It is cold on Mars.

The temperature of the rocks below ground will be close to t he average above ground temperature of -80F. If Martians are to live below groun d, they will need to heat their homes. Lots of insulation will be needed. Heatin g systems that use solar energy would make the most sense. The Martian day is ne arly the same as on earth. Although the sun on Mars is only one half as bright a s on earth (50 watts per square foot), there are no clouds to interrupt the dayt ime sunlight. Therefore, there should be plenty of heat energy available by coll ecting sunlight. Long cylinder type solar collectors would be ideal, since they would not need to track the sun's movement across the sky. These systems would u se thin channel shaped mirrors which would concentrate the sunlight onto a cente r glass heat pipe. A fluid, perhaps a water and antifreeze mixture, would be pum ped through the pipe to collect the heat and transfer it into a large thermally insulated tank. The tank would act as a large heat energy storage device that wo uld stay warm during the Martian night. The liquid from the tank could then be p iped into shelters to heat them. Similar systems might also be used to melt ice, mined below the surface. If geothermal sources could be found, that heat energy could also be used to keep shelters warm and to melt underground ice for water recovery. Settlements on Mars will need lots of electricity. The electricity would be used for a variety of applications including lighting, oxygen and rocket fuel genera tion, pumping water, shelter tunnel boring, shelter ventilation and food product ion. Some of the initial exploration missions might bring small nuclear power plants with them that they will leave on the surface. Such power plants have the advant age of being compact and can produce power continuously for 15 years or more. Bu t, after those missions, the permanent citizens of Mars may wish to use more env ironmentally friendly methods to produce electricity. The most likely method would be with solar electrical photovoltaic panels. Large solar energy farms would be needed to sustain a settlement. Some of the latest photovoltaic panels are made by depositing thin metal films onto flexible plasti c sheets. The sheets can then be rolled into tight tubes. A 12 inch diameter by 6 foot long tube could contain as much as 1,800 square feet of panel material. O nce unrolled, such rolls could be spread out onto the Martian surface to produce as much as 15,000 watts of electricity. Multiple panels would be wired together to form a sizable electrical power plant. To minimize spacecraft payload weight for later earth to Mars missions, machines and materials could be brought from earth that would allow the colonists to mak e energy producing solar panels from the rocks and sand of Mars. Perhaps the mac hines would use the sand to make glass plates that would be turned into solar pa nels. Since the solar panels would only generate electricity when the sun was shining, some battery or fuel cell technology would be needed to store the excess genera ted during the day, for later use at night. One suggested non-chemical energy st orage method would use underground wells to store compressed Martian air. Compre ssors would pump the carbon dioxide down the well to high pressures during the d ay. At night, the gas would be diverted to a high speed turbine, that would driv e a generator to produce electricity. Heat engines might also be used. The large temperature difference between concen trated sun light and the cold Martian ground would boost the engine's efficiency . The waste heat of such a system might also be used to heat shelters. The engin e could drive electrical generators, pump water and run air compressors. Ultimately, perhaps some time in the future, engineers on earth will develop com pact nuclear fusion power generation plants that could be assembled near Martian settlements. The rocks, air and sand of Mars might be processed to extract Deut erium and Tritium hydrogen isotopes that would be fused inside a nuclear furnace . Heat from the nuclear reaction would be used to produce electricity and keep t

he Martian shelters warm. .