Despite its thin air, cold temperatures, and lack of protection from radiation, Mars makes an intriguing target for human colonizing.
Let’s see what some of the Mars colonizing advantages are:
- It has a very similar length of day. A Martian day is 24 hours and 39 minutes, so plants and animals might find that familiar
- It has an axial tilt very similar to Earth. This gives it familiar seasons to our home planet.
- It has vast reserves of water in the form of ice. This water would be essential for human travelers to Mars, and could also be used to make rocket fuel and hydrogen for fuel.
Robert Zubrin, in his book, “The Case for Mars”, explains how future human colonists might be able to live off the land when traveling to Mars, and eventually colonizing it. Instead of bringing all their supplies from Earth – like the inhabitants of the International Space Station – future colonists would be able to make their own air by splitting water on Mars into oxygen and hydrogen. This Martian water would also be used for drinking, and even rocket fuel.
Preliminary experiments have shown that Mars soil could be baked into bricks to create protective structures. Earth plants could even be grown in Martian soil, assuming they get enough sunlight and carbon dioxide.
Over time, there may be many mineral deposits that could be discovered on Mars and sent back to Earth for sale. In the far future, there might be a viable economy between Martian colonists and the home planet. Launching precious metals, like platinum, off the surface of Mars would be relatively inexpensive thanks to its lower gravity.
And in the far future, Mars colonizing might include terraforming Mars, raising the temperature of the planet to the point that its water melts and vast reserves of gas escape and thicken the atmosphere.
One day, there could be real Martians, and they would be us.
The Mars Society is working to try and colonize Mars. And Red Colony is a great resource of articles about colonizing Mars.
Finally, if you’d like to learn more about Mars in general, we have done several podcast episodes about the Red Planet at Astronomy Cast. Episode 52: Mars, and Episode 91: The Search for Water on Mars.
NASA Quest: Possibility of colonizing Mars