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#1 2018-08-07 14:07:59

JoshNH4H
Moderator
From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,328
Website

Population Density

Hey everyone!

Mars has a lot of assets, but first among these is free, empty space.  As a way of understanding what Mars may be like from a lived-experience perspective I thought it would be fun to calculate how many people would live on Mars if it had a population density comparable to various places on Earth.

Mars has an area of 145 million square kilometers (56 million square miles).  As has been remarked, this is the same as the land area of all Earth's continents combined.

So, here's some comparisons.  The number corresponds to the total number of people on Mars if the planet had the same mean population density as the region noted:

The Moon during an Apollo mission: 8 people
Antarctica (Winter): 10,300 people
Antarctica (Summer): 46,600 people
Greenland: 3,740,000 people
Chukotka (Least densely populated Russian province):10,150,000 people
Alaska: 62,439,000 people
Mongolia (least densely populated country): 255,200,000 people
USA: 4,785,000,000 people
Earth [land area]: 7,250,000,000 people
United Kingdom: 39,440,000,000 people
India: 58,870,000,000
Manhattan: 3,747,000,000,000 people

Though the population of Mars will probably be rather "clumpy" (everyone is going to be dependent on centralized infrastructure for survival, meaning you probably won't find many far-flung individual family settlements on huge plots of land like you often do in the US), Mars as a whole is going to be both more sparse and more isolated than anywhere on Earth, save perhaps Antarctica, for a long, long time.


-Josh

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#2 2018-08-07 14:43:30

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,720

Re: Population Density

Nice idea...all helps to get things in perspective.

I think Mars will be like an extreme Norway for many years - in Norway about a quarter of the population live in the greater Oslo conurbation area I believe. 

Mars's first settlement will, in all likelihood, dominate the population in a similar way, but probably even more extremely so. The main settlement might hold 90% of Mars's population.

Humanity will be doing well if it can reach the Antarctica Winter level of 10,000 or so within 50 years. One of the main brakes will of course be the issue of successful procreation on Mars, which may be one of the trickiests elements of Mars colonisation.

JoshNH4H wrote:

Hey everyone!

Mars has a lot of assets, but first among these is free, empty space.  As a way of understanding what Mars may be like from a lived-experience perspective I thought it would be fun to calculate how many people would live on Mars if it had a population density comparable to various places on Earth.

Mars has an area of 145 million square kilometers (56 million square miles).  As has been remarked, this is the same as the land area of all Earth's continents combined.

So, here's some comparisons.  The number corresponds to the total number of people on Mars if the planet had the same mean population density as the region noted:

The Moon during an Apollo mission: 8 people
Antarctica (Winter): 10,300 people
Antarctica (Summer): 46,600 people
Greenland: 3,740,000 people
Chukotka (Least densely populated Russian province):10,150,000 people
Alaska: 62,439,000 people
Mongolia (least densely populated country): 255,200,000 people
USA: 4,785,000,000 people
Earth: 7,250,000,000 people
United Kingdom: 39,440,000,000 people
India: 58,870,000,000
Manhattan: 3,747,000,000,000 people

Though the population of Mars will probably be rather "clumpy" (everyone is going to be dependent on centralized infrastructure for survival, meaning you probably won't find many far-flung individual family settlements on huge plots of land like you often do in the US), Mars as a whole is going to be both more sparse and more isolated than anywhere on Earth, save perhaps Antarctica, for a long, long time.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#3 2018-08-07 15:05:46

IanM
Member
From: Chicago
Registered: 2015-12-14
Posts: 230

Re: Population Density

Going even higher with population densities on the planet:
-Macau (Current densest country/dependency): 3,090,033,880,000 people
-Manhattan at its peak population, 1910: 5,709,877,910,000 people
-Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong, 1987 (Highest human population density on record, at 3.25 million/sq mi. or 1.255 million/km^2): 181,707,500,000,000 people (about 18,000 times the number of people who have ever lived)

I think your last paragraph sums it up nicely. A colony of 12 sited on one acre (~4,000 m^2) would be 7,680 people a square mile, comparable to American suburbia. That same acre would have to house 113 colonists to have Manhattan-level density, which may or may not be feasible depending on how everything is organized and arranged, and 5,079 colonists for Kowloon density, ditto.


The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. -Paraphrased from Tsiolkovsky

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#4 2018-08-07 15:53:29

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,720

Re: Population Density

Can we see the outline of population development even at this distance? I think I see some shape to it...

I think, as on Earth, the population will be concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere.

For reasons of PV power generation, the equatorial/mid-latitudes will be favoured.

I think the Valles Mariensis/Mount Olympus region will have a natural pull from the get-go but even more so once Mars "gap year" tourism gets a hold.

But ultimately finding an easy-access water resource outside the polar regions will be a game-changer.

Last edited by louis (2018-08-07 16:50:36)


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#5 2018-08-07 16:00:02

IanM
Member
From: Chicago
Registered: 2015-12-14
Posts: 230

Re: Population Density

I agree that most people will live in the Northern Hemisphere, but for if anything the opposite reason as on Earth. On Earth, most people live in the Northern Hemisphere largely because that's where most of the land is. On Mars, however, most of the land would be in the Southern Hemisphere highlands, but post-terraformation (and even pre-terraformation) the Ocean and water would be concentrated in the North, which is thus where most people would be.


The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. -Paraphrased from Tsiolkovsky

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#6 2018-08-07 17:08:16

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,720

Re: Population Density

I would agree that terraformation would hasten the Northern Hemisphere bias.

IanM wrote:

I agree that most people will live in the Northern Hemisphere, but for if anything the opposite reason as on Earth. On Earth, most people live in the Northern Hemisphere largely because that's where most of the land is. On Mars, however, most of the land would be in the Southern Hemisphere highlands, but post-terraformation (and even pre-terraformation) the Ocean and water would be concentrated in the North, which is thus where most people would be.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#7 2018-08-07 17:17:59

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 12,522

Re: Population Density

No Oceans, Lakes or streams to devide the population from spreading out to limit or restrict the numbers that Lious will dream of starting at 1,000 but its a long ways off.
The ability to build under a dome will be an early limiter but with each growing dome count will that still restrict the quantity under them or will they want to spread out.

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#8 2018-08-07 20:35:20

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,720

Re: Population Density

Why would you build domes when people can't be protected from the radiation bearing down on Mars? 

It makes much more sense to create interesting and liveable spaces in covered gorges with natural or natural-analogue lighting.

SpaceNut wrote:

No Oceans, Lakes or streams to devide the population from spreading out to limit or restrict the numbers that Lious will dream of starting at 1,000 but its a long ways off.
The ability to build under a dome will be an early limiter but with each growing dome count will that still restrict the quantity under them or will they want to spread out.

Last edited by louis (2018-08-07 20:51:04)


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#9 2018-08-07 20:48:15

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 12,522

Re: Population Density

There are coatings that can be applied to the dome, water layers and other materials to stop most of the radiation. We do not want live as trolls under ground....why go if thats the way we are going to live. You can always seek shelter underground when it is called for....

Edit posting further info in a more appropiate topic....

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#10 2018-08-07 21:36:50

JoshNH4H
Moderator
From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,328
Website

Re: Population Density

IanM wrote:

Going even higher with population densities on the planet:
-Macau (Current densest country/dependency): 3,090,033,880,000 people
-Manhattan at its peak population, 1910: 5,709,877,910,000 people
-Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong, 1987 (Highest human population density on record, at 3.25 million/sq mi. or 1.255 million/km^2): 181,707,500,000,000 people (about 18,000 times the number of people who have ever lived)

I think your last paragraph sums it up nicely. A colony of 12 sited on one acre (~4,000 m^2) would be 7,680 people a square mile, comparable to American suburbia. That same acre would have to house 113 colonists to have Manhattan-level density, which may or may not be feasible depending on how everything is organized and arranged, and 5,079 colonists for Kowloon density, ditto.

Not that we should ever try to replicate Kowloon!

I think it's worth mentioning that a place like Manhattan is not self-sustaining, nor could it be.  There's simply not enough space or available energy to grow food to feed the population, no matter how high you build (unless you import electricity from somewhere which seems like cheating).


-Josh

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#11 2018-08-08 04:22:32

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,720

Re: Population Density

The Netherlands is probably a good example of what can be achieved. It's a smallish country with a high population density relative to other countries. It appears to have a positive food balance of around $40 billion! It produces 7% of world food exports with just 17 million people! A lot of its agriculture takes place under plastic. It also manipulates water in an energy intensive manner - I think about a third of the country is below sea level and that is only possible through constant pumping and canal/dyke management. A lot of lessons there I think!

Here's how they do it:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/maga … e-farming/


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#12 2018-08-08 21:01:01

JoshNH4H
Moderator
From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,328
Website

Re: Population Density

That's a really interesting article!

I like to see that there are people on Earth experimenting and working out these kinds of advanced, artificial indoor farming technologies.  They're really a sine qua non for human life outside planet Earth.

The Netherlands does happen to be a substantial net energy importer (35% of their electricity is imported, mostly from neighboring Germany).  It's a pretty densely populated country so they might not be able to be food sufficient and energy sufficient (with solar power) and maintain their population of 17 million in the same amount of land as they currently occupy.

For reference, if all of Mars had the same population density as the Netherlands it would have a population of 70,160,000,000 people.


-Josh

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#13 2018-08-09 03:21:56

Terraformer
Member
From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 2,826
Website

Re: Population Density

Doesn't the Netherlands import a lot of food? The balance might be positive in cash terms, but is it positive in calorific terms?


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#14 2018-08-09 06:29:29

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,720

Re: Population Density

I think with a surplus of $40 billion on food it must be positive in calorific terms, but I don't know if anyone's done the calculation. Remember, as well, they export over $5 billion worth of flowers and plants which could be converted into equivalent food production if you were so inclined.

Terraformer wrote:

Doesn't the Netherlands import a lot of food? The balance might be positive in cash terms, but is it positive in calorific terms?


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#15 2018-09-11 05:31:15

elderflower
Member
Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 856

Re: Population Density

I believe there used to be, and maybe still is, a large subsidy on natural gas in the Netherlands. This makes heated greenhouses a competitive proposition.

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#16 2018-09-11 05:40:03

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,720

Re: Population Density

If it was there before I doubt it still is...they seem to be subsidising people to move away from it:

https://nltimes.nl/2017/08/11/subsidies … atural-gas

But in terms of relevance to Mars, there's no doubt they (the Dutch government) closely tie their energy policies to the requirements of their industrial and agricutural sectors. They aren't free marketeers. There's no doubt on Mars, energy supply would be planned to match demand because it could be literally fatal not to do so, if you weren't able to provide food and life support for your growing population.

elderflower wrote:

I believe there used to be, and maybe still is, a large subsidy on natural gas in the Netherlands. This makes heated greenhouses a competitive proposition.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#17 2018-09-11 17:19:58

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 12,522

Re: Population Density

Well mars will not fall to the subsized energy or from importing it from off site; it will however need to be able to get the mass density to be able to suppy what we need 24 x7 with out failure as there probably will be no backup for at least a couple mars cycles and if we are using all that we produce or the means to send a replacement for an unknown time frame as we can not predict when it might fail on a mars cycle to be able to ship it to them.
The population could however out strip its area to live within, resource to sustain life if we do not carefully monitor how many stay to how many are new arrivals.

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