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Artist's concept of a settlement on Mars

Settlements on Mars are planned to be a permanent habitat for human beings. The Mars Foundation™ is developing detailed plans for a Hillside settlement and a Plains settlement.

Additionally, a volcanic cave settlement and a multi-layered vault settlement are considered.

Location considerations

Why settlements on Mars?

Compared with other celestial bodies, for instance Earth's Moon, the planet Mars provides a number of advantages. The Martian surface and atmosphere consists of all necessary substances that are needed to build and maintain a human settlement, including water, carbon and minerals. The environmental conditions are quite cold, but not too cold. The distance from the sun allows solar panels to operate, which is essential for energy production.

Particularly convenient is the existence of a visible sky, which can make people feel at home, and the day-night rhythm is nearly earth like. Though the gravity is lower than on Earth, it still allows people easily to walk and do exercise. The spacial orientation is supported. The comfort of sinking into a pillow for sleeping might be appreciated. And yet, there are several things, settlers would miss.

Mars One - Artist's concept of a settlement on Mars

Advantage over Earth's moon

  • Higher gravity (with consequences for health)
  • abundance of water and carbon

Advantage over Venus

  • A cold environment is much easier to handle than a hot. Especially on the planetary surface, a settlement on Venus is not possible.
  • Compared with a floating settlement in the Venusian clouds, the Martian surface provides easy access to substances for construction material.

Advantage over Jovian satellites

  • Higher gravity (with consequences for health)
  • Sufficient solar power

Space settlements

Large rotating space settlements, such as those proposed by Gerald O'Neil have a number of advantageous characteristics that put them in competition with Mars settlements.

They can have Earth normal gravity and pressure, plenty of solar power, none of the problems of Venus. They have low deltaV requirements. However, their problem is an absolute lack of resources. The moons of Mars might offer an attractive source of elements for the construction of space settlements