Debate:Colonization of Mars

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For years I've been fascinated about the possible Colonization of Mars, and I dream that one day, it won't just be science fiction, but science fact.

But dreams are not reality. In reality, there are still many problems and questions about this very long term subject. Here are some of the questions which I wish to discuss:

  • Is this possible within the 21st century?
  • Is this scientifically possible at all to terraform the planet?
    • How should the planet be terraformed (assuming we should), and how long would it take?
  • Politics: Suppose that its the year 2110 and global warming and World War III has had an impact on our resources. Should we ship off people to Mars in order to reduce overpopulation?

--Onion Hi! :) 02:38, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

1. Probably. Think about how quickly technology becomes more sophisticated; by the end of the century it will definitely be technologically possible. However, that doesn't mean that we'll have the resources or resolve.
2. Not sure, but probably because of the same factors that I just discussed.
  • Don't know. How could we? The technology hasn't been invented yet. But I will say this: planets are big. Keep that in mind when estimating a time scale.
3. Yes. Or, better yet, use its resources/land to support Earth's population. That would probably be easier. But, in the end, we have have to just sort things out on old Earth itself because of the absurd cost of space travel. Tetronian you're clueless 03:52, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

There are a few problems with that. Let's see where should I start...

  • Space travel is expensive - not only monetary expensive, but energy expensive. So far all means for reaching low Earth orbit (LEO, "the first step to anywhere") require large quantities of hydrocarbons (the hydrogen for LH/LOX engines is a by-product of oil production; getting it by electrolysing water is expensive). As you are talking about an apocalyptic feature, peak oil will probably be a fact by then. Unless someone manages to build a space elevator, the only other viable option are some kind of nuclear engines that use water as reaction mass. One or two launches per year may be bearable, but for a mass migration... things should be really bad on Earth for people to put up with the fallout.
  • According to Wikipedia, population growth rate is projected to fall down to "41 million per annum in 2050", which means that you not only need to ship at least that number of people per year, but also make sure that the destination can sustain them. If the growth rate ever falls down to something that can actually be launched into space, then the population problems would have been fixed and the solution would be moot.
  • You'll be shipping people from a warm planet with a (somewhat) functioning biosphere, a huge hydrosphere and a thick atmosphere shielding them from all kinds of nasty space shit (from meteors to space rays and solar radiation) to a cold, dry place that is more dead than any desert on Earth and has almost no atmosphere to speak of, nor a magnetic field. Have you seen how the sun looks like on Mars?

As Tetronian said, if you have the resources and know-how to do that, you have the resources and know-how to fix your problems on Earth. It is the first planet that we need to terraform - that is, to keep in habitable condition.

In the next two centuries, I see three potential driving forces for space colonization (as opposed to exploration) - tourism, political separatism and resource exploitation (e.g. mining the Moon or asteroids, though its unclear exactly for what). There have been some pretty convoluted proposals to make the third option profitable, but the return of investment is suspect, at least at the current level of technology (and abundance of resources on Earth).

Anyway, all of this is wankery, unless we start talking numbers and concrete technologies/paths. Nevertheless, if you enjoy this kind of thing, you can have a look at the Bad Astronomy and Universe Today forum - lots of space technology experts there, real and armchair.--ZooGuard (talk) 05:48, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

  • 21st Century: Isolated arcologies? Yes. Full-blown colonisation? Nah.
  • Is it possible?: Yeah, but we'll have to be super-advanced to do it. Like
    • It'd take things like dropping comets to import water, and building massive facilities to pump out greenhouse gases to warm up the planet. It would also likely take centuries. I read this really good NG Magazine article on it a few years back.
  • Given that colonisation would take place centuries from now anyways, it would not be an immediate solution.

My take is that if we want to colonise Mars and the Solar System in general, we first oughta build a functioning moonbase to stage our missions from. After all, lunar gravity is 1/6 that of Earth's, and He-3 is abundant for fuel. 107Ag47 01:19, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

The big advantage to terraforming Mars is that it gives us a risk free way to practice terraforming Earth. Also it would nearly double the land mankind has to work with, and more people means more minds to work on problems. Most importantly, it gives mankind a backup. I doubt we'll ever be able to move millions to Mars, but who knows what we'll be able to do in a century.--TripleO (talk) 20:31, 20 October 2015 (UTC)