Friday, October 15, 2021

Dreams of Mars

When I think of alien worlds, Mars immediately comes to mind.
It's the one world that I may live to see astronauts land on,
and it's the one world that humans may colonize in this century.

So it was great fun to participate in  Rain's Thursday Art Date theme Alien Worlds,
and to think about Mars and human colonization. 

Mars has haunted the dreams and imaginations of humankind
since we first gazed at the red planet. 
It has been associated with war and bloodshed since ancient times because of its color.
Babylonians called Mars Nergal after their god of fire, war, and destruction, 
and Romans named it Mars after their god of war.   Google

Dreams of Mars
by Louise MacBeath Barbour
October 13, 2021
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The First Card in the Mars Attacks Trading Card Series, 1962
To See the Full Series Click Here

From Earth, Mars is the most accessible place in the solar system,
although establishing a colony on Mars poses difficult challenges:
radiation exposure, isolation, low gravity, toxic soil, 
very cold temperatures, and a lack of available water and oxygen.

NASA artist's conception of a human mission to Mars (painting), 1989

True color image of Mars taken by the OSIRIS instrument on the European Space Agency Rosetta spacecraft during its February 2007 flyby of the planet.
The image was generated using the OSIRIS orange (red), green, and blue filters.

Mars has always fascinated me.
When I watched the Eagle land on the moon on July, 20, 1969,
I was certain we'd have colonies on Mars by now.
My hopes were crushed by the lack of human space exploration over the last half century.

But on September 28, 2018, I felt renewed hope when Nature reported an exciting find.
Planetary scientists reported the discovery of liquid water below the surface
of Ultimi Scopuli at the base of Mar's south polar layered deposits.

The water existed in a 20 kilometer-wide lake about 1.5 kilometers
under a thick polar cap formed by layers of ice and dust.   
The Mars Advance Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) survey
collected the data leading to the detection of water.

Illustration of the European Space Agency's Mars Express Mission Showing its MARSIS Antenna

The European Space Agency conducts the Mars Express mission to explore Mars.
MARSIS is a radar instrument carried on Mars Express,
and it was designed to search for water, water-ice, or permafrost layers
under the visible surface of the planet.  Mark Plank Institute for Solar Research
The MARSIS principal investigator is Giovanni Picardi at Sapienza University of Rome. 

Mars-Subglacial Water-South Pole Region
A view of the southern polar plain of Mars, with the Mars Express’s color-coded findings superimposed at the site where they were detected. The 12-mile-wide lake is believed to be about a mile deep.

The South Polar Ice Cap, Mars, Summer 2000

Layered Deposits at the South Pole of Mars
The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter captured this view 
of part of the south polar ice cap on Mars on 13 May 2018

Mars Express detects water buried under the south pole of Mars.


If Scopuli sounds familiar than you are likely a fan of Amazon's The Expanse,
a fabulous, critically acclaimed, science fiction series based on the James A. Corey novels.
The Scopuli was a Martian light transport freighter that is pivotal to the Expanse series.

On September 28, 2020 Nature reported more water
detected beneath Mar's south polar layered deposits.
Since the initial report in 2018 was met with skepticism as well as excitement,
scientists collected additional data with the Mars Express orbiter.

Elena Pettinelli and her colleagues at the University of Rome confirmed the existence
of the first lake and the discovery of three more.
Altogether the lakes cover an area of 29,000 square miles 
(75 thousand square kilometers), about 1/5 the area of Germany. and Nature

Radar Map from Mars Express
Showing One Large Subsurface Lake and Three Smaller Ones

Water is life, not necessarily for Martian life,
but rather to support humans living on Mars.
So I dream of a underground colony on Mars, one that extracts
potable water from the hypersaline brines in the subsurface lakes.

Such a colony would face other challenges.
An underground colony would solve the problems
of radiation exposure and and very cold temperatures.
Oxygen could be recovered from the Martian atmosphere by electrolysis, 
a process that splits carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbon monoxide.

Low gravity is a big challenge, but I imagine that could be overcome
with centrifuge-like human living pods within the colony,
exercise, supplements, and perhaps genetic tweaking.

Cyanobacteria could be used to transform toxic soil into soil to support plant life,
and lab-produced meat substitutes could expand the variety of food available.

As for isolation, mixed sex colonists, space mission visitors, 
and advanced communications, would help colonists deal with being so far from Earth.

I can see it!

A Rough Sketch of an Underground Colony Below Ultimi Scopuli 
by Louise MacBeath Barbour
October 13, 2021
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

My sketch for an underground colony is rough indeed!
I imagine a series of underground tunnels connected
by dome-covered elevators, one main and two adjacent,
with a separate dome and elevator leading to a nuclear energy plant.

I see humans living in a tunnel colony about 300 feet below ground,
and cyanobacteria and plants growing in a tunnel
several hundred feet below the human habitat.

Hundreds of feet deeper in another tunnel,
a factory produces oxygen and other life support systems are functioning.
Finally, in the lowest tunnel, a water production system
processes water several hundred feet above the underground lake.

I believe humankind's survival depends on expanding from our home planet Earth,
and establishing a colony on Mars is a necessary step.
Here's to a bright and successful future!

The International Space Station Orbiting above the Earth

Stay happy and safe!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


  1. It is probably wrong of me to say it but I hope that we don't colonise other planets - not at least till we have learned to look after the one we currently live on.
    If I was an alien I would NOT welcome an unhousetrained puppy moving in.
    That said I love your art and thank you for the research you put into this post.

    1. Thanks, EC! No it is not wrong of you to say your opinion. I know there are many people who share it. I had great fun researching this post. I had done some in the past for an IWSG anthology contest, but that didn't result in a story. Maybe in he future. Have a wonderful weekend! Thanks for visiting!

    2. what a great post - I have no doubt we are being watched - I suspect aliens are growing us as a future food source to be honest and not as fellow intellects!

  2. Would take some brave souls to live on Mars, even underground where it is a little bit safer.

    1. I agree, Alex! I don't think I'd volunteer. But among all of us, there are those who would jump at the chance to go to Mars. If I were 11 instead of 71, I'd be aiming for the Space Force. I get a thrill every time I go past Buckley Air Base and see the US Space Force sign. I hope I live a lot longer so I can see what happens and what we learn about space. I'm rereading "Dragon of the Stars" which I love. I thought Aden was a bit of a smug prig during the early pages of the book ~ But perhaps my reading is colored by the fact that I am finally watching "Downton Abbey." LOL! I already know what a hero Aden becomes. Have a relaxing weekend, my friend!

  3. I like your "little green men," Louise! Mars is a fascinating place indeed.

    1. Thanks, Debra! I had so much fun with that drawing. I'm enjoying getting into some art, finally! Have a happy weekend, my friend! Hugs to you!

  4. what an inspirational and incredible post dear Louise !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    your insight is vast and astonishing indeed my amazingly wonderful friend!

    thank you for this one particularly as i am falling in love with space more and more and my imagination hardly keep me on ground believe me :)
    looking at your sketch of underground Mars colony makes me feel better because it tells me that i am not alone who thinks this way .
    i try to watch one program about space everyday ,it connects me to what i am into most now days .
    i heard and watched how scientists are planning to colonize on Mars ,sounds fascinating indeed and i am sure this will definitely happen in close future .i agree that our survival is in spreading as specie on other planets .
    i think next century will see huge progress in this matter .

    this is amazing that stars and planets which used to be part of myth are going to become new home for next generations how exciting !

    in Quran there is a line which come frequently " people that live in the skies and people who live on the earth both are under the command of Creator"

    this makes me believe that there are numerous planets like Earth where human live whether in most advanced form of aliens or in any other shape they surly are there and probably farther next generations will encounter them someday .
    health ,pece and joy to you and all you love!

    1. Hi, dear Baili! Thanks for sharing the line from the Quran. I really connected with it. The Creator is the Creator of all life wherever it occurs.

      I'm sorry for not visiting you in about ten days. I haven't been around anywhere this week. I have been struggling with increasingly worse problems: exhaustion, low energy, muscle weakness, racing heart, shallow fast breathing, difficulty getting to sleep and remaining asleep, sweating, double vision, and now tremors. This started in late May or early June and has progressively gotten worse.

      After all kinds of medical and blood tests, my doctor determined this week that I have a hyperactive thyroid and likely Graves Disease. I go to the hospital two times next week as an outpatient to have a radioactive iodine test to figure out exactly what is wrong with my thyroid. Graves Disease is treatable, but I don't see an endocrinologist until late November. 😱 And I thought my lovely weight loss was due to my creating healthier meals after Terry's heart attack ~ LOL! I'm looking forward to feel better soon!

      I'll visit soon, my friend. Sending you and your family much love and big hugs to you! 💖💖💖

  5. I read an Internet theory that we actually lived on Mars and then colonized Earth when Mars became uninhabitable. Sometimes I love the Internet. 😀

    1. LOL, Sandi! You can find anything on the internet! Hugs to you, my friend!

  6. Lovely take on alien worlds you gave this deep thought! I am not very adventurous. Great job on the underground colony! It is interesting how 90 yr old William Shatner loved his space trip.

    1. Thanks, Christine! I was going to mention William Shatner, my beloved Captain Kirk! But I thought the post was already too long. I was never happier to see anyone go into space. I would go in a heartbeat! Have a happy and creative week, my friend!

  7. ...the Mars Attacks Trading Card Series, this never hit my radar screen. Actually all of this space stuff never hit my radar screen! You sure assembled a lot of info for this post, it's amazing. I hope that you are enjoying your weekend.

    1. I am enjoying my weekend, Tom, thanks! The Mars Attack Trading Card Series was a lucky find as I was searching for images of Martians as we have imagined them. I'm a Mars junkie, so the subsurface south polar water was known by me. Also, as a geologist, I'm interested in in the differences between Mars and Earth as planetary systems, and why one is an oasis of life and the other isn't. Putting this post together was so much fun for me. Thanks for reading and appreciating it! Take care!

  8. I always look for Mars in the night sky and my DH and I have watched many movies on man colonizing the planet, but never got to the point of figuring out how it could be done. I admire your thirst for knowledge and hope you are right in that man can accomplish such a thing ... but I worry too about man bulldozing his way through other planets the way he does our own. No entity is more destructive than man has proven to be ... sad to say. Loved your extensive information. I always learn from you which is one of many reason why I always look forward to visiting you. You are a bright light in a dark sky :)

    Andrea @ From the Sol

    1. Thank you, Andrea! It is lovely to find another person who likes to go out and see Mars. One of the best memories in my life was in late August, 2003 when Mars made its closest approach to the Earth in almost 60,000 years. Less than a week before the closest meeting between the planets, we went to see James Taylor at Red Rocks in Morrison. Mars hung in the sky like an orange marble. It was spectacularly beautiful. I remember Mars better than James Taylor, and that's saying something because I love James Taylor! Have a happy and fulfilling week, my friend!

  9. I am quite sure that we all have a degree of fascination with Mars and the possibility of human colonization of the Red Planet, but there are urgent matters to be addressed here on Earth, before we destroy this wonderful Blue Dot and ourselves along with it.


    1. Hi, David! It's been a little over thirty years since NASA's Voyager 1 took the iconic photo of our Pale Blue Dot. To me that photo was stunning: Earth, so beautiful, so fragile, so rare in the vast darkness of space. When I think of what has happened to our planet since that photo was taken, it breaks my heart. The climate crisis is an existential threat, and that's just one of the crises we are facing. If we don't deal with these crises, we will likely become extinct. But I have hope, and I believe we will pull through, survive. Humans have always been dreamers and explorers, and I don't think that will change. So here's to solving our problems, survival, and dreams of Mars and space exploration!

  10. Great post! Mars is an interesting planet as scientific research is concerned. But, do I want to go there? Certainly not. Shoulr people go there?? NO! We can´t even handle and take good care of the planet we are born on. We should not go elswhere until The Earth is healthy and thriving.

    1. Hi, Monica! A lot of people think the way you do, and certainly you have a point in that we haven't figured out how to solve our problems here on Earth. However, I think we have to push ahead regardless. Perhaps as more people have an opportunity to go into space, more people will learn how rare and special Earth is, and the Earth's population will wise up. Wishing you a happy and fulfilling week!

  11. You have put a lot of thought into this. Like you, I thought we would be way ahead when we landed on the moon over 50 years ago. But I don't think I'll see a Mar's colony in my lifetime.

    1. Hi, Jeff! As you can see I'm very behind. I hope I live long enough to see a Mars colony! We shall see. I hope that you are enjoying Friday. Take care, my friend!

  12. The Japanese word for mars is Fire Planet

    1. Hi, Adam! Thanks for sharing the Japanese word for Mars. I'm sorry that I'm just now replying. The past few weeks have been very intense for me. I hope all is well with you, my friend! Take care!

  13. It sure would be interesting watching it all take place. i wouldn't jump on the bandwagon though as if there is water then probably life. Could be little parasitic life that burrows into your brain, not little green men, and make you go nuts lol not to mention potential diseases we haven't encountered.

    1. LOL, Pat! Trust you to think of parasites and diseases. I bet you'd like Kim Stanley Robinson's science fiction novel "Aurora." It deals with your concerns. Kim Stanley Robinson said two things I think about frequently: "Life is a planetary expression" and "There is no Planet B." It would be such fun to know how it all turns out! Have a good one, my friend!

  14. Love your drawing! Make sure to have some large ducts in order to get away from the aliens who will most likely show up.

    1. I should have put those large ducts in, Kay! LOL! I'm sorry that I'm just replying now. It has been an intense few weeks for me. I hope all is well with you, Richard, and Chris. Hugs and love to you, my friend!

  15. Louise, you have a great mind. I really learned a lot reading this post and I love your colony idea. Your "Dreams of Mars" is wonderful! I didn't know all about the water found on Mars, I admit I avoid the media at all costs, but I guess I miss out on the great things that are reported. Thanks for all of this information!! :)

    1. Thank you, Rain! You inspired me to sit down and put my thoughts together. I had so much fun doing this post. You're likely smart to avoid the media. It riles me up a lot, but I'm addicted ~ LOL! I have a story spark based on "Dreams of Mars," but memoir first! I'm hopping around visiting everyone! Hugs to you!


Thank you for your comments! I appreciate them very much.