Thursday, January 31, 2013

How Much Would It Cost to Live on Mars

Mars has always loomed large in humankind's collective imagination. Now with PayPal's Elon Musk showing interest in the Red Planet, we take a look at just how much it would cost to set up home there.

From Earth's surface to our inner atmosphere is 160km (99miles).
From Earth's surfaceto out outer atmosphere is 2000km (1200miles).
The distance between Earth and Mars is 402 million km (250 million miles).

To put ONE pound into space it would cost:
Curiosity Rover- $900,000 per lb.
Total weight- 1982 lbs at $1.8 billion.

NASA's space shuttle- $10,000 per lb.
Elon Musk Spacex's Falcon 9 Rocket- $3,000 per lb.

Cost of Travel

Here are a few estimates from leading space agencies and companies:

NASA- $100 billion
SpaceX- $36 billion
The Mars Society- $30 billion

Even the cheapest of these could buy you 2.5 million "Round the World" cruises.


The important thing about living on Mars is that we need to be "sheltered" all the way. We're fragile creature. The majority of the hypothetical manned Mars missions would use the lander they travelled in as a home with sections that would inflate upon landing for additional room.

The inclusive cost of an inflatable Martian home with a 120km(cubed) living area would be:
NASA- $267 million
SpaceX- $150 million


Per day an adult needs 1 US Gallon (3.7 litres) of H2O and between 1200 and 1500 kilocalories (basically two cans of food). The cost of transporting & storing ONE years food supply for ONE individual to Mars:
NASA- $42 million
SpaceX- $13 million


On Mars there is a possibility to grow your own food and collect your own water. Water is present in the ground and atmosphere on Mars. There are large ice deposits upon its surface as well.

The cost of transporting and initiating automated machinery that could provide fooda d water for ONE individual:
NASA- $15.4 million
SpaceX-$4.6 million

With intensive cultivation methods a 4700m(squared)(1.6 acre) can provide enough food for an individual. The cost of transporting the tools, plants, and shelter required to create a self sufficient agriculture for ONE individual would be:
NASA- $20.9 billion
SpaceX - $11.75 billion

The bonus for having agriculture is that plants create oxygen thus removing the need for additional oxygen transport or collection.

A person needs 8m(squared) of Chlorella Algae to maintain a balanced CO2/O2 level, which is the equivelant to around 400 household plants.


Unfortunately, there are no private telecom providers on Mars. So until then you'll be using NASA's 2011 Mars Odyssey to semd your data.
A standard text message (on Earth) costs $0.05 for 140 bytes of info. That's $383,300 per gigabyte.
The Mars global surveyor was a comparable satellite to the Odyssey able to send data back to Earth for $284,000 per gigabyte.
$0.04 per text = 20% cheaper than on Earth.
The cost of a ONE minute phone call- $209.71
The cost of a 75kb email- $209.71
The cost of watching PSY's Gangnam Style on YouTube in HD 1080p- $37,244.

Total Cost

So, to travel to Mars on your own private rocket, live there on 1.6 acres of land, and have enough food, water, and entertainment to survive comes to (roughly):
NASA- $121 billion
SpaceX- $48 billion

This may seem like a lot of money (and it is), but if the U.S. was to spend all of its $711 BILLION Defence Budget on getting us to Mars it could send 15 people to Mars on their own private rocket, and when they get there they could each have their own acre of land to live on.

Elon Musk's declaration of having 80,000 people living on Mars within two decades could be achievable if people traveled together and shared living conditions.

-Daniel, Jedi Editor


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