Quirks & Quarks

How We'll Live on Mars

Journalist Stephen Petranek's new book looks at some ambitious plans for putting large numbers of humans on Mars and what they'll need to survive and thrive.

A recipe for getting to and colonizing Mars

Artist's impression of a Mars Colony with underground hydroponics. (NASA Ames Research Center)
Stephen Petranek thinks we'll get to Mars, but not on NASA's timeline, and he endorses an ambitious plan that goes well beyond NASA's current ambitions. He thinks we'll colonize Mars, and soon.
Mr. Petranek was editor of Discover magazine, and currently edits the Breakthrough Technology Alert, and his new book is How We'll Live on Mars. In it, he explores how private space exploration, likely led by Elon Musk's SpaceX Corporation, will get to MARS using reusable rockets, well ahead of NASA's plans - possibly before 2030.

He explores Mr. Musk's plan to build colony ships that could take hundreds or even thousands of people to Mars by mid-century, and then looks at the kinds of systems we can use to create habitats, extract water and oxygen and grow food on Mars. Finally, he looks at some of the possibilities of making Mars more Earth-like, and perhaps using genetic technologies to make Earthlings more Mars-compatible.

Related Links

- How We'll Live on Mars - Simon & Schuster
​- Bob's Blog on exploring Mars