Let's assume that Mars has an atmosphere, oceans, plants, and animals, even there is some native civilization like John Carter.

Is there any possible trading between Earth and Mars?

I noticed that many people like to compare space travel with geographical discoveries (15th-17th century), but this seem not to be a reasonable analogy.

Remember that space is not an ocean, it is almost empty. In order to push a rocket forward, you must bring and consume some mass to accelerate away. Such mass is called working mass. I know that there are gravitation fields, magnetic fields, electromagnetic waves, solar wind, and solar radiation in space, but these are not effective spacecraft propulsion in current technology.

Transporting gold from Americas to Europe does not consume any resources.

PS: This question is different from the question What goods would be worth trading between Earth and Mars?, in which assuming that I've got technology several centuries more advanced than what we have now.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ the statement "Transporting gold from Americas to Europe does not consume any resources." is very far from true. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? What goods would be worth trading between Earth and Mars? $\endgroup$
    – rek
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ @rek That question assume that I've got technology several centuries more advanced than what we have now. $\endgroup$
    – chansey
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 20:58
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    $\begingroup$ @PcMan What resources will be consumed to transport gold from Americas to Europe? They just depend on manpower and wind. $\endgroup$
    – chansey
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 21:03
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. I've retracted my vote. It is not uncommon for users to have a series of related questions, but it is often impractical to answer them all in one question. The more closely related a secondary issue is, the more tolerant the community is. For example, Asking "is it possible" and "how long would it take?" are close enough, but asking what could be traded involves issues far beyond the technical ability to trade such as economics and demographics. It's actually a good habit to focus on just one issue at a time, especially as solving the first issue might change the second considerably. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 21:09

3 Answers 3


For trade, you always have to ask "What do they have that i need and how can i get it without paying anyone ?". Remember, the reason why America was "discovered" was because Europeans didnt want to trade with Muslims, aka the Ottoman Empire.

So for your question, what does Mars or Earth got, what the other one does not. And can this good be obtained ANY other way. The ANY is very important. If the good is out at Neptun and it costs 1% less, either party will get it from there.

Looking at both Mars and Earth, there is not a single thing on Mars that Earth needs. And this wont change as long as there is a Moon in the sky and the Population of Earth is not beyond a Quadrillion. A similar story is true for Mars.

The only goods worth shipping are the ones we make up. Aka, Information. Stuff like Music, Movies and what not is something you cannot mine somewhere else. And making a Copy is not the same. So that would most likly be the nr. 1 Trade good.

  • $\begingroup$ This doesn't answer the first question, which is a prerequisite of the second. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ "Europeans didnt want to trade with Muslims, aka the Ottoman Empire": This is so wrong it's funny. Europeans traded extensively with the Ottoman Empire. The problem was that the Ottomans were very bad (that is, extremely inefficient) at playing the middle men between Europe and India, and the Europeans has a very strong motivation to cut them out from that position. Trade between Europe and the Ottoman Empire continued to develop after the discovery of the Americas and the maritime route to India; it's just that trade with India bypassed them. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, intellectual property can be traded. It has the great advantage that it can be sent by radio and requires no spacecraft. Earth and Mars can buy each other’s books, films, music, video games, patents, trademarks, and so on. $\endgroup$
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 20:47

Currently the only thing Mars has that Earth wants is science-based:

  • Soil samples. Dust samples. Ice samples.
  • Information on development of planet / solar system
  • Information of evolution of life.

Once that information is returned to earth there is a long period where there is nothing Earth would want from Mars that it couldn't produce itself. Anything easily mined on Mars could be mined easier on Earth. Anything manufactured on Mars could be made cheaper on Earth.

During this period, as every other answer has already pointed out, IP is the only thing you can trade. Make software, make music, design technology and license the right to fabricate it.

Trade with Earth and Mars in current tech is like those frustrating eBay listings you used to see of "iPhone new in box for \$0.99 + \$2000p&h". Its why it has to be IP only, your basically paying $1,000,000 per kg for shipping. At these shipping rates not even illegal drugs or brand name pharmaceuticals are worth shipping.

In near future tech, it's likely the cost per kg of shipping will decrease. Trade will be Mars producing IP being traded for probably earth made pharmaceuticals, intricate machine parts, and integrated circuits. This will be done by Mars having a data link with Earth, and frequent deliveries to Mars in rockets also used by tourists and scientists.

Very far future Mars may be able to produce and ship something cheaper than earth can, but that's not relevant to the scope of your question.


Well, the OP has not covered the 40% Martian gravity of Earth's. Lower gravity allows specialized industrial manufacturing.

I read on WBSE that someone suggested injected nuclear waste into the Martian core to heat it to generate magnetosphere. If that is true, some locations on Mars could become nuclear waste dumping site.


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