Colonizing Mars: Evaluating the Why

What do you think?
Do you think humans should live on Mars eventually?

I feel colonizing Mars is like going to an overpacked public pool to swim when you live in a house on a sandy, tropical beach. Earth might just be the coolest planet in the whole universe. It is miles ahead of anything else we know about. I personally would not be thrilled with a single penny of my tax dollars funding a useless trillion dollar venture like that. Sending human scientists for a limited time to collect data and do things we can’t with rovers might be worthwhile. Mars would be cool if you could just visit it for a week or two. Ride a re-engineered quad around on it in a spacesuit and hope you don’t die. But even that would take couple of years and who could afford the trip?

Live in a tiny prison dome on Mars? Can’t go outside without a suit? Can’t see or hear any wildlife? No rivers, lakes, oceans, grass, fields to play in. Can’t BBQ or host a party. Can’t fly a kite or do a million other things. Can’t feel a breeze, take a big breath of fresh air or lay out in the sun. Tenuous atmosphere, toxic soil, harmful solar radiation, low gravity, desert like conditions. Who would want to spend their life on a dead rock? Its a bone-dry, lifeless, barren wasteland. Sounds like hell.



If you’ve got a trillion or ten to throw away, fine. I can think of a few better causes. Once we’ve got global cooling sorted and the world’s modal, median and mean life expectancy is 85, yeah sure, throw that money away.

[First we’d need a space elevator which, despite my fierce, rational scepticism, is looking more feasible with Colossal Carbon Tubes. If we can do that, we should: for greener satellite and interplanetary probe launches, space labs and factories for a start. Then the robot industrialization of the Moon… then the colonization of Mars… then… I’d love it, but only when we’re righteous.]


What is the author’s expertise or connection with Mars?

Klax speaks for me here. I’d like to see us demonstrate the capacity to self regulate within our existing petri dish before we get loose elsewhere. Still once we earn that clearance I think we’re special enough in our own right to consider spread our eggs out over multiple baskets. (Haven’t yet read the article but I prefer to gather my own thoughts first.)


Ive not read the article either. I will later.

I think that we need to keep letting the private and public sector focus on it. I think that it’s the future of our species that we will begin to spread across space as more and more time goes snd that it’s good to not place all of our eggs in one basket. I also think that we need to keep doing what we can to improve earth. I don’t think it’s a battle between the two. It reminds me of the argument “ would you rather preach the gospel to the lost or help save a rainforest?” It’s not a battle. You can do both.

The passive house industry is always contributing to technology that can come into play. Plus it’s going to happen anyways. It’s beyond our control.


Here is NASA’s page for the Mars exploration program.

As for Why Mars, it says:

There are several strategic, practical and scientific reasons for humans to explore Mars. Among them we know that Mars is the most accessible place in the solar system. Additionally, exploring Mars provides the opportunity to possibly answer origin and evolution of life questions, and could someday be a destination for survival of humankind.

In the strategic sense, exploring Mars demonstrates our political and economic leadership as a nation, improves the quality of life on Earth, helps us learn about our home planet, and expands US leadership in the peaceful, international exploration of space.

From a practical perspective we know that Mars is unique across the entire solar system in that it is a terrestrial planet with an atmosphere and climate, its geology is known to be very diverse and complex (like Earth), and it appears that the climate of Mars has changed over its history (like Earth).

Overall, many of the key questions in solar system science can be addressed effectively by exploring Mars. This endeavor also serves to inspire the next generation of explorers and dramatically expand human knowledge.

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No planet has captured the human imagination like the Red Planet. And not always in a good way. The first Invaders from Mars movie scared the crap out of me. And the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds scared the crap out of the whole country!


Well, I know a few people who definitely need a trip to Mars and must stay a while. A long while.
If we inhabit Mars, we will war against each other and destroy it like we destroy earth. Nothing will change.
The expense involved in developing Mars as another place for humans to live will bankrupt us, if trying to land human beings there doesn’t. Hundreds of trillions.
Let’s do the moon thing first. See how setting up camp there goes.

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I had people doing it in one of the science fiction novels I wrote – along with Titan, moon of Saturn. But the basic fact is that even our own moon is more hospitable, and satellites in space even more so. The moon is more hospitable because it is closer to the sun – and that means more energy. But the biggest problem with all of those options including the moon is insufficient gravity. We just don’t do that well in low gravity environments for very long. At least in space you can spin a structure to simulate gravity.

The really really fascinating thing about Titan is with its heavy atmosphere and low gravity, is we could fly like a bird with nothing but manufactured bird-like wings on Titan. But the problem is that it is just TOO COLD. Such a shame!

And what advantage is there on Mars really? Not enough sunlight, not enough atmosphere, not enough gravity. We could find water ice, but there are few places and times where water will be a liquid and only for a very short time during the day.

I frankly think there is actually more hope for Venus. Yeah, you heard me. In that fiery furnace? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But all it really needs is the same kind of transformation of its atmosphere that we have on earth from CO2 to O2, and it would start cooling down. Ok, it would take a LONG time, that is for sure. But it seems possible to me. And on Venus you would have plenty of energy, plenty atmosphere, and a decent amount of gravity.

Earth and Venus are twins in some ways, but things took a bad turn on Venus in its evolution. The surface of Venus is almost 900 degrees F and the atmosphere would, in the words of NASA, “crush you like a pancake.” NASA plans to send two robotic missions to Venus in the late 2020s; DAVINCI+ and VERITAS.

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Much as people like to cloak these goals in ecopiety and secular humanisn and such these days (see: Star Trek), in my mind it’s still driven by the hard edge of Enlightenment conquest and dominionism ala Francis Bacon. It’s a distillation of vanity.

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I think you might have too much atmosphere. 1350 psi vs ~15.

NASA seems to be arguing for scientific exploration. The Biologos article is asking about full-blown colonization.

But perhaps dealing with our problem on Earth will give us the tools to deal with Venus as well, with the added bonus of producing a lot of synthesized fossil fuels for export (for use in space?).

I am not just blowing wind here either, We are developing thermocatalytic converson of CO2 to fuel as a means of reducing factory emissions. That would would be ideal for converting the atmosphere of Venus.

(oops accidentally erased the original post.)

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Look at what I wrote:

“Additionally, exploring Mars provides the opportunity to possibly answer origin and evolution of life questions, and could someday be a destination for survival of humankind.”

If it happens it would be far in the future, of course.

I think it’s 100x the atmosphere which makes the problem of fixing it even worse :joy:

When I look at the small sample in our own solar system, and what we know of carbon-based life and the conditions necessary for it to evolve into higher life forms capable of advanced thinking, I can’t help but think that despite the alarmingly high number of planets in the known universe, rare earth might be on to something…

corrected that.

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Those are not serious reasons for one moment and never will be. We need to bring back deep, robot drilled ‘soil’ samples, especially from Olympus Mons, to test for extremophiles. I’d bet my house that there aren’t any. Never have been.

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True, NASA is more interested in the exploration option, and the national prestige it would bring. I do not engage with that in this article, as I try to discuss what the Mars Society wants to try; it is more a human endeavour than an Amercian one.


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