Is living on Mars actually possible?

Catastrophe

"There never was a good war, or a bad peace."
Messiah, there are two possibilities.
1. Colonisation. It will eventually be possible to have a colony on Mars, but it will still depend on Earth. It is unlikely to be self sufficient. Eventually those living there would acclimatise to the low gravity, and probably be unable to return to Earth, except maybe for short vacations.
2. Terraforming. This will never happen. The atmosphere would leak away faster than it could be supplied.

Cat :)
 
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Catastrophe

"There never was a good war, or a bad peace."
Is living on Mars actually possible?
Will, we ever be able to able functionally live on Mars? It's a simple question with so many complex answers to match.

That was the question. Does anyone disagree with - limited colonisation possible - terraforming, forget it?

Cat :)
 
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Jul 13, 2022
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No.

It's not gonna be possible for another 20+ years. We don't have that much energy and the technology currently, even earthings' energy demand is increasing every year.

If you fancy elon musk kinda ideas then please don't, elon musk is more of a comedian than an actual thinker, since he's not gonna board the manned spaceship to mars, he doesn't worry sending anyone to mars to be called tony stark of the real world.

It doesn't work like that, it's been impossible for us to settle people on Antarctica, for similar reasons most of Greenland is uninhabited and so are various places on earth that resemble harsh conditions of other planets.

Mars is way too harsh than any place on earth, even way harsher than the Sahara desert.
 
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That was the question. Does anyone disagree with - limited colonisation possible - terraforming, forget it?
I would say that terraforming will be no small challenge.

A study was done to simulate Martian soil/sunlight conditions to see what might work. Tomatoes seemed to work pretty well.

Recently it was discovered that cosmic rays have sterilized the surface more than scientists thought. Digging deeper is likely the new requirement to find any organic evidence. Perhaps a meter or so deep, there will be some nutrients to augment what we would need to take to Mars. It's still an open question, IMO.
 

Catastrophe

"There never was a good war, or a bad peace."
Sorry, Helio, I just have this image of a couple of men with buckets and spades digging over the surface of Mars to a depth of a metre or so . . . . . . of course, they would need spacesuits. ;)

Cat :) :) :)

Mars
Surface AreaMetric: 144,371,391 km^2 English: 55,742,106 square miles Scientific Notation: 1.4437 x 108 km^2 By Comparison: 0.283 x Earth
 
Jul 13, 2022
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Sorry, Helio, I just have this image of a couple of men with buckets and spades digging over the surface of Mars to a depth of a metre or so . . . . . . of course, they would need spacesuits. ;)

Cat :) :) :)

Mars
Surface AreaMetric: 144,371,391 km^2 English: 55,742,106 square miles Scientific Notation: 1.4437 x 108 km^2 By Comparison: 0.283 x Earth
Just the men? I've a pic wherein men can be seen driving teslas on Mars.
 

Catastrophe

"There never was a good war, or a bad peace."
Will, we ever be able to able functionally live on Mars? It's a simple question with so many complex answers to match.
asks OP in #1.

What does he mean by functionally? Is that functioning, as on Earth? A lot depends on the meaning of this question. Does OP mean without spacesuits?

Cat :)
 
Nov 19, 2021
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An atmospere on Mars could be preserved by putting up a large magnet between it and the Sun to divert the oncoming solar wind and prevent it from stripping the atmosphere. Unfortunately even if all the water ice and dry ice on Mars were evaporated it would raise the atmosperic pressure to only 7% of Earth's from the current 1%. To that we would have to add twice that amount of oxygen.

The highest altitude a human can survive long term is 18,000 feet. There, the partial pressure of oxygen is but 10% of sea level atmospheric pressure. If an atmosphere on Mars had 21% of Earth's atmosperic pressure and was half oxygen, its O2 partial pressure would be about 10% of sea level pressure on Earth, right at the limit for humans.
 

Catastrophe

"There never was a good war, or a bad peace."
Bill, are you suggesting that terraforming might be a practicable possibility, now or in the next thousand years (if ever)? That includes the practicability of every step in the process being viable. Example
An atmospere on Mars could be preserved by putting up a large magnet between it and the Sun
Cat :)
 
Nov 19, 2021
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No, I am not suggesting terraforming would be practical. Yes, the magnet idea would work, but there is no practical way to get that much oxygen. Perhaps one could go to the Oort cloud, get a bunch of comets, crash them into Mars, electrolyze out the oxygen, send the hydrogen into space. Again, not very practical.
 
I don't see any likelihood for Mars' whole surface to ever be transformed into a shirtsleeve environment where people could live outside without protective clothing and equipment to provide breathable atmosphere, thermal insulation, and protection from solar radiation.

However, I do not see any reason that suitable contained habitats could not be created on Mars that would allow "farming" of food with the available solar light, using and recycling water obtained from Mars and soil obtained from Mars, with recycled biowaste becoming nutrients for the farming. The human living quarters might well be underground to provide radiation shielding most of the time, with limited time spent on the surface (under a pressurized dome) to tend to the farming chores. Limited walks outside the habitat(s) could be performed in suitable space suits.

It would not be a vacation resort type existence. It would probably have substantial psychological effects on members of our species that was evolved to roam freely in open spaces with wide views. A feeling of confinement is a real psychological issue. From my own experience: when interviewing applicants for a job in Maryland, United States, one person who lived in Hawaii applied and I asked him why he would choose to live in Maryland when he was living in the "paradise" of Hawaii. His response was that being limited to an island, no matter how nice, bothered him and made him feel limited and bored. I am not sure I would agree with his issues if I lived there, and have never had the opportunity to find out. However, I can understand how that feeling could become very intense for someone living on Mars in an artificial habitat, especially if that was clearly going to be the situation for their entire lifetimes. And, even if the first colonists were preselected to be psychologically adaptable to the Mars colony situation, if there were following generations born and raised there, I suspect there would be some members of future generations who simply could not psychologically contend with that environment, especially if they were able to see videos of life on Earth that show existence here at least as vibrant as it is today.

So, I suspect that an isolated colony on Mars would become psychologically unstable unless there was some sort of escape to Earth for those who found they could not stand it there on Mars. Even the Amish communities here on Earth have a process that provides for members reaching adulthood to experience life beyond the limits of the Amish community and then make their own individual choices about whether to stay or leave. Unsatisfied people who cannot leave a situation create social instability.
 
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Nov 24, 2022
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My only reservation about living on Mars is the 'dream' of living on domed cities as per sci fi. One small asteroid/meteor and you have no city. And, because of the thin air, these objects will arrive, at speed, on the ground. That's my layman's hypothesis.
 
Nov 24, 2022
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No.

It's not gonna be possible for another 20+ years. We don't have that much energy and the technology currently, even earthings' energy demand is increasing every year.

If you fancy elon musk kinda ideas then please don't, elon musk is more of a comedian than an actual thinker, since he's not gonna board the manned spaceship to mars, he doesn't worry sending anyone to mars to be called tony stark of the real world.

It doesn't work like that, it's been impossible for us to settle people on Antarctica, for similar reasons most of Greenland is uninhabited and so are various places on earth that resemble harsh conditions of other planets.

Mars is way too harsh than any place on earth, even way harsher than the Sahara desert.
How little you know Elon.
 
Nov 19, 2021
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Mars colony would have to be underground due to cosmic rays. Sunlight is 43% that of Earth so they could supply their own power and grow food. Frequent resupply from Earth would be needed. Even if all the water in the ice caps was turned into oxygen and water vapor, it would only allow an atmosphere a few percent of Earth's. A vast amount of new water or oxygen would need to be brought in. This is many hundreds of years in the future.
 
Dec 29, 2019
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My conclusion is no, it isn't possible, mostly because sustained self reliance on Mars requires establishing comprehensive industrial capabilities that I think must equal or exceed those of an advanced industrialised nation on Earth. And my concerns about the economics of building such an economy at such a distance, under such extreme conditions and where there is nothing profitable to trade with Earth, ie no way to pay it's way.

I have yet to even see a list of the essential minerals for just the most basic essential needs, let alone maps of where they are. Or what is required to exploit them.

Some lava tubes and some subsoil ice (are they even close to each other?) does not make an industrialised economy.

I see colonies as emergent outcomes, from a proven history of economically profitability as outposts of the greater economy that established them. Planned economies rarely do well, even amidst abundance of resources.
 
Nov 19, 2021
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Agreed, there is no business model that could possibly make a permanent Mars outpost viable. It would be the Solar System's largest money pit.
It could be used as an ultra low noise radio listening post when facing away from Earth, but the Moon could serve that purpose. Except they are soon to put many satellites in orbit around the Moon to serve as relays, etc. Probably the first thing they would to at Mars is to give it a GPS system and communication relay satellites. So much for radio quiet.
 
At this point, I don't see Mars as much more than a proving ground for trying to make the necessary conditions for a self-sustaining off-Earth human habitation. Basically a scientific experiment. And, part of its justification might be easier access to study the asteroid belt and maybe the moons of the outer giant planets. Those endeavors would be financially supported by Earth investments.

Where we will go from there looks highly uncertain to me. The possibilities seem to range from (A) a collapse of the human technological societies on Earth, bringing down any lunar and Martian colonies with it, all the way to (B) scientific discoveries that make it possible and get us into travel beyond our solar system, with Mars becoming a site for production of the heavy components for starships, using resources pulled from asteroids without needing to fight Earth's gravity well for resources.

I do expect humans to go to Mars, if only to learn more about our solar system and Earth as a part of it. Whether it is no more than like the Apollo Program with the Moon - go a few times and then stop - or becomes a sustained presence, is probably going to have as much to do with what else is happening here on Earth as it does on what we find when we get there.
 
Nov 26, 2022
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Will, we ever be able to able functionally live on Mars? It's a simple question with so many complex answers to match.
There are different orders of magnitude of engagement depending on the activity we have in mind.
  1. Space Exploration: Cost - $50-100 billion; This is achievable by any country with the means to send large rockets to Mars and the willingness to cover the mission cost and the ability to focus political energy towards this goal. Such a mission would involve sending a crew of 4-6 astronauts to the surface for a single Mars year before they'll make a return trip back to Earth. Elon Musk could pay for such a mission on his own. But the end result of such a mission would be the collection of some rock samples, a few flags planted, pictures of bootprints in the ground, and maybe a habitat that could be consecutively added for a larger station. However, such a mission would be similar to being a tourist.
  2. Economic Development: Cost - $100+ billion; This is beyond the scope of what most nations are willing to cover. This would involve setting up robotic operations that produce economic output. There would need to be multiple operations taking place at the same time to build an economic ecosystem capable of producing space technology that covers all space operations beyond Low Earth Orbit. This would take time to build up but once in effect, the cost of sending someone to deep space is no different than the cost of sending them to LEO. When considering such a mission with people, we would first need the experience of an exploration mission.
  3. Colonization: Cost - $500 billion+; the challenge with colonizing space is that we will be sending humans into an environment for which they're not biologically adapted. To be successful at it, we will need to master the art and science of constructing completely enclosed environments within which humans can survive indefinitely. Such an environment needs to be easy to construct and simple enough to maintain that an average person off the street today could handle it. We have some skill at doing this where humans currently live in the world's hottest and coldest environments but they only do so with marginal success and they are highly dependent upon other species that also live in such environments. Developing space colonies will require the application of engineering R&D applied to an entire community in the most extreme environments ever experienced by humans. Those living within such environments will need to grow their own food, develop the means to generate energy, and will need to maintain shelter from the elements at all times. Even with low maintenance, a population living within such a community will likely spend over 80% of its time simply trying to survive. If that isn't difficult enough, it will need to aggressively grow its population to a scale where it can grow its own space manufacturing sector (a highly specialized industry that requires a supporting industrial base).
Space colonization is possible but it requires commitment and a period of engineering research in the development of a successful enclosed ecosystem that can sustain a very large population of humans. It also requires several orders of magnitude increase in transportation capabilities in sending a large convoy of humans to jumpstart a colony. Finally, it requires a mature space economy and government that can reliably subsidize its growth for at least 100 years.
 

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