SpaceX aims to create a city on Mars. Image: © SpaceX
By Laurin Gschwenter
February 10, 2020
Numerous people question, “Why exactly Mars? What about other planets in the solar system?” Our choices are limited to becoming a multi-planetary race within our solar system. Other than Earth, all of the planets in the solar system, Mars is special because it has the resources needed to support a community of large size to start a new division of human civilization. There are reasons why many humans believe that terraforming and colonization of humans on Mars is a waste of time, money, and resources. On the table, the arguments supporting this position are that Mars is far away; there are no good export resources, too much effort, and the mission is too expensive. However, this paper would argue for Mars’ unique qualities and assets.
It seems that the Red Planet is the best choice to qualify as our second planet. How exactly do we engineer a habitable planet? There have been ideas crossing minds from hijacking Mars to nuking the poles to making Mars habitable for humans. One idea is to terraform Mars. “Terraforming, put simply, is changing the atmosphere and climate of a planet so that it can support human life. Without the need for spacesuits,” said Robert Lillis, an associate director at the Planetary Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, in an interview on Seekers. On Mars, there is undoubtedly enough water locked up in ice to get some oxygen. Unfortunately, there probably is not enough nitrogen that we could quickly get to build up an Earth-like, mostly-nitrogen atmosphere. If technology continues to advance, Mars could have enough oxygen in its atmosphere for humans to walk around Mars’ atmosphere without a spacesuit. NASA has excellent ideas for the future of Mars, for instance, “introducing an artificial magnetic field near Mars so that it can develop an atmosphere which would hopefully help Mars support life and liquid surface water in the future. If introduced, Mars could have an atmosphere with half the Earth’s atmospheric pressure within a few years” (Meriame Berboucha, Forbes, November 10, 2017).
The problem is not transportation high numbers of assets to Mars. However, it is the use of the planet’s resources to sustain an increasing population on the Red Planet. Scientists’ have found signs of water on the subsurface all over Mars, which is crucial for colonization. “The detection of hydrated salts on these slopes means that water plays a vital role in the formation of these streaks,” the study’s lead author, Lujendra Ojha, of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, said in a statement. Some rovers can extract water from the soil, and then the water is going to get filtered with chemicals, and eventually turns into drinkable water.
There is a side that arguments against the colonization of Mars; they support this position because Mars’ circadian rhythm is 40 minutes longer than on Earth. An extra 40 minutes every day adds up, and eventually, the clock would be so far offset from the 24-hour clock we know on Earth. It is like switching two time zones every three days. A day on Mars is nothing like a day on Earth. A human needs a thousand adjustments to live on Mars because of the time alternations. “I think it would be hard to be on Earth time if you’re on Mars,” Trosper said. She is optimistic that once astronauts finally reach Mars, the human body will automatically adapt to the longer sols.
NASA and SpaceX are trying to use the resources on Mars to create a civilization. For instance, NASA is trying to 3D print a house called the Marsha with Martian (Mars soil) soil. “Mars is the only place in the solar system where it’s possible for life to become multi-planetarian,“ Elon Musk said. “We could make Mars like Earth…it’s more than our life raft, it’s like backing up the biosphere.”
Berboucha, Meriame. “NASA Believes It Knows How To Make Mars Green Again.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 11 Nov. 2017, http://www.forbes.com/sites/meriameberboucha/2017/11/10/nasa-believe-they-know-how-to-make-mars-great-again/#4b4460c698f3.
Boyle, Rebecca. “Welcome To Mars! Enjoy Perpetual Jet Lag Under An Eerie Red Sky.” Earth to Mars, FiveThirtyEight, 7 Mar. 2017, fivethirtyeight.com/features/welcome-to-mars-enjoy-perpetual-jet-lag-under-an-eerie-red-sky/.
YouTube, Seeker, 13 Nov. 2019, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkkBR-W4XA8&t=171s.
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“Will the Astronauts Have Enough Water, Food and Oxygen? – Health and Ethics.” Mars One, Mars One, http://www.mars-one.com/faq/health-and-ethics/will-the-astronauts-have-enough-water-food-and-oxygen.
Wright, David. “Elon Musk Wants to Put Man on Mars in ’12 to 15 Years’.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 6 Aug. 2012, abcnews.go.com/Technology/elon-musk-put-man-mars-roughly-12-15/story?id=16940287.
Zubrin, Robert. “Why We Earthlings Should Colonize Mars!” Theology and Science, vol. 17, no. 3, 20 June 2019, pp. 1–12., doi:10.1080/14746700.2019.1632519.Chmielewski, Tom. “It Turns Out It’s Not Actually That Awesome to Have 40 More Minutes in Your Day.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 26 Feb. 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/02/jet-lag-is-worse-on-mars/386033/.