How Will Humans Live On Mars?
So how awesome is it that we’re alive right now in time? We got cars. We got airplanes, anesthesia. But what I’m really excited about is that we’re going to bring humanity to Mars. Brave pioneers will settle on Mars and create a new phenomenon for our species. It’ll be the beginning of a Celestial diaspora and a new branch of human evolution that we’ll call Martian Humans. And thanks to Mars’ weaker gravity, which is about 38% of what we’re used to on Earth, natural-born Martians will be physically inferior to Terrans like myself.
That’s because, every second of every day, even while we’re sleeping, our bodies are fighting against Earth’s powerful gravity, which keeps us strong. Every critical piece of human physiology is dependent on the constant pull of the Earth’s gravity, from the fluid in our eyeballs, to the density of our bones, to our cardiovascular systems. All of that changes when you’re spending your time on Mars. The longer you live on Mars, the more it will affect you, and newborn Martian babies will have never experienced the magnitude of the Earth’s gravity, so they’ll begin developing differently, even in the womb of a Terran Human mother. We can predict things like this with a high degree of certainty, but I’ve been speculating.
Could this mean that Martians will generally be smarter than Terrans? Is it possible that Martians will develop mental superiority as a sort of compensation or byproduct from their physical inferiority? Well, that’s a good question to think about, but in light of all this, maybe we should be asking ourselves why we want to settle Mars anyway? Is Mars the best choice? The moon is the closest option, but it’s so close that a cataclysmic Earth event could wipe out life on the moon as well. It also has far weaker gravity than Mars and no atmosphere. Having a little bit of atmosphere like Mars does can help a lot, even if humans can’t breathe it.
Then we have Venus, and I love Venus because Venusian gravity is quite comparable to Terran Gravity. This is because the Earth and Venus are of similar Size and Mass. But while Mars’s climate is too cold for Humans without artificial heat sources, Venus is so hot and its atmosphere is so thick that it’s truly an utter hellscape on the surface. Even the robots that we’ve landed on Venus haven't been able to survive.
But what about a cloud city on Venus? In the Empire Strikes Back, George Lucas depicted a cloud city on a fictional gas giant named Bespin. Could this be a good option for Humanity’s reach out into the solar system? I decided to ask an expert on the topic, Alfredo Munoz, founder of the Design Studio Abiboo and lead designer of the Martian City, Nuwa. Now, why are we looking at settling on Mars instead of constructing a cloud city on Venus or an underground city or regular city on the Moon? It has many more resources from a minerals point of view, water. I mean, we know that Moon has water, but it’s much more limited than Mars. The amount of minerals required to create a self-sufficient settlement are available on Mars but not on the Moon. So, if we create floating cities as you are bringing up as an idea, where do we get resources from? It’s not realistic to to bring resources from Earth, no matter where, if we are thinking of a permanent settlement.
Self-sufficiency is the only way we envision to actually make it realistic. But the self-sufficiency is associated with the access to local resources, and Mars have all of those resources that we need. All right. So you’re saying we need to build a city out of raw materials that are already there and it needs to sustain itself with local resources and Mars is the place to do that.
So tell us about Nuwa, the Martian City Concept you’ve been working on. Perfect. So, okay. Nuwa is a permanent settlement on Mars, and the advantage that it offers is that it’s a vertical city, which means that it is inside a cliff, providing protection from radiation, the impact from micrometeorites. We are basically going in tunnels, excavating on the wall of the cliff, and at the same time, we are using steel as the main material that is used for civil construction.
So Nuwa is part of a broader settlement; basically, the capital of five cities. In combination, the five cities provide accommodation for a million people. And Nuwa being the capital, it provides around 250,000 people. Basically, the other cities are close to each other.
There is one in the North Pole to be able to mine ice, which is critical for survival of the entire colony. But the key here is that all of the cities are interconnected. That is important for the access of resources and and also for resiliency. In the case of Nuwa, the cliffs are in the region of Tempe Mensa, which is close to the equator. There is access to water, many other minerals, and advantages that the location offers.
So we’re going to be able to make steel on Mars? The scientific team, we’re working on how to provide materials that could actually-- are easy to manufacture on Mars, and the advantage of steel is that, with water and with CO2, we are able to convert it into carbon, and through carbon and some minerals that we can get on Mars, we can manufacture easily steel. While, with other materials, like concrete, for example, it’s not very sustainable or really feasible. So, before we get into the crazy challenges of humans living on Mars, walk us through the layout of the city. Where is everything? So basically, the main activities happen inside of the cliff.
Then, the lower part of the valley is where most of the activities associated with the community happen. And then, at the mesa, which is at the top part of the cliff, is where the energy generation, food, and life support support systems occur, and also the manufacturing. So, basically, all of those elements that don’t particularly require for the humans to be walking around because it would be mainly through robotics are at the top of the cliff, at the mesa, and they are all interconnected with tunnels that are underground that connect to the vertical system that is basically providing circulation internally for the rest of the city. So is this amount of solar going to be sufficient for the entire city? Basically, the calculations we have done, we are basically talking about 75 square kilometers of area for solar production, which is huge.
But the challenge on Mars is that we have dust storms that happen often, and they last a long time. So, during that time, there is not an option to rely on the sun. So, in order to do that, we are having a nuclear plant that is a backup in case something happens with the solar panels or acts as the source for energy during the storms. So, now, the prediction is that 70% of the energy will be obtained through solar, 30% through nuclear. Now, when I think about living on Mars, I think life support, strong pressure vessels, micrometeorite protection, radiation protection - that’s very important - because Mars doesn't have a protective magnetic field like Earth does. And right away, I love Nuwa’s habitat design in the cliff with tunnel sections.
I think it’s brilliant. But when I first set out to make this video, my team and I whipped up a concept animation that shows just a handful of Earth-made habitat modules tucked away in a cave. Now, they’re 8 meters in diameter because that's what will fit inside of a SpaceX Starship.
But this would only support a few dozen people, and not comfortably. It’s a far cry from a city. And if we want to build a city that will support thousands of people on Mars, we’re going to need major Mars construction. So, let me ask you, is construction on Mars easier or harder? Yes, so, indeed, Mars offers many challenges. So the first one is obviously the low gravity, which, indeed, it is potentially an advantage but also a disadvantage.
It offers also other challenges, like the atmosphere is very thin and pressure is minimal. So when we are building-- for example, if we were about to build on the surface of Mars, the pressure that we will have inside the buildings will be substantially higher than the pressure outside of the buildings, which means that the buildings will explode. Similar to a balloon, when we inflate the balloon, there is a point that the pressure inside is so high that the skin rips apart, right? The reduced gravity, it is an advantage from the structural point of view because, obviously, we don’t have to be so concerned about the building falling. Indeed, the challenge here will be the opposite: the building will explode or will try to fly out.
But there are some challenges with going on tunnels in the case of low gravity because. The challenge that we have with excavation is that current technology for excavations requires the load of the machinery to extract the rock. And because we have less gravity, the excavation process will be more difficult on Mars than what it would be here on Earth. So we are basically looking into a combination of microwaves and lasers for the machinery that will do the excavation of the tunnels in combination with mechanical tools.
Okay. Speaking of construction, Heartflame, who’s a smallstars supporter on Patreon, estimates that, to support 250,000 people comfortably, a Mars city should have around 250 million cubic meters of usable space, or at least 150 million cubic meters if designed to be super space-efficient. Now, this isn’t counting industrial areas, but just the space needed for a self-sustaining, living biome. The Nuwa city concept videos show usable areas that seem very spacious, so I want to know if Heartflame’s math is correct, and what considerations are you taking when it comes to the allocation of space in Nuwa City? I would like to congratulate Heartflame because his numbers-- I don’t know how he got his numbers, but they’re almost the same of the numbers that we came after designing the city. So, basically, in Nuwa, we have 938 cubic meters per person.
And then, for the areas that are not livable, we have 752 cubic meters per person of non-livable volumes, so the total will be 429 million cubic meters of spaces that combine the livable areas and the non-livable areas. If we put it in context of how we build on Earth, that is indeed quite efficient. If we look into Manhattan, which is a very dense metropolitan area or a very dense city - just Manhattan, not New York, where you live - we estimate that, every day, there is around 2 million people per day in Manhattan. So, if we include all the built areas in Manhattan along with the streets and the parks, we estimated that Manhattan has around 260 million square meters.
If we divided by the 2 million people that we estimate would be in Manhattan per day, we have around 130 square meters per person. Nuwa has 169 square meters per person. So, basically, Nuwa is a little bit less dense than Manhattan. That also gives us the opportunity to understand how we will be able to interact with each other by comparing with how communities in Manhattan or in Hong Kong or in Singapore live, where there are cities that are, again, very dense. The areas that are associated with farming and with industrial and energy production are not included in the calculations. In the case of Earth, it is very interesting, Just from the agricultural point of view, the spaces that are associated with agriculture for humans or for livestock, we are basically talking that there is 6,000 square meters per person.
That is around 60,000 square feet per person on Earth, which is huge. On Mars, the areas that are associated with the agriculture is - agriculture and energy production - is 116 square meters per person, which is around 1,200 square feet. The reason why we are so efficient on Mars is because we are going with hydroponics and we are using the latest technology associated with life support systems. Here on Earth, we are using agricultural methods that are far from efficient and that take a lot of space. Also, it connects with the diet. On Mars, the diet is mainly vegetarian.
We basically have a combination of microalgae, with vegetarian food, and insects. There is very few consumption of meat on Mars because it’s not sustainable. Based on the analysis that the scientists on the team did, we were not able to provide the space and the energy required for the livestock. So we do have animals on Mars, but it’s mainly for the emotional relationship, not so much for the animals to be part of the diet. You heard it here first folks.
On Mars, animals are friends and not food, and if you want to live on Mars, you’re probably going to be a vegetarian and/or eat some weird stuff. On Mars, the energy that we get by eating animals is not efficient if we compare it with the energy we get with microalgae or insects or vegetation. Is it appealing? Probably not very appealing either, but that also has to do with culture.
It has to do with habits, right? And it has to do with the needs. As I was saying before, on Mars, we will not be able to do what we want. We will be able to do what we can, and adapting ourselves to the context of Mars is something that we will have to do no matter what. Otherwise, we won’t survive. Well, I gotta admit, you lost me a little bit with the eating insects and with the 250 square feet of my own private space, which would be a downgrade from my small one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.
But again, it’s about the community, right? As I was telling you, kitchens, living areas, they’re much, much wider. The 250 square feet is just for the person, the individual. If two people-- if you live in a couple, then you have two pods where you can actually combine, right? So then, if you are living in a couple, you have 500 square feet, right? So, conceptually, again, you have some private areas, but then, activities that you can do in a community, like cooking, eating, entertainment, working, socializing, enjoying nature, having fun; all of that happens in communal areas which are getting bigger. It’s still much more effective and efficient to provide all of those areas inside the pods themselves. Okay, last question, and it’s a tough one because it gets into the philosophical side of things.
If we’re going to build this brand new society from square one, do you picture it as trying to be utopia? Or is there some thought in the design consideration of Nuwa City about there maybe being a rich neighborhood on one side and a poor neighborhood on the other? Or will there be societal equality built into the structure of the city? And this is important because you’re building a pressurized city, so the whole thing is connected. You can’t just build another house a few kilometers away. Yeah, that’s a fascinating question because that’s indeed one of the areas where we think that it could potentially fail, the entire city, because of its society, and we are building the city based on how we envision society, which is highly connected with the challenges that we face on Mars.
Here on Earth, we change our environment as per our needs. We want to change a river, we change it. We want to change the atmosphere, we change it. So, basically, we feel like we want something, and we modify our context to achieve our goals.
Mars is extremely harsh environment. We will not be able to do that. We need to start analyzing how we are going to adapt ourselves as a species to such a harsh environment. We are talking that the temperature, even at the equator, is as low as Antarctica, when we don’t have oxygen, where we don’t have the pressure that we need and we need to build all of those pressurized environments, where, if somebody gets lost, he’s probably going to die, that person, because they won’t have the life support systems available to them. So then, that’s where the community starts to play a critical role. We took some inspiration, somehow, from Asia.
If we look at the Western culture, it’s very individualistic. The person, as an individual, is the core of who we are as a species, while in Asia, I mean, it’s changing, but culturally, Asia is much more about the group. The challenges that Mars offers are so high that we don’t envision a successful society on Mars that relies solely on the individual. But we envision that, for the society to be highly sustainable and successful and stay as a permanent settlement, the mindset of all the citizens should evolve or should change into the individual taking care of the rest of the community and the rest of the community taking care of the individual, right? So that will require a shift in the paradigm of who we are as a species. And because we think, again, that the challenges are so high, we built the city based on that scenario or that assumption, that we, as a species, will be able to evolve, or will be forced to evolve, if we actually want to survive on Mars to be much more reliant on the society itself.
So you’re saying that the challenges are so high that a utopia will develop on its own as the product of human survival. Exactly. We will be forced, we believe, to-- if we want to survive long-term on a city like Nuwa, or any city on Mars, we will be forced to convert a utopia into a reality.
So we are envisioning differences. We basically put together ideas about how the city could work from the financial point of view, and we envision there will be people that will want to have a more relaxed life, and other people will want to work more, and they will have, probably, more interest in building businesses, while others might be more interested in working. All right, you don’t have to have the answer for this, but it just makes me think; what if, out of 250,000 people, 200,000 of them want to be artists, but only 50,000 want to have a productive occupation, like one that helps with survival? Indeed, the model that we based the city on was that everyone has to do work or know-how that is associated with the technical knowledge. So everyone has to know how to operate systems, and artificial intelligence and robotics will be critical for the implementation and management of the city itself. So everyone should be knowledgeable.
At the same time, we want also for this not to be only about the technical aspects. We want the soul to be developed, not the mind, and we think arts offer that balance, right? Because it will be very, very challenging. Again, we are not talking about Mars as a location for a holiday. This is going to be far from going on holiday. It’s super harsh.
No matter how beautiful the city will be created, the context there is so risky and so uncomfortable that it’s going to be a big challenge, so everyone should know technical aspects. Otherwise, they won’t survive. They won’t be able to help the community as I was explaining before. But at the same time, we don’t want just this to be a colony where society are all engineers, which offer huge amount of value to society, but also, we think that only technical people will lose that emotional connection amount themselves and with Earth and with who we are as a species. So the human side is what anchors both together. So that’s where we envision that everyone will probably develop both, some more than others, and maybe one will lean more towards arts and the others will lean more towards technical aspects, but again, technical aspects will be, for sure, needed.
Otherwise, they won’t be able to provide the support a society will require. Man, that is so interesting. I guess the key to anything, whether it’s biological, ecological, societal, or economical, the key is always balance.
What an awesome project. Nuwa City, ladies and gentlemen. Alfredo, I want to thank you so much for joining. I want to thank the Viewers for watching.
And if you have questions, thoughts, or comments, please leave them below because I want to see what people think about Nuwa City and the future of our Species. Very nice. Thank you so much, Michael. So I think it’s clear that humans will, in fact, live on Mars and separate into a new branch of the evolution of our species. Personally, I think there’s a good chance that some Martian human will be the one to come up with practical terraforming solutions I look forward to watching space exploration unfold before our eyes in the near future, along with the development of sustainable energy and, of course, artificial gravity. This video was brought to by the support of awesome viewers like you who dream big about Space Exploration and the future of Humanity.
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