The Future of Mars? - History
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Early Exploration 9 A.V.-20 P.V. (1960-2015 A.D.)
The first exploration efforts with unmanned probes, sent by The United States and Russia, the then superpowers, started as early as 1960. But it would take untill 1974 for Viking I and II to make the first succesfull landings in Chryse and Utopia Planitia. After that, due to the high cost of space travel in those primitive days, and the lack of vision among those in power, not much happened till the late nineties. Another unmanned lander, Pathfinder, equipped with a rover, caused widespread enthusiasm in the summer of 1997. In the wake of this success, the Mars Society, founded in 1998, soon became a strong international pressure-group that raised massive support for the idea of opening the Martian Frontier. The development of cheaper launch systems around the turn of the century made the dream become a reality much sooner than many people had expected.
MacMars, the first manned expedition (2009-2012) was an initiative of the Mars Society in coorporation with the Space agencies of the US, Europe, Russia and Japan and, by necessity, heavily commercialized. A major American softdrink concern paid one billion dollar for the mere fact that captain Shear spoke their slogan as the Martian equivalent of Armstrongs “a small step for a man”. Nevertheless the expedition represented a major leap forward; the crew of eight stayed for over a year on the surface and gathered data that robotic missions wouldn’t have produced in decades.
After the first landing the advertisement value of the next expedition dramatically decreased. But by then the human exploration of Mars had gained it’s own momentum and commercial logic; the colonization of Mars was unstoppable.
In 2015 the third crew landed in the Noctis Labyrinthus area and this time, they came to stay. In three Marsyears time Noctis Base grew into a community of five hundred pioneers from two dozen different countries.
A hot item in those early days was the question: is there life on Mars, or, if not, has there been life in the past? The first two expeditions found undeniable evidence that exotic lifeforms existed four billion years ago, but that they simply couldn't have survived the change in climate.
This conclusion gave way to a new discussion: if life had been kicked out of Mars, shouldn't we bring some back? By pumping a relatively small amount of so-called super-greenhouse gasses into the thin atmosphere and the subsequent release of carbon dioxide from the regolith and the polar caps a runaway greenhouse effect could be created that would eventually lead to an atmosphere where at least plants could thrive.
At the Bangkok Conference, 140 countries, among them all space-faring nations of that era, agreed that terraforming Mars was desirable, that it should be carried out by all of humanity together and that it should, as much as possible, preserve the characteristics of Mars, rather than creating a second Earth. The United Nations Council for the Development of Mars (Unacodema) was installed as the official government for the new world.
The early settlers were higly motivated and well educated, willing to endure the harsh circumstances in the knowledge that they helped to build a new world. Solar radiation forced the colonists to spend most of their time in underground shelters and for every excursion on the surface they had to get into bulky suits and helmets for protection against the cold and the hostile atmosphere. A large percentage of the new Martians suffered, in rare cases even died, from dust disease.
The search for a cure against this plague during the twenties give Martian nanotechnology a headstart. Technological knowledge and products were exported to Earth and the young economy prospered.
The rise in temperature and the thickening of the CO2-atmosphere took place above all expectations. The installation in 2042 of Soline, the “second sun” (a giant space mirror) accelerated these effects even more.
By the end of the forties it was possible to walk around on the surface with just thick clothes and a CO2-mask. Green plants were already changing the looks of the red planet, starting the second phase of terraforming.
Their job, converting the carbon dioxide atmosphere into a more earth-like one, would have taken thousands of years, had they been on their own. Soon their task was largely taken over by nanosmarties from the laboratories of Sagan University, and the millennia shrunk to mere decades.
The introduction of new propulsion systems reduced the travel time between Earth and Mars to a matter of weeks, and made travel less dependent on the two-yearly launch window. From 2054 onward the space elevator at Stairwayfromheaven also radically reduced the cost of transportation between the two planets, making a one-way-trip to the promised land affordable for large numbers of earthlings.
An artificial third and fourth moon appeared in the Martian skies: Folegandros and Barbados, orbiting in weekly and monthly rythms. These enormous translucent spheres, filled with colored gasses in constantly changing patterns, became popular holiday destinations.
Crisis and Seperatism 50m-65m(2070-2100)
By the end of the sixties twenty million people lived on Mars, and thousands of new immigrants arrived each day, many of them refugees from wars and crises on Earth. Despite application of high-technology it became more and more difficult to provide all these newcomers with food, air, room to live, and meaningfull things to do. The end of the sixties saw a chain reaction of accidents, incidents, riots and unrest. Racial tension, virtually non-existent in the pioneer society, appeared on the stage.
In 2070 the Chinese government proclaimed sovereignity over the area between lattitudes -50 and -90 east, an area where most of the Chinese settlements were located. The united front against this unilateral act soon started to crack, as several of the world’s great powers saw their chance to get a piece of the cake. When in 2074 the United Nations world council recognized the Chinese claim, the five countries responsible for this decision, Japan, India, Brasil, the US and the EU, all claimed a portion of the greening planet. At the Nozomi conference, held the next year, the creation of six territories was legalized. Although these six area's together occupied only 35% of Mars’ land surface, they definitely included the most attractive areas, like Elysium and the emerging coastlines of Isidis, Hellas, Argyre and Viking Bay. Of the remaining 65%, still governed by the UN, in the next few years several regions and towns proclaimed themselves independent. Although these newly formed countries were not recognized by the interplanetary community not much was done against it.
After the native Martians recovered from the shock of seeing their Martian Dream being sold-out to nationalism, they started a counter-movement, OneMars, that soon received great response all over the UN-governed area and, to some extent, also in the six territories. The big breaktrough however came in the late eighties, when Sangeeta Bhattacharya joined the Indian Territories chapter of OneMars. This former photomodel and adult feelie star started a campaign for reunion of New India with the Unacodema-area. This goal was accomplished in 2092 after that Territories’ economy crashed and a referendum was held.
At the end of the 21st century there was not much left of the image of Mars as the promised land. The development of new technology that formerly pushed the Martian economy to unseen heights suffered from the unrest and division. The attention of the general public shifted to new destinations like the asteroid belt, Mercury and the Jovian system. OneMars managed to convince the UN world council that independance for the UN-governed area would be in the best interest of Earth and Mars.
As a result of the first elections Bhattacharya was elected the first president of the impoverished, incomplete Martian Union. She would stay in office until 2120. Her first concern was to negotiate the several city states that seceded after the Division back into the Union. When this policy appeared to be succesfull and both economy and Martian self-esteem started to florish again a popular movement in Elysium (the EU-territory) and New Nippon pushed for joining the Union, an event finally taking place in 2110.
While relations with Nova Brasil and the Americanadian Territories were generally very friendly, relations with the Chinese area became more and more troubled after 2110, when governor Shao Shan proclaimed the Territories independent from China. In the following years his regime started violating the rights of minorities and political opponents. In 2115 Shao Shan proclaimed himself "Emperor of Mars". The crisis was solved in 2117 when Shao Shan was arrested by nanocops and sentenced to fifty years of penal servitude on Deimos. From his prison he could look up to a world that in just a century had been transformed from a cold, dry and hostile sphere into a world bustling with life .
Nova Brasil joined the Union in 2019 and the Americanadians completed the process in 2032 when after 62 years Mars was reunified. By that time Mars was already taking over the lead in further development of the Solar System and in making the first hesitant steps towards the stars.
The first Martian flag, a red circle on a black background, was designed by Mark Knoke in the late twentieth century. Clearly inspired by the Japanese banner, it's obvious what it stands for: a red planet in the blackness of space. Throughout the twenty-first century the flag was used by the Mars Society, the colonists and Unacodema.
When Mars gained independence in 2100, the need was felt for a new flag that had more relation with the current state of the planet, on which the colors green and blue were establishing their position next to the original red. With the green of the vegetation more or less positioned inbetween the northern seas and the red south, one could argue that the planet designed it's own flag. A diagramatic representation of the four supervolcanoes and Valles Marineris was added.