Can People Live on Mars? - A Look at the Possibilities for Colonization
A Terraformed Mars
A Vision of a Future Mars
- Olympus Mons, a shield volcano, is the tallest mountain in the solar system at 21km high and 600 km in diameter.
- Scientists have discovered small pieces of Mars on Earth, brought here by small meteorites ejected from the surface of Mars.
- Every 687 Earth days, Mars orbits the sun.
- Mars is roughly half the size of Earth with a diameter of 53% and a surface area of about 38%.
The Infamous War of the Worlds Broadcast
Introduction: Can People Live on Mars?
I think humans will reach Mars, and I would like to see it happen in my lifetime. - Buzz Aldrin
Mars. Just saying the name calls to mind a myriad associations. For me, I'm reminded of the stark blood-red color of the barren planet, the result of it's being rich in iron oxide. Others may recall the many stories of Martians, but one thing is clear about the mysterious red planet, the fourth from the sun, it's uninhabited and uninhabitable -- or is it? There is new evidence that suggests humans can live on Mars but first, a little background.
War of the Worlds
I am almost certain that Mars gained its first real dose of fame in the modern era with the creation of The War of the Worlds in 1898, a novel written by H. G. Wells in which Martians invaded Earth. As if the book wasn't enough, the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network aired an adaptation of the novel on 30th October 1938 as a Halloween special. Needless to say, it sparked nationwide panic, causing many Americans to flee their homes and thousands more to flood the radio station with phone calls, seeking to clarify the validity of the broadcast. How far we've come. Back then we were terrified there might be aliens on Mars, now we're seriously considering if humans can live on Mars or not. What a turn around!
Later in 1976, when Viking 1 mission returned with photographs of a face-like landmass on the surface of Mars, the tales of an alien civilization returned with enthusiasm. All this attention has made Mars the most well-known of all the planets aside from our own - Earth.
Oh we've explored aliens, alright. Almost to the point of exhaustion. Mars has become something of a pop-culture, alien breeding ground with dozens of movies and novels pitting the human race against the more often than not; nasty little aliens on Mars.
There's one other question I'd like to pose, one I think doesn't receive the attention it deserves from the general public and it is:
Can people live on Mars?
I don't mean to sound glum but the situation on Earth is poised on a sword edge and it's a double edged sword at that. On the one hand, we may harm this planet so much that we destroy it. On the other, if we do manage to thrive and prosper here there's the growing concern of overpopulation.
Can people live on Mars and relieve the strain upon our beautiful Earth? Let's find out!
How Much do You Really Know about Mars?
This is the Closest We Have Come to Mars so Far
Space Shuttle Columbia
Wormhole Space Travel
Ways in Which we Might Travel to Mars in the Coming Years
At present, the most sophisticated space-flight technology generally takes from 150 - 300 days to reach Mars. A number of factors are involved in the journey time such as the speed of the launch, the amount of fuel expended and the alignment of Earth and Mars. Every 2 years, Mars comes within 55,000,000 km of Earth and this is the perfect time to begin a mission to the red planet by shuttle.Though with such a massive distance between Earth and Mars it's hard to imagine anyone would want to live there.
Wormhole Space Travel
Known as the Einstein-Rosen bridge, travel through space by wormhole is still unfortunately nothing more than a hopeful theory. In short, a wormhole works by connecting two different points in space-time, essentially a shortcut which cuts travel time drastically. The one hope we have is that Einstein's theory of relativity, mathematically prognosticates the existence of such wormholes, though as of yet, none have been discovered.
Still, it's a fascinating idea! If you will, just envision a sleek spaceship, sun glinting on its surface as it slips from within the folds of space and time with a ship full of humans ready to live on Mars.
Remember Star Trek and those nifty warp drives? Such technology would allow us to travel to Mars at faster than the speed of light though apparently we are far from reaching a breakthrough in this area. The good news though, is that in 2012 Physicist Harold White announced to the world that he and his team had started to work on the creation of a faster-than-light warp drive. Just imagine, with this technology we could reach Mars in mere minutes as opposed to months. With this technology, humans could live on Mars and turn it into a second Earth.
Although we are still confined to relying on rocket technology to reach Mars, at least we know that it is possible to send human beings there.
Humans Will Live on Mars.
My vision is for a fully reusable rocket transport system between Earth and Mars that is able to re-fuel on Mars - this is very important - so you don't have to carry the return fuel when you go there. - Elon Musk
Can People Live on Mars? - Reasons for and Against
Reasons For Going to Mars
Reasons Against Going to Mars
Overpopulation on Earth.
Colder than the coldest environments on Earth. Often below minus 100 degrees celsius!
Abundant resources including water.
Almost no atmosphere meaning unprotected humans die within 30 seconds.
Open up the galaxy for further exploration.
Massive dust storms occur especially during the Martian summer meaning sunlight drops by 99%. No light for growing crops, no vision, no solar power.
Mars has roughly the same 24 hour cycle as Earth meaning plants can be grown there.
Current habitat technology is risky. Many things can go wrong.
A surge in new technology, some of which can be utilized to save Earth and its dying plant and animal species.
Low gravity on Mars means possible health risks such as bone mass reduction.
Water Ice Clouds Hanging above Tarsis
Martian Weather Facts
- Near the poles the temperature can drop as low as -125 degrees C.
- Huge dust storms can rage for days on end.
- Temperatures as high as 6 degrees C have been recorded recently.
- Mars has four seasons, like Earth.
How's the Weather on Mars?
As Mars is 50% further from the sun than Earth, it's unsurprisingly much colder than our green paradise with an average temperature of minus 60 C, however, in winter near the poles, temperatures drop to a goose-bump inducing minus 125 C! As well as this, Mars is also regularly hit by the largest dust storms in the solar system which can last for days, blocking out 99% of sunlight and obscuring visibility. Can humans live on Mars with such cold temperatures to contend with? We've adapted to every environment Earth has to offer, so why not?
Despite that, Mars does have 4 seasons, much like Earth due to the fact that the planet tilts on its axis and recently, in 2012, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity detected temperatures as high as 6 degrees C in the afternoon. It's still relatively cold compared to Earth but that is a temperature humans could and do survive in without too much trouble. Felipe Gómez, of the Centro de Astrobiología in Madrid said:
"If this warm trend continues on into summer, we might even be able to foresee temperatures in the 20s and that would be really exciting from a habitability point of view."
On the weather front then, although our colonists will need protection during storms and throughout the cold nights, daytime summers look very promising for the future, especially for growing crops. An another exciting possibility is the potential improvement there might be in the weather if humans are able to transport massive amounts of water to the planet and induce the kind of atmosphere we have here on Earth. Imagine humans lounging on the red sand beaches of Mars...
Just to keep your hopes up, there is even talk among scientists that a greenhouse effect (warming) could be created on Mars, using mirrors. That would heat up the planet and thicken the atmosphere to allow space-suited humans to live on Mars a little more comfortably.
The Eerie Martian Landscape
Are Aliens Studying Us with "Envious Eyes?"
Is there Life on Mars?
Martian Attacking Thunder Child in War of the Worlds
Is there Life on Mars or Worse - Evidence of Martian Habitation?
It was popular belief for many years that Mars was inhabited by an alien species which naturally came to be referred to as Martians. The discovery of the face-like rock formation on the surface of Mars in 1973 only served to compound this belief and dozens of movies based on extraterrestrial beings invading Earth followed in its wake.
According to NASA, there are no aliens, nor is there any evidence that the thin atmosphere of Mars can support life.
A year ago, NASA's Curiosity rover landed in Gale Crater and began its examination of the planet's air to determine whether or not life was or could be present. As the rover has been unable to find any traces of methane -a gas produced by living things - scientists are now saying that the conditions on Mars are not capable of supporting life.
Then again, what if Mars does support life, life that is completely different to anything found on Earth in its physiology and biological makeup? The same could be asked of the other planets in the solar system too but I guess we won't find out until we actually get out there and explore. Hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later.
So it looks as though Mars is there for the colonizing. The question is: can humans live on Mars? Or even, Would humans live on Mars, given the chance?
Thriving ball of warmth or cold, lonely ball of death? It appears that the latter still has a few fans, several hundred thousand of them...
Could this become ...
This? Or if not then how about ...
This? It's not much but it's a start.
The Mars One Project
According to these Fellows, Humans CAN Live on Mars and WILL!
Okay, I saved the best for last!
As it turns out, it appears that my question is about to be answered, well, not immediately but if all proceeds well, we will know in 2023 if its possible for people to live on Mars.
Bas Lansdorp, a Dutch entrepreneur and co-founder of Mars One - a non-profit organization, announced plans for the mission to Mars in May 2012 and caused an immediate stir among the population. He believes humans can live on Mars and is now providing the means to do so.
Two Hundred Thousand Applications
Four lucky individuals (depending on how you look at it!) will get the chance to become the vanguard of the human race, the first of a long-term plan for colonization by the Mars One organization - provided they make enough money, that is. Since April 2012 when the first applications were received, over 200,000 applications have been put forward and that number is likely to increase.
Long Term Plan
If that wasn't exciting enough, if the first mission is a success and the four colonists survive and successfully make Mars their new home, four more colonists will be sent every two years along with supplies and equipment to build the new colony on Mars. Anyone that goes to Mars, however, will not be coming back.
So I'll know if humans can live on Mars or not come 2023 and I have a feeling the answer will excite me, however, for those brave humans going to Mars...it's a one way ticket.
After all that, what do you guys think?
Can humans live on Mars?See results without voting
Let's Face it, We're Gonna Have to go to Mars Sooner or Later
Conclusion: So Can People Live on Mars?
Well, we now know that the answer to that is yes and no because on the one hand, it's clear that the lack of an atmosphere, freezing temperatures and the fact that there is no oxygen mean that we couldn't live there without protection - lots of it. Couple that with systems never before tested on the surface of Mars, not to mention the chance of malfunction we all know comes with any mechanical or electrical system and it becomes clear that death on Mars is a very real possibility for the colonists going there. Should an O2 producing system fail in one of the habitats, the results would be catastrophic.
On the other hand, A LOT of time and money is going to be invested in the Mars One project and that means any systems developed for habitation on Mars, will be state of the art.
I for one am extremely excited about the future regarding the colonization of Mars. When 2023 rolls around I'll only be forty three years old which means there will still be plenty of time to see the colonization of Mars unfold - provided it is a success!
Can people live on Mars?
What do you think?