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Mars City design: 6 sci-fi cities that will blow your mind – Inverse

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As Perseverance inspires the entire world about the thrill of visiting our nearest solar neighbor, Mars, it’s easy to start fantasizing about what it will be like when human beings regularly live on the red planet in the future.

Between SpaceX and NASA, it feels reasonable that human beings will be living on Mars before the end of the century. The question is when they do, what will the first Martian cities look like?

Science fiction should never be used as an actual forecast for human culture, but it is a lot of fun to think about how sci-fi stories have imagined our future lives on Mars. Here are six of the best very best Martian cities, ranked not in order of livability, but instead, but pure sci-fi coolness.

6. Bradbury City – Mars trilogy

Ray BradburyGetty

There are several fictional cities in Kim Stanely Robinson’s seminal SF books about the settlement of Mars — Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars — so it’s hard to pick just one. But, if you have to choose only one Martian metropolis from his books, Bradbury City is the way to go.

Named for Ray Bradbury, who wrote The Martian Chronicles, Robinson’s Bradbury City is designed to recreate a city in Illinois. Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois. The Martian Chronicles features several unlikely Martian cities, some made by humans, some made by Martians. But, in almost all cases, like in “Night Meeting,” these towns and cities often have gas stations and pickup trucks.

5. Bowie Base One – Doctor Who

Bowie Base One in “The Waters of Mars.”BBC

Not exactly a city per se, but certainly a great Martian settlement in the pantheon of science fiction — if only for its name.

In the 2009 David Tennant-era Doctor Who one-off, “The Water of Mars,” the Doctor battles a type of sentient alien water called “the Flood,” that turns people into water zombies. Bowie Base One, in the Who-canon, is the first human colony on Mars, which leads to many, many others. Obviously, it’s named for David Bowie and the song “Life on Mars.”

4. Utopia Planitia – Star Trek

Paramount/CBS

In the 24th Century-era of Trek, most of the best ships in Starfleet are built at the Utopia Planitia Shipyards in orbit of Mars. The Trek franchise rarely visited Mars, although the final episodes of Enterprise Season 4 — “Terra Prime” and “Demons” — had a lot of action on the Martian surface.

Both Star Trek: Picard and its prequel, “Children of Mars,” revealed that the shipyards weren’t just in orbit of Mars, but also on the ground, which meant that a huge civilization population lived and worked on Mars prior to the Sythn revolt in 2285.

3. Londres Nova – The Expanse

Mars in The Expanse.Amazon

More than any other contemporary science fiction series, The Expanse — both the books and the TV series — have made a convincing projection of what a future Martian colony might be like.

The capital city, Londres Nova, is sometimes called “New London.” In the reality of The Expanse, what makes the settlement of Mars so interesting is the way in which it eventually just becomes totally independent from the Earth to the point at which its government is basically in direct competition with Earth for the entire solar system’s resources. By the future time period of The Expanse, Mars is basically an alien planet, populated by humans.

2. Mars Dome One – Babylon 5

Babylon 5 Mars Dome ONe.Warner Bros

Somewhat unique among science fiction, Babylon 5 started off with a lead character who was born on Mars, Commander Jeffery Sinclair. In B5, being from Mars isn’t that weird, but the politics of Mars are integral to the overall story of the series.

Mars Dome One

Mars Dome OneWarner Bros.

Mars Dome One is the biggest city there, and yes, it’s a giant dome. But, Mars Dome One and other cities in Babylon 5 are fascinating because unlike Earth, there’s more of an underworld on Mars, including an underground railroad for rogue telepaths.

1. Chyrse – Total Recall

Mars in Total Recall.TriStar

The Martian city visited by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Quaid is by far the most memorable Martian city in science fiction, even if it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

In the Philip K. Dick short story upon which Total Recall was based, “We Can Remember It For Your Wholesale,” the lead character never actually goes to Mars, at least not in the realtime of the story. The triumph of Chryse in Total Recall is the edgy naturalism of this future city. It’s sleazy, dirty, and dangerous.

Total Recall

Can you grab me a copy of Mars Today?TriStar

In Blade Runner, you’re told that humans have emigrated to a variety of other planets. Chryse in Total Recall is like the Martian city equivalent of Los Angeles in Blade Runner. You can basically imagine them existing in the same shared universe. Would author Philip K. Dick approve? Maybe!

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To help chart the cosmos, Western space researchers turn to crowd sourcing – CBC.ca

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Western University researchers have tapped the help of hundreds of amateur and professional astronomers in an effort to make sure no meteor is unable to slip by the Earth undetected.

To do that, they’re relying on the observations taken from 450 cameras in 30 different countries manned by “enthusiastic amateur astronomers” made up of professional and citizen scientists.

That data is then sent to Western University as part of what’s called the Global Meteor Network (GMN), headed by Denis Vida.

“So we have a lot of enthusiastic amateur astronomers, citizen scientists and also professionals that build, operate and maintain these cameras,” Vida told CBC’s Chris dela Torre during Afternoon Drive. “And every night they inspect the data set and send their data to a central server here at the University of Western Ontario.”

It’s not just about observing meteors – it’s about tracking what’s left of the ones that make it to the earth’s surface too.

“So we also observe a meteorite dropping fireballs,” said Vida. “They’re quite rare over an area of let’s say the country the size of France or Spain. Could only expect two to three of those fireballs a year that drop more than, let’s say, 300 grams of meteorites on the ground.”

“So because these events are very rare, it is important to observe 24/7.”

Vida explained that when one of their cameras spot one of them, they collect the data and find its location so they can retrieve what’s left for analysis – and analysis needs to happen quickly.  

“There are certain things in them, like some radionuclide to decay very quickly, but those can tell us how old the meteorite is, how long it was after it was ejected from the parent asteroid that it fell on the ground,” he said.

Vida explained that what ends up on the ground are just “several kilograms of materials” by the time they reach the earth’s surface. They aren’t hot either. They cool down on their descent.

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Global push to monitor meteor showers led by Western University – CTV News London

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MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. —
London, Ont.’s Western University is leading a worldwide effort to monitor meteor showers and meteorite falls.

The Global Meteor Network (GMN) includes more than 450 cameras in 23 countries – hosted by amateur and professional astronomers.

The goal of the project, led by Denis Vida, a postdoctoral associate at Western, is to ensure unique or rare space events are not missed.

Vida explained in a statement, “Other astronomers can pool their resources to build a big telescope on top of a mountain where the skies are dark and clear year-round, but meteor astronomers need spatial coverage most of all.”

Meteors can occur anywhere in the world, happen close to earth and often burn up at around 100 km above the surface — so they can only be well observed from within about 300 km and need to be seen by cameras in at least two places to get the exact location.

That’s where the Global Meteor Network comes in.

In March, the network helped locate a rare portion of a meteorite that landed in Winchcombe, England on Feb. 28 and figure out where in space it originated.

“Its role in the recovery and analysis of the Winchcombe meteorite fall is proof positive that GMN works,” said Vida.

The first system to observe meteorites was installed at Western in 2017, and it continues to grow as the cost of meteor cameras has declined.

GMN also publishes the orbits of all observed meteors around the world within 24 hours of observation. The location of cameras and meteor data can be seen here.

The network also hopes to better understand flight patterns and flux capacities of meteorites, and even predict future events.

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MDA gets $35.3 million contract from Canadian Space Agency for Canadarm 3 components – Times Colonist

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BRAMPTON, Ont. — The Canadian Space Agency has awarded a contract worth $35.3 million to MDA Ltd. to design a key component of Canadarm 3.

The funds will be used to design Gateway External Robotics Interfaces or grapple fixtures for Canadarm 3, which is Canada’s contribution to the United States-led Lunar Gateway, a small space station that will orbit the moon.

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The contract is a follow-on to the first phase of interface work awarded in August 2019. A construction phase will likely be awarded in about a year.

The first elements of Gateway will launch in 2024, with Canadarm 3 scheduled to launch two years later.

The contract is the third awarded to MDA for the multi-phase Canadarm 3 program valued at more than $1 billion.

Canadarm flew on 90 space shuttle missions after debuting in 1981. Canadarm 2 has been operating on the International Space Station for more than 20 years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 26, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:MDA)

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