One of the main obstacles standing in the way is a lack of sufficient oxygen on Mars.
However, scientists have invented a new plasma-based technique to produce and separate oxygen within the Martian environment.
Scientists have invented a new plasma-based technique to produce and separate oxygen within the Martian environment.
Mars' atmosphere is primarily made up of carbon dioxide, which can be split to produce oxygen and carbon.
However, two big hurdles stand in the way of producing oxygen on Mars, according to the researchers from the University of Lisbon, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sorbonne University, Eindhoven University of Technology, and the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research.
'First, the decomposition of carbon dioxide molecules to extract oxygen,' said Dr Vasco Guerra of the University of Lisbon, an author of the study.
'Second, the separation of the produced oxygen from a gas mixture that also contains, for example, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
'When bullet-like electrons collide with a carbon dioxide molecule, they can directly decompose it or transfer energy to make it vibrate,' Dr Guerra said
'This energy can be channelled, to a large extent, into carbon dioxide decomposition
Mars' atmosphere is primarily made up of carbon dioxide, which can be split to produce oxygen and carbon
The oxygen produced via this plasma-based technique could be key to creating a breathable environment for settlers
'By dissociating carbon dioxide molecules to produce green fuels and recycle chemicals, the plasma technology may also aid in addressing climate change on Earth,' a statement added