Over the past few weeks, Ryan and his dad have been working on the new workshop. We struggled with the groundwork because the weather has been so wet this autumn, so in the end we hired some professionals to dig out the space and lay concrete for the foundation. Ryan and his dad have built the cabin themselves (and one of our neighbours mistook them for professional installers and asked for their business card!). They have been varnishing it during breaks in the weather, and Ryan has painted the floor, and once that is dry he will be installing shelving. Ryan’s dad is making a bespoke workbench to fit. 

That will pave the way for Ryan to empty his current shed so that we can find a new owner for it and make room for my growshed!

We have been slow to make progress on this project, but now that it is finally coming together I have been thinking about how simple it is for us to make space. We have a wide variety of garden sheds and buildings we can choose from, to suit our needs and the space we have available. Ryan will have his workshop, and I will have my growshed, but it could just as easily be a summerhouse, or a garden office, or wooden greenhouses from GBC.

When it comes to living on Mars, making habitable space won’t be as easy. 

So, the current plan seems to be that the first people to stand on Mars will live in the spaceship that gets them there. They’ll be able to nip outside in their spacesuits, to get a change of scenery and avoid cabin fever and find the right place to live. Just like on Earth, the mantra will be “location, location, location”, but unlike on Earth, the view won’t be much of a consideration. The first Martians will be looking for some suitable lava tubes so that they can build a home underground, safe from the nasty radiation and horrible storms on the planet surface.

This artist’s concept depicts astronauts and human habitats on Mars. NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will carry a number of technologies that could make Mars safer and easier to explore for humans.

But once they’ve set up their Home Sweet Homestead, you can bet that the Martian colonists will be eyeing up their outdoor space for its expansion potential!

To begin with, outdoor buildings will be supplied flatpack, and the Martians will need to order in advance, as the delivery time to Mars can be as long as two years. If the colonists are lucky, then they will have been supplied with robots that can do the building for them. If not, then hopefully they’ve chosen an inflatable structure! 

Artist’s concept of an astronaut working on Mars. A fleet of robotic spacecraft and rovers already are on and around Mars, dramatically increasing our knowledge about Mars and paving the way for future human explorers.

Further down the line, it’s likely that future Martians will be using local materials for building. There’s lots of research going on into the properties of Martian regolith (rocky, dusty stuff) and people have even managed to use it for 3D printing. Well, theoretically, using simulated regolith. It will be a while before we get our hands on real samples for experimentation. 

I can see a future where Martian colonists order their sheds from an online catalogue, as we do now, choosing whether they want more storage space, a workshop or just a place where they can sit back and enjoy the view. But once they’ve placed their order, the building company will download the plans to an army of robot builders that mine the regolith, process it and print it into the desired structure.

Of course, they will still have the Martian atmosphere to contend with, the radiation and the freezing temperatures. Exciting as it may be to ponder life on Mars, aren’t we lucky that we live on a planet where it’s so easy to make space to grow?

Concept for Mars base with ice dome, pressurized rover, and Mars suits
NASA/Clouds AO/SEArch

(This post has been produced in collaboration with GBC Group, but the dreams of a greenhouse on Mars are all mine!)