Building a Marsbase is a Horrible Idea: Let’s do it!

From hostile deserts,
to lonely islands and the highest mountains, wherever there is space
to expand into humans do so. So, it’s hardly surprising
that we’re already making preparations to set foot on Mars, and to create the first
permanent colony outside of Earth — maybe even terraform another planet
and turn it into a second blue home. But wait, before we can get to the nice future stuff, we first have to complete
the second phase of colonization; creating a semi-permanent outpost to prepare the ground for a larger human presence. But doing so will be gruesome. Even for an expansionist species like us,
Mars is extreme. At first glance,
Mars seems familiar — polar ice caps,
large valleys, liquid water under its surface, and a day barely longer than Earth’s. The ideal place for us to go. Unfortunately, Mars
is actually a cold, radioactive desert where the ground is poisonous
and breathing is impossible. Mars is awful. You almost certainly don’t want to go there. The pioneers doing the hard work on Mars
will have an intensely stressful life, filled with incredibly challenging problems never encountered before. But there are plenty of people
willing to do that work and we have the technology
to enable them to do it. For this video, we will assume
there have been prior missions to Mars to scout out a good place for an outpost, store resources and equipment, and that there’s already a moon base that serves as a hub for Mars missions. The first major challenge for our outpost, is the fact that Mars is very energy poor. Because of its distance from the Sun, solar power is only 40% as effective as on Earth. But even this weakened sunlight
is often obscured for days by enormous dust storms. Solar power alone
will probably not be enough. Alternatives, such as wind power,
and geothermal energy are also unfeasible as there’s hardly any atmosphere
and Mars’ interior is much too cold. Initially, nuclear technology
might be the only option. Since Mars doesn’t have
easily accessible radioactive elements, the nuclear fuel needs to come
from Earth along with the reactor. If we do set it up, it could power
our small outpost for the first few years. Unfortunately, all that energy
won’t be very useful if we can’t breathe. Mars’ atmosphere is only 1% as dense as Earth’s, and mostly made up of CO2. So, now habitats need to be pressurized
and filled with an artificial atmosphere made of nitrogen and oxygen — Which comes with more problems. Corners and flat walls are weak points so the habitats will have rounded and smooth shapes to handle the stress of great pressure differences
between the interior and exterior. The airlocks need to be very airtight
and work perfectly every time. Without an extensive magnetosphere, or a dense atmosphere, half of all radiation coming from space reaches the ground. A person on the surface would be subjected
to 50 times the radiation that they would be on Earth. Three years on the surface of Mars
exceeds the radiation dose limits imposed on NASA astronauts for their entire career. This increases cancer risks significantly. To prevent that, we could shield our habitats
with a thick layer of frozen CO2, that can be harvested directly from the atmosphere. Covering the dry ice with a meter of dirt,
would further increase the level of protection. Sadly, this means almost no windows. From the inside,
most living spaces will be windowless tunnels. From the outside,
they’ll look like burial mounds. All of this would still not hold back all the radiation, but reduce it just enough
to be survivable for long periods of time. It won’t, however, protect anyone who ventures outside. So, remote-controlled robots
will be used for routine work on the surface, while our crew stays inside. Staying inside is a good idea for another reason: Mars dust. It’s much finer than dust on Earth, so it could find its way
into the gears or electronics of our machines. Because it’s also very dry, it’s electro-statically charged; sticking to everything, like spacesuits. It will be impossible to avoid carrying
lots of Mars dust into our habitat, and into the lungs of our crew. To make this even worse, Mars’ soil
is filled with very toxic perchlorate salts. Constant exposure could be deadly. This problem can still be overcome though. Space suits, for example, could be made in a way
that they never truly enter the base, but stay attached to the outside of the habitats. Okay, great. Now we’ve safely isolated humans in terms of energy and air, and protected them from cancer,
we just need to feed them. Water is easy to come by if a settlement
is positioned near the Martian poles with their thick layers of ice. Growing food is a different kind of challenge though. Mars’ soils are alkaline and lack the vital nitrogen compounds
that plants need to grow. Before we can grow anything,
we will have to decontaminate the soil which is difficult and expensive. Then, the soil can be fertilized using recycled biological waste. All of this will take a lot of time,
and is very energy-intensive. So, we might use aquaponics
to raise fish and plants together — Making the astronauts’ diets
more varied and tasty at the same time. This will be an important
psychological boost for our overworked crew. All of these things don’t solve one fundamental problem though: Mars has only 38 percent of Earth’s surface gravity, which could cause muscle-wasting,
bone loss, and cardiovascular problems. While this might be solved in the future
by setting up rotating living spaces, for now, our crew has to live with low gravity and exercise a lot to slow the degradation down. The crews will probably have to rotate every few years, after being stuck indoors
in tight spaces without windows. With the same people,
performing the same routines day-in day-out with little contact from the outside world, and a lot to worry about. Like Antarctic scientists or submarine staff, they will undergo intense psychological screening to make sure they’re mentally resilient enough
to handle this lifestyle for several years. Establishing the first real infrastructure
on Mars will be extremely taxing work that only a group of very determined,
and competent, people can do. Luckily, we have enough of these on Earth. And there you have it! A small Mars base that will survive
for at least a few decades — as long as it’s getting a constant supply of resources, parts, nuclear fuel, and crews from Earth. Unfortunately, Mars and Earth
are separated by millions of kilometers and orbital periods that leave
only a narrow travel window every two years. If there’s an emergency in the colony, Earth wouldn’t be able to help
until the next travel window opens. Helpers may arrive on a planet
filled with corpses. Settling Mars will be the toughest challenge we have ever faced. It will be gruesome work to establish
the infrastructure we need. But we’re stubborn,
and we like extreme challenges. If we push through Phase Two of colonization,
anything is possible. Cities illuminating the dark Martian night, a hub for travel between the planets, industries setting foot in orbit terraforming a true multi-planetary future. Going to Mars is hard but worth it. And if we’re lucky, we might be around
long enough to see it happening and cheer on the people who take on these challenges for the benefit of us all. Figuring out complex stuff
is one of the best feelings ever. Especially if you don’t have
to do it all by yourself. Our friends from Brilliant
can help you out with that part! Brilliant is a problem-solving website
with a hands-on approach. Instead of just dropping tricky concepts in front of you, they help you unravel them bit-by-bit
and build up to an interesting conclusion. This way, science becomes something
you actually do actively, and not only hear about. With Brilliant, you can bear down on dozens of interesting courses and puzzles about topics, like solar energy, gravity, and astronomy. If you visit,
or click the link in the description, you can sign up for free
and learn all kinds of things. And, as a bonus for Kurzgesagt viewers, the first 688 people will also get 20% off their annual membership! With Brilliant, you finish your day a little bit smarter. And, no Mars dust to deal with. We promise! Can’t get enough of Mars? We’ve also made a poster about it. You can learn some more
about the hardships of Mars colonization, or just look at the pretty colors. Go get it here!

100 thoughts on “Building a Marsbase is a Horrible Idea: Let’s do it!

  1. To support Kurzgesagt and learn more about Brilliant, go to and sign up for free. The first 688 people that go to that link will get 20% off the annual Premium subscription.

  2. You can't break a man the way you do a dog or a horse, the harder you beat a man, the taller he stands..
    Humanity is only good at a single thing not knowing when to stay down. it is this idea that means there is only two ends for humanity. some act of god that destroys us in one blow or species wide suicide nothing else can destroy humanity

  3. I'm a big fan of Elon and was super excited about the idea of going to mars.
    But…but…I still don't see why.
    No resource there but most importantly: there's no magnetosphere!!!!
    Mars had solar erosion for that precise reason.
    So why insist?

  4. Talk about a speculetion evolution of humans into martians or other alien life form in other planet in our solar system !! How could humans evolve in the future

  5. Here’s a question, should we or do we have a right to terraform Mars? Who has the legal right to make that decision? Is it first there has the choice?

  6. Antarctica is wayyyy easier to colonize. But no one has bothered to. Because it'd be awful go live there. I think a science base would be good. But I think human babies have a right to be born on a planet where they can breath, go outside, and play with other kids. If terraforming gets there, sure, until then. A colony would be unethical in my mind.

  7. I kinda wanna know why we want to go to Mars? What is there that our robots have not already discovered, apart from, admittedly, awesomeness of having set foot on another planet?

  8. A colony on the moon isn't to far away only mabye about between 2020 and 2030 NASA haopes it can already have a semi permanent mars base because in Mexico they are testing a bio-sphere or sphere made to support life over a long period of time (about 20 years to be exact) buut the downside is they are only 5 years into the test also because mars gets radiated so much they have to be radiation proof (they have to stop the radiation from being exposed to the mars base crew) also they have to use make a safe portable nuclear reactor to take to mars that won't burn in the atmosphere also they are trying to figure out a way to have plants grow in the biosphere as a unlimited source of energy so mars is a cold irradiated powerless planet with no way to breath or purify the dirt for plants to even grow and get nutrients to survive so there mars is a horrible place to live on.

  9. 2020 is one year away and 2030 is only 11 years away so it will take over is decade and the biosphere still won't be available for use by then soooo that's a problem for the future. But don't worry we will have figured out a solution before the first semi permanent colony on mars will have begun.

  10. Oh I'm very intelligent and I'm only 11 and working to get a degree in robotics engineering to help further the Mission to Mars.

  11. Humanity living on the most liveable planet in the history of the universe :"let's make this shit a mess by polluting it ourselves to the point we might end up on the brink of extinction"

    Humanity watching a planet that doesn't have breathable air, food, atmosphere, protection from radiation or life: "We should go live there"

  12. Can't wait for all the Mars colony deniers that will spring up claiming that the astronauts being "sent to Mars" are actually having their organs harvested and replaced with Deep-fake CGI tech.

  13. I think it's a good idea to expand human race but should we fix plastic problems first I mean earth would be destroyed billions of years we have enough time to survive

  14. im signing up for the mission soon if i pass my GCSE of chem,bio and phs!!!! I’ve gained an scholarship for triple science and being a astronaut would be my dream! Wish me luck guys

  15. we may also want to try to guide the orbit of mars closer to the Goldilocks zone prior to terraforming efforts, lest the same forces that destroyed the atmosphere once do so again

  16. Of course, if the Magnet Shield at L1 plan works, that would fix a lot:
    1) Much less radiation from space, making it much less dangerous!2) The athmosphere would thicken, so it would get slightly warmer. The ice would melt, the athmosphere would thicken even more, and so on. Eventually, Mars could have a relatively thick athmosphere that would allow easy access to breathable air.
    Overall, that would probably cut out about half of the problems described in the video to at least some capacity. And it doesn't even seem that hard!

  17. Might be bad but Mercury is getting pulled out of orbit by Jupiter and its expanding its orbit, and if it gets out orbit Earth and Venus will switch and Venus will become the new Earth so now we have a better reason

  18. The rotation cycle would be even more important because of infection resistance, if the Earth side of the rotation gets there it could just kill everyone in the base, new vaccines would have to be sent every time the shipment period opens. I am ignoring any antivax ideas here sorry

  19. in other wors, alot of mutation will happen… what if we came from Mars, and now after all this time we are going back to thesame shit 😀

  20. Wasting our precious scarce resources in a freaking desert planet with no fucking water, oxygen, food and everything else!!
    Elon Musk is an idiot!

  21. I just spent the last hour making sure I 'thumbs'ed up every single Kurzgesagt video I could find…. feelings of satisfaction this intense come around only 1once or 2twice every leap year….. ahhhhhhh.

  22. Creating satellite space stations to extend space travel seems like a good next step. Storing supplies fuel etc; to jump from planet to the next. Thus making us able to travel further.
    I wonder

  23. This is why it's better to terraform Mars first. However, even if we knew how, we'd have to sacrifice one of two things: the amount of force our bodies have to deal with on the planet, or a breathable atmosphere. There may be a way to do both, but it's currently unknown, and this biggest reason is Mars's size. Venus would actually be easier to terraform, but it being closer to the sun means it's more dangerous for long-term habitation. We could somehow find a way to make an artificial planet, but making one of any significant size would mess up the other orbits in the solar system.

    So here's a better idea: Protect Earth, explore it as much as possible, and for everything else there's virtual reality pods that automatically regulate our bodily needs…if we keep our bodies at all. Considering current research into neurotechnology, we might master that before we ever figure out how to do terraforming properly.

  24. "Send all the very determined very competent people to another planet… and let a sandstorm kill them"

  25. I like how terraforming was the LAST thing you mentioned. I have the solution for that: take some kudzu to the polar ice caps and let it reflect the sunlight and release the gases to change the atmosphere.

  26. The way I imagine it, is that some of those inflateable capsules that are docked to the ISS can be draged into the ground by tunnel borers. Screens replace windows and entertainment will be a big necessary component. While it seems like laughable luxury good here, having a fair portion of entertainment combined with exercises and human interaction seems to be crutial wether its on Mars, the moon or space. I could also imagine that muscles are constantly artifically stimulated in order to stay healthy.

  27. Building a colony on another planet is the only way to ultimately avoid human extinction. Therefore, from the perspective of the preservation of the species, we have to pursue the pioneering space.

  28. Any chance of getting a video about exploring and/or settling on Venus? C’mon, cloud cities! Everybody loves cloud cities! ^_^

  29. The thing is thats not the only trouble, there is also the political aspects, like if Mars would be a colony, part of a country, or if they end up going independent. All of which will create drama with other nations on Earth.

  30. Humanity is still thinking on going on mars, instead of fighting the real problems(global Warming contamination, drugs, wars) here on earth, makes me want not to leave in this planet no more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *