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Let's say that 100-150 years from now we've established a handful of colonies on Mars. Some of them are research stations and some of them are legitimate towns/cities or corporate operations. Point is, they're only the size of a small town at their largest and there are less than a few dozen of them. Mars DOES NOT have a unified government or even very many permanent residents, and all the colonies are directly affiliated with the governments and organizations on Earth that are sponsoring them. Although the colonies are self-sufficient in as far as food, water, oxygen and building materials, they rely on Earth for continued funding and commodities. Mars at this point is largely a mecca for scientific research (possibly of past or present alien life) and also serves as a waystation for belt mining. It is NOT an economic power, although shipping people and materials to and from Mars isn't quite as prohibitively expensive as it is today due to either antimatter or cheap fusion power (there is no interstellar travel though).

What implications would this have for societies down on Earth? Would people volunteer to live on Mars as guinea pigs? Would Mars be a source of cheap housing for the homeless or would relieving poverty in this way be too expensive to be practical? Would it be an attractive tourist destination or a source for any unique commodities besides belt-mined ore and water? How would human society at large be affected by Mars colonies both at the time of their inception and after they've existed for a hundred years?

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closed as too broad by Mołot, Aify, Hohmannfan, Magic-Mouse, type_outcast Oct 10 '16 at 9:38

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ You just described about 50-100 years before The Expanse :D $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 9 '16 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ Also, last sentence makes it really broad. We don't know transport system in your story, Don't know it's cost or it's limits. Why would you want to send homeless to Mars? Why not Antarctica, really? It'll be what you will make it be. Or what Musk will make it ;) $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 9 '16 at 22:15
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    $\begingroup$ Okay, what makes Mars so especially good for research?(beyond astronomy and low-g sorts of obvious things... i.e. being in mars) $\endgroup$ – The Nate Oct 10 '16 at 8:09
  • $\begingroup$ Think of Antarctica. It has virtually no impact at all on the nations of Earth. Likewise, Mars wouldn't. A bit of research, maybe some raw materials. It's not like they could possibl ship much down here, so their existence would be mostly irrelevant. $\endgroup$ – user8976 Oct 10 '16 at 13:04
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Basically this situation is little different from the current situation with bases in Antarctica. Most nations have bases there and conduct extensive research. Simply think about the societal impact of Antarctica, the Mars colonies as described will be the same.

Using Mars as the means for alleviating poverty and solving homelessness is truly utopian. The energetics alone will make it highly impracticable and too expensive. Space travel would have to become incredibly inexpensive for a tourist industry to develop.

Mars colonization will be long and slow process. Part of the pace will be set by what is happening on planet Earth. This will mean factoring in a plethora of social, political and economic trends taking place on the home planet.

The American colonies took a long time to develop to a stage where they were self-sufficient and had the capacity for their long-term survival. Mars colonies are likely to take even longer.

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  • $\begingroup$ A point: the charter contacts specifically forbade development into technologies that supported independence. That delay was mostly intentional... And resented. $\endgroup$ – The Nate Oct 10 '16 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting, @TheNate, do you have a source for this? $\endgroup$ – a4android Oct 10 '16 at 8:42
  • $\begingroup$ Uh, not off my noggin. I might go hunting for a link tomorrow, though. I'll be starting with the "east India tea company" and follow up with the smelting of iron. (specifically the furnace itself. Hard vs. Soft coal was required for the process for centuries.) Those would be the connections to this topic I recall straight off the top. $\endgroup$ – The Nate Oct 10 '16 at 8:56
  • $\begingroup$ Colonization, the game, references it. Can I cite Sid? $\endgroup$ – The Nate Oct 10 '16 at 8:57
  • $\begingroup$ @TheNate. As in Syd Mead? Probably not,historical sources preferred & games, alas, aren't readily accessible. $\endgroup$ – a4android Oct 10 '16 at 10:28

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