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You know, all those stories about Martians attacking are kinda ruined by knowing that the real Martians are mostly corporate office workers and those weird-ass commune dwelling culty kinda people.
— Bruno Penso, 16, sick of the books they make him read in school.
Mars was the first planet to be visited and later settled by humans. Mars is the second smallest planet in the Sol system, only Mercury is smaller. Mars has a surface gravity of 0.38. Though it posesses an atmosphere, it is far from habitable. It is a common joke that the planet has enough atmosphere to cause trouble, but not enough to be useful.   The first humans landed on Mars with the Mangala 5 mission in 1991. Commander of the mission and first person to step on the planet was Venla Pawan. The international crew spent eleven days on the surface, later missions in the program lasted up to three months.   As the easiest planet to reach, Mars became an early focus of colonization efforts. Today, it is the most populated body besides Earth, with the population approaching a billion, though it may soon loose this record to Rigil Kentaurus Prime, which as a habitable planet naturally supports a much higher population growth. Most of the Martian population lives in large cities. These typically feature large pressurized glass domes, which can give inhabitants a semblance of living under the open sky. New Baikonur is the largest and most famous of these cities.   Mars has no planetary government. Each settlement is its own entity, though it may belong to some other organization, such as an Earth nation or a corporation. There is also a multitude of smaller, independent settlements. Many different groups of people have used the absence of states on the planet to form communities according to their ideals, with many political and religious fringe groups finding refuge here.   The complicated political structure of the planet is one of the reasons, why one of the big dreams of the 20th century, terraforming Mars, has not yet come to pass. Such an undertaking is enormously complicated and expensive, and would thus require a unified effort by all the people of Mars to succeed. Since the many factions on the planet are perpetually squabbling over territory and ressources, however, that is unlikely to happen. Many groups are even actively opposed to the idea of terraforming, for example because they are settled in regions of low terrain, which would be flooded in making of Martian oceans. There are also some people trying to go through with terraforming anyway. For instance, there is a catholic sect called Edenis Martii who have made it their mission to spread God's other creatures (besides humans) to the new world. Currently, they are mostly occupied with very slowly covering the polar caps in black dust to increase the planet's albedo. They are for the most part left alone by other factions, mostly because their efforts aren't gonna bear fruit for generations anyway, though some say they are also secretely protected politically by the Vatican.

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Cover image: by nearlyoctagonal


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