Wednesday, August 15, 2012
The human occupation of Mars will have to wait until we have our own Magnetic Field Exclusion Vessels (MFEVs) able to easily transport us there and back. Google this blog for a full description and the article I published in Viewzone.com.
However, there is one aspect presently poorly understood about that occupation. It is that it will need to be developed underground and that will turn out to be surprisingly easy. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the lower gravity means that larger voids can be built, likely several times the size possible on Earth. The second is way more subtle. Earth's crust is dynamical and this has resulted in extensive brittle fracture throughout the crust. Unless you are working through rock that is naturally self healing, the fracturing is pervasive. That will not be true on Mars.
Thus engineering large chambers and passages will be both practical and very safe. A city of multiple large chambers becomes easy with minimum roof security to install. The low gravity also suggests that we can build several miles deep compared to the maximum two miles we achieve on Earth.
This also means that a dense atmosphere can be easily captured in such a structure making habitation easy and secure. If it turns out that ample water is also located, then an internal ecology can be established using a fusion energy plant.
It should be obvious that with a three dimensional structure that the possibilities of supporting a huge population flies through the roof. A cubic kilometer would have twenty percent usable space and assuming a living person needed ten cubic meters, we conservatively assign 20,000,000 people. Go down ten miles and we approach a quarter of a billion individuals.
Thus using simple well known technology, it is possible to install the entire population of Earth inside a few cubic miles.
This applies to almost any small planet out there and is surely the safest strategy anyway. It is also inevitable that any alien group setting up shop in a solar system will do precisely that. Taking it further, we should be checking for aliens underfoot instead of in the skies.