The big problems of settling on Mars are high radiation (worse than anywhere on Earth) and short period extreme radiation, moderate and extreme cold, need all basics of life and energy supply and I read its wiki and it says nothing about that. Do they say anything about solving these fundamental problems?

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    "about three generations after the first colonists dug into the rock and soil" - So they dug down to avoid the radiation. This would also help deal with the heating issue; expanse.fandom.com/wiki/Mars
    – Valorum
    Oct 14, 2019 at 6:50
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    Currently Martians all live under domes, and many necessary resources are shipped in from elsewhere, like from the belt. The first colonists probably lived in some sort of semi-temporary shelters while building the permanent domes, but that's just a guess.
    – Kai
    Oct 14, 2019 at 19:54
  • How the current domes (assuming first domes were the same) solve the problems- seem pretty useless against radiation bursts and provide no energy solution? Oct 16, 2019 at 23:03

1 Answer 1


Radiation: the domes were built to keep out radiation, and cities were built underground while terraforming was ongoing.

Energy is already wholly satisfied by fusion reactors.

From Cibolas Burn:

Prologue quote confirming no magnetosphere was set up on Mars:

"It's going to be generations beefore anyone walks on the surface here! We don't have a fucking magnetosphere!" - Bobbie Draper

Chapter Two quote from Elvi's thoughts, emphasis mine:

When the first colonies had begun on Mars, the perimeter domes had been a question of survival. Something to hold in air and keep out radiation.

So you can see that the domes were in fact built to keep out radiation, and the ones they brought along for the expedition to Ilus/New Terra were very similar to the ones originally used on Mars.

Chapter Twenty-Five, emphasis mine:

"The newer areas, the ones built after we had some idea of what folks need to feel happy, were built different. No more narrow stone corridors." - Alex

Epilogue, Avasarala's thoughts:

the entire city--the entire planetary network--was built like a fucking tomb. The absence of a magnetosphere had made Mars' first priority protection from the radiation.

So in the initial build on Mars, they tunneled into the ground, and continued doing so to hide from radiation -- the rest of that quote describes how they figured out how to make it feel less horrible. It should be noted that they did the same on Ganymede by burrowing most of the place underground, though with the exception they weren't attempting to terraform.

The rest of this is speculation but:

Food is shown to be pretty simple to make with rice and yeasts and mushrooms and other such stuff being the staple of outer planets diets, it's likely, though I can't prove it, that they used that and imports from Earth to start -- at the time of colonization they were still a UN colony so they would have a vested interest in keeping them alive, and since they were a portion of the population from Earth, the capacity to do it.

Water is tricky, reclamation systems are shown to be pretty solid by the first book, but who knows what of that was advancements after the initial colonization. There are also some ice deposits on Mars that could help.

  • Bobbie, being a simple marine, must be unaware that the existence of a magnetosphere is irrelevant on human timescales. It's the mass of the atmosphere that's going to block most of the radiation. Atmospheric loss due to solar wind erosion takes place on geologic timescales, so if you can thicken it in the first place, topping it off isn't an issue.
    – Harabeck
    Jan 13, 2021 at 21:00
  • @Harabeck I thought magnetospheres were important for blocking radiation? I admit I'm fairly ignorant to the real world problems of colonizing mars. Jan 13, 2021 at 21:13
  • It does block some, but as I said, the greater part of the effect comes from the mass of the atmosphere itself. The current very thin atmosphere on Mars is already thick enough such that a hypothetical human on the surface would get a radiation dose about equal to being on the ISS: jpl.nasa.gov/images/estimated-radiation-dosage-on-mars
    – Harabeck
    Jan 13, 2021 at 21:31
  • @Harabeck good reading, thanks, I think it might be the Author's ignorance rather than Bobbie, they talk about it at least once with Avasarala Jan 14, 2021 at 19:34

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