Talk:Colonization of Mars

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Cost of a Manned Mission?[edit]

Is there any reliable information about the cost of a manned mission to mars? I think it would be useful to include in the article.

For anyone who digs this up, two ideas would be:

  • NASA has made proposals for MARS missions; those should be included
  • The Mars Society has an FAQ entry about it, stating:

Q: How much will sending humans to Mars cost? A: Estimates of the cost of a human Mars exploration program over the years have been wildly disparate, leaving much confusion in their wake. On the high end of the scale was the Space Exploration Initiative proposed by President George H. W. Bush in 1989 at $450 billion; Mars Direct occupies the low end of the scale at roughly $30 billion. -

-Lexspoon 12:51, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Direct was rejected by NASA; "Semi-Direct" weighs in at US$55 billion. siafu 16:42, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Colonization v. Colonisation v. Settlement[edit]

I know many are already aware that both "colonization" and "colonisation" are valid ways of spelling the word. Nevertheless, I thought it would be nice to make a note of it here since I noticed some people changing things to reflect one particular spelling. This may be done for the sake of consistency, but, in that case, it should be noted that the wikipedia article for the term is listed under Colonisation. --Xaliqen

Consideration ought to be given to retitling this entry "Settlement of Mars" rather than coloniz/sation, given the negative connotations the word "colonization" engenders in political discussion. Inevitably -- amazingly -- such diversionary concerns arise when discussing Martian settlement. Ericmachmer (talk) 21:48, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

  • The words mean different things. A colony is a type of settlement. The Concise OED says that a colony is:"a country or area under the full or partial political control of another country, typically a distant one, and occupied by settlers from that country" whereas a settlement is merely: "a place, typically one that has hitherto been uninhabited, where people establish a community". Clearly a settlement on Mars would for very many years have to be a colony, relying on and controlled by the Earth. andy (talk) 01:17, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
    • "Settlement" is used by the space activist community to avoid historic negative connotations associated with the word "colony". This is terminology is becoming the norm. Such organizations as the National Space Society, the Space Frontier Foundation, the Mars Society, and so on, actively discourage use of the word "colony" at their conferences, it being considered tone deaf and counter-productive. It is a disservice to the potential space development offers humanity to continue to use that word in the title of this article. Early initial human landing vehicles - commonly referred to as tuna can habs - would be gathered together to form "research settlements" as the earliest permanent human presence on Mars. This article's title should be changed as soon as possible. Ericmachmer (talk) 23:18, 3 October 2012 (UTC)
    • Ericmachmer, I second your comments. "Settlement of Mars" is, for many reasons, a superior title. Besh (talk) 15:26, 4 October 2012 (UTC)


The possibility of terraforming plays a great part all over the article. However, I'm in doubt about its feasibility. For one thing I believe it takes too long to wait for the results, and nobody is willing to invest a dollar into something that possibly (!) returns in some hundred or may be thousand years. For another, there is good reason Mars having such a thin atmosphere today. The long term stability of a terraformed environment is pretty unlikely. All this about the terraforming thing seems to be science fiction, while the colonization is not. So, how about reducing the idea of terraforming to a small paragraph with a link to the main article Terraforming of Mars? The whole article would be more believable if it concentrates strictly on technology that is in reach of men. -- The Cascade (talk) 08:04, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

I disagree. Terraforming is not only possible, it necessarily happen even if we don't try to. Living things conform to their surroundings, and in turn they make their surroundings conform to them. If you add plants, they change the environment by changing CO2 to O2. Animals add methane and renewed CO2 to the atmosphere. Just our presence on mars over a long enough time will change the composition of the planet. It is only in its present stable state because there are no living things to change it; it is in its own chemical equilibrium.
Furthermore, terraforming is necessary if colonists plan on having an ecosystem. While it is possible for a colony to survive on artificial processes and shelters and such, the chances of success are significantly increased on a terraformed mars with abundant plant life and an existing biosphere. I think terraforming and colonisation go hand in hand; even if we take measures to not terraform, Mars will inevitably be terraformed in some way by our presense.--MaizeAndBlue86 (talk) 12:28, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Yes, our presence will change the Martian environment, there is no doubt about it. I would not call this unintentional influence terraforming, because it surely does not aim to make Mars resemble Terra. Neither I would expect the unintentional changes to leed even into this direction. No, our presence will not terraform Mars. Probably, our presence will dirtyform it.

Still this is not what I meant. The article describes intentional terraforming. Sure, it is much easier to live on a terraformed Mars, but yet it is not possible with our current knowledge and technology. There are ideas, but nobody knows about the viability. It's too premature. I find it nice to have that article Terraforming of Mars. It is a good article, and I definitely want to keep it, even grow it bigger, concentrate all available info in it. However, the article Colonization of Mars points to a more realistic scenario. It describes many ideas to colonize the planet without the need for terraforming, which is possible with known technology. I wouldn't want to describe terraforming here as inevitable, which is not at all. I find terraforming too fantastic, and my impression is that it makes the article somehow fantastic, too. I'd rather want the article be realistic. -- The Cascade (talk) 14:48, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

Actually the initial stages of terraforming (getting to a 1-bar atmosphere, for example) is relatively simple engineering wise, and can certainly be achieved with present-day technology. Since mars currently has very few greenhouse gases, the warming effect of adding some will be much greater than we see on earth, due to the fact that Earth already has so much GHG. The warming relationship is logarithmic, not linear. So significant warming (and subsequent thickening of the atmosphere) could be achieved within only a century or so. Getting it to be as nice as Earth, of course, is going to take much longer, but hey, who knows what technologies we will invent by then?--Yeti Hunter (talk) 11:58, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
Are there any extremophiles which could survive the martian environment as it is, and yet also change it as they go along? sling a few at the planet, let them grow like rabbits in Australia, profit! (talk) 16:55, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

Sorry for being rude. And offensive for that matter... first of all the green house gases: Mars has a lots of it. atmosphere consists of >95% CO2. and there is frozen CO2 all over the planet... thats just not the reason why the atmosphere is so thin.

there are mainly two reasons:

1. mars is too small to keep a dense atmosphere. just not enough gravity to keep it.

2. no magnetic field. the charged particles from the sun (sun wind) just "blow" away the atmosphere.

We can think about a solution for (2), like building a superconductor coil around the equator. But because of (1) this wont help in the long run... terraforming mars is a nice dream. but as long as we dont invent a seriously new kind physics, it will be a dream..

Anyway i think it is good to mention the historical ideas about terraforming, just please also mention that it is just nowhere close to be imaginable for someone who studied physics. (talk) 17:17, 25 January 2011 (UTC)


Mars surface gravity is high enough to keep all gases except Hydrogen, Helium and Water. Further, water stays in the troposphere, (because of the cold trap), and is not normally lost to thermal escape. Mars HAS lost about 15 meters of water globally, but most of this was from UV light disassociating water into hydrogen and oxygen, with the hydrogen being quickly lost. If Mars was to have an oxygen atmosphere (and an ozone layer), it would keep its water for billions of years. In fact, even with out an oxygen atmosphere, Mars has kept its water for billions of years. Plenty of water is in its ice caps and as permafrost. It has not lost all of its water from thermal escape or any other method.

Scientists have shown that worlds with no magnetic field lose tiny amounts of air from solar wind erosion. This adds up over billions of years. However, it is not something that terraformers have to worry about over hundred of millions of year time scales. (100 million years is far longer than the lifetime of our species.)

Venus has no magnetic field and a solar flux more than 5 times what Mars has but it has not lost its atmosphere. Mercury has quite a strong magnetic field and basically has no atmosphere. The meme that no magnetic field = no atmosphere is far too simplistic. Venus is an obvious disproof of this idea.

Scientists think Mars had a 3 or 4 bar atmosphere early in its life and estimate that about 75% to 80% of this was lost to the solar wind. (The solar wind was ~100 times stronger at the start of the solar system and ~6 times stronger ~2.5 billion years ago.) Since it now has an atmosphere of 1/100th of a bar, where is its air?

In the soil. Lightning and UV radiation will form nitrates. On Earth these are recycled quickly by life. But in some regions like the Gobi desert, the nitrate beds are very deep. (Dozens of meters deep if I remember correctly, don't quote me.) On Mars, most of the nitrogen was not lost, it has been deposited in the soil. Oxygen is too heavy for thermal escape, but will react with rocks or with salts to form perchlorates. Carbon dioxide will form carbonate rocks, be absorbed into CO2 clathrates, and be dissolved in ground water and form ice caps. Further, clays which are common on Mars will absorb carbon dioxide when they get cold, typically 4 to 6% by mass. Most of Mars' atmosphere is in its soils and rocks.

If terraformers brought Mars atmosphere up to 1 bar pressure by dropping comets onto the planet, it would take 2 to 3 billion years of solar wind sputtering to reduce its air pressure to the point where humans still would NOT need a pressure suit. (Tho the pressure would be too low for humans to breath.) (This assumes that the Sun's solar wind continues to decline or at least stays the same.) Claiming that we can't live on a Terraformed Mars because the solar wind will erode the atmosphere in 2.5 billion years when the Earth's biosphere won't survive 800 million years (because the sun is warming) is silly. Let's focus on the next two hundred to 200,000,000 years and let someone else worry about the time after that.

I'll track down more references for these statements later. Out of time.

"Life and Death of Planet Earth, The: How The New Science Of Astrobiology Charts The Ultimate Fate" by Peter D Ward & Don Brownlee. // They show multicellar life likely won't last 1/2 a billion years on Earth as the sun warms.

"Mars: A Warmer Wetter Planet" by Jeffrey S. Kargel // Discussed MEGAOUTFLO events in the past when the atmosphere in the soil out gases. Also talks about the 3 to 4 bar early Martian atmosphere & the martian water budget.

Warm regards, Rick. (talk) 15:51, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

Terraforming Mars is technically easy. The fact that an atmosphere will blow away is unlikely to make any difference, given the timescale. The long-term effects of Earths current terraforming are of no consequence to policymakers. I can't see why reason should prevail there any more than here. The reasons for which it would eventually be carried out are going to outweigh all such concerns. Going to the moon had nothing to do with science whatsoever. Nothing to do with frontiers, it may appear more of a juvenile political statement if you listen to the entire 'not because it is easy but because it is hard' speech. Using a supermagnet to create a magnetosphere is ok, but it doesn't need to be equatorial, it can be much smaller, tens of kilometers across, or orbital. Buried would be good, with the right powersource. Penyulap talk 01:03, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
One of the problems with the Mars atmosphere is the lack of continental drift. Our Earth atmosphere is continually replenished over the millions of years timescale by CO2 from volcanoes. Since Mars has no continental drift then that doesn't happen so the CO2 will be removed from the atmosphere by action of the carbon cycle similarly to the way it works on Earth, but won't be replenished again. This could happen over maybe 100 million years timescale - long in human terms, but short in geological terms - and it means that life that evolved on Mars would face extinction due to lack of atmosphere in the future unless you can work out a way of preventing this from happening. Robert Walker (talk) 00:23, 9 August 2012 (UTC)
Another interesting point is that if you leave Mars in a pristine state it will probably naturally terraform in the future when the Sun goes red giant and the Earth gets too hot for life. That might be exactly the time when a terraformed Mars is most useful to either our remote descendents or whatever intelligent beings evolve on Earth in our future. Though far away in time, ethically you could say they have rights same as we do, so it's all something to think about - intelligent beings and higher animals that might evolve on a terraformed Mars in the geologically near future and go extinct due to lack of atmosphere before they re-discover spaceflight if it has been lost - and beings from Earth that might need Mars naturally terraformed in the geologically remote future. Robert Walker (talk) 00:28, 9 August 2012 (UTC)
Both these cases are discussed in the published literature on Mars though I am not sure where I've seen them discussed right now, and would need to do a search to find them.Robert Walker (talk) 00:31, 9 August 2012 (UTC)


I think that the discussion of economics on this page pays too much attention to ways that Earth could economically supplement life on Mars, and not enough attention to how Mars could supplement Earth. It mentions trade between Earth and Mars without mentioning what exactly Mars would have to offer Earth. I think the entire feasibility of Mars colonization rests on Mars having something that Earth does not have, and at this point, I have a great deal of trouble seeing what that might be, except cheap land, which doesn't seem to me to make up for the transportation and development costs that would go into it. Maybe a tourist industry, but I don't think you could build anything bigger than a small city on the basis of the tourist industry. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:24, 6 July 2008 (UTC)

I agree with the above. The moon advocates have a myriad of ways to provide services/products to earth in a fiscal timetable, and value for value trades. However, this section on mars economics focuses mainly on earth providing economic benefits to mars and not an even exchange of value for value.Moonus111 (talk) 20:38, 1 October 2010 (UTC)


We know Mars has water enriched with deuterium (5 times more so than Earth). which is a viable export for cash. Strategic metals worth $10,000 / kg or more (gold and more expensive metals) can be shipped to Earth for a profit. Also, if there are asteroid bases, it is FAR cheaper to supply them from Mars than from Earth. Robert Zubrin suggested a triangle trade. High tech parts from Earth to Mars. Fuel, light industry supplies and food from Mars to the Asteroids. Asteroids send strategic metals back to Earth.

It is also easier for Mars to send stuff to Luna than it is to go from Earth to Luna. So if we get an industry collecting Helium 3 from the Moon, a similar triangle trade can be set up between the Earth, Mars and the Moon.

It won't be profitable to go to Mars to get Platinum (for example). It would be cheaper to re-open marginal mines on Earth. But the platinum on Mars won't have been picked over for hundreds of years - it will be right on the surface. If there are Martian colonists, they will be able to easily collect iridium, deuterium, rubidium, palladium, gallium, gold, etc, since there will be vulcanism and water created deposits right on the surface. These could be sold for a profit to get high tech, low mass supplies from Earth.

Mars has all of the elements needed for rocket fuel, plastics, industrial metals, computer chips and food. It also has a ~24 hour day night cycle which allows growing food economically. Coupled with Mars' greatest resource (a shallow gravity well) it can supply needed materials to bases in the inner and outer solars system more cheaply than Earth can.

For example: On page 230 of "the case for Mars" Robert Zubrin shows that a mission to Ceres requires 50 times less mass to be launched from Mars rather than Earth. (If the mission requires 1,000 tonnes of supplies it can be done with two launches from Mars or 107 launches from Earth.) This assumes that no propellent has to be hauled to Ceres. If we have to bring return fuel as well, then the Earth based mission becomes even more hopeless. Even if space launches from Mars are 10 times more expensive than Earth, it would still be much more profitable to send supplies from Mars.

Luna has severe disadvantages for a self sustaining colony. It lacks 24 hour day night cycle which is a huge problem if you have to grow plants there. (Plants require a really tremendous amount of energy to grow with artificial light.) Its lack of atmosphere means that plants will die from solar flares unless you have thick glass walls which will crack from the day / night heat stress. It lacks ores since the moon is made up of junk rock (see page 220 ibid for why ores are rare on Luna but likely common on Mars). Elements like H, C, N, P, K & S are all rare or very rare on Luna and must be imported from else where. There is plenty of oxygen and silicon but they are tightly bound to the rock and require a huge amount of energy and hydrogen and carbon to extract.

For references to what I've said above (and far more details), see "The Case for Mars" and "Opening Space" by Robert Zubrin. (talk) 14:40, 27 May 2011 (UTC)Warm regards, Rick.

Mars provides a shallow gravity well for development further in the solar system, both from it's own weak gravity, but also from it's greater distance from the Sun. Objects are more easily launched from the surface of Mars to the asteroid belt than they are from the surface of the moon, in terms of the required delta-V. But, this isn't really a discussion for an article talk page, but for a user talk page, away from article space. siafu (talk) 22:00, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
The section on economics is about Mars colonists providing for themselves what they need on Mars. Providing value to Earth would certainly be part of a rational for establishing the colony and a help to its survival. This could potentially be done by providing industrial necessities for Earth's moon more cheaply than Earth could. These would include carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, argon, chlorine, and sulfur. The moon could provide raw materials for transportation and construction in low Earth orbit at low cost due to the low potential cost of electro-magnetic Luna to Earth orbit transportation. There was something on Marspedia about this, but I do not know of any reliable sources. This could lead to an addition to the article if anyone could find reliable sources for such a three way trade.--Fartherred (talk) 23:55, 1 October 2010 (UTC)

WHY WAS COMMENTS ON ROCKET SLEDS / ROTATING SKY HOOKS DELETED? Space elevators are far more difficult to build than a rocket sled / sky ramp and or a rotating sky hook. If you are looking for cheap ways for a martian colony to make getting into space both methods are far more practical than a space elevator. Further, a sky ramp can put things into low Mars orbit, which a space elevator can't do, unless you haul rocket fuel up and launch from part way up the the elevator. I suggest that a rocket sled or Mag Lev style sky ramp located on Pavonis Mons is so many more times more practical than a space elevator (especially for a small colony struggling for capital) that the space elevator reference should be considered to be removed as a remote fantasy. I did not site sources in this article, but provided links to Wiki pages where there ARE references. (talk) 14:40, 27 May 2011 (UTC)Regards, Rick

in regards to "24 hour day night cycle-plants-require-tremendous-energy to grow with artificial light..lack of atmosphere.. thick glass" Some parts of the moon are a good deal sunnier than others, near the poles. Thick glass is not as likely as heliostats aiming at small windows, and any lunar colony will have supplyships going to and from OPSEK-like stations, so growing the food in space to save launchcosts eliminates pretty much all of those concerns. Dumping stuff onto the lunar surface is a snap, soft landings using rotating tethers with ballast coming up work much much better on the lunar surface than earth because of the lack of atmosphere and debris. Penyulap talk 01:18, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
The article doesn't consider the potential for establishing anarchist communist or communitarian settlements on Mars operating with a gift economy rather than capitalism. Cogiati (talk) 21:14, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
It also doesn't consider the potential for establishing numerous other possibilities, like a theocratic-socialist commune, or any of millions of possible social and economic experiments. What, in particular, makes these specific possibilities notable and important? siafu (talk) 21:21, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
Their mention in Robinson's RGB Mars, perhaps. —Tamfang (talk) 07:53, 19 November 2011 (UTC)

the German experiment with lichen & bacteria in Mars-like conditions[edit]

While interesting, I'd not stress this too much until 1) the results are duplicated independently, and 2) a longer time period is tested. 34 days is hardly long enough to ensure the survival of earth-life in Martian conditions. Cumulative radiation affects, for example, could prove disastrous over the course of months/years. Additionally, one good solar flare would probably destroy any life exposed to it in the same environment that this lab used, which due to its lack of a magnetosphere, Mars would be greatly affected by (locally.) I don't have a paper to cite, but discussions with some profs at the local university were not very positive on the long-term success of such tests. Note that hard questions were not asked/answered in the news articles cited, either. HammerFilmFan (talk) 12:20, 17 June 2012 (UTC)

Reference for ignorance[edit]

On the 10th of November 2011 R.Schuster called for a citation for the statement: "It is not known if this is enough to prevent the health problems associated with Weightlessness." However it is well known that no experiments were done in which human beings were subjected to fractional g accelerations for weeks or more at a time. The experimental evidence is from free fall in orbit. There does not need to be much documentation to show that we do not know something. So it seems we could just drop the citation needed template on the basis of common knowledge. We should do that or get rid of the statement. - Fartherred (talk) 02:18, 12 July 2012 (UTC)

There has not been an enormous show of interest in getting rid of the cn template. I will remove it and see if that promotes comment. - Fartherred (talk) 18:50, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

COSPAR guidelines[edit]

In a number of edits on the 19th of July, Robertinventor among other things removed the sentences: "It's impossible for any manned mission to Mars to keep to the requirements of the [[COSPAR]] (Committee on Space Research) guidelines for planetary protection. NASA currently follows COSPAR guidelines." He replaced these with a second link to [[Manned_mission_to_Mars#Critiques]] and his comments about introducing Earth organisms to Mars affecting Mars' biologically pristine condition. I have added the comment about NASA following COSPAR guidelines of planetary protection to the [[Manned_mission_to_Mars#Critiques]]. However, this is better addressed directly in the [[Colonization of Mars]] article because it is a direct concern of colonization. The time of a colonization mission cannot be until nations supporting launches to orbit consider that the research question of life developing independently on Mars or not has been sufficiently addressed. Technologies necessary to the colonization of Mars have not been sufficiently developed to have a one-way mission to Mars yet, so we are not waiting just for the COSPAR requirements to expire; but it is a definite road block. There are some advocates of colonization that want colonization started in their lifetimes, as do the backers of Mars One. So this is an item of interest to them. For a neutral point of view, we should not be promoting Mars colonization or minimizing or ignoring the problems. We should present significant facts that are published. - Fartherred (talk) 17:53, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

Apologies, I didn't mean to delete that sentence. Thanks for restoring it Robert Walker (talk) 00:07, 9 August 2012 (UTC)


The article fails to point out how easy it is to colonize mars. It has wind, a steady stream of wind will blow on mars as a faint wistle effect. Mars is a dead planet. It can easily be colonized and solar power is not an issue. Ever here of electro-magentic generators? Its called free energy. They would be quite sufficient.--Asfd777 (talk) 14:49, 15 September 2012 (UTC)

Domes for greenhouses[edit]

People can get the idea of domes for Mars colonies by looking at many old science fiction magazine covers, but a transparent dome is impractical for Mars. Temperatures down to -143 degrees Celsius just overwhelm the limited heating available from a dome greenhouse. It is more practical for a greenhouse to be a buried cylinder with a portion of the curved roof made of glass and steel exposed to sunlight from mirrors that concentrate it as much as is needed to maintain operating temperature, and the skylight covered by insulation at night. I cannot give a reliable source for this but it is rather obvious to someone who knows a little physics. I would like to see a reliable source for the statement that domes are useful for trapping heat for greenhouses on Mars so that if it comes from a graduate student I can urge that they flunk out and if it comes from a professor I can urge that his research funds be cut back. - Fartherred (talk) 21:23, 14 September 2012 (UTC)

User: added: "Heating requirements could be lowered if the colonists use domes to trap solar heat." at 21:58 hours on the 25 of May 2008, the only edit listed for that IP. User: added: "...especially for [[greenhouses]]." at 16:59 hours on the 1st of April 2009.
It looks like users who thought that they were adding common knowledge mistakenly added this error. I will wait another day for someone to defend this statement before removing it. - Fartherred (talk) 07:45, 15 September 2012 (UTC)
There are reliable sources that do not involve graduate students, post docs, or professors. Someone might find a popular magazine article that supports the contention that domes would be useful as greenhouses on Mars. If so the contention can be restored to the article with a reference. For now I am taking it out. - Fartherred (talk) 11:10, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
I have failed to state above the condition under which a transparent dome is impractical for Mars. That is in ambient sunlight. If the sunlight were concentrated to the proper degree, say by a number of flat mirrors actively directing sunlight at the dome, then it might be possible to have a dome for a greenhouse on Mars. It would require multiple pane insulated glass as the panels that make up the dome or something to provide similar effect and insulating covering at night and during cloud cover. It would require comparative modeling to decide what is most economic.
So that is the sort of thing to look for if seeking references for restoring mention of domes for greenhouses. - Fartherred (talk) 10:07, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
I don't have a (non-SF) reference for such "domes", but Note that the air temperature near the equator does not drop to -143° C, only to about -80° C (as experienced by Opportunity [1]), and the soil remains a bit warmer still. Together with the insulation provided by the near-vacuum atmosphere outside, I could imagine greenhouse domes to be feasible there (but I'm not sure either way).
They are still considered to be practical in some recent (2000s) "hard" science fiction, in German SF author Andreas Eschbach's "Marsprojekt". --Roentgenium111 (talk) 17:49, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
PS: Zubrin states such domes are possible: "On Mars, in contrast, the strong greenhouse effect created by such domes would be precisely what is necessary to produce a temperate climate inside." --Roentgenium111 (talk) 18:02, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
Zubrin is an engineer with considerable experience in Mars colonization. I would consider him a reliable source. Greenhouse domes could go back into the article. However, there is more than trapping heat to consider in building a greenhouse on Mars. It must also hold sufficient gas pressure for the desired plants. That complicates the engineering. In the Zubrin reference that you cited, he states that thin walled inflatable plastic greenhouses could be protected by unpressurized hard plastic domes resistant to UV. That would also provide considerable dead air thermal insulation because the laminar layer is thicker at low pressure. I do not know what sort of pressure he imagines inside the inflatable domes "up to 50 meters in diameter". Zubrin has studied the matter more than I. Plants need some oxygen partial pressure and some water vapor partial pressure. The inflated dome would most likely be a full sphere with an unseen basement. Then if the pressure of inert gas is low there is the problem of fire hazard in a high percentage oxygen atmosphere to consider. I have been rash in what I wrote above. This is a complicated matter and I could benefit from more study. I forgot that The Case for Colonizing Mars was available on line. I should have consulted that as a minimum. - Fartherred (talk) 00:13, 25 September 2012 (UTC)
I have struck my worst, my most unsubstantiated, and most offensive statements above. I still have not decided how to restore mention of greenhouse domes to the article, and it seems that no one else is rushing to restore it. Polyethylene terephthalate is strong enough to hold one atmosphere pressure, if required, with a reasonable thickness dome. So if an unpressurized outer dome provides the UV blocking and provides an insulating layer of unmoving CO2, the other requirements for a greenhouse can be met. Basically, Zubrin was correct but a more detailed source would be better. I hope to get something in the article eventually if I am not beaten to it. - Fartherred (talk) 02:22, 3 October 2012 (UTC)
I think that for a start a sentence stating the possibility of greenhouses could be re-added either to the Economics or the Habitability section, giving Zubrin as a reference; but there's indeed no need to rush it IMO, if you want to work on a more detailed description.--Roentgenium111 (talk) 17:31, 4 October 2012 (UTC)
Ten meter thick armored glass has been suggested (I think as micro meteor protection): Nydoc1 (talk) 06:25, 26 February 2013 (UTC)Nydoc1

Mars has all elements necessary for life[edit]

There has been the direct observation of many of the elements necessary for life and this could be supported by citation. However some of the elements necessary for life are necessary only in trace amounts and have not been directly measured yet. We have from the theory of the solar system forming from a cloud of gas and dust that Earth and Mars formed from planetesimals that formed from dust in neighboring regions of the cloud. Therefore the elemental composition of Earth and Mars should have been similar to start with and only limited differences in environment caused changes in composition over geological ages. That Mars is expected to have all of the elements necessary for life can be arrived at by synthesis from sources that I have found, but maybe someone can find the synthesis published. Then it could be included in the article. - Fartherred (talk) 10:14, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was no consensus. --BDD (talk) 17:51, 22 March 2013 (UTC) (non-admin closure)

Colonization of MarsSettlement of Mars – Reflects modern terminology in the space advocate community without the distracting cultural baggage accompanying the term 'colonization' Relisted. BDD (talk) 16:33, 15 March 2013 (UTC) Ericmachmer (talk) 15:56, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Do you have any evidence that this represents the "modern terminology in the space advocacy community"? I'm an aerospace engineer myself, and in my experience "colonization" is the common term. siafu (talk) 17:20, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose no proof whatsoever that this is "modern terminology". WP:UCN "colonization" is the common term. What cultural baggage are you talking about? There's no life on Mars. Seems like runaway attempt at political correctness without thinking of context, or usage in the field. -- (talk) 02:08, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. We don't want to risk offending Martians before we even make contact. —  AjaxSmack  04:55, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
    Point well made (;-> but see below. Andrewa (talk) 15:09, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
    Don't underrate potential offense taken at seemingly harmless terms (such as this). And don't discount Martian acumen and assume this article isn't being monitored now. The mere fact that such proposals, however inchoate, are given an article at Wikipedia could feasibly poison relations. We should tread cautiously.  AjaxSmack  02:31, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
    Martians might be just as offended by euphemistic reference to "settlement" of their planet. LCS check (talk) 14:00, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
    I doubt it. If euphemisms were that transparent, why would people even bother using them?  AjaxSmack  18:31, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
    If the Martians object to colonization, then how is the "settlement" nay better, as it is also politically incorrect (per UN resolutions on some "settlements" on Earth), since any human settlements on Mars will be walled off compounds designed to separate human settlers from the Martians, in hermetically sealed environments to prevent interaction between the human oppressors and the land taken from the Martian natives. -- (talk) 04:44, 20 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose, we should have every intention of subjugating the Martian population and setting them to work on our Martian plantations. LCS check (talk) 16:45, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
This is, indeed, the Earthman's burden. siafu (talk) 17:36, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Colonisation is still the generally accepted term, similarly to in biology rather than in sociology. Settlement may take off (;-> but hasn't yet. And I doubt that any Martians we may find will be impressed by our political correctness, anyway. Andrewa (talk) 15:09, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment I think consensus was quite clear, it was to not move. -- (talk) 01:55, 24 March 2013 (UTC)


Settlement of Mars , Mars settlement , Mars settlement should all redirect here. -- (talk) 02:08, 7 March 2013 (UTC)

And they now all do, since the day after you suggested it. We can fix that. Negotiating with the Martian Liberation Movement may be trickier. Andrewa (talk) 15:12, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

What is up with the so-called "Concerns" section?[edit]

Why is this useful? It seems to me that any worries about colonization should be addressed in the relevant sections up page. A lot of the info is literally duplicated from above. Also, it contains unsourced SYNTH from Robert Walker. Already have deleted some of the obvious duplication of info and unsourced opinions. The telerobotics paragraph is irrelevant so that was deleted as well. I have half a mind to delete the whole section. Warren Platts (talk) 17:14, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

I'd like to warn other editors of this page. Warren is on a mission to remove all my edits from the martian section of wikipedia. I only added I think one short bit here. He is a strong advocate of colonization I believe though he denies that he is so I may be wrong about that. But whatever the motivation which is unclear, seems on a mission to downplay or remove any mention of issues of forward and backward contamination of Mars, and any problems there may be with human colonization of the planet.
This is what he said: "Your days of spamming Wikipedia with your contamination hysteria are over. I see you've spammed your propaganda in practically every article on Mars in the Wikipedia. Those "contributions" will be redacted"
He has abused me consistently for about a month now and engaged in edit warring, to the extent that I have given up as an editor on contamination issues on Mars. I have always treated him with respect and consideration and never said anything even slightly like that to him.
There are many issues with his edits on the MSR page about back contamination. I posted them here to my talk page because if I post to the talk page for MSR then I just can't face his personal attacks any more, and if he edits my talk page I'm going to revert his edits there - at least I can do that much in my own personal space here. But do take a look at this: User talk:Robertinventor#The flaws with the current MSR section on BC. I will not respond to him here. Sorry, if you knew the history you would totally understand.
I am not even going to look at what he has done to this section, and if he gets his way, I can see that within a week or two probably there will be hardly any mention left in wikipedia of any concerns or issues with human colonization of Mars. But I know from my experience of the last month that I am totally powerless to do anything, not on my own. Not many editors here seem to have studied these issues at all, so the one who shouts loudest and longest and who totally ignores wikipedia etiquette such as BRD wins the battle.
If another editor wants to join in to help save this material, do let me know on my talk page, two editors working together could stop it. One editor on his own can't. Robert Walker (talk) 20:52, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Here is the old concerns section if anyone wants to have a go at restoring some of the deleted content - and especially so if the whole thing gets deleted as I think is quite likely to happen User talk:Robertinventor/Colonization of Mars - old concerns section
seems on a mission to downplay or remove any mention of issues of forward and backward contamination of Mars OK, just as I thought. It is merely Robert promoting his favorite "theory" again. Will delete. Warren Platts (talk) 16:38, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

Concerns section has now been removed completely[edit]

This article now has an Advocacy section but no balancing Concerns section.

I kept a copy of the original Concerns section in my user space here: User:Robertinventor/Colonization_of_Mars_-_concerns

I expected this to happen as the author said he is nauseated by all the concerns sections on Project Mars and is on a cleanup mission, also to remove all content written by myself on contamination issues. I did not write this now deleted section, just contributed some material to it. Robert Walker (talk) 14:12, 14 July 2013 (UTC)

It was deleted because it was all duplicated, redundant material repeated from earlier sections in the article. Warren Platts (talk) 15:15, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
There was substantial duplication in the section but some points are now missing and I might fit them in where they belong.
  1. Plants need oxygen for their roots. (The specific oxygen need was not mentioned earlier.)
  2. A solar furnace mirror on Mars would need 1.5 times as great an aperture for Earth-like performance. (This refers to specific corrective action that could be taken.)
  3. Mars has dust storms which are now not mentioned.
Fartherred (talk) 20:45, 14 July 2013 (UTC)


Please be aware that a Request for Arbitration has been submitted to address the long-standing user conduct issues that prevent the resolution of content disputes. The RFAR is at: Robert McClenon (talk) 23:04, 14 July 2013 (UTC)

Lead image[edit]

Can we include a more realistic-looking image (like CGI or something like that) as the lead one? The current one looks a little like it's from a children's magazine... --Againme (talk) 19:56, 16 October 2013 (UTC)


Why not just stage something in Arizona, to convey the illusion that there are already people on Mars? It seems that this "childish" picture is sufficient to mislead the uninformed that Mars is already colonized. WikiEditor2563 (talk) 18:42, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

Edit war regarding "Colonization of Mars", pertaining to use of the word "hospitable"[edit]

This is in response to a personal email I received from wikieditor Grayfell, who asked that I discuss this here. I need instruction from him or anyone so I can email him personally, I find communicating this way to be overly complicated and incoherent
First, I'm writing the final pages of a non-fiction book, which includes several chapters on the colonization of Mars, exoplanets, etc, so I'm somewhat of an expert on the subject, regarding the “real potential” of a colony on Mars.

Now, the Colonization of Mars is a particularly unique subject, in particular regarding it’s inclusion in an encyclopedia, because there isn’t actually a colony on Mars! And such a thing is certainly not inevitable. EVERYTHING about the colonization of Mars is opinion and highly speculative. The case can easily be made that nothing about this wiki page is encyclopedic! – and that this web page is nothing but a bullhorn for the Mars advocates – which certainly seems to be the case when some of the edits I’ve made are undone before I’ve even logged off! I mean, why would anyone be so vigilant about (of all things) the colonization of Mars?

Your sense of how things can be edited is too strict. Even your sense of what constitutes an “encyclopedic tone” is subjective and about which you don’t have the last word. You and a few others are way too quick to simply “undo” others edits, and is arrogant.

First, why do you insist on using the word “hospitable” in describing Mars? That is entirely propagandistic. In no sense of the word, relatively or absolutely, is Mars “hospitable.” That might have been a matter of speculation to people in the stone ages, who gazed up in wonder but who couldn’t have known any better; to Galileo; or even to early 20th century man…but NOW? – given all that we know, in all its degrees of precision?

The sources that you are protecting belie the facts, and have no place in this wiki page. Anyone can write a science article these days and there’s no reason their opinion is more relevant than mine. Even “science articles” are biased and often have a case to promote, and this is especially true for articles about Mars and the exploration of space. Furthermore, there are no sources that say that Mars has been colonized (regardless of unmanned research - which is truly amazing and gives me goose bumps), so maybe the entire “Colonization of Mars” page should be removed.

For the intro paragraph for this webpage, you need something for a general audience, not bogged down in misleading data. The fact is, a “colony” on Mars is science-fiction, and there are HUGE obstacles that prevent this from ever happening. – this should be conveyed somewhere in the wiki page, preferably at the top, rather than cater to the dreamers and fantasists in some form of agenda.

For example, it’s FAR better to say that circumstances on Mars “in fact would be deadly to all life as we know it (except for perhaps some extremophilic microorganisms”…)” THAN “deadly to most life” because that implies that there are some forms of life on Mars, which is an OUTRAGEOUS implication, and propagandistic. Things that can be grown in simulated conditions on Earth do NOT change this simple fact! Mars is absolutely NOT hospitable to life and it is propagandistic to suggest that it does – or might. It’s not encyclopedic to suggest that there MIGHT be life on Mars when after the last 50 years of reconnaissance and actual soil and air analysis…NO LIFE HAS BEEN FOUND ON MARS. It’s very irrational at this point in the research - given all that we know, and we know a lot, and to a great deal of precision – that there “might be life on Mars.” That’s a serious hang-up that is not supported by science, only by science-fiction fans and fantasists. Science doesn’t HOPE or DREAM. Science simply collects facts.

The discovery of life on another planet would be the biggest breakthrough OF ALL TIME. That milestone has not been reached, so to imply that life may exist on Mars because of some dumb simulation here on Earth, or the unrestrained enthusiasm for such, does NOT belong in an encyclopedia. Maybe in “Bizarre Fantasy Weekly,” but not an encyclopedia.

This wiki page should not be used as a voice for dreamers, fantasists, or space tourism promoters. Now, I should be free to say THIS in the introductory paragraph – maybe now you can appreciate how much restraint I’ve been exercising.

The intro para to this wiki page should say, or convey, this specific point, because it’s realistic, not bogged down with misleading data, doesn’t promote an agenda, and is entirely, as you say, “encyclopedic”:

The “colonization of Mars” refers to the theoretical and science-fiction inspired idea of man living on Mars.
Man has always been intrigued by “what’s out there” and the idea of life on other planets. Now, with advancing technology, some think we can not only travel to, but live on Mars – despite conditions that are like nothing on Earth and quite deadly. They believe we can overcome these obstacles through technology – and future technologies that don’t yet exist.

It is absolutely true that “This does not preclude the possibility that man might one day step foot on Mars and “scout around,” but whether or not we ever get to Mars seems less a matter of scientific progress, than the balance of power between sane and crazy – which is properly referenced by National Geographic but which you reject because YOU HAVE AN AGENDA TO PROMOTE, which is in complete violation of the Wiki terms of service.

It’s not scientific or encyclopedic to HOPE for something, just to state the facts or what can be reasonably surmised where “scientific proof” of something may be impossible, which seems to be the case, to a large degree, in this arena.

Given what we know, it makes more sense, at this point, to surmise that man will NOT colonize Mars, even though of course there’s nothing to stop him from trying. This opinion should be conveyed, somehow, in the wiki page for this topic.

Bearing in mind that if someone wants to learn about Mars they are better served by the wiki page for “Mars,” because as a planet there is, of course, much to be said. WikiEditor2563 (talk) 20:03, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

Okay. First of all, I did not specifically send you an email, I posted on your personal talk page. Your personally setting may automatically send you an email when your talk page is edited, but that's up to you. I have a talk page too (User talk:Grayfell) all users do. Your talk page is for discussing edits, since that is how Wikipedia works.
Second of all, you may have some serious confusion about how Wikipedia works. Wikipedia is not a platform for original research. It is not a place for you to surmise anything, it is a place for you to present the sourced consensus on the topic. Since there are many reliable sources discussing the colonization of Mars, both from an academic stand-point, and from a cultural one, it is a topic suitable for inclusion in Wikipedia. If you do not agree, you are free to nominate it for deletion (Wikipedia:Guide to deletion). Since I don't think either of us want that, perhaps we should focus on keeping the article consistent with the sources.
Regarding your expertise, I encourage you to read Wikipedia:Expert editors. For better or for worse, Wikipedia doesn't grant you any special privileges for being an expert. Being something of an expert on the topic is fine, but you need to back up your edits with reliable sources. It doesn't matter if your statements are true according to your own expertise, what matters is that they are verifiable and neutrally presented. These are part of the core principles of Wikipedia, which you can read about on your talk page.
Accusing me of having an agenda to promote is serious and unfounded; my agenda is building a better encyclopedia, and I remind you to keep this discourse civil. When you make accusation like that, it tends to poison the well, and prevents us from reaching consensus about how the article should be written. Are you accusing me of working for the space-tourism industry? I assure you I am not working for any such group. I have been reverting your edits promptly because I am passionate about editing Wikipedia, and I respond to them as soon as I notice them. There is a feature of Wikipedia called a Special:Watchlist which allows editors to keep track of recent changes to articles that interest them.
The word wikt:hospitable, which I did not introduce to this article, and am perfectly amenable to changing, does not exclusively mean that the planet is teaming with life or any such nonsense. It simply means that it is more receptive to life than any other planet in the system besides Earth. That is what sources say, and that is the consensus which should be reflected in the article. If you want to rephrase that, please do, but do not use that as an excuse to dramatically rewrite the entire article to your own personal specifications.
It's strange that you talk about the value of the article Mars, because you are the one who has been removing the link to it. You have also removed preexisting sources without giving any explanation. You have raised some very good points, but your edits had many technical problems, and as I have said, I do not think they meet Wikipedia's guidelines for writing in a formal tone. I admire your enthusiasm for editing, but if, instead of assuming that I am your enemy, we actually worked together, I think we could make this a better article. Isn't that the whole point of having a collaborative encyclopedia? Grayfell (talk) 21:57, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

As I indicated above, there are really no facts regarding a colonization of Mars, only opinions - much of which is wild speculation - so the idea of "reliable sources" regarding this is somewhat meaningless - since no one's been to Mars! One could challenge anyone who claims to be an expert on this subject. For that reason I don't understand why this webpage is so bulky! There seems to be nothing on the plus side for Mars! So where does the optimism come from?

Even for reliable sources, some things are still a matter of subjective opinion, or involve tremendous amounts of speculation, particularly about a colony on Mars. Such opinions are very biased, it's naïve to deny this. This occurs, for example, when a "specialist" says something will happen in 20 years - which gets them off the hook, and implies "let the next generation do it while we still collect a paycheck." Engineers are not magicians, they can't turn lead into gold. There's an incentive to push things ahead 20 years and not a more realistic 50 - or 100. 20 years seems more within reach, so project funding is maintained. Imagine if they said 50 years - funding would stop! When a specialist at NASA says "something can be done" its because if he said "it can't be done" he and the rest of his pals would lose their jobs! So this website CAN'T be a bullhorn for NASA or the Mars advocates. AND IN THIS ARENA, MANY THINGS MUST BE SURMISED, and this Wikipedia page includes a lot of surmising and speculating. Who do you think has their fingers crossed the hardest? NASA. When we read their articles we need to take everything they say with a few grains of salt, and be skeptical of their optimism, because the idea of a colony on Mars IS outrageous, for many reasons (and hence the book I'm writing). For starters, heavy payloads can't land gently on Mars - but that's just a distraction, that's not even one of the REAL obstacles. Maybe these reasons are just more intuitive to me than you, based on years of reading and my own point of view, for which I have 2 science degrees to support, but you have a point of view too, it's hard for ANYONE to be completely objective, we're all rooting for one side or another.

Also, there are a lot of "opinions" on Wikipedia, everything isn't sourced. Everything I've contributed to Wikipedia is objective, restrained, suitable for a general audience, and free of promotion. Even the part about "balance between sane and crazy" but I knew that would be deleted, even though some science articles are describing some things in this arena as just that. The content I've repeatedly posted to introduce this Wikipedia page is both historically correct, succinct, insightful, and captures the spirit of the concept without going overboard.

Please remember that you do not WP:OWN this article. Nobody is denying that opinions on this topic vary, that doesn't mean that your opinion somehow becomes the default position. Yes, there is a lot of speculation about colonizing Mars. We only care about speculation that is discussed in reliable sources. That is how Wikipedia works. If you insist on inserting your own version of the article with only the slimmest attempt at compromise, you are engaged in WP:EDIT WARRING. Grayfell (talk) 02:55, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

I only

  1. add things that are well informed and relevant to a colony
  2. edit things that are badly worded (and some of the content is very poorly worded and which is therefore misleading).
  3. Remove "raw data" that is irrelevant to a colony or not suitable for the largest readership and might belong on the "Mars" wiki page.

What's interesting is that you haven't substantiated any of your disagreements with me, just condescending threats and warnings.

As I just said to another editor,

Just because something is sourced doesn't mean it's relevant or untouchable or belongs on any particular wiki page. Sourced material is not protected from scrutiny.
Just because something is sourced doesn't mean it can't be challenged or can’t be removed or edited. Because most sources are biased and express a point of view (POV), and which may simply reflect the wiki editors POV, so just because something is sourced doesn’t mean it’s neutral.

So saying that something is "sourced" is, in the end, somewhat meaningless. Which is why I put a higher priority on relevance and readability than the source material. It goes without saying that ALL of my edits are informed through the research I've been doing the last 15 months - and which is ongoing.

And again, regarding the "warring," it takes two to tango.
WikiEditor2563 (talk) 19:37, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Latest edits[edit]

WikiEditor2563, why are you removing sourced, relevant text and wikilinks? [2] --NeilN talk to me 18:30, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

I left a note on your talk page.
Just because something is sourced doesn't mean it's relevant or untouchable or belongs on any particular wiki page.
Just because something is sourced doesn't mean it can't be challenged or can’t be removed or edited. Because most sources are biased and express a point of view (POV), and which may simply reflect the wiki editors POV, so just because something is sourced doesn’t mean it’s neutral. Or as I’ve said elsewhere, THE ENTIRE COLONIZATION OF MARS PAGE IS A POINT OF VIEW!
People who edit the “Colonization of Mars” page need to realize that the information needs to be relevant to a colony of people on Mars, who will be eating, sleeping, and need to grow plants to eat. So a lot of “raw data” about orbits or axial tilts or “partial pressures” and other details that might be perfectly well sourced are more appropriate for the “Mars” wiki page and not the “Colonization of Mars” page.
FYI to you and other editors. I've already disclosed that I'm an expert on this subject, having just written a book that includes chapters on Mars and exoplanets (but not yet published). That doesn't give me the right to have the last word, but it helps to validate my claim that I'm an expert on this subject and that you can have some faith that my contributions have a high degree of relevance and are meaningful to a large audience.
WikiEditor2563 (talk) 19:03, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
WikiEditor, you are right that sourcing does not mean something is untouchable. But if other editors think the material should stay, simply discuss it until you can achieve a consensus about what belongs. It's what's known as the bold, revert, discuss cycle. Anyone can edit Wikipedia and is encouraged to do so. If another user objects to a change, they are free to revert the change. At that point, both editors (and anyone else involved or interested) is expected to talk on the article talk page (or a user's talk page, in some cases) about the disagreement and work out a consensus opinion.
As an aside, no one is trying to dispute your qualifications. As you said, it means you may have something to offer on the topic that an ordinary person would not have. Good! Just make sure your planned edits are not unilateral. --Jprg1966 (talk) 19:13, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Actually, I would like to know more about your qualifications. You keep mentioning your book, but what is the source of the expertise that has gone into the book? Is it being published by reputable academic publishers? Do you have any relevant academic qualifications or technical knowledge? It would be useful to know. andy (talk) 19:16, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Note: this editor has now been indefinitely blocked. andy (talk) 22:56, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Suggestions for article improvements[edit]

I have no particular expertise in the area but as an ever-curious reader here is what struck me about the article:

  • The first section "Relative similarity to Earth" is a bit of an abrupt introduction. What about starting off with a section that discusses the history of the concept and how it moved from the realm of science fiction to being looked at seriously?
  • The points in "Relative similarity to Earth" and "Differences from Earth" don't have a lot of cites but being scientific facts, I imagine they wouldn't be too hard to find. The two sections might be better off being subsections of a section that introduces in prose why Mars is a candidate for colonization.
  • Perhaps make "Transportation", "Communication", "Radiation", and "Terraforming" into sections of "Colonization challenges and prerequisites"
  • "Robotic precursors" needs more cites. Who is making these statements?
  • Same with "Economics". More direct attribution is needed for speculative statements.
  • "Possible locations for settlements" - a cite referencing who has considered these sites would be nice.

My two cents anyways. --NeilN talk to me 00:27, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

I noticed the "Possible locations for settlements" section earlier, and noticed that the only refs in the section verify that the locations exist, but make no claims of their suitability as settlement locations.
Unless sources can be found that directly supports specific possible settlement locations, I would suggest purging that section as it appears to be purely original research. --- Barek (talkcontribs) - 06:14, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Planetary Protection[edit]

As far as I can see the article now has no mention of the requirements for planetary protection of Mars. Particularly, increasing evidence of possible habitable regions on present day Mars surface for microbes. This is a recent news story in Nature about the warm seasonal flows now found in equatorial regions: Water seems to flow freely on Mars - Any areas of water could be off-limits to all but the cleanest spacecraft.

Current guidelines for Planetary protection require us to keep Mars free of Earth life so that we can study it in its pristine state. This is an international requirement under the Outer Space Treaty which all space faring countries and countries with space ambitions except N. Korea have signed and nearly all other countries as well.

There is much published on planetary protection issues for rovers on Mars, as of course is an ongoing thing - there is not so much published on planetary protection for future human missions to Mars, although the issues are of course far greater for humans.

This is one article Human Missions to Mars – a Challenge for Planetary Protection:Gernot Groemer

There are also general statements in some of the COSPAR documents but no detailed discussion or technical details.

I think the general assumption is that the humans would be sent to Mars only after the current exploration phase is already completed, at a point when requirements for protection can be relaxed somewhat, but there is no set criterion for the end of the exploration phase (which I personally think must surely last at least several more decades, probably longer, before we have a reasonable understanding of Mars by way of ground truth).

On the idea that perhaps it might be a major issue for human missions to address, there is this 2012 article, with remarks from Cassie Conley planetary protection officer. Manned Mars Missions Could Threaten Red Planet Life - which of course is a bit out of date not mentioning the newer 2013 resuults.

Suggestion: to say that

  • human missions to Mars would have to comply with planetary protection policies
  • those policies currently have strict limits on the number of micro-organisms on a spacecraft designed with the view to prevent introduction of microbes able to reproduce on Mars. The current guidelines for unmanned rovers such as a maximum of a total of 300,000 microbes per spacecraft, internally and externally are ones which no human mission can fulfill.
  • this policy is intended to be kept in play until the end of the current exploration phase on Mars
  • This exploration phase has no definite end date at present.
  • Detailed guidelines have not yet been drawn up for human colonization and require more ground truth from robotic surface missions on Mars first.

Robert Walker (talk) 14:00, 5 January 2014 (UTC)

An alternative is to add a section on human issues to Planetary protection and then have a short section here referring to it, also mentioning that of course Space X and Mars One both plan to comply with all the planetary protection issues and have been in discussion with the planetary protection officer Cassie Conley on the topic. Yet, it remains a significant issue with so far, no clear road map ahead. Something like that and then refer to the Planetary protection section for details. I hope I now have enough distance in time from the events of last year to attempt this, will see. Is just a suggestion for now.
But one way or another, I think the planetary protection issues for human missions to the Mars surface should be mentioned somewhere on this page, I think best in a separate section to draw attention to them even if the section is short, just a couple of sentences. Robert Walker (talk) 21:35, 6 January 2014 (UTC)