a first terraformation

MATT iconic


This invention is a novel, practical mission plan to terraform a region of the martian surface. Terraformation improves a planetary environment to support life. This invention’s terraformation is accomplished in 2036, opening the door to the first settlement and commercial development of Mars.

The Mars Terraformer Transfer (MATT) is the first practical terraformation plan. It is patent-pending in the U.S., available for licensing by the Lake Matthew Team.

The Shepherd

In the mission plan a commercial satellite – a Shepherd – accompanies a specific small body beyond Mars orbit. It restructures the body and deflects it along a specific, unobvious flight path for impact at an optimal target site on Mars. Impact prepares the site for life in 2036.

The Shepherd uses a DE-STARLITE-class laser and a suite of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) instruments for body deflection, tracking, physical characterization and restructuring. Commercial firms / units with ability to build the Shepherd include:

  • Ball Aerospace – Space Sciences & Technologies
  • Boeing Phantom Works
  • Lockheed Martin – Space Systems
  • Northrop Grumman – Space & Directed Energy Systems
  • Orbital ATK – Space Systems Group
  • SSL
Omaha Crater

Omaha Crater

Impact excavates a uniquely useful crater, 9 km across. This is Omaha Crater, named after the U.S. Army’s most hard-won D-Day beachhead. Omaha Crater is dotted at creation with a pattern of worksite depressions. Bedrock holds one quintillion (1018) Joules of impact heat, centered on the new, lowest point on Mars. Here 1.3 kPa of atmospheric pressure, the depressions, and crater heat make possible a lake and other reservoirs for settlement use. Water surface temperature is set via circulation and heat exchange below 11 °C to prevent boil-off.

In time, settlement industries will vent excess oxygen into the crater, forming a protective local ozone layer. Ozone, heat and the pressure of air and water set the stage for a photosynthetic archipelago on the open crater floor – a true terraformation site, with appearance similar to the masthead site, Alaska's Aniakchak caldera.

The terraformation resources persist beyond our time. Omaha Crater bedrock will remain warm to the touch for thousands of years.

Water Domes

The Omaha Crater site has abundant ground ice to fill and refill the crater’s Lake Matthew. Water treatment with heat exchange can supply crews with treated hot water. Returning cold water can serve as massive transparent radiation shield and architectural medium over ballasted subaqueous domes.

The notional subaqueous dome design has a low pressure differential across surfaces, to free the domes from the radius-limiting scaling laws of pressure vessels. Thereby the domes scale with unmatched mass-efficiency. Each dome can scale to millions of cubic meters of pressurized interior space, while needing only a few hundred tons of cargo for construction.

Such immense habs are feasible only with the resources created in terraformation. The scale is impractical beyond Omaha Crater, on unimproved ground. Every spacefaring organization will have financial incentive to lease hab space at Omaha Crater.

hab rough geometry

Winter Power

Martian winter sunlight is feeble. In winter solar panels will struggle to sustain power-hungry industries such as spacecraft propellant plants. Omaha Crater can have an alternate winter power source. To tap it, in summer ice-rich upland terrain can be sealed and overheated to force high-volume melt. Meltwater accelerates down a channel cut into the crater wall, delivering tens of terajoules of kinetic energy at lakeside. That energy is stored via pump-turbine in elevated hydroelectric brine reservoirs for release in winter. With winter power Omaha Crater industries – and spacecraft – can operate year-round.

Lake Matthew’s notional hydroelectric channel is a useful and first canal on Mars.


The subaqueous dome design is suitable for greenhouses that scale to feed thousands; feeding the Omaha Crater settlement and all expeditions worldwide indefinitely. Omaha Crater industries can also scale to stockpile propellant and other gases, water, construction materials, and manufactured alloy and plastic machine parts.

All these products are very expensive if shipped from Earth. Therefore the Mars provider – conceivably a consortium for in situ resource utilization (ISRU) – makes products with high value to spacefaring expedition organizations.

Provisioning will be a multi-billion-dollar industry at Omaha Crater.


Mining Mars

Protoplanetary core asteroids like 16 Psyche are rich in rare and rare earth metals. Mars is the treasury. Many billions of asteroids have cratered Mars at low velocity, and much impactor debris is preserved in the Southern Highlands. Preserved cores are therefore very likely, rendering Mars the richest source of accessible rare and rare earth metals in the solar system. The Southern Highlands should harbor trillions of dollars of high-grade ore deposits, near the surface.

Omaha Crater is the logical headquarters for a mining consortium. As envisioned, this consortium is an investment exit for the ISRU provisioning consortium, itself an investment exit for the Promethean terraformer licensee. Orbital and airborne surveying instruments pinpoint ore deposits under HQ direction, and crews operate open-pit mining equipment telerobotically from the safety and comfort of HQ. Metals are shipped to Earth as SpaceX ITS return cargo. By such means the terraformation is expected to kick-start efficient, commercially viable asteroid mining.

All recovered resources, including Omaha Crater terraformation resources, will be legally controlled by the consortium under terms of the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, section 402.


The consortium may choose to boost satellite laser power in future, to 10x current Shepherd specification. If this is done in the 2030s, a second terraformation becomes possible in 2061, with deflection impact of asteroid 2005 LF8.

Expert crews, flown and provisioned from Omaha Crater, can speed settlement of the second, larger terraformation crater. This second application of the invention’s methods can improve upon the first, to increase the practicable scale of settlement habs; potentially surpassing Elon Musk’s ambition for habs that scale to a million settlers, in this century.

MATT iconic
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.
Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
-G. B. Shaw

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.
Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
-G. B. Shaw

MATT is workable, but the timeframe is tight. If you find MATT interesting, please light a bright flare, with our thanks.

Most recent event: a Reddit /Futurology Ask-Me-Anything session on MATT, Feb. 11 2017.

Next event: H2M 2017.


Contact Us

LakeMatthewTeam at gmail.com

The Lake Matthew Team is assisted and represented by Harness Dickey & Pierce, P.L.C., an intellectual property firm covering diverse sciences and technologies, with practice areas in patents, trademarks, copyrights and international IP law.

Image credits:

  • Roy Wood: Surprise Lake inside Aniakchak Caldera
  • Optonicus Corporation: fiber-array laser system
  • U.S. Army Center of Military History: Omaha Beach, map no. 6