There's Plenty of Drinking Water on Mars

The trick to producing water for astronauts is to figure out how best to extract it from the soil and atmosphere.

Surprising Science

Stephen Petranek, author of How We'll Live on Mars, details several of the methods a future team of colonists could employ in order to amass a drinking water supply on Mars. There's plenty of water on the planet; the trick is extracting it from the soil and atmosphere. It's a relief that producing water won't be a major nuisance for the eventual Mars astronauts -- that whole "unlivable barren wasteland" is a whole other story.

Why Don’t We Have a Mars Colony Yet? Blame Nixon.

Much to the chagrin of NASA rocket scientist Dr. Wernher von Braun, President Richard Nixon chose instead to greenlight the space shuttle program because it intrigued the military-industrial complex.

Surprising Science

Near the end of the Apollo program, legendary rocket scientist Wernher von Braun sought to drum up support for a new mission to send people to Mars. President Richard Nixon, who had the final say on NASA projects, ended up with two competing proposals on his desk: a mission to Mars and the space shuttle program. Nixon chose the latter — much to von Braun's chagrin — because the U.S. military and intelligence agencies found it so intriguing. The rest is history.

Author Stephen Petranek explains that if Nixon had gone with von Braun's plan instead, we'd already have a Mars colony with potentially thousands of people on it. Instead, we got the space shuttle — a cool ship, no doubt, but not anything that allowed us to take large steps forward with our space program. The past five decades of relative inertia gave rise to private space exploration companies like SpaceX that seek to do what the U.S. government was unwilling to.

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It's Time for Us to Become a Spacefaring Species

Establishing a colony on Mars would protect the long-term survival of the human race.

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Establishing a colony on Mars would protect the long-term survival of the human race. At some point, we're going to need to become a spacefaring species. There's no better time than now to get started.

Stephen Petranek is a journalist and author of a new book titled How We'll Live on Mars. Fittingly, he's here to tell us not just how we'll live on Mars, but also why and when. The why? As mentioned, we need to get off this rock sooner or later. The when? Within 15 years.

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