Hello, space entrepreneurs! You want to live on Mars? Here is a manual at your disposal of how to live as a king on Mars!
- First of all, you need a reason why you are staying on Mars!
Mars is a desolate place, cold and dry, windswept and not quite hospitable for humans at the moment. So, why would you want to go live there? You are maybe a fame addict and you want to be remembered as the first person to set a foot on Mars. Everybody remembers Neil Armstrong – the first human to make a step on the moon on July 20, 1969. … Or you are maybe a suicide junkie? You want to be remembered as the first person to die on Mars. Or a scientist who likes adventures and wants to do a great research on Mars and add into Humanity’s future on another extra-terrestrial world … or maybe you want to be a famous movie star?! Like Darth Vader, for example. And you want to build a big nuclear rail-gun on Mars, point to Earth and show to all the people here who is the boss?
Whatever your reasons, you need to first go to Mars. If you need tips on how to do that, read here.
In case, you are already capable of transporting yourself to Mars, here are several tips that will make your life easier once you stepped on the red planet.
2. You need a place to stay – Mars has about 1% of Earth’s atmosphere. In case you grew up on another world and that doesn’t bother you, skip to 3. But if you grew up on Earth, that might create the slightest discomfort to you. 1% of Earth’s atmosphere essentially means that you are almost in the vacuum of space! You will need to bring a nice sturdy container with you, pressures it to 1 bar (= 1 Earth atmosphere), and hide your ass inside. By the way, this will be your home on Mars, so make it as big as you can.
3. You need air – Once settled with 2., you are probably also planning to breathe on Mars. Not only Mars’s atmosphere is 1% of Earth’s, but it’s also carbon dioxide (CO2) – poison to human lungs! Taking big gulps of air is not going to work out! You need to fill that big sturdy container, you live in, with air that you can breathe. You are in luck here! Carbon dioxide has plenty of oxygen that you can separate and breathe. Of course, air in your lungs doesn’t consist of only oxygen, but also nitrogen and other gases. So, the best option you’ve got is to buy complex mechanical oxygenators from your local supplier. If you like gardening, you will be delighted to know that you can also grow some plants on Mars that can produce the oxygen that you need.
4. Source of Energy – OK, you have a home and you can breathe. You are good to go, right? No! Remember that Mars is a cold and desolate place. Whatever you do, you will need a constant source of energy that will keep your lair warm. No, you can’t walk away with using your grandma’s sweater and blankets to cover your torso or to light up a fire in the middle of your hab! (highly unrecommended!!) Mars’s average daily temperature ranges from +20 degrees (during the day) to -100 degrees Celsius (during the night) in the summer if you are on the equator. You can get away with lighter clothes on the outside on +20 degrees (you can do that only once, try it and see for yourself), but for a more permanent solution, you need continuous energy supply to keep you, your precious oxygenators, life support systems and everything else in good shape.
5. Radiation Shielding – Earth’s conductive and convective interiors, liquid iron core in the center, plate tectonics on the surface and volcanoes spread around the surface, are all parts of a big system that creates a magnetic field around Earth. It is not very powerful, but it is spread over a vast distance and serves beautifully to protect everything alive on Earth. Mars has none of that! The surface of Mars is a subject to the deadly solar radiation coming from the sun and the cosmic radiation coming from everywhere in space. Oh, you didn’t know that? You have two choices now! Option 1 – die slowly from cancer on the Martian surface! Option 2 (and I have warn you, this one is only for the ones that are not fans of cancer) – build yourself a radiation shielding! How? Option 1 … Go back and put all the water, plastic materials, food and everything else that you have on the walls inside your home-sturdy container. That will protect you! Option 2 – dig a big hole in the ground and build your home underground. Cosmic rays and sun radiation won’t reach you that much if you are more than 3 meters under the Martian surface.
6. Food – OK, so you are in your warm, cosy nerd lair/den, you breathe, you are not cold. Looks like you are starting to live in luxury here! Well, almost… You will need to eat something from time to time. Just eat Martians! … You can’t find any? OK, alright, I admit, food is the one thing you can’t find in abundance on Mars. You need to bring some of it with you from Earth for starters, but as a more permanent solution, you need to build yourself a greenhouse. You are in luck here, because the Martian day is 24 hours and 39 minutes – almost the same as what you have on Earth (and with what plants are used to). Sunlight, although sufficiently less than on Earth, is still enough to feed plants. The gravity on the Martian surface is 38% of that on Earth, so you and your plants have to get used to it, but it’s not that bad, compared to weightlessness. So, you have two options again. Option 1 – grow your plants outside on the freezing, near-vacuum Martian ground (you can try this only once!). Option 2 – you can build a roomy pressurized container on the surface (don’t build it underground where is your den, because light cannot reach it) where you can look after the plants. It has to be very spacious, though! Imagine how much food you eat per year and calculate how much space you need. Just a hint – potatoes are the best yield per land area.
7. Water – You just need one more little thing to settle and you are almost set to start living like a king on Mars. You need to drink water! Again, Mars provides! It is full of water and it has always been. In the early Martian history (that’s 4 billion years ago in the so called Martian Noachian age), Mars had a flowing water on its surface, possibly rains also. The Curiosity rover, that we have roving on Mars these days, even found out that Mars had a hospitable environment and drinkable water on its surface once. Unfortunately, all of that went to waste! You missed that opportunity and today Mars has water only in the form of underground ice and in the form of an ice cap on its North Pole. However, you don’t want to go on the North Pole, because it’s cold there! (even colder than what we discussed earlier) Water ice ranges from 2 to 32 liters per cubic meter just under the Martian surface. All you need to do is scoop it up, heat it and strain the water out. Once you have some amount of water at your disposal, you can distil it and reuse it over and over again. Astronauts on the ISS reuse and drink even their urine!
If you scoop large amounts of water, you might even be able to take a shower on Mars – how cool would that be!
Look at how astronauts live on the International Space Station, orbiting Earth some 420 km above, here.
So, all things set, you are living on Mars. You lived up to your dream! You are living luxuriously on Mars! You look through your telescope back to Earth and smile at all the losers that enjoy their outdoors hikes in the nature and swim in mountain lakes, etc. You have Mars all for yourself! Now, if you want to add up a couple more meat-dishes, you can build a Mars-o-mobil and travel around, admire the beautiful scenery of … rocks. You can also connect to the internet and check your Facebook! If that doesn’t work, you can create your own internet. As time passes by, you will create your own society of Martians and you may even terraform the planet so it becomes more Earth-like and maybe one day you will take off the astronaut suit off and breathe fresh air on Mars.
Until then, have a nice life!
I will join you one day, but today I am going out to take a walk and breathe some fresh air here on Earth…
by Tihomir Dimitrov
The Human Adventures in Space Exploration – 05.2014
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