The New World on Mars' offers a Red Planet settlement guide (exclusive)

Jul 26, 2020
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I strongly support space exploration but, at this point in time, only on a robotic basis which provides far more information per dollar spent. I find it infinitely frustrating that, with all the problems on Earth, there is such a strong push to spend trillions of dollars on a sci-fi fantasy project that might take a century to unfold and will provide very little benefit to humanity and could up up as a disaster for the colonists.

There are only two rationals for such an undertaking: first would be if there is a credible "end of a habitable Earth" scenario and this is planning for an escape by a few with the idea that humankind will be genetically preserved; second, if our geoscientists believe that the Earth is (or soon will be) all mined out and we need to begin solar system mining.

We are so far from having the information necessary before moving forward. Perhaps a better (& cheaper by trillions) project would be to expand on the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. Build a fleet of hundreds of ingenuity "hummingbirds" and send them all over the planet. Find out what is out there.
May 12, 2021
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Utopian goals are very nice. They are important to the uplifting of humankind. But let's get some engineering practicality into the discussion. First, any existence on Mars will depend on high technology to maintain life. Sustaining air, water, food, and mobility about the planet Mars can't be built up as humans did on Earth over thousands of years of our history. Agrarian farmers eking out a life of growing their own crops and livestock cannot happen on Mars. Martian life will depend on technology. What do you need to establish an independent, self-sustaining and technological civilization on Mars? Here is my short list. Try to imagine all of the following needs, but without resupply from Earth. Start with resources for manufacturing all items. Metals require sources of ores. Can we locate and exploit on Mars large deposits of copper, iron, aluminum, trace elements, etc, Where will you find those on Mars? The ores will need processing in factories, usually using huge amounts of energy, and using large amounts of other resources. Where will Martians find Gigawatts of electrical power? Solar? Plastics, electronic circuit boards, LED lamps, fertilizers, and fabrics require sources of hydrocarbons, usually from petroleum or natural gas. Where will you find those on Mars? How are you going to manufacture the range of microchips needed to maintain the existing electronic and digital equipment that you will rely on for survival? Surface or subsurface transportation and mobility are key to establishing any technological economy. Agriculture: where are you going to farm crops and livestock on a scale large enough to feed thousands, and then millions of Martians? You'll need millions of acres of crops and livestock. And people, equipment, and methods to harvest, process and transport them to the consumers. Then there is construction on Mars. We will need to map out where and how to build the foundations for building structures. Foundations that will have to survive decades of gravity loading on the Martian soil and rock. But, where thousands of people gather to live, there will be spills of liquids such as water, fuels, chemicals, wastes, etc onto the ancient soil beds of Mars. These ancient soils have been desiccated for billions of years. What do you think will happen to your structural foundations after some top layers of Martian soil becomes damp from water discharging, having not been exposed for those billions of years? It will seriously alter the strength and behavior of the soils, and that will seriously jeopardize the structures on Mars. Collapse is the immediate risk for any building on Mars, or any road or railway roadbed. These are structures that are needed for survival of the Martian population. These problems can be solved. However, solving these problems will take generations, decades, probably centuries. Building up a base of knowledge of what works, and what does not (remember all the catastrophic failures throughout human history on Earth). During those generations who are learning how to live on Mars, the Martians will continue to rely solely on resupply transportation from Earth. Millions of tons of resupply, constant resupply. Then there is the problem of waste handling. Where will the manufacturing and other waste be deposited on Mars? Few of these problems would be solved by the so-called "terraforming" ideas. More utopian dreams.
I've said many times before in differing places, unless the surface of SPACE is colonized first by in-space colonization, and highways of the 'High Frontier' created from L-point city-state colonies to at least one cloud-city-state-like orbital colony supporting probably decades, possibly hundreds of years, of a human development on the surface of Mars before Mars colonization could reach take-off point to anything like surviving on its own, any colonization on the surface of that planet will be under a draconian Damocles Sword hanging by a single thread awaiting cutting by some dictatorial or catastrophic natural event on Earth.

Neither Zubrin, at least in the past that I've known of his advocacy, nor anyone else understands that once there are manmade custom stations and colonies in L-point orbits, even just one or two in the beginning, being surrounded by growing industrial facilitations out from Earth to SPACE (particularly shuttle and shipbuilding, as well as a growing agricultural production in SPACE) accessing Moon and near Earth asteroid materials, and energies from SPACE, all with just trace-salting from Earth, there will be too many Earth connections too independently energetic and powerful (the islandic-like small maritime Greek city-states, the islandic-like small maritime Italian and Hanseatic city-states, Zanzibar, Singapore, Hong Kong, on and on) to be so simply cut. The Mars connection would have no immediately growing breadth and depths of energy exchange. Money wealth, real, more intrinsic money wealth, energy-positivity over energy-negativity (such as energy-less deficit spending and borrowing ever more from the future building ever accelerating black hole expansions of debt in-mass) as I've said many times before, being no more than a symbolic token of energy and energy exchange.

With no energetic expansionary frontier -- and Mars isn't and never can be one of possible opportunity for billions to come out from Earth! -- you have a sink hole of decline and fall in place!
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