In attempting to better our non-sarcastic understanding of Mars, I’m going to look a little closer at a question someone asked the Twitter-feed the other day.
Now… I know this is a jokey sort of question, but – it does raise an interesting concept. Just how alien would a life on Mars be? Can you smoke there?
And the answer is… no. You can’t smoke weed on Mars, nor anything else. In fact, there’s no fire at all. That’s how different living on Mars will be. We won’t have fire – at least not fire as we know it.
The atmosphere on Mars is about 95% Carbon Dioxide – and only about 0.13% Oxygen. And you don’t get fire without oxygen. Not a match, not a lighter… nothing. So good luck lighting up your bongs, space-hippies!
But there are other types of fires we could try, one of which involves Magnesium.
Carbon Dioxide, as we know, is used to put out fires on Earth – but tests have taken place which would use that same CO2 on Mars as a fuel component of a martian jet-engine – using magnesium as an accelerant. The magnesium is first powdered and then mixed with the CO2, and the combination of the two allows the mixture to burn – provided we coat the magnesium powder in kerosene first.
So what does this mean for life on Mars? Well… it means we might be able to have jet-planes that travel on Mars (much lower gravity and incredibly thin atmosphere will cause other problems as well, but those are for later I guess), and we might also be able to build rockets there and launch them to return to Earth… but as for smores or pyromania, we’re pretty shit outta luck.
This did however, make me think of another question. Would a GUN work on Mars? If there’s no fire, no oxygen, would we still be able to shoot each other in the face?
And the answer to that one is… yes.
Gun powder does not require oxygen, because the powder mix in the bullet contains all the oxygen it needs. So when you pull the trigger, the firing pin ignites the explosive powder and everything happens just as it would on Earth. In fact, you can even fire a gun in the vacuum of space, and it would still be deadly. So be careful, Space Cowboys.
So that’s what I thought about yesterday – there’s never going to be a campfire on Mars, but we can still shoot each other… which seems like very much the wrong way around, but such is life on the Red Planet. (Just ask Val Kilmer… he knows what I’m talking about.)
Stay swell, do a science please.