Yesterday, Barack Obama announced a plan to send humans to Mars by 2030. To celebrate this news, I have links on Mars. (We've got to prepared, right?)
The first question to ask is: what does Mars look like? A little like Earth, actually. Okay, sure, the dunes are covered in dry ice*, the canals are made of ice**, not water, , riverbeds made by lava, and there are all kinds of geographic features that look like Earth objects and feed conspiracy nuts***, but it's similar enough to make terraforming seem possible.
Anyone for a video (below)? Or maybe an interactive map?
Unfortunately for terraformers, there's the lack of breathable atmosphere. However with the amount of frozen CO2 and H2O Mars seems to have, we might be able to create one with plants. We'll need to keep that atmosphere stuck to the planet, though. Apparently, solar winds carry it off. While we're solving that problem, we should probably tackle the questions of what happened to all the Martian water, what the heck those "blueberries" are, and how we'll protect ourselves from radiation storms.
Once we've acquired a livable environment, we'll need to build a base. Mars dust will probably get everywhere, so we'll need to blow it off with sound waves***** whenever we come inside. (For a history of Martian colonies, go here†.) We'll probably all be wearing these††, or something similar. Then again, maybe we already have a colony†††. I hope they didn't get there in a nuclear rocket.
Is there life on Mars? Maybe, maybe not, but there's a microbe that could cope with conditions†††† there. Possibly. We may need to tweak it slightly.
*** and writers?