Building a Marsbase is a Horrible Idea: Let’s do it!

From hostile deserts,
to lonely islands and the highest mountains, wherever there is space
to expand into humans do so. So, it’s hardly surprising
that we’re already making preparations to set foot on Mars, and to create the first
permanent colony outside of Earth — maybe even terraform another planet
and turn it into a second blue home. But wait, before we can get to the nice future stuff, we first have to complete
the second phase of colonization; creating a semi-permanent outpost to prepare the ground for a larger human presence. But doing so will be gruesome. Even for an expansionist species like us,
Mars is extreme. At first glance,
Mars seems familiar — polar ice caps,
large valleys, liquid water under its surface, and a day barely longer than Earth’s. The ideal place for us to go. Unfortunately, Mars
is actually a cold, radioactive desert where the ground is poisonous
and breathing is impossible. Mars is awful. You almost certainly don’t want to go there. The pioneers doing the hard work on Mars
will have an intensely stressful life, filled with incredibly challenging problems never encountered before. But there are plenty of people
willing to do that work and we have the technology
to enable them to do it. For this video, we will assume
there have been prior missions to Mars to scout out a good place for an outpost, store resources and equipment, and that there’s already a moon base that serves as a hub for Mars missions. The first major challenge for our outpost, is the fact that Mars is very energy poor. Because of its distance from the Sun, solar power is only 40% as effective as on Earth. But even this weakened sunlight
is often obscured for days by enormous dust storms. Solar power alone
will probably not be enough. Alternatives, such as wind power,
and geothermal energy are also unfeasible as there’s hardly any atmosphere
and Mars’ interior is much too cold. Initially, nuclear technology
might be the only option. Since Mars doesn’t have
easily accessible radioactive elements, the nuclear fuel needs to come
from Earth along with the reactor. If we do set it up, it could power
our small outpost for the first few years. Unfortunately, all that energy
won’t be very useful if we can’t breathe. Mars’ atmosphere is only 1% as dense as Earth’s, and mostly made up of CO2. So, now habitats need to be pressurized
and filled with an artificial atmosphere made of nitrogen and oxygen — Which comes with more problems. Corners and flat walls are weak points so the habitats will have rounded and smooth shapes to handle the stress of great pressure differences
between the interior and exterior. The airlocks need to be very airtight
and work perfectly every time. Without an extensive magnetosphere, or a dense atmosphere, half of all radiation coming from space reaches the ground. A person on the surface would be subjected
to 50 times the radiation that they would be on Earth. Three years on the surface of Mars
exceeds the radiation dose limits imposed on NASA astronauts for their entire career. This increases cancer risks significantly. To prevent that, we could shield our habitats
with a thick layer of frozen CO2, that can be harvested directly from the atmosphere. Covering the dry ice with a meter of dirt,
would further increase the level of protection. Sadly, this means almost no windows. From the inside,
most living spaces will be windowless tunnels. From the outside,
they’ll look like burial mounds. All of this would still not hold back all the radiation, but reduce it just enough
to be survivable for long periods of time. It won’t, however, protect anyone who ventures outside. So, remote-controlled robots
will be used for routine work on the surface, while our crew stays inside. Staying inside is a good idea for another reason: Mars dust. It’s much finer than dust on Earth, so it could find its way
into the gears or electronics of our machines. Because it’s also very dry, it’s electro-statically charged; sticking to everything, like spacesuits. It will be impossible to avoid carrying
lots of Mars dust into our habitat, and into the lungs of our crew. To make this even worse, Mars’ soil
is filled with very toxic perchlorate salts. Constant exposure could be deadly. This problem can still be overcome though. Space suits, for example, could be made in a way
that they never truly enter the base, but stay attached to the outside of the habitats. Okay, great. Now we’ve safely isolated humans in terms of energy and air, and protected them from cancer,
we just need to feed them. Water is easy to come by if a settlement
is positioned near the Martian poles with their thick layers of ice. Growing food is a different kind of challenge though. Mars’ soils are alkaline and lack the vital nitrogen compounds
that plants need to grow. Before we can grow anything,
we will have to decontaminate the soil which is difficult and expensive. Then, the soil can be fertilized using recycled biological waste. All of this will take a lot of time,
and is very energy-intensive. So, we might use aquaponics
to raise fish and plants together — Making the astronauts’ diets
more varied and tasty at the same time. This will be an important
psychological boost for our overworked crew. All of these things don’t solve one fundamental problem though: Mars has only 38 percent of Earth’s surface gravity, which could cause muscle-wasting,
bone loss, and cardiovascular problems. While this might be solved in the future
by setting up rotating living spaces, for now, our crew has to live with low gravity and exercise a lot to slow the degradation down. The crews will probably have to rotate every few years, after being stuck indoors
in tight spaces without windows. With the same people,
performing the same routines day-in day-out with little contact from the outside world, and a lot to worry about. Like Antarctic scientists or submarine staff, they will undergo intense psychological screening to make sure they’re mentally resilient enough
to handle this lifestyle for several years. Establishing the first real infrastructure
on Mars will be extremely taxing work that only a group of very determined,
and competent, people can do. Luckily, we have enough of these on Earth. And there you have it! A small Mars base that will survive
for at least a few decades — as long as it’s getting a constant supply of resources, parts, nuclear fuel, and crews from Earth. Unfortunately, Mars and Earth
are separated by millions of kilometers and orbital periods that leave
only a narrow travel window every two years. If there’s an emergency in the colony, Earth wouldn’t be able to help
until the next travel window opens. Helpers may arrive on a planet
filled with corpses. Settling Mars will be the toughest challenge we have ever faced. It will be gruesome work to establish
the infrastructure we need. But we’re stubborn,
and we like extreme challenges. If we push through Phase Two of colonization,
anything is possible. Cities illuminating the dark Martian night, a hub for travel between the planets, industries setting foot in orbit terraforming a true multi-planetary future. Going to Mars is hard but worth it. And if we’re lucky, we might be around
long enough to see it happening and cheer on the people who take on these challenges for the benefit of us all. Figuring out complex stuff
is one of the best feelings ever. Especially if you don’t have
to do it all by yourself. Our friends from Brilliant
can help you out with that part! Brilliant is a problem-solving website
with a hands-on approach. Instead of just dropping tricky concepts in front of you, they help you unravel them bit-by-bit
and build up to an interesting conclusion. This way, science becomes something
you actually do actively, and not only hear about. With Brilliant, you can bear down on dozens of interesting courses and puzzles about topics, like solar energy, gravity, and astronomy. If you visit,
or click the link in the description, you can sign up for free
and learn all kinds of things. And, as a bonus for Kurzgesagt viewers, the first 688 people will also get 20% off their annual membership! With Brilliant, you finish your day a little bit smarter. And, no Mars dust to deal with. We promise! Can’t get enough of Mars? We’ve also made a poster about it. You can learn some more
about the hardships of Mars colonization, or just look at the pretty colors. Go get it here!

100 thoughts on “Building a Marsbase is a Horrible Idea: Let’s do it!”

  1. To support Kurzgesagt and learn more about Brilliant, go to and sign up for free. The first 688 people that go to that link will get 20% off the annual Premium subscription.

  2. Seriously why even bother? Earth's population is predicted to stabilise at 9 billion ish by 2100 and then start decreasing so we don't really need another planet to put our population on. Why not just put that effort into not destroying our own planet through climate change first?

  3. So I showed this and your moon base video to my Grandpa because he believes that NASA is a huge waste of money and he claims that we are paying for it, which I’m not sure about. He claims that it can’t be tested and it is a shot in the dark and that if it fails, it will be a waste of money. He also was surprised the “Birds still had feathers”. I have gotten into many arguments and I explain over and over again solutions to what will be used to get there. He also doesn’t like Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, SpaceX, and other companies that make big projects that are “untestable”. To be honest, my grandpa isn’t the best person since he lied about his military service and jobs

  4. Space colonies are a REALLY bad idea. It would be better to use those resources to fix problems here on Earth rather than waste them on useless scifi feaverdreams.

  5. Everything seemed to went fine except for the fact that a masked gud kidnapped all the members of the simulation and forced them to kill each other.

  6. look the reason why a mars base is bad is because of opening a portal to hell and calling someone to deal with the demons themselfs

  7. How about making Earth more sustainable than it is now so that we have a shot of surviving on this planet first before global warming wipes out all the life here.🌏🌿

  8. Terraforming mars is bullshit. How do you create a magnetic field on mars strong enough to keep the sun from stripping the atmosphere away. Do you melt down the core of the planet and get it churning about some how? Or do we build a huge dome around the whole planet and forget about the magnetic field?

  9. Why did you choose birds?
    Also love your videos, his voice is really calm and the videos are always about something I want the answer too

  10. This would so much easier to do with a base orbiting Mars. It solves two of the problems mentioned immediately: Deliveries are much much easier because you're not at the bottom of a gravity well. Secondly, you can create a rotating base and thus not have to worry about gravity-derived biological problems. The simple reality is that until we have created a novel as-yet undiscovered form of energy creation, bases at the bottom of gravity wells just aren't that feasible unless the surface is basically innately livable.

  11. This videos made me doubt if it's even worth going to Mars. Sure the Earth is destined for destruction, but Mars doesn't seem much better.

  12. lol imagine if we could not make the internet cross compatible throughout mars and earth and there would be two versions of twitter one for earth and one for mars xd

  13. That's why you make one in Alpha Centauri on a planet that is habitable without 30th century technology.
    Because we don't have 30th century technology.

  14. I'm gonna Spanish…
    me tiré un pedo también tengo 2000000 IQ y todos somos robots lolololololololololololololol bye people me gustan los pedos

  15. Nat geo says its gonna be great.
    Nasa says its gonna be great.
    Kurzgesagt says its gonna be horrible.
    But i love fish and greens so it might be not that bad.
    And they should raise cows to terraform mars.

  16. "Helpers may arrive on a planet full of corpses." Yeah. DEMON CORPS- Doomguy dies fuck.
    Anybody else see the Spider Mastermind and DoomGuy?

  17. I think the best thing to solve this orbital gap is by having a space station in solar orbit. That way we can quickly send people and things back and forth without waiting too long. Also, if one's not enough then create two and have them in orbit at the same time in opposite positions. Only problem I see is the maintainence costs are going to be sky high as the space stations have to protect themselves from solar winds, radiation, keep everyone warm, have an atmosphere, and the cost for bringing supplies as well. Yeesh.

  18. If you remember the bomb video, Mars resembles what would happen if every bit of plutonium on Earth, the world gets flattened, cold, radioactive, etc. It would obviously be in the stage where the eternal winter clouds are gone and if there was life, it would just now be begging to take over again, if the radioactivity isn't too much or they adapted, idk if what I'm saying is correct so feel free to correct me in the comments

  19. I so hope there's a scientific break through in anything to do with colonizing other planets because I really want to be able to be around by the time we're getting a stable colony on Mars

  20. Much like when the Europeans colonized North America. Both France and England lost a couple of colonies before anything started to thrive.

  21. This is a great video if we're talking about trying it right now or we assumed that technology stagnated , but in reality we'll probably fuse with technology as humans and go as deep as to having tech livers , tech lungs , tech stomachs , etc. it isn't so crazy to believe that we'd eventually upgrade ourselves to be able to live on other planets , our entire history revolves around efficiency , what we call progress is actually efficiency improvements , and increase of something that already exists making it less efficient is known as a small improvement , judging by the exponential development of our race it seems rather intuitively logical that instead of us changing other planets , we'll change ourselves to better develop ourselves in other planets , it seems like the most efficient path.

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