Much as I liked the show, this is about the actual planet. As someone who writes about Mars, I’ve got kind of a vested interest–then again, as a resident of Earth I’ve got kind of a vested interest anyway. Assuming we don’t manage to wipe ourselves out (a prospect which, though it will always remain a possibility, seems increasingly unlikely) humans are eventually going to have to go to Mars.
Going to Mars presents a number of problems for us, both in transit and in the ways Mars is inhospitable (Mary Roach, author of Stiff, has a great new book on the subject). Mars, for example, has weather which will make some of the lessons we learn from a Lunar colony hard to cross-apply. But it does have soil, which Luna doesn’t. Either way, if we’re gonna live there a long time, it’s gonna have to get an oxygen atmosphere and an ecosystem.
Terraforming–big word for a big operation. How would we even begin to do it?
Turns out, Charles Darwin was at the back of the world’s first experiment in terraforming. With the help of the Royal Navy, he created an artificial ecosystem. New Scientist has a great article on it.