It has never been proven that humans can comfortably live in a closed environment for extended periods of time. There are possible solutions to this problem. Each solution would change Mars in such a way as to make any other method impossible. If we are going to terraform Mars the world needs to have a concensus on the procedure. Also a more precise and thorough exploration of Mars needs to be done, so that we do not cause the extinction of all species. Like the early settlers of America, the fastest way would be to use only Martian resources. Unfortunately this method may produce harmful effects on the entire environment of Mars which may prevent other colonization attempts. On the right is a view of the mountain of lava that was spewed from a minor volcano in the Elysium Region. Check out the fly through (3.5 MB) that investigates its structure.
Another way would be to change the environment of Mars so that it is similar to the Earth. This concept is called terraforming. Before we terraform Mars we have to learn to work together as a unified planet, and realizing that any form of human activity on Mars will undoubtedly have some impact on its ecosystem, some of which may be negative. We also need to further study what Mars is really like. We need to know where and how much water is on Mars, and if there is enough carbon dioxide to support plant life. We also need to know what form it is in, and we need an unlimited energy source. The sun would be ideal.
Another way to terraform Mars would be to release the water from inside the polar caps. To release Martian water requires a complex set of steps which might take centuries or more to complete. Or it might be possible to use nuclear waste and heat up the planet creating a greenhouse effect. The general goal is to reach an acceptable climate pattern and to eventually create a new ecosystem for Mars. On the Right is a computer rendered image of the majestic islands of terraformed Mars.
This is a series of pictures showing the process of terraforming
Click here for a Virtual Reality fly through of this region MPEG 1.9MB
The amount of variables and possibilities of modifying the whole Martian environment is enormous. There are several legal precedents associated with colonizing and studying Mars. Other people question if it is moral to take over another planet taking the chance of destroying it forever. In populating a new area we too often first think of how it would benefit us. Rarely do we think of how we might ruin what already exists.
Why are we going