Mars Map Reveals Where Humans Could Build the First Martian Metropolis

With the development of SpaceX’s Big Fucking Rocket (BFR) potentially underway the dream of sending humans to Mars has never been more alive. Elon Musk even has ideas on how the Martian government could operate, but before we establish the Democratic Republic of Mars we have to figure out where exactly the first space colonists would set up shop.

It turns out the age-old real estate mantra location, location, location is extraordinarily important when you’re trying to establish a settlement on a partially inhospitable planet. That’s why two scientists at the Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands have created an animated map that pinpoints the best spots for future cosmic explorers to begin constructing the first Martian metropolis.

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This atlas of the red planet is centered around the fact that interplanetary citizens will need suitable soil for their crops. Growing food like potatoes in space is far from just a cool science fiction concept from The Martian. Wieger Wamelink and his partner Line Schug divided swaths of the planet’s surface depending on the composition of the soil. The less heavy metals found in the ground, the better it is for farming.

Map of the ideal landing sites on Mars from a plant perspective. Blue colors indicate high potentials, with the darkest blue as the best sites; red colors indicate less good sites with dark red as the worst.Wageningen University & Research / Wieger Wamelink / Line Schug

This means the heavy metal-rich areas around the highest point on Mars, a colossal volcano known as Olympus Mons, can’t sustain vegetation. While a low-lying plain on the planet’s northern hemisphere named Acidalia Planitia, is perfectly suited for a farm. This region is chock-full of ice and regolith — or Martian sand — which can be used as agricultural resources.

“High levels of heavy metals in the soil and strong radiation make a location unsuitable for establishment,” says Schug in a statement. “While we see high temperatures or calcium levels and a relatively flat terrain as positive.”

So it seems like if we ever do make it to the red planet, the first condos on our planetary neighbor will almost certainly be found in a Martian prairie.