You’ve just landed on the Red Planet and are looking for a fresh start. Sure, that job selling respirators at the local space-hardware store sounds cozy, but it’s a dead-end career. Mars will be ripe with opportunity; you just have to figure out how to tap it. So here’s the secret: Go into construction. You’ll learn useful skills and be out on the surface, where the real action is. Explore the landscape on coffee breaks. All you need to do is stumble upon a nice deposit of precious material—like platinum or deuterium, a hydrogen isotope that could fuel fusion reactors—and you’ll have it made.
Next, buddy up with the engineers working to terraform the Martian hillsides. It’s their job to turn all that red dust into Earth-like soil that can support robust vegetation and seed the atmosphere to rain and form lakes and oceans. Figure out where future beachfront property will be, buy it, and auction off lots to the highest bidder.
Of course, this prosperous career path has its risks. You’ll be outdoors a lot, and Mars’s atmosphere is pretty thin, so cosmic radiation could fry your DNA. Things could fall on you on construction sites. And you’d probably go prospecting alone (why split the profits?), so no one could help you if you got lost or fell into a crater. You could play it safe in the colony, working at the Spacemart. But you’re on Mars—take a chance!
Robert Zubrin is president of the Mars Society and author of How to Live on Mars._