Mars 3D
3D graphic of Mars courtesy of microbot23

Imagine this.

Hundreds of years from now, humanity will be divided into two groups, the Terrans and the Martians.

They won’t be separated, as you may have guessed, by the planet they lived in.

What will truly separate them is the height difference. Babies born on Mars will grow much taller than humans on Earth due to one simple thing: gravity.

Gravity on Mars is 62.5% less than that on Earth, helping with the taller growth.

A time when that would happen will be truly remarkable, because a Martian human shows a species we know really well, crafted by evolution to represent mankind’s reach into the cosmos.

But is that the one reason why we should even consider settling on Mars? Absolutely not.

Let’s backpedal a bit.

Mars received its name after the Roman God of War due to its red color. No one knows exactly who originally discovered Mars, considering it can be seen in the sky. Mars is a major factor in mankind’s observance of the cosmos, hanging there, a threat that could not be understood. From Christiaan Huygens’ discovery of Syrtis Major Planum to NASA’s MRO’s discovery of strong water evidence, the planet is like a large red onion, slowly being peeled away, its story waiting to be told.

Syrtis Major
Syrtis Major Planum courtesy of JPL, NASA

With each major discovery and speculation, writers and filmmakers everywhere have tried to capture the public’s imagination and fear of what the secrets of the planet are. H.G. Wells’ 1898 novel War of the Worlds and Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars tried to imagine an advanced and warlike society that is a threat to Earth, having multiple works of literature of that time period sharing that common theme of a utopian advanced civilization.

It wasn’t until 1965 when NASA’s Mariner 4 made a flyby of Mars did it help erase all the popular theories about how advanced the Red Planet was. Instead, works of literature, as well as scientific research and unified space exploration efforts, have shifted from worrying about how to deal with a violent civilization to how to colonize an empty cold planet that might be able to support life one day. Thus, Mars has been a fascination of our species for quite some time, and it is reaching the point of making the first move and sending humans there.

Sadly, not everyone seems to see the importance of Mars. To many, Mars represents a distraction. It is merely a symbol of mankind’s ignorance to the problems at home, and the very thought of escaping to a deserted, cold planet is wasteful spending of resources and talent.

Curiosity Selfie
Cartoon of Curiousity Rover courtesy of ToonPool

Who cares if there’s Life on Mars? Who cares if there’s water there? Why spend billions of dollars on going there in the first place? Why keep on funding NASA’s efforts to send robots and probes to investigate that damn planet? These are very common frustrations, coming from people who have a lack of regard or appreciation of why scientists do what they do. These groups of people will never understand the curiosity of the scientist wanting the study the universe, the excitement of the explorer wanting to go somewhere no one has ever gone before, the hunger of the engineer with the deepest desire to build things that matter, or the lost dreams of the philosopher who wants to help establish a new type of society. They claim that the pressing needs of fixing our society and problems like government and world hunger are more important than the money we spend on space exploration.

First of all, government will always have problems, so the idea that it’ll magically get fixed soon, considering it’s still an experiment in democracy, is ridiculous. We can’t wait on government to be better in order to solve all of our problems here on Earth. Better government doesn’t mean a better world or better countries, it just could mean a more accountable, more transparent, and more efficient government that still will need to deal with the same problems as when the government was not so good, so the problems don’t go away by fixing government.

Second, do people who support the issue of fixing the problems here on Earth really think that the problems will go away? Historically speaking, we always dealt with problems and adversities, whether it’s how one tribe will defeat another tribe, to how to survive a cold winter if we don’t have fire, to how do we deal with world epidemics like the great plague. Humanity will always have problems, whether we colonize other planets or stay here. But by actually colonizing other planets, we are trying to ensure that at least we won’t end up destroying ourselves on Earth.

This group is what I like to call the Loyal Earthers, cause they want to remain here on Earth, working on Earth problems, doing Earth things, hanging out with other Earthers. There’s nothing wrong with such an attitude, of course. We need people like these who have their feet grounded in reality, and lucky for us, they’re the majority of the population. They’re what I like to think of as the cautious ones who want take care of the planet, our home, since it’s the only one we got. I love this crowd a lot since it allows us, the dreamers to fly away, take risks, and explore.

Trick Curiosity
Image courtesy of Unspoken Pictures

To others, Mars represents an insurance policy on our species. In the event of a worldwide catastrophe that would destroy our society, having a society on Mars ensures a continuation of humanity. Those are what I’d call the Saviors, who would support any Mars mission or objective to further to colonization of Mars because in the long term, our species will be better because of it. Now, part of me, a huge part, agrees with this dearly, and I’m on the same camp as the Saviors, but to me, this is not the only or main reason of why going to Mars is so important.

The way I see it, even if we can successfully backup our species into multiple planets and learn to adapt to each planet’s different environmental factors and surviving, are we going to be terraforming each planet to be like Earth? Because, by doing so and having another Earth, which is a great and noble idea, allowing us to breathe natural air without a mask and walk around without a care in the world, will we still be the same environment-destroying species our ancestors were? That’s the big question. Are we saving our own asses just so we can fuck up again at our pleasure, or are we going to learn from what the Earthers did wrong and try a different approach. Time will tell.

To the smallest group however, myself included, Mars represents a destination. A dream.

The biggest intrigue is in the idea that we are escaping our reality, not towards a better condition, and not really knowing when we will come back. It is as if we are walking towards limbo. The pioneers would have a decision in front of them, of either turning this place to something we have seen before or something completely different.

A utopia…or another Earth.

Now, I like to think of myself as apolitical, with the exception of having political interest in keeping government space programs alive and funded.

That’s what I give a shit about.

Whenever I think about NASA’s and the CSA’s funding and how limited it is, it worries me. As you all have already known, our ability to travel space, although costly, is still one of the greatest highlights of our achievement as a species. SpaceX has been fighting long for more sustainable and cost-effective means of travel, with many successes.

We should be thanking The Roman God of War for SpaceX, because if you look at the graph below, NASA’s funding has been in constant decline since after the Space Race in the late 60s. Private space companies is the only answer now since government doesn’t want to fund NASA more than that mediocre percentage it receives now.

NASA budget
NASA Budget courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The ability to change environments is very important for our species in order to ensure the survival of humanity.

Why Mars is important for humanity is because we will be literally starting over from scratch, arriving at a cold, dead planet, and working to make it alive. That would be the dream, the idea, the reason of why we would occupy and live on Mars in the first place. Terraformation, or if you wanna get poetic about it, working towards resurrecting Mother Nature. Those values we would share in coming to love the environment we are helping nurture and grow is something we absolutely need as a species.

Do we even have to talk about why we really want to leave our planet behind? Look around you. We suck as a species. What we are doing to our planet from every angle, whether politically, socially, or economically, but obviously the most important part, environmentally, is deadly.

I think it’s great that many of us want to go to Mars to backup our species
and protect the future of humanity,
but I really think that by going to Mars,
we would develop an environmental loving connection
with the new red planet,
that we wouldn’t entirely make it fully like Earth,
but would keep a huge portion of the Red protected.


It is important that we understand why we are going. Terraforming, which is the fancy Latin way of saying earth-making, is the idea that we can make planets just like Earth.

Artists online always come up with some interesting designs of what a planet would look like after being terraformed.

Mars Terraformed
Image Rendering of Terraformed Mars by Kevin Gill

They look kinda like Earthy in a way, but that’s just me. That idea doesn’t interest me.

We cannot terraform a planet that looks like Earth. We can make it habitable, for sure, with breathing air, plants, and blue drinking water, but then, we need to limit that. We need to respect that a part of the original planet needs to be preserved, for many reasons, whether it’s ethical or environmental.

But if you’re not in that camp, then consider this.

We need to preserve part of the original planet at least for science.

Think of it as mars-making, or if you wanna be fancy and science-y about it, then consider it aresforming. You revive part of Mars to get plants living there, water flowing, more breathable air, but you limit that by protecting other parts of the planet, preserving it.

There’s a lot of Martian literature out there that deals with the idea of terraforming, chief among them is Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Mars Trilogy, which narrates a whole generation of scientists as they go from training in Antarctica to travelling in space to reaching Mars to terraforming it. I’ll be reviewing the trilogy later on in this blog, discussing its main ideas and themes, but what it’s trying to show us mainly is that dream of going to Mars and colonizing it is real, and something that should happen in our lifetime.

After all, space exploration and planet colonization, although important, shouldn’t just be about saving our species from itself, but more about redefining what our species can be and what it means to be a human. It’s time we let go of the idea that this is a wasteful expenditure, that we are just doing it for survival of the species, but look at it more importantly as a way of evolving our species.

You can find me later at a bar on Mars if you wanna talk about this further.

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