How Humans Will Colonize Mars (Much Sooner Than You Think)

Commentary, News

mars-colony

Chances are, humanity will screw things up here on Earth—big league. Even if we manage to settle our differences and use science and technology to fix our problems, some big space pebble will inevitably come along and thrust us into the great celestial mosh pit. That’s just the unfortunate way of the cosmos.

We’re going to need an insurance policy.

If humanity is going to survive in the long run, then we are going to have to spread our space wings and colonize other planets. The cool thing is that this isn’t just some high-minded sci-fi navel gazing; this is an existential problem for which scientists have spent decades preparing.

So, where to go? Well, Venus is the closest planet, but it’s a hotbox filled with battery acid for an atmosphere—kind of a non-starter. Mars, on the other hand isn’t unfathomably far away; it has workable (if not ideal) temperatures; and most importantly, a large reserve of water (and therefore oxygen and ingredients for rocket fuel). Sold!

While most people may be aware of space colonization from books (and movies) like The Martian, extraplanet colonization is a very real field currently being pursued by private and public initiatives. NASA has defined plans to land humans on the surface of Mars in the mid-2030s, while Elon Musk and SpaceXthink they’ll be able to do it themselves in the late 2020s—not that far away.

The short of the situation is this: most people reading this will be alive to see the first human beings set foot on the Red Planet. And that’s an amazing thing. So, what will these first space colonies look like?

Chances are, humanity will screw things up here on Earth—big league. Even if we manage to settle our differences and use science and technology to fix our problems, some big space pebble will inevitably come along and thrust us into the great celestial mosh pit. That’s just the unfortunate way of the cosmos.

We’re going to need an insurance policy.

If humanity is going to survive in the long run, then we are going to have to spread our space wings and colonize other planets. The cool thing is that this isn’t just some high-minded sci-fi navel gazing; this is an existential problem for which scientists have spent decades preparing.

So, where to go? Well, Venus is the closest planet, but it’s a hotbox filled with battery acid for an atmosphere—kind of a non-starter. Mars, on the other hand isn’t unfathomably far away; it has workable (if not ideal) temperatures; and most importantly, a large reserve of water (and therefore oxygen and ingredients for rocket fuel). Sold!

While most people may be aware of space colonization from books (and movies) like The Martian, extraplanet colonization is a very real field currently being pursued by private and public initiatives. NASA has defined plans to land humans on the surface of Mars in the mid-2030s, while Elon Musk and SpaceXthink they’ll be able to do it themselves in the late 2020s—not that far away.

The short of the situation is this: most people reading this will be alive to see the first human beings set foot on the Red Planet. And that’s an amazing thing. So, what will these first space colonies look like?

Read this article in its original format at PCMag.com


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