With the fast acceleration of SpaceX and its ambitions to get us all to Mars, we need to know what it might take to not only reach the Red Planet but survive on it. Much like the early days of exploration, pioneers will face a host of challenges as they battle for life against the elements.
Here we are, on the eve of the next generation of discovery, and we have the opportunity to design what life will be like on a new world. Do you want to live on Mars? Here are a few things we will need to figure out.
Create shelters that survive extreme temperatures
According to Nasa, the temperature on Mars averages around -85 degrees Fahrenheit. Imagine walking outside and it being so cold that water and even the blood in your veins freezes instantly.
Even outside of the harsh weather, shelters on Mars will need to be healthy and productive environments for early explorers. In the podcast; The Habitat by Gimlet Media a test crew of 6 people are locked inside a simulated Martian habitat for 12 months. The ensuing story of human resilience and interpersonal struggle conveys how a habitat must be more than a “survival box” but a true home. We recommend checking it out.
Farm our own food
Do you know what it takes to feed a small colony? After creating safe shelters, producing energy-packed food will be a life or death situation for early colonists. According to NPR an average human eats between 2-5 pounds of food per day. This quickly creates a need for food production that goes beyond strategic rationing or packing 10,000 MREs.
One solution may be to build durable greenhouses that create an artificial atmosphere rich in moisture and sunlight. Since the economics of food will lean towards maximum production and not prices, we can utilize advanced farming technology that may not make sense on earth. We may even have to develop a taste for foods not typically seen here on earth, like high-protein bugs.
Whatever the method, we know innovative recycling will be a core part of food production. Plants will be repurposed for fabrics, water will be carefully monitored, and even human waste will be used for soil nutrition; nothing will go to waste.
Research. Research. Research
After we have safe shelters and food to eat we can start working on researching new ways to take advantage of the unique characteristics of Mars. We will study how to construct new buildings, explore the depths and heights of the Martian terrain, and began the long process of terraforming Mars.
On a more personal level, we will study how life on a new planet with lower gravity and completely different environmental conditions effects how humans live. This “Martian medicine” research will go a long way in determining how we can best live and thrive on new worlds.
Have a little fun
Perhaps it’s not life or death but having fun is certainly good for mental health. Early pioneers will need to find healthy and engaging ways to let loose and enjoy life. The gravity on Mars is about ⅓ that of Earth. Imagine the possibilities when you can jump 3 times higher or 3 times farther. Perhaps we will invent super basketball, extra-high dives; or something entirely new.
Are you interested in creating this future? Our newest interactive sketchbook about Mars is filled with 30 design prompts where you’ll create everything from advanced science labs to the first pizza joint on Mars. When you've finished with each prompt, share it with your friends on Instagram.
Get your copy today!