Thursday, April 7, 2016

Colonization of Mars

Many people strongly believe that the world is coming to an end. So, where will we move? What is to happen to the future of humanity? The answer: colonization of Mars.

This would not be Sci-Fy story. Scientists actually believe this is possible, Since Mars is the most similar planet to Earth, with the a dry solid surface and presence of sub-surface water. The temperature and atmosphere can be made similar to Earth’s after terraforming. Mars also contains material that can act like soil when combined with sufficient bacteria and water, which is necessary for long-term habituation. The day/night timing will also be similar to Earth’s. One day, or “sol” on Mars is 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35 seconds.

But what is really the problem is the cost of transporting civilization to Mars. Costs have been the bane of human existence. Is it worth it? Can we afford it? Terraforming an entire planet would be a very expensive feat. Mars’ surface area is 28.4% of the Earth’s, but would still cost around 3-4 trillion dollars to terraform it. Converting a red planet (a dead planet) to a blue planet (a planet with an acceptable atmosphere and temperature) would take between 100 and 200 years to complete. The five most important aspects brought up are the surface temperature rising, atmospheric pressure increasing, chemical composition changing, making the surface wet, and reducing surface flux of UV radiation. Then, it will take another 100 years for Mars to reach the green planet status, when one will be able to grow and host microbes and algae. The history of Mars permits terraforming to actually work, and become similar to Earth, but there are many ethical arguments involved when talking about terraforming and reshaping an environment, which I will discuss in a latter blog post.

The next major cost in colonizing Mars is that of transportation. Transporting a family of four would take $30 billion, food and water would take $52 million, and shelter would cost $150 million. And that’s only for a family of four. Of course, more people can fit in a spaceship than four people so the cost of travelling will not be this much for the entire population, but this gives us a general idea on how much it will be. Of course, not every family is able to afford a trip to Mars, and even bringing one million people to Mars would still be very expensive.

The next step for colonization is the actual colonization. This involves building cities on Mars using 3D printed houses. Gravity on Mars is much lighter than Earth, around 30% of Earth’s gravitational strength, so the architecture and machinery will be very different. The 3D printed cities will cost around 1.5 trillion dollars and will take 70 years to transport and complete. The amount of money going into this is obviously an abnormal amount, but given that this could ensure the future of humanity, money should not be an issue.


- Ata Numanbayraktaroglu