MAR 03, 2016 11:29 AM PST

The Technical Difficulties of Life on Mars


Humans have a unique fascination with Mars. We've conceived of alien Martians and even thought of being our own human Martians who can colonize this red planet. After all, Mars is the closest planet to us that has familiar geological features like mountains, valleys, and even liquid water. It even has near 24-hour day cycles. But while Matt Damon made it look easy to be a Martian, lets reconsider some limitations of actually living on Mars.

The red planet is just outside of Earth's Goldilocks zone, but far enough that the sun's heat can't warm this planet up to comfortable temperatures for most humans. As Bill Nye described it, living on Mars would be like living on Antarctica - dry and frigid. But don't forget that the air on Mars only has 0.14% oxygen (compared to the comfortable, life-enhancing 21% on Earth), so a human Martian will always need to be attached to an oxygen supply. The hostile temperature and air quality aren't exactly conducive to a sustainable source of food and water, so will future human Martians still rely on freeze-dried food packets?

As if extreme temperatures and low oxygen aren't enough, there are even bigger problems to contend with. Watch the video to learn more about other limitations of living on Mars, and maybe you will appreciate Earth a bit more and rethink the costs of a journey to Mars.
About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at
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