Living on Mars

Mars is the doubtful source of life in our solar system -- but could it make a feasable destination? Aspiring human earthworms need to know.

Something of a lifestyle revolution could be about to go off, in allusion to enthusiasts of space travel such as Elton Musk whose engineering genius foresees a 50-year window when colonization can next begin. A whole archeoleplex of science fiction both legacy and headed subscriber-way, plus more than a few magazines past and present from Omni to Discover have hashed out dreamy and terrifying scenarios of getting there and making a living.

Today the human limit imagines drab, submarine-sealed igloos situated with trapdoors leading to an underground labyrinth community, in essence positioned at strategic points along a pre-existing lava tube network. And there shall be work to do outside in space suits because the Armstrong test limit involved on the Martian surface isn't rather all that great for the complexion, with a 0.1% oxygen atmosphere on the poisonous side of a carbon dioxide index (0.7 as opposed to a something of a 0.1 maximum Earth tolerability on the given scale *****).

Wait ... we have 50 years to act and this were the opportunity of a lifetime to take an exotic vacation to the most hospitable artificial environment that you can fabricate in the interim. Here's why ...

Software, simulation, and a little but of nostalgia for Alien 2's Ripley cargo-loading mech outfit say the most of an engineering scenario cut out for an assembly line run of 1,000 satellite-com outfitted robots.

We'll be imagining laboring on earth in a virtual three-window by strapping on virtual reality gear to connect with one of these machines as it accomplishes any number of tasks:

• Drilling down through Martian rock • Producing molten material out of large crystal balls that focus solar heat into a very effective forge • Forming stairsteps • Creating rooms made of rock in the old style of chiseling. • Laying underground fiber optic networks to let in the sun above.

These machines would be designed for autonomous decisions that may veto any decision that could result in an unrecoverable fatality, such as falling down a ravine or walking off into a sandpit.

The software would be designed, in effect, to implement a virtual reality of dictating each of the mech's moves. Any lag in signal transit would be compensated for by the software end of the interface. Actions can be regarded as administered without need of direct feedback.

What the VR system would reproduce faithfully would be the conditions that the machine has to navigate in. You could experience the gravity as if it were your arm doing the work, get accurate temperature feedback, and hear actual acoustics of the grounding drone, and receive full data as if you were there from everything except the air quality. Gravitation could be demonstrated by rotating a sizeable disc platform at a very slow pace while managing to lift it up and let it fall down in a subtle manner that can let the falls be indicative of the gravitational sensation. Platform rotation challenges the reflexes to suppose there to be a definable difference -- assisted imagination with a relatively low-cost emulability twist.

The grounding drone would provide the sort of feedback that the engagement by the mech -- it could be any one of a handful of machine types -- has to encounter, taken from real-time digitized relay.

Artists could etch walls and even paint them with an optimized human android type of mech. These would be the human-like laborers, powered by batteries that must get their recharge from a supply of interchangeable batteries hosted by more than a few solar power recharging stations. The humanesque mechs would do dexterous tasks that their human counterparts rehearse for them by going through the VR, using precise telemetric data to interact with objects that use pins to represent features to mimic exact shape and tactile qualities. Telemetry provides the mechanized interface, and human interaction provides the grapple and dextrous movements. I'm envisioning the lag of realtime signal to be the reason four to twenty-four minutes of wait means that each act must be choreographed with a wing and a prayer. But smart software can supply something of a human rote as needed for robotic assistance by relaying the situation, representing it thermally by example, providing solids for demonstrated grips, and even giving the human "commander" gloves with the same features as humanoid android fingers.

Mining operations carried out by other mechs end up as full-scale as on Earth. Once raw materials can be accessed, beginning a formal engineering operation becomes possible, complete with capacity to make any type of thing that can be made on earth. From extraction of ores to pouring various shapes of interchangeable parts, any planet or asteroid can become a literal composition ready to host human visitation in style, as sophisticated as the greatest architectural accomplishment that can be named.

This basic sketch completes an introduction suggesting of fantastic capability yet untapped to terraform or terramine Mars prior to human visitation of the planet.


I thought after seeing a bad trend among electronic devices -- which for some reason just had to include fascist bomber improvisations -- that chance encounters with tech left lying about in open spaces probably should be regarded like bombs. And this -- not only because Samsung's Galaxy 7 electronic abacus blew up, but because electronic devices would be the simplest of existing devices to convert into explosive potential.

Liberty Redux

I'm hoping that one day all you'll have to do would be to place any suspect electronic device into a small bombproof metal container and contact an electronics expert to get a professional breakdown on what you have discovered.

For the container, the instant it shuts it would trip off a gas exchange and fill with an inert gas such as Helium until detection equipment can sense no trace of oxygen. Whereby, foreseeably, any possibility of detonation may be prevented, although some explosive types could contain oxygen-rich chemistry.

Sure, why am I not saying contact a bomb squad? Because bomb squads should be privatized! Any professional who knows what to do could handle this type of scenario.