The colonization of other stellar bodies would benefit the community of Earth indefinitely. In a world plagued by climate change and uncontrolled consumption of resources, being able to terraform and survive on another planet is necessary to guarantee humanity’s thriving, and destructive, nature. Although something of this magnitude would seem impossible, current technology already allows us to accomplish this immense goal. However, anything outside of direct survival would still pose a challenge.
As of right now, we have the capability to offer people a one-way trip to Mars, the closest, possibly habitable planet. The requirements for surviving on another planet are monumental. We would require an artificial atmosphere, unless we desire to have a helmet permanently stuck to us whenever we venture out of a habitat. We would need the ability to produce farms, which would require us to create a similar atmosphere that of Earth. To guarantee survival beyond the initial month, a source of water, a water cleanser, and a water recycler would be necessary. These resources would cover the basic necessities of initial contact.
The colonized planet would become almost completely independent of the home planet for long durations. There would also be numerous risks of any transports being destroyed en route to the colonized planets. The residents of the planet would need these capabilities: mining, manufacturing, and precision on a high level, with minimal resources. Without an atmosphere, carbon dioxide scrubbers are the most critical resource available to the inhabitants. All residents must be highly trained and educated, and be able to produce equipment necessary for prolonging survivability. With the rise in 3D printing technology, this task has become far easier to accomplish. However, therein lies the issue. The residents would need to be able to procure resources similar to those on earth, in large quantities, and quickly. They must also have the ability to refine and manipulate these resources.
All of this would not be possible, if we did not have a certain resource: humans. How many people can we send over at any given moment, and would they be able to accomplish all tasks necessary? Could be invest in robotics, and send helpers along with humans that could operate at a higher efficiency in certain tasks.
In order to increase the chance of success, would we need to raise a generation of people specific to this task, training them in all necessary skills? What would be the cost of such an expedition, and would it really bring back any immediate benefits? Would it be possible to create an artificial atmosphere on the scale of a planet to expedite growth and standard of living, and what would be the psychological and physical effect on the inhabitants of another stellar body? Does Mars possess any extraterrestrial life forms, however grand or microscopic?
According to a post by spaceplace.nasa.gov, “Most scientists agree that the results do not reveal any signs of life”. There has not been any life detected on Mars despite more than 10 years worth of exploration and searching by rover and satellites. However, Mars is a large place, and it does not necessarily mean there will never be any extraterrestrial life found on Mars. The process of colonizing Mars remains a debate. According to Behrokh Khoshnevis, a close collaborator with NASA and a professor of engineering, we could build structures on Mars using materials from Mars. Behrokh Khoshnevis has developed award winning 3D printers, as well as processes for 3D printing that would allow pioneers to Mars to print large structures within a day, using materials commonly found on Mars. The largest obstacle to this would be sending robots to assemble a power grid to supplement the colony and printer, as well as shipping the printer itself. The cost of moving any materials, as well as personnel would be astronomical, “Mars One estimates the cost of bringing the first four people to Mars at US$ 6 billion. This is the cost of all the hardware combined, plus the operational expenditures, plus margins. For every next manned mission including hardware and operations, Mars One estimates the costs at US$ 4 billion.” However, this cost is inexpensive when considering that colonizing Mars would be one of the greatest steps in progressing scientific discoveries.