How We’ll Live on Mars by Stephen Petranek: Twenty-First Century Acts

by DerdriuMarriner

How We’ll Live on Mars by Stephen Petranek describes manned settlements and unmanned landings through twenty-first century governmental and private acts.

Mars-related travel must overcome gravity, radiation, and weightlessness

How We’ll Live on Mars by Stephen L. Petranek addresses manned settlements and unmanned landings on the fourth planet over from Earth’s sun. The Breakthrough Technology editor brings together 40+ years of editorships at:
• Discover;
• Life Magazine;
• The Washington Post, This Old House, Weider History Group magazines.

He easily considers therefore players and procedures regarding the red planet’s next 20 years in 96 culturally enriching, educationally entertaining, geo-historically enthralling pages sectioned into:
• The dream of terraforming;
• Das Marsprojekt of Wernher von Braun (March 23, 1912 – June 16, 1977);
• The great private space race;
• Rockets are tricky;
• Big questions;
• The economics of Mars;
• Living on Mars;
• Making Mars in Earth’s image;
• The next gold rush;
• The final frontier.




Brilliant aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun shared his passion for Mars exploration via book with technical specs for a manned expedition, Das Marsprojekt, published in German in 1952 and in English translation in 1953.

Wernher von Braun welcomes visit on January 1, 1954, from Walt Disney: Dr. Braun served as technical director for 3 Disney Studio space exploration films in the 1950s.
Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA), Redstone Arsenal, Madison County, northeastern Alabama
Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA), Redstone Arsenal, Madison County, northeastern Alabama

Mars-related travel needs to consider 21-minute broadcasting/communication/transmission lags


Martian rotations and revolutions deliver days and years respectively 39 minutes 25 seconds and 322 days longer than Earth’s. Oval orbits additionally encourage astrophysicists to envision:

  • insulation in pressurized tents and underground shelters against minimum temperature ranges of 70°F to -100°F (21.11°C to -73.33°C);
  • nomadism for warmer weather alternately north and south of Mars’ equator against seasonal durations and variations twice Earth’s in length and severity.

Thinner atmospheres and weaker gravity further find astro-engineers contemplating insulated, pressurized chambers and clothes against cosmic and solar radiation.

Near-surface and surface compositions likewise get astro-climatologists, astro-ecologists, and astro-geologists to ponder adjusting atmospheric content from 1% carbon monoxide and oxygen, 2% argon, 2% nitrogen, 95% carbon dioxide to 40% carbon dioxide. 


Some of human concerns about life on Mars: thinner atmosphere, weaker gravity, cosmic and solar radiation.

Global mosaic of 102 Viking 1 Orbiter images of Mars taken on 22 February 1980 at altitude 1553 miles (2500 kilometers): Valles Marineris, Mars' largest canyon system (center).
Visual Imaging Subsystem - Camera A; catalogue image PIA04304
Visual Imaging Subsystem - Camera A; catalogue image PIA04304

Mars-related travel offers agricultural, manufacturing, mining, scientific money-making


Electrical currents, gene therapy, 150-mile (241.40-kilometer) reflectors, and spinning spacecraft moreover head to-do lists regarding Mars-related flight and settlement challenges. They indicate respective attempts to make possible:

  • accessible water and rocket fuel;
  • carbon dioxide-tolerant edible plants and human lungs;
  • globally warmed Martian climate change;
  • human weightless-tolerant transport.

The above-mentioned problem identifications, mitigations, and solutions join to suggest twenty-first, twenty-fourth, and thirty-first century dates for respective realizations of:

  • four-passenger, 250-day flights to and from Mars;
  • gene-modified human blood cells and lungs;
  • terraformed Martian eco-systems.

Scenarios of sustainable communities on Mars keep entrepreneurs, governments, and investors busy in:

  • China;
  • Netherlands;
  • United States of America.

They lead to venture capital-building through:

  • broadcasting contracts;
  • crew applicant fees;
  • mining rights;
  • passenger fares.


Despite atmospheric and other challenges, Mars is deemed as habitable for Earthlings through the process of terraforming ("Earth-shaping"):

Rivers feeding hypothesized oceans in artist's conception of terraformed Mars occupy such prominent features as Valles Marineris (center), Mars' largest canyon system, and lake fills Aram Chaos, impact crater at Valles Marineris' eastern end.
Artist's conception of a terraformed Mars, approximately centered on prime meridian, 30 degrees north latitude
Artist's conception of a terraformed Mars, approximately centered on prime meridian, 30 degrees north latitude

Mars-related travel provides escape from resource-compromised, super-warmed Earth


The mini-book makes Mars-related flight and settlement practicalities and projections painless and timely. It in fact needs to be remembered throughout the scientific rush to examine and exploit asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. Mars indeed offers inexpensive efficiency for:

  • exploring deep-space;
  • investigating space rocks;
  • making return-trip equipment, food, and fuel;
  • producing finished goods from space-rock cobalt, gold, iron, nickel, platinum, and rhodium;
  • yielding antimony, copper, gold, phosphorus, silver, tin, and zinc when twenty-second century Earth’s mines are exhausted.

How We’ll Live on Mars ultimately ponders:

  • emigrating from Earth’s dwindling resources, environmental pollution, and global warming;
  • emulating Mars enthusiasts Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson, Bas Landorp, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, Arno Wielders, and Robert Zubrin. 


How We'll Live on Mars (TED Books) by Stephan Petranek ~ Available now via Amazon

Humans may be living on Mars by 2027!
Mars books



My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


Mars' carbon dioxide rich atmosphere freezes at south polar ice cap into 3-feet thick layer atop permanent ice cap of water ice, sandwiched around thin layer of dark sand and dust; spring melt opens vents for trapped gas:

Artist concept showing sand-laden jets of carbon dioxide shoot into sky at Martian south polar ice cap as southern spring begins.
illustration by noted space artist Ron Miller/Arizona State University
illustration by noted space artist Ron Miller/Arizona State University

Sources Consulted


Petranek, Stephan L. 2015. How We'll Live on Mars. New York, NY, U.S.A.: Simon & Schuster TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) Books. 

Petranek, Stephen. February 2002. “10 Ways the World Could End.” > TED Talks > TED Conference. Retrieved August 2015.

  • Available @ 

 von Braun, Wernher. 1953. The Mars Project. Translated from the Original German Das Marsprojekt by Henry J. White. Urbana, IL, U.S.A.: University of Illinois Press. 


Signs of ancient life on Mars? Impact glass (created by meteor striking planetary surface) on 3-mile (5 km) central peak of 12-mile (15 km) wide Alga Crater in Mars' southern hemisphere:

color code based on data analysis: green = presence of glass; blues = pyroxene; reds = olivine
Data from CRISM (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars) instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Data from CRISM (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars) instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Mars Topography Globe by Sky and Telescope ~ Includes landing sites of Curiosity, Opportunity, Phoenix, and Spirit rovers! ~ Available now via Amazon

Updated 12-inch-diameter topographic globe of Mars, based upon millions of laseraltimeter measurements by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter ~ color-coded elevations; 150+ sites labeled with official names.
Mars products

Mars Base by Christian Darkin ~ Available as Photographic Print and as Premium Photographic Print ~ Available now via AllPosters

The mystique of Mars encourages creativity, especially in terms of living conditions via architecture.
Mars Base

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 08/02/2021, DerdriuMarriner
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