The founder of SpaceX, the billionaire Elon Musk, despite the difficult geopolitical situation, continues to dream of manned flights to Mars and the colonization of the red planet.
But if this ever happens, future “Martians” will have to solve many problems. One of them is the need to change their usual diet.
Pass through the Large Filter
Musk hopes his plans will come true very soon. By 2024, an unmanned spacecraft with cargo and autonomous vehicles will be sent to Mars, and by 2026 the first human crew will fly there, the entrepreneur promises.
Going forward, Musk is expected to build a self-sustaining colony on a nearby planet by 2050 that won’t rely on Earth resources.
“If we can make life on Mars self-sustaining, we’ll pass one of the biggest filters,” Musk wrote on his Twitter. “We will then become an interstellar civilization.”
The Great Filter is one of the proposed solutions to the Fermi paradox regarding the existence of intelligent life in the universe.
According to this concept, in order to be discovered by other intelligent species, any civilization must go through several stages of its development, from training to developing advanced technologies that will help colonize other planets.
Vegetarians under domes
The Earth is only at the threshold of the colonization process, and the first stage of this stage should be Mars, according to Elon Musk. In order for humanity to survive on Mars, which, in truth, is not very suitable for human habitation, many domes connected to each other will be built on its surface, inside which the colonists will will install.
They will have to produce food themselves, for which farms will be equipped, where settlers can grow vegetables, fruits and various useful plants. But when it comes to raising animals, everything is much more complicated, not least because oxygen reserves will be limited.
First, it will take about 5,000 spacecraft flights, each carrying about 200 tons of cargo on site, for some form of production to be achieved, says John C. Strickland, of the National Space Society, which studies the problem of colonization of Mars.
Strickland comes to the conclusion that the optimal number of Martian settlers will be 5,000 people. But to avoid overloading the “life domes”, they will need to follow a vegan diet – consuming only plant-based foods and, if possible, raw.
Platforms for the production of these foods with an area of about one million square feet, located on four levels, should be enough to feed the future inhabitants of the planet.
“The number of structures to maintain the pressure in the area, the lighting and the right temperature will amount to several thousand tons, so the production of structural metals and plastics from local Martian materials will be necessary enough quickly as the base and colony grows,” says Strickland.
Where to find energy?
According to the expert’s calculations, to sustain 5,000 “Martians” will require about 500 megawatts of electricity.
That’s a lot: on Earth, a plant of this capacity could supply electricity to at least 50,000 homes. But at the same time, it would not be about industry and food production, which should be part of the tasks of Martian factories. And do not forget that it will also be necessary to extract fuel, in particular for the transport which will circulate between Mars and the Earth.
“The energy would have to come from fission, fusion or space solar panels, because there are no fossil fuels on Mars, and it would be very difficult to build huge terrestrial solar panels on Mars, where the sunlight is weaker,” Strickland said.
Part of the problem could be solved by geologists finding minerals that could be used as both fuel resources and building materials, Strickland believes. He believes that all of these projects could be implemented with the cooperation of NASA and SpaceX companies.
As the Red Planet’s population grows, Mars will become increasingly important to humanity, Mr Strickland believes.
According to him, the descendants of the first settlers will no longer need to wear oxygen masks to go out and, over time, Mars will become a real second home for earthlings.