Forget Mars. Here’s Where We Should Build Our First Off-World Colonies

By David Warmflash | September 8, 2014 11:05 am

off-world colony on mars

The collective space vision of all the world’s countries at the moment seems to be Mars, Mars, Mars. The U.S. has two operational rovers on the planet; a NASA probe called MAVEN and an Indian Mars orbiter will both arrive in Mars orbit later this month; and European, Chinese and additional NASA missions are in the works. Meanwhile Mars One is in the process of selecting candidates for the first-ever Martian colony, and NASA’s heavy launch vehicle is being developed specifically to launch human missions into deep space, with Mars as one of the prime potential destinations.

But is the Red Planet really the best target for a human colony, or should we look somewhere else? Should we pick a world closer to Earth, namely the moon? Or a world with a surface gravity close to Earth’s, namely Venus?

To explore this issue, let’s be clear about why we’d want an off-world colony in the first place. It’s not because it would be cool to have people on multiple worlds (although it would). It’s not because Earth is becoming overpopulated with humans (although it is). It’s because off-world colonies would improve the chances of human civilization surviving in the event of a planetary disaster on Earth. Examining things from this perspective, let’s consider what an off-world colony would need, and see how those requirements mesh with different locations.

Creating a Mars Colony

First, let’s take a look at what the mooted Mars settlement schemes are offering. The Red Planet has an atmosphere containing carbon dioxide, which can be converted into fuel while also supporting plants that can make food and oxygen. These features could allow Martian colonists to be self-sufficient. They could live in pressurized habitats underground most of the time, to protect against space radiation, and grow food within pressurized domes at the planet’s surface.

Over decades, continued expansion in that vein could achieve something called paraterraforming. This means creation of an Earthlike environment on the Mars surface that could include not only farms but also parks, forests, and lakes, all enclosed to maintain adequate air pressure. (The natural Martian atmosphere exerts a pressure of only 7 millibars at the planet’s surface – equivalent to being at an altitude of 21 miles on Earth!)


Mars colony illustration. Credit: NASA

Furthermore, in addition to adequate pressure, we’d need a specific mixture of gases: enough oxygen to support human life, plus nitrogen to dilute the oxygen to avoid fires and to allow microbes to support plant life. While the small spacecraft in which astronauts fly today carry food and oxygen as consumables and use a simply chemical method to remove carbon dioxide from the air, this type of life-support system will not swing on a colony. As on Earth, air, water, and food will have to come through carbon, nitrogen, and water cycles.

While it would cost a ton of money to build, paraterraforming sections of Mars with a sample of Earth’s biosphere inside pressure domes, caves, and underground caverns is something that we could achieve within years of arrival of the first equipment. Moving beyond paraterraforming is a more ambitious goal that could require centuries, and that’s full-scale terraforming. This means engineering the planet enough to support humans and other Earth life without domes and other enclosed structures.

Terraforming Mars would require that the atmosphere be thickened and enriched with nitrogen and oxygen while the average temperature of the planet must be increased substantially. To get started, terraformers might seed the world with certain microorganisms to increase the amount of methane in the Martian air, because methane is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. They also would seed dark plants and algae across the surface, thereby darkening the planet so that it absorbs more sunlight.

With the right combination of plants and well-selected microorganisms, planetary engineers could generate the needed oxygen and nitrogen. During all of the centuries needed for terraforming, colonists would inhabit and expand the system of paraterraformed structures.

That’s a vision that’s relatively cohesive. Still, there are some aspects of the plan that are less than ideal – and indeed, might point our skyward gazes toward a different destination altogether.

The Problem of Distance

A colony totally isolated from Earth would need significant genetic diversity to avoid the disease risks that plague smaller populations. According to a study published earlier this year, a multi-generation starship carrying people whose descendants would colonize a planet orbiting a nearby star would need a population of at least 10,000 and possibly closer to 40,000.

It’s been reported that Elon Musk wants to build a Mars colony with a population of 80,000. This certainly would fulfill the population requirement, but a further distance is a challenge both in fuel and in time. First, fuel. The Musk plan involves sending multiple crafts each with a total payload of 15 tons per trip. To convert that to people onboard, consider that that’s just under half the tonnage of NASA’s new Orion spacecraft which carries a maximum of six astronauts. This gives us a ratio of approximately 5 tons per person.

Some of the tonnage is due to the fuel needed to accelerate the ship from low Earth orbit to escape velocity, and this may not differ between Mars and closer sites, such as the moon. But the tonnage per person also depends greatly on the travel time, because of life support and other issues related to consumables, so it’s fair to say that for a given number of voyages we’ll be able to relocate more people to sites in the Earth-moon system than to Mars.

Second, the time it takes to transport settlers. A colonization program will be efficient only if each transport ship is designed to make multiple trips back and forth. A 15-ton payload of the Musk plan currently translates into three colonists per ship, but to be optimistic let’s imagine that we could increase that number to 20 people. In that case, transporting 10,000 people to Mars (the minimum number needed for healthy genetic diversity) requires 500 voyages from Earth, while 4,000 voyages would be needed to reach the 80,000 colonist milestone. Assuming that we’d build only a fraction of that number and have the ships go back and forth, we can expect to be waiting around for ships taking a year or two to return to Earth to pick up a new load of settlers. Certainly, the advent of advanced propulsion technologies, shrinking the travel time between Earth and Mars from a year or so down to weeks would change these considerations, but right now the various Mars colonization proposals (at least the developed ones) are based on the old-fashioned chemical engines that have sent the current MAVEN probe toward Mars at turtle speed.

the MAVEN spacecraft orbiting Mars. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Artist’s impression of the MAVEN spacecraft orbiting Mars. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

A two-year round trip time and a fleet of 25 ships transport ships gives us 50 years to relocate 10,000 people, and 400 years for 80,000 people. Certainly the time frame would shrink due to early waves of colonists having babies, and certainly technology could accelerate the program, but given that we’re talking about many decades to reach the genetic diversity milestone, it seems worthwhile to make a similar calculation for the moon, for which the round trip time is only a week. Doing this, with the same type of program (25 ships each carrying 20 people), we get the first 10,000 to the moon in less than six months, and the first 80,000 in less than four years.

And, finally, being closer would help with ongoing rapid access to and from Earth. That may sound contradictory, given that the goal is to build a colony that’s self-sufficient. But getting to that point could take some time, and at the beginning some colonists might need to be evacuated. There should be a growing medical capability on the colony, but initially cases of very serious illness and certain injuries might be better handled on Earth. This would not be an option if the travel time were measured in months, or even weeks. And what if there were a planetary disaster on Earth in the early decades of the colony? From a location close to Earth, the colony might actually be able to provide some help.

Close to Home

A colony on the moon, on the other hand, would be within easy reach. Like Mars, the moon has caverns and caves that can be sealed for paraterraforming, along with craters that can be enclosed with pressure domes.

Artist's depiction of a pole colony on the moon. Credit: Asa Schultz

Artist’s depiction of a pole colony on the moon. Credit: Asa Schultz

One fascinating lunar colony proposal would utilize the Shackleton crater at the moon’s south pole, enclosing a domed city with a 5,000-foot ceiling and a diameter of 25 miles.  A colony in that location would have access to large deposits of water ice and would be situated on the boundary between lunar sunlight and darkness. Its proponents estimate a Shackleton dome colony could support 10,000 settlers after just 15 years of assembly by autonomous robots.

In the event of an Earth-wide disaster, evacuating people to the moon would be far easier than to Mars. Another, even nearer option would be free space colonies. These would be built using materials mined from the moon or from near-Earth asteroids. The colonies could be located in the Earth-moon system at sites that are gravitationally advantageous, known as Lagrangian points. In these regions, a colony’s distance and orientation to both the Earth and the moon, or to the Earth and the sun, would remain constant. Utilizing Earth-moon Lagrangian points, it would be relatively easy to transport lunar materials to the site of the planned colony and build it, and the travel time from Earth would be similar to the travel time to the moon, meaning a few days with current technology.

The Problem of Gravity

All planets and large moons have enough gravity to hold an atmosphere, so terraforming in theory is widely possible. But in terms of human life not all gravities are created equal.

On Mars you weigh 0.38 your weight on Earth, and we’re not entirely sure what this would do to human health. To keep Mars residents’ bones from demineralizing, for instance, they might need to exercise inside large centrifuges every single day. Thus far, NASA and other organizations have studied effects of partial gravity to a limited extent on humans by producing Mars and lunar gravity for short periods (under a minute) during parabolic flight.

For long-term effects, which in weightlessness involve not only bone demineralization, but also muscle atrophy, immune system effects, and other complications throughout the body, there is no way to replicate partial gravity on Earth. We can simulate it with various contraptions that have allowed researchers to study things like walking on Mars and whatnot. We can put people in bed for long periods with the beds angled so as to simulate the shifting of fluids on Mars or other worlds. But until we actually send animals to those environments, we can’t really be sure what will happen to various systems, including reproduction. The development of embryos depends on gravity and is known to be disrupted in weightlessness, but we don’t know what will happen in environments with a fraction of Earth’s gravity.

And while Martian gravity is low in terms of human physiology and movement (you could jump really high on Mars and that would be fun), it’s high enough that spacecraft would consume a significant amount of energy in taking off from the planet or landing on it. Similarly, while the atmosphere is way too thin to support human life (until we terraform it), it’s still thick enough to cause dust storms that can ruin colonial machinery. So considering the air and gravity along with the distance from Earth, Mars actually may not be the best candidate for an off-world colony.

Lightening the Load

mars greenhouse

An extraterrestrial greenhouse illustration. Credit: Jan Kaliciak

Here Venus has one advantage over other worlds: its gravity, which is just a little less at the surface compared with Earth’s. On the Venusian surface, the pull is approximately 91 percent what it is on the surface of Earth. That’s close enough that it seems unreasonable to predict any long-term detrimental health effects from the gravity difference, which is a nice advantage. On the other hand, Venus would have to be terraformed before anyone could live on the surface at all, since the high pressure and temperature would not allow for paraterraforming. Nevertheless, we might be able to terraform Venus just as easily as Mars.

Going in an opposite direction as Mars terraformation, a Venusian project would begin by having planetary engineers interfere with the runaway greenhouse effect that cooked the planet billions of years ago. The process might start using heat-loving microorganisms and various chemical tricks to remove large amounts of carbon dioxide and other gases that we wouldn’t want there.

Another gravitational fix could be found in free-space colonies. We already said that these could be built using lunar or asteroid materials, but another advantage is that we could build them in any shape. If built in the shape of a doughnut, such a colony could be rotated at the precise speed needed to produce the same gravitational pull as we feel on Earth – meaning that keeping our bones, heart, and other body systems healthy would be as easy as hopping on an Earth-style treadmill, kicking a few handstands, playing tennis, or whatever physical activity you enjoy.

A New Home in the Solar System

I support an aggressive Mars exploration program. We’re sending probe after probe there for good reason: geologically the planet is similar to Earth, and used to be even more similar. Moreover, it’s one of the most interesting and vital sites for astrobiology in the solar system. Very likely, the Red Planet will become the first place where we confirm the existence of extraterrestrial microbial life, providing us with a second datum for biology. Since all life on Earth that we know has basically the same chemistry, comparing it with a newly discovered system could stimulate quantum leap advances in biotechnology and medicine here on Earth.

But while Mars science must advance at full speed, it does not mean that the same world is the best first site to settle families with children. Given all that we’ve discussed, until we have much faster propulsion, I think that colonization should begin closer to Earth, either on the moon, or in free space colonies in the Earth-moon system, depending on what studies on early lunar bases tell us about the long-term effects of lunar gravity – including, importantly, whether healthy pregnancies on the moon are possible.

After all, whichever of these locations we choose, we’ve got a long line of future space descendants to think about.


Top image by Aaron Rutten / Shutterstock


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: Mars, space exploration
  • yahiaspeaks

    Isn’t it ‘Lagrangian’ points? (Close to Home, last paragraph).

  • Jim LeSire

    Interesting article, allexcept for one strange statement right at the beginning: carbon dioxide can be converted into fuel?

    • Matthew Prorok

      Indeed. In fact, CO2 has been converted into fuel for a very long time. Most of the fuels we use are converted CO2. Plants are very good at the job.

      The trouble is that, on Earth, we’re currently converting fuel back into CO2 rather quickly.

      • Jim LeSire

        Yes, plants, if they can be made to survive on Mars with such low pressure, lack of moisture and weak sunlight can make something useful out of CO2, but that seems like a slow, impractical way to obtain something you just want to burn and turn back into CO2. First you have to get the plants there & engineer them to function in such dire conditions. Meanwhile you have to use something else for fuel.

        • Matthew Prorok

          In all seriousness, at this point, nobody is better at it than plants. If we could synthetically replicate photosynthesis, even with all its inefficiencies, it would still be more efficient than any solar energy technology we have today, and probably usher in a technological revolution that would make getting to Mars trivial.

          As for engineering plants to survive on Mars, they don’t have to survive unprotected on the surface. They can just survive in tanks exposed to sunlight. We can adapt this from existing algae fuel research. Grow algae in a tank, give dead algae to methanogenic bacteria, and you’ve got yourself some methane. And that’s just the simplest path, turning effectively waste algae into fuel; while it’s alive, the algae can produce oils that we can turn into biodiesel.

    • Helge Pharrherr

      Yes. You can use Hydrogen, which you can bring along or make from Water, and CO2, to make Methane. CO2 + 4 H2 at 300-400°C produce CH4 (methane) + 2 H20.and some heat.

      • Jim LeSire

        I think those reactions use more net energy than they produce. Better to use plants, or some engineered form of photosynthesis.

  • Uncle Al

    Venus’ surface temperature melts circuit boards’ solder, 465 C ambient versus 216 C melting. One might wonder just what everything will be fabricated of, even before air conditioning is a goal. Ambient pressure is 93 bars, 1350 psi. Human biochemistry is not hyperbaric. A small leak 1 km deep in the ocean equivalent is a Thresher incident equivalent.

    • Steve Schmidt

      Blimps. Pick your temp and pressure. But that’s for later, when we run out of space to breathe on Mars.

      • Matthew Prorok

        Did we mention that the atmosphere above the clouds, where the temperatures and pressures are more acceptable, is subject to constant Category-5-hurricane-force winds? Good luck, blimp.

        Venus is a terrible place.

        • Steve Schmidt

          Struth. Having said that, and not being an expert on Venerian balloonery, why would you care how hard the wind is blowing if you’re being carried along with it? Obviously you would have to be big enough to negate the ‘Brownian Motion’ from gusts and eddies, but after that wouldn’t you be fine unless you collided with a pterodactyl or something?

      • Uncle Al

        Of what shall you fabricate the blimp envelope? 465 C is above the survival temperature of all organics. With what shall you fill the envelope? Diffusion (virtual leakage) rate is roughly proportional to absolute temperature.

        • Steve Schmidt

          The conditions you are referring to are on or near the surface. Hence the blimp. I hate to use Wiki as a reference for anything, but it’s quick and dirty and gives you an idea of where I’m coming from.
          “Despite the harsh conditions on the surface, the atmospheric pressure
          and temperature at about 50 km to 65 km above the surface of the planet
          is nearly the same as that of the Earth, making its upper atmosphere the
          most Earth-like area in the Solar System, even more so than the surface of Mars. Due to the similarity in pressure and temperature and the fact that breathable air (21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen) is a lifting gas on Venus in the same way that helium is a lifting gas on Earth, the upper atmosphere has been proposed as a location for both exploration and colonization.[10]”

    • Eric Fouts

      Actually early earth and Venuses currant atmosphere are Identical millennial of sea life removing carbonates and other gasses from earths atmosphere is what has made our planet so nice. Basically the stuff that makes Venus so horrible is all locked away in rock here on earth. With the right microbes and a few thousand years Venus could be like one large tropical paradise.

      • Anthony Lucas

        A good ol project for future generations.

  • Helge Pharrherr

    Delta-V wise, Mars isn’t much harder to reach than the surface of the Moon. Plus you can make your return fuel on Mars.

    • Steve Schmidt

      That’s the fun part of colonies. You don’t need return fuel.

      • Helge Pharrherr

        True, but it’s probably useful to be able to make a highly energetic rocket fuel there, if for example, part or all of the colony had to be evacuated…or if you plan to have people coming and going later on.

        • Steve Schmidt

          Absolutely. You need it for your vehicles and equipment, and it’s a much better way to store energy than batteries! So, the solar panels run during the day and whatever isn’t used minute-to-minute goes into making fuel that you can burn in your fuels cells at night to keep warm. (Firewood is in very short supply after the Jovians came for the weekend and trashed the place…)

      • mzk1_1

        How do you get the vehicles back? (Assuming we are moving people.)

        • Steve Schmidt

          1) Keep them as habs, or
          2) Separate the ships from the landers and run the ships in an earth-return free orbit, or
          3) Put Aldrin cyclers in place and just get on and off when you reach the planets.

          Bottom line, colonists don’t come back.

  • CJay Snyder

    Tera forming a planet, moon, etc without considerations of the effects of radiation that we are proteced from by earths magnetic field?

  • Joe Joejoe

    Off world colonies are useless unless they’re large enough to sustain a genetically healthy population indefinitely. A 12 or even 1000 man mars base isn’t going to mean jack squat if life on earth was wiped out. They would eventually die off on their own, with the time it takes depending on how it happens.

    Whether it’s being unable to sustain their habitat, or they miraculously had machine that never broke down or needed to replace, they would just eventually die from either genetic defects or medical issues brought on by the environment they live in, like a lack of gravity.

    No, humans won’t simply adapt to a sudden large shift in gravity difference. Evolution doesn’t work that quickly. Evolution to different environments must be done slowly over tens of thousands of years or more, otherwise the organism dies before it has a chance to adapt…and that’s assuming the organism could adapt to begin with. Some of the fundamental processes that go on in our bodies are related to gravity.

    There’s tons of issues right down to gut bacteria. Let’s say key gut bacteria are eventually lost and unable to be replaced, eventually that could reach a point to where they can’t digest some or any types of food, or allows other bad bacteria to take hold, etc. Tons of unforeseen consequences. And then there’s even recognizing these problems if there is even a solution. Something as simple as gut bacteria could be overlooked, people could be dropping like flies and no one would know why.

    Until we’re ready to make a serious and large commitment to colonizing other worlds, anything else is futile.

    I think I recall humans needing something like 16,000 people minimum to continue the human race independently and healthily. And that’s on a place like earth where different environments can allow for genetic diversity to take place. When we’re talking a singular habitat, that figure may be entirely useless because they’re all more likely to converge toward a lack of genetic diversity due to the environment they all share.

    Just think about it… people wouldn’t have developed at all without the hot african sun beating down on them. whites wouldn’t have developed at all without the shade of the forest, asians wouldn’t even look asian if they didn’t evolve from having to protect their eyes from the wind and sun. These aren’t just for show, these traits have real functions.

    Now imagine all of those various humans being moved to a singular sterile environment always at the same temperature and humidity with zero other life to adapt to. They would all converge to adapt to that environment, reducing genetic diversity. So we may need far more than the suggested estimates because they don’t take any of these factors into account.

  • eljeffster

    The population problem is an easy solve. Just take frozen embryos and/or sperm and eggs with you and do surrogate pregnancies and artificial insemination.

    • Republican Jesus™

      This is a seriously great idea on the genetic front, /youwin

    • Anthony Lucas

      Yes easy fix. Good thinking but we would also still need to get teachers and farmers up there to teach and feed the new generation of humans. Still, a lot cheaper than projected costs you are a smart person.

  • lump1

    Visiting other planets is cool, no doubt. But the stated reason for colonizing them – that it’s somehow an insurance policy for our survival if the Earth should become uninhabitable – seems like a dumb argument. What, exactly could make the Earth literally uninhabitable? Certainly not global warming. Even if we burned all the fossil hydrocarbons there are, that would raise average temperatures by 6 degrees – a great shock to all ecosystems, but a long way from uninhabitable. Even if we do our absolute worst – nuclear war, pollution of all air and water, greenhouse warming, broad deforestation, biowarfare, you name it – the Earth thus desecrated would still be considered the most habitable planet we know of in the galaxy, and that by many miles. Post-apocalyptic Earth would still be an absolute paradise in comparison to Mars, the Moon, or hellish Venus. None of these places will ever be more welcoming than Earth, no matter how bad Earth gets. Even if we have to live and farm under pressurized domes, we’ll have it a million times easier than the people who try to do the same on Mars. And when we get the power to terraform Mars, we will long have had the power to clean up whatever mess we made on Earth and turn it into a Garden of Eden. The latter is a much smaller project.

    Sure, a gigantic asteroid could wipe out continents, or a plague could sweep across the planet, but if we want survival insurance, isn’t it much easier to build habitats underground, and under the sea? We can excavate layers that no asteroid is going to damage, and impose a quarantine at first signs of epidemics. Furthermore, we could build a permanently inhabited space station at a liberation point near Earth. All of these projects would offer insurance that’s at least as good as a Mars colony, and for a tiny fraction of the cost. But admit it, you don’t *really* care about this “insurance” goal. You just want people to live out in space.

    • FrancusAurelius


    • Inspector_Goyim

      “What, exactly could make the Earth literally uninhabitable?”
      Are you stupid enough to think that the planet has unlimited resources? Hilarious.

      • DJ

        Stephen W. Hawking. advocates moving all your eggs out of one basket. Argue the unlikely possibilities with him. Or join the smart crowd planning for the inevitable.

        • mzk1_1

          That would be a better argument for building a meteor deflection system.

          PS – Being smart in one field does not make one an expert in everything, as we have learned to our grief. Chomsky is the poster boy for this.

      • rrocklin

        What kind of resoures do you think mars has? Do a little research before you make stupid statements. Moron.

        • Anthony Lucas

          Wow you are stupid. Earth isn’t the only place with valuable ores numb nuts

      • mzk1_1

        What we have found over the past few decades, is that we have plenty of resources for the foreseeable future. All prophecies of doom have proven wrong. If you mean far, far future, we should then have much better technologies to work with.

        • Anthony Lucas

          I can already tell ur a denialist we kill off so many species of plants and animals that are essential to our survival that sooner or later unless we move a good portion of our population somewhere else mass genocides will be necessary to survive. Me, I prefer the former. Enjoy fantasy land in hell bum nuts.

          • yor mom

            Cute. Why aren’t new species just evolving to cope with it?
            If they are, then there’s nothing to worry about. If they aren’t, then what the Hell is evolution all about?
            After all, humans are said to have evolved literally coming out of an extinction event.

          • Ken Dalton

            New species don’t just pop up out of nowhere. They evolve from currently established species over long periods of time. Most of the pollution and other environmental destruction that humans have caused has happened in just the last 3 centuries, from the invention of the steam engine onwards. There hasn’t been enough time for new species to evolve.

          • yor mom

            I don’t buy it. All sorts of species survived and evolved coming out of the extinction event that killed the dinosaurs which happened in far less than 3 centuries.
            Sure, lots of species died off completely, but many more took it’s place, which makes me wonder; What’s the big deal with our pollution? We’ll kill off some things, sure, but the species that survive will fit better with the changing planet.
            It won’t be any “worse”, just different.
            Why should we cater to unfit species rather than let the fit take their place?

      • lump1

        I do believe there is such a thing as renewable resources, yeah. Is that really so hard to understand?

    • mike

      Think of it as life insurance. Until such a time as we can say with 100% confidence that our extinction is a mathematical impossibility, we should take whatever measures are necessary to ensure the continuation of the species. It’s a simple matter of prudence.

      • mzk1_1

        Or we could wait a few centuries until the technology catches up. On the other hand, this could push the technology.
        Now a good meteor deflection system, on the other hand, isn’t a bad idea.

      • Hendu71

        100% confidence that extinction is a a mathematical impossibility? What? You realize that extinction level events could happen on Earth AND Mars (and far more likely there), right? This will improve the odds, but you will NEVER have that kind of certainty.

        • Ataraxia

          It seems as though you’re confused about what was said. The OP never once suggested that the introduction of an extraterrestrial colony would eradicate the risk of extinction.

          What the OP was trying to say is that by spreading human life throughout our solar system, we remove the possibility of any single extinction event wiping out our entire species.

      • Craig_Hubley

        Why is it “prudence”, and who is “the species”? Or “we” for that matter?

        Humans do not think as one group.

    • Jim Saint

      Lump, they are talking about avoiding extinction. Learning to live on Mars or the moon will also help us learn to live on Earth if conditions become harsh, but having all our eggs in one basket is not good. Given that there have been 8 or 9 large extinction events throughout earth’s history, such as asteroid impacts, it makes sense to spread out.

      • TheBrett

        Those extinction events are spread out by millions of years (sometimes tens of millions of years), and asteroids could be pushed away so long as we have good robotic spacecraft programs and monitoring telescopes.

        Lump’s right – there aren’t a lot of catastrophes that we couldn’t handle here on Earth, creating the need for space colony “backups”. The only real reason to build a space colony is that you either

        1. Really want to live in space (or away from Earth) and can afford to pay for the infrastructure and construction costs to do so, OR

        2. There’s scientific and/or economic value involved in having humans in space long-term doing something, and a colony is a better idea than rotating people in and out.

        • Republican Jesus™

          Similar the the original poster, you also fail to acknowledge that there are in fact extinction events that would be unavoidable here on earth. The notion that extinction events only happen every x number of years is a prime example of the fallacy of the maturity of chances. The truth is it could happen at any moment. In the case of an asteroid for instance, the solar system is too large to say with absolute certainty that we can monitor every inch of the cosmos and see it coming. I agree that we should focus, for now, on building survival mechanisms here on earth (like deep sea colonies). However, at some point it will be wise to expand elsewhere in the solar system as part of an overall diversification strategy.

        • Shadowbob

          think of the movie Avatar. they used Pandora for mining. That is a reason for another planet. More money and more jobs as people will mine on other planets like mars. The minerals on other planets or astroids could get the whole US at least out of debt after a little while. The US has over 10 trillion dollars in debt so that money is needed. Other countrys could use that too.

          • IamGrimalkin

            Mars isn’t all that good for mining though, there isn’t much there you can’t get on earth, and you need to get the mine products out of a big gravity well. If you want to go space mining, go to asteriods or perhaps the moon.

        • Jeigh Neither

          The evidence and science reveals the complete opposite of your assumption. On average, every 28 million years; Earth experiences a catastrophe that leads to a mass extinction of 90 percent of all life.

          • Rod Martin, Jr.

            Where do you get your “28 million year” figure? There have been 5 major extinctions in 600 million years. That’s 120 million year average; not 28.

      • Rhett J D.

        Humans need to quit being stupid on this planet first, because they will just destroy every other planet out there

        • marc

          There’s a long way to go

        • Neptus 9

          You mean they should all agree with you first? Your problem is the self-hatred the left has cultivated to infect Western people to make a takeover easier. People are not destroying Earth and those who seek to move outward are seeking to maintain life.

          • Lachlan

            dude, bro, really?
            were being assholes to earth. we need to stop it. renewable energy, hydrogen powered cars, recyclig, all good things, little gestures to stop being asholes, but oil spills? civil wars? terrorism? we need to help ourselves here first…

          • Neptus 9

            Do something about the self-hatred.

          • Christopher

            Sheesh you sound like a zealot..

          • Neptus 9

            But it seems my aim is good.

          • Jeigh Neither

            You’re aim isn’t “good” (way to simplify and generalize) if you automatically try to turn a simple and logical conversation about interplanetary exploration; into an attack on the “left” within your first two comments. You sir, are awarded my top ten biggest douche-bags of the universe award. How is that for self-hatred; which you are clearly projecting on your audience…smh

          • Neptus 9

            As leftists say, everything is political.

          • Jeigh Neither

            Like any good self-fulfilling prophecy; “everything is political” because you see everything as political. Reality however; isn’t anywhere near your inaccurate assumption. In fact “Everything is a lifeless, empty vacuum” is far more accurate depiction, than your self-centered delusion.

          • Neptus 9

            I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Almost everything probably is a lifeless empty vacuum, but what am I supposed to do about it? I’m not a leftist so I can point out the flaws in their interpretation, which are glaring and fatal.

          • Jeigh Neither

            Yeah; you’re clearly confused. Which is it? Politics, or a lifeless vacuum? You cant have both and my point is; which was pretty clear…is that life is what you make it. You obviously make things that have nothing to do with politics; about politics. Its like some disgusting blowhard disease. You have hijacked a conversation about interplanetary exploration, and turned it into your petty political stage; nonsense about left and right…because thats where your mind is stuck. It’s sad and self-serving & you seem like you have wandered into the wrong subject matter. Leave politics where it belongs…straight up the arsses of meglomaniacs, that think what they do and say matters in the shadow of an immense and vast universe…ie; between your ears.

          • Neptus 9

            It’s difficult to make any sense of that symptomatic word salad. There seem to be negative emotions mixed in with accusations of politics that differ from yours. Why bother to respond if you didn’t like what you imagine I might have said?

          • Jeigh Neither

            I apologize; I thought you were able to carry a basic converstion. I see my simple explanations in English, have all gone over your head. To be clear; I have no issue with your brand of politics; just that you’re such a self-absorbed slob, that you need to wipe it all over everything. And I wrote to remind you how much of an insignificant heel you are…
            Enjoy your disease.

          • Neptus 9

            Why do I care if you don’t like me? I don’t even know who or where you are and don’t care.
            Should I put “trigger warnings” on my statements so I won’t set anxiety ridden neurotics off?
            This exchange shouldn’t have happened, but once you became upset I thought I might help you. Guess I was wrong.

          • Jeigh Neither

            Yes; you are undoubtedly wrong, and cant seem to function without putting things in boxes, and saying what should or shouldnt be. That’s the result of a fear filled existence. I assure you, I’m not upset with you; I actually feel sorry for you. Again; goodluck and enjoy.

          • CanofSand

            Wow. Clearly, you’re an awful person. Kindly stop projecting about how messed up others are.

          • Kyana McCoy

            Ah my friend but since the birth of civilization it’s all politics controlled by the elite? The lesser of civilization follow the lead of politics?

          • CanofSand

            What an asinine thing to post. You took a fairly subjective statement (which isn’t even necessarily literally believed by the one you’re attacking; you seem to have missed the context, twisting leftists’ words’ against them) and said it’s less true than an objectively false statement. Everything is decidedly NOT a lifeless, empty vacuum. Your argument is neither intelligent nor honest. I’d say “get an education,” but your words are, to paraphrase, so stupid that only a very “educated” person could believe them.

          • CanofSand

            Projection. Here he is, defending humanity against absurd anti-humanity zealotry, and you say HE is the zealot. Typical leftist “thought” process.

          • WARLORD VIII

            Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but us humans do not. We move to an area and we multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way we can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus

          • Neptus 9

            Self-hate illustrated.

          • WARLORD VIII

            Not hate, just simple observation of are history and nature.

          • Neptus 9

            I think you mean “our” not “are”.
            And it does represent self-hate because all you do is blame instead of suggesting what to do about it.

          • WARLORD VIII

            Suggestions are mute in a world ruled buy greed and men of power that will do anything including let others suffer to keep there meaningless wealth.

          • Neptus 9

            More cliches. Honestly, you’re repeating cliches. I’m not blaming you as long as you’re unaware of it and believe this is a new, insightful revelation.

          • WARLORD VIII

            Cliches that haven’t changed. No matter how many people have said it or come up with suggestions to fix it, there still the same as before. Nothing changes unless men of power alow it. To promote real change it will take action not suggestion, and that action will have to a by the many not the few. Let’s face it, many people are compliant in the way thing are as long as there comfortable, action will not happen till something major happens. Something that will force people out of there comfort.

          • Dillon Mackentar

            Really, humans and viruses are the only things you can think of that can over consume resources? Come back to this debate when you can think critically instead of just repeating things you’ve heard.

          • Mary Lou Mooney


          • WARLORD VIII
          • Jim Jones

            In all seriousness, this misanthropic aproach people take in these forums makes any serious debate nearly impossible.

          • Chad Mobley

            Uhhh. Isn’t that from “The Matrix”? Using a movie as a basis for an argument is stupid.

          • Craig_Hubley

            Not if the argument is essentially correct, and only cited in a movie.

            It’s ad hominem argument to claim a movie scriptwriter can’t have a worthwhile insight.

          • chrisp909

            But it’s not correct in any way. Humans are mammals by every definition and not viruses by every definition. It’s a stupid comparison. It’s not a conclusion a logic based computer program would come to. I’ve always hated that monologue in the movie for that reason.

          • Neptus 9

            Only if you use it to claim the movie is invalid. Which the basic assumption of The Matrix is.

          • Mary Lou Mooney


          • fucknigga3

            why are you quoting the matrix

          • Mean Baby Gene

            If this isn’t self-hatred, I dunno what is. Though your virus point rings true.

          • IamGrimalkin

            But the actual case is more the opposite. Other animals usually tend to increase in population until they run out of food and crash (or get taken out by predators), human populations tend to level off after economic development. One of the biggest arguments for the (generally held as discredited) “population bomb” theories is appeal to other animal species.

          • Neptus 9

            Humans & viruses? I rest my case.

          • charlesver

            The “self-hatred” argument is possibly the most ridiculous claim one could make. It’s an ad hominem built out of a straw man which is itself, an ad absurdum, all wrapped up in a hasty generalization argument, and as such it fails every test of logic or critical thinking.

          • Neptus 9

            Do you think you could make that a bit more convoluted?

          • charlesver

            No, that argument about self-hatred was indeed convoluted, I agree. I couldn’t make it any more so if I tried.

          • fucknigga3

            fresh out of high school debate huh

          • charlesver

            The guy using the “self hatred” ad hominem argument? Definitely, I agree. I mean, come on, most of us grew up and left that kind of stuff behind in the 1980s. He certainly does debate like a high-schooler,

          • Neptus 9

            I’m not the one who said people will “destroy everything” and are “stupid”. That’s self-hatred unless he’s an alien or at least not human.

          • charlesver

            No, you’re not the one who said it. Neither are the millions of people who you claimed have “self hatred.” One person said it. In response, you claimed that hundreds of millions of people (“the left”) have “self hatred.” You also created a straw man by interpreting his off-the-cuff statement literally… do you actually think he really believes people are going to destroy all the planets? Thus interpreting his attempt at humor as self-loathing. His post didn’t even suggest his political views. I have no idea if he’s on the left or on the right, he could be a libertarian for all I know. All I know is that he made a joke about people destroying all the planets.
            Also note, he didn’t say that *he* would destroy the planet, but other people. People who do stupid things. So, even with regard to this one individual, you have yet to prove self-hatred. To suggest that he meant that every human being who lives including himself destroys planets, is a straw man. To attribute his statement to everyone of a particular political viewpoint is a generalization. The fallacies you are making are many.

          • Neptus 9

            You’ll see such crap all over leftist sites. Negative expressions about people in general.

          • charlesver

            Yes, because trolls and haters go there to post negative expressions about people in general. Many conservatives despise people they see as “leftist” so they go to their sites to post negative expressions about them.

          • Neptus 9

            It’s usually leftists who express hatred of humanity in general. That alone is tiresome and begs for help.

          • charlesver

            I never met one of those. Well, I imagine with billions of people in the world, the experiences of any two people are bound to be different.

          • CanofSand

            It’s insane how you’re claiming hatred of humanity isn’t a fairly common thing for the left. Even worse that you persist with this claim as leftists in this very comments section show you are wrong. But some anonymous comments doesn’t remotely come close to the full extent of the proof of our position:

            Environmentalist says humans are plague on Earth
            [ Many big-name leftist environmentalists quoted. ]
            www dot cfact dot org/2013/01/22/environmentalist-says-humans-are-plague-on-earth/

            NBC’s “Thought Experiment”: Having Kids Is Immoral
            hotair dot com/archives/2017/11/15/nbcs-thought-experiment-kids-immoral/

            Environmental group says Children ‘bad for the planet’…
            www dot news dot com dot au/story/0,23599,21684156-5009760,00.html

            Environmentalist calls mankind a ‘virus’…
            www dot businessandmedia dot org/articles/2007/20070506180903.aspx

            Eco-Extremist Wants World Population to Drop below 1 Billion
            www dot businessandmedia dot org/articles/2007/20070506180903.aspx

            Feminist Tells Readers Having Children Is the ‘Worst’ Thing for the Planet
            townhall dot com/tipsheet/cortneyobrien/2017/07/12/feminist-tells-readers-having-children-is-the-worst-thing-for-the-planet-n2353919

            Bill Nye’s View of Humanity Is Repulsive
            www dot realclearpolitics dot com/articles/2017/04/28/bill_nyes_view_of_humanity_is_repulsive_133738.html

            And that’s just a few of the citations I have on hand, let alone the many more I could find with some research.

          • ralph lake

            Not really. Many on the left are atheists who consider being human alone sufficiently sublime. Very often it is religious people who harbour dislike for humanity and require God to “rescue” and enoble him.

          • Neptus 9

            That’s true of many religious people. I’m not religious, myself, in part because of the hatred some religions spew.
            Leftist hatred is usually more generic, even aiming at all humans, who can only be helped by government in their view. Or by killing everybody.

          • Neptus 9

            Very cleverly done.

          • Matt Shaw

            i dont find fault really with what he expressed. and we do definitely prey on one another. but yeah, probably best to go boldly forward, i dont think our discord here should mean a halt to colonizing other worlds if we can….

        • Daniel Baines

          Nah. Its actually quite a good idea. It will preserve the human intellect. The genes for human intelligence are fast slipping away from us hear on earth. Space settlers will have to be the best of the best though. With no outside ‘thickies’ to creep into the gene pool, it should be a relatively preservable state of intelligence, rendering it moot that the unintelligent breed faster, and are no longer weeded out by natural selection. As a backup for humanity when all else is lost, its a great idea.

          • Neptus 9

            You mean “here on earth” not “hear on earth”.

          • Craig_Hubley

            Why do you think “space settlers will have to be the best of the best”? Was that the case when the Spanish enslaved the New World? When Civil War veterans pushed west in North America?

          • Neptus 9

            Self-hatred again. Just make plans that will eliminate such actions or prevent them and don’t whine and self-flagellate over things from centuries ago.

        • Erik Engheim

          Makes no sense. No matter how bad we treat earth, we can never make earth as screwed up as the other planets in our solar system. Mars soil is for human purposes all contaminated and toxic. It has to be cleaned before you use it to grow anything.

          On Venus lead melts on the surface and it rains sulfuric acid. It would take major effort to make Earth that screwed up.

          I don’t get this frequent sentiment that going to another planet is somehow a cop out from earth problems. Earth problems are minuscule and always will be compared to the problems of the other planets.

          Even if we ignore global warming, ozon layer, and all sorts of pollution control earth will still be a paradise compared to the other planets.

        • KE


      • marc

        Guess how long we will live on a planet with a weak magnetic field like Mars on times of solar storms……….

        • Lachlan

          hence underground until it is ready

      • Craig_Hubley

        Please explain why a species that actually managed to make its home planet less appealing than ones as different than Mars or Venus *should* continue to exist…?

        I can see no reason for that. It makes no “sense to spread out”. At least not from the perspective of any sane sentients we would run into elsewhere.

        Making your own planet uninhabitable is the only irrefutable reason to exterminate a sentient species. I can’t see any sentients not destroying a locust species on contact.

        In case of a genuine biosphere-wide extermination caused by humans, wiser humans would likely participate in putting an end to this failed transition species, either by engineering a new one without so many human flaws or just blowing up the escape ships.

      • Simon

        too harsh, all out nuclear war still leaves earth much less harsh than anywhere in space.

      • jonas brave

        Humans are a life form evolved here and well-adapted to changing earth environments like ice ages and natural disasters. We have creative resources and abstract problem-solving skills other animals don’t.
        Extinction events like meteor impact only completely remove life forms that occupy a certain vulnerable niche and that aren’t adapted to survive the cataclysm in sufficient numbers to propagate.
        Some luck is involved as well, but the most lucky thing we’ve got going for us is we humans are already highly adapted for THIS planet. And we constantly devise technologies to manipulate our winning odds beyond the provisions of nature.
        A human colony set up on a earth-like planet four light years away in the Proxima Centauri system is an interesting pipe dream. It seems infinitely complicated, and perhaps ultimately no more safe than home sweet home, Earth One.

    • Anna

      Let’s look at the sun. Our sun is a type G star which is in fact aging. It is increasing energy output by 7% every billion years and will eventually form a red giant. This means that one of two things will happen to destroy human life on planet Earth if a mass extinction does not occur first: the sun will increase the temperature, evaporating liquid water on planet Earth or the sun will form a red giant. In the case of heat killing us, even though a 7% energy output increase per billion years isn’t much it will exponentially increase the temperature on planet Earth. As water begins to evaporate at a faster rate, it will contribute more to the greenhouse effect increasing temperature further. So the habitable time on this planet is limited. If somehow humans survive the increased temperatures the sun eventually will form a red giant. The red giant will expand, engulfing Earth or at least stripping the atmosphere away. So as a species we must find a new solar system to colonize. Colonizing a planet such as Mars may be the first step in the technology development that needs to occur before colonizing a new solar system.

      • mzk1_1

        You are talking over such a long period of time, that waiting a few thousand years for the science and technology to advance should not be a problem.

        • lump1

          Seriously, humans still go hungry, die early for stupid and easily preventable reasons, haven’t yet eradicated polio, don’t have universal access to sanitaion, electricity, data, energy for cooking, etc. This is not the right decade for us to allocate resources to problems that will remain unnoticable for tens of millions of years. I’m all for funding basic research and its progress will surely help us with all kinds of things. But let’s also not get too distracted from immediate problems like malnutrition and malaria, just because we find them familiar and boring. And even for people itching to get started on fulfilling civilization-scope goals: The best way to start is to spread the good stuff we already have (antibiotics, education, safe birth control, vaccines, connectedness, etc.) more equitably, to get all of civilization on the same page.

          • Eric Fouts

            Seriously? any you don’t think advances into space could help? Energy collection alone is more efficient in space. no to mention minerals and metals can be found commonly in space. As for everything on your list of “must do firsts” they have been achieved in societies that allow for it and even then there are people who fight these things for irrational reasons. Many countries and governments in poor quality countries repress modern advances as a way to try to control the people. At any rate the speed at which earth is becoming over crowed is hugely out pacing our ability to provide advanced medical knowledge isn’t going to help that. We are going to have to expand in the next 400 years or human kind will face wars and violence and over crowding and ecological decimation, We don’t have time to wait of your good will fix the lives of everyone campaign, we need to be doing both, working to spread currant advances and trying to start colonization and deep space travel technologies or humanity will suffer far worse than we are now.

          • Anthony Lucas

            I agree makes so much sense as I’ve said before expansion is better than genocide.

          • MTSummerford

            I would argue that everyone on this planet is alive today because their ancestors and THEY did/are doing something that has proven historically to maintain life. We should look at every successful action and look for the commonalities among cultures. Think of a ying/yang of conservatism and progressivism. Conservatives champion traditions that have proven successful in the past. We shouldn’t forget these, so we need to let them continue to exist in case we need them later (almost like a system restore in case something doesn’t go well). Such as jungle tribes living completely off the land, or astronauts going to other planets. Progressives champion trying new combinations of previously successful actions, with the hope of a net greater efficiency and outcome. Hanging onto the past has the power to both build on what we’ve learned is successful, and can also hold us back, so having varying degrees of each is good. Imagine a situation where excellent global healthcare is available, and a single vaccine gone wrong could accidentally cause mass extinction. But vaccines have proven at least somewhat useful, because they have averted much death as well. If we keep a clearer and clearer eye on the extreme margins that are currently proving at least moderately successful, it gives us a clearer picture of which direction to go. Cars evolve very quickly – in only a few generations our cars have become easier to produce, more capable, safer, and more efficient.

          • IamGrimalkin

            Why does in-space solar or space mining have to involve mars?

          • Anthony Lucas

            Screw that let all the sick, old and starving die off. It’s called natural selection look it up. It keeps populations low and the environment in check.

          • Daniel Högberg

            You really need to educate yourself. There will be no allocating of resources. You assume alot about things you obviously do not know anything about.

        • Anthony Lucas

          That’s what the people in the 50s said now every bodies obese.

        • MTSummerford

          Why WAIT for science and technology to advance? These discussions ARE the start of that human conversation, which will never happen unless we start somewhere. Hey, we’re among the most self preserving, cooperative, communicative, and colonizing species on the planet, so we likely have the most hope of avoiding the next mass extinction.

    • Matthew Slyfield

      How about an impact with a comet or rogue planet large enough to shatter the planet into another asteroid belt? Yes, it’s unlikely, but it would be completely unsurvivable.

    • TheBrett

      I could see circumstances in which people would choose to live in “free-standing” space colonies, assuming the cost wasn’t prohibitive some time in the future. You could make the interior and simulated-gravity-by-rotation whatever you want, and also form a new separate society – something that might become extremely attractive if we ever figure the way to make people medically near-immortal, so that people in power are never retiring from office and dying off for new people.

    • Lady Ibis

      I think about this all the time! If we have the technology to turn a completely uninhabitable planet into an inhabitable one… WHY AREN’T WE USING THAT TECHNOLOGY TO FIX EARTH RIGHT NOW? Or at least CONSIDERING IT? Oh yeah… Politics… And denialists…

      • mzk1_1

        Us denialists think you are more likely to mess up the earth by assuming current science knows enough to tinker with the ecology. (Economics and sociology provide good examples of the same phenomenon.) The advantage of using another planet is that when your theory turns out wrong, you haven’t doomed mankind to extinction.

        On the other hand, in the far, far future, when the planet really might need fixing, we might actually have some sort of workable climate science, instead of the superstitions that pass for one currently.

        • fudog1138

          Tinker with the ecology? Isn’t unregulated runaway pollution tinkering with the ecology or is that superstitious?

          • FakeBased

            Tinker implies a purposeful, non-accidental action in an attempt at improving something. I wouldn’t necessarily consider our unregulated runaway pollution a viable source of experimentation and testing. More like an accidental consequence of a demand for energy. An environment where researchers have the advantage of performing ecological experiments without having too many negative consequences might be just what we need. Take that example of Venus. If we can solve the problem of greenhouse gasses on Venus, then that would (I would think) bring us closer to solving our own global warming problems here on Earth

          • Atypically Astute Australasian

            Took the words right out of my mouth.

          • IamGrimalkin

            Of course​, there is the problem that the current best plan for removing the carbon dioxide​ from Venus involves reducing the temperature until the carbon dioxide freezes then paving over it. That probably wouldn’t be such a good idea on earth.

        • Craig_Hubley

          If you are a denialist, you don’t have much to contribute to science debate.

      • zerowolfe

        do not elect simpletons like ‘w’ and “burroyak”…Dan vp for papa bush…and head of the space program…believed you could step out on Mars in your street clothes…a real gop bimbo…him and sarah palin…u see their children…violent nudniks!

        • Carl Lindgren

          It’s very simple, really – simpletons elect simpletons.

          Another way of putting it is “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” – Joseph de Maistre

      • Nobody Special

        Earth is still inhabitable though. It is easy to spread microbes and alge across a planet to start a basic ecosystem and then build it up. Microbes can survive in some extreme environments and can be used to help build up the atmosphere.

      • eric

        its easier to start fresh on a dead world introducing only the species you want in your ecosystem making humans the only parasitic organism than it is to take an existing ecosystem an tamper with it especially when you have a bunch of people here that dont like men playing god in their own back yard for religious reasons in space they dont get a vote

      • Erik Engheim

        Earth doesn’t really need fixing in that sense. It already has pleasant climate, breathable air etc. Earth problems such as overpopulation, poverty etc are not technological but economical and social problems. There is no physics and engineering solution for that.

        It annoys me that people think genius like Elon Musk could use his intellect to solve earth problems rather than building a rocket. He already does that with Tesla and Solar City. He does the technology part.

        Elon Musk can’t solve the problem of corruption, weak institutions and poor government. There is no engineering solution to those sorts of problems.

        Look at the current American election mess. You think there is scientific solution to that? People have insane ideas of what science can be used for.

    • DJ

      How about we move heavy polluting industry off earth and too the colonies. To Make Earth a Paradise

    • AKcharle

      ahh the voice of reason

    • joshuagenes

      War would make earth a very scary place. Didn’t Einstein say “I do not know what weapons will be used in WWIII but I do know what will be used in WWIV, stick and stones”

      • lump1

        Yeah, but it will still be a much nicer place to live than Mars, even after the worst nuclear war that we could ever wage.

        • joshuagenes

          If you survive, If the race of men survive.

        • Anthony Lucas

          No it wouldn’t are you retarded?

    • Pooua

      You are exactly correct, and very well stated. We would do much more to ensure the survival of our species by concentrating on establishing extreme habitats on Earth than anywhere else.

      The reason we should explore and colonize other worlds is that doing so tells us many details about those places and strengthens our entire species with the knowledge and materials gained. We gain an advantage by assuming a new perspective, by increasing our alternatives and learning what is around us.

    • Republican Jesus™

      There are far to many possibilities to be absolutely certain that nothing could wipe us out. Failure to acknowledge that puts you firmly into denialist territory, even if you do have some valid points. Spreading out across the solar system is a logical solution to avoiding extinction, with the exception of avoiding a supernova, even if you don’t agree. We could literally have this exact same argument over climate change and I’m sure you’d still be denying the obviousness of the danger and our inability to control the outcomes.

    • Daniel

      One problem the earth might not handle.. or we may not handle.. is overpopulation. If the amount of humans on earth keep rising exponentially like it does at the moment, then in the future we won’t have enough resources or space on earth to keep our population alive on earth alone, and we would need to colonize other places in the galaxy to continue our current lifestyle as a species.

    • Matt

      Has over population literally never even crossed your mind? We’re 7 billion strong right now. By the time we have the technology to consider living elsewhere that number may have doubled or even tripled. There is simply not enough physical space on the planet to sustain all of us. We’re pushing the limits as it is.

    • James Pelletier

      In less than a billion years the earth will be far to hot to inhabit, the sun is getting hotter, and so is the earth, if our species is to survive we must take the initiative and venture in to space.

    • nick

      I would like to raise a point of the fact that there are huge methane reserves in the ocean floor and the fact that the temperature would raise by 6 degrees would speed the release of this gas which would then increase the tempature of the surface more and this would speed up the process which could then cause more and more methane to pour in to the atmosphere eventually killing all life on earth so yes global warming could kill us all and no you are not correct when you say life would never be more welcomed than on earth it would just be harder

    • Jachael Gardner

      who are you and will you be my friend?

    • George Csima

      I agree on your perspective for the near future, but we need to progress into space eventually. It would be too ambitious today or even the near future. We need to stop hunting for ET and fend for ourselves technologically. Self reliance but progressively conventional. Don’t break the bank.

    • nik

      Actually a string of space stations in the same orbit as earth, not around earth would do the job, following earth around the sun.
      Rotational ‘gravity’ is indistinguishable from real gravity, as far as the body is concerned, or so I’ve read, so rotating space stations with solar panel arrays to collect the required energy, and sunlight to grow crops, etc. would each be a survival capsule for the human race, and any other lifeforms.

    • Emkay

      earth was 8 degrees warmer during the Medieval period.

    • Lawk

      “What, exactly could make the Earth literally uninhabitable?”

      The natural life cycle of our star, the sun.
      On its way to a red giant it will increase in size and luminosity before eventually becoming a cooler white dwarf.

      This process will be in full swing in 6.5 billion years or so. But life will probably not make it past 1.1 billion years, oceans will have evaporated.

      But even in 600 million years we will have atmospheric shenanigans going on. Because of the sun.

      Climate change right now is probably not directly caused by this, but thats a much more short term issue in the grand scheme of things.

      But essentially we MUST get off earth to survive.

      Nothing lasts forever.

      But if we as a species get hold up in concepts like monetary systems when it comes to our survival we might as well deserve to be extinct.

    • 3p1cd3m0n

      Nanotechnology can destroy all of Earth (including underwater bases) but not touch other planets. Look into the grey goo scenario.

      • lump1

        I did, it’s stupid. I think even Drexler finally admitted so much. Anyway, even if grey goo was possible, I hope you realize how much material gets exchanged between Earth and Mars as a part of natural processes. If the Earth turns to goo, Mars will at best have 50 years left.

        • 3p1cd3m0n

          What’s stupid about it?

          “If the Earth turns to goo, Mars will at best have 50 years left.”


    • Patrick

      ^^^^ This. Whatever technologies can be used to colonize Mars could be more easily used to build “colonies” on Earth, which could sustain humanity in the face of a planetary disaster (asteroid impact, nuclear war, global warming, supervolcano, etc).

      We will colonize Mars, Venus, the Moon, etc. once we have conquered the problem of scarcity on Earth, and we’ll do it simply because we can, not for any practical benefit.

    • John Thomas Watts

      We must one day leave the earth and colonize somewhere because our sun will collapse in on itself and expire possibly becoming a black hole. We as a species must leave this planet in order to keep humans from extinction. The more we fight and carry on amongst ourselves the longer it will take. We claim to be a superior being on earth but I am ashamed that we do not use our technology as we should and use it for profit. We know what we must do but we don’t stand together and make it happen. We have colonies in space already and advanced craft for deep space flight. Check out” Secret congressional meeting on UFO’s” on Youtube., it is a hearing being held by scientists in front of our own CONGRESS, It will open your eyes to the real truth that has been kept from us . PLEASE watch I guarantee that you will be in awe.

    • Lachlan

      Dude, our sun will burn through (so close to it doesnt matter) all of it’s hydrogen, and then expand rapidly, taking ust 100 million years to completley engulf our planet in temperatures so hot it will melt your goddamn ignorant marshmellow. our planet will die. it will be swallowed by an inferno or heat and fire. its oceans will evaporate and the hydrogen wil be literally blown away by radiation. we will never have oceans again.
      we are 1 astronimical unit from the sun, and the habitable regein will go from 1 AU to 47.3AU to 75AU, not looking so good now hey?

    • jim bob

      So … why is the solution to human over breading to colonize more planets? And as much as humans screw up the earth digging in it more seems like a bad Idea and digging in the moon sounds like a worse idea. If you cause it to shift its rotation or some other strange catastrophic event we could destroy all life on earth. Shouldn’t the Goal be to create sustainable living conditions for humans and other large animals on earth? All the things scientist fear and worry about is usually all theoretical nonsense that they partake in out of boredom because it amuses their minds well they aren’t out gathering and hunting for food or making communities with other humans to sustain human life in a healthy colony. Underground colonies only sound reasonable if we cease to live on the surface of the planet. We already use too much water and other natural resources. Attempting to sustain more humans cities seems folly. I think the advancement of human communities into small self sustaining bubble colonies that are built above the surface of the earth so that the forest can grow all around beneath them is a better use of our engineering prowess then space travel. Colonies of around 100 people would be best. Farming their own food. Hunting together. Raising their children together. Limiting their own population size to stay within 75-125 people would be ideal. Using Renewable resources and water recycling techniques to sustain necessary resources instead of drilling in the earth for water and oil. Strong communities where each person has purpose in their life is one secret to human happiness.

    • Ethan Shaw (JellyBeanINC)

      When Earth was 4.5 degrees colder, we were at the coldest point during the ice age. Imagine what an extra 6 degrees could do to us.

    • Neptus 9

      We need to expand life, not just humans, to wherever we can as a sort of biological duty, not to house “excess population”. (Malthus didn’t know everything.) I’d say artificial worlds are best for that but we can use what worlds we can also.
      We are not going to “repair” the Earth any more than we are going to have everybody living in peace and harmony. Earth is not damaged; we are simply another biological entity and like all others we change things.
      Give up the self-hatred and look for opportunity.

    • Art

      Whilst I agree on a space station covering this eventuality, I believe it would be best to do this in addition to a colony with access to important resources for construction.

      I do not know which planet holds the most useful resources for massive expansion, but I would suggest that planet is the one we’d want a colony on, with space way stations at liberation points.

      The main goals I believe should be to set up an industrial base to utilize said resources, and to increase production. An Autonomous resource gathering/mining program would be best. Especially if we’d set up an autonomous asteroid mining program. Meanwhile humans in said locations would provide the necessary survival insurance of the human race by simply surviving there.

      Mars, on the other hand would be great if it could be terraformed to our needs, that should be our priority over inhabiting it right now. If luna has water and other resources to offer then I do believe a permanent presence there should have priority over mars.

      Something that might seem irrelevant though that I believe should happen, is the complete planning of any and all future projects on planets to be inhabited in the future. Cities and their architecture should be planned out in advance and should display the origins and history of the human race. Perhaps it sounds petty and overly focused on aesthetics, but without our culture and history, our lessons learned and who we are as a people, are lost. As such I believe this should all be reflected in the things we construct, so that each building would serve as a reminder of who we are, who we were and who we aspire to become. We must never lose sight of that and we must do what we can to preserve such knowledge, perhaps by putting an arc of all history and knowledge and an automated educational system deep into each inhabited planet. You never know what will happen…

      If at all possible, I believe we should aspire to hidden colonies outside of the solar system in places between systems where they are hard to detect, you never know who will discover us before we do them.

    • Skyler Justus

      Overpopulation should be the main reason.

    • mak_th

      Eh , I suspect it’s not really such that you have to wipe out all life, so much as ruin the Earth as a habitable place for humans or for all surface life for a short period with just a couple of comets.

      The goal is that once you get to be reasonably spacefaring, that it’s serious business if you loose that level of technological sophistication.

    • TrollsAreWorthless

      Another climate denier yawn

    • Bill Kong

      I don’t think the backup plan is in case the Earth becomes uninhabitable. There’s a much weaker condition which would necessitate a Mars colony: if all the humans on Earth simply died. A global plague would certainly not make the earth uninhabitable: the earth would remain geographically unchanged. However, there may be no populations of people left capable of repopulating. You don’t back up your hard drive just in case the drive is destroyed. You back it up in case the data gets corrupted.

    • Dillon Mackentar

      You’re being a little optimistic in my opinion, if a GRB hit right now all life on earth except for some microbes and perhaps Tardigrades would be dead within months if not days.

      • IamGrimalkin

        Grbs would hit mars just​ as much as earth. Also, the main problem with Grbs is destroying the ozone layer, and mars doesn’t have one.

    • Matt Shaw

      I can really really see us cleaning up this planet, too, actually, with lots and lots of hard work. It’s odd how precarious things seem right now but we’re gonna have to make ourselves fit here as long as we can. which brings me right back to this insurance policy. anything can happen on the short term, there is a bit of present danger. i guess it all comes down to this window of affordability; how much work it would take and how much it would benefit us to at least start terraforming a sort of haven. it could theoretically /get/ pretty comfortable?

      there’s the benefit of having somewhere else to go, then there’s the idea of getting some practice in and learning a lot about moving through the universe.

      but there’s always the question of new technologies and changing games. or meeting another culture across interstellar space. between now and long term dangers like the Sun’s life, etc. there are some real game-changers possible.

      in conclusion, lump, maybe you’re right about it being safe enough here for us to just focus on terraforming Earth alone XD but maybe it would seriously, seriously benefit our future to split up, gang. i can see both being pretty dire.

    • Jeigh Neither

      The risk comes in planetary extinctions which happen about every 28 million years and often kill off 90 percent of all living things. You simply don’t want to have all your eggs in one basket.

    • Erik Engheim

      I think this is seen in a much longer perspective. The whole idea here is to make us multi-planetary species. When e.g. Elon Musk speaks of insurance policy I don’t interpret that as insurance against something as short term as global warming. We are talking about a much longer time horizon. I think his point is that it will take a very long time to establish self sufficient colonies outside of earth. Thus it makes some sense to start early. It will likely take hundreds of years to make Mars with concerted effort to make Mars a viable colony. Meaning a place which can produce most of the things we do on earth, capable of building its own rockets, perform science, be self sufficient etc.

      And that will just be one planet. The whole idea is to the develop the know-how and ability to replicate this process on many planets.

      But I agree with you that for most doom day scenarios, simply having underground facilities would fill the same need. One problem with building advance facilities on earth for these sort of things however is that nobody would want to live there.

      If you ask people, do you want to build up a civilization in deep water or underground on earth to safeguard humanity or do you want to build up a new civilization on Mars or Venus for the same purpose? What do you think they will answer?

      Frankly I think nobody will be interested in building up vast facilities on earth. Sure it is very sensible but nobody can get any passion into that. You are not going to get people to give up their whole life colonizing the deep oceans or deep underground worlds. I do think however people are willing to give their life to be pioneers on Mars. You have to factor in human psychology.

    • KE

      It’s sickening that humans are destroying everything on this planet, sucking all the resources, and population wildly out of control. So instead of fixing our own problems, we just want to go and populate and eventually destroy another planet. When does it end? When does humanity start working on themselves. Going to another planet or even countless planets isn’t going to solve the systemic issues at root with all our woes. Sad.

    • Kyana McCoy

      Agreed, no matter how much we populate the planets around us Earth will always be a better fit. Even at its worse…It’s all about knowledge gained, it’s about man’s desire to explore. It’s about the quest… Let’s do it!!!

    • Archie Meijer

      An asteroid with enough of a shockwave would cause immediate global extinction, even if Earth would still be more inhabitable after evacuated people are returned. As for a plague, even if it didn’t wipe everyone out having another planet could be a useful way of enabling a quarantine, even evacuating people tested at some way-station in space before moving them to a plague-free planet, moon, asteroid, or space station.

      However, more compelling reasons for space colonization are the research benefits from doing so, as well as some long-term economic benefits. There are resources in space and long-term economic benefits to developing them, even if the start-up costs are high.

    • mak_th

      Think about it this way, the best argument for growing and maintaining self-sufficient or largely self-sufficient colonies off-world stem directly from the notion that should something happen , perhaps not catastrophic but nearly so.

      So a large Mars or Lunar colony is no guarantee of much of anything, in and of itself, but were there to be a nuclear exchange or EMP detonation over Eurasia and the Americas, it could be decades before Earth became able to launch anything. Such a terrorist or act of war, would plunge billions into abject starvation and economic chaos.

      The colonies could underwrite the idea that we survive , should civilization collapse on Earth.

      Similarly, should something catastrophic happen of a similar nature on account of a virus (something like the 12 monkeys type scenario) or a major industrial accident, a major economic disruption, having those colonies off-world may provide the nucleus of the recovery for a post-collapse society.

    • atl9pdnp

      Ya. Very good points… Hollywood, popular culture and physics professors made space seem really cool… it is something we can see. The stars, moon and planets all inspire imaginations…. BUT our earth has not at all been fully explored… the seas cover two thirds of this planet, and we have not even mapped them all. Having unwater cities – where oxygen is plentiful (just take is from water) – the only issue is dealing on a very large scale with pressure… outside of that we can create artificial light etc etc… the practicality and cost of going into space – and the gamble of surviving let alone the thousands of years it would take to terraform a planet to support billions of people – if that is even possible – is in reality just science fiction – whereas 2/3 of our planet is virgin territory and right beneath our very nose.

    • Amrit Pal

      90% of all life on Earth went extinct once and there were 5 mass extinctions.Thermal maximum on Earth was 8 degrees and we are spewing co2 hundreds of times that event.You are a lump,Lump.

      • lump1

        And my point is that even at the peak of the mass extinction, when things on Earth were at their worst, Earth was a much nicer place to live than Mars is now. I think there is no contesting the point. I mean, come on – are you trying to suggest that an average temperature 8 degrees from optimal makes a planet uninhabitable, so we would be happier living on Mars?

        • gleydsonpedrosa

          lump1 (:

    • Greg Tippitt

      A really big asteroid could kill most of us. It could kill half of us within a day by drowning if a large asteroid split into pieces upon entry and sent large portions into both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans causing multiple catastrophic tsunami. A huge portion of the inland population could be killed the first few days by wildfires caused by small meteorites starting fires world wide.

      Military research on the feasibility of kinetic bombardment weapons from orbital platforms already suggests that a high speed metal projectiles the size of a large tree trunk can each cause the damage on the ground of a medium sized nuclear weapon. Whether a large metallic asteroid hits us with a few big chucks or millions of smaller ones doesn’t matter much. Imagine a bad hail storm, if the hailstones were the size of tin cans, were 1500F/815C in temp, and were hitting the ground at 200MPH/300KPH. Lots of people are going to have big holes in them. Life for those “lucky” enough to have survived the first 2 days, will die really slowly and painfully of diarrhea, hunger, and thirst, since most bodies of water will be filled with lots of dead things, not to mention all of the toxic waste released from industries destroyed the first day.

      We have pathetically worthless equipment scanning for objects approaching Earth. We would need to know years in advance to get a rocket, somehow bigger and faster than all of the rockets on Earth combined, to send this MEGA-Rocket to intercept a large incoming object enough to deflect its path if it were on an intercept course with us.

      As for seeing these objects, we didn’t see the mysterious ʻOumuamua object until it was already past us headed towards the Sun and back out of our solar system. Fortunately if it had intercepted with Earth, it had by all accounts an unimaginably light-mass for its size. What if on the other hand it was some super dense substance like nothing on Earth that made iron, lead, tungsten, and uranium all look like cotton-candy, and it had hit us at its speed?

      There are lots of ways for us all to die, just ask the next Patagotitan mayorum or passenger pigeon you meet. It is thought that there were half as many passenger pigeon in North America 300 years as there are humans on Earth today, and they have been extinct for a 100 years.

      I personally think that reducing the number of people on Earth by half would paradoxically be the first step to ensure our survival. If we built underground protected cities here on Earth, they’d be a lot more energy efficient than current dwellings and be protected from bombardment. Whatever they’d build on the Moon, Mars, or Venus, would be lots easier to build on Earth.

      Once we’d also ended war and famine on Earth, then building this article’s idea of the orbital wheel type habitats with “spin gravity” to house small cities would be easy. All of the Republicans from the U.S. and similar Xenophobes and whining White Supremacists elsewhere could have their own “White Only” world to themselves on the Moon perhaps, where they could all live in underground Trump Towers. Everyone on Earth could enjoy really funny reality TV episodes of them sitting in restaurants hungry and complaining that they couldn’t find any service staff in any restaurants to take their orders and that nobody had changed the linens on their beds, clean their toilets, or washed their clothes since they had arrived. Watching them debate allowing “immigration” could be reserved for sweeps weeks. They could have shorts of the ones from the U.S. being confused that some of the others didn’t speak English. They’re white, so why can’t they speak English?

      American, White, and increasingly ashamed of it whenever I read Presidential Tweets.

  • Nick

    Wasn’t this the plot in Pandorum? that was a good movie.
    Wouldn’t any atmosphere developed on Mars be stripped away by solar winds? Doesn’t that make the whole idea moot?

  • SkyJET

    Total Recall

  • psuedon name

    Venus is closer to the Sun than the Earth is, by a factor of 30%. This will double the strength of the Sun’s radiation thanks to high school math like the inverse square law. The high temperature of Venus is not just because of the atmosphere. The sun is a lot brighter there, because Venus is so much closer. It’s not just terra forming.

    • Vape Escape

      The radiation would increase by a magnitude far greater than that due to the much, much weaker magnetic field of Venus.

      We take our magnetic field for granted.

  • Tamagawa_D9

    “…comparing [Earth Life] with a newly discovered system could stimulate quantum leap advances in biotechnology and medicine here on Earth…”

    Could somebody explain this? How does finding microbacterial life on Mars, which presumably shares an origin with Earth life, help us with biotech and medicine?

    • Uncle Al

      Imagine religious hind gut fermenters suddenly tap dancing about a unique Genesis, expulsion from Eden, and Original Sin. Then, back to gene-gineered foodstuffs to feed the planet and make pharmaceuticals.

      • mzk1_1

        Actually, it would seem to me that given the extremely low probability of life emerging by accident, two cases near each other would be a good argument against it being one. The more life we find, the less likely accidental evolution gets.

        • Matthew Pottinger

          I thought I would just be reading these comments and not posting but that so-called logic is just that terrible. If life is common then who are you to say its improbable? If it is common then that by definition makes it probable or inevitable. Small minded religious thought is just terrible at logic and that is a nice example thanks.

  • Alex

    The whole idea of terraforming Mars is a dream unless we find a way get the planet’s core spinning again. Any attempt to create an atmosphere will be wiped out by the Sun since there will be no magnetic field.

    However, I don’t agree with the idea of just staying on Earth forever, in fact I believe that greed will be the main cause behind human space expansion. But what a day it will be when you get the video feed seeing human beings landing on another planet and surviving. We know less than 1% of what this world holds, why would you not want to know more?

  • Peter Roklus

    why not start by colonizing the moon first?

  • Luke Parrish

    While we’re at it, let’s stop trying to put humans in space and put up some self-replicating robotic systems. That is a much faster way to harvest the resources of space usefully. A lunar factory that doubles in size every year would cover the entire moon in 45 years.

  • Tony de Veyra

    Would it really be necessary to send 40,000 settlers to start a colony on mars? Technically, the colony needs the genetic diversity of 40,000 people, not 40,000 actual people to survive. Send 500 people to mars along with a sperm and egg bank holding the unique gametes of 10 million other people and let them grow the colony and the colony’s genepool through in vitro fertilization. I’m not an expert on the state of reproductive technology but I think that would be a plausible system for establishing a healthy new population

  • R.V. Gad

    Everyone is missing one crucial problem: Ever since Mars’ small iron core stopped spinning around 500 million years ago, there isn’t enough gravity from mass alone to sustain an atmosphere no matter how you try to terraform the planet. If it had an adequate gravity to sustain an atmosphere and surface water, as well as a magnetosphere to help shield the planet from solar radiation,, it would be a great place to live, maybe even preferable to Earth.

    • TheBrett

      Even without a magnetic field and with the lower gravity, a terraformed Mars could hold to a habitable atmosphere for probably hundreds of millions of years even if you left it alone. It would be thinner than Earth’s, and the inhabitants would be exposed to more radiation than Earth people, but it would last.

    • creek house

      so what is your best guess on why they are trying to go to another planet? I don’t see any logical reason except as a diversionary tactic to veer our attention away from the disaster we’ve made of our lives here or as a false hope so we don’t commit massive suicide as we watch the demise of a livable life here.

      • R.V. Gad

        You are partly right. They are considering other locations with resources, especially water. The greater fear, beyond Earth becoming toxic, is the reality of survival after a major meteor or radiation storm of some kind or another – both scenarios are more than possible. People do not want to think about the possibility of all life on this planet being wiped out, without having a backup plan of some kind that might keep our species from turning extinct, when we obviously can prepare for some life to escape to another place in or out of our solar system.

        Even in a less than perfect atmosphere, like on Mars or Titan, given enough resources and technical solutions, these places can house adequate biospheres (preferably underground) where human life could continue.

    • Robert Lyle

      I share your thoughts about colonizing Mars, There’s so many crucial variables to consider before even attempting such a thing. Our own moon should be the guinea pig test subject for any inter-solar colony effort at all. I personally think there’s some liquid water and life living underneath the surface, but not sure what kind, maybe nematodes, arthropods, exoskeletal creatures if any advanced stuff is there at all, which is exciting! but come on. Love the planet a lot, but without a magnetosphere, you might as well take your chances playing with spent uranium rods as lincoln logs. The radiation would destroy any unshielded organism dumb enough to hang out on the surface the whole time. Some people have argued that the radiation isn’t that bad. I’m not willing to test that myself, but they insist that’s the case. I bet they’d hum a different tune if they were there, stuck on Mars, nothing but a frigid desert in which way you look or travel.

      • R.V. Gad

        Conditions on Mars, on an average day at the equator (where we have actually never landed an advanced lab) is supposed to be a high of 72 degrees F. and -60 F. at night. The radiation on a good Sol discharge day when the solar winds are not highly charged, is tolerable but not great. The next instant you can also be fried by incoming radiation from any direction, any time of the day. Light thermal atmospheric and radiation reduction suits have been devised for this use, not as bulky as EVA suits, but that would be preferable to dealing with the cost and effort of maintaining an atmosphere that cannot be sustained or automatically replenished by nature as it is here on Earth. Underground systems with corrected lighting, atmosphere, etc., and use flat screen technology as windows would be doable. Our conditioning here in the free atmosphere is nothing more than an expectation, not a necessity. I have done a lot of deep mining and exploration, then considered how fragile our houses are, which made me feel like sleeping in the open desert imagining the house falling on my head more than the cave falling in. Condition and expectations of reality.

  • William Lee Alves Barnes

    As we slowly drive ourselves into mad extinction here on Earth, with all the stupid reasons we are doing it; war, environmental destruction, etc, etc, etc., what makes people think that the same will not happen on another planet, or in space? We, as a species, are simply not evolved enough to live in peace among ourselves, let alone the environment and our lovely blue planet. We must grow up, learn how to take care of ourselves here IN WORLD PEACE AND COOPERATION. This is the answer. It won’t help for scientists and politicians to try to escape from the chaos we have practiced to repeat our errors somewhere else with the ‘fortunate chosen few’. I hope they name the first ‘refuge immigrant ship’ The Titantic. And no, this is not a pessimistic viewpoint. It’s realist.

    • AKcharle

      After more than 6000 years we are no closer than when we began so it’s not going to happen.

    • mzk1_1

      So how come, after using nukes in a way, people (including tow insane empires that murdered tens of millions) actually took the lesson and refused to use them? It seems we are a lot more “evolved” than that.
      Although what morality and evolution have to do with each other is beyond me. People could evolve into horrific monsters – see Wells’ the time machine for one fanciful idea.

  • eli arslanian


    • Republican Jesus™


  • eli arslanian


  • Ramesh R

    A easier way would be to bring Venus in the same orbit as Earth

    • Republican Jesus™

      Feel free to explain how you would move an object of that size even an inch. If you detonated all the nuclear warheads in the world in one strategic location it wouldn’t even be enough to nudge the planet one millionth of an inch.

    • TVG

      Let’s start pushing. You first.

  • Patrice Boivin

    Hopefully at some point an individual or corporation will just say “the heck with all the planning, committee meetings and silly competition for government grants, let’s just do something” and establish a base somewhere. Anywhere is better than nowhere.

  • Recka Wuyts

    The reason to go to Mars or any other planet is to make movies. That it. We just need the locations so Marvel can make more movies.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    What about the problem of atmospheric pressure on Venus. The atmosphere of Venus is 95 times as massive as the Earth’s.

    While full terraforming of Venus might be as easy as terraforming Mars, due to the heat and pressure, near term independent colonies based on paraterraforming would be impossible. It would be centuries before you could put the first person on the surface of Venus.

    • TheBrett

      There’s no way terraforming Venus is as easy as Mars. On Mars “all” you have to do is warm the planet up, thicken the atmosphere, and introduce plants and wildlife. That’s easier than either freezing out the Venusian atmosphere and removing it from the planet, baking the planet with enough heat so that the atmosphere escapes into space, or hitting it with a big enough impact so that the atmosphere is blown off.

      • Matthew Slyfield

        I tend to agree with you on the difficulty of terraforming Venus. However the author claims otherwise and I don’t have the knowledge to prove him wrong.

        My point is that even if the OP is correct on that issue, Venus is still not a viable target for a near term extraterrestrial colony.

      • Maximilian

        Mars has no magnetic field. If we supplement the atmosphere (which is less than 1% of Earth’s) it will get ionised and sheared off by solar wind.

        • TheBrett

          It would take hundreds of millions of years, though.

          • Maximilian

            Well we don’t know how long it would take but that’s not the problem, the problem is that the atmosphere would be ionised because there’s nothing to deflect radiation. No human could survive unprotected.

          • TheBrett

            Even on earth the magnetic field only stops part of it, the atmosphere stops the rest. They would be exposed to more radiation than on earth, but it wouldn’t be uninhabitable.

            It would not ionize the whole atmosphere.

      • TVG

        Worse, Venus also has a very slow rotation rate, unlike that of Mars, which is only a bit longer than the terrestrial day.

  • c.malek

    None of this will happen until we have a space elevator !

  • c.

    None of this will happen until we have a space elevator !

  • TheBrett

    Terraforming Venus would be a lot harder than terraforming Mars, and much less stable once you’ve terraformed it. You’d have to either freeze out the atmosphere and remove it over time (by blocking off the planet’s sunlight with a giant mirror shade), or hit the planet with a big enough impactor that it blows off the entire atmosphere.

    Once you’ve done that, you then have to introduce water and a new atmosphere, and deal with the sunlight being twice as strong as Earth’s – meaning that having any large bodies of water on the planet is going to make it prone to another runaway greenhouse effect. You might have to keep the planet super-dry in terms of surface water except at the poles.

    finally, Venus has some rather unpleasant geological patterns. Every few hundred million years or so, essentially the entire planetary surface is reshaped by bouts of massive vulcanism, which would make it completely uninhabitable if you had terraformed it. Have fun.

    • Matthew Slyfield

      “You’d have to either freeze out the atmosphere and remove it over time
      (by blocking off the planet’s sunlight with a giant mirror shade), or
      hit the planet with a big enough impactor that it blows off the entire

      There is a third choice for reducing the mass of Venus’s atmosphere, which the OP mentions, though I don’t know how it rates on the difficulty scale.

      Venus’s atmosphere is 90% C02, if we could introduce some kind of life form capable of surviving in the Venusian environment that would fix CO2 into mineral forms that would reduce the mass of the atmosphere. Of course, such a process would be painfully slow.

      • DJ

        use Comets as impactors, add h2o and blow off atmosphere.

  • Jimikimo

    We need to figure out how to transport large quantities of
    Venus’s atmosphere to Mars, and drop asteroids onto Mars to increase it’s mass. We can also transport large quantities of ice to Mars in a win-win situation. This is a multi-century project that will result in two more
    habitable planets. We can also enhance some asteroids for human habitation. Let’s start by terraforming Earth to fix our atmosphere. It’s only a matter of time when we’ll have the technology and political will to
    undertake these huge projects.

    • TVG

      Yet again, research the masses available versus masses needed. Sigh…

  • Jim LeSire

    Just a thought: if bone & muscle deterioration result from low gravity, is it possible aquatic animals, who do not have to lift themselves against gravity yet retain bones and muscles have solved the problem? If so, perhaps studying aquatic animals on the space station would provide some insights.

    • Republican Jesus™

      Already been done

  • Jim LeSire

    As for the various reasons for space exploration, keep in mind that all of our eggs are in one basket. Granted, it’s an amazingly fine basket, but it is the only one. And whether we take care of it or not, eventually something is going to come along and ruin it.

    • mzk1_1

      Are they? The Earth is a big place, really many baskets.

  • AKcharle

    Ridiculous, if we can’t get along here we won’t get along there. Anything that could wipe out earth population could also wipe out any off earth colony, only there the risks are even higher. Quit trying to run away from your problems and seriously learn to fix them

    • Angel Rivera

      Actually, you got it backward. One, if something that can wipe out is unlikely to destroy a world millions of miles away unless there is something that will destroy entire solar systems. The lets wait until we solve our problems here is just not justifiable. We have the answers just not the will to solve our problems. We need new worlds to grow and develop new branches of the species which can lead to answers to problems that we can’t see with our limited view on earth and ensure our species survival.

      • creek house

        Actually I don’t have it backwards. Whatever we run from here will be taken there, wherever that may be. If we don’t have the will to solve our problems here we will just take them with us. “Develop new branches of species”???? Who do you think we are??? We have yet to develop new branches of ANY species much less our own. Crimeny! if this is the fantastical thinking that drives us off the planet we are in some serious trouble.

        • Angel Rivera

          New world, new branches of humanity. The truth is that life happens. You change when you go to a different place. Give people on Mars a few generations they will be different humans, give them a couple of thousand years and we have a new branch of humanity. will it be better than the one here? maybe or it could be worse. It doesn’t matter but the fact is that humanity learns by doing not by philosophizing solutions for the future. We will not get a better world unless we build it and that includes expanding into space to broaden our horizons. You think that we will ever solve our problems inherit in human nature? It is never going to happen. I think that you believe that we need to be fix is the dark side of humanity and to you we can leave earth when we are not to be greedy or violent or vengeful. I am sorry, but the seven deadly sins are just as important as any seven virtues. Good and evil makes us humans. In the end its a matter of the choices we make on who we are, not nature. A human being that is only good is as bad as a human that is only evil. A colony of a thousand people can be settled on Mars. They might kill themselves or they produce a society worth emulating because their lives require different answers to problems. Humanity waiting for a human of better nature is waste of time. We can turn this world into a paradise in a matter of decades right now and it is not happening. The knowledge is there but as a species we chosen not to…

          • creek house

            egads! you sound like an evolution scientist. just because you say it out loud doesn’t make it so. get back to reality and read a history book. we haven’t changed yet.

          • Angel Rivera

            I have read history books and you know what. A better world is built. one day an enemy becomes a friend if people try. Waiting for a better humanity is a waste of time. At the end, its do or die

          • creek house

            And then you woke up???

          • TVG

            “you sound like an evolution scientist” The alternative being what? Talking snakes and internalized guilt over ‘original sin’?

        • Bill

          Creek House and many others is right. I don’t see how it will ever be possible for man to live peacefully amongst ourselves. With that said, If we ever did colonize Mars, I could see a future world war between Earth and Mars… quite possibly over resources. Further, I don’t see how this would be a solution to us over populating Earth. If we overpopulate Earth (which we will), we will do the same on Mars, which is why I see a war breaking out between both worlds over resources.

  • DJohn1

    I would suggest colonies a lot closer than the Moon. I suggest we colonize the continental shelves on our own planet first. The idea being to produce farms under the oceans using either sea life and sea fish or designing gills that artificially transform the water efficiently to oxygen in our blood in some way not being done right now. This would be similar to scuba gear we use today only directly using the oxygen in the water.
    There are reasons NOT to disturb Mars or Venus.
    The main reason is possible existing viruses and germs we really know nothing about that could easily be tracked back to us on this planet.
    I am assuming that life here, there, and everywhere we go originated with a common origin in the Solar System. That we are food for such life just like we are here. We are in harmony with that life here. We are not in harmony with something brought in from the outside.
    The human body has vast numbers of bacteria.
    I am also thinking we have no idea what we are getting into when we want to produce colonies on other planets and moons.
    Venus has a rotation period of 268 of our days equaling one complete rotation of the planet. That means the same side of Venus faces the Sun for about 134 of our days. It is 67 million miles from the Sun. Much closer than we are. It has very little magnetic fields right now to protect us against the radiation from the Sun. The surface temperature is very high. We are talking 800 degrees fahrenheit at the poles. The only place on Venus that could support life would be high in the atmosphere at approximately Earth Normal pressure of 14 pounds pressure per square inch. I think that is what Earth Normal at sea level is. That high in the atmosphere could possibly have an Earth normal temperature range maybe . . .
    The only life would have to be bird type life and only if they were able to make floating islands in the atmosphere capable of nesting. Insects also would be necessary there for food that high in the atmosphere.
    Life adapts to the conditions of the environment. That means there has to be water in some form for it to exist either on Venus or Mars. Plant life would have to be floating life using something like hydrogen to remain afloat in the upper atmosphere. With the surface at so high a temperature, it would be very similar to boiling oil.
    Such “native life” may have started if Venus had a close near collision with the Earth at some point in the past.
    It has a weird rotation that indicates to me that it is really young and possibly only arrived at its current orbit from somewhere else. If it does have a common origin with Earth, then it might be what is left of a planet being destroyed to create smaller planets in the inner system.
    That planet destroyed theory is not my own.
    WE have two kinds of objects rotating around the Sun. The first are the gas giants in the outer system. Those are surrounded by large numbers of moons and Mars, Earth, the Moon, and Mercury in the inner solar system as planets. I include the Moon because I think it did not originally rotate around the Earth but was a planet in its own right.
    ‘Several of those “moons” around the gas giants are very big for moons. Our own Moon is enormous compared with the Earth.
    The second kind of object seem to have a common iron/nickel core. I suggest they originated somewhere else and were caught into the Sun’s gravity early on.
    The most likely candidate for that would be a Brown Dwarf about 10 or 12 times the size of Jupiter. If something happened to it that blew it apart, then you would have a similar amount of debris all over the Solar System. While Brown Dwarfs are small, they are also far older than the Sun. Which would explain the complex elements found on the smaller objects around the Sun including the Earth.
    I suggest twins. If one Brown Dwarf exploded, another might have dragged a lot of the debris with it as it left our solar system.
    All of which must have happened a very long time ago.
    We have just started to find planets that may be free-roaming between the stars. Venus may have been one such planet at some time in its early formation.
    We travel around the galactic core. So far we have made about 3.5 rotations around that core in the outer arm of the Galaxy. There is nothing to say that numerous Super Novas have not left huge amounts of debris out there between the Stars.
    A piece of debris the size of the Earth or better is a real possibility.
    I suggest that most iron/nickel core objects have a common origin.
    I do agree that somewhere down the space exploration road, it would be cheaper to launch spaceships from around the Moon than it would to launch them from the Earth. If the raw materials could be transformed, the 2 miles per second escape velocity, give or take a mile per second would defintely be an advantage worth exploring.
    Our own escape velocity is around 7 miles per second or 25,000 miles per hour.

  • Brett Champion

    I’ve always found the “human survival” rationale for colonizing space to be the weakest one. Why should we care if “humanity” survives a catastrophe on Earth that would kill off all human life? We’ll all be dead. If we can’t justify the colonization of space on the basis of making life better on Earth, then we shouldn’t be doing it.

  • m320753

    we can’t even take care of the world we occupy today ! Get the good Earth back in order, then daydream about settling another one.

  • mzk1_1

    Can we build strong enough on the moon to deflect the meteors that it is always attracting (and deflecting from us)? Or would we simply need to build entirely underground?

  • mzk1_1

    The problem with the “one basket” theory is that it would make more sense to wait a few thousand years for the science to develop.

    • Angel Rivera

      The science develops as techniques are tried to solve the problem. You can spend generations perfecting what you think that you will need without knowing what you actually need…

  • Creldarix

    Transporting frozen embryos with diverse genetics to be implanted would drastically change the 400 years to reach 80,000 scenario. One ship could carry thousands of new colonists, you just need women and men on Mars willing to have babies that aren’t genetically theirs.

  • Rhett J D.

    Greenhouses on the moon does the artist know of meteorites guess not….

    • Republican Jesus™

      It’s an artist depiction, not a children’s book where the pictures explain the story. The article clearly states the possibility of protecting ourselves from such things, including radiation, by creating colonies inside caves and deep underground. It’s true that the earth-moon system gets pelted all the time but very few of them are significant in size. If you honestly think part of the plan for a moon colony is giant panes of glass waiting to be hit by the neighborhood baseball… well that’s just funny.

    • TVG

      Thus greenhouses, plural. Also not a problem if underground, as people can do with hydroponics today. Do you know of light pipes?

  • Republican Jesus™

    The biggest problem with stories like this and and these grandiose plans for the human race is that they fail to acknowledge our guaranteed doom. The possibility of the human race surviving for an extended period of time (ie 1 million+ years) is almost nonexistent. It’s going to be a good run no doubt, but we will go down and it will be unavoidable. Even if the human race is drastically improved in 100,000 years, particularly in a biological and social sense, the physics of our predicament alone are quite literally insurmountable.

    The only solace we might find is in knowing that we were the biological boot-loader to something much more sustainable and spectacular: self-replicating artificial intelligence. We are almost there now.

  • CharlesJQ

    I’m surprised the article didn’t even made a passing mention to Venus floating colonies: as it has been proposed elsewhere, breathable air is less dense than carbon dioxide, so if a bubble airship vessel would be filled with oxygen and nitrogen, it would float at about 60 km from Venus surface – which at that height has a very comfortable temperature ranges below 30 ºC. A bit of acidic rain still at that height but nothing that would be a showstopper for long-term human habitation.. plus, you would be living floating in a friggin’ ocean of clouds, it doesn’t get more awesome than that

  • Peter De Rop

    I’d say : keep the infection local.

  • Seba VS

    This all sounds pretty, but did you consider these facts:

    a) Even if we could terraform the atmosphere of Mars with oxygen, it would not be sostenible.. Mars does not have a magnetic field to protect and preserve any atmosphere from solar radiation.

    b) The moon also does not have a magnetic field and the low gravity would make long term life impossible for humans or even any mammal.

    c) Venus.. I mean, seriously?… Do you even know the temperature of Venus surface? IT IS 462 °C!!
    How ? and really, how could you possibly terraform a planet with that temp?

  • Marcus Heye

    Why can’t we split into teams and tackle all options simultaneously? Isn’t that the best insurance? And don’t say because it would cost too much because I’ve never understood and never will understand why anything costs at all. But with the overwhelming response to the call for Mars volunteers, apply these eager individuals elsewhere. We have the people…and the means of obtaining the resources. Money isn’t the issue. Money gives the illusion of there even being an issue.

  • Charles Haeflinger

    Lo.. moon, venus…..common

  • Rocky

    You don’t need to take 80,000 people up to diversify. Take frozen embryos and sperm. Use the colonists as surrogates.

  • Pablo Antequera

    Who the HELL wrote this article? How in the WORLD do you suggest that we colonize Venus? DID you do your research before writing this?
    “But is the Red Planet really the best target for a human colony, or
    should we look somewhere else? Should we pick a world closer to Earth,
    namely the moon? Or a world with a surface gravity close to Earth’s,
    namely Venus?”

    NO NO NO NO!!!!! VENUS? IT’S 1000 DEGREES and the barometric pressure there is so strong that if you were standing on Venus , you would be CRUSHED before you even know what is happening to you: LITERALLY, you will go from 6 feet tall to an inch tall in seconds.

    Now , realistically if you want to suggest other places to colonize aside from mars, I suggest you go back to do some(VENUS? LOL) research . The moon is a good place(witch you did suggest) to start; the only other places than the moon and mars is probably moons around Jupiter, Uranus , or Neptune. Titan is probably a good choice but there are plenty of interesting moons around those planets that produce heat and hold some for of H2O.

    PS. VENUS? LMAO!!!!

    • FreneticGeek

      “witch you did suggest..” LMAO.

      Why do trolls always have such poor grammar?

  • dogmandg

    We can debate various lines of reasoning, with various facts to support them, but in the end it basically boils down this:

    Moon = Been there, done that.

    Mars = New exploration = Cool.

    Robert Zubrin echoed this sentiment on a Space Show interview back in 2011. Repeated attempts to get public funding for a moon base or larger space station have failed, and will continue to do so, but the realistic possibility of a manned Mars mission still has a lot of public support, as long as it doesn’t break the bank.

  • cole herman

    What we need…. Is the Traveler. Which from what i have learned is a mega terraforming device. (Any other destiny fans out there? lol)

    • ShadowSD

      I’m a TNG fan, so The Traveler is to me an alien capable of traveling using thought. Equally useful, if attainable.

  • Thomas Fellechner

    I think the first way of colonizing our Solar System is to build a functional space station (SpSt) (in sight of a Lunar Colony 2 Stations). With them you can handle the transport problem, first take off from Earth to SpSt 1 in Earthorbit with specialized ships to overcome the gravity, second travel from SpSt1 to SpSt2 in a Lunarorbit with that in mind you can build different ships, who are made for space travel only. Last part will be the landing on Luna from SpSt 2. With that you have also the possibility to assemble ships in orbit for traveling to mars etc. These Ideas are not new, they wew also used by Sci-Fi authors in the 50’s like Heinlein. I think a full operational SpaceStation is needed to travel easier into solar system and to colonize it. The other aspect for colonizing the solar system is also to find new resources, maybe some that arent on earth like the great amounts of Helium-3 on the moon, which are needed for new technologies like fusion reactors. I think the terraforming aspect is far to wide in the future to play a significant role just now, but the maintained ecosystems will be of great help for colonies (space or planatary) to function more independently from earth.

  • ldmstr

    After reading these comments it is nice to see space science is still a major interest to our society. Over population is a problem that will continue for generations with less modern populations still over producing to make up for loses due to health issues that kill off their populations. Pollution is still a major problem with China and India trying to become the largest industrial countries in the world without the protections modern countries have initiated to stop pollution over whelming their countries. China has the most polluted environment and its people have not yet decided to change things. Technology will continue to advance and in the future we will be able to control our attmosphere to where we will not have the issues that exist today.
    Colonizing space must be an economic issue rather than a population issue. We are not running out of resources here on Earth as quickly as some state, but we must look to other resources to keep from over taxing our planet. Space will be our greatest resource and colonizing the outer rings of our system will provide the personnel to mine these areas and ship the resources back to Earth.
    Science fiction has numerous examples of how we should proceed and I believe science fiction will be the game plan. So keep an open mind. Talk up science with your friends and family, and support the advancement of science research and investment both govenrmental and private.

  • zerowolfe

    spaceship earth..take the entire planet into a safer place in space…make the moon the command module…use earth’s core as a powerful electric propulsion motor!

  • zerowolfe

    newsflash..the moon and mars are in a vacuum of deadly solar radiation…venus has such a toxic atmosphere that it vaporized an unmanned russian spacecraft in less than one hour after touchdown…sulphuric acid!

  • zerowolfe

    earth 2 might be out there…but figure on a multi generational trip…21 generations…400 years of travel!

  • Tallanvor

    I have no doubt that we will do both. I forsee the moon as being the best stop for most comercial ventures and the mars being a combination of Government and comercial co-operation. It’s not a question of one or the other. It’s a question of which one first, and who’s going to do it. Eventually comercial space stations are going to be plentyfull and they will use those to spring to the moon and beyond. Companies like SpaceX and Mars One will go to Mars with Nasa.

  • dsfportree

    We need to learn whether we can survive in hypogravity (less than Earth gravity) before we can contemplate settling other worlds – except for Venus, perhaps (if 0.8 G is adequate – better chance of that than moon, with 0.2 G, or Mars, with 0.3 G). Venus about 60 miles above surface is not too hot and a “balloon” settlement filled with an Earthlike air mix would float. Plus, Venus is closer (~4 mos travel when closest) and, because it circles Sun faster than Earth, provides more opportunities to reach interesting targets.

    Regardless of which world we might settle, an intelligent next step would be a variable-G space station. That is, one that can spin at different rates to create different levels of acceleration (artificial gravity) in its habitable modules.


  • JP

    To get around the weight problem of the spacecraft, would it not be easier to build a large transportation craft in orbit and have space station docking ports for them? Then you could transport and build docking ports in Mars orbit. That way, small shuttles could transport people from the surface to the orbital dock port and then have the really big transports go between planets. Would that be a conceivable way to do things?

  • MTSummerford

    We should explore the moon to grow our ability to successfully traverse among planets, since it is the closest and therefore most in reach. And that research could be used to advance exploration of Mars and Earth would grow our understanding of the requirements to live successfully in broader ranges of gravity, temps, and available resources, and dangers.
    Maybe we can achieve our goal of colonizing the heavens in the short term WITHOUT an especially fast transportation method since that still seems a long way off. With a fleet of slower speed solar powered sailing space capsules, we could send the necessary components of life, and have it surf among the stars. Hey, on Christmas supposedly the three wise men followed the stars to help grow the chances of humanity’s survival by bringing gifts. When a planet suitable to grow life is encountered, it could land and disperse the most promising chance of life. Sperm uses DNA, maybe we could also use DNA, or perhaps instructions to do basic things to help a civilization grow faster and ultimately into us, our cousins with the same goals. Even an iPad with instructions for smelting metal, creating radios, sending signals, language might yield huge results with minimal material. Do the most with the least, right?
    Much the way butterflies migrate thousands of miles but no single individual lives long enough to make the entire trip. Or like the triops, that lays virtually dormant until conditions adequate to support life are met, and then the flourish. Controlled hibernation could be an option too.

  • Kunaal Makhija

    But Brett, what makes us think that human beings would ever be able to live in peace and harmony?

    A long time ago, there lived a man by the name of Fred Rogers. People said he was the kindest man they ever knew. I personally say he was the second coming of Jesus.

    Now, riddle me this: if we were all like Fred Rogers, imagine what would make us think that human beings wouldn’t be able to live in peace and harmony? Rousseau sought to resolve the Hobbesian idea of ego for ego’s sake and came to the conclusion that humans are not completely self-centric, that we DO make sacrifices in the name of things that would seem irrational in the face of our own selfishness.

    We may be just selfish enough to propagate our species, but anything else is derived from society, not from humanity. I affirm my belief that the perversion of humanity does not stem from people, but stems from the inherent system of wealth and misfortunes that we’ve foisted upon ourselves.

    • John

      Thanks for replying, Kunaal! I feel like I owe you a response to your very thoughtful, well reasoned post. There’s a great scene in the beginning of the movie “AI” where William Hurt’s character is talking about the possibility and desirability of creating “robots” with the capacity to not just serve but to “love” their masters. He ends his speech by saying that, “After all, God created human beings to love Him!” Which raises the question, why then is their evil in the world? What went wrong? And why? In my opinion the answer is that God didn’t want to PROGRAM us to love Him, he wanted creatures that would freely choose to love Him. This is hardly an original thought but where I might differ from mainstream Christian thought is my belief that there was no Devil before we chose to take the gift of life for granted and take off on own self-guided journey of self-fulfillment. We created the Devil, not the other way around! It is this choice, that we all get to make or not make every minute of every day, that has created “the inherent system of wealth and misfortunes that we’ve foisted upon ourselves.”

      I’m kind of rambling here, but I guess my point is that human history will always be characterized by our repeated choosing NOT to honor God, without which there can never be a meaningful choice TO love Him! Fred Rogers was an exemplary human being. His kindness and humility probably flowed from his belief that he was no better than any other human being on the planet (not unlike the Apostle Paul’s opinion of himself as “chief among sinners”).

      In my opinion, the opportunity to freely choose to love God is the only plausible purpose for us to exist on this OR any other planet, and far transcends the importance of the survival of our species in this material universe as presently configured. This is where I agree with Jesus that in order to escape the vicious cycle of sin and repentance (i.e., “enter the Kingdom of Heaven”), we have to be (literally) born again; which I believe is just another way of saying resurrected in a very real body in a very real but totally reconfigured physical world.

      So space colonization while it might seem to us a kind of salvation of the species can never address the root problem of humanity.

      I’m afraid this is not nearly as articulate as I wish it were, but I hope parts of it resonate with.

      I’m kind of rambling here, but I guess my point is that human history will always be characterized by our repeated choosing NOT to honor God, without which there can never be a meaningful choice TO love Him! Fred Rogers was an exemplary human being. His kindness and humility probably flowed from his belief that he was no better than any other human being on the planet (not unlike Paul’s opinion of himself as “chief among sinners”).

      In my opinion, this is the only plausible purpose for us to exist on this OR any other planet, and far transcends the importance of the survival of our species in this material universe as presently configured. This is where I agree with Jesus that in order to escape the vicious cycle of sin and occasional repentance (i.e., “enter the Kingdom of Heaven”), we have to be (literally) born again, which I believe is just another way of saying resurrected in a very real body in a very real but totally reconfigured physical world.

      So space colonization while it might seem to us a kind of salvation of the species can never address the root problem of humanity.

      I’m afraid this is not nearly as articulate as I wish it were, but I hope parts of it resonate with you as well.

  • Eric Skinner

    So if we can terraform,in theory,why cant we fix our own issues here?The money and resources it would cost to invest in such an idea is more than our national debt… sure! Thats just the resources. That doesnt include training….emergency plans or back up solutions…..
    Dont misunderstand me,it would be fascinating to see another planet,but,i wouldnt want to live there! And I wouldnt want my children,grandchildren or great grandchildren to be forced into that. If its their decision,thats one thing. But,to use the idea that we destroy our own planet or make it uninhabitable,is stretching it. If we have the technology to take an uninhabitable planet and make it habitable……lets fix our own planet and then go from there!

    • Bill

      That’s a terrific idea Eric, and I agree with you. The problem is that most people would rather spend time and valuable resources on something nearly unobtainable instead of focusing their efforts on something more constructive. If mankind ever does colonize Mars, I’m sure they’ll have just as many problems there as we do here (if not more). Further, that could potentially give the phrase “world war” an entirely new meaning if war should ever break out between Earth and Mars.

  • jimgrot

    go to titan, pressure is not an issue, could probably fly easily (flap your arm-winglets due to lo grav and thick air), lots of stuff to make into breathable air, cold but a thick parka and a scuba breather (not a spacesuit needed) for field trips..I’d go

    • TVG

      Thick parka? You’ll need much more than that at 94 K (−179 °C, or −290.2 °F), especially with an atmosphere much denser than Earths.

  • Dennis Nilsson

    Venus of today is like Earth was 3-4 billions yaeras ago.

    We could terraform Venus. Several 100.000 yearsa in future it could be like a new Aerth.

  • Arcanum Arcanorum (虚空)

    Too bad this will never happen. We’re currently undergoing an omnicidal mass extinction caused by corporate greed and wasteful, selfish overconsumption, as well as thoughtless overpopulation, translating into environmental degradation and the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Humans won’t survive to colonize other worlds.

  • Travis Moore

    What if you pushed asteroids between mars and jupiter to increase the mass of mars from one third of Earth’s gravity to on half to .9 earth gravity. Then crash one of the moons onto the planet as it may crash sooner from the mass increase to both. That leavs land forming using large orbital lasers to melt the rock into a smooth surface. That should work to make a new atmosphere. After cooling down exo magnetic fields at the poles would protect the planet. Terraforming would be done with liechens, moss, algea or kelp land and sea. Once oxygen formed then the planet should be habitable and ready for colonization. 😛

    • TVG

      “What if you pushed asteroids between mars and jupiter to increase the mass of mars from one third of Earth’s gravity to on half to .9 earth gravity. Then crash one of the moons onto the planet as it may crash sooner from the mass increase to both.”
      You obviously have no clue about the energies and other difficulties involved in such an approach, not least of which is the existence of a colony that would be bombarded, and the fact that the mass of the entire asteroid belt is a tiny fraction of the mass of Luna (~4%), and much too little to give Mars Earth-like gravity. Any civilization able to move all those asteroids would be better off colonizing the asteroids themselves.

  • David Ward

    Frozen embryos.

  • Nobody Special

    If you ask me, I think people should be colonizing the ocean instead. They could use so many different kinds of ways to build under water colonies. They could work on making self sustainable ecosystems within the domes underwater. If they want electricity, why not tidal power? They could grow their own food down there too. These cities could also provide shelter to fish that live outside the domes, and reefs could surround the colonies, similar to how they do with old oil rigs, meaning the the oceans may be healthier and more sustainable for fishing. Why not do something like this instead of throwing your money at going to Mars? Is there something we don’t know about on Mars? I’m guessing it’s because of the abundance of untapped ores and minerals there.

  • Frida Nyberg

    That population size is not at all needed.
    The human species almost went extinct some time before we left Africa, and we were down to only about 2000 people. All non-Africans descend from only around 100 people that left Africa close to 80 000 years ago.

    The white rhinoceros was once down to around 50 individuals, they are now up at almost 20 000, and doing very well.

    1000 people would be more than enough for a genetic base.

  • AgnwstosX

    A great subject indeed…Mars or Venus terraforming has been mind boggling me for ages if i may the following concept describes a possible way to martian terraform ,after the first manned flights to Mars at about 2030’s…well, at some point could be proved usable for a Venus context also – and is based on current scientific facts , taking into consideration any possible deviations that may occur. And, in any
    case,as Robert Zubrin usually quoted,today we are addressing , a 2oth century issue within a 21st century context,when it comes to Mars terraforming…in my opinion, he is right,as he’s been kinda “obsessed” with Mars colonization since childhood,and he’s come to a pretty neat roadmap, on how we’d achieve a permanent human presence there,before start planning on…how to change things so drastically on Martian ecosystem …if ever!

    1)To colonize or not?

    First of all, the OUT-MOST important of all steps, will be to VERIFY, IF there currently exists any life form on planet Mars or not..And it’s
    gonna take YEARS of thorough research & deep , extensive drilling to accomplish this, we’re not just talking about..a five men crew and a two yrs search with limited resources here,there’s gonna be a team of hundreds skilled scientists for deep, DEEP exhaustive drilling on thousands of places, to make sure this research program comes 1,000,000% ACCURATE,as there’s gonna be NO RETURN if anything goes wrong, cause the situation will be CRUCIAL for life on Earth itself: If the outcome is positive,the next question’s gonna be,not that much on how ethical would be to DESTROY life playing GOD,which would be an out of the question option as far as i’m concerned, but if we should continue our presence there, even at a pure scientific level or else forget all about it , shield the place and get the hell out fast, cause it might be possible this “Martian” life could be hazardous for LIFE on Earth! Given the fact that, MURFY’S LAW applies interplanetary , there’s a fair chance its gonna migrate to our planet if we’re not wise enough to handle the situation and we might find ourselves in a very, VERY nasty business and i mean ARMAGEDDON and APOCALYPSE rapped in one huge package!

    2)Lost,family ties…

    Now,there’s also the tiny case, where life, does exist on Mars and IS compatible or even RELATED to life on Earth, due to matter exchange between the two planets for billions of years!It’s an either life originated from mars or vice versa scenario. In this case, we still DO have to consider the ethics of interfering to our “SISTER” Martian ecosystem and the consequences of doing so , however,i’d prefer to leave it to e.g. the UN security council to decide upon the matter…IF it ever occurred.However: In case we move on to colonize, my opinion is that we should attempt NO funny business on performing any gene manipulation , either on martian species, or, on any locally introduced bacteria. The reason is – Yep, you guessed it – payback: this act may as well hit us back like a boomerang, and i mean the effects on our own ecosystem.You see, i firmly believe that any actions, should we decide to apply on any terrestrial body must be performed by means of per-assessment of , any,and i mean ANY potential effects that my damage our own ecosystem.You simply cant go messing around mingling on things and expect no consequences.The law of action vs
    reaction lays hidden in just about …EVERYWHERE.


    So,it’s time for the most important case : If life DOESN’T exist on Mars – which may hopefully be the case – or if it ever existed and now its
    devastated,then i presume the issue is closed and we should proceed on martian colonization.Now this will also be a very,VERY slow procedure too and it’s gonna cost A HELL LOTTA MONEYZ ,as well as resources of any kind,to begin with.During the decades-long procedure, all current technology context’s gonna change dramatikly due to the new “space race” amongst nation groups,multinational giants or even ideologies too , pretty much like in the 1960’s, when the two superpowers confronted in all fields of human knowledge to achieve victory against the opponent . But,at least,we’re gonna have some access to well-hidden technologies , advanced means of propulsion and new forms of energy, kept behind due to the danger
    they inhibited on the global economic structural status and the controlling elites, that served as a break during the 3 past centuries on any crucial scientific advances , if their interests were endangered of the outcome… A brilliant example of this had to do with the works of Nikola Tesla.Of course, there are literally hundreds of similar cases.And anyhow, i do hope we’d have matured more, as mankind, when the time comes to address the challenge,given the fact our ecosystem has now come into a phase of complete disintegration alltogether with the upcoming climatic change..NO HIDDEN CARDS, NO MORE.

    4)Roadmap for Earth 2:A huge,2nd step for mankind

    in proceeding on the given colonization scenario,we may find ourselves to confront with the toxic hostile environment, low gravity effects and Radiation shielding requirements which are the most important issues to resolve before doing anything else.At about ten years after the first landings,which consist of only a few member teams for mostly two-years period exposures to martian conditions, there will be efforts to settle some major surface establishments, mainly inside the Valis Marineris rim, where atmospheric pressure & temperature gets slightly higher.The site will host more permanent staff,mainly people over their mid-40s , who will mostly serve like guinee pigs for long period studies on human physiology alterations.At this phase, the settlers will still be exposed to some main, constant dangers,as the original teams: Toxic dust,electric storms,wind devils, solar & cosmic radiation,even micro meteoric hazard.However:Soon enough, following metal mining operations, there will be underground shelters deep inside huge cavities,radius of a few miles, based on centrifugal design to emulate at least 70% or more of earth gravity. There will be structures similar to nuclear powered Mary-go-round habitation units of massive proportions,slowly rotating to the required gravity level, cause the constant exposure to martian low gravity conditions yields hazard to human bone structure and overall health
    when prolonged residence on mars is required.Not all residents are scheduled to live permanently on mars at this point however.Staff numbers are measured to thousands, by now.

    5)Enter new science Era:Nanotechnology jumpstart

    Mars colonization starts with a more simplistic technology but after the 2040’s all this is set to a radical change , as hundreds of newly
    introduced nanomachine types are starting to apply at the full spectrum of industrial activities on a planetary scale to initiate Martian
    TERRAFOMING phase 1:Specially molecular-scaled, self-replicating nanomachines , the size of 1/1000 of the smallest virus are introduced , to either extract all required ingredients from the Martian depths up to tropospheric heights, enrich the atmosphere,synthesize the ozon layer or even transmutate elements, producing complex, organic matter to enrich the martian soil.Even transmutate elements in abandance to produce more rare much needed materials… During the first decade of the 21st century,this partially advanced nanotechnology was available to only cutting edge military labs for basic,research testing,but some 30+ yrs later, the technology has matured so much to the point where molecular sized , remote controlled, self-replicating , self-sustainable nanomachines are now available to massively change the face of ALL the terrestrial planets , including Earth and
    Venus. Mars was, however,the “lucky” candidate, due to it’s 24.5 hour spin and the notion that, if something went wrong there,it should as well stay there to study untill remeding the situation before using the technology back to Earth or Venus for that matter.

    6)Oceans, above.

    Main project is on the run to adress the martian water sortage: New clean and safe like never before He3 fusion reactors, yield the construction of propulsion drives a million times more efficient than the ion drives of the last, 20th century decades.Thus,with an average speed of over 700 miles/sec obtained in less than a couple of hours, a distance to Saturn is now covered within a couple of weeks, while a regular trip to Mars is only a matter of more or less than a day..The massive rings of Saturn, consist of a water volume, equalling 10,000 Earth oceans if more, and this water could not be left unused: huge ice cyllinders the size of miles, formed on vacant space & shipped around Saturn by some 2,000 self cotrolled space factories orbiting the gas giant, harvesting ice from the rings, are missiled by two specially designed 100 mile long orbital electromagnetic accelerators , directly towards Mars on a three-year course,each ice load is equipped with reusable guiding propulsion systems, each time dissolving the equivalent of a Giga-ton payload of pure water ice,inside the martian atmosphere, over designated regions mainly close to the poles, as to slowly increase the missing martian water that was slowly ripped-off for billions of years from the planet, due to the weak gravity field and the absence of magnetic shielding…it is estimated , a total volume of 140 Terra tons of ice payload will find its way on mars during the first 20 years of the project, but the volume would be sufficient to help jumpstart the primeval martian oceanic deposits for raising the water level by at least 11 to 13 meters on a planetary scale,and it is suggested that at least double that quantity, is to be released from permafrost deposits during the thermal increase that will follow , either from the hundreds of thousands of meteors hitting the martian surface,or the reflecting light by orbiting solar mirrors, etc.

    7)Pump up the volume(of the air).

    With the combination of nanotechnology, targeted meteor showers from the asteroid belt, giga-ton sized ice cylinders from the Saturn ring system useing sun light reflectors over the poles and orbital lasers over designated martian permafrost fields , it is estimated that an increase of the martian atmospheric pressure by 50% the equivalent of the Earth is expected to be achieved for a period of 30 years. Ozon layers are to be created by -what else- nanomachines, at least initially.The atmospheric pressure will be gradually increasing to at least 2.5 times that of the Earth, over the centuries.. The reason for this is because mars is at the edge of the Goldilocks zone, we really need a much more dense atmosphere to achieve a thermal equilibrium. Furthermore, a permanent mechanism to control the existence of CO2 to at most .05% should be applied otherwise there is danger for toxic CO2 poisoning due to low gravity,keeping CO2 quantities lower than oxygen/nitrogen counterpars.Also the presence of CO should be dropped to NULL. Powerful synthesized Sulfuryl Fluoride gas, reaching up to just .05% , is capable of making the polar
    regions on mars look like the African Sahara,no microbial life can never achieve this when necessary… Clearly a task for all kinds of
    nanomachines there.

    8)Space,no barriers..or am i mistaken?

    As we speak for the lack of protection by the solar wind, the pleasant news is, that, a kind of protective shield is activated around 2050 by
    means of a huge, self sustainable electromagnetic barrier, consisting of over 1500 ferroide nuclear/solar powered torballs, forming a temporary magnetic grid in the shape of a double layered cone, that spreads some 100,000 miles away from mars facing the sun,always following a course parallel to the planet, thus,preventing all solar plasma emissions to even touch mars…So,alas,no more ripping the martian atmosphere,no Aurora Borealis nights for the settlers as well / except for the weak, ultraviolet polar random ringlets from a radiating Jupiter when in proximity , about once every couple of earth years…

    9)Martian gravity : The mass inefficiency puzzle.

    As far advanced as 21st technology might seem, still, miracles are yet very hard,also very slow to perform…A temporary solution to address the problems of insufficient mass and gravity on mars was given midst of the 21st century, by establishing underground roller coster style, mile wide cities ,resembling giant ringlets, railing upon permanent magnetic ferroid substrate to emulate the earth gravity, until a more permanent solution will be addressed later on.The construction of the magnetic substrates and most of the infrastructure is achieved by 3D printing process in combination with nanotechnology and the completion of the first centrifugal establishment takes less than 5 years around 2055.Also, the gradual introduction of external material from the asteroid belt or the Jovian satellites, mainly consisting of well chosen super heavy, radioactive-free meteorites as well as the jumpstart formation of the first oceanic sized water containers , starting to form after some 20 or so years of intense bombardment of about 140,000 Gigaton sized ice cylinders sent from Saturn at a rate of nearly 20 drops per day, has helped to increase the total mass at about 1.5% , but yields a gravity increase of more than 5% , due to the hundreds of thousands of meteors,containing ferroidal mixtures and other heavy materials and this is just the beginning,as the added mass will reach up to 80 % . Furthermore, a total of Uranium 238 & other radio active material , excavated from nearby Jovian moons by thousands of self replicating /self repairing space bots , is gradually transferred separately, for the next phase, slowly descending at the surface of mars by heavy orbital space lifters , totaling overall some hundred of thousands of tons… this will be the primary material to invade the heart of the martian core! To avoid the toxic dust due to
    increased meteor activity on designated areas, an army of quadrillions of micro machines, both in flight and on land,are massively processing
    these heavy dropouts, using some of the new matter to self replicate,and at the end of the process , the planet surface is gradually covered with trillions upon trillions of large sized cubic deposits with specific dimensions, mineral composition and puzzled like surfaces, which can adjust precisely to one another . The cubes are planned to be used as the transmutation fusion matter to the next phase: The construction of the a supermassive payload to heat and regenerate the martian core.Thus, entering the Heisenberg project…

    10)My kingdom.For a spoon of(heavy) matter.

    Ridiculous to hear,even more impossible to conceive…achieving it , might equal talking to …God himself , during the early decades of the 21st century!! However, the use of advanced molecular nanotechnology, exceeding the Heisenberg uncertainty gap at the Feynman scale, made possible the appearance of atomic level structures, with densities exceeding even 10,000 times that of iron or nickel, at the very core of the Earth itself.Those are conditions, usually met on neutron stars or quasars, so the nanostructure out of such an experiment, was quite righteously considered an exotic , super dense matter…The final result of the experiment, lasting over a year back on Earth, involved over a Billion molecular transmutating nanomachines, was conducted during 2070s and it produced a cubic meter of exotic matter, weighing aprx. 1,000,000 kgs and had consumed almost two boats of iron for the outcome ! That’s a thousand times lower than the matter density of a genuine Neutron star, but, at the time , it was the most exotic and super heavy material ever produced… So this method was finally used 30 yrs later at the end of the 21st century, to increase the density of the martian core, altogether with a substantial quantity of Ur.238 and other heavier than iron radioactive elements, embedded inside the exotic structure,that would finally form a sphere of, at least half a mile in diameter when reaching the center of the planet.32 hexagonal Mega structures, 5 kms wide each,to be used for multiple injections, were constructed on the surface of mars over well
    per-determined areas, each one hosting a huge central circular platform,and an inner well-shielded construction plateau around 30 m. in diameter,upon which an immense number of tiny molecular size nanomachines would start creating atom by atom,layer by layer, this super heavy , super condensed obelisk like structure,measuring 15 meters in diameter and up to 150 meters in length,overall resembling a very thin nail,aiming at the very heart of Mars…32 of them ready for dropping each time in total, each obelisk, weighing almost .0005% of the planet! Each 5 miles construction was able to hold a weight of 250 trillion tons and the total amount of heavy materials used, was double the size of the Earth’s moon, to say the least, the materials originating from meteors , forming the billions of cubes laying around the martian surface as they were continually converted to fusion matter from specialized nanomachines already mentioned above, meteorites selected from either the asteroid belt, or scavenging big planetoids like vesta, palaci or juno, while Ceres was scheduled to be the next artificial satellite of Mars, the following centuries…The cubes were put on the central plateau ,several units at a time ,then joined together during the initial placement upon the blackened, round ,smooth surface and the process was started..Billions of nanomachines slowly consumed them , thickening the exotic structure layer by layer, transmutation taking place, resulting into intense radiation, penetrating heat,and a weird bluish haze,then after some hours the cubes were gone, the object would be just a thousand nanometers thicker and a few thousand tons heavier, and would bury further and further
    itself into the ground, guided by its own gained weight and the process would start all over again.A huge quantity of radio active material was
    infused within the central axis of the obelisk during the last phase before dropping,some hundreds of tons on each drop.The small reactor of the obelisk tip would ignite,reaching critical state within minutes, then it was bombs away , next stop, the core.The front tip of this slowly forming obelisk equipped with a small nuclear reactor on critical level during the drop, was able to reach temperatures of 4000 C before starting to disintegrate at about proximity to the semi-molten core, thus,releasing its heavy radioactive elements.The giant drill was in need for a hot guiding tip as it penetrated the rock layer by its own massive weight quite uncontrollable,like a knife penetrates butter.The tip serves like a guidance system to the core.Behind it, the rock would close it’s path by cooling from lava to its previous state, sealing the path for the next drill. The exotic cargo took almost a week to reach the core. The release of the exotic matter was done each time by 4 different but symmetrical situated points, each effort every 2 years to avoid planetary magma stress.

    11) Hipermass project: Results of a new dawn.

    When the Heisenberg project was finished, after 160 yrs of non-stop operation, the total mass of mars had increased by 75%, yielding a net
    gravity of approximately 75% of the Earth’s, and , at the same time it’s trajectory was decreased by 1,200,000 miles closer to Earth,more
    entering inside the Goldilocks zone ,martian year fall down to 642 Earth days and its 24.5 hours spin was finally settled to 23.8 hours, but this was not considered a problem.The main issue was that,thermal activities indicated an increase of the planetary diameter by 15% over the following millennia,due to exotic matter disintegration now slowly dispersing and dissolving around the mantle, and this meant an unprecedented seismic activity and the formation of new rims and cracks on the surface.The bulge of the planet begun to slowly smoothen at around 15 millimeters per century due to the increased gravity.Needless to say, all population, measuring by now at about 15,000,000 souls,had to abandon the underground
    establishments and move away from cavities, as there were massively collapsing , due to the intense gravity…By the time the Heisenberg project ended, a new, strong and active volcanic mars was starting to emerge,readings from the core indicated temperatures at nearly 4500 C and rising,core was already getting larger by 15% but no signs of magnetic field , yet. As a result of mantle melting, lava streams found their way to giant frozen internal cavities, filling huge gaps, or displacing immense quantities of water,and, at times,usually lasting decades, the martian atmosphere went up to 3 psi expanding up to even 250 km high , before stabilizing to 2.2 psi at an average height of 120 km, an unprecedented but ,rather foreseen effect..also, the Olympus Mons was reawakened, but instead of spitting lava from top ,it opened some new craters way low, and even started collapsing under its own weight,forming an impressive zigurat style form and finally settling at a height of only the half of the original 25 km to only 10, in just 250 yrs or so.Vast oceans were now in place,almost 65% of the planet covered by an intense dark purplish blue tone,magnificent high altitude white clouds, filling more than 20% of the martian , thicker atmosphere.Some vast seas , exhibiting nearly acid conditions were massively converted using nanomechanics back to an average alkaline Earth like composition… by the year 2753 , things started to smoothen, life introduced from Earth began to flourish,the Olympus Mons was now a beautiful island continent ,getting larger day by day, Hawaiian style, vigorously showing off its giant zigurat form, now half covered with eternal snows as most of the remaining mountain tops, no genetic engineering or needless species mutation was required to adopt with the terraformed environment, as the nanotechnology was successfully substituting and renewing an Earth like, well balanced ecosystem, just like bacteria did on the mother planet..A new , second Earth was starting in all its splendure and,to conclude with joy and overall happiness,this all happened just in time for the 12 billions Earth peoples and 1,5 billion Martian settlers to welcome in utter frenziness awe, the first hailing messages coming from the two humongous Lemurian and Atlantean starfleet F L A G S H I P S, gloriously returning home from the Rigel and Betelgeuse systems , Earth’s primordial terraforming colonial missions sent to the Orion belt constellation some 50 to 25,000 years ago.

  • John Smith

    Free space colonies are the most flexible optio: slap on a few large engines in the right places and you have a starship. Think cruise ships in space.

  • Kehvan

    Most likely the best place in both distance and adaptability is a Venusian colony in the oxygen atmospheric layers.

  • Aristotle Stagirus

    First we should colonize beneath the ocean, then in near orbit, then the moon, then mars.

  • Derek Zilich

    Why is everyone working themselves into a tizz about Mars? We haven’t even established a base on the Moon yet. I’m assuming we are talking about sending exploratory spacecraft to Mars with the distant vision of establishing a human presence on Mars AFTER we establish a Moon-base?

    My analogy – centuries ago the Europeans were expanding their trade and military empires’ by sailing further and further away from home. The process was to establish a ‘foothold’ port/base, then strengthen that, and then set off from there to go further out and establish another port/base and so on. That’s how the British could establish and run Australia (for example) from the other side of the world; they had a chain sequence of replenishment and communication port/bases
    to set off from – one logical, sensible step at a time.

    So let’s get a Moon-base happening first, much like the International Space Station (ISS) now; conduct experiments; develop research; observe Mars and the rest of the cosmos from the Moon; launch exploratory spacecraft to Mars from the Moon’s surface; build the Moon-base up with its own community of scientists and space engineers, much like the Antarctic bases and International Space Station (ISS).

    But isn’t there water on Mars? I don’t really think that ‘water on Mars’ is a valid excuse to go to Mars first before taking the natural step of establishing a Moon-base. I mean, according to NASA, we’ve transported astronauts there 6 times before, over 40 years ago – so it’s a no-brainer. It takes almost a year to get to Mars, whereas (according to NASA) it only 3 days to get to the Moon. Mars has a lot of flood and river channels suggesting that a long time ago liquid water flowed
    on Mars during a time when Mars was a warm and wet planet with a thicker atmosphere. There is recent evidence that there may also be liquid water at or near the surface on Mars in some places, but this has yet to be proven.

    Water on the Moon? The Moon, in fact, has water in all sorts of places; not just locked up in minerals, but scattered throughout the broken-up surface, and, potentially, in blocks or sheets of ice at depth.” The results from the Chandrayaan mission are also “offering a wide array of watery signals.”

    There is one thing that space-enthusiasts don’t talk about which is a major ‘barrier’ to manned space flight – in a word RADIATION. Astronauts, scientists and space engineers would never survive the radiation exposure from earth’s Van Allen radiation belts and then, once they are past that, the intense radiation from the sun – the radiation levels are way too high and they can penetrate every know substance known to humans.

    Radiation from space takes the form of subatomic particles from the sun. These high-speed particles tear through DNA molecules, splitting them or damaging the instructions they have encoded for cell reproduction. The damaged DNA can lead to cancers or other diseases. Radiation exposure would be extreme and chronic microwaving
    current space travellers and pioneers.

    So logically, all the money NASA and the rest of the space / scientific world intend to spend on proposed missions to the Moon or Mars, should be put into developing a system, alloy or synthetic material (similar to Demron) that can effectively shield high-Rad radiation from the Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts and subatomic particles from the sun. Once this has been achieved, then genuine, credible manned space flight will be possible, but probably not in our lifetime. We can always go to the movies…

  • David Ouyang

    There are extinction events on earth. What about the extinction events on Mars? An asteroid can hit Mars just as well as it can hit earth.
    The benefit of mining resources on other planets for earth’s use is problematic also. It probably takes as much energy as what you have mined to carry the raw materials to earth.
    Our stewardship of earth has been dismal. We will be just as bad on whatever planet we colonize.
    One basic issue has been overlooked: Human nature. We always will have a need to subjugate others, to enslave others. Even if ideological differences can be overlooked, we will not solve our thirst to go to war with each other. History teaches us that we cannot solve conflicts between neighbors, much less nations.
    To make Mars livable does not involve just building parks and lakes. What about all the infrastructure that need to be in place? How will sewage be treated? Where will trash be dumped? How will all the gas lines, water lines, sewer lines be installed? Certainly they can be done, but it takes a lot of time and money to do so.
    I suggest we solve the problems on earth first; otherwise, we will take the same problems with us to Mars.

  • Christopher Lane

    Because humans explore. What other reason do we need? Its interesting, its challenging, its educational, and those things reward all humans. We cannot, nor should we, be content to exist on one planet.
    Using our mistakes from the past and imperfections we have today as reasons to do nothing is foolish.
    Go forward.

  • Salvador Bento

    But even if we build a good atmosphere with a good pressure on mars, there is the main big problem, the lack of a descent magnetic field. With that, the solar winds would constantly wipe out the planets atmosphere, I think it is the greater problem of trying to terraform Mars. Until we advance out technology in a so incredible way to be able to develope magnetic fields in planetary scale, I think the terraforming will not work well.

    It is said that a good place for to try to colonize is Ganimedes, one of the Jupiter’s moon. It has its own magnetic field and it is inside Jupiter magnetic field as well (so, protection from solar winds it is more than enough). We have also a lot of frozen water.
    In the other hand the gravity is low, but I think we can survive in that. The main problem is the distance, greater than to Mars.
    There is another topic, I do not know how Ganimedes would react when heated during terraforming, a great part of it is mass is ice, so we might have a big problem. The same thing to Europa.
    There is also Titan, Saturn’s moon, but it is too far away for us and has other complications.

    Well coming back to Mars, I think if Mars had a living core who could generate a good magnetic field as it is in Earth until today, it would for sure have life, animal life, forest, oceans and even intelligent beings like in earth. We know Mars core its like an “undead” it lost most of its power millions years ago, we do not know why, we only know it is was like earth, some say it was a great impact due to Mars scars, we do not know for sure.

  • Brock Wilson

    venus? yeah goodluck surviving on a surface temp of 462 degrees celsius. who wrote this.

  • ceratotherium

    Physically altering a planet will be the easy part: deciding the political system used by the colonists will be harder.

    I guess that the first few will be employees of the corporation that sets up the colony, but beyond that who will own and pay for the life support systems? I wouldn’t sign up for any colony that allowed freeloaders and those who have ‘faith’.

  • mullenders

    yeah good idee make sure usa has colony on mars russions on venus and chinees on a litle moon some where yeah no one would be depended on the earth any more real good idee it would destroy us faster then a hart beat if you go in to space before the earth is united

  • nate higgers

    Send black people make it section 8 colony!

  • nate higgers

    MFC mars fried chicken and sprayed up busted up colony! Less gravity less kinky hair!

  • nate higgers

    Blacks would just burn down the colony as symbol of unity!

  • Rodrigo Metta Falasca

    About Stephen Hawking sayings…

    I’m a SUSTAINABILITY ADEPT! and… I never thought I’d like to hang a person with disabilities but he got to be te first! (this is my thougts NOT death menace).If he says so I Pay to see if he volunteer to be like, the first space colonizer, may be in the so dreamed… Mars colony, the complete DESERT planet,(Latin: Planeta MORTE (DEATH)); but that is relatively next…Or we stop listening him and start SUSTAINABILITY,or human race will end soonly than the 1000 years he’s predicting.
    And thinking about it, remembers me the Iron maiden song, Die with your boots on, he now said like the “another profet o disaster who says the ship is lost”.
    I prefer to realy rear Bruce Dikinson than him.

  • Rodrigo Metta Falasca

    There’s a litle problem with this terraformings para abnormal! Ideas…
    This Brasilian reservist here is very diliking this, Why don’t u try to do your dome right here at amazon, free wather from the river, free cocaine f u all and tons of reservists smelling like war spirit!
    Do not wait… why don’t u come and GET SOME!

  • Rodrigo Metta Falasca

    All you suck it down!

  • Rodrigo Metta Falasca

    Neo nazionalistas!

  • Rodrigo Metta Falasca

    Do not forgat your Auroras we’ll love to shot it down in flames your ACDCs.

  • Rodrigo Metta Falasca

    Filhos da Puta listen below!

  • Rodrigo Metta Falasca

    Vem pro pau!Come and Get some!

  • Rodrigo Metta Falasca

    fock ya post remover

  • Rodrigo Metta Falasca

    para-abnormal idealist

  • Rodrigo Metta Falasca

    do not forger to read all my posts of americans and mars idiotologias

  • Rodrigo Metta Falasca

    Do not think we Brasilians will work f u to send ours oxigen there!haha!

  • Rodrigo Metta Falasca

    please forget about all my awfull coments below, but… we brasilians are realy not supposed to work for sending ours(world,americans,brasilians)oxigen and whather there.
    Think about SUTAINABILITY.
    If you’re a Stephen Hawking’s folower, he already did brilhant Works with remarkable strengt.But now he’s just wrong.It is not necessary to be graduated or genius to understand easily this.
    Sustainability,science and sobriety.
    I Apologise for the awful comments below.

  • Mitchell

    Humans will, eventually, colonize other planets. Why? Because we can. Does that mean we should? No… but we will anyway.

    It has always been the case, that it is easier to make distance between one another, than it is to compromise together. This fundamental reality has not changed, and the need is as strong in humanity today as it was 100 000 years ago.

  • mactekus

    The problem with a moon colony is the lack of any atmosphere as a barrier to meteorites. Without a protective atmosphere, meteors hit at full velocity and can literally skip across the face of the moon in seconds. These impacts and glancing blows happen all the time.

    We have no reason to leave Mother Earth.

  • Alan Kessler

    Well, if getting genetic diversity is your goal, you don’t need 80,000 entire humans–just their gametes.

  • James Halifko

    Can humans engineer artificial magnetic fields strong enough to shield Mars, the Moon or Venus? How would Venus’ slow rotation be compensated for or modified?

  • nikkkom

    This was discussed to death already, multiple times. Resurrecting old “Moon/Mars” flame war for the umpteen time? I’m not participating.

  • nikkkom

    As an Australian, you have no say in how US spends its money.


    How about diversifying the genetic populace with fertilized embryos of which countless numbers could be selected and sent.

  • flankton

    the moon should be colonized by now. we went there in 1969.

  • Theron

    First, colonize or at least set up Space station on the moon. By doing so you can build rockets there that can be bigger and require less fuel as they no longer need to escape earth gravity. The only have to escape a far weaker moons gravity.

    You then can build rockets that hold far more passengers and use less fuel. Allowing colonization of other worlds to be far easier.

    Terraforming mars shouldn’t be very difficult and we should already start. Microbes on earth have natural enemies in mars they wouldn’t meaning they rapidly grow. Same for any plant life. In earth animals eat plants , but since plant life on mars wouldn’t have any animals intially they would grow at much faster rate.

    However the soil or mars at least the top soil is mostly iron oxide not exactly very fertile. It would take genetically modified plant life to exist.

    Maybe a 100 years to terraform parts of mars.
    Temps range from 80(equator) to -240(polar caps).

    Genetic Research should be prioritized. If we could eliminate Genetic disorders, genes weaken the immune system, or decrease the chances for cancer. We could effectively increase life span.
    We could slow aging with genetic research.
    Allowing more brilliant minds on the plant at once. Increasing our speed of advancement.

  • Bill_SF

    Given the article and the numerous comments, I would say the best course of action is to form a small colony on the Moon for the purpose of producing rocket fuel (something from lunar materials?), refined metals / good / parts and possibly “locally grown” food. This achieves the task of establishing resource processing and manufacturing outside the Earth’s gravity well. The escape velocity for the Moon (2.38 km/s) is roughly 20% of Earth’s (11.2 km/s). Multiplying this out you have 8568 km/hr or 5355 mi/hr. This seems low enough that it might be possible to build something akin to a rail gun or rail gun + rocket combo on the moon to deliver supplies / fuel to passing ships. This would increase the payload to propulsion-fuel ratio drastically over Earth-based re-supply. Time the launch and velocity of the cargo such that it matches speed with a passing ship…perhaps magnetic arms or plates (variable strength and polarity for fine control) for capturing the cargo. In this system, a ship traveling between the Moon and another colony (permanent or research), does not necessarily even have to slow down to resupply. It can just loop back and forth between the Earth and Mars (for example) using fuel for minor adjustments and to control the slingshot at each end only.

    Alternatively, I suspect having 20% of Earth’s gravity would make a space elevator on the Moon entirely feasible with existing materials (assuming you can make them or most of them on the Moon). I.e. no need to make a flawless carbon nano-tube cable as would be required for an Earth space elevator.

    Once you are able to produce fuel and basic materials outside major gravity wells, the solar system is your oyster. It is almost pointless to consider anything else until you have done this.

    Need hydrogen in space for manufacturing? Build a methane miner in orbit with Venus with a “straw” akin to the Space Balls vacuum cleaner to extract hydrocarbons from the upper atmosphere. The miner’s just need enough fuel (or ability to use the hydrocarbons) to escape to a “parent” mining ship outside the gravity well. This ship can fire the hydro-carbons towards the manufacturing plant on the Moon to deliver resources in reverse (capture the pod at the moon with an orbiting ship and load onto space elevator).

  • Craig_Hubley

    The idea of evacuating people to a puny Moon or Mars colony is a joke. Of all the motives for space colonies, that is not one of them.

  • kejjer

    The only reason to go to an inhospitable planet is two reasons.
    For exploration–which is great.
    Or for money–which is better.
    So–we may have some novelty colony some where but if it is to grow it needs a reason for being there.
    Hopefully we will have discovered oil or some other hydrocarbon on mars that would lead to an industry that is unique or cheaper to do on that planet.

  • Natronic

    It would take 400 years if technology never advanced.

  • ceratotherium

    The genetic diversity of the colony can be much increased if no men are sent, only women.

    The male genes can be shipped as semen samples: dozens instead of a single man. Each child can have a different father.

  • Oldfoxbob

    Read the book “Rendezvous with Rama ” By A. C. Clark…..He was a NASA scientist. This is the way we should prepare for and travel from one star to another. It is feasible and should be done. SOON!

  • Rex Thorsson

    Planet Earth has a long history of mass extinctions so we should not take too much for granted. The article read pretty well, but regarding centrifugal gravity there are other factors such as the coriolis effect which are largely untested in centrifuges big enough for the Mars trip. The differing pseudo gravity along the length of an “upright” human might create unexpected problems on the long flight to Mars. As to biological diversity the initiative of Mark Zuckerberg in Freezing of embryos for Facebook staff for families later in life could be applied here. I was disappointed with the level of the comments though.

  • Corey Wiley

    There should be centrifuge gymnasiums here on earth. Imagine the benefits of exercising in a gymnasium that had the effect of say 33% more gravity. Every swing of a racket, every pull up, every step of cardio you would be naturally all throughout your body, like even in your breathing muscles, be building more muscle and bone mass perfectly sculpted to your natural movements. Imagine playing Racquetball, dancing, or doing yoga, jumping rope, parkour, or body weight exercises, or just walking or jogging in 33% higher gravity. After a few weeks of working out in that environment, w/o even using weights you would probably become much more robust and when you step outside the gym you would feel really light and limber.

    • TVG

      Increased wear on bones and joints, increased damage from falls. Circulation and fluid shifts.

  • Nicholas Heltzel

    So like what makes anybody think we have any business terraforming mars or anyplace else, when we cannot even save our own planet from our misuse of her resources?? Granted the human existence will need and strive to live on, but at what costs is our livelihoods?, and are we not like an infectious virus in our nature, against nature?

  • Jim Krause

    But what if our Sun dies?

  • Dennis Ng

    Go to Venus first, plus the moon.

  • Rage of ManBearPig

    You missed the other big issue with Venus, its rotational speed is ridiculously low, so half the planet is baked and half is freezing. I always envisioned a floating colony ala cloud city, where pressure is lower and its colder, and could float on the twilight zone of the planet, using solar power to keep a form or airship in that sweetspot.

  • Elwoodathome

    Could we not send these massive Cargo ships of Cow poop to Mars given that they produce these huge amounts of Methane just by “Farting”. I am sure there is much more Methane in just the “Poop”, resulting in a huge pop in our ability to “Farm” mars. We would also have a tremendous supply of

  • joseph2237

    One other factor to take into account is the massive odds that the project will suffer a major failure and how that will negatively effect the future of manning the solar system. I am not say to not go but only by going with a large advantage against failure would be better. We can not go just because the math says we should make it. The agency lost trust with Apollo 13 and that shadow is still there and to fail because we had a half a tank of fuel instead of a full one would be disheartening.

  • Kyana McCoy

    I wonder if intellectuals carry on conversations or debate like we do here in these internet forums? Hmm…. I reckon so, I’ve seen a few of those British parliaments go at it just like we do here… :) Kinda funny how men joust mentally…. You are all quite entertaining….

  • Tuomas Santakallio

    Martians can always train in Earth gravity wearing bodysuits.

  • Steve Stevenson

    Launches from any “gravity well” are far more costly than launches from orbit. The obvious place for human habitats is a solar or earth orbit. All life support requirements are the same for one located in space as for one located on a planet with little to no atmosphere to stop radiation hazard and insufficient gravity for health.

  • David Sims

    Some races have a head start on others in regard to being adaptive for the early phase of colonization. The chief exosomatic adaptation is technology. The adaptive traits of primary importance are a high degree of intelligence and an innate tendency toward the sociable resolution of conflict, as opposed to low IQs and more violent habits. Especially at first, only those space colonies whose inhabitants are smart, resourceful, and well-behaved will survive.

    Blacks are maladaptive in relation to the requirements of space colonization. They are generally not smart enough to deal with problems relating to technology, and any TV commercials or Star Trek dramas that might suggest otherwise are pure postmodern multicultural propaganda bullshit. Fiction does not enlighten us in this matter. To get a real sense of how race affects the survival prospects of space colonies, consult the history of real black groups trying to make a go of real polities that once did have a high level of technology and civic functioning, until the blacks took over power and ruined everything: Haiti, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Detroit, Baltimore, and so on.

    You do NOT want blacks in space colonies. Put them there, and the colonies will fail, every single one.

    You gain NOTHING AT ALL from diversity per se. How much poop do you want to put in your ice cream in order to have “the right balance” of flavors?

    If you must risk the internal comity and good order of society in the space colonies, at least ensure that there’s a reasonable benefit to justify the risk of racial mixing. Either go with white-only space colonies, or, if that be impossible, then mix only with the best of the Asians.

    In my opinion, whites should not mix with other races in space colonies at all. Mixing with, say, Japanese people would be a distant second-best arrangement, but that, in turn, would be much, much better than mixing with blacks.

  • Denise Bennett

    what is the average temperature in space around the planet Venus I could not find that ? and Mars? perhaps in the future we could solve the carbon dioxide problem of both? The have the start of two new worlds perhaps ?
    Depends on the temperature of space and trajectory of the planets of our ability to siphon carbon dioxide from Venus and of course sending it to mars in a controlled enough way that it wouldn,t destroy the planet when it hit the surface in frozen form.. perhaps it would burn up even with the light atmosphere sent in the right way … lots of issues starting with space temperature … that would kill it right there but maybe..

  • colin

    The moon would be good for tests, but the moon is slowly moving away from earth, when it finally does the moon and the earth would be uninhabitable by humans so that would be pointless.


    The moon would have little to no sunlight and it would decrease as time goes on.

    The Earth, without the moon’s gravity, would go out of orbit and crash into another heavenly body or go off into space.


    Going to another planet, such as Mars, would be necessary. Our Earth’s moon would be useful for practice.

  • Mongofilm

    Why would genetic diversity of traditional reproduction be so important, we could bring with us thousands of sperm and eggs and implant them when we arrive at whatever world, then the diversity could be planned as well as “natural.” As a result the population demand of high numbers could be reduced.

  • GiantClam

    But would we find any salt there?

  • H. Tomasz Grzybowski

    Truth about Physics should be known: Perpetual Motion Machines of the First Kind and of the Second Kind are possible. Type “H. Tomasz Grzybowski” in Google, get to the Research Gate page with my publications, click on “Contributions” and find my articles: “Violation of the Law of Energy Conservation” and “Diode Rectifies Thermal Noise”.

  • Malcolm King

    The biggest issue on earth is population explosion which seems to be the elephant in the room that we ignore at our peril

  • Steven Earle

    Seems to me the problem on earth is over population by humans. There is only two ways I see to reduce our populations. First genocide, second immigration off world to one or more of the discussed options here. Both have their problems as enumerated. But if we are to choose the insurance policy for human survival allowing that the first option, genocide, is untenable we come to the inescapable conclusion that any off earth project will by it’s very nature be population limited. Looking at it from this angle alone the moral factor becomes clouded, seems to me. Consider please that while we are building whatever solution(s) decided on time passes and the earthly population grows. At what point in all of this will off earth relocation’s come even close to world population growth? Never in my mind unless there is some major limiting of human reproduction. Not to worry though no immoral human actions need be undertaken other then just let nature take it’s course. Build the off world solutions of choice and the earth itself will react in one way or another that will cause the deaths of tens of millions of humans who will become incapable of surviving changing conditions.A balance will be achieved eventually.

  • LanceRooke

    To cut down on the necessary trips needed for biodiversity requirements, a team of geneticists with human sperm and egg samples should be sent. We wouldn’t actually need 40,000 people as long as we had the samples.


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