A Colony on Mars by Cliff Roehr - HTML preview
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Based on what information we now have it appears that it might be possible to place a self sustaining colony of human beings on Mars. All of the necessities seem to be available. We now know that there is plenty of H20 water available beneath the thick layer of frozen CO2 Carbon Dioxide at the South Pole. It is assumed that the situation would be the same at the north pole. There is also good evidence that there is liquid H20 water flowing beneath the suffice of the planet. The known water at the South Pole alone would be adequate to cover the entire planet with pure water to a depth of approximately thirty six ft. So, at worst ample water would be a solvable problem.
Habitat is a problem because the Martian atmosphere is ninety five percent Carbon Dioxide, and only 3% nitrogen whereas the atmosphere of Earth is 78% or so nitrogen, 21% oxygen and less than 1% Carbon Dioxide. There is a solution to this problem. Recent photo's have shown that below the surface of Mars there are many large fissures, cavern's if you will. One is known to be at least three times as wide as the Grand Canyon, three times as deep and nine times as long. This would not be a little cramped space it would be about the size of the State of Rode Island. A breathable Earth like atmosphere can be made with water and nitrates. There would be plenty of water. Initially smaller more manageable caverns could be used while work was being performed on larger caverns. Caverns could eventually be interconnected. One estimate I recently read was that there were caverns beneath the surface of Mars equal to the size of the Continental United States. This would be a large habitat indeed.
Gardens could be grown underground using electric grow lights. There are already new strains of plants being developed on Earth that are far more efficient at photosynthesis, the process of converting Carbon Dioxide to oxygen. If sufficient Nitrates are available to the plant from the soil then the plant will consume Carbon Dioxide and produce a breathable atmosphere for man.
At present the mean temperature on the surface of the planet is fifty five degrees below zero, Fahrenheit. The warmest temperature ever recorded on Mars was eighty degrees above zero, Fahrenheit. Mars receives far less sunshine than the Earth because it is further away from the sun. Twice a year during the equinox the wind speeds on the planet surface reach two hundred fifty to four hundred miles per hour. A man left unprotected on the surface would be dead in under a minute.
Mars is only seventeen percent the size of the Earth. Mars, in many ways is more comparable to Earth's moon than it is to Earth, except that the minimum gravity that man can survive comfortably in is 33% and Mars gravity is thirty five percent. Living in a pressurized cavern in an atmosphere rich in oxygen, taking the proper vitamins, getting plenty of exercise and spending some time in artificial gravity of one g, Earths gravity could go a long way in making Mars more habitable. Mars has no ozone layer that protects the surface from exposure to extreme radiation. The radiation on the surface of Mars is deadly.
It has been said that all that is needed for survival is a reliable energy source. On Mars there are probably no fossil fuels however the frequent volcanoes indicate that geothermal energy would be plentiful. So much for heat and electricity.
The Martian soil is known to be extremely rich in iron. So far there is no information that I could find as to the presence of other minerals but with the high presence of iron there are bound to be others we just have not found them yet or reported them yet.
So there you have it everything that man would need to survive is awaiting him on Mars. The technology is already available all that we lack now is the resolve and the commitment.
NOTE: No time and date system has been universally accepted for keeping the time and date on Mars, at least not as of 2108. When and if Mars is ever colonized a standard will be established. Please go to http://pweb.jps.net/~tgangale/Mars/faq.htm#day where you can read everything you ever wanted to know about keeping track of time and dates on Mars. Some interesting facts are as follows: A Martian Day is 24 hours 39 minutes 35.24409 seconds long, a Martian year is 686.9726 Earth days in length. A Martian Day is called a Sol.
How does the eccentricity of Mars' orbit affect the seasonal variations?
Earth’s orbit is very nearly circular, and so the four seasons last approximately the same number of days. The orbit of Mars, however, is a bit more eccentric (0.0934). In accordance with Kepler’s laws of orbital motion, Mars travels more slowly in its orbit when it is further from the sun, and more quickly when it is nearer to the sun. Mars reaches its furthest point from the sun (called "aphelion") when it is spring in the northern hemisphere. This has the effect of making spring the longest season (193.30 sols), and summer the second longest (178.64 sols). Mars reaches its closest point to the sun (called "perihelion") when it is autumn in the northern hemisphere, and consequently autumn is the shortest season (142.70 sols), and winter is the second shortest (153.94 sols). On a calendar containing 24-months of equal duration, spring lasts seven months, while autumn lasts a little more than five. Summer has a little more than six months, and winter has a little less. This paragraph was plagiarized from the above mentioned website. I suppose that if this story is ever released as a book I will have to get permission to use it or completely reword it. Perhaps now you will understand that for the purposes of this fiction story the Author has taken license to have the characters in the story use Greenwich mean time and the Earth calendar and to say that the scientific community at the colony maintains and prominently posts the Martian time and date which is available to anyone planning to work on the surface.
Until the reader reaches PART II of this book he will have no idea of what the story is going to be about. I would encourage you however to not skip ahead to part II. If you do not read part I then part II will be meaningless. Part II begins about two thirds of the way through the book.
This story then will be the author's fictional concept of what might take place if mankind were to embark on a project to colonize Mars.