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Mars is the colony of choice for the Sol system; huge crowds flocked to emigrate to the red planet when it was first offered as a destination, including a surprising number of Americans. It has a significantly lower gravity than is comfortable, but otherwise it is a near perfect blank slate, with ample supplies of materials, water, and to some extent sunlight. There are some problems with getting the deuterium for fusion as water has to be literally mined but otherwise it is just a slightly bouncier Earth.

The terraforming effort progresses slowly, mostly due to it being used as a test case for many different methods. The spectacularly unsuccessful space based mirror, designed to focus sunlight on the poles and so release water into the atmosphere, drained the young colonies’ budget and it has only recently moved to more mechanical methods of changing the climate. These include the carbon foundries, mining, refining, and releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, and the polar furnaces, vast fusion powered facilities that pump heat into the surrounding soil and boil the ice. These gasses travel into the atmosphere, and will eventually raise the levels high enough that single celled life can be supported and this, one day, means that biological terraforming methods can be used.

Until then though, Mars has stopped being the red planet, and, due to the small but significant level of moisture in the atmosphere, is now just the muddy planet, or sometimes the redneck planet. The social structure is rather diverse, with a few large cites, with satellite towns and finally thousands of small domes spread in a fairly random pattern around the equator of the planet. The central government is mostly democratic, with a strong western bent, as American or Americanised residents make up about two thirds of the global population, which is itself about one hundred and fifty million.

Like Luna, Martian cities are all grav’ panelled and there is a strong bent towards heavy industry as it too is an easy gravity well to escape. The rapidly growing population supports massive trade to the planet, bringing finished goods, foods and other vital supplies to the planet and there is some concern that the colony is not actually self sufficient and would starve if cut off from its trade lanes.

Random Fact: Mars is the only planet other than Earth to have environmentalists, and deep in the vaults of several research centres are frozen preserves of the native microorganisms. There is some pressure to stop the planet being terraformed, but this is mostly drowned up by the people who’d like to breath.

Author’s Comment: Not much to say on Mars, it is one of the larger colonies, but so closely tied to that of Earth and Sol that it falls within the same banner much of the time. Not to mention that, as most of my plots take place in interstellar scales, it often gets ignored in favour of Earth as a setting.

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