Mars Colonies are a Fantasy

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There are still people looking into the caverns of Mars, for a safe HAB. Seal them off and build a sustainable atmosphere within. This answer comes up all the time. Musk is even considering it for the long term .
 
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There are still people looking into the caverns of Mars, for a safe HAB. Seal them off and build a sustainable atmosphere within. This answer comes up all the time. Musk is even considering it for the long term .
It isn't an answer, it is a thought bubble.

We know that Mars has lava tubes. We don't know how to seal them off and turn them into safe habitats. Are known lava tubes even anywhere near known water ice? Not that water plus caves makes a viable, safe Mars habitat, let alone a viable colony. A viable colony needs to be an advanced, comprehensively capable industrial economy.
 
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Some of the thoughts in here aren't up with paradigm change, economics for a starter, payload of 100 tons instead of 1 ton, that it's a private company with deep pockets doing it privately rather than a NASA mission and that it's not a one way mission that we used to think it was, so I'll have a go.

Financing is coming out of SpaceX, rather than NASA handing out money and it makes quite a difference. The NASA way doesn't happen as it is too expensive and all the rentseekers will leverage every last cent. SpaceX is building Starship without a NASA contract to do it (though it is subsequently providing a variant for the Artemis program). Some billionaires buy big yachts, this just happens to be Elon's version of a big yacht, ie something to do with the money that he finds meaningful. He is coming at this after a lot of lessons learned about high tech manufacturing, bleeding edge research and specifically, mass production and those lessons are coming into SpaceX, the speed at which they've been building prototypes at Boca Chica is astonishing. By comparison, the divisions of major manufacturing companies engaged in space aren't doing it as mass production, such as their airplanes, but it seems like after all these decades they still do it all bespoke.

The economics perception most people have about space colonisation is based on past endeavours. Space was expensive, that precious rocket or 2 and payloads for your venus probe or flag planting on the moon, was made harder and more expensive with the most cutting edge of everything to try and ensure success. So much unobtainium went into it, difficult/one off, extreme and barely tested materials and processes without a manufacturing base for it in existance and factoring in the rent seekers that made a fortune out of NASA and the military. What you all need to get your head around is Starship. A transformed space industry is Space Shuttle flying on average, 2.6 flights/year at $54,000/kg to orbit, to Falcon flying 1/month at $2700/kg to Starship at $10/kg, but mindbogglingly, they are aiming to manufacture starship at 1/week and (rapidly) reusable at that, which will mean many launches daily for cheap (not all bound for Mars). Yes that is an ambit claim by Spacex, how many they can build and the actual launch cost are yet to be proven. I've bought guitars online from Japan, I wish that I could get them via sea freight, let alone airfreight at $10/kg to Australia. To send 100 tons at a time (relatively cheaply) and with a fleet, instead of 1 ship with 2-3 astronauts and a measly 1 ton of cargo is a radical change from the 70s concept.

The key to paradigm change? Willingness to use good old fashioned steel instead of cutting edge materials and other common, well understood materials coupled with mass scale production processes instead of building unique items. Turned from an incredible science/engineering project that space was, into a mass manufacturing/engineering project. It is by comparison, going to a local engineering shop and getting them to design and make 1 car for me (which would cost a fortune) to buying a mass produced car. Similarly, the colonies themselves, if NASA made them, the entire habitat would be shipped from earth with the plumbing made from platinum (for reasons), after a suitable nanomaterial was devised for a chair in the loungeroom after a 10 year, 500 people research initiative involving 300 high tech companies and collaboration with international subcomittees on colour choice, chair height, east or west facing etc. The paradigm change will see them living out of Starship while they build the initial base out of an amount of material sent ahead, but will produce as much as possible out of locally avialable material. The space station has it's food and water sent up and the cost per meal is thousands, Mars will make it's own food and water. The cost per head for a trip to Mars according to one Musk soundbite was an intention to get it to a few hundred thousand dollars, for perspective the median house price in Australia is $693,000 usd. Sure, it is expensive, but not necessarily out of reach and fundible by proffesional individuals rather than the 1950s to 1970s concepts of manned missions to Mars which would bankrupt even the biggest world economies.

That reusable rocket will see Starships returning, empty or full, instead of having it's one use (meaning that it's only good for recycling at the destination). Even though the window to return is every 2 years, that you can return is radically different to it being a one way mission and is a difference in peoples inclination to go. Materials returning don't need to be booked at the full cost of a one way rocket from Mars to Earth.


The fundamental of why Mars vs elsewhere (aside from mother Earth).

It has the required, easy to get basic resources that let you resupply for the return trip. e.g. CO2 etc in the atmosphere, Water present in numerous places, means you can make the resources required for a return trip (fuel, oxidiser, food) which is why SpaceX is focussed on methane engines for Starship.

Those same basic resources of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen let you make so many things, foods (proteins, fats, carbohydrates), plastics, petrochemicals, graphene/graphite. In instances, amounts of other elements are needed for variant compounds, but Mars has those too. When you do need specific things that organic chemistry won't let you do, such as a conductor for electronics (copper, silver etc), or Steel for construction and manufacturing, Mars has iron, carbon, chrome, vanadium, tungsten etc. But for the main part of construction and manufacturing, I think they'll get by quite simply with plastics and crushed rock (cement, bricks, concrete) for bulk building material plus conducting material, it will be made cheap and easy instead of the most advanced futuristic build, though that does not mean it has to be stone age living conditions.


Why would people go?

I've lived in multiple cities without a go home factor, home is where you make it, it's about why the destination is attractive. If you were an engineer, there are new challenges, almost any discipline of science would have people wanting new challenges, from the obvious in geology and vulcanology, to biologists researching foodcrops, new challenges for human bodies for medical, sports, new challenges for material sciences in different conditions (lower gravity etc). Also, people just needing a job, there will be opportunities for bartenders, service workers, farmers, miners etc. With the Starship program, ships will be returning be it empty or full, it's not like being sent for life to a penal colony, you aren't stuck - though you just can't immediately return on a whimsy.

That is a more specific and contemporary "why", but the same old "why" of migration still exists. How many religious colonies have been setup (oodles), ethnic migrations (oodles), opportunistic (from vikings settling the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, North America, Migrants from Europe to the colonies etc... Oodles). That's the people who want to go, then there are the people who will be sent, with Geopolitics on Earth being a thing, China, the States, India, Russia and others will vie for strategic positioning and send their soldiers, scientists and support staff.

Finally, it is not futuristic or fantastic, it is in progress now - the Artemis project by Nasa is about a permanent moonbase this decade and vast sums have already been spent, with the first launches to kickstart it off happening soon. Settling space is not the fantasy that it once was, but an active work in progress. It's just that, where NASA is focussed on the Moon, private industry (Spacex) is focussed on Mars and there is some crossover between the two.
 
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Sep 20, 2021
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Some of the thoughts in here aren't up with paradigm change, economics for a starter, payload of 100 tons instead of 1 ton, that it's a private company with deep pockets doing it privately rather than a NASA mission and that it's not a one way mission that we used to think it was, so I'll have a go.

Financing is coming out of SpaceX, rather than NASA handing out money and it makes quite a difference. The NASA way doesn't happen as it is too expensive and all the rentseekers will leverage every last cent. SpaceX is building Starship without a NASA contract to do it (though it is subsequently providing a variant for the Artemis program). Some billionaires buy big yachts, this just happens to be Elon's version of a big yacht, ie something to do with the money that he finds meaningful. He is coming at this after a lot of lessons learned about high tech manufacturing, bleeding edge research and specifically, mass production and those lessons are coming into SpaceX, the speed at which they've been building prototypes at Boca Chica is astonishing. By comparison, the divisions of major manufacturing companies engaged in space aren't doing it as mass production, such as their airplanes, but it seems like after all these decades they still do it all bespoke.

The economics perception most people have about space colonisation is based on past endeavours. Space was expensive, that precious rocket or 2 and payloads for your venus probe or flag planting on the moon, was made harder and more expensive with the most cutting edge of everything to try and ensure success. So much unobtainium went into it, difficult/one off, extreme and barely tested materials and processes without a manufacturing base for it in existance and factoring in the rent seekers that made a fortune out of NASA and the military. What you all need to get your head around is Starship. A transformed space industry is Space Shuttle flying on average, 2.6 flights/year at $54,000/kg to orbit, to Falcon flying 1/month at $2700/kg to Starship at $10/kg, but mindbogglingly, they are aiming to manufacture starship at 1/week and (rapidly) reusable at that, which will mean many launches daily for cheap (not all bound for Mars). Yes that is an ambit claim by Spacex, how many they can build and the actual launch cost are yet to be proven. I've bought guitars online from Japan, I wish that I could get them via sea freight, let alone airfreight at $10/kg to Australia. To send 100 tons at a time (relatively cheaply) and with a fleet, instead of 1 ship with 2-3 astronauts and a measly 1 ton of cargo is a radical change from the 70s concept.

The key to paradigm change? Willingness to use good old fashioned steel instead of cutting edge materials and other common, well understood materials coupled with mass scale production processes instead of building unique items. Turned from an incredible science/engineering project that space was, into a mass manufacturing/engineering project. It is by comparison, going to a local engineering shop and getting them to design and make 1 car for me (which would cost a fortune) to buying a mass produced car. Similarly, the colonies themselves, if NASA made them, the entire habitat would be shipped from earth with the plumbing made from platinum (for reasons), after a suitable nanomaterial was devised for a chair in the loungeroom after a 10 year, 500 people research initiative involving 300 high tech companies and collaboration with international subcomittees on colour choice, chair height, east or west facing etc. The paradigm change will see them living out of Starship while they build the initial base out of an amount of material sent ahead, but will produce as much as possible out of locally avialable material. The space station has it's food and water sent up and the cost per meal is thousands, Mars will make it's own food and water. The cost per head for a trip to Mars according to one Musk soundbite was an intention to get it to a few hundred thousand dollars, for perspective the median house price in Australia is $693,000 usd. Sure, it is expensive, but not necessarily out of reach and fundible by proffesional individuals rather than the 1950s to 1970s concepts of manned missions to Mars which would bankrupt even the biggest world economies.

That reusable rocket will see Starships returning, empty or full, instead of having it's one use (meaning that it's only good for recycling at the destination). Even though the window to return is every 2 years, that you can return is radically different to it being a one way mission and is a difference in peoples inclination to go. Materials returning don't need to be booked at the full cost of a one way rocket from Mars to Earth.


The fundamental of why Mars vs elsewhere (aside from mother Earth).

It has the required, easy to get basic resources that let you resupply for the return trip. e.g. CO2 etc in the atmosphere, Water present in numerous places, means you can make the resources required for a return trip (fuel, oxidiser, food) which is why SpaceX is focussed on methane engines for Starship.

Those same basic resources of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen let you make so many things, foods (proteins, fats, carbohydrates), plastics, petrochemicals, graphene/graphite. In instances, amounts of other elements are needed for variant compounds, but Mars has those too. When you do need specific things that organic chemistry won't let you do, such as a conductor for electronics (copper, silver etc), or Steel for construction and manufacturing, Mars has iron, carbon, chrome, vanadium, tungsten etc. But for the main part of construction and manufacturing, I think they'll get by quite simply with plastics and crushed rock (cement, bricks, concrete) for bulk building material plus conducting material, it will be made cheap and easy instead of the most advanced futuristic build, though that does not mean it has to be stone age living conditions.


Why would people go?

I've lived in multiple cities without a go home factor, home is where you make it, it's about why the destination is attractive. If you were an engineer, there are new challenges, almost any discipline of science would have people wanting new challenges, from the obvious in geology and vulcanology, to biologists researching foodcrops, new challenges for human bodies for medical, sports, new challenges for material sciences in different conditions (lower gravity etc). Also, people just needing a job, there will be opportunities for bartenders, service workers, farmers, miners etc. With the Starship program, ships will be returning be it empty or full, it's not like being sent for life to a penal colony, you aren't stuck - though you just can't immediately return on a whimsy.

That is a more specific and contemporary "why", but the same old "why" of migration still exists. How many religious colonies have been setup (oodles), ethnic migrations (oodles), opportunistic (from vikings settling the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, North America, Migrants from Europe to the colonies etc... Oodles). That's the people who want to go, then there are the people who will be sent, with Geopolitics on Earth being a thing, China, the States, India, Russia and others will vie for strategic positioning and send their soldiers, scientists and support staff.

Finally, it is not futuristic or fantastic, it is in progress now - the Artemis project by Nasa is about a permanent moonbase this decade and vast sums have already been spent, with the first launches to kickstart it off happening soon. Settling space is not the fantasy that it once was, but an active work in progress. It's just that, where NASA is focussed on the Moon, private industry (Spacex) is focussed on Mars and there is some crossover between the two.
Hey we can do my huge economy idea that will hand us trillions. You simply self fund public cost and government departments.
To do above is easy. Use each countries super annuation money AU $650 billion dollars, and self fund world economy almost tripling.

Say a department coat $500 billion to run every year, you just hand it $14 billion dollars and it will go into a safe interest fund making 5% pa. Now you make $700 million dollars every year so pa. Use $500 million to cover cost for department, leave the leftover interest money in interest fund $200 million making $18 million dollars pa. Now $500 million from $700 million is given to pay for government departments cost and they still collect taxes. That taxed money coming in is extra because we self funded it for life. Every year it makes $18 million dollars so every year it has a rise of $18 million dollars so after 5 year's the department can have a rise in cost of $92 million dollars. The $92 million dollars is almost $200 million dollar rise every 10 year's a 40% budget increase every 10 year's.
We payback the $14 billion dollars over 12 year's. So tax money for department still collected $500 million "+" $200 million made every 10 year's. $6 billion dollars every 10 year's is paid back. 20 year's time and you have paid back all the money "but" the best way to do it, is for world government's to first self fund what the public pay interest on. So if power companies are making $80 billion dollars every year, there making a huge % of profit interest. Now we can self fund or build 5 huge $5 billion dollar nuclear power plants for $25 billion, give the one each department $5 billion to make $200 million dollars every year to run the department, then power is really free. So now we spent $50 billion dollars to self fund all Australia power and get it for free "interest" fund's. So now we make $80 billion pa AU power income cleared after tax because we still charge them for power. Now we payback the loan super annuation money $50 billion dollars and make $30 billion pa after 1 year so make new income of $80 billion dollars pa.

Now you self fund gas department $50+ billion pa saved. Public water department $30 billion pa. Public hospitals $20 billion pa. Power department $80 billion.
With the $180 billion dollars we save the public $500 pa every year.

That $180 billion dollars made every 1 year can self fund other departments for 10 year's. $1.8 trillion dollars spent on self funding.

The goal is to self fund public cost but still charge them for it. The money they pay self fund's more things unto we save $400 billion pa. $1.5 trillion dollars self funded will bring in savings of $370+ billion dollars pa. That saves the public $1,000 pa $370 billion dollars saved for 20 million people from population of 26 million people.

What happens is after 7 year's of self funding you make around $1.5 trillion dollars of self funded stuff. The $370 billion dollars saved every year from $1.5 trillion dollars is going to start self funding government big & small Business taxes. That saves the public $1,000 pa. 20 year's time the public $20,000 dollars capping the savings at $80,000 pa.
Do you understand 20 million people from population size 26 million people can save $80,000 in 80 year's time. Born in 80 year's time turn 21 and you get $80,000 dollars pa.
You double the economy after you self fund over 15-20 year's. Tax money goes to the public + they still make the department income. Doubles economy because the public spend the saved money so a maximum of $170,000 can be saved per person pa in 15 year's time.

Government's make tax back of 90% with small business shops selling small business goods. 40% government taxes and the seller of small business goods pays 40% also on same item. 10% GST tax. Big business sees the government get a return of 70%. So if economy doubles they make 70% - 90% back from $200 trillion dollars.

You are talking about a world economy of $100 trillion dollars turning into $200 trillion dollars. That will pump mass trillions of dollars into the economy. Space travel will take off hotel stays moon and even mars easy.

Endless water supply is freezers turning freezer gas and oxygen into frozen but can be melted into liquid water. The ice melts making oxygen and water. The small gas cilinder last for 35+ year's making huge ice. A big spaceship with petrol station size gas tank would last thousands of years making drinking water.

Spaceship 🚀 will be magnetic fields like 2 magnets pulling together feilds. Now you hit that field with high frequency wavelength signal pushing feild out with no backwards and forwards force. Pulsed magnetic field may do it also. Spinning magnetic field may also affect the magnetic fields pulling together pushing them away. Split second magnetic Gauss explosion blasting out gauss hitting the field pushing the spaceship forward faster and faster.

Hitting rocks debri easy fly into space wrap avoiding any rocks. The rock's would sit just on-top of it but we can travel at 80%+ of speed of light and make it to nearest 🌟 in 7 year's time.

We are ready for new huge world economy and $40 trillion dollars for spaceships and space travel.
 
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Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
"The Giant Leap, mankind heads for the stars" by Adrian Berry, Headline Books.


Cat :)

P.S. I have no commercial interest whatsoever in this book.
I suggest it only as relevant to this thread.
 
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Mars isn't full of life, it may have been millions of years ago but Mons Olympus snuffed out a lot of it. If not all of it. I'm still of the belief it was this event that distroyed Mars. Not so much a comet or an asteroid, theres no evidence or proof of that at all. It's peak is so high that it extends into space.
 
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Earth might suffer the same kind event with Yellowstone. Those super volcanos, if they are big enough can affect an entire planet. Completely devastate an atmosphere. Cover the planet with smoke and ash for thousands of years, blocking off any sunlight. Filling the atmosphere or replacing it with Co2 and other poisonous gases.

Olympus is 100x or more,than the size of Everest.
 
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Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
Clovis,
Actual impacts can promote volcanism by their interaction with surface and sub-surface layers. Also, I believe that it has been suggested that large impactors, especially nearing impact location, have the ability to act in a similar manner, that is interaction by means of gravitational attraction - the large impactor pulling at sub-surface/surface layers in opposition to the body's gravity. I am not so sure about this second one.


Impacts of volcanic eruptions

These observed effects of oceanic plateau basalt eruptions support a hypothesis of widespread global oceanic anoxia (and the consequent formation of oil source rocks), which perturbed oceans and atmosphere setting in motion a chain of events that lead to global warming, oceanic anoxia, black shale deposition and ...
Volcanism, impacts and mass extinctions (long version) - The ...

Rather long but very interesting.


Cat :)
 
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But Mars became messed up either way. Water over eons forms caves and caverns. And Mars does have those. Looking for water ? Look in the caverns.
Carlsbad Caverns. they had to cement up the spring that once flowed through there . To make it a tourist attraction.
 
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But Mars became messed up either way. Water over eons forms caves and caverns. And Mars does have those. Looking for water ? Look in the caverns.
Carlsbad Caverns. they had to cement up the spring that once flowed through there . To make it a tourist attraction.
So, Yellowstone would be a good chance of that happening. It wouldn't take much to set it off. Geologists have been expecting that for decades.
 
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Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
Carlsbad Caverns National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)


Olympus Mons eruption
By some estimates, the most recent large volcanic eruption at Olympus Mons occurred only 25 million years ago. The oldest activity at Olympus Mons could be much older than this and would have been buried by younger lava flows. The caldera of Olympus Mons is the depression near the top center of the image.
11. Olympus Mons (20°N,135°W)


Olympus Mons is a volcano that grew (and grew and grew) in one place on Mars because it was fed by a long-lived volcanic eruption center. And because Mars has no plate tectonics, the crust where the volcano first erupted never moved away from the volcanic source. The result was a huge and heavy stack of lava rock.

Cat :)
 
Oct 1, 2021
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The suggestion that humans will soon set up bustling, long-lasting colonies on Mars is something many of us take for granted. What this lofty vision fails to appreciate, however, are the monumental—if not intractable—challenges awaiting colonists who want to permanently live on Mars. Unless we radically adapt our brains and bodies to the harsh Martian environment (become cyborgs), the Red Planet will forever remain off limits to humans.

Mars is the closest thing we have to Earth in the entire solar system, and that’s not saying much.

The Red Planet is a cold, dead place, with an atmosphere about 100 times thinner than Earth’s. The paltry amount of air that does exist on Mars is primarily composed of noxious carbon dioxide, which does little to protect the surface from the Sun’s harmful rays. Air pressure on Mars is very low; at 600 Pascals, it’s only about 0.6 percent that of Earth. You might as well be exposed to the vacuum of space, resulting in a severe form of the bends—including ruptured lungs, dangerously swollen skin and body tissue, and ultimately death. The thin atmosphere also means that heat cannot be retained at the surface. The average temperature on Mars is -81 degrees Fahrenheit (-63 degrees Celsius), with temperatures dropping as low as -195 degrees F (-126 degrees C). By contrast, the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was at Vostok Station in Antarctica, at -128 degrees F (-89 degrees C) on June 23, 1982. Once temperatures get below the -40 degrees F/C mark, people who aren’t properly dressed for the occasion can expect hypothermia to set in within about five to seven minutes.

The notion that we’ll soon set up colonies inhabited by hundreds or thousands of people is pure nonsense.
Mars also has less mass than is typically appreciated. Gravity on the Red Planet is 0.375 that of Earth’s, which means a 180-pound person on Earth would weigh a scant 68 pounds on Mars. While that might sound appealing, this low-gravity environment would likely wreak havoc to human health in the long term, and possibly have negative impacts on human fertility.

Yet despite these and a plethora of other issues, there’s this popular idea floating around that we’ll soon be able to set up colonies on Mars with ease. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is projecting colonies on Mars as early as the 2050s, while astrobiologist Lewis Darnell, a professor at the University of Westminster, has offered a more modest estimate, saying it’ll be about 50 to 100 years before “substantial numbers of people have moved to Mars to live in self-sustaining towns.” The United Arab Emirates is aiming to build a Martian city of 600,000 occupants by 2117, in one of the more ambitious visions of the future.

Even if all these obvious problems are somehow solved, who in their right mind (after the initial kick of living on another planet wears off) would actually wanna live in such a hellish place?

And what about the critically important microbiome?

Apparently, many people have forgotten the Biosphere I and Biosphere II projects in the Arizona desert designed to test a completely enclosed, self-sustaining environment for long space flights. After ten of millions of dollars spent, both were miserable failures.
I've been telling people this for years. Living on Mars will be impossible. Living INSIDE Mars would be totally doable. We would need to build numerous tunnel boring machines and then build deep climate controlled chambers with hydroponic gardening facilities to grow food and produce O2 for the colonists. With Mars being basically tectonicaly dead the size and scope of the underground dwellings we could build will be limitless.
 
Oct 1, 2021
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Sounds good, but don't forget sunlight for photosynthesis, unless you want to live on mushrooms.

Cat :)
We could still build massive "solar farms" on the surface, and transfer the energy below. Also they've nearly perfected small modular nuclear reactors. (Pocket Reactors) So underground "grow lights" will be easily provided for.
 
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Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
Mars Colonies are a Fantasy No, not necessarily.

I have never argued about limited colonies. Staging post or way station might be a valid reason eventually. When I argue it is when colonies start turning into terraforms. Terraforming planets (unless exoplanets which are already very similar) is never going to happen. Even of you could make a planet habitable for billions (as in evacuating Earth) you have the problem of getting them there.

There are two reasons for evacuating Earth (other than the mindless desire to destroy another planet) and these are;
1. Earth becoming uninhabitable for reasons other than human overpopulation. For example expansion of the Sun in a few billion years' time.
2. Imminent destruction by an asteroid or comet. In this case only a few could be saved, and the colony would probably not survive.

I have made my views clear on (2). We need to start preparing well in advance. I wonder whether some entrepreneur will spot an opportunity to establish a safe haven? But then, if you had enough money to establish a colony, you would not need to make more in expensive tickets, and where would you spend the extra when the asteroid hit?

Cat :)
 
Oct 1, 2021
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With the lack of an electromagnetic field living "ON" Mars would be highly problematic. (Kind of like living in a microwave oven.) Living "IN" Mars would be much safer. With TBM's (Tunnel Boring Machines) We could hollow out massive systems of caverns and tunnels. On the surface we could have vast solar farms to help support the underground dwellings. Also modular nuclear reactors (Pocket reactors) could be used as supplemental power sources for vast hydroponic farms. (sources for sustainable food supply and O2 production. Also, if we are going to plan on long term outer solar system existence, then we need to look at developing a mining industry in the asteroid belt for things like water ice (probably the future's most precious resource) and rare metals. (Uranium will be a biggie also))
 
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