on Mars will hopefully become easier and result in more people coming to the red planet. That would result in other homes being formed.
All of these homes will be made in the same spot at first. Mostly because we want to ensure everyone is taken care of and accounted for. As the population begins to expand on Mars, we will see people placed in other locations. Of course, the amount of time this takes to happen will be based entirely on the supplies we have. Plus, the success of survival for current settlers. The amount coming over will only increase as time goes on. Meaning, we cannot place small homes next to each other for long. We will be better off expanding out to cover more land on the planet.
As more people come to the planet, expansion will begin and that means we will have multiple Martian communities. Of course, a leader will be established among the original settlers but this will not last forever. Either because the original leader decides to go back to Earth or he or she passes away. This means we will likely have a democratic voting process (considering its popularity on Earth). That person will become the head of the initial community. However, more communities mean more leaders will be needed as one person cannot run things for an entire planet alone. From here, more people will be given political power for their specific community.
Think of it like a Mayoral or Gubernatorial role where that person makes the decisions for their community. Of course, some communities might be broken up based on the jobs they hold. For example, the original settlers will have various roles key to what is needed for scientific experimentation. As time goes on, more people with more skills will be around. We also cannot forget those that might be brought over to specifically work for private space programs. Thus, we might have a community for just scientists and another that is responsible for plants and crops, for instance. Thus, just like on Earth, the leadership of a community will be crucial.
When we discuss colonies, we have to think of it similar to how you might think about entire countries. Sure, communities will be run a lot like a city or town you see on Earth. However, entire colonies will take up a lot of space and by this point, they will have their own food and water system. Colonies will have their own communities as well and could involve thousands of people. If we make it to colony level, we know life on Mars is flourishing. Mostly because, in order to reach this, we will have figured out not only how to survive here. We will have found a way for life on Mars to be easy and comfortable, the same as on Earth.
Does this mean we will have a similar capitalistic system where money will be used in exchange for goods and services? While possible, it is more likely that trades will be made instead. It might also come down to a need to offer some type of service in place of another. One colony may have a great way of purifying water and adding different tastes to it. While the other has been able to artificially alter the taste of crops to taste exactly like meat products from Earth. This exchange of services and goods will benefit entire colonies. Life on Mars will be easier to deal with using this ideology rather than paying with money because everyone’s needs will be addressed like this.
Many will be wondering if we can fix the magnetosphere issue, can we terraform Mars? This is a good question to ask. Mostly because, if we want long-term life on Mars to be comfortable for humans, terraforming it makes sense. We need to have a planet that is capable of sustaining human life. The issue is that to terraform Mars, we would need to change a lot about it. Most of this could take several years to pull off. It would involve trying to heat up the environment and fixing areas in the atmosphere, much of which would involve the removal of major toxins and radiation.
In theory, if we can stop the major solar issue, radiation levels might begin to drop. Of course, this also means we’d need to rely on the planetary forcefield that has to always work and never die. This is not a reliable concept, so in order to truly terraform Mars, we will most certainly need to find ways to improve the magnetosphere to Earth or near-Earth level. If we can do this, fixing the atmosphere will be much easier. Keep in mind too that it isn’t like we’ll have a “terraforming machine” like you see in comic books. Terraformation is a long-term “process.” One thing we might not be able to fix is gravitational levels, as this is not part of the terraformation process.
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