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Establishing a human colony on planet Mars Establishing a human colony on planet Mars
by Joseph Gatt
2021-04-11 09:50:00
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Earth is mostly oxygen and hydrogen when Mars is mostly Carbon Dioxide. So, if you were to settle on Mars, that would be the equivalent of trying to breathe in a smoke-filled room. Not the cigarette-smoke filled room, but a room where it's all smoke and no oxygen. You couldn't breathe.

To set up a colony on Mars, we would have to find a way to create an “oxygen and hydrogen” space on a planet where the air is 95% carbon dioxide.

How do you do that? Well there are science fiction novels and movies like Total Recall where the idea is to sett up a very large walled space on Mars, a thick wall where the carbon dioxide can't filter in, and where the oxygen and hydrogen molecules keep reproducing, while absorbing the carbon dioxide that we humans exhale.

mar0001_400_01That would be a monumental project in engineering terms. First you would have to set up the walls. Then you would have to set up the artificial ventilation system. Then you would have to dig the ground and flatten it out. But you would first have to do a geological survey to see how to dig the ground so it can become flat.

Then you would have the oxygen system circulate long enough for hydrogen and oxygen molecules to form water streams. Then the water streams will be used for drinking and agricultural purposes.

More importantly, if there's an earthquake or an explosion and that the wall cracks, everyone inside is going to suffocate and die. The mass of carbon dioxide will be too powerful for the oxygen molecules to resist.

Other big problem is transportation. If you completely seal off the oxygen tank with thick walls, how do you get in to start with. Some have imagined a tunnel that throws out the carbon dioxide while keeping pushing in the oxygen, so the two gases don't mix.

So that's the engineering aspect of the whole thing. Then there's the question: why form a human colony on Mars?

Practically speaking, there are two ways which I would recommend. I'd recommend that a century from now, if the engineering miracle works, and after testing mice and dogs to see how they survive, I'd suggest deporting hardened criminals on Mars. So the pioneers are going to be all the murderers and rapists, and we'll see how they survive and thrive there. That way, if there's an accident or something, that's their way of getting the death penalty.

Then, if the prisoners' community thrives, that's when you could start a tourism colony circa 200 years from now. That is, hardened criminals will have thrived for a century (and that's their story of redemption) and now you can have tourists exploring what the Red Planet looks like.

Then eventually, businesses will start catering to tourists, businessmen will settle, and Mars will become something of a tourism destination with a few residing human beings.

Then, perhaps eventually Mars can become a full-fledged nation with its own government and army. And that's when, perhaps one day, Mars will fight a war against our planet. But that's in the very distant future, and for that to happen, Mars would need a population size comparable to that of planet Earth.

Just an example of when real science meets science fiction. More on Mars and other planets in future papers!

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