To get a greater sense of the landscapes of Mars, and have complete creative control of each visual that will be produced, I headed out to Death Valley, California. What I found were stunning landscapes that were seemingly as desolate as the shots we see from Curiosity on Mars. The texture of the rock and dusty surface was ideal for a mock visualization on Mars, only rivaled by some parts of Chile or volcanic rock in Hawaii. In short, Death Valley looks a lot like mars. I’m using SpaceX's suit for my current renders, and applying a custom pseudo-Mars filter in Lightroom to make our lovely Earth’s landscape look more desolate. These images will need another pass to eliminate any plants and ground growth if they are to be used for final renders and presentations. Will have water and city images as the project progresses.
Meet Ava Walker. She'll be referred to from here on out as my persona and future mars traveler.
I'm also restating my proposed research plan to be clear on how I plan on making informed design decisions by primary and secondary research. This post also details the current environment on this topic and the four cornerpoints that will help inform this project.
Elon Musk & Space X will announce updated plans to colonize Mars on Friday, September 28. 12:30 AM EST. Watch it live below.
Drawing conclusions from the state of the planet, and how to make it a fully sustainable planet in the future came with an eye-opening idea. Elon Musk propsoses that in order to thicken, and change chemical composition of the atmosphere, it would be possible the use nuclear weapons on the poles in order to do so. This would allow heat to be trapped into the atmosphere, causing a kind of geenhouse effect. Thus, warming the entire planet. That sounds posionous, and may be very well playing with fire, causing more potential harm, than good. After all, we'd be carrying nuclear weapons into space for several months. This leaves lot of variables for an explosion in a vaccum. However, this could be a perfect opportunity to connect dots.
Before getting into that connetion, let me propose a plan of this visualzation. One that will allow the colonization to be broken up into three sections, spread across 100 years.
The first of three states of colonization will likely be vital passengers only. This will limit variables and ensure that those being transported to the planet will have a specific job to help make the planet more sustainable for the next round of travelers. During this state, there will be digging. As stated before, if there are nuclear bombs going off at the relatively small planet, this means radiation and potential fallout. Solving that issue means going underground, and also solves the problem of the freezing surface temperatures of -55 °C. Creating a vacuum underground is easier than it sounds, and the technology that can be used on earth can be a part of the cargo transported to Mars on the initial stages. Boring underground can create shelter safe of radiation and the freezing temperatures. Any structure built to withstand an encapsulated, waterproof design is one that can potentially hold a vacuum. The idea that if we're going to Mars to support human life also points to the pragmatism of boring underground because of Curiosity's discovery of methane on the surface. Methane leaking out of the surface means there could very well be liquid water under the surface of the planet. Places like Matijevic Hill has less acidic soil, and clay that would make digging and boring easier and more efficient. This would also allow for top structures to be used as greenhouses for potential plant and food growth. This means the future of Mars in the near future is underground.
Unbeknownst to most, NASA has been conducting research on the red planet since the 1970s. The Viking program began to analyze the samples of rock and send information of the topography via black and white images. This provided enough data to hinge the curiosity of NASA, but not enough to take it seriously enough. Ultimately, the program was closed, and we wouldn't return to the surface of the planet until July 4, 1997. Since then, we've had Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity. Opportunity, originally planned for a 90-day mission has surpassed it's expected life by a factor of 53. Curiosity is currently roaming the surface alongside it's elder, but collecting far more advanced rock samples.Sojourney, Spirit & Opportunity Rovers. Photo by NASA
The conclusion of decades of research conducted through rovers and satellites, the conclusion is that we now have more questions than answers. Without being overwhelmed in the science of it all, we are able to take away bullet points to drive potential design decisions of a visualization:
"I'd say let's sort of push the argument for why it is important for us to spend money on space. And I think there is an inspirational element here that should not be overlooked. If you consider going to the moon: that was a huge expenditure and obviously only a handful of people went to the moon. But actually, in a sense we all went to the moon vicariously. The whole world was part of that journey and it was an inspirational thing. And if you think of one of the great things of the 20th century, that would be one of the things! So life cannot be just about solving problems. It can't be just about this problem and that problem. There must be inspirational things as well. There must be things that when you wake up in the morning, you're glad to be alive and that, I think is one of the things that space can offer."
This idea of a sustainable planet isn’t a radical humanitarian dream, but human continuity and multi-planetary progression is not inevitable.
The reality is that our planet is finite, and we’re consuming our natural resources at a poisonous and unsustainable rate. The human is threatened with an abrupt end, and we’re the authors. Looking outward, we should begin the exploration of a sustainable, interplanetary network of human life. Let’s start on Mars. This may be a drastic shift in thought, and in order to get there, it is vital to move towards a sustainable, and efficient grid of human behavior. What this really involves is a need to rethink our energy supply and consumption habits.
Getting to Mars is a project in itself, and has its own set of challenges and potential setbacks. What will we do when we get there? How will humans survive and adapt? The current state of the planet is drawn from the exhaustive habits of humans over hundreds of years, and has exponentially increased in the post-industrial, consumption obsessed society we currently live in.
In 1977, NASA sent Voyager 1 to begin the exploration of life outside of our planet and Solar System. This was less than 10 years after we landed humans on the Moon. With this momentum, it wasn’t far-fetched to believe that by the 2000’s we’d have personal flying vehicles, an efficient energy grid, and equal living rights for all. The titled scales of basic human need in 2017 raise a tattered red flag for change on the current state of the planet, and a stain on the human story.
Moving forward, this research and subsequent design will act as a platform for a visualizing a sustainable, conscience society that can be implemented on our world and each new world to come.
Traveling out of the comfort of our current world will not be done out of leisure. Any permanent exploration and colonization of foreign terrain would only make sense if done out of necessity. There is an option inbetween, though. A private-sector and mass funded research base to get humans to mars to exicite and inspire humanity.
When we realize we’ve depleted our resources on Earth and begin to see the consequences of our irresponsible actions, the human story will be faced with a crossroads. It would be easy to come to this conclusion. We’d see ocean waters rising caused by melting ice caps, stronger tropical storms, famine, earthquakes, and wars being waged for the control of our shrinking natural resources.
This should sound familiar.
We continue our self-inflicted extinction, or we change our behavior and expand our setting. These two options are mutually exclusive. It is presumed that we will go with the latter, which begs the question, “what would it take to build a new planet?” Answering that has to address the good news, and the bad. The good news is that we wouldn’t have to build one at all, not literally anyway. We would just have to transform one in order to make it habitable and be able to enjoy the comfort we take for granted on our current world. The bad news is that this transformation requires money, and a lot of it. Luckily, the money is there, if we’re willing to change the direction it’s being pushed.
Take the United States as an example. According to federal record, the United States spent 598 Billion dollars in 2016 on defense. This defense budget was spent strictly for protection from others on earth. Business Insider projects that with that kind of budget, NASA could deploy a manned mission to MARS next year in 2018 when partnered with SpaceX. To get the ball rolling, that would require participation throughout the rest of the world in order to get a country so invested in defense to put its weapons down. Imagine if this collective agenda to advance the human story beyond our own planet was the first priority.
The issue is not of greed, agenda, or even ignorance. We as a species are in our infancy, and this idea, though bold, is one that I believe in time, will be of upmost importance within the borders of division on Earth.
From hunters and gatherers, the primitive living in caves and hunting with sticks and spears has developed into a crowded, over-populated world that is consuming more than our resources will allow to be sustainable.
As we have developed, we have become more knowledgeable about the world around us, and how to use its resources. Historically, through the use of war, we were able to gain control of the areas that were rich in these resources. The group of us with the most firepower, and latest technology would win these resources, and thus be able to do what we wanted with them.
Then came the Industrial Revolution, when after the dust had settled, and the world began to shape how we know it now, more or less, we moved from farms to cities, and consumption became king. Our habits became geared towards improving ourselves and the lives of those we loved, not thinking of the potential consequences of making gathering materials easier, and faster than ever before. We have the automobile that revolutionized the way we traveled to cities in 1885, and now we have realized the automobile is one of the biggest pollutants of c02 emissions, which is deteriorating the atmosphere necessary for us to breathe. This isn’t a fault of human behavior, but it is a learning moment that we can become smarter for having realized it.
The emissions being thrown into our atmosphere are causing the climate on Earth to change, and world leaders are being pushed by fossil fuel industries to deny the reality that human behavior is changing the composition of our atmosphere.
We must learn from the reality of the human impact, and build upon our advances on Earth. This is not a ship jump. This is a shift in our behavior and mindset.
What we take must be returned, and what is returned requires the ability to be reused. A design that keeps sustainability and pragmatism in mind is one that can be laid across the cosmos in order to foster a better plot for the human story.
Using our red neighbor, Mars, as a platform for this design is a pragmatic approach for what could be the first step in advancing our story outside of our solar system. The way it would seem is that there are three phases to this exploration and subsequent colonization.
Phase One is the current phase we are in today. This phase is one of discovery and decision making. Will we continue on the path of unsustainable behavior? Or will we make the necessary changes in order to further the human species further and fulfill our destiny to become an interplanetary species.
Phase Two is the planning, and execution of the journey to Mars. This has been documented as a pragmatic possibility made possible through SpaceX, NASA, and Lockheed Martin. The strategic plan is outlined, in succinct detail in CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk’s manifesto, Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species, which outlines the technology and planning required to making our exploration of Mars a possibility.
Phase Three is perhaps the biggest area of opportunity for design-thinking. Granted, the thinking required to make phase three, and colonization an ultimate success would have been done way ahead of phase 1. However, that is where this research-driven design will focus. How will life on this planet differ from that on Earth? What are our obstacles of creating a sustainable planet culture? Ultimately, the research-driven model could be used as a platform for human continuity.
Design will tell.