Originally Posted by snaguoonkee
How are you going to build a colony? Just take wrenches and nails and get to work? There are no trees or any building material besides carving hard rock. You can't also take tons of steel with you to build it either. At best, it's going to be you cramped in a shuttle every day without being able to leave at all. It's Humans vs Nature out there, not easy as you make it out to be.
Also, landing the shuttle will be a huge challenge. They had to land the Curiosity by lowering ropes, how are you going to drop 10 or more people through a pod without it getting damaged and the people not getting injured or killed? I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's something that is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
Nothing you've listed here is a significant problem for technology that we already have.
Craft will likely be cannibalized for the first structures. They need to be strong enough to withstand sand storms, and little else. There is no seismic activity on Mars. It's gravity is 1/3rd of Earths. Also, many inflatable structures will no doubt be used, as all habitable areas are going to need to be pressurized anyway. You could build a very sizable and serviceable initial settlement with materials that weigh less than the people that need to be sheltered. It does not take much kevlar and mylar to enclose a large area pressurized to half an atmosphere.
Later structures will be underground, and eventually resources extracted and processed for the creation of more substantial and permanent settlements. No there are no trees, but there are lots of minerals.
As for landing on Mars, this is easy. Landers capable of depositing people and equipment safely on extraterrestrial bodies have been around since the early 70s, and have been used to good effect.
The only reason Curiosity was landed in the way it was was because of the extremely fragile nature of a probe of that type, the need to make sure the area it was set down in wasn't contaminated, and to prevent dust from collecting on the solar panels. Not that a "sky crane" type landing couldn't be scaled up for large manned missions, it just might not be the best way of doing it.