To Arrive, Survive, and Thrive

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

The Mars Foundation hopes to see humans arrive, survive, and thrive on the red planet someday soon.

According to their overview presentation, a Mars settlement will open up the solar system to humanity and life by, first, providing water, carbon, and nitrogen for food. In fact, a hillside base could be built largely from local material, with 90 percent self-sufficiency by mass — and mass is an important metric when we’re discussing interplanetary travel.

If you compare Earth to Mars, they have their similarities. They’re the third and fourth planets from the Sun, Earth’s about twice as big around, they’re tilted at almost the same angle, a Mars year is roughly two Earth years, a Mars day is just over 24 hours, etc.

Mars gravity is just three-eighths Earth gravity, which may or may not be a problem. Similarly, its temperature ranges from –127°C to 17°C. Close enough?

The big difference is that Mars has next to no atmosphere, and what it does have is CO2.

The Mars Foundation’s plan involves four phases. The first phase is totally robotic and takes two years to establish a nuclear reactor, a water well, and a gas plant.

Then, four people arrive to set up the mining, refining, and manufacturing equipment to produce the materials needed for a real settlement.

And so on.


  1. Wobbly says:

    That map makes me wonder if the designers played too much Traveller in their youth.

  2. I have no time or dime for a jingle that doesn’t rhyme.

  3. Tom says:

    Recruit a bunch of submariners for that. They’re used to spending long periods of time away from civilization and “get that thing working or we die”. Especially now that they’re about to put women on USN subs, you’d have it all. Drop ‘em off and fuggedaboutit for a couple of years until they have it ready for more peeps.

  4. Isegoria says:

    That was one of the oddities of the European Space Agency’s Mars500 mission. They seemed oblivious to the fact that submariners (and Arctic researchers) had already spent significant periods in cramped quarters with minimal outside contact. I don’t think space madness is the primary challenge of sending astronauts to Mars.

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