Although Mars had always appeared to be empty and lifeless, things were different now. For the last six months, people on Earth knew that if they stared up at the sky, some humans might be doing the same very far from them, on Global 1. That was the name of the fist Martian base in human History and was an object of pride and joy for many humans, specially those in the scientific community who had wanted this dream come true for a long time.
Many governments had once and again postponed the so-called “colonization” of Mars namely because of budget problems and health issues. But they had never really tried to solve any of those problems. When scientists, the private sector and other countries decided it was time to pay a proper visit to the red planet, solutions were created for every single problem.
The hardest trip was the one of the first group of people as they would never set a foot on Martian soil but they would organize everything for when others came to get them and replace them both up in the orbital station as in the new base on the ground. At first, only seven men and women orbited Mars for about two years. Occasionally, ships would come in from Earth carrying all kinds of supplies, mainly food and new equipment to help make the base and instruments to investigate the current state of the planet.
They built everything by remote control, using last generation androids that could be controlled by computer, from the space station, and that could last for many years, even in the harsh conditions on Martian soil. It was fun to program the robots to do different things. Mainly, they acted as construction workers although these workers built their own tools and used them only when they were told to, in specific time frames and according to a long schedule that aimed for the opening of the first Martian module in a two-year time.
The people on the station would often check that everything was properly done and proceeded with their on-site investigations as scheduled. After the first few months, they stopped automatically looking through the windows of their ship. Mars was beautiful but it was also visibly violent and the sandstorms proved difficult for the construction of their base. Many times a special robot had to be activated to “vacuum” all the sand and dirt that caused any problems to the other machines.
Two years passes and those humans orbiting Mars were replaced by a new group, one of only five people, every single one from a different country. This was because the organization that was after the construction of the base, had to guarantee that every single contributing country had at least one representation on the base, for a short period of time. You see, they only had permit to stay a year. No astronaut could stay more than that on Mars. It wasn’t because they thought it was dangerous but because they needed to study them to see how their bodies had adapted to another planet.
Everything was science and investigations and reports. That first group really didn’t have a lot of time to waste on having fun or merely looking at the planet they had come to visit. As they were the first group, they had to verify that everything was in good shape. The robots were great but there was nothing like two human eyes to verify everything was good for a group of people to actually live, permanently, down on the red planet.
Half of their year, they spent it on the orbiting station and the other half on the newly inaugurated base. They transmitted to Earth the images of their celebration and every single human at that time saw their joy and their expectance for the future. One of the astronauts, a French woman, had been authorized to bring a bottle of the best wine she was able to get before leaving Earth. It was perfect for the occasion.
That day was special, not only for Humanity as a whole but for that little group because they suddenly didn’t feel like just scientist or people on a mission. They actually felt like they were home and were just celebrating someone anniversary or birthday. They had cake, a proper meal, the French wine and chatted for hours and hours. Of course, they did not spoke a word about work.
After that, they rested nicely for the first time in a long time and the following week, even with the heavy load of work, was just the best they had on Mars. They shared observations about the planet, the messages they got from their families on Earth and the pictures of their old and new homes that a satellite, released by them, had taken recently. It was all perfect and the idea of having more and more people living there, on Mars, was just natural and almost mandatory.
From then on groups of people would come and go and with the construction of new quarters on the Global 1, more and more people were able to stay there, for longer periods of time. Some of them weren’t even scientist or anything like that. They were just people who needed a fresh start or who had always dreamed of doing something like this. Mainly, they were adventure seekers, dying to get to know everything there was to see and do on Mars.
With time, they were able to organize walks near the base and, years later, motorcycle rides to a near canyon and back. Of course, humans had to wear special suits but they had become much easier to wear and less constricting. When stable population passed one hundred individuals, investors from Earth decided to expand Global 1 to the first big town on Mars. Construction started ten years after the arrival of the first people on the planet and was expected to be fully completed in fifty years, making room for at least one thousand new Martians.
Then, the first proper Martian was born. A woman and her husband had arrived a year ago to town and they had loved it so much that they had decided to stay. And apparently their eagerness for this new environment had also had other consequences, such as the birth of Juno, the first human to be a Martian. She was issued a special Martian passport and many journalists interviewed the family for the following years. She was an instant celebrity without even knowing.
Juno was one of those who really loved to get around the city and loved even more the feel of the Martian dirt between her toes and fingers. Eventually, a suit had been designed that was only used on the face and around the waist. It would cover all of the body if the person wearing it decided to press a special button on the waist but the people that lived there for a long time had learned not to be a friend of nature. They actually felt Mars was no different than Earth and that nature had found other ways to do things there.
The young girl grew up to be an environmentalist, opposed to the exploitation of various natural resources found on Mars such as nitrogen, lithium and titanium, all very important for future buildings on Mars and Earth. But Juno had learned the beauty of her homeland and fought the ruling committee of Mars on every turn. Even people on Earth were backing her organization, calling for someone to control what the private sector tried to do off world, due to the lack of clarity of the law.
But the mining for many resources had already began, in remote areas, and it was fuelling the creation of a new space station around the planet, that would allow humans to take the next step in their cosmic journey: their arrival on the Jovian system. Jupiter was key to travel beyond their system, if that was ever to be attempted and many organizations on Earth were eager to do that and, of course, to get their hands on the massive resources of the Jovian moons.
Suddenly, many people on Global 1, now called Bellona, were beginning to think about a new adventure, the worlds of possibilities that were about to be opened to them. It wasn’t a surprise that, on Juno’s elderly years, Bellona had seen a flux of emigration like none before. Some stayed and people kept coming from Earth but the new hotspot of their system was Assaracus, a city built for one million people and the new bright star made with the money won on Mars on Earth by the private sector.
Every newspaper registered Juno’s death, but the news was relegated to the inner pages of every publication. After all, it wasn’t every day that humans discovered they were not quite alone.