What life will be like on Mars in a few decades

by George Harrison via

What life will be like on Mars in a few decades

You get in from a long day of farming in near-zero gravity, ditch your spacesuit at the airlock and write an email to your fans on Earth, all before settling down for the night in your radiation-proof home.

The year is 2040 and you’re one of the first pioneers living on the Mars colony.

That’s how some of the foremost experts on space colonization see the next few decades unfolding, as humans push towards becoming an interplanetary species.

Bill Hargenrader, SciFi Author and founder of the Mars NOW research organization, told the Sun Online that the first Martian explorers could land just over ten years from now.

Like many Mars experts, he sees a future where humans will take on the harsh conditions of the Red Planet to forge a prosperous life away from the oasis of Earth.

But it won’t be easy for the brave colonists who buy the first one-way tickets into space.

Hargenrader said: “Mars is a lot colder than Earth, it’s one percent of the atmospheric pressure, it’s 38 percent of the gravity and it has no protection from cosmic radiation.

“The first structures will be the actual spacecraft the pioneers will land in. The next steps will be to use the Martian soil itself to tunnel or utilize cave structures.”

“In addition, we’re looking at using 3D printing to create bricks and other structures.”

Robert Zubrin, Mars Society president and author of “The Case for Mars,” argues that the next steps will see us building the dome-shaped homes we’ve already seen in science fiction and NASA concept art.

He said: “The first houses will probably be domed tuna can-shaped structures, similar to the Mars Society’s desert and arctic stations.

“Afterwards, Martians will produce materials to create domes up to perhaps 100m in diameter, within which people, plants and animals will be able to live in a shirt-sleeve environment. These domes will then be linked together by tunnels, to create large habitable zones.”

“Ultimately humans will terraform Mars and make the whole planet habitable.”

It may sound like the work of science fiction, but the Mars dream is very real for many in the space game.

NASA has set out an ambitious plan to launch its first human Mars mission in the 2030s, while Elon Musk’s SpaceX is aiming to have Mars-ready rockets good to go by 2024.

And NASA is so keen to excite people about life on Mars that they have cooked up a series of posters to entice would-be colonists to seriously think about leaving the Earth behind.


As part of their ongoing drive, the US space agency has also released incredible concept shots depicting what they think the Martian homes of the future will look like.

But finding somewhere to hang your helmet is just the start of it.

Hargenrader said: “If you’re one of the first settlers then be prepared to work. There will be a lot of building, mining and repairing.”

On Mars, there’s no room for slackers. Only the hardest working people with the most relevant skills, like doctors and engineers, will survive.

But settlers will also need to grow their own food and many of the first pioneers will work as farmers – using the most advanced agricultural techniques to produce nutritious meals.


Working as a Martian farmer, you wouldn’t spend your days tending the fields – because there won’t be any.

Instead, you’d work in a high-tech greenhouse, growing genetically engineered crops designed to pack the biggest nutritional punch.

Hargenrader said: “It’ll be extremely important to become self-sustaining. One of the ways to do that is indoor vertical farming.

“We’d focus on spinach and lettuces, food which give our meals bulk and also on strawberries, potatoes and things that add calories.”

Day-to-day life will be tough, with increased cancer risks from solar radiation and the danger of malnutrition around every corner.

But life will be rewarding too.

Zubrin, who thinks settlers will start landing in 2040, said: “It will probably be like life on a frontier farm, with kids helping out and learning around the house, rather than spending all their time at school or at play.

“A very different childhood that most today experience, but possibly much richer.”


Thankfully, life for the colonists of the future won’t be all work and no play – there will be room for a little bit of fun too.

Hargenrader said: “You’d be inside a lot but one of the primary reasons people get excited about going to Mars is getting outside.

“We don’t just want to go to Mars and be holed up in the ground. Let’s plan from the start us getting out there and exploring the terrain.”

“The first people on Mars will be celebrities, they could be recording their own web series, writing their own books and keeping a Martian journal people will be following.”

Zubrin also sees a thriving future for a human colony on Mars – and says there is plenty of scope for settlers to have a good time.

He said: “Many sports currently done today on Earth would be spectacular on Mars, due to its lower gravity. Basketball could be great.”

“As the colony grows, the circle of needed professions will expand, including doctors and nurses, teachers, writers, filmmakers and eventually symphony orchestra conductors.”

Maybe the sky isn’t the limit after all.

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