Selling in the Martian Market

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I recently came across an article on Mars One, an initiative to fund a trip to the red planet by filming the selection of astronauts for a reality TV show. According to the organization’s Web site, the individuals chosen in this process will begin the lengthy preparation for a journey to Mars about a decade in the future.

Once they’ve reached the planet, they’ll begin the process of colonization. (They’ll be preceded by unmanned craft carrying cargo.) The explorers will operate out of a handful of pods connected by tunnels and powered by solar panels that have food production units, research facilities, and living spaces.

Whether the Mars One project is successful in its aims or not, it seems likely that humans will set foot on that planet sometime in this century. Over the past decade, private exploration has expanded to the point where commercial space flights are being talked about for next year. And nations besides the United States and Russia are going to space nowadays.

This got me thinking: What would selling real estate on Mars be like? Very likely, these would be things to think about in a Martian transaction:

Room to Spare

Though Mars is much smaller than Earth, the surface of the planet doesn’t contain any bodies of water. Consequently, the amount of “land” is nearly equal to that of our world. The first settlers on the planet would likely be few, and they’d have plenty of space to move around in.

Killer Views

The scale of some Martian geological features is breathtaking. The dormant volcano Olympus Mons, the highest point on the planet, is three times taller than Mount Everest. And the Valles Marineris system is more than three times as deep as the Grand Canyon and would stretch from Nova Scotia to Baja Mexico if it were on Earth. Resort towns would likely spring up near these attractions.

Strange Times

Interestingly, the Martian day is about the same length as ours and it experiences — more or less — the same four seasons. However, the planet’s year is about twice as long as ours. Could you imagine a selling season that lasted 400 days?

Political, Legal Tangles

Who “owns” Mars? What entity has any real sovereignty over it? Would it be the first country or private organization to set foot on it? Would they own the whole planet or part of it? And what about these guys? All these are questions that would have to be answered.

It’s very likely that no one reading this will have to worry about any of these issues. However, a few of your grandchildren or great-grandchildren might, when they boldly go where no real estate pro has gone before.

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at

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