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NASA’s Mars Outpost Isn’t a Permanent Colony — Just a Temporary “Habitation Zone”

The phrase “Mars colony” sounds a whole lot cooler, but NASA would prefer that we use “Mars outpost” instead to describe their planned efforts. NASA’s video above shows a detailed virtual tour of a concept for a “Mars surface field station,” complete with living quarters, research zones, and the rest.

Ben Bussey, NASA’s Chief Exploration Scientist, explained what’s in store to

[A colony is] a long way down the road. No one’s thinking of, on the NASA side, like a permanent human base.

The idea here is that you would have your exploration zone that you set up for the first crew. And that crew would leave, and then you send another crew at the next good launch opportunity. So it isn’t permanently occupied, but it is visited multiple times.

NASA is still deciding where the site should go on Mars; they’re evaluating 45 sites that may end up housing the outpost. Finalizing that location will require more research done by another Mars orbiter, which NASA aims to have by 2022.

There’s no mention as to when NASA predicts their own astronauts might set foot on Mars, after the orbiter helps finalize that location. Of course, there are multiple other organizations looking to put boots on the Red Planet, and their predictions seem much more … optimistic than NASA’s estimates. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has named 2026 as its planned date in the past; their website just says “near future.” Mars One, a non-profit in the Netherlands, predicts 2023 on its website. Seems soon, eh?

(via Techno Buffalo)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (, and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (