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The Chaser’s Guide to Mars: The Stylish New Postcode

By Andrew Hansen

It’s now obvious to everyone that the Earth is doomed. I’m the first to admit the news of Earth’s impending destruction is making me a tad mopey. Not that I think about it too often. It’s something you sort of put off for another time because it’s such a nuisance. I’m sure you feel the same way. But we must face reality. You and I won’t be able to live on this planet for much longer than probably July. Because, as has been conclusively demonstrated by finer minds than ours, the whole place is going badly down the arse pipes.

However, there is hope: a shining, red hope in the night sky called Mars! This very minute, scientists are hatching brainy plans to up and move everyone from the burned out poostack we call Earth to the pristine meadows of Mars. Could there possibly be any better news than that?

So, what’s it actually like there? Well, right this minute I don’t know a great deal about living on Mars. I know a bit about living in the suburb of Burwood, but Mars is not exactly a familiar area to me. I’m not sure I’ve ever held court on the topic of Martian life at a dinner party, and if I were to go on Grand Designs, for instance, I’d be unlikely to nominate Olympus Mons as my preferred district. Moving to Mars is now a very real possibility. The only possibility, in fact, and it might just be the ideal home. I mean, we’ve all seen the photos of Mars in the news — it looks just like Afghanistan — and people live there so it’s probably fine!

The only question remaining is …is it probably fine?I decide to find out, for the purposes of this article, all the pros of moving yourself and your family permanently to Mars. The best place to start, I figure, is to hop on a plane to NASA and speak to one of their space pilots, known in the space business as ‘astronauts’. I land in Houston, Arizona. Or perhaps Houston, Texas. Wherever Houston is.

Here I am, face to face with NASA astronaut Douglas Garrett. I feel a sense of awe in the presence of this man who has seen so much, who has set foot on other worlds. What strange vibrations has he brought back with him? What mysteries lie behind the otherworldly look in his eyes?

‘What’s it like,’ I ask him, ‘standing on the surface of Mars? Does it feel like home, does it have a homely vibe?’

I pray I’ve concealed the wonderment in my voice.

‘Well,’ Garrett says, ‘I haven’t actually stood on the surface of Mars.’

Hmm. This is a curveball.

‘I thought you were an astronaut,’ I say.

‘I am. But I haven’t been to Mars.’

‘Oh dear.’

I cannot conceal my disappointment at this news.

‘Can you put me in touch with an astronaut who has?’

‘No I can’t. No one has been to Mars. What we know about Mars nowadays comes mostly from unmanned rovers.’

I’m gobsmacked. No one has been to Mars? Not a single person?

‘That’s ridiculous,’ I tell him. ‘I mean, what is the point of astronauts if you don’t go to these places? What have you spent all this time doing, eating space cronuts?’

‘Well, it takes about two years of training to become an astronaut,’ Garrett says defensively. ‘We study the workings of the International Space Station. We fly practice jets at NASA, they’re called T-38s …’

‘What a bunch of monkey’s arse!’ I shout. I decide to give this ‘astronaut’ a piece of my mind. ‘Practice jets won’t get you to Mars, Douglas. You and your sheltered little taxpayer-funded cheesewonks at NASA need to stop farting around in jets and actually get yourselves over to bloody Mars. The Martian colonies aren’t going to build themselves, you know. What about Captain Cook, hey? Did he send “unmanned rovers” to Australia? No! He got off his arse and bloody went there and built a house and met Aborigines. Now be sure you do the same!’

I storm out. But I pause at the door and turn back and say, ‘When I say do the same, I mean go to Mars. Not go to Australia and meet Aborigines. Just to be clear.’

Garrett blinks at me.

‘There’s no point in astronauts going to Australia,’ I elaborate. ‘There are no jobs for you there and you’ll have to work as waiters. You have to go to Mars.’

I point towards the sky. ‘It’s the red one, you NASA ninny!’

That showed him. At least one good thing came out of my interview. With the sound drubbing I delivered to Douglas Garrett, he’s sure to make his NASA chums hurry up and settle Mars this very instant. Next I fly to Holland to visit Mars One, a Dutch company that’s building ‘simulation outposts’ so people can practice living on Mars without the hassle of actually living there. Volunteers are cooped up for years in airless, cramped capsules — a technique based on how the Dutch produce veal. I speak to one of the heads of Mars One, a man named Bas Lansdorp.

‘Bas, that’s a funny name,’ I say.

‘It might be to you,’ he says. ‘But it’s quite common here in The Netherlands.’

‘Really? It sounds made up.’

‘No, it’s short for Sebastiaan.’

‘Ha! If you’re called Bas where I come from, you’d be a Business Activity Statement.’

Bas looks at me blankly.

‘It’s an accounting document that must be submitted quarterly to the Australian Tax Office,’ I explain. ‘A BAS.’

Come for the solitude, stay for the atmosphere.

Gosh, my interview with Bas Lansdorp didn’t reveal much about Mars, did it? Quite frustrating! Honestly, I’m at my wits’ end with this whole moving-to-Mars caper. Well, so much for experts. Useless, the lot of them! Instead of consulting experts, I conduct my very own research into the planet Mars. I use a combination of magazines, Google, taxi drivers and my own memory of things I saw on TV at one time or another. I become increasingly convinced that moving to Mars is the best possible decision you can make. In fact, even if the Earth had a bright, safe future (which it doesn’t) I’d move to Mars anyway if I were you because frankly it sounds like paradise and marshmallows! I now present the proof of that to you in the form of this remarkable list of …Nine great things about Mars that’ll make you so excited you’ll shit your pants. I tried to think of ten things but couldn’t.

1. It’s sooooo liveable
Mars: the Solar System’s second most liveable place!According to a recent study by the Melbourne-based Urban Economical Economies of Urban Suburbia Institute, Mars ranked Number 2 for liveability: Solar System Liveability Index 1. Melbourne 2. Mars 3. Venus 4. Saturn 5. Uranus 6. Mercury 7. Neptune 8. Jupiter 9. Earth (excluding Melbourne) Note: Liveability rankings were determined partly by access to healthcare and public transport but mostly by atmospheric pressure, oxygen levels and exposure to lethal cosmic radiation. Also considered was proximity to Melbourne.

2. Real estate dream
The red planet’s surface is a real estate dream. It flows over 145 million square kilometres, offering level living with easy access to al fresco dining in all directions. Your home on Mars is just a short stroll to rocks, gravel, frozen rocks and frozen gravel. It’s a blue ribbon locale, mere steps away from the vibrant cafe culture of the Borealis Basin.*

3. It’s red
The surface of Mars has a reddish appearance, due to high levels of radishes in the soil. Or so I like to think. Scientists claim the Martian soil is red because it contains iron oxide, but personally I prefer to believe it’s radishes. Anyway, just think how much fun you’ll have living somewhere red. The entire planet is a feature wall! Everything around you will be the colour of fresh, ripe cherries! Or, indeed, radishes. Honestly, this whole Mars deal is sounding better by the minute.

4. Mediterranean climate
Although temperatures near Mars’s equator hover around -70°C overnight, Mars sometimes grows pleasantly warm. It can even rise to slightly above zero! Provided it’s midday. This is why I say Mars has a ‘Mediterranean climate’. Because the coldest parts of the Mediterranean, in the dead of winter, are like Mars at midday. So remember to pack that bikini!*

5. Outdoor leisure activities
Any outdoor activity you enjoyed on Earth can be done equally well on Mars, with the exception of skiing, swimming, sailing, para-gliding, camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking, white water rafting, zip lining, skateboarding, roller blading, roller skating, ice skating, bungee jumping, cycling, tennis, football, caber tossing, walking, outdoor long distance urinating and all other outdoor activities. None of which can be done especially well on Mars at all.

6. Safety
Don’t be fooled by recent ‘reports’ claiming it’s ‘unsafe’ to pull up stakes and live on Mars. For instance, the one by the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, which concluded NASA is not well funded enough to send people safely to Mars by 2030. Pfff! What a tonne of safetywank. Who do these self-appointed space nannies think they are?Look at history’s greatest achievements. Not a single one was made by people who listened to reports. Did Alexander the Great consult aerospace reports when he conquered Persia? Did Elsa find true love in the movie Frozen by reading aerospace reports? Do influencers on Instagram acquire millions of followers by reading aerospace reports? Of course not! Ignore the reports! Just go!

You can still keep an eye on your Earth-bound property investments.

7. Not that far
In astronomical terms, Mars is just a hop, skip and a jump and a 225 million kilometre flight away. It’s nothing, really! Today’s space rockets are so fast you’ll be there before you know it. In fact they’re mostly designed by Richard Branson from Virgin Airlines, the man with the blond face. They’re probably piloted by him too. Well done, Richard! Depending on planetary orbits, Mars is sometimes much closer to Earth. At other times, like when Earth and Mars are at their aphelions, the distance can be much greater so you may have to transfer in Singapore or Dubai.That awkward moment when Earth and Mars are at their aphelions. Ha! Hahahahaha! To give you an idea of how long the journey takes, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory took 254 days to reach Mars. But that was back in 2011 — nowadays it probably only takes half an hour or so.The only way to find out is to hop on a rocket and go!

8. Low gravity
Gravity on Mars is lower than here on Earth. This has many positives. For one, you’ll lose quite a bit of weight without having to do a 30-day ab challenge. Low gravity causes you to lose calcium and have weaker bones. This is fantastic news as anyone who accidentally gets elbowed by you in the face will be hurt much less when they come into contact with your soft, malleable elbow. Lucky astronauts on the International Space Station were found to have intracranial hypertension, better known as pressure in your head that makes your optic nerves bulge. This may sound concerning, but quite the contrary. Just imagine how much more quick-thinking you’ll be with a brain that’s pressed flat like in a sandwich toaster. All your clever thoughts won’t have as far to travel. You’ll be some kind of Martian Einstein! Best of all, weightlessness rapidly decreases your blood volume because your body is designed to pump blood around in Earth gravity, not Mars gravity, so you’ll have way less blood to lug around the place. What a relief! I know how often I walk up a steep hill and think, “If only I didn’t have to carry all this inconvenient blood.”The advantages of Mars are endless!

9. All this for a fun-size price
There’s a good reason Mars bars come in ‘fun size’, because blocks of land on the planet Mars are now available at a fun-size price!Actually I’m not 100% sure that’s the reason Mars bars come in ‘fun size’. Anyway, Mars blocks start at 1 acre for USD $29.99 through the reputable company The Lunar Embassy (buymars.com). Is this land legitimate? You bet! According to the Lunar Embassy website, their founder Dennis Hope told the United Nations, the US government and the Russian government that he intended to sell pieces of land on the Moon and Mars, and guess what? ‘These governing bodies had several years in which to contest the claim and they never did.’ So it all checks out — give Dennis your money today!

The science is in. Make a seachange to Mars immediately!

* ELON MUSK will be your ruler
* Bikini not recommended on Mars. Spacesuit recommended.
* Note: Mars has not had a sea in 4 billion

This article originally appeared in The Chaser Winter Quarterly 2016: Buy it here


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