Asked by: Edouard Peter, by email

With a bit of adaptation, some current technologies could help us set up home on Mars. One of the first priorities will be power. Nuclear fuel is dense and so can be transported to the colony relatively easily. Solar power is another option, but Mars only receives about half as much of the Sun’s energy as Earth, so we’d need significantly improved solar panels.

Mars has less gravity than Earth, too, so colonists will need large centrifuges to reduce illnesses resulting from weighing less. We’ll also have to improve the engines on spacecraft. Though weaker than on Earth, Mars’s gravity is about three times that of the Moon.

Whether through adapting existing technology or devising new propulsion systems, Mars astronauts will need stronger engines to slow space vehicles down on descent and power them up to escape velocity for the journey home.