In the face of the unique challenges posed by Mars’ remote environment, this paper explores the necessity for a specialized financial system capable of overcoming latency issues inherent in traditional blockchain protocols due to light-speed communication constraints. We propose an innovative, decentralized licensing system integrated into the Martian Republic—a blockchain-based governance model that champions transparency and direct participation. This system utilizes the Republic’s voting mechanism, built on the coinshuffle protocol, to enable a community-driven process for registering and endorsing miners.

By requiring miners to secure community approval through a transparent voting process before their mined blocks are recognized within the blockchain, we ensure the network’s resilience against potential hash attacks and the undue influence of centralized authorities. This approach not only safeguards Mars’ financial infrastructure but also embodies the principles of decentralized governance, ensuring the Martian community’s autonomy and collective decision-making power remain intact. Through the application of a digital signature-based validation system coupled with the coinshuffle voting platform, we demonstrate the Martian Republic’s capacity to protect its blockchain governance, maintain security and auditability, and represent the will of its community, thereby laying a foundation for the governance of future interplanetary settlements.

(This paper was submitted for and first presented at the Mars Society’s International Conference in Tempe, Arizona 2023).

See excerpts below:


“We have the following issues: a planet at substantial distance from Earth (think Mars) necessitates
its own blockchain due to light speed limitations in data transfer. Any real-time protocol fails to
allow Martians to participate in Bitcoin mining and delays the confirmation time between blocks
(they would most likely get a cached version of the blockchain every so often – think 20 minute
increments). A space suit rental shop on Mars does not want to wait for several cached downloads
of a Bitcoin blockchain even if it’s incremental – to make sure that it’s financial transaction got

However, if Martians run their own blockchain which brings more benefits than just planetary
sovereign control over the their financial independence (think voting) they will run into the issue
that Earth miners with their superior hardware might decide to attack the martian blockchain and
roll it back a few blocks by downloading a larger chain that was mined on earth and ”front-ran”the martian chain, thus allowing evil actors to double spend or otherwise influence the Martian
sovereign financial network.

Utilizing a blockchain to timestamp proposals and identify the members of the public is part
of the solution, but benefits are lost if reliance on unmanageable databases or staked tokens make
voting via smart contracts vulnerable to Sybil attacks.1 The Martian Republic’s Congress module
attempts to overcome such limitations and seeks a transparent and simple as possible solution which
allows all participants to easily audit and verify the validity of their vote. By utilizing an
open source model in which the code itself becomes the Constitution, we opt for a server/client
architecture in which the initial participants curate via transparent rules a public voter registry. Any
member of this assembly of citizens can then initiate proposals, submit code changes (‘amendments’)
or suggest alternative configuration settings (‘statutes’, ‘regulations’) etc.

These proposals are stored in a decentralized fashion using IPFS and are thus available in an
– ideally – planet-wide operating public mesh network. Additionally, each proposal is hashed and
notarized on the blockchain for added censor resistance. A citizen’s ability to suggest code changes
to the codebase of the Martian Republic itself is the most direct expression of public intent. Such a
‘pull-request’ once voted into law becomes part of the very mathematical rules that dictate the fabric
of the governing system. Software replaces law-making as far as the realm of software extends and
can replace ambiguous human language with the mathematical precision of programming languages.
As the server restarts in regular intervals, the system is capable of inheriting voted-upon changes.
As the code is open source, any dissenting faction can – in theory – suggest changes at any time or
break off and start its own entirely new offspring elsewhere motivating the assembly to carefully
discuss and include all viewpoints.

Each proposal launches “ballot-shuffle” server sessions in which participants request private bal-
lots for a particular vote. The ballot-shuffle is built on the “coin-shuffle protocol”2 which obfuscates
transactions of many participants on the blockchain and prevents third parties from tracing votes
back to individual citizens. The ballot-shuffle makes it easy to authenticate participants (one-vote-
per-citizen, all shuffle participants appear in the voter registry, with one single vote irrespective of
individual net worth). At the same time it ensures private and fair votes without any participant’s
(nor the server’s) knowledge of an individual’s vote. Various proposal run times and percentages
of citizens required to participate before a bill passes, are variables, that the public itself agrees
upon. The Republic thus becomes a living software structure in which all members of the public are
similarly citizen, assembly of congress, and representatives of their Republic – fulfilling an ideal that
has been elusive since antiquity due to the missing link of cryptography and modern networking