I started watching a new docu-drama about Mars that is running on Nat Geo.  The premise is our first attempt to colonize the dead planet. To fully appreciate the task you kinda have to understand a few things about the red dead Planet.

Mars once had an atmosphere that was in many ways similar to ours here on earth about 1000 millibars of atmospheric pressure. There were in fact rivers, lakes and very likely oceans, we know all of this thanks to NASA’s Maven Spacecraft.  ( Remember I spent some time working for NASA back in the 80s and early 90s).  The Martian atmosphere, according to evidence we have, consisted largely of carbon dioxide and oxygen.

As Mars cooled (internally) it lost it’s magnetic field roughly some 4.2 billion years ago. Without a strong magnetic field to protect it, the solar winds from the sun began stripping away the Martian atmosphere.  Needless to say any life that was there wouldn’t be able to maintain itself.

Any ideas about “terraforming” the planet are pure science fiction at this point, and not likely to be resolved.  Without a magnetic field to protect the atmosphere, life on Mars has to live beneath the surface and that is assuming that life could become sustainable without the solar energy that powers all life here on earth save for a few obscure organisms that survive in the deep oceans from the heat of the earths core….an ocean that Mars doesn’t have.

Another issue is radiation, even on the International Space Station, astronauts are more protected because it is within the earths magnetosphere. A trip to Mars would take humans between 0ne and two years to reach the planet and the amount of radiation they would get on the trip would be deadly using todays technology.

Suffice it to say we are a pretty good way from solving that big problem, but we ARE working on it and one thing that we humans have excelled at is solving relocation problems. We settled the New World, We settled the West, as “Mars” points out we have even settled Antarctica. So we will, in all likelihood, settle someplace else other than Earth and right now that place seems to be Mars.  It would have been a much less daunting task 4.5 billion years ago when Mars had that atmosphere and liquid water and whatnot but 4.2 billion years ago the closest thing to a human on Earth was probably very basic plant life,  if that. To put it in perspective we humans have only been around for less than a million years, a LOT less…200,000 to be more precise.  Earth is roughly 5 billion years old and Mars and Earth are thought to have formed around the same time but Mars is MUCH smaller than Earth.  Earth is about 8000 miles in Diameter, Mars is about 4000 miles in diameter.  It was in fact the size that caused Mars to quickly cool enough to lose its magnetic field.  More to the point the surface area of Earth is about 200 million square miles, 75% of which is covered in water.  The surface area of Mars is about 56 million square miles, none of which is covered in water.

Now getting back to “Mars” the docudrama. They kind of sugar coated the whole radiation thing, and managed to get people to the planets surface, but a long way off course from where the supplies were stockpiled. (naturally….There has to be some drama)  In reality the same navigation here on earth that can put a flying explosive warhead in a 1 foot by one foot window, with pinpoint accuracy from half way around the earth would be employed before we put people there so I don’t see that happening in reality.

In the show they do hit all the high points, the things people can easily grasp, like the need to grow food and lessening dependency on shipments from Earth which is at best around 2 years away and can be a LOT longer depending on where each planet is within its respective orbit around the sun.

But what about the subtle things?   Assuming we are sending our best and brightest people and the idea is to actually populate the planet, or the interior of it, are we not setting up a colony of hybrid humans, genetically speaking?  What about religion, if we send only atheists and agnostics does the colony soon view our religions the same way we view mythology?  The same goes for race and even social institutions, from a colonization standpoint it makes far more sense to send a lot more women than men, men can produce far more offspring than women can but what does that mean for marriage and monogamy? let’s not forget keeping the gene pool varied too.

There are far more things to consider than just getting the people there.  At this point in our evolution I am not so sure that we are ready for the task of moving the human race beyond Earth we aren’t doing so well on Earth right now, maybe it isn’t the time to export what we call “civilization”.

This was fun to think about and write, y’all feel free to chime in.








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5 Responses

  1. Mars, at the closest point, would take about 6 months to get to.

    Mars is significantly smaller than Earth and the gravity is only around 40% or so.

    Still, I think Mars is a very reasonable place to set up a human colony. I think humanity
    will build things unimaginable 1000 years from now and within 10,000 years I think we’ll be an
    interstellar species as long as we partition ourselves on multiple planets and outposts.

    Our survival depends on going to Mars. Why? Because we will eventually get to the point where
    something completely wipes out our species on a planet like earth (a super bug or plague). Being on Mars is
    like a partition. Stephen Hawkings and others make this argument.

    We can simply live underground on Mars until other means our created to block the radiation.
    Ideal areas: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martian_lava_tube
    Take a look at those.

    As humans evolve and colonize the solar system and eventually become interstellar, we will evolve past the need
    for religion and other things.

    As far as life on mars, I really can’t see there being much life early in the solar system other than
    through the internal heat on mars.
    Reason? The sun was cooler at the beginning of the formation of the solar system. Remember that earth receives
    much more solar energy per area than mars and at one point in earth’s history it was a snowball (competely, or close to, covered in ice)


    We will eventually colonize and live on mars. Human’s will engineer themselves to be smarter and have
    favorable characteristics. Eventually genes won’t even matter as you can just change things on the fly through
    improved technology.
    Most people will not even need to work and things will be plentiful still.

  2. It’s amazing that today we consider the possibilities pro/con.

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Hubble is still up there generating images. We’ve certainly come a long way since TIME magazine put Hubble on the cover in the 80’s with grainy images suggesting scientist’s theories about water on Mars might not be off the mark.

  3. I’ve read that a mars mission would cost approx half a trillion dollars so it’s tough to imagine a trip there anytime soon. I think NASA’s annual budget, which includes human spaceflight, unmanned probes/programs, scientific research, ten field centers etc. is about 30 billion dollars..less than .5 percent of the national budget and it’s lowest since the late 1950’s.

    NASA hasn’t had a big budget since approx 1970, when the Apollo program peaked.

    It seems NASA was a product of the cold war era when the U.S. had to compete with the Russians to show who was the most technologically advanced. Now, with the U.S. so heavily in debt we’re seeing budgets like NASA’s drop every single year, with no end in sight. Take a look at those OMB charts, they’re very real and sobering.

    It’s not that we just can’t get a half trillion dollars for a mars mission, we can’t get 10/20/30 billion to put humans into low earth orbit. It’s going to take several decades(more like generations) for the U.S. to have enough money to send humans to another world again.

  4. Politicians raided Social Security over the years once they moved it to the General Fund (almost 40 trillion supposedly) and drained the fund so now SS will be bankrupt in 2033. With that monster looming on the horizon, a crumbling infrastructure, and robotics doing away with many jobs in the US they just don’t have the money to spend on a flight to Mars.

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