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Everything You Need to Know About Colonizing Mars

Luke Holm earned bachelor's degrees in English and philosophy from NIU. He is a middle school teacher and a creative writer.

What does it take to live on Mars?

What does it take to live on Mars?

Table of Contents

Introduction: Exploring the Cosmos

1. Early Missions Into Outer Space

2. Modern Missions Into Outer Space

3. Mars: The Red Planet

4. Preparing to Colonize Mars

5. A Phased Approach for a Sustained Human Presence on Mars

6. Earth to Mars

7. Elon Musk, SpaceX, and Future Mars Missions

8. Landing on Mars

9. Living on Mars

10. Future Mars Colonies

Conclusion: A Day in the Life on Mars

Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.

— Arthur C. Clarke

Exploring the Cosmos

The cosmos have always been a subject of awe and mystery. Early humans saw the starry sky as a symbolic story. Celestial sights were a sign of significance, and it wasn’t until Copernicus suggested the sun was a star that astronomers started wondering how far out we actually are (Note: several philosophers and astronomers suggested this before Copernicus, but they weren’t taken seriously). Since then, humans have been wondering what mysteries the universe holds. What might unfold in our exploration of the cold expanses of space outside planet Earth?

1. Early Missions Into Outer Space

The first documented human-made object sent into space was a German-made V-2 rocket during WWII, 1942. In a monumental moment, humans took the first step towards stepping off our planet. Space became the final frontier, and governments around the world were determined to conquer it.

Eventually, sending probes into space wasn’t enough. Scientists needed to know what biological effects space travel had on a living body. So in 1947, Americans watched fruit flies float in low orbit, noting the effects of g-force and radiation on the test subjects. In 1948, a primate named Albert rode to over 93 mi (63 km) but sadly died of suffocation during the flight. In June 1949, Albert II survived the flight but died after a parachute failure. Years and many Alberts later, in 1951, Yorick (Albert VI) and 11 mice reached 44.7 mi (72 km) before landing back on Earth safely. Even though Albert VI died two hours later, his life was not in vain. Scientists were nearly ready to send the first human into space.

Miss Baker, first monkey to survive a mission to outer space

Miss Baker, first monkey to survive a mission to outer space

However, it wasn’t until a rhesus monkey named Miss Baker successfully traveled through orbit in 1959 and landed to survive with no space travel-related complications that a sustainable mission into outer space actually seemed possible. The historical day came on April 12, 1961, not 20 years after the German V-2 rocket first breached Earth’s atmosphere, when 27-year-old Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin completed one orbit around the globe (lasting 1 hour and 48 minutes). His achievement was a milestone in human history.

While the Soviet space program was the first to put a man into space, it was the United States that first successfully put a man on the Moon. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the first human steps on a planetary body other than Earth. Since then, there have been 12 other astronauts to walk on the Moon, but the last documented moonwalk was in 1972. Without the cold war instigating a space race, there became little incentive and money for such a journey again.

We choose to go to the Moon! ... We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win...

— John F. Kennedy, annotated Wiki

2. Modern Missions Into Outer Space

Recently, however, the interest in space travel has gripped the minds of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs alike. With recent advances in engines, computers, and robotics, and a growing fear of planetary destruction due to global warming, disease, or nuclear war, humans have taken fancy to the idea of extended, if not indefinite, adventures into space. While there is much talk about starting a space colony on the Moon, many argue that Mars is actually a better environment to inhabit due to large storages of frozen water and the potential to recreate an oxygen-rich environment.

NASA has discussed starting a Moon colony, but they are also determined to send a human to Mars by mid-2030s. This would not be our first contact with Mars. Alongside many of the probes sent out in the late fifties and sixties, NASA established the Viking program to complete reconnaissance missions to Mars. In 1976, NASA’s Viking I successfully landed on the red planet's surface. It surveyed the terrain, taking close-up pictures and collecting science data of the Martian surface. Since then, there have been many more interactions with Mars and its surrounding environment via robotics.

3. Mars: The Red Planet

The first person to actually see Mars up close was Galileo Galilei in 1610, using a telescope he shaved out of glass. Following his lead, burgeoning astronomers noted that Mars had polar ice caps, and a series of canyons across the planet. It wasn’t until recently, though, through samples recovered by NASA’s Mars Curiosity, that scientists were able to analyze specific data about the planet. Now we know (often referred to as the "ground truth") a lot more about the Martian surface, environment, and atmosphere. Even though the planet is on average 140 million miles (225 million km) away from earth, satellite imaging allows us to interact with Mars like Google Earth better than ever before.

Mars is the fourth planet from the sun. It got its name from the Roman god of war. Other names for the planet are Ares (Greek god of war), Desher meaning “the red one” (Egyptian), and “the fire star” in Chinese. Mars’ red crust comes from the iron-rich minerals in its regolith (dust and rock covering the surface). According to NASA, the iron minerals oxidize, causing the soil to take on a rusty color.

A day on Mars is approximately 24.5 hours (24:39:35). It takes 686.93 Earth days or 1.8807 Earth years to complete one orbit around the Sun. Because of its increased distance from the Sun, and elongated elliptical orbit, Mars is much colder than Earth, averaging around -80° Fahrenheit (-60° C). This temperature can fluctuate between -195° F (-125° C) to 70° F (20° C) depending on the location, axis, and time of year. The axis of Mars is like Earth’s, and is tilted with relation to the sun. This means that the amount of sunlight falling on the planet can vary widely throughout the year. However, unlike Earth, the tilt of Mars’ axis swings wildly over time because it is not stabilized by a single moon like ours. Rather, Mars has two moons named Phobos and Deimos (sons of the Greek war god Ares, and meaning “fear” and “rout”).

Mars is home to the highest mountain and largest volcano in the solar system--Olympus Mons. Olympus Mons is approximately 17 miles (27 km) high (about three times the size of Mt. Everest), and 370 miles (600 km) wide in diameter (larger than the state of New Mexico). It towers over the planet’s dry, dusty surface, but geographical feedback suggests that Mars was not always barren. Scientists report that there are huge ice lakes near the surface, with at least one ranging in the size of Lake Huron and with greater depth. Furthermore, frozen water resembling the flaky white of dry ice can be found on the caps of mountains and at the poles of this planet. Scientists believe that if this water were liquefied, it would cover the entire expanse of the planet in a shallow, salty ocean.

The Mars environment is harsh, and has a significantly less gravitational pull than Earth (38% of Earth's gravity). Mars has a very thin atmosphere (95.3% carbon dioxide, 2.7% nitrogen, 1.6% argon, .15% oxygen, and .03% water) that is slowly leaking into space due to the fact that it has no global magnetic field. However, there are areas of the planet that can be at least ten times more strongly magnetized than anything on earth. The remaining Mars atmosphere is rich in carbon dioxide and is roughly 100 times less dense than Earth’s. It is capable of supporting various weather conditions, clouds, and high winds. This suggests that Mars once had a rich and thriving environment, but has long since started its planetary death process.

We are actually far better prepared for Mars now than NASA was in 1961 as it looked to getting a man on the Moon before the end of the decade and returning him safely to the Earth again.

— Jonathan Clarke, Mars Society of Australia

4. Preparing to Colonize Mars

Clearly, humans traveling to and colonizing Mars will prove to be difficult. Many scientists argue that before we begin this treacherous journey, it would be wise to first establish a base on the Moon. Setting up a colony on the Moon would teach scientists valuable lessons about landing and launching space crafts in low gravity, terraforming an alien planet, and setting up a basic infrastructure for permanent residency. Establishing a Moon base could also provide a valuable link in an eventually interplanetary economic system for exchanging raw materials, fuel, food, and medicine. Companies are already fine tuning a galactic banking system. NASA has stated that it plans to build a permanent Moon base with continual presence by 2024. Practice bases and space colonies are currently well underway Earth's extreme poles.

Moving into space will be quite dangerous. Many pioneers are expected to die due to galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) in deep space, harmful effects of anti-gravity on the human body, and potentially fatal alien germs. Both microgravity and cosmic radiation have been shown to have adverse affects on past astronauts. Currently, the longest measure of time someone has spent in space is 438 days, 17 hours, and 38 minutes; held by Valeri Polyakov aboard the Mir space station. However, today’s astronauts are limited to 6 month intervals in space. It is not yet known what a longer period of time in microgravity will do to the human body, but scientists do know that extended periods in space rapidly decreases bone density in astronauts. If pioneers do not maintain a rigorous daily work-out routine, they may never be able to return to Earth. Their bodies would be crushed by its gravity.

In a paper entitled “Frontier In-Situ Resource Utilization for Enabling Sustained Human Presence on Mars,” NASA scientists describe a six-phased process to colonizing planetary bodies outside of Earth, specifically Mars.

5. A Phased Approach for a Sustained Human Presence on Mars


Phase 1: Landing Site Selection and Water Extraction Go-Ahead

Scientists will select a landing site, searching for locations with large ice deposits no more than 1 meter beneath the regolith. Extract water from selected spots. Scientists will also measure the planet for signs of life and prepare samples (if found) to return to Earth. This phase could take years.

Phase 2: Autonomous Preparation for Safe Landing and Habitation Prior to Initial Colonists/Pioneers

Robotic equipment will prepare campsites for incoming pioneers. This includes preparing an interplanetary vehicle and setting up a permanent, inflatable shell which will act as a "safe haven" for incoming pioneers.

Phase 3: Arrival of First Astronauts and Preparation for Second Wave of Colonists/Pioneers

Once landing and living sites are deemed safe for incoming astronauts, a first crew of four astronauts will arrive in Mars low orbit. They will rendezvous with the interplanetary vehicle and will then land on Mars' surface in pairs, careful to avoid dust storms.

Phase 4: Enabling Exploration and/or Additional Landing Sites

The first crew will establish a network of sub-surface habitats for storage, waste, farming, and other scientific needs. As new crews arrive, the infrastructure of the base is built up, and rover vehicles are built from Mars materials to explore and expand human habitation on the planet.

Phase 5: Enabling a Prescribed Return to Earth

By the time the fourth crew arrives to Mars, the Mars Ascent Vehicle will be upgraded to a fully reusable two-stage Mars Truck with flyback booster. Likely, crew will not return to Earth. Rather, they will send spacecraft back to Earth with samples, and to be readied with fuel and astronauts for upcoming journeys to Mars.

Phase 6: Advanced ISRU Comes of Age

The final phase establishes the fact that the Mars base is autonomous. However, it will continue to rely on Earth for supplies, materials, and technology. Eventually this base will be used to further scientific discovery, and will be a further link in the chain of an economy spanning the solar system.

The journey to Mars

The journey to Mars

6. Earth to Mars

Most prototypes of an interplanetary spaceship include solar sails and the ability to protect against GCRs. The ship would have to be durable, reusable, and large enough to house the colonists comfortably for over half a year. People would need space for work, privacy, exercise, entertainment, sleeping, bathing (etc.), and eating. Studies show that, in dry weight, each person would need about 2 lbs (1 kg) of food per day, every day they were away from planet earth. For six passengers on a 1,000 day journey, this is nearly six tons of food needing to be stored onboard the ship. Adding the amount of extra fuel needed to make the return voyage, these sizable ships will be difficult to manufacture in the foreseeable future.

A company called Inspiration Mars has recently stated that it will launch a married couple on a flyby mission around Mars in 2021. Since the round-trip journey would take 501 days, it was suggested that a married couple could find ways to pass the time and provide emotional support so far away from Earth. Eventually, the company hopes to land people on Mars in the 2030s.

The Dutch Mars One organization believes it will be sending private citizens to colonize mars by 2032. The plan is to send a robotic mission to Mars no later than 2020. Assuming this plan is successful, human colonists could begin their trip to the red planet as early as 2024. A round trip journey would take approximately 500 days.

NASA projects a slightly slower progress towards a self-sufficient Mars colony. NASA discussed plans to build a moon base within the next decade, and begin asteroid exploration in 2025, but admits that colonizing Mars is a ways off. Current funding is tight, but by working with commercial or private organizations, they may also send pioneers into space. NASA projects sending humans to Mars in the 2030s, but not before a robotic precursor in the 2020s.

"As if surviving a two-and-a-half-year, non-stop journey isn't daunting enough, actually landing a heavy craft on the Red Planet's surface is the biggest single challenge a mission will face.

The Mars Curiosity Rover was the biggest thing we've ever landed on the Red Planet, over two tonnes of payload entered the Martian atmosphere. And when it touched down, the rover itself was over 900 kilograms, the size of a compact car.

When we're talking about putting people on Mars, we're talking about spacecraft landing with masses of at least 25 to 60 tonnes. These are big payloads the size of a 737 airliner, which is one-and-a-half orders of magnitude greater than anything we've done before.

There's no reason we can't do this, but we've actually got to do the engineering to do it, and that's probably a big challenge." (Dr. Jonathan Clarke, astro-geologist and President of the Mars Society in Australia)

7. Elon Musk, SpaceX, and Future Mars Missions

Elon Musk is CEO of SpaceX. SpaceX is a private company that designs, manufactures, and launches advanced aerospace technologies such as rockets and spacecraft. He recently made global news when he launched his cherry-red Tesla, on top of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, into outer space. As I’m sure you know, Mr. Musk is an engineering genius hell-bent on saving (or at least revolutionizing) the world. His innovations with Tesla’s electric cars and solar roofs are just the beginning. Mr. Musk projects Mars missions starting as early as 2024, and hopes to one day establish a Mars colony of 1 million people over the following 40 to 100 years. Musk estimates that this would cost around $10 billion to develop. A ticket to Mars would cost around $200,000, the average price of buying an American home.

At the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, Elon Musk outlined his plans to colonize Mars. He argues that colonizing Mars is essential and evident; that the moon is too small, too lacking in atmosphere, and has a 28 Earth-day day; and points out that Mars is a planet, which would be a requirement for an interplanetary civilization.

He envisions that every 26 months 10,000 colonists will board 1,000 enormous reusable spaceships already orbiting earth. The spaceships will be fueled in orbit, which is an essential component of Musk’s vision, and will leave together as a Mars colonial fleet traveling over at 62,000 mph (99,779 km/h) through interplanetary space. Musk hopes he can use these ships an upwards of 15 times over the following 30 to 40 years. This would bring the new Mars colony to around 1-1.5 million Martians. When they begin extracting fuel from Mars, they will have successfully become a self-sufficient, alien race. Humans, in general, will be an interplanetary species.

Any human journey to Mars would involve a round trip of at least two-and-a-half years, six months to fly there, six months to come home again, and a year-and-a-half on the Martian surface while Mars and Earth move back into the right orbital positions for the return flight.

— Stuart Gary, Senior Journalist

8. Landing on Mars

Travelling to Mars could be quite harrowing. Throughout the six-month journey, each crewmember will likely have an average of 65³ feet (20³ meters) of living space. They will not be able to shower, and the type of food they eat for the rest of their life will likely be very limited. Once they get to Mars, there comes a new challenge of landing safely. There have been many different suggestions on how to land on and then take off from planet Mars, but the most common idea seems to be an interplanetary ferry shuttling cargo and crew back and forth between the surface and low orbit. In their six-phase plan shared above, NASA calls this interplanetary vehicle the Mars Truck or the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV). Musk describes something similar, but envisions using a reusable rocket booster to shuttle passengers, fuel, and cargo ships to larger spacecrafts waiting in orbit.

They're going to have runny noses, they're going to have some skin rash. ... People who are in a small, contained environment for hundreds of days — that happens to them.

— Cassie Conley, NASA's Planetary Protection Officer

9. Living on Mars

Once astronauts land safely on Mars, life becomes somewhat unpredictable. Their days will be 40 minutes longer than on Earth, which will be good because they will have a lot to do. They will have to establish a civilization from scratch, but couples will be asked to withhold from procreating until more information is known about the effects of Martian gravity on a pregnancy. Extreme temperatures, cosmic radiation, planet-wide dust storms, low gravity, and an unbreathable atmosphere will be an obvious reminder how far away home actually is. It will be important for them to progress slowly at first, testing the impact of the recent flight and new planet on their bodies. Communicating with Earth will have a 20+ minute delay due to the speed of light at which the information travels, so addressing preliminary and formal communications will also be of high priority.

Exploring Mars

After settling in, astronauts will utilize lightweight spacesuits that don’t currently exist to explore the uncharted Martian terrain. Traveling too far out will require a pressurized vehicle. NASA has been testing their Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV), a 12-wheeled truck called the Chariot since 2008, but many plans highlight the importance of eventually engineering lighter rovers from resources already present on Mars. At this point of colonization, it is likely that robots will have been on Mars for quite some time. They are the backbone of the experiment, allowing the “crew is there to explore, and to colonize, not maintain and repair. Any time spent on 'living there' and 'housekeeping' should be minimized to an oversight role of robotic automated tasks" (NASA).

Mars Base

Due to the threat of radiation from GCRs, colonists will likely resurrect an inflatable shelter underground. To avoid the threat of GCR, colonists would have to dig at least 5 meters into the regolith, or find an existing cave (lava tube, trench, etc.). Layers can then be added to the walls of the structure to help prevent tears and punctures. Finally, airlocks would need to be lightweight, durable, repairable, and capable of removing dust. Cleansing procedures could involve a water-based enzyme used to wash the dust into floor drains.

There are many designs for future Mars colonies, but most visionaries agree on the importance of several key features: self-sufficiency, protection from the atmosphere, and the ability to support life away from earth. On top of these goals, scientists note the key features and requirements for life as we know it.

Growing Life on Mars

After careful study of the extra seasons throughout the year, colonists will attempt to terraform the Martian environment. There are several options that scientists are already considering. We could try to change Mars’ atmosphere by nuking it with dirty bombs filled with greenhouse gases, or by crash a bunch of meteors onto the surface for water. If we triggered a global warming, the polar ice caps would melt and release liquid water across the planet. Many doubt the ability to actually change the Martian surface enough to grow healthy crops. Instead, scientists are trying to perfect micro-gardens using artificial light, or are developing artificial plant-based medicines using synthetic means of photosynthesis.

Deconstructed Water

One of the biggest challenges facing early colonists is deriving water and oxygen from the Martian environment. Likely, colonists will try to land in an area already rich with subsurface ice deposits. NASA is considering launching and orbiter Mars in 2022 that would search for ice deposits near the surface. By the time colonists arrive, robots will have set up basic infrastructures for survival. Solar tents for water extraction from the regolith could use sunlight to heat the surface layers to vaporize the underground water or produce liquid. A prototype instrument for extracting oxygen from the atmosphere called Moxie is already underway, and will be included on the Mars 2020 rover. Utilizing the H2O in the planet’s surface and the CO2 in the atmosphere, colonists should have enough oxygen and fuel to survive the early stages of development.

Robotic Agriculture

Another challenge is living off the land. While early colonists will likely bring their food with them, a self-sufficient colony will take many years to develop. Farming for survival would require terraforming the soil with peat moss and developing up to a few hundred square feet of food per person throughout the year. Food sources would have to grow massively and quickly in the presence of high concentrations of CO2. Likely this would be done through artificial sunlight, robotic agriculture, and the introduction of “rice paddy agriculture” which relies on insects and symbiotic organisms. Early crops might be sodium tolerant halophytes managed by algae, mushrooms, or cyanobacteria. Due to the clay like minerals ubiquitous in the Martian soil (along with Fe, Ti, Ni, Al, S, Cl, and Ca), early colonists will likely store materials in an enterprise of clay and glass pottery, or stored underground to avoid freezing surface temperatures.

Extracting Fuel

Once the basic needs are met, colonists will have to develop a means for extracting fuel from the Martian surface. One such method would involve splitting the frozen water embedded in the Martian permafrost into hydrogen and oxygen. The elements could be used for fuel, water, and air. "You can also extract water from the Martian atmosphere, or bring hydrogen from Earth and react that with the carbon dioxide atmosphere on Mars to make methane and oxygen," says Dr. Clarke. Carbon from the atmosphere would be used to create different types of rocket fuel as well.

Future Mars colonies

Future Mars colonies

10. Future Mars Colonies

Terraforming Mars

Terraforming the Martian soil and atmosphere would be a huge step toward establishing permanent and sustainable life on the red planet. Once the environment is habitable, Mars will become quite similar to Earth. It’s likely that early colonists will “grow what we know” by slowly introducing specific species of plants and insects from Earth onto Mars. However, overtime Mars colonies will begin to develop unique ways of being. New language dialects might be formed (sometimes referred to as “Mars Speak”), genetic diversity of plants, animals, and humans will evolve in unique ways, and eventually life will become truly alien. Does that mean that Martians are outside of Earth’s laws? Will they become completely self-reliant, or will they always have an intimate relationship with their home planet?

Intergalactic Government

Martian governments might be directly affiliated with the Earth governments that originally sent them. However, if private citizens, companies, and space agencies fight for rights to land, Mars might have to develop an independent government. For example, consider a NASA signed agreement to extend an ongoing partnership with the Israel Space Agency (ISA), while continuing ongoing relationships with the Japanese Space Force. If this global group established a colony on Mars, what would their trilateral government look like?

Speaking at Recode’s Code Conference, Elon Musk said he believes that a Martian government will become a direct democracy. “Most likely the form of government on Mars would be a direct democracy, not representative. So it would be people voting directly on issues. And I think that’s probably better, because the potential for corruption is substantially diminished in a direct versus a representative democracy” (Musk). Musk also suggests that a Martian government should focus on eliminating ineffective laws rather than designing new ones from scratch.

Current Space Laws

Currently there are 107 nations part of an international space agreement called the Outer Space Treaty, formally known as the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (est. 1967), a joint effort to regulate space law. They focus the proprietary rights of space exploration and military use. Article II of the Treaty states that "outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.” Furthermore, Article IV exclusively limits the use of the Moon or other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes. In the case of launching anything into space, the State that launched the space object retains jurisdiction and control over the object. While governments are allowed to send conventional weapons into space, they are prohibited from sending weapons of mass destruction into orbit.

Intergalactic Economy

Eventually an intergalactic economy will develop. Companies like PayPal Galactic plan on “Tackling Payments in Space.” Their website states, “The time has now come for us to start planning for the future; a future where we aren't just talking about global payments. Today, we are expanding our vision off earth into space.” As goods are exchanged between Earth, Mars, and likely local meteors, physical money will become obsolete. Humanity will have become a coexisting interplanetary species redefining the laws of society.

We already have the skills and technology needed to take people to Mars, we just need to build it.

— Jonathan Clarke, Mars Society of Australia

A Day in the Life on Mars

There have been many attempts in movies and literature to imagine what living in space and on Mars might be like. However, these artistic renderings hardly prepare people for reality. Because of this, Dr. Jonathan Clarke, President of Mars Society Australia, spent five months in the Canadian Arctic, on the polar desert of Devon Island, simulating what living on Mars might be like. Both imagination and hard science are needed in order to see the fruition of a future Mars colony. When this dream is finally realized, I too wonder what it will be like:

The year is Earth 2093, Mars 30 (each year equivalent to 1.88 Earth years). It’s zero hour, a timeless, 40-minute window just before the sunrise. Colonists use it to sleep-in or mentally prepare for the day to come. A day follows the normal circadian rhythm of the planet. Scientists hope this will ease the surface transition process for future generations.

Outside, its -64° Fahrenheit. Mars’ moons retreat behind Olympus Mons while a distant blue sunrise warms what will eventually become a hazy, orange sky. A powerful dust storm engulfs the frozen, Martian wasteland below. And an unaffected underground Mars colony made up of 1,500 cosmopolitan scientists and engineers switches to daytime settings.

Dome shaped dwellings, laboratories, and gymnasiums are strategically placed throughout an efficiently woven and 3-D printed complex. Earlier models relied on using protected layers of the ship to reinforce inflatable structures, but colonists were getting radiation poisoning. To avoid further complications, most colonists remain indoors. Centralized dining halls localize waste and ease the cleaning and distribution process. Energy efficiency is key, but not lacking. Solar panels and fossil fuels provide an abundance of energy for the community.

Robots run the agricultural aspects of the community, but humans still prepare their own food. Chefs are a highly praised profession, as most colonists have been training for space all their life and have less than robust husbandry skills. Other jobs include upgrading technology and monitoring communications (light speed creates a 20-minute communication delay with Earth), utilizing Mars rovers for expeditionary missions on clear days, studying the presence of Martian microbes in lava samples, developing new methods for terraforming the planet, and genetically engineering life for survival. Like they did their food, scientists have begun research on how to modify their bodies and offspring to better suit the Martian environment.

Physical attempts to procreate are still unsuccessful. However, colonists are hopeful and hundreds of new arrivals come each year. As their society develops, these people will slowly evolve into a new species of human. They will literally become Martians, and will likely never be able to return to Earth again. Which is OK, because these colonists are pioneers establishing something new. Soon, both Earthlings and Martians will be able to look into the starry night sky and know that someone is looking back.

© 2018 JourneyHolm


Tea on March 23, 2020:

why don't we try to save the earth we are living on instead of trying to colonize a different planet? but this was cool to read and learn about.

Omuok Dorothy on March 28, 2019:

Good piece. An eye opener. It has been helpful in writing a paper on colonization of Mars. Thanks a lot.

JAMES on November 15, 2018:


JourneyHolm (author) on February 10, 2018:

Please let me know if I missed an important subtopic. Thanks for reading!