Skip to content

Week #23: Creative Writing Challenge – Mars Reporter

June 15, 2021

You are on a spaceship flying through the universe on your way to Mars to colonize it for humans. Your job is to write down everything you see as the first journalist and report back to earth.

Top post on the World Feed, March 13, 2154:

Mars is the next frontier; the next hope for humanity. Our arrival on the fourth planet from the sun represents all that human discovery and ingenuity has to offer. We have battled the depths of space, the alienness of a new horizon, and innumerable challenges in our quest for the Red Planet. As the first journalist allowed at the new colony on Mars, I will bring you an in-depth look at the journey to the planet, how the colony is functioning, and updates on integral research projects being conducted. Here’s to a brand new world folks!

Top post on the World Feed, March 20, 2154:

Long-haul flights through space have become more common place, and significantly shorter, with the advent of nuclear thermal propulsion technology. After a successful traditional chemical propellant launch from Baikonur, the nuclear reactors are fired up for the trip to Mars. This method of travel provides several tremendous advantages.

1. It protects those on the ground from nuclear radiation.

2. It provides more thrust and reduces the travel time to Mars to approximately 3 months.

3. It reduces radiation exposure from cosmic rays (which causes major health impacts) by reducing trip time.

The trip itself should be eventful and I’m looking forward to it. Future travelers can look forward to several amenities during a long-haul flight including access to books and movies, video games, zero G exercise options, cooking or art classes, and gardening. Generally those traveling to Mars will be tradesmen and women who have skills that are needed to keep the colony functioning, but during the flight there will also be options for taking MasterClasses to learn new skills that could be useful in the new world. All passengers are also required to participate in basic training that teaches survival skills needed in a zero oxygen, high stress environment. Captain Barnett describes its importance as follows: “We never know what’s going to happen out here. Everyone needs to know how to save themselves and save everyone else.”

Top post on the World Feed, July 1, 2154:

After a short shuttle flight down to the planet’s surface, we have arrived at the Mars Colony. It’s not much to look at from the surface, as the main living quarters and research facilities are all underground. This gives the colony protection from copious amounts of radiation that seep through the scant atmosphere and make it to the ground. It also provides more stability in temperature. Typical daily temperatures on Mars range from -4 to -98 degrees F. This range creates stress on infrastructure and is hard for humans to adjust to quickly, thus the underground location. Luckily Mars is not tectonically active like the Earth so the ground is much more stable.

I spoke to Gils Cooper, the head of maintenance, upon my arrival to ask about safety concerns and the infrastructure here in the colony.

“Thanks so much for chatting with me Gils. Can you tell me a little bit about the layout here in the colony and some of the safety features that have been incorporated into the construction?”

“Absolutely. The colony consists of 100 individual living quarters. Each are 10 x 10 ft. and contain sleeping, bathroom, exercise and small kitchen facilities. We have 2 large meeting rooms that can be reserved by anyone for any reason. There is 10,000 sq. ft. available for research. We also have a 10,000 sq. ft greenhouse. We imported all the lighting and we grow all of our food. In terms of safety, there are only two airlocks to get to the surface which restricts the number of potential breach areas. We have a comprehensive fire safety system and a series of bulkheads that can seal off impacted areas immediately. We recycle all our air and water and use sterilized feces for fertilizer in the greenhouse. We are a completely closed system.”

“Wow, that’s impressive. What happens if there is a catastrophic system failure?”

“Well, we have some of the smartest minds here in the colony, but if they can’t figure out a fix in time, we have emergency shuttles that can evacuate to a series of space stations orbiting the planet within about 2 hours.”

“Thanks so much for your time. I look forward to exploring!”

Top post on the World Feed July 4, 2154:

After 4 days of exploration, I have been consistently impressed with the human capacity for ingenuity. Everything here is meant to use as little resource as possible and recycle everything. Thinking that beyond the metal surrounding me is a vast expanse of land that will surely kill me is terrifying, but the scientists and engineers here have made a colony that can keep that scary landscape at bay. It’s exhilarating.

I spent the last few days speaking to the scientists here doing research on Mars and what they hope to achieve with that research. I spoke to Dr. Argav Bilawi first.

“Thanks for speaking to me Dr. Bilawi. Could you tell me a little bit about your research?”

“Yes, thanks for having me. My primary research areas investigate extant and extinct life on Mars and the biosignatures that these organisms leave. We have found newly exposed areas on the planet’s surface containing microbial fossils of extinct organisms. We are currently classifying them and learning about their morphology and behavior. We have also found areas of frozen water underground that contain living microbes. We are trying to grow them in the laboratory to figure out more about their chemistry, how they resist freezing themselves, and how their metabolism works. It is very important work in order to understand how life has evolved based on the physical constraints of the planet. We could learn a lot from these single celled creatures about survival on Mars.”

“Wow, that’s exciting. Thanks for sharing that.”

Next I chatted with Dr. Melanie Brooks about her research on the Mars atmosphere.

“Thanks for speaking with me Dr. Brooks. Could you tell us a little bit about your research here?”

“Absolutely. My research is all about the evolution of the Mars atmosphere. It was once believed that the Mars atmosphere was much thicker, but solar winds have stripped it from the planet. My goals are to figure out why this happened and the timeline that it happened on. This could help us learn more about solar winds and how they might interact with atmospheres on all the planets in our solar system and predict what might happen to them in the future.”

“That sounds really important because the atmosphere plays a critical part in the survival of organisms right?”

“Absolutely. An atmosphere is generally made up of gaseous chemicals. On Earth we have evolved to breathe some of them in a way that’s integral to our metabolism. Outside of that, many of these chemicals reflect or absorb radiation coming in from space. They essentially provide some built in sunscreen from that harmful radiation. Also, without an atmosphere, there’s no chance for a greenhouse effect to occur and it would be impossible to regulate the temperature on the surface. That’s why we have such a large daily swing in temperature here on Mars, and we don’t on Earth.”

“That’s fascinating. Thanks for describing that for our readers. I also have some non-research questions for you as well if you’re up for it.”


“Well I believe that you’re a single mother and you decided to bring your teenage son to Mars with you. Many have viewed this as irresponsible and others have applauded you. How has your son adjusted and are you happy with your decision to bring him?”

“Yes, I’m a single mother. My husband died in the 4th World War in the Australian Fighter Jet Unit. My son was 10 when I was chosen for the mission and he was a space junkie. He also showed some serious aptitude in mathematics. But no matter how smart a ten year old is, the ten year-old brain isn’t developed enough to understand why their mother wants to leave them, possibly for forever. We had several conversations together about the risks and benefits and put together a list of requests for the United Space Agency, and they actually said yes. They were excited about having a young crew member to measure his reactions to long-haul space travel and the reduced gravity on Mars.”

“What was on your list of requests? If you don’t mind sharing.”

“Well number one was that if they wanted to do physiological research, the United Space Agency had to get my permission, but Ben had the final say no matter what. We were both also very concerned about him growing up in a high stress environment with all adults. We requested a friend be allowed to come. And it just so happens that the couple in charge of the greenhouse have a daughter about the same age that Ben had become friends with. They were going to leave her with a grandmother, but we convinced everyone that she should come too.”

“Oooh. How has that worked out now that they’re both a bit older?”

“Well, Ben is 16 now. You can ask him about his own love life if you want. Pretty sure I would be in the doghouse if I told the world about it.”

“Thanks so much for your time Dr. Brooks.”

Top post on the World Feed July 7, 2154:

I’ll be catching a shuttle back to one of the space stations orbiting Mars later today and I’ll be on the next re-supply ship headed back to Earth by the end of the week. After my week on the Mars Colony I have several takeaway thoughts:

  1. Human grit can overcome anything.
  2. Just because something is dangerous doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
  3. There is always more to discover and it can help us understand things we didn’t know we didn’t understand.
  4. There are an infinite number of circumstances that humans can survive in when we work together.
  5. I am proud to be a human.

See you when I get back Earth-side.

**NASA and similar organizations in other countries have sent or are planning to send numerous missions to Mars. Many of the things here are factual based on our current knowledge of the planet, and I found tons of helpful information about Mars here.

** There is also a wonderful YouTube channel called “Answers With Joe” that has a lot of well-researched videos about space travel and missions to Mars, as well as other interesting science-y stuff.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Yael Kisel permalink
    August 14, 2021 5:27 am

    Love this! I love how well thought out it is, and how non dramatic. Just people exploring and doing science!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: