Settlement on Mars
How would we settle? What would we live in?
What would our shelter be?
The first settlers on Mars probably wouldn't build a habitat on the planet. It would be more conventional for them to bring a shelter from Earth. The settlers after the first, though, would need to build shelter using a combination of materials from Earth and Mars. One of the most popular ideas for shelter is a tunnel under Mars' surface. Tunneling machines could be brought from Earth, and robots would even be able to build living rooms, air locks and service shafts. Because of the low gravity, lack of Mars quakes, and no liquid water seepage on Mars, not much structural support would be required. With all of the advantages the tunnels would have, there's also the downside of it being extremely cold. Plenty of thermal insulation would be needed for humans to survive. The most sensible way of conducting heat would be through solar energy. This is because of Mars' thin atmosphere which allows more solar energy to reach the planets surface compared to Earth's. There are also no clouds on Mars that would block the sun's rays. The thin atmosphere of Mars also has its downsides. It allows for a lot more solar radiation to reach the planet's surface compared to Earth. Prolonged exposure to such radiation could cause genetic damage to humans. This is another reason why living underground would be a good idea. It would be very unpleasant to live in a tunnel 24/7 without natural light; this problem can be taken care of by optical fibers. In summary, it's very likely that tunnels would be human's shelter of choice when settling on Mars.
Is Settlement a Possibility in the Near Future?
NASA is currently planning to settle on Mars sometime during the 2030's. Up until then, they'll be sending things to Mars to conduct experiments on livability. They'll be sending things from greenhouses to shelters. Based on the results, NASA will be able to make the settlement go as smoothly as possible, leaving little room for error.
Other Possible Issues
Scientists are still working on different issues such as sanitation, and food and water supply. There are many proposed solutions such as building greenhouses and using toilets currently used in the space station.
"Imagineering on Mars." Imagineeringezine.com. Imagineeringezine. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.
"NASA Plans to Colonize Mars." Rt.com. Rt News, 23 June 2014. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.