Flag of Mars

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A flag of Mars is a flag or flag design that represents the planet Mars or that represents a fictional Martian government. Science fiction authors have, for literary purposes, described the flags of fictional Martian governments. Some of the readers of those flag descriptions have created flags or flag images that are based on the authors’ descriptions. Flag images for two fictional Martian governments are presented in this article.

Advocates of the exploration and settlement of Mars have designed, manufactured, and sold Mars flags, sometimes with the hope that their designs may one day be adopted and used by real Martian governments. The most widely recognized flag of Mars was designed in 1998 by a planetary scientist named Pascal Lee. The Mars Society has manufactured and sold flags based on Lee’s design.[1]


Pascal Lee[edit]

Pascal Lee's flag of Mars.

Pascal Lee's flag of Mars is a tricolour used to represent the planet Mars, its exploration, and its eventual transformation into a more Earth-like world.[2] It is not official in a legal or any other sense, as the Outer Space Treaty forbids the "national appropriation" of celestial bodies by countries.[3]


The design of the flag was originally conceived by NASA planetary scientist Pascal Lee during the 1998 Haughton-Mars Project arctic expedition to Devon Island, Canada.[2] In addition to symbolizing liberty as a tricolour flag, the design evokes a vision of the "future history" of Mars in which the planet is transformed from red, to green, and then blue like the Earth. The red bar, which lies closest to the mast, symbolizes Mars as it is today. The green and blue symbolize stages in the possible terraforming of Mars, should humanity ever have the ability and will to undertake such a task; the ethics of terraforming remaining a matter of debate. Kim Stanley Robinson's popular science-fiction trilogy Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars also provided inspiration for the flag. Beyond any human-induced terraforming, the color sequence also depicts the environmental change Mars might experience on astronomical timescales as the Sun evolves into a red giant and Mars becomes warmer.[2] In the Pantone Color Matching System (PCMS), the red is the "Red Clay" (18-1454), the green is the "Mint Green" (17-6333), and the blue is the "Imperial Blue" (19-4245).[2]


The flag was first displayed and flown at the Haughton-Mars Project Research Station (HMPRS) in summer 1998, and then on the Mars Society's Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) in summer 2000. The flag is widely used by the Mars Society and The Planetary Society. It is displayed in several locations on the Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station campus in Utah. A version of the Flag of Mars sewn by Maggie Zubrin specifically to be flown in space, was carried aboard the space shuttle Discovery by astronaut John M. Grunsfeld on STS-103 in 1999. The flag is also used as a sew on patch on concept spacesuits used in Mars mission simulations.

Thomas O. Paine[edit]

A flag design showing Mars, as a way station between Earth and the stars.

Thomas O. Paine, who served as the third Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, designed a Mars flag in 1984.[4] Paine's Mars flag includes a sliver of Earth near the hoist side of the flag "as a reminder of where we came from, and a star near to the other side, to remind us of where we are going. In the center of the field is a representation of Mars itself, with an arrow pointing out to the star, acknowledging that Mars is not our destination, merely a way station on a journey that has no ending".[5]

Paine's flag design was illustrated by artist Carter Emmart. That illustration was published on the cover of a periodical titled The Planetary Report. According to Emmart, Paine "created the Mars flag as an award to the person or organization that he felt had contributed most to advancing the human exploration of Mars".[6]

On November 12, 2005, Ray Bradbury received a Mars flag as a part of the "Thomas O. Paine Award for the Advancement of Human Exploration of Mars". The award was presented to Bradbury during The Planetary Society's 25th Anniversary Awards Dinner.[7]

Calder Hansen[edit]

Calder Hansen's flag of Mars.

Calder Hansen is a 2014 CDB Scholar[8] and creator of a proposed plan for a "flag of Mars".[9] It is not official in a legal or any other sense, as the Outer Space Treaty forbids the "national appropriation" of celestial bodies.[3]

Calder Hansen's flag uses two solid colors and a chevron to represent multiple aspects of Mars itself and of humanity’s relationship with Mars. The red chevron on the flag represents the color of Martian soil and the bravery of humanity in traveling to Mars. The white background of the flag represents the ice caps of Mars and humanity's peace intentions for colonization. The chevron represents the mountains of Mars (especially Olympus Mons) and an upward-pointing arrow symbolizing humanity’s journey into space.[10][11]

The flag is in the public domain and Calder Hansen has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights pertaining to the flag.[12][13]

Part of Hansen's rationale for the flag is that it stands out from other flags, provides contrast of colors, represents more than preexisting flags, and its meaning does not depend on the order of its parts.[10]


There is no official flag for Mars since there is no government or other authority in existence capable of adopting such a flag. In addition, the Outer Space Treaty states in Article II that "outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, are not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means."[14]

Whilst this specifically prohibits "national appropriation" of extraterrestrial territory by nations, it does not specifically outlaw such appropriation by other entities, such as companies or individuals. Such claims are currently speculative, as there is no human population in-situ to enforce them, but this is the basis on which some companies claim to sell extraterrestrial real estate.[15][16]

In science fiction[edit]

Flag of the Federal Republic of Mars, as described in Moving Mars

Moving Mars[edit]

In his 1994 science-fiction novel Moving Mars, Greg Bear describes the flag of the fictional Federal Republic of Mars as follows: "red Mars and two moons in blue field above a diagonal, white below".[17]

Stranger in a Strange Land[edit]

In Robert A. Heinlein's 1961 science-fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land, a flag of Mars is hastily improvised, consisting of "the field in white and the sigil of Mars in red".[18]

Flag of Mars as described in Stranger in a Strange Land

The Expanse[edit]

The Flag of the Martian Congressional Republic
The Flag of the Martian Congressional Republic as depicted in The Expanse television series.

In The Expanse television series, based on The Expanse series of novels by James S. A. Corey, the Martian Congressional Republic is the governing body that rules over the inhabitants of Mars and is one of the two human superpowers in the series. Its flag is reminiscent of Mars and its two moons, Phobos and Deimos, and the light blue crescent might allude to the limited amount of water and breathable air present on Mars that is necessary for human life.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Orelove, Michael. "A Flag for Mars". The Universe in the Classroom. Astronomical Society of the Pacific, No. 66, Summer 2004.
  2. ^ a b c d Lee's "Flag of Mars".
  3. ^ a b Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies Archived 2011-02-22 at WebCite United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. Retrieved: 2011-05-26.
  4. ^ Horowitz, Sarah. "The great Martian flag wars". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 56, No. 3, page 10. May/June 2000.
  5. ^ Reeves-Stevens, Garfield, et al. Going to Mars: The Stories of the People Behind NASA's Mars Missions Past, Present, and Future, page 222. Pocket Books, December 21, 2004.
  6. ^ Emmart, Carter. "On the Cover". The Planetary Report. The Planetary Society, Volume 12, Number 5, September/October 1992.
  7. ^ Lakdawalla, Emily. The Planetary Society Blogs. June 6, 2012. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  8. ^ "Announcing the 2014 Caroline D. Bradley Scholars!". Institute for Educational Advancement. 2014-09-04. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  9. ^ "2018 Bradley Seminar: Community, Intersections & How to Make a Really Cool Flag - Institute for Educational Advancement". Institute for Educational Advancement. 2018-03-20. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  10. ^ a b "Flag of Mars". Flag of Mars. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  11. ^ "A flag for Mars". prior probability. 2017-09-05. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  12. ^ "News". Flag of Mars. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  13. ^ Tom Scott (2014-05-07), The Flag of Mars and Rods from God: Citation Needed 1x08, retrieved 2018-08-29
  14. ^ United Nations treaties and principles on outer space : text of treaties and principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. United Nations. Office for Outer Space Affairs., United Nations. General Assembly. New York: United Nations. 2002. ISBN 978-9211009002. OCLC 51896365.CS1 maint: others (link)
  15. ^ "Flag of Mars". Marspedia. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  17. ^ Bear, Greg. Moving Mars. Legend Books, 1994.
  18. ^ Stranger in a Strange Land at Flags of the World. Retrieved on 2011-03-01.

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