If you think life on Earth is hard, wait until you see Mars.
If you think life on Earth is hard, try living on Mars.
With at atmosphere only 0.7% as thick as Earth’s, pure, liquid water is impossible on the Martian surface.
With no active magnetic field, cosmic and solar radiation would be lethal to unshielded surface-dwelling humans.
Additionally, temperatures swing by some 170 °F (93 °C) from day-to-night, presenting severe habitability challenges.
Finally, dust storms abound while small micrometeorites frequently impact Mars, posing threats to surface-dwellers.
Fortunately, there’s a subterranean solution to many of these problems: lava tubes.
In a new study, researchers conclude that Martian lava tubes have 10–1000 times the volume of terrestrial ones.
The reduced Martian gravity enables these tubes to reach diameters of up to 300 meters (1000 feet), with significantly longer lengths.
The tubes themselves, meanwhile, remain structurally stable.
Once boulders, dirt, and debris are removed, they could provide essential environmental shelter.
Dust storms, external radiation, impacts, and temperature swings would all be greatly mitigated.
With a sustained supply of food, water, power, and pressurized, breathable air, Martian lava tubes could successfully host human settlements.
The first humans to colonize Mars might be cave-dwellers, skirting the harsh surface conditions.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.Ethan Siegel is the author of Beyond the Galaxy and Treknology. You can pre-order his third book, currently in development: the Encyclopaedia Cosmologica.