THE FIRST HUMANS ON MARS
Sending humans to Mars to live would cost tremendous amounts of money and resources but the true cost would be the social and geopolitical issues. Would this burgeoning community of Martian pioneers get along or would such a community operating on such a hostile planet tear itself apart? More than any issue of science and technical know-how, the human character and spirit is ultimately what will make such a venture a success or a failure. The technology is possible, if very expensive, and much of it already exists. The will, maturity and character of the Human Being is another matter. Something else we need to consider is this: Should we go to Mars when we've made a mess of the only planet in the solar system that isn't hostile to carbon based life forms? The realistic answer today is no. But let us imagine a time when human societies put an end to corruption, greed and violence and seriously begin to think about reaching out to the stars.
Let's say that we can feasibly send humans to Mars within the next seventy-five to one hundred years. How would we get there and also make it possible for people to travel back and forth? Having two or three pre-fabricated space stations along the way would be an interesting idea. They could be built on earth and launched in space piece by piece. Then they could be stationed and put together on certain points along the way to Mars. By doing this our ship(s) of intrepid travelers going to colonize Mars could stop for rest, refuel or recharge and the ships wouldn't be taxed to the limit while in use. Perhaps the first station could be built on the moon. It would also be much easier to send probes from the third station to check on climate and weather patterns before the travelers reach the Martian surface so that proper preparations could be made for landing. Say there is a planet-wide dust storm (Mars often has windstorms or brown-outs that can last for months. Our travelers may not want to land under less than ideal circumstances like that because it could be very dangerous. Probes from the stations could be sent out to map out the best places on the planet for human living as well.
One major issue that needs to be addressed are solar storms. Solar storms don't cause too many serious problems on earth. Temporary interruptions of satellites and cellphone towers are usually what we experience here but on the way to Mars and on the planet itself, it's a another matter. Because the atmosphere on Mars is so thin there is no protection from the radiation that would result from these storms. It would prove fatal to humans on Mars within a matter of days. Powerful shields for spaceships and land-living quarters would have to be built to protect the settlers from this radiation. Self-contained biospheres with a climate and atmosphere like earth could be built to house these settlers much like the biospheres and bio-domes that we have on earth only much bigger and more efficient. Or an even better idea would be to build homes using the natural materials and resources on Mars. Martian sand and dirt could be used to create adobe-like homes or brick or concrete homes could be built. It would probably take many centuries before terra-forming would turn Mars into something like the verdant forests, jungles and plentiful waters covering Earth. Whether the vegetation and climate on the red planet would be as varied and spectacular as the forests and jungles of Earth is anyone's guess.
One of the most interesting things that come to mind is how humans genes or bodies might morph and change by living on such a planet. Because of its weak gravity and thin atmosphere, might they develop very long spindly limbs and very deep chests? These settlers might develop and evolve in such a way to look very different from their earth counterparts. They would still be humans but also Martians. Martians might look very different from Earthlings in a few generations. What social and political issues might develop from this? Interesting things to ponder. But that's imagination for you! Such a future would be fascinating and exciting, if only we could get our affairs here on the earth in order!