Colonizing Mars

"I think humans will reach Mars, and I would like to see it happen in my lifetime."

Buzz Aldrin

Settlements May Happen Sooner Than We Think

One exact example of a possible Mars settlement endeavour comes from SpaceX. Which is a private spaceflight company founded by the South African billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk. redOrbit reported about Musk's designs for a Mars colony in the next 20 years. “In his plans, Musk said [the initial effort] would start with a test group of less than 10 people, who would be transported through a reusable rocket powered by liquid oxygen and methane.” This first group would be set to build a sustainable colony from the ground up. This including housing, crops, buildings and everything needed to sustain life on Mars. From the investments and thought process Musk has put into this plan, humans are getting closer each day to a successful new life on Mars.

Why Mars?

No known planet in the universe matches Earth's environment and atmosphere, but our closest neighbor Mars, which has the best potential.Through the process of terraforming, humans could transform Mars into an Earth-like environment, allowing people to colonize the planet. Why Colonize Mars really has to do with its proximity to Earth. Based on current technology humans could travel to Mars in as little as 259 days. Mars also offers a nearly identical length of day to Earth's, along with similar topography [source: VanLeer]. Something even more critical may be the significant volume of water frozen in polar ice caps on Mars as of Earth. Also its proximity to so-called dwarf planet Ceres, which contains more freshwater than Earth [source: Bentley]. One significant hurdle lies in the average temperature of Mars, which hovers around minus 55 degrees Celsius. Mars also has a much lower atmospheric pressure than Earth, which means humans find it impossible to breathe on the surface [source:NASA]. The key process to colonizing Mars is raising the temperature, which can be done by introducing large amounts of greenhouse gases into Mars' atmosphere. The gathering of greenhouse gases in the form of carbon dioxide is a danger to Earth's atmosphere, but the global warming act of these gases might raise the temperature of Mars to a livable level. As the temperature increases, the ice caps will likely melt, freeing up water for human consumption. Colonists will need to plant trees and other vegetation to further increase oxygen levels and improve quality of life on Mars [source: NASA].

Why Settle On Mars?

In the not so distant future, Earth as a planet will no longer be able to sustain life. Our sun provides heat and energy needed for life to continue on our planet, but as any other life form it has a lifespan. As the sun continues to age, it is getting closer to its form as a Red Giant. The sun, then on would destroy Venus. Also whether or not it could swell large enough to consume Earth is also debatable. No matter what, when the sun reaches this Red Giant stage, it will boil away all the water and heat the surface past livable conditions on Earth. Scientists predict that these stages will start to begin in around 3 billion years.

How We'll Get to Mars

The great voyage to Mars would take a crew about 180 days. So far NASA is exploring two options for propulsion there-- a nuclear thermal rocket and a chemical engine. A nuclear rocket would use a nuclear reactor to super-heat a gas and blast it out the nozzle to generate thrust.The idea for the chemical engine is similar to that used on the space shuttle, liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. It's a fairly well-known technology, but it's not as efficient as nuclear thermal. To reach the surface of Mars, NASA imagines an aerodynamic lander, that flies down for landing with thrusters to help it descend. The ascent vehicle that takes the crew back into space for the six-month trip home will rely on a mixture of methane and liquid oxygen. Oxygen is a gas present in the Mars atmosphere in the carbon dioxide, so you may use resources on Mars to make it. NASA plans that before the crew even gets to Mars, their plan is to send as much cargo there ahead of time as possible. That way they know all is operating properly right before they ever commit the crew. A Mars mission is not like a lunar mission where you can come home at any given time. Once the crew is committed, they are out there for years. By current NASA estimates, a crewed mission to Mars needs to lift about twice the mass of the International Space Station into space which is roughly 1.76 million lbs. (800 metric tons) of technology (Fox News). To launch the abundance of equipment, NASA plans to use the Ares V rocket which is designed to be the most powerful rocket ever built. The crew would need to ride up in one of the upcoming Ares I rockets before starting the voyage to Mars. Having humans in place of test robots could bring great experience and training and the ability to put into context what they see and to make real-time decisions.

Bret Drake-Nasa researcher with Lunar and mars integration

"We're still looking at human exploration of Mars as one of the goals of the future at the top level, having a human actually set foot on another planet would be one of the greatest adventures possible, one of the greatest monuments to history."

A Global Effort

Mars One is a key counterpart in the potential success of establishing human settlement on Mars. It is their objective to establish human settlement on the planet in 2023. Mars One believes human exploration of the solar system should be a global effort. Mars exploration offers an opportunity to celebrate the power of a united humanity. In this first-stage analysis of colonizing Mars, Mars One incorporated technical, financial, social-psychological and ethical components into its foundation plan.The first key step is to award contracts to the already engaged aerospace suppliers, then on solidifying the mission as technically feasible. At the same time, Mars One will launch the Astronaut Selection Program, a program open to anyone worldwide. Mars One intends to maintain an on-going, global media event, from astronaut selection to training, from lift-off to landing, to provide primary funding for this next giant leap for mankind.

Works Cited

Briggs, Josh. "5 Hurdles to Conquer Before Colonizing Mars." Discovery. Discovery, n.d. Web. 10 May 2013. <http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/5-hurdles-conquer-before-colonizing-mars.htm>.


Clapper, Rayshell. "Colonizing Mars: Settlements May Happen Sooner Than We Think." redOrbit. 19 Feb. 2013. Web. 10 May 2013. <http://www.redorbit.com/news/space/1112786877/colonizing-mars-021913/>.


Colonizing Mars Good Idea? Dir. abc News 13. John Le, 24 Apr. 2013. ABC News 13. Web. 10 May 2013. <http://www.wlos.com/shared/news/features/top-stories/stories/wlos_colonizing-mars-good-idea-11344.shtml>.


"Mission and Vision." Mars One. n.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2013. <http://mars-one.com/en/mission/mission-and-vision>.


Turner, Bambi. "Is Mars the only viable option for terraforming?." Curiosity.com. Discovery , n.d. Web. 17 May 2013. <http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/mars-terraforming-option>.


Choi, Charles Q. "NASA Explains How Humans Would Get to Mars ." Fox News. 24 July 2009. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.foxnews.com/story/2009/07/24/nasa-explains-how-humans-would-get-to-mars/>.