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Let's say humans have finally made a successful colony on Mars, how useful would bitcoin be to transfer value between Earth and Mars?

And if it won't work with the current implementation, what would need to be changed in order for btc to be used interplanetary?

Assume there is no Mars cash or any monetary system, they just decided to use bitcoin for everything. It however has to be on the same blockchain that Earth is using.

Possible problems to consider:

  • how would mining work? Lets say a miner on Mars and a miner on Earth both solve a block at the same time, because of ~8 minute delay between the two planets who would get the reward and how to deal with such a problem?

NOTE: I will be updating and modifying this questions to make it more concise and to the point.

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Let's say humans have finally made a successful colony on Mars, how useful would bitcoin be to transfer value between Earth and Mars?

If you're talking about the Bitcoin blockchain in its current form, it will restrict mining to one of both planets.

Bitcoin's assumptions include a block propagation time between miners is negligible compared to the interblock time (10 minutes). We've already seen the effects of a few seconds block propagation time on Earth: miners being forced to build upon each other's work without validating, to avoid orphaning during that time. This incentive encourages centralization, hurts Bitcoin's security (especially for light clients), and makes mining (even) less permissionless to enter.

The propagation time between Earth and Mars can be up to 401 million km, when they're on opposite sides of the Sun. Following the laws of relativity, it is fundamentally impossible to communicate between them in less than 22 minutes in that case. A propagation time of 22 minutes would utterly destroy any ability to mine on both sides. As there is a delay of 22 minutes before Earth can mine on top of a block created by Mars, or the other way around, but not when a planet mines on top of a block created by itself, you would end up with an almost persistently forked chain between the two. The slower planer would eventually always switch over to that of the faster planet, making the faster planet win far more blocks that proportional to its hashrate. Effectively, the delay between the two planets turns mining into a race rather than a lottery.

And if it won't work with the current implementation, what would need to be changed in order for btc to be used interplanetary?

The above issue could probably be solved by using a chain with a ~1 week interblock time rather than 10 minutes, to compensate for the larger propagation time.

If we're fine with mining being controlled by one of both planets (effectively giving that planet the arbitrarily censor the other planet's transactions), it would probably work fine.

There are other issues though; another problem is partitioning. Bitcoin strongly relies on peers in the network to be able to communicate without ending up on their own islands of connectivity. There would need to be multiple independent communication links between the two planets to avoid a partition between Earth and Mars. If mining is knowingly on one side, the worst effect of a connectivity failure is just the lack of ability to see confirmations on the other side, though it may take hours (=a few roundtrips) to notice this.

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TCP state machines have timeout issues when space propagation delays get to be too excessive. If OSes between computers communicating across space have tailored TCP state machine timeout periods Bitcoin could function. Otherwise, different transport protocols (besides TCP) will need to applied to interplanetary communication. If protocol state machines work, not much is preventing one from spending their money remotely by transmitting/broadcasting their network transaction.

Should also point out mining will need to be centralized to one planet because block propagation times will take too long. This means Earth will have its blockchain while Mars has its own. No thought yet to whether drive or sidechains will continue to work.

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Really, just an internet connection (obviously a computer too) so you can connect to all the nodes and keep up to date with the blockchain.

Or if you use a wallet service then just an internet connection to get to any available wallet on the market.

But also in order to liquidate Bitcoin into mars-cash you would need services to convert BTC to mars-cash. Unless you wanted BTC to be the mars-cash.

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    You're not answering the question. OP is asking whether BTC can be used as mars-cash. – Pieter Wuille Jul 10 '17 at 19:24
  • I am not an expert in blockchain, but I believe due to current node propagation it is not really possible because of 8 minute time delay between Earth and Mars. I was hoping someone could explain that in more technical/easy to understand terms. And also discuss how would bitcoin need to be modified in order to work as interplanetary value transfer system. – OutFall Jul 10 '17 at 19:56
  • Assume there is no Mars cash or any monetary system, they just decided to use bitcoin for everything – OutFall Jul 10 '17 at 19:57
  • I think it's a very interesting question, and you don't answer it at all. There are plenty of interesting issues to discuss. – Pieter Wuille Jul 10 '17 at 21:20
  • I understand I just touched the surface but I did answer what is needed in order to use bitcoin as well as "But also in order to liquidate Bitcoin into mars-cash you would need services to convert BTC to mars-cash. Unless you wanted BTC to be the mars-cash." Just kind of curious why someone would downvote it when I did directly answer. – Marc Alexander Jul 10 '17 at 21:25

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