What if we moved to Mars?

FROM ROOSEVELT by Linda Schuster

   NASA has long-range plans for a manned interplanetary mission. We are all thrilled to witness three spacecraft, Mars Express, Spirit and Opportunity, explore planet Mars. A round-trip visit to Mars and back could take place sometime within the next 30 to 50 years or so. Now there is talk about colonizing Mars. The vision is to develop a "new world" on the Red Planet. In order to accomplish this we would need to create an Earth-like environment there, a.k.a. terraforming, in order to make Mars a place people could comfortably inhabit. These pioneers would be called Martians, I suppose.
   I don’t really feel like moving anytime soon. Moving is exhausting. First of all, packing up a kitchen is not my cup of tea — microwaved, traditional whistler or otherwise. Then come all of the closets. And knick-knacks? Forget it! We’re talking way too many decisions for this little old, tea sippin’ lady. I don’t even want to begin to think about the garage without a Tension Tamer steeping in my hand.
   Let’s assume we actually do pack everything up and decompress the daylights out of it all. What do you imagine one wears on this plane ride? An astronaut suit? In that case, it wouldn’t surprise me if the malls carried these in various styles from classic fit to low-rise bell-bottoms. Keep an eye out for substantially discounted prices as these items are sure to exceed the cost of your average pair of denim jeans. We will probably be able to choose our fishbowl helmet from a color selection of tinted Plexiglas. Once again, clip those coupons.
   We simply cannot take every natural resource to Mars in an effort to transform it into an Earthlike planet. We will need to find ways to use the resources that exist there. Carbon dioxide, for instance, makes up 95 percent of the atmosphere. Oxygen could be chemically extracted from the CO2. What has been posed is the idea that by adding liquid hydrogen brought from Earth, a small nuclear reactor on a spacecraft on Mars could produce both water and methane.
   There is stout evidence that craters at the lunar poles contain water in the form of ice. These molecules could of course be split by electrolysis into hydrogen and oxygen atoms to be used in obvious ways. There remains hope that we may eventually see running water that is consistently more clear than what we currently live with in the borough. Then again, Mars IS called the Red Planet. So I, for one, will allow ample room in my space-case for plenty of the locally popular, handy-dandy RoVer Rust Remover. And my Constant Comment and Red Zinger tea bags should serve as easy compliments to the situation too.
   Another issue with which we must contend as we journey out to the great beyond is temperature. An inflatable module transported to Mars could provide living quarters while waiting the 100 give-or-take years necessary for the total terraforming transformation. Complete with its own atmosphere and energy sources people would bask in the warmth of an enclosed structure for several months at a time. These hold an uncanny resemblance to those inflatable bouncing Moon Walk contraptions you see at carnivals and could double as a much needed source of exercise.
   Enough said. That all seems a very distant possibility in my lifetime. I will content myself meanwhile by switching over my family’s seasonal clothing and memorizing the order of the planets in the solar system. Repeat after me: the sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.
Linda Schuster is a freelance writer living in Roosevelt, who never crafted a model of the solar system in grade school.