The Case For Mars - Colonization


For Zubrin, the attractiveness of Mars Direct does not rest on a single cost-effective mission. He envisions a series of regular Martian missions with the ultimate goal of colonization, which he details in the seventh through ninth chapters. As initial explorers leave hab-structures on the planet, subsequent missions become easier to undertake.

Large subsurface, pressurized habitats would be the first step toward human settlement; the book suggests they can be built as Roman-style atria underground with easily produced Martian brick. During and after this initial phase of habitat construction, hard-plastic radiation- and abrasion-resistant geodesic domes could be deployed on the surface for eventual habitation and crop growth. Nascent industry would begin using indigenous resources: the manufacture of plastics, ceramics and glass.

The larger work of terraforming requires an initial phase of global warming to release atmosphere from the regolith and to create a water-cycle. Three methods of global warming are described in the work and, Zubrin suggests, are probably best deployed in tandem: orbital mirrors to heat the surface; factories on the surface to pump halocarbons into the atmosphere; and the seeding of bacteria which can metabolize water, nitrogen and carbon to produce ammonia and methane (these would aid in global warming). While the work of warming Mars is on-going, true colonization can begin.

The Case for Mars acknowledges that any Martian colony will be partially Earth-dependent for centuries. However, it suggests that Mars may be a profitable place for two reasons. First, it may contain concentrated supplies of metals of equal or greater value to silver which have not been subjected to millennia of human scavenging and may be sold on Earth for profit. Secondly, the concentration of deuterium — a possible fuel for commercial nuclear fusion — is five times greater on Mars. Humans emigrating to Mars thus have an assured industry and the planet will be a magnet for settlers as wage costs will be high. The book asserts that “the labor shortage that will prevail on Mars will drive Martian civilization toward both technological and social advances.”

Read more about this topic:  The Case For Mars

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