The Future of the Red Green planet: How the human race must, and will, colonize Mars

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Mars One, a private project, intends to send 100 people to Mars for colonization and with no return ticket.

the observatoryImagine a world without mosquitoes, without war, and a world whose primary values are efficiency and community. Imagine a world where you can look up at the sky and see the whole universe laid out before you, clear as day, without the mess of smog and worse that we have to peer through. This is a world that could very well be the salvation of the human race. It’s called Mars. The United States’ enthusiasm to master outer space has declined in recent years and my reaction is one of frustration and fear. Pushing further into the universe, specifically to colonize Mars, is the only hope for the survival of the human race.

Colonizing Mars could be the answer to all our woes, but is it even possible? Absolutely.”

— Columnist Riley Wheaton

The apocalypse is coming and it won’t be divine retribution for Trump’s candidacy or because the Mayan calendar worked its way to the end (as most calendars do on a yearly basis), it’ll be by for frighteningly realistic reasons. At several points in Earth’s history it’s been hit with a massive comet. We’ve all heard of the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, but in his book The Science of Discworld Terry Pratchett describes an even more significant collision 248 million years ago which wiped out 93% of all life on earth. It has happened periodically throughout our history and it’s been suspiciously long (comparatively speaking) since the last one. But if we think we can manage to stave off an asteroid we’ll doubtless destroy the planet all by ourselves. Right now there’s about 1.6 million kilograms of highly enriched uranium on the planet and a lot of it is being stored very poorly. If we can manage not to blow ourselves up, it’ll probably be because we’re already dead from the changing climate of our swiftly tilting planet. This is neither a hoax by the liberal media, nor is it a small problem (not according to the pope anyway) and it’s one that poses an existential threat. There are many threats to the human race, some even more deadly than those I’ve outlined so far, and according to Professor Stephen Hawking “the human race will [not] survive the next 1,000 years unless we spread into space.”

Colonizing Mars is not just something we should do because it preserves humanity, but because it is what our humanity demands of us.”

— Columnist Riley Wheaton

This sounds really scary but fortunately for all of us there is a way out, we are not doomed. We can escape upward and outward. Colonizing Mars could be the answer to all our woes, but its it even possible? Absolutely. The most efficient plan to date is called “Mars Direct” and involves launching manned spacecraft which would land on the surface of Mars in prefabricated shelters, would stay and run experiments for a time, and then return to Earth (using nitrogen from the Martian soil in fuel) leaving their settlements behind. As more and more teams visit the red planet a permanent colony will develop (particularly because some private enterprises plan to send astronauts to live out their lives on the surface) and we’ll be able to uncover vital secrets about our new home. What happened to the atmosphere? Was there ever life on this planet? We’ll have to find out.

In the long term, Mars could possibly become an earth-like home for us on a larger scale. if it turns out to have as much carbon dioxide and water as we think it does (buried below the surface) we may just be able to revive this dead planet and create our very own Eden. By using solar reflectors to warm the planet we’ll start a process which is increasingly being called “ecopoiesis.” Can you imagine that? Bringing a planet back to life from a cold dry husk? It’s not science fiction, just science.

NASA 2033 Mars Project

Finally, colonizing Mars is not just something we should do because it preserves humanity, but because it is what our humanity demands of us. We’re a species of the curious and ever since we first looked up at the sky we’ve sent explorers shooting across our globe and even venturing off it to our moon. When Neil Armstrong took his famous first step the whole world paused for a moment and held its breath. It brought a generation together in awe and wonder at what the future would hold. So now we come to the coolest question of all: Is this going to happen in our lifetime? Yes. We may not get to see ecopoiesis start to finish but we will absolutely get to see the first human being land on the face of Mars. Mars One leaves in 2020, a projected NASA program (which I really recommend watching the video on) will leave in 2033, and it only goes up from there. In our lifetime we will come together once again and reach into the unknown. Maybe we can find there the spirit of adventure and invention we’ve been lacking of late.

Last Week Tonight's Doomsday Video
Imagine, in the blackness of space, a red planet turning slowly. Tiny settlements and environmental domes pop up like infinitesimal mushrooms. Satellites begin winding the planet in a communications net and reflecting sunlight warming the surface. Then, once the surface has warmed and the atmosphere, choked with carbon dioxide, has reformed they’ll open the microbiological flood gates. Slowly, so slowly, green will creep across the surface like a fire catching and spreading without bound. We’ll take off our helmets and breathe the fresh new air of a new world. We’ll look around at the trees and rivers and sand and maybe, just maybe, we’ll be so moved that we’ll take better care this time.
So is doomsday coming? Yeah (in which case we’ll all get to watch this beautiful video from Last Week Tonight) but not for a long time, and we can get away. Look up. Mars or bust.