Equipment for autonomous growth

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What equipment will settlers on Mars need to be really independent from Earth on the long term? This article wants to define the Equipment for Autonomous Growth to enable a colony to thrive, entirely based upon local resources.

Mining equipment

The most critical technology is mining. It provides almost every material the growing colony needs: water, iron, silicon, etc.

Construction technique

A growing colony needs to build more and larger buildings. An initial set of machines, measuring devices, formwork etc. should be brought to Mars.


See page Energy.


This item might be disputed, but computers are surely a great help for any other technology.


The access to Earth's internet is definity not necessary for an autonomous colony, but it helps to exchange technological, scientific and cultural news, which might be beneficial for both Mars and Earth.


Since sunlight is not as bright as on Earth the construction of biotechnological factories can help to provide enough food for the settlers.

Synthetic materials

Almost any technology requires a whole lot of synthetic materials: plastics, oil, acids, etc., that is produced by chemical processes.

Reproductive Technology

Every machine and every gadget has a limited livetime. It must be replaced periodically to keep the function alive. As a principle, the equipment brought to Mars must be constructed simple enough to allow a repair and duplication from local resources. The periodic repair and maintenance process must not consume more material, energy and time than the colony can afford. Recycling is supposed to save a lot.

Example: Repair of digging machines

Digging machines produce ore. The furnace transforms ore to iron. A steel plant makes steel out of the iron. And the steel must be forged to parts for digging machines. The circle is closed.

Example: Repair of solar panels

Solar panels provide electricity, which will be used to create more silicon for photo-voltaic cells.

Example: Repair of electronics

The most complex thing to replace is, perhaps, the computer. It needs high-tech processes and special substances to made all the electronical devices within a computer. There are two ways for coping with this challenge: Either abstain from any electronics on Mars, or find a way to produce simple electronics that can be made from local Martian resources.

Open Issues


"Would it be possible to abstain from any electronics on Mars? - Rfc"

  • Is it possible to abstain from any electronics on Mars? This is an essential question as it may decide about the technological long term stability of a Martian colony.
  • I'm not even sure what the question means, can you please elaborate? Peter 20:17, 25 November 2007 (UTC)
  • I think what is meant (Rfc, correct me if I'm wrong) is that is it possible for colonists to live in an established colony (I can't even remotely see how this is possible for early settlements) with the bare minimal of electronics (apart from life-support systems I assume) - a minimalist existence (akin to "Areophany" as established by the character Hiroko in the novel Red Mars)? -- Ioneill 22:08, 25 November 2007 (UTC)

See also