Looks like We’re Shifting from the American Dream to the Martian Dream, and Fittingly So!
Hello, Aluxers, and welcome back to a brand new article – today we’re discussing Mars Colonization. When the colony of Jamestown was founded in 1607 in Virginia, no one could fathom what America would one day become. The first settlers were primarily looking for freedom and opportunity in this new world. Now 300 years later, ambitious people have their sites on another new world that could open up new possibilities for humankind, but can Mars really be the new America?
If you’re one of the Aluxers who’d rather kick back and watch all of it in a video, here we go:
But if you’re in the reading mood, let’s skip straight to the article!
You’ve probably heard about a possible colony on Mars and think of it as something that could possibly happen in the distant future. But what if I told you that this could happen in your lifetime, and maybe even in the next 30 years? Could you imagine leaving everything behind and starting a new civilization from scratch 34 million miles away?
Mars is a relatively small planet that’s the fourth closest to the sun but still about 142 million miles away. Its surface area covers 55.9 million square miles, about 141 million less than planet Earth. It’s home to the tallest volcano in the entire solar system, Olympus Mons, which stands 16 miles tall—three times the height of Mount Everest.
There’s also a system of valleys that spans about the same land area covering the distance across the entire United States. Some of these valleys are five times deeper than the Grand Canyon. There are also impressive polar ice caps.
A number of crewless spacecraft have made the journey to Mars from the U.S., Europe, the Soviet Union, and India, and there are plans for more to be sent in the near future. Meanwhile, governments and private entities are making plans to take humans to Mars for the first time. And among these a few are even making plans to establish a colony on Mars. It sounds like something straight out of science fiction, but it’s getting closer to reality every day. But why would anyone want to start a new life tens of millions of miles away?
Resource: Fantasy Landscapes on Planet Earth
Why Go to Mars?
There are several reasons why scientists and others think it is important and even critical to explore the possibility of living on Mars. The number one reason is survival of the human race. This may sound extreme, but how many dinosaurs do you see roaming around today?
If humans on Earth ever faced a catastrophic event like the asteroid that likely took out almost all the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, every advancement ever made as well as the entire human race could be erased. Some also see creating a colony on Mars as the ultimate challenge that will test human knowledge, abilities, and resourcefulness. Also Earth is full of problems like war, hunger, disease, and poverty.
Colonizing Mars represents a fresh start and an opportunity to create a more ideal society. But why Mars and not the moon or someplace else in the solar system? Scientists have found that Mars has the raw materials necessary to support life, including carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and ice. Now the question is how to get people there.
Who Will Start the Colony?
One group that received a lot of attention for their plan to start a colony on Mars by 2030 was called Mars One, led by CEO Bas Lansdorp. This Dutch organization raised a considerable amount of money and was very vocal about its plans to establish a colony in 2030.
They even received applications from thousands of people who were interested in helping to establish that colony, even though Mars One was very clear about the risks involved. However, Mars One was criticized by scientists and engineers for its lack of attention to the logistics involved, and it was primarily characterized as a suicide mission by the scientific community. In 2019, Mars One went bankrupt, but there are others doing more serious work to prepare for life on Mars.
Probably the person who is most passionate about building a Mars colony is Elon Musk. This is one of his primary missions as the founder and CEO of SpaceX, which you can find out more about by watching our video of the 15 things you didn’t know about Elon Musk. He and his scientists have established an aggressive timeline that could see the development of a Mars colony by 2050. To that end, they are developing a special spacecraft called the Starship, which will be the first fully reusable rocket.
This rocket is already in the testing stages, and its first trip to Mars could happen as soon as 2022. This is when Musk plans to deliver supplies to put power, mining, and life support systems in place during an unmanned mission. The timing for this and other planned trips is based on when Earth and Mars are suitably aligned.
Next on the schedule is the first manned trip to Mars in 2024. The plan is for the crew to lay the groundwork for a viable colony. The following year he hopes to send another crew to really begin building a small town on the planet, which he hopes to grow into a fully functioning and inhabitable city by 2050. And what are the risks? Elon has said that “people will probably die … but ultimately it will be very safe to go to Mars, and it will be very comfortable.” He predicts that in the future, it could cost as little as 100,000 dollars to make the move to Mars.
Of course, Musk is not the only one working on this ambitious project. The United Arab Emirates has a goal of building a city for 600,000 people on Mars by the year 2117. They are already working on building a massive city in the desert that will serve as a prototype for the eventual colony. NASA has Mars on their radar as well but no definite timeline. Other countries, including Russia, China, and India, also have started exploring the concept of Mars colonization. But there are many things to consider before life on Mars is possible.
What Would Life Be like on Mars?
Perhaps the most important factor in the discussion about creating a colony on Mars is the fact that Mars is not actually habitable for humans—not without the proper infrastructure. Mars has only one-third of Earth’s gravitational force and a much thinner atmosphere.
This means you can jump three times as high, and you would only weigh a third of what you would weigh on Earth. The air is made up of 95 percent carbon dioxide, and there is no protection from harmful radiation coming from space. The temperature is not very inviting either with an average temp around negative 80 degrees Fahrenheit, although the temps can range from negative 195 degrees to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Those living on Mars would not be able to follow the same calendar as Earthlings. Days are closer to 25 hours than 24, and one year on Mars lasts 687 days since it takes longer to orbit the sun. The sunrise and sunsets would look very similar to how they appear on Earth, but it might be hard to see them through the natural red dust that comes from the rusting iron on its surface.
You would experience all four seasons, but they would be elongated due to the longer year. Power could be generated through solar panels, and there is also potential for wind-generated power. All of this is doable but at a great cost.
How Much Will It Cost?
Mars One initially said that it would cost about 6 billion dollars to bring the first four people to Mars, but pretty much nobody else in this particular space race agrees with that figure. Elon Musk estimates that with the current technology it would cost about 10 billion per person to get to Mars. His plan to lower these costs involves developing a reusable rocket that can transport up to 100 people at a time, bringing the cost down to a much more reasonable one to two hundred thousand dollars.
NASA and SpaceX have estimated that the first Mars mission around 2035 will have cost a total of 230 billion dollars, and the following trips would cost around 142 billion dollars each.
Of course, we’re talking just the amount it would cost to get to Mars in the first place, not the astronomical amount it would cost to build and sustain a viable human habitat on the red planet. There are high costs involved with continually extracting water, creating gases to make breathing possible, and building structures that could withstand the harsh environment.
Musk has admitted that he hasn’t put too much thought into the colonization part and the costs involved; he is mainly concerned with transportation for now. But over time these costs will easily reach into the billions and trillions. So now that we’ve covered all of this information on the plans to colonize Mars, let’s get to the question at hand.
Is Mars the New America?
For colonists leaving persecution and financial troubles in Europe, America represented a new beginning and endless potential. Society was undeveloped with no infrastructure, common laws, or a framework for co-existing. It was a clean slate that colonists built from the ground up, a new branch of humanity that eventually came together to develop the strongest nation in the world in terms of economics, political influence, and military power. But this didn’t happen overnight.
Industrious colonists and their descendants created thriving businesses, built cities and towns, explored everything America had to offer, and put everything they had into developing a successful nation. And people probably thought they were crazy for leaving their well-established cities in Europe to come to the great unknown and start completely over.
I think you see where I’m going with this. Mars parallels America as a new world in a number of ways. But it is different in that it is an even more extreme challenge, one that has never been faced by the human race. However, the potential upside to this enormous undertaking could one day be the difference between mass extinction and continuing advancement of humans.
Yes, we think it’s safe to say Mars is the new America. It’s a blank slate, full of possibilities, and a chance to start a new era of humanity. If the people who end up colonizing Mars are motivated and inspired, they have the possibility of creating a unique civilization that could one day dominate its earthly counterparts. But to achieve this, the Martians will need to be brave, innovative, determined, creative, and smart. And it could happen much sooner than you would imagine.
Now that we’re wrapping up this story, we think you already know what we’re going to ask, but we’re going to ask it anyway: Could you ever see yourself giving up everything and moving to Mars? Let us know what you think in the comments.