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Mars in true colour

Mars Base Alpha: Location of Elon Musk’s colony on Mars revealed

ELON MUSK’S planned human base on the red planet now has five candidate locations, with the smooth plain of Arcadia Planitia being the most promising.

Called Mars Base Alpha, this Martian Jamestown must be located at a low elevation at less than 40 degrees latitude for maximum utilisation of solar power.

The poles have readily available pack ice, but it has been decided that a relatively warm site (in Martian terms) should be considered along with berk water source, in the form of the suspected  massive sub-surface water ice deposits at Arcadia Planitia.

There were four other sites considered by SpaceX for establishing Mars Base Alpha.

They were Deuteronilus Mensae, Phlegra Montes, Utopia Planitia and southern Arcadia Planitia with the later one being the focus of SpaceX’s planned robotic surveyors to scout the terrain.  

On August 2019 SpaceX announced it was judinging the pros and cons of five candidate sites to the west of Olympus Mons, on the border between Amazonis Planitia and Arcadia Planitia.

SpaceX Principal Mars Development Engineer Paul Wooster at the 21st Annual International Mars Society Convention said: “There are quite significant quantities of water in the mid-latitudes.

“There’s definitely ice up at the poles, but balancing that against power and thermal considerations and general operational aspects we will aim for a location closer to the equator. 

“Martian dust and other mobility considerations along with probably just having interesting things to do will affect where we decide to locate the first base. 

Water and CO2 are essential for the process of making the oxygen and methane propellant for return of the Starships that will set the first cargo and crew at the Mars Base Alpha site.

The first automated cargo landings of Starship is planned for in 2023.

A crew and cargo vessel will touchdown in 2025, but it has been suggested that estimate may be too ambitious and it may happen a few Earth-Mars synods later,  in 2027 and 2031 respectively, as developing a large human-crewed spacecraft will definitely encounter unexpected challenges.

The plan is to land colonists, workers and settlers, every Earth-Mars synod (26 months) who will gradually build Mars Base Alpha and expand its indoor agricultural capability, industrial capacity and mining.

To guard against the high rates of radiation on Mars the base should be partially built underground.

This could be the hidden motivation for Elon Musk to establish The Boring Company to get experience and develop innovative methods for tunnelling which will be essential on Mars.

Eventually the site will grow to form Mars City, the name Elon Musk gave to the first human colony on Mars in some earlier presentations of SpaceX’s Mars colonization architecture


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