Life On Mars: The Logistics of Settling The Red Planet
For many, many years, people on Earth have talked about what it would be like to not just put a person on Mars but to have an entire human colony. This has been a massive part of science fiction work for decades and many who have worked in the aerospace industry have made plans to start human civilization on Mars.
So why hasn’t it happened yet? After all, for decades we’ve been hearing about how we’re “just a few years away” from Mars. It turns out that the logistics of settling on the Red Planet are a bit more complicated than even the wealthiest or smartest people realize when putting their plans into place. Here’s a look at what it would take to put humans on Mars for good.
Getting To Mars
First and foremost, to put people on Mars, we have to be able to even get people there in the first place. There have been a lot of manned missions into space, but none have reached 250,000 miles from Earth. In other words, we haven’t made it further than the “other” side of the moon. Just to put it in perspective, Mars is another 58 million miles after passing the moon.
With that said, we’d have to create a craft that’s capable of making it that distance with people onboard. With current capabilities, it would take nearly nine months for a craft to get all the way to Mars. Thankfully, there are no rest stops or fast food restaurants on the way that would delay the trip.
Let’s say that we were capable of getting to Mars without much of a problem. Sure, we had to sit in our spaceship for months on end, but we finally made it. Now, there’s just the matter of where we stay. Presumably, there would have to be many, many missions with robots to build a shelter on Mars before humans can even think of colonization.
These robots would also have to be incredibly accurate and make sure that the shelter is sealed so that oxygen can flow throughout. The shelter would also have to be able to withstand temperatures that drop to below -200 degrees Fahrenheit, fierce wings, and harmful UV rays since the atmosphere of Mars is almost nonexistent compared to Earth.
Now that the shelter is in place, people have to be able to eat and drink water while on Mars. There are plenty of foods that grow on Earth that we can just pick up and eat without thinking twice, but that’s not the case on Mars. There’s no known life on the planet, so we’ll have to bring our own. Bringing animals for meat would prove to be very difficult, though.
Bringing animals like chickens and cows on a nine-month journey would take a lot of care to make sure that they made it and that there’s enough for the new colony. It would be much easier for vegetarians as the climate-controlled shelter would still be able to allow for fruits and vegetables to grow indoors.
The good news is that there is water on Mars. The bad news is that we don’t know its long-term health effects and how much of it we can actually use. For now, the plan on Mars is to extract water from minerals, but that’s a long and tedious process for not a whole lot of water.
Water would have to be reused and recycled to the point where the water you drink in the evening may be the same water that you flushed down the toilet that morning.
Summing It Up
It sounds like the most difficult and expensive project in human history to colonize Mars, so why are we even talking about it? Is it because of resources? General curiosity? Whatever the reason, life on Mars would be no easy task and an overall logistical nightmare that would take several decades to even become feasible.
People in the 1960s said that it would probably happen not in their lifetimes, but in the lifetime of those that are alive now. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case, either, as we’re still very far away from planting a flag on the Red Planet.