Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Martian: Space Colonies

This is one of the best films of the year. Don't miss it.

Watch the movie segment and prepare yourself for a debate about the colonization of Mars by humans. 


Divide the class into two groups. One group - A - will be responsible to defending the idea of the colonization of Mars. The other group - B - will be against it.

 Group A - Read the argumentation that supports the endeavor. 

Group B - Read the argumentation against the endeavor.

Pros: (adapted from this awesome site - Don't miss it!

1. Its Similarity to Earth

Mars has water, frozen underground and at the polar caps. There is evidence that this water has, in the past and present, flooded the surface in liquid form. Signs of erosion can be found on the slopes of craters and volcanoes. Geological features resembling those on Earth suggest that Mars was once a wet and hospitable planet. A day on Mars is 24.5 hours long. Mars is a third the size of Earth, but it has as much land area as the seven continents combined. Its gravity is 2.7 times less than that of Earth: enough to remain flat-footed on the surface, but a low enough escape velocity to make launching from Mars relatively simple. 

With its similarity to Earth, there is a strong possibility that bacterial life (or something more?) exists on the planet. 
Mars is exciting because it offers scientists a view of how planets develop. Mars is billions of years older than the Earth, and its features are much more exaggerated. The largest canyons, volcanoes, and craters in the solar system are available for our study.

3. Its Economic Value
Mars is worth a lot of money. There are 144 trillion square meters of surface area, roughly the land area of the Earth, available for development. 
There is an abundance of rare metals on Mars such as platinum, gold, silver, and others. Shipping from Mars to Earth, as mentioned above, is much easier than the other way around.

4. Its Home for Mankind

It offers a backup plan for humanity. 
A colony on Mars is not far off. The time will come when Mars will not need Earth to sustain it.  We may be able to grow our own food on the planet in greenhouses, but what about wild animals, and birds, and fish, and rivers, and oceans? 


Adapted from this informative site. It is worth visiting. I learned a lot there.

1. Cold

You would agree that the center of Antarctica in winter is cold, not the best of places to set up home? Well Mars is far colder. At the Curiosity site, which is close to the equator, typical night time temperatures are -70 °C. Occasionally it drops to below -100 °C. It is often cold enough for the CO2 in the atmosphere to freeze out as dry ice. A human couldn't survive those temperatures without technology.

2. Vacuum

Mars does have an atmosphere, but it is so thin  it would count as a laboratory vacuum on Earth. 
A human would need to put on a spacesuit to survive the low pressure, never mind the lack of oxygen. The pressure is so low, your saliva and the moisture coating the interior of your lungs would boil.

3. Dust and Dust storms

Every Martian summer, roughly every two Earth years, you get a higher chance of global dust storms. These can last for weeks, and the light from the sun drops by over 99%. During the dust storms, then artificial light is needed in middle of the day to grow crops, and you won't be able to see anything. Solar power won't work.

4. Hard to make self sufficient - need for parts and supplies from Earth

There are lots of resources available on Mars. Mining on Mars will be hard to do, as hard as in space. You still need to use space suits because of the vacuum conditions. And however much you can make from native Mars materials, at least at present levels of technology, then many components and replacement parts will have to come from Earth.


  1. I believe there is a wrong clip. Although the title says The Martian, the clip concerns The Boy with the Striped Pajamas.

  2. It has been fixed, Marcia. Thanks. Are you going to Seattle for the TESOL convention 2017?