Homesteading Mars With an Ethereum Based App

I'm a non-technical entrepreneur who discovered Ethereum a few hours ago and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.

I've browsed through the forums and /r/ethereum and it seems like this community for the most part is made up of technically minded people who are having trouble explaining Ethereum to the outside world.

I'm still a long ways away from understanding the technical side, but I think I'm beginning to understand the real world implications of Ethereum.

In an effort to better understand what Ethereum means to the world and to entrepreneurs like me, perhaps we can work through an example of what an Ethereum based company would look like.

An Example of What An Ethereum Powered App Might Do

For this example we're going to fast forward to a future where personal space travel is affordable to the masses. 25,000 individuals have just landed on Mars with all of the equipment they need to set up a self sustaining housing unit, capable of producing breathable air, food, water, and sustain an atmosphere that doesn't require any special suit for humans to live in.

The company that sold these individuals their spaceships and all of this equipment has also established an entity known as EtherStead for the purposes of recording all property claims and arbitrating all civil disputes on Mars.

Every individual who makes it to Mars is entitled to homestead 200 acres of land. This is where Ethereum comes in.

To stake their claim, they load up the EtherStead App on their iPhone 8 and mark out the 200 Acres they wish to claim.

Their claim is registered and if there are no previous claims on any of their land then they are now the legal owner of that land. If someone else has claimed any part of that land, they will not be able to claim any of their land and will have to redraw their 200 acres.

Adding Complexity to the Explanation

In the above described future, if my Mom asks how homesteading on Mars works, I would tell her, "Draw out your claim on this App."

That is all that the end users would care to know. They're busy homesteading Mars, they've got other things to worry about than how the system that legally protects their claims works.

SpaceX on the other hand, when considering whether they want to acquire EtherStead as part of their Mars colonization project will want to know all of the behind the scenes details about how EtherStead is created.

You cold email SpaceX and tell them you have build an App that will make it super easy for them to manage the homesteading claims their clients are going to make. They express an interest and ask you to send back a 5 minute video with a brief explanation of how your system works.


1. How would you succinctly describe the technical process by which EtherStead works?
2. Why would Ethereum be the best way (that we currently have) of building such a system.
3. Is the above example based on a correct understanding of Ethereum?


  • SmithgiftSmithgift Member Posts: 64
    Out of order:

    3: Yes, basically. There are some details (and the devil therein), but as described this would essentially work. A smart contract could deny any attempt to register an already-claimed segment before the claim is made in the first place. Also, I would suggest that Mars be pre-divided into 1-acre segments so the contract doesn't have to do Ether-expensive geometry. Other details would be things such as if claims have to be contiguous, and whether land can be transferred, but those are design details.

    1: Individual Dapps are simple technically. Something like this would take a page or two of solidity code (with certain assumptions, see three), if that. It's Ethereum itself which requires explanation, and unfortunately that's not so simple.

    2: I generally don't want to say things in terms that strong, so this isn't the best question for me to answer. But Ethereum is particularly suited (designed, even) for the decentralized online registry kind of app. It's the legal issues involving smart contracts that have never been tested. What about some other group that does not recognize EtherStead's claims?

    Have you seen this on the Ethereum official blog? It explains it non-technically better than I can.
  • linageelinagee Member Posts: 31 ✭✭
    edited July 2015
    Interplanetary blockchains will be hard. The goal of any such project would be: Make a blockchain that could withstand HUGE amounts of latency. I think the best way to do that would be to have a separate currency and protocol just for interplanetary money. (Something with incredibly long block times. Maybe an hour or two? That way, if the latency between planets is like 15 minutes, you'd be relatively sure you have all the transactions for that block.)

    This is an entirely separate problem from anything anyone is trying to solve on Earth and there is no reason to concentrate any resources on this problem yet. (Unless you are unwise with your resources and, for instance, theorize what you would do if you could fly.)
  • GeorgeHallamGeorgeHallam Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 229 admin
    Hmmm, I'd almost say that any chain on Mars would have to be Mars-specific. As you've mentioned, communication issues would likely be the biggest problem.

    My hope would be that someone has a better version of "Maybe we just checkpoint/hash it onto a larger chain so we can still infer whether or not the mars chain has been compromised" by the time man is on Mars - this would be cheaper than having it synced over the vast nothingness of space, which would otherwise sure cause some pretty beefy propagation concerns.

    Another benefit of Mars having it's own PoS chain (or at least currency) is that all the soft economic/governance tools would be available for them to independently proliferate a society independent of Earth.
  • o0ragman0oo0ragman0o Member, Moderator Posts: 1,291 mod
    I don't think it would be that hard. You could have a protocol of fast blocks with nested slow blocks. The address space could be segregated between fast and slow blocks. Transacting would still be as simple as sending to an address. Likewise contracts could run in the segregated spaces. Fast and slow contract pairs could tunnel fast block transactions between planets between planets at slow block speeds.
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