29 September 2014

What We Will Fight Over: MARS

Mars has always been a world with secrets, and that has propelled mankind to launch dozens of unmanned exploration missions to the Red Planet in the vain hope of understanding the enigma that has captured imaginations of man since ancient times. Even with orbiting satellites and robotic rovers, Mars is like any woman, refusing to give up all of her secrets. This has driving mankind's long-held desire for manned missions to the 4th planet. In my lifetime, mankind will travel to the cold red deserts of the fourth rock from the sun and plant flags, and soon after, off-world colonies. What we find there, and how Terran society progress (or regresses) will determine if Mars is a second home to humanity or a battleground. In this installment of the What We Will Fight Over blogpost serial, FWS will be examining the truth behind sci-fi's love of setting future conflicts on the rust red sands of Mars and if the genesis of future wars will be for the control of Mars. By the way, Kim Stanley Robinson's excellent Red/Blue/Green Mars books are not mentioned in the sci-fi examples section...I simply could not find enough online about the revolt in the 3rd book without reading the novels...and with a newborn in the house, I could not devote the time. If you have read the novels, please comment and tell FWS about the trilogy and the revolt.

Fighting on Mars and Fighting for Mars

In this blog serial, FWS attempts to answer the question of the genesis of future conflicts. There is little doubt in my mind, that like many places on Earth, Mars will be a site of future conflicts, much like Luna or Belgium. This will depend on how important Mars is to humanity and how easy it is to get to the red planet. These will determine if these future conflicts will be just waged on Mars or for it. Fighting over Mars would be for its minerals or some other resources we are not yet aware of, or even a war of independence by Mars-born humans. Science fiction portrays the future of Mars the same way: either the war is over Mars or just fought on the planet itself because people just happen to live there. In this blogpost, FWS will be mainly discussing wars fought over Mars.   

The Possible Roots of War
Why would Terrans and Martians fight? Some creators tell us that since Mars will be one of the first humanity off-world colonies, that by the time we push out further and beyond the solar system, Mars will have grown into more complex society than most pioneer colonial sites. That complexity could lead to a lack of dependence and loyalty to Terra and the “mother” society. These newly minted "Martians" could desire for their own destiny to be under their own control and government that was not some 6-8 months away. This has happened before. While the revolution of the American colonies against the rule of Britain could be chalked up to several core reasons, one is that we moved on and developed their own independent society. Many pioneer types have forged their communities and live-styles when striking out on their own. After all, living on Mars could mean living in underground communities due to the radiation. This happens with children when they move away from home and began having their own families. Other creators, like Kim Stanley Robinson and Ashely Wood have said that independent thinking Martian society will attempt new social models or even "workers’ paradise", and this could forge a frosty relationship between the red and blue planets. 

The Likelihood of an Martian War
The likelihood of a war on the red planet really depends on what really is on the surface Mars and under the sands and rocks once we get to these cold deserts. As I said above, if humans go to Mars and setup permit colonies, at some point, there will be an armed conflict of some kind. However, a "big" Martian War does depend on what secrets and treasures lay on and under the red planet. Some articles I've read on online suggest that Mars is no place for future space miners to get rich. 
While the meteorites and the volcanos are good candidates for resources, Mars lacks the riches found on other solar system worlds and especially asteroids. Soil samples have shown iron, aluminum, and magnesium, but nothing worth the cost of transport to Terran business and customers. The best region for mining on Mars is the Tharsis Region. One of the present debates on Mars could determine the future of mankind on the red planet: how much water is on Mars? If the planet lacks water in great supply, and this could limit the amount of settlement and desirability of Mars, lessening the opportunity for war. If there is enough ice under the deserts and rocks, it would mean water resources, allowing for greater colonization. Some have suggested that a outpost on Mars or even the moons, could be a logically place for harvesting asteroids and being a hub for asteroid mined minerals being shipped back to Terra. That could be the genesis of an red planet wars. Wars fought on and over Mars could increase if Mars is ever terraformed, and becomes an 2nd homeworld of humanity if climate change renders Terra impossible to live on.   
However, the real reason we might fight over Mars is not minerals, but lost relics and ruins. Since the Mariner 9 mission in 1971, photos have been coming back from Mars that may or may not show ruins of a vast civilization on the same level as the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. This is not just contained to vast engineered structures, but also odd bits of scattered technology, and even art work. The internet was a buzz about a female statue that Spirit discovered in 2007 as seen in JPL photo PIA102014. Could this be the real genesis of future wars on the red planet? After all, wars waged over alien ruins have been featured in Total Recall, Stargate, Mass Effect and Semper Mars. Of course, all of this assumes that Richard Hoagland is right, and there really are ruins of Mars and NASA is covering up the evidence. 

Martian War of Independence?
One of the most common conflicts involving Mars in sci-fi is the Martian Revolt scenario, when the "Martians” attempt to form an independent red planet from the blue planet and their controlling government or evil coporation. The concept of a Martian war of independence has been a very popular root of future conflicts in science fiction and was seen in the mainstream works like the Babylon 5 TV series and the Red Faction video games. Even I have been guilty of trope of sci-fi, including a liberated independent Mars in my own novel: Endangered Species
These future conflict scenarios depend largely on if these Martians can sustain their own population without the help of Terra and her resources. Given the length of travel time between Terra and Mars, any operation on Mars of any size would need to be mostly self-sustaining, and some believe that any Martian settlement would use 3D printer technology and the materials found in the soil to forge tools and machinery. But 3D printers can only get us so far...for there to be a fully independent Mars, all of the red planet’s needs would have to be met via other resources in the solar system. If the independent Mars settlement survived, they could compete with Terra for intersystem resources and real estate. This could lead to wars between Terrans and Martians. Of course, if Mars was to be the site of valuable ore that is unknown to us today, and their is profit to be made from its extraction, Mars and the workers could be under tight control, especially if Earth was depend on this Martian product. Such was the vehicle for red planet revolts in Zone of the Enders and Red Factions
Why Are Wars on Mars so Popular in Science Fiction?
Mars has mystified and inspirited mankind since it was discovered that there was a red planet in our solar system. The mystery only deepened with the aid of telescopes, as canals, ice caps, and vegetation bands were seen. This fueled visions of alien life struggling to bring water from the caps to their cities. Mars was world under the force of desertification. These "canals" caused Mars to be featured in some of the earliest science fiction stories, as the source of alien invasions.  This trend started with the very first genuine science fiction novel, War of the Worlds in 1898 featuring alien invasion from Mars. Within the same year of publication, there was the non-official sequel, Edison’s Conquest of Mars also in 1898, that expanded on this theme of alien invaders from Mars. This theme continues today with the films like John Carter of Mars.  
Another reasons for the popularity of Mars based conflicts is also due to the proximity to Earth, and similarity to Earth's deserts. After all, Mars appears more similar to New Mexico than truly alien planetary environments like Venus or Titan. With Mars being basically next door in terms of galactic distances, allows for Mars to be a logically "next big step" for manned space flight. In conjunction with the planetary environment, Mars seems like a logical site for Terran colonization, and could be the foundation of human spreading out into the solar system, and beyond. This could propel Mars to boast the second largest human population within a few hundred years, and a separate "Martian" society. This is one of the reasons why "revolts on the red planet" are popular in science fiction.
Oddly, while Mars was often the site of alien invasions by dying civilizations in sci-fi, space probes to the red planet soon revealed that there could be something in open rust-colored deserts and valleys to support the claims. Images that possibly showed pyramids, faces, statues, and fortresses  were the subject of countless books, websites, and direct-to-video specials. All of this supports what my friend John says: "Mars is a super creepy place." Of course, the most obviously reason is that Mars is named for the Roman war god, and this gives Mars a violent air to it along with being red in color. Even Holst’s score for red planet reflects that.     


The Martian Independence Movement from the Babylon 5 Universe
According to B5, Mars is the oldest off-world settlement with a colony being established in 2155 by the private exploration firm, IPX. For one hundred years, Mars established itself as a center of scientific research, mining, and a place where companies and the governments could hide clandestine activities. All of this was under the control of EarthGov. By the 2250’s, Mars had a population of over one million with a number of domed cities and underground structures. 
Some governments and corporations used Mars as a place for secret research, drawing the hatred of native Martians. Much like there were divisions among ethnic and racial groups on Earth, the same was true with native born Martians and Terrans. This only seperated the two planets further and further. However, the worse was to come during the bloody Earth-Minbari War. During the war, Mars stated that it was neutral in the conflict, and the Minbari fleets passed by Mars on their way to Earth. EarthGov would not forget this, and after the chaos after the war, EarthGov cut back the food shipments to Mars, leading the Food Riots of 2251 and fueling the fever of red planet independence. By the 2260's, the situation had grown much worse, and President Clark used forced when several of the Earth Alliance colonies along with the Babylon 5 station broke away. No one felt his wrath worse than Mars. After the liberation of Mars from Clark, Mars was given independence, as per the conditions of the Interstellar Alliance. Mars would join the Interstellar Alliance as well as independent world. Mars would      

The Great War from the World War Robot Universe
In the alternate universe of WWR, created by husband-and-wife artists Ashley Wood and TP Louise, Mars is a battleground between the Atheists and the fanatics (I guess I’m moving to Mars). This conflict, called “The Great War”, started in July of 1986 when the Earth Coalition arrested the Martian foreign ministry. In the middle of this conflict was Darwin Rothchild, the founder of Rothchild Corporation, who supplied the combat robots to both sides in the conflict. Many of these war-bots were painted in camouflaged pattern of off-world locations, like Luna, Demios, and Cydonia. Also involved in The Great War are the factions of NOM and the robot pirates of MOD, along with the gasmask wearing Nom de Plume. The atheist settlements on Mars are underground, due to the radiation and thin atmosphere.  
The Mars Rebellion from Two Hour Wargaming's 5150: First Contact
Two Hour Wargaming has a game set in their Star Empire universe on a revolting Mars. The Martian rebels, called “Sahadeen” are waging an open war for their independence from the Earth. The Sahadeen effort are given military and technological aid by the Empire of Gaea Prime. Two Hour Wargaming has produced a line of Earth and Martian 15mm model units can be used for these military science fiction games. Honestly, I love the basic storyline of an Martian revolt being aid by an alien government outside our star system.  

Post-Golden Age Mars from the  Destiny Universe
Mars is shown to be humanity’s first contact with the godly sphere that is known as “the Traveler”. In the Mars cinematic opening, we see three astronauts armed with Colt Commando carbines landing on Mars via a capsule, as they crest a mountain on Mars, they see The Traveler looming over a raining sky. Mars had a sizable population during the mankind’s Golden Age, however, it was also a bloody battlesite as the armies of darkness push back humanity. During the game, the player and their friends acting as Guardians, fight on Mars to liberate the red planet from the grip of darkness. Mars is seen with the ruins of the Golden Age, and an nonbreathable atmosphere

The Crystal War on Mars from Legos' Mars Mission toyline
Even in the realm of Legos, Mars is a hostile place with riches worth fighting over. According to the story, human astronauts undercover special Martian crystals that could the answer to Earth's energy crisis, however, someone else wants them: the aliens. The exploration and mining missions was canceled, and the astronauts armed their vehicles for war. From 2007-2009, Lego would release about 30 sets devoted to the war on Mars. Along with the plastics pieces of joy, Lego also created the popular web-based video game "CrystAlien conflict"allowing players to take control of either alien or human astronaut-soldiers in the fight for the crystals.

The Shadow Raids on Mars from the STARCOM: The US Space Force Universe
Back in 1987, Coleco toys would release a line of military science fiction toys that depicted an near-future US military space force called STARCOM located in combat against the mad scientist Emperor Dark and his space terrorists forces. One of the key elements of the tension between the Shadow Force and the STARCOM is over the alien artifacts recovered on Mars, known as “the Obelisks”. Mars is also the site of the US largest off-world real estate, the domed city known as Aras with a population of over 20,000 civilians, along with a sizable STARCOM presence. Along with industrial and commerce activities, Mars is the site of archeological exploration of the alien ruins belonging to an race known as “the builders”. Shadow forces and STARCOM often crash on the cold deserts of Mars.  

Mars of 1889 from the SPACE: 1889 Universe

The RPG gaming company that developed Traveler, Twilight 2000, and 2300 AD, Games Designer’s Workshop developed a colonial 19th century era space combat game called Space: 1889. Thomas Edison develops the “ether propellant” in 1870’s, allowing for space exploration of Luna, Venus, and Mars. On Mars, the “liftwood” is found, allowing for armed airships to patrol the pink skies of the red planet. On Mars, Terran imperial powers, like France, German, Japan, and the British develop colonial sites and commerce activities with heavy colonial military presences. However, while the red planet is dying, is not unpopulated. Three different Martian civilizations occupy Mars: the Canal Martians, the Hill Martians, and the High Martians. Some of these are hostile to the Terran nations, other attempt to share the red planet with the outsiders, while the more hostile High Martians attack Terran outposts and raid for slaves. Space: 1889 is one of those interesting combinations of history, alternate history, and space opera. I've always personally loved Space: 1889. 

The UAC Mars City from the DOOM Universe
Mars and her moons have been the setting many of the DOOM games, especially the 2005 3rd installment. The United Aerospace Corporation runs an extensive operation on Mars. From the main underground city to countless little labs and bases, the UAC as invested billions into their Mars operations along with thousands of employees and contractors. We all know the type of combat seen in the games, but the 3rd game added the mythos of ancient and wiped out Martian species that developed the Soul Cube to defeat the spawn of Hell. DOOM 3 used the longheld enigma of Mars to full advantage here.  It is rumored that the fourth reboot DOOM will also feature Mars or her moons as the backdrop to the war against Hell.

The Zio-Matrix Mars Coup from Armored Corps II
In the 4th Armored Corps mech-combat video game, the second largest Terran company, Zio-Matrix embarks on a terraforming mission on the red planet, attracting the attention of other corporations and mercenary units. This disrupts the plans that Zio-Matrix had for their Blue Mars, and the results in the Three Company War on Mars. Towards the end of the war, the Zio-Matrix attempts an coup against the Earth government based on Mars. Your character is a member of the Ravens PMC mecha group, and your job is to save Mars and her civilians from Zio-Matrix and prevent the Earth government of Mars from collapsing. I played Armored Corps 2 back in 2003, and liked the game pretty well, and was impressed by sweet mecha combat on the surface of Mars. 

Faction Conflicts from Mars: War Logs
The French game developer Spiders created an action RPG for the PC and latest home console systems called Mars: War Logs in 2013. Set an hundred years after massive losing revolt, Mars is experiencing hard times, where water and basic needs are the order of the day. Added to this are various factions and heavy-handed government forces. Mars is also plagued by radiation and mutant species. Mars: War Logs is a unique setting for a Martian wars, especially the cyberpunk ascept.

The Martian Mine Workers Revolt from the Red Faction Universe
Since 2001, the Red Faction series has been exploring and fighting a war of Martian independance from the evil Ultor Corporation. In 2075, a dying Earth is reliant on the mining of Mars to support the blue world, and Utlor Corporation is the main company involved in the mining of Mars. Attempting to reap bigger profits, worker conditions are bad, leading to a vast sickness with no known cure. After the arrival of an Terran named Parker, and an incident when a Utlor guard kills an miner, the Mars mining workers revolt. Given the popularity of Red Faction, this game continued the seeding of the theme of Martian workers revolting and attempting to liberate themselves from a evil Terran corporation in sci-fi. More games in the Red Faction series have been released. 

The Attack on Mars Base Sara from ROBOTECH and Macross
In the groundbreaking anime series, ROBOTECH, Mars was once home to an fairly large military/scientific base, called Sara. The Sara Base was established during or just before the Global Civil War, and Lisa Hayes had her first love, Karl Riber stationed here to avoid the chaos on Earth. At some point, other human forces attacked and wiped out Sara Base and the personnel or force them off of Mars. In the original Macross series, anti-unification factions after the Global Civil War force the evacuation of Sara Base. During their escape, the terrorist forces attack their ship in a captured space destroyer, and kill the base personnel, including Karl Riber.
In the recent ROBOTECH: Invasion comics, it was started that a scout force of Zentraedi were responsible for the base being abandoned. In the 7th episode of ROBOTECH, the SDF-1 lands on Mars after an radio signal is picked up. Captain Gloval believes that Sara Base would be a good opportunity to restock in supplies. However, Zentraedi forces are waiting. The result is the SDF-1 being held captive by alien gravity mines, and a desperate battle on the ground of Sara Base by the RDF. Lisa Hayes overloads the reflex generator to destroy the mines, allowing the SDF-1 to escape. Mars is never reoccupied by Earth Forces.  Of course, in the 3rd Generation of ROBOTECH, it is said repeatedly that REF Scott Bernard spent time on Mars, and belongs to the 21st Mars Battalion. The series never makes it clear on how Bernard and Mars are connected, and it seems to be holdover from the original MOSPEADA anime series.

The Enders Revolt from the Zone of the Enders Universe
In 2173, the citizens of the planet Mars, called "Enders" by the Terrans revolt against the heavy-handed Terran government. Much like the other Enders revolt in the solar system, the Orbital Frame mecha is used as the tool of revolt and liberation. These mecha are based on the technology that is powered by the "Metatron" ore found on the Joviah moon of Callisto. The NES Gameboy Advance  Zone of the Enders 2001 game; the Fists of Mars is fully devoted to the plight of the Mars Enders revolt.

The Federals vs. the Mutant Rebels from Total Recall (1990)
In the 1990 film Total Recall, Mars, settled by the "Northern Bloc" at great expense, and with the Cold/HotWar on Earth between the different political entities, Mars becomes more important with the discovery of "turbinium". One of the main reasons for the massive Martian Federal colonies on Mars was this mysterious ore-fuel that the Federal mined called "turbinium". The film never makes the role of this turbinium clear in the economics of 2084, but it could be taking the place of conventional fossil fuels on Terra. Some fans have speculated that trubinium is like Helium-3 and powers military space vehicles. This fuel and the its importance on the Northern Bloc's war effort, allows for major dick-bag Vilos Cohaagen to be an dictator with absolute rein over the population. While the trubinium flows, he stays in power. One of the elements screwing with Cohaagen was the mutant uprising that was led by Kuato. The mutants were created from some of the first settlers of Mars that were exposed to radiation via cheap domes that Cohaagen. These mutants are the untouchables of the Mars Federal Colonies and as long as Cohaagen is in power, they will never be more than outsiders. News reports are fulled with bombs, protests, and gunbattles fought between the mutants and the Mars Federal Police. All that changes when Quaid comes back to Mars, and finally removes Cohaagen from power.

Next Time On FWS...
Without a doubt 1986's ALIENS altered my life, and forged my deep passionate love affair with military science fiction. For me, this film and its universe are holy, and worthy of praise and worship. However, if it makes money, someone will exploit it for cold hard cash, and that is what Kenner did with their attempted (and stillborn) Operation: ALIENS cartoon series that was going to tie into the Kenner ALIENS toyline of 1992-1995...which was the same time I was in high school. In the next installment of Military Sci-Fi Oddities, FWS will be exploring and attempting to explain the effort by Kenner to create an ALIENS cartoon for kids.


  1. Hi William
    Great post and interesting topic

    Here some other reasons for fighting over Mars that you or other MSF writers can use for your future FUTURE WAR STORIES:

    1. Fighting over the ruins of lost Martian civilization might not be for retrieve alien technology at all! The discovery of lost intelligent creatures that lived billions of years before the first human appear on earth could serially affect the religious and philosophic beliefs of humanity.
    This can cause religious nations/factions on earth to destroy or cover-up the Martian civilization remains while more secular nations/factions fight to protect them.
    Think of the Taliban blowing centuries old Buddha statues in Afghanistan and extrapolate it to future Taliban blowing eons old Mars Face to protect their world view.

    2. Even if Mars habitat in the past only microorganism - that can also be a reason to fight.
    Such a microorganism, created on different world with separate evolution path, could be a treasure for the bio-engineering industry back on earth and something to fight about.

    3. Scarier scenario for Mars microorganism is using it as a bio-weapon on earth.
    Every microorganism that can create spores that can last billion of years underground will be an ideal candidate for using in bombs & missiles, like the Anthrax is.
    This coupled with the fact that human immune systems will be helpless against this space bag makes any Mars microorganism a really dangers shit.
    Again, modern example – a few years ago I read that al-qaeda researched the possibility of digging graves of Spanish flu victims to retrieve from the corpse lungs the deadly virus.

    This staff about human waging wars on Mars to salvage ancient alien techno sounds unrealistic for two reasons:

    1. Any useful technology that might have been there billions years ago was long gone.

    2. If a nation have the technology to deploy armies and fight on mars surface meaning they already have advance tech. If the dead alien had even better tech than the future space marines have, why did they used it to leave their dying world and colonized… say, just idea… earth?


    1. Maybe they did & humans are the aliens that colonized earth . Then Mikael bay explosion came & we forgot the advanced tech.

  2. Martian Colonization would likely set the scale of conflict for mars wars. In the first days of a mars mission conflicts would likely be non existent as only a few dozen people would be on the planet. as mars colones expand. and it gets to a population comparable to the western territories in the Early US. Where you have Prefabricated townships propping up Wars would likely be akin to the cattle and Sheep wars or the Railroad wars where settlements would feud over food, mining and settlement claims. these early small conflicts might be fought with advanced small arms smuggled or built on the planet. maybe simple drones and crude fighting machines nothing really sophisticated.
    Things would really get interesting once settlements reach a sophisticated scale with large cities ( likely domed) and a large Martian population is established. that is when Earth really would start loosing control. As these large settlements would likely have large water processing and Greenhouse dome producing enough basic nutrition to at least establish sustained growth levels, and the Marian colones would at that point be able to manufacture and process there own materials either harvested form Mars or the Asteroid belt or both to the production of there own indigenous shipping and defense materials.
    At this point Earth would have two options one grant them autonomy, Option two move to try and reestablish dominance with a military action a blockade or occupation, Three blood red Mars, bombard the colones into a earlier level of development. how the Martians react and the options available to Earth gov would depend on how developed the Martian defense is. If The mars forces have access to there own military shipping say through defection of Earth war ships with pro-Martian crews then Things get interesting in space as both sides battle from the red to the blue. If Mars forces are limited to ground pounders it gets really ugly as Martian forces would be blasted form above if they massed for a force on force fight so expect battles of resistance and Guerrilla campaigns.
    Now I shoot down the lost Martian civilization battle for a couple reasons.
    1 unless these are god like aliens chances are any goodies we might want are long gone.
    2 if there were any ruins chances are the cost of getting to them would prohibit any neo Taliban from getting at them. and the religious principles would likely demand the destruction of the colony more then the ruins.

    I also question the microorganism bio weapons. Although Humans might not have anyway of responding the microorganisms of Mars, If they live would be more of a threat to Earth's environment then humanity. the microorganisms of mars would have evolved for mars and mars unless you believe in Native Martians, lacks any really advanced multi-cellular life like humans.
    The Super flu's like the Spanish Flu is believed to have started when a bird flu jumped species to pigs and form pigs as a intermediary to humans. Sure you could try and weaponize martian microbs but why not just use a already lethal human bug? imagine Ibola let loose in a Martian dome. nasty.
    Of course if you want kill the population of a Dome your best bet would be to shatter it or attack it's supply of water,food or even better air.

  3. A nice rundown on the role the red planet has played in human science fiction (in particular militarized fiction). One thing I would like to point out is that the picture from the Mariner 9 mission that purports to show ruins of a city, pyramid and "face" have long since proven to show simple rock formations. The "face" of Mars in particular is just an optical illusion caused by the angle of shadows and erosion. Another picture from a later mission showing the same spot no longer shows the face even though the rock formation is the same.

    Then again it is possible that Mars was Earth like in the ancient past and who knows what might be discovered. I have doubts there was ever sentient life or even animal life we think of here on Earth. Yet single celled or primitive life could have existed before the magnetic field and the atmosphere disappeared from Mars.

  4. Maybe it has to do with products like War of the Worlds that have psychologically reinforced the concept, but it seems somehow logically that Mars would hold secrets and ruins. While I agree with you guys about the inability of a intelligence Martian civilization prior to the atmosphere blowing off, it somehow would not surprise me that aliens had been on Mars and her oddball moons.
    Keep up the great comments!

  5. Fascinating post.
    Interestingly I've been working on my own martian war scenario, although in this case it is warring cities after earth withdrew its support. Although the cities are self supporting, they are always low on resources, and their militaries reflect this. Power, is cheap, but material is rare, which leads to things like no machinguns, as they are to wastefull of ammunition. Also, due to limited chmical supplies, their guns are not conventional firearms with cartidges, the handheld ones are based on combustion light gas guns, or electrothermal light gas guns, with heavier weapons often taking the form of gauss cannons. Vehicles are valuble but common, most of them ruggedised varients of what NASA has planned for MArs mission, with a simple weapons mount bolted on the top. Battles tend to be covert operations, or fast moving firefights between packs of light vehicles. Airial support is unknown, and drones are rare as the resurces are more valuble applied elsewhere. The reasons for the battles are conflict over the hundreds of autonomous mining and water gathering installations.
    Hope someone found that interesting, just an idea of what the fighting could be like if it was to occur.

  6. Aerial combat in Mars skies is not likely.

    The low air density, 1% of earth at sea level, mean that any heavier or lighter than air vessel will not a have enough levitation to support its weight.
    The air density at mars surface is equal to earth air density in 35Km altitude.
    Any fixed wind craft moving in mars atmosphere will have to fly at supersonic. That means also that any takeoff & landing will need to be supersonic, good luck with that Maverick!
    Plus, this aircraft couldn’t be used for close air support (CAS) due to the speed.
    There a few unmanned blimps that clime over 35Km in earth sky so it can be done also above mars but those are massive balloons with a small payload.

    On the other hand the low gravity & low air density favor anti air guns & missiles, extending their range & speed.
    Therefore my conclusion is that any combat on mars will be purely ground forces (at least if we talking about "hard SF").


    1. The Tanks of Mars? Armored Mechanized fighting forces using rail or coil gun armed fighting vehicles on articulated chassis with wheels or tracks or both backed by orbiting support, Self propelled Rail artillery and Bull super guns?

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  8. The tanks of Mars as a nice ring! Could be a cool book title! The 1986 STARCOM: the US Space Force, they use 4x4 wheeled vehicles, but no tanks. Are we talking about Gerald Bull? The Canadian engineer?

    1. Thank you William,
      In Red Faction Guerrilla, EDF Forces employ a MBT and a Medium Tank armed with Gauss cannons
      and Yes Gerald Bull and his Project Harp/ Babylon Cannon based on the V3 Vengeance cannon. At first I was going to say a modified Star Tram system but such a system would likely have to be already in place on Mars for use in a Mars conflict, and would likely be targeted for attack and sabotage
      . Gerald Bull's Gun system would be a viable option. It's sectional construction and smooth bore could likely be constructed with machinery used to construct plumbing and life support structures in habitats on Mars. a Number of Rovers have proven that the Chemical compounds needed to create propellant charges.
      Project harp Showed that such a gun could reach orbit form earth, Mars having a lower escape velocity would mean a similar gun could be used to engage craft on route to mars. given the months a ship leaving earth or lunar obit would take to reach mars a number of projectiles could be fired at a regular rate on intercept trajectories. the Projectile could be a Nuclear mine or a kinetic energy missile with a simple RCS guidance to adjust it's course for a kill.
      if enemy forces managed to get strong points on the planet, Smaller Cannons could launch Cube sats for Surveillance and long range artillery using projectiles with RCS systems to rain shells on enemy forces.

  9. In a martian war, one with different on the planet itself, the use of strategic bombardment via some kind of advanced cannon could occure. A cannon, even a giant one, needs less technology and fewer resurces than, say, a cruse missile, even if it has terminal guidence, while the lower gravity and thinner atmosphere than earth would improve ballistic performance.
    Also, although most books and movies show the use of electromagnetic weapons, railguns and coilguns, I think it likely that something like a light gas gun would be used, giving muzzle velocities of up to 10 km/s. As electrical power is likly to be plentiful to due to the need for life support systems/electric drives on vehicles, an electrothermal light gas gun using hydrogen could be any size and power, from a antipersonnel weapon, to a micro-satellite launcher. Even small railguns, although rapidly improoving, are still problematic, and a railgun/lauching sytem would be orders of magnitude harder. For an orbital launch system a ram/scram cannon might be the best bet. Fill a 100 km long tube with hydrogen/oxygen at a low temperature and pressure, and fire a projectile based off an existing hypersonic missile.

    If an invading fleet was on the way, and the Martian High Defence force had acess to space, one plan springs to mind, similar to that proposed by Leon. But instead of building the acelerator/cannon on mars you build it on phobos or deimos, with an automated factory that mines water for hydrogen to use in a light gas gun, and firing projectiles built from metal mined from the moon. Such a design would be similar to variouse spaceguard concepts, but optimised for volume of fire and velocity. If fire was over a long enough period of time could this effect the moon's orbit?


  10. To me I think that the reason for Martian wars are insurgencies is that tlmars doesn't have that much worth except for the colony inself.