The planet Mars, also known as “The Red Planet” has been the subject of many scientific studies about possible human settlement or colonization.
The planet has been said to have surface conditions that makes it one of the most hospitable planet in the solar system apart from Earth. Recent studies have shown that there have been past presence of water on the planet. One of the oldest science fiction themes is the permanent colonization of other planets like Mars. It is also said that it is easier to travel to mars from earth as a result of the fact that Mars requires less energy per unit mass to get to from Earth than any of the other planet in the solar system apart from Venus. And with the rapid evolution of technology, the theory that humans might not be safe on Earth in the future has been gaining more traction. These debates have also been in the favour of Space travel development to aid in the settlement or colonization of Mars.
A lot of public and private organizations has shown interest in researches to establish the importance of permanent colonization of Mars and the long term habitation of human on the planet Mars.
The organizations that have shown interest in Mars colonization include public organization such as Roscosmos, The China National Space Administration and NASA and Private organizations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Space X.
The colonization of Mars will require the development of permanent habitats that are capable of being expanded and self sustaining. There have been two great proposals about what the permanent habitats on the planet should look like, these proposal are the Semi Direct and the Mars Direct concept that was developed by Robert Zubrin.
Space X announced in 2018 that it will be funding and designing a series of cargo flights that are going to Mars with the BFR rocket and spaceship system as early as the next five years. The company also announced that it will be taking the first crewed flight to Mars on the upcoming launch window in the year 2024. The first stage of this project has the objective of launching many BFRs to transport and gather a methane or oxygen propellant plant and to develop a base to aid in the preparation for an expanded surface presence to house the first set of permanent habitats in Mars.
Vision of a Mars settlement
The second phase is said to occur after a successful colonization of Mars that would eventually involve many more economic factors like companies, individuals and governments to aid the growth and development of human habitation on Mars over the coming decades.
Could the colonization of Mars be a potential way to make profit?
This is one of the most popular questions asked when it come to the colonization of the Red Planet. The commercial value of the colonization of Mars was established in the eight page section known as “Interplanetary Commerce” in the book known as “The Case for Mars” that was written by Robert Zubrin. There are a lot of papers that have established the commercial value of the colonization of the Red Planet.
The Famous industrialist known as Elon Musk also said that there is only one way to commercialize the colonization of mars and that is through the process of licensing of intellectual property (inventions and other kinds of intellectual creations). Elon Musk’s theory is said to be based to the idea of Robert Zubrin that suggested that the colonization of Mars could be a huge commercial success with the selling of the metal known as Deuterium that is commonly found on the Red Planet.
And with the presence of low atmospheric pressure, dry ice and cosmic radiation, living in the Red Planet will be very different from living in earth is certain respects. There is possibility that the presence of ordinary Earth life on Mars like fruits, decorative flowers and vegetable would be a great way to use the planet as a garden planet to export food to orbit and other space colonies.
It has also been said that it is possible that the products of past life on Mars (since all of that has been confirmed to have been destroyed by cosmic radiation) could serve as useful materials to humans. For instance the deposits of past life below the surface of Earth has been said to be responsible for the presence of our oil and oil shale deposits.
And with the presence of low atmospheric pressure, dry ice and cosmic radiation, living in the Red Planet will be very different from living in earth is certain respects. One of the things that will be different is the fact that the salt deposits on earth are mostly made up of sulfates and perchlorates unlike the chlorides that dominate the salt deposits on Earth. Most of these Sulfates might not be useful yet but there is possibility that there are more valuable deposits on the Red Planet that are not present or are rare on Earth. For instance, there might be unique rare gemstones in the deposits on the planet.
Some year back, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovered evidence of huge deposits of Opals (hydrated silica) on the Red Planet. And although most of these opals probably will not be gemstones but deposits of silica that have been modified by water, there is possibility that there are more valuable deposits on the Red Planet that are not present or are rare on Earth. For instance, there might be unique rare gemstones in the deposits on the planet.
The colonization of Mars might also play a very important role in the discovery of ores and other exports to the solar system once the settlers have successfully colonized the Planet.
There are other things that the settlers in Mars will have to do such as becoming self sufficient because once they land on the Red Planet, they will need water, food, power and air to ensure their survival. For some period of time these supplies can be brought from Earth but once the supply start depleting, they will have to start producing their own supplies. The other essential things that the settlers on Mars will have to do once they land on Mars include forming a government, expanding and establishing a culture.