I just came across some very interesting read. (Westeners forgive me if you have already came across or participated in this project-  I know of no one in South Africa who has)  The read was about the Mars One Project. It seems there are about 202 000 people who have already volunteered to take part!

Is Science giving us another home away from this planet? What are predictions of life in Mars? Is Mars stable enough with resources to cater for a 6billion odd of us humans,including other species like domestic animals (for our proteins, obviousloy)? How about plant life, marine life.

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Given the lack of a magnetosphere, I don't think Mars ever had any sort of life based on DNA. At least none that ever lived on the surface.

Mars has a magnetosphere, it's just weak. There is evidence that Mars once had a more powerful magnetosphere in the distant past, including giant magnetic fields scattered all around the planet like umbrellas, and signs that liquid water once flowed across the surface.

Liquid water is impossible today because the atmospheric pressure is so low (1% of earth's) that water would vaporize. To retain a thick enough atmosphere for liquid water, Mars would have needed a more powerful magnetic field. Without it, passing solar wind strips the atmosphere off the planet.

If ancient Mars once had a more powerful magnetic field, a thicker atmosphere, and liquid water, the surface may have been protected from sterilizing solar radiation. This could mean Mars was protected long enough for indigenous life to get started.

But it wouldn't have to be indigenous life necessarily. Rock from Earth could have been ejected into space by the impact of an asteroid or comet and landed on Mars. (The reverse is known to have happened at least several times.) If rocks from Earth carried certain Earth microbes to Mars during the last few billion years, those microbes could have inherited the planet.

Mind opening@ Gallup's Mirror.

Lets look at this from another angle. Does the rest of the universe eally deserve to have mankind inflicted upon it any further by expanding beyond earth ? Imagine religion being taken out there, corporate bosses, egotisticaland violently inclined military, and most vile of all our greedy selfish narcissistic politicians.

I am all for advancement of science and engineering, I think marvels are performed every day but sadly on the back of that comes the slush and pig slurry I mentioned above. Solve the slush and pig slurry problem and THEN go for it.

As a physiologist I would like to make the observation that human beings are very ill equiped for life beynd the modest envelope we inhabit. To venture into space we need radiation resiliant sight and gonads, we need muscles that do not degenerate when away from gravity/stress, more effecient lungs and better blood pumps to mention a few things.

Regards,

Judith vd R.

There are many SF stories concerning bioengineering space colonists, and explorers. Sadly their titles excape me at present. I suggest that the first colonists to Mars, from earth, be bacteria, algea, and lickens. Followed up with a multi-generational terra-forming program to amortize costs.

This program would be part of a space mining operation, that would also establish off-Earth habitats as a way to reduce exposure to possible extinction events. Sadly all who leave Earth will need to accept the likelyhood of either not returning, or suffering the ill effects of radiation before stable colonies are established. This will most likely stimulate a major push for robotic space exploration/mining, and/or intentional genetic modification/adaptations.

There have been terrestrial discoveries of bacteria, and some multicellular organisms that survive exposure to high radiation exposure, desication, heat, and pH. These might help with the first genetic experiments. Sadly, our future might consist of strains to our cultural sense of 'revulsion'.

  

Single-celled organisms may be resistant to poisonous radiation, but humans are not and won't be in the foreseeable future. Without a magnetosphere, humans will never walk the face of Mars without protective gear.

We humans (meaning most probably the Chinese and not NASA the way things are going) will probably establish a research base on Mars someday, but it will never be a terribly hospitable place for people who want to go outdoors in regular clothes and feel the wind in their face, lay down in a field of grass with a picnic basket and a bottle of wine, or throw frisbees for Fido to catch and return.

It is too far away from the Sun for humans to expect that sort of thing. On the whole, a much colder place. 

Terraforming? The big problem is that Mars lacks a magnetosphere and so is unprotected from lethal radiation. 

On the other hands, if living indoors under a dome is your thing, it might be tolerable for a while. 

Terraforming? The big problem is that Mars lacks a magnetosphere and so is unprotected from lethal radiation.

It's not completely unprotected. The Mars Global Surveyor discovered magnetic fields on areas of the Martian surface (mini-magnetospheres) which are more powerful than those found on Earth. These cover about 40% of Mars and create areas where the planetary surface is protected from solar wind.

Mars has no powerful, global magnetic field like Earth, but it does have powerful magnetic umbrellas. These have not been extensively studied (although they will be) but they could be relatively safe locations for Martian colony builders, allowing a minimum of three years (probably much longer) of exposure at the surface before safety limits are reached. That's probably enough time to build a colony in a giant Martian lava tube.

Story of one successful candidate from Ireland here.

No matter what, I can't see a colony in our lifetimes.  The idea is still too far ahead of our technology.

Actually it exceeds our present cultural imagination!

Sadly in time we will be mostly using our imagination to survive climate change.

Sadly in time we will be mostly using our imagination to survive climate change.

Sad but true.

We are almost all still at a doggies and horseies stage of intellectual development. Most of my family are 'head in sands'. Many of my tight network of friends are 'damn we have to changers'. The stars and planets are 'far away', while 'climate change' is so close we can take change for granted, till the seas start chasing us from our back yards, or vacation spots! 

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