Explore the dissolving boundary between science and science fiction with news from the front lines of discovery and imaginative speculation on how each one could change our world.
Popular Science recently published a cool infographic on the cost of colonizing Mars. All you aspiring space travelers had better start saving up:
Making a home on Mars isn’t impossible, but it won’t be cheap.
Wow, and I thought cost of living in my East Coast city was expensive! Prices on Mars would be, well…astronomical. With the state of worldwide economies today, most countries don’t have extra billions lying around to fund interplanetary missions. An alliance of nations could contribute—a sort of extension of the international space station. It seems more likely that a wealthy individual or corporation would sponsor the effort. (Suddenly I’m picturing rockets plastered with advertising; the red planet, brought to you by Red Bull).
That could lead to an interesting choice of settlers. A government project would involve a star-studded casts of scientists, astronauts, and other qualified experts. Private money changes those criteria. Theoretically, anyone with a deep enough wallet could buy a summer home on a Martian polar cap. A corporation might sponsor a celebrity to make the trip as an extended publicity stunt.
Absurd but not unthinkable, a television station might decide that the confined life on a Martian colony is the ultimate reality hit; “The Real World: Mars”. Or, save us, “Jersey Shore” (or “Mare Erythraeum Shore”, although I doubt Snooki could pronounce the Latin-based names of Martian geography). Hopefully the high price of transmitting video would dissuade such an idea!
Let’s assume an expedition is financed and the intrepid travelers set up house on Mars. What would happen if the funding dried up? Would the settlers be stranded until donations enabled a rescue mission? Or would they be left to their own salvation—frantically trying to rebuild a space shuttle or terraform a sustainable source of food—as their supplies and their hope dwindled? Perhaps it will take an event of that magnitude to make humans realize that some things, like clean water and oxygen, are worth more than all the money in the universe.