It’s been 100 Earth years since you settled on Mars. You’ve been through pain, loneliness and a lot of hard work. And now Mars is the new promised land everyone dreams of. But how did you get there?
How would you find clean water and air on Mars? What would you have to do to make Mars self-sufficient? And how long before everyone can afford to travel to Mars?
It all started when SpaceX founder Elon Musk imagined that one million people could be living on Mars within 100 years. Well, Mars has been a worthy contender for Planet B since 1960, when uncrewed missions began. It’s got the same day rhythm as Earth and CO2 for plants to do photosynthesis.
Mars has 38% of Earth’s gravity and 1% of its air density. It gets 44% as much sunlight as Earth. These wouldn’t be the conditions you’re used to, but it would be a start.
So you packed up and got yourself a job on the first base on Mars. And not just any job. You’d be the first person ever to set foot on the red planet. A hundred years in, what milestones of civilization would you see?
To go on this dangerous interplanetary voyage, you’d need to be an astronaut. You’d spend years in training before you could even board the shuttle. But you made it. And now, it would be you vs. Mars.
You’d land in the surroundings of Jezero Crater. That’s where the Perseverance rover touched down in 2021 to check out the territory before your arrival.
You’d be doing some research and reporting back to Earth. The connection wouldn’t be great. You’d have to wait between up to 22 minutes for communication signals to get to Earth. Eventually, you’d witness the first cargo ships arriving with supplies.
A few years after your arrival, the first batch of settlers would appear. Everything they need would be ferried from Earth. And it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to feed each person.
So you’d need to start thinking about how to make the settlement self-sufficient. First order of business, water. The settlers would start the mining of water ice near the base.
You would see the first human base set up on Mars. It would be named Mars Base Alpha, just like Elon Musk wanted. You and 170 other astronauts would live there. Robots would be taking care of the initial prospecting and construction.
It would no longer take 20 minutes to receive communication signals from Earth. That’s because your settlement would set up two constellations of Starlink satellites orbiting Mars.
More people would arrive from Earth. Another base would be underway. And finally, the very first child would be born on Mars. But could this Martian child ever visit Earth? How would their bones and organs survive Earth’s gravity?
Mars Base Alpha would become a full-fledged settlement. You would see many more firsts. The first school, the first cultured meat farm and even the first luxury hotel. Public transport would connect Base Alpha to mining sites. Every few years, ships would arrive, each carrying 100 passengers.
The settlement would begin building its first dome city. It would be a 1.6 km (1 mi) wide impact crater covered by a transparent, radiation-filtering dome. It would need Earth-like pressure and temperatures so the settlers could finally take off their spacesuits.
The population of Mars would reach 200,000. With advanced medical technology, your life expectancy would increase. You would finally be able to visit your friends back on Earth.
It wouldn’t be so easy for those born on Mars. They would need to use exoskeletons to survive Earth’s heavier gravity. Wealthy people from Earth would come to Mars on vacation.
An artificial magnetic field generator would permanently protect the Martian atmosphere from space radiation. Mars would now have five dome cities.
The largest among them, Mars City, would be home to 60,000 people. Soon, the first elected city council would take office. And the first university would open.
One million people would permanently live on Mars. You and your fellow settlers would be on pace to terraform the planet. You would release controlled amounts of greenhouse gasses to thicken the atmosphere and cause the temperature to increase. You’d accelerate the process by establishing fish farms and releasing cyanobacteria that would start photosynthesis.
There would be a rising tide for independence in Martian cities. Martians might not be too keen on staying controlled by the earthlings. After all, they’d have 100 years of history to be proud of. Mars Base Alpha would become a national heritage site. And hyperloops and suborbital shuttles would connect major Martian cities.
- “We’re going to the red planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars”. Ed Oswald. 2021. Digital Trends.
- “What Is The Gravity On Mars Vs. Moon Vs. Earth” 2021. sciencetrends.com.
- “Nasa successfully flies small helicopter on Mars”. Jonathan Amos. 2021. BBC News.
- “NASA – How Far? How Faint? “. 2021. nasa.gov.
- “What Is Photosynthesis”. 2017. Smithsonian Science Education Center.
- “Spacex”. 2021. Spacex.