Everything about Mars is calling us. It seems almost tailor-made for our needs as a second home for mankind. It is near to the Earth, has an atmosphere, water, and many features found on Earth, has a similar gravity to that of Earth, and was, for all practical purposes, exactly like the Earth at one time. There are many reasons why we should colonize Mars, but perhaps the most important is that, by doing so, we can better understand ourselves and that endless call into the unknown--into our future.
To expand our presence throughout the solar system, mankind must be willing to take risks. We must live on Mars to attempt to understand life and nature, to develop new technologies and economic and governing systems, and to propel the human race into a golden age of perpetual learning and advancement.
However, there is a first step that must be taken. Before we can even begin to colonize Mars, we must find the funds to do it. Looking beyond the once-golden age of government space programs, the public sector must begin a fundraiser on a scale the world has never known. We will have to raise money through many unique ways like giving away promotional items or offering free trips to Mars for a small membership fee in a public space program, and also by selling resources, land, and advertising on Mars. Most importantly, we must make the colonization of Mars as realistic as possible by inviting people to connect on a personal level to the massive group project. People will not want to colonize Mars if some practicality cannot be demonstrated.
Once some sort of space program is developed and some basic plans are laid out, those plans must be analyzed, amended, and perfected by the scientific community. Once this great, all-inclusive plan is finalized, investors and partner-companies will be willing to perform the necessary research and experiments to fill in the gaps in our collective knowledge about Mars and space colonization, which, actually, isn't much.
But no matter how great any plan might be, we will not colonize Mars until the Earth's people are energized. Let's make Mars a priority in the popular media, and in the dreams of all those who look to the stars.
While the crafts speedily traveling to Mars are utilizing the best possible rocket technology and following the proper trajectory, taking care of the people who travel to Mars must be the number one priority. Great care will be made to ensure that travelers to Mars are safe from harmful radiation, have highly-advanced life support systems in working order... and have plenty of food to eat.
To prepare crews for spending so much time away from their families, their friends, and their way of life, thousands of miles from home, measures will have to be taken so that all people traveling to Mars feel as comfortable as if they were back on Earth.
The first settlement of Mars will probably not be a colony. The infrastructure required to build and sustain a fully functional colony will simply not be available. However, this Alpha Colony will demonstrate the feasability of living on Mars, while conducting many important scientific experiments in the fields of agriculture, life-support, and construction. We can utilize the existing materials on Mars to create most of the building materials we might need. Even the Martian soil itself could be used for rocket fuel. Alpha Colony will develop many strategies for making long-term colonization a reality.
Colonizing Mars, building underground cities and above-ground cities, developing advanced transportation methods to reach resources and other settlements, locating and using available resources in a safe and reliable way, and doing all of the construction in an alien environment will be difficult at best.
The surface cities of Mars will be enormously complex. They must have multiple backup safety measures built into every building and every wall to ensure protection from the harsh Martian air. They must be fully heated and temperature controlled, shielded from radiation, supplied with the proper mixture of gases at all times, safely powered, and reliably fed. Domed cities may be a thing of science fiction, but their ability to offer an outer layer of protection while providing the illusion of being outdoors may make them very popular.
We will have to come up with some clever alternatives to traditional energy sources on Mars, perhaps using new methods of capturing the energy of the sun. Forms of transportation by air, land, (and eventually sea) will each have to be able to move people safely and reliably at speeds much greater than here on Earth. A train should be able to travel from one city to another in a short amount of time, thereby reducing the apparent distance between settlements. If distances appear great, colonists will feel confined and imprisoned.
Once a steady influx of people begin arriving on Mars, filling its new cities and bursting the seams of its limited transportation and resource infrastructure, there will inevitably be a call for terraforming. Terraforming is the transformation of a planet without life into one that can sustain plants and animals on its surface; in other words, we'd be creating another Earth out of Mars. Algae, insects, plants, animals, and finally people could roam free on the surface, safe from radiation and cold under a thick new atmosphere.
So how will we do it? Heating the global temperature a few degrees, through a combination of biologically engineered greenhouse-gas-emitting lichen and black dust sprinkled on the polar caps, carbon dioxide frozen underground and at the poles will sublime, pumping tonnes of CO2 into atmosphere. While we're soaking in greenhouse gasses, the temperature will rise enough to melt all of the frozen water on the planet, and there is quite a bit. By the time the atmosphere can sustain a meteorological system, bio-engineered plants will already blanket the surface, nursed by bio-engineered insects and small bio-engineered animals. From there it's only a matter of time until full-grown animals (including mammals) would be able to survive on the drastically changed landscape of Mars. Unfortunately, no one is quite sure how to "create" an ecosystem, but in our invention process we will learn more about life than biologists could ever dream. It's a big deal.
Terraforming Mars will be such a big deal, in fact, that some have proposed that it, alone, will be responsible for a fully independent Martian economy. There are so many advantages to terraforming Mars that we would be remiss to try to name them all here. But complaints have already been raised as to the ethical dimension of changing the face of an entire planet to meet the needs of our species. And are we ready to take Mars for ourselves? Still, others dream of one pushing humanity forward to the day when we can enjoy the geography, culture, and people of two worlds.
In the 1960s, we were captivated. Every child born in that decade wanted to be an astronaut. Every old-timer thought peculiarly back to the invention of the automobile and the airplane, immensely proud of what a mere sixty years could produce. Every dreamer who watched the moon landing thought to himself, "Imagine what we can do next." And imagine what we could have done next, if the public had stayed interested.
Mars is this generation's moon. Mars represents the next level of great human achievement; it will be difficult. Putting a man on Mars is one thing, but we'll go further than that. Imagine a continuous colony on the planet, manned by scientists and geologists, explorers of another world. Imagine an influx of colonists from Earth, creating businesses and cities and a new culture. Imagine what we can learn... imagine what we can accomplish. It is not a matter of how, but when.
And when we have begun colonization, we will undertake the epitome of human potential, of human necessity and of human imagination: terraforming. We will spread Earth’s life and our human influence throughout the universe. It may happen in our lifetime, and it may not, but it starts today. Red Colony is writing the books that will one day guide today’s dreamer to another world. And when that man steps out onto the Martian soil and stares up at the red sky, tomorrow’s dreamer will think to himself, “Imagine what we can do next.”
Colonizing and terraforming Mars will be the greatest challenge mankind has ever faced. But by even embarking on such a monumental task, we will have begun to fulfill our duty to ourselves, to our children, and to those before us who strove to improve the lives of all people.
Get out there and spread the word: the colonization of Mars begins today.