Humans like to talk about going and colonizing Mars a lot. But is it possible to live on the Red Planet? What challenges we would face if we send humans to Mars?
The first unmanned mission, Viking 1, landed on Mars on July 20, 1976. So far, there have been 50 Mars missions including the unsuccessful ones. We have learned a lot about the planet by sending rovers and orbiters there. Now, NASA has announced that it is going to send humans to Mars by 2030. But SpaceX’s Elon Musk is even more eager to send a manned mission by 2024. SpaceX has experimented with Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rockets. Both will help us in our journey towards Mars.
The first problem on our way to Mars would be the journey itself. On average, Mars is about 140 million miles away from Earth. If we were to fly on the fastest spacecraft to Mars, it would take 40 days to 9 months, depending on the position of the planet. In such a long journey, astronauts will face a lot of problems including radiation, microgravity, isolation and psychological issues, communication problems, etc. But scientists are working to minimize the threats as possible. ISS has provided a lot of experience for how it is to live in space.
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But what would happen when we will reach Mars?
Well, the first challenge we will face would be the landing problem. Mars has a very thin atmosphere, about 100 times thinner than Earth’s atmosphere, and the gravity on Mars is 38% of that of Earth. These conditions will create serious problems during landing. It would be a tough landing. Even for Curiosity Rover, which was way too lighter than the proposed manned mission for Mars. SpaceX is working on supersonic retrorockets, that will help in a soft and gentle landing.
So, what if we successfully landed on Mars? Can we survive there?
First, there is no oxygen on Mars. So, you can’t breathe the Martian air or you will expire instantly. Besides this, the air pressure is much lower than that of Earth. The temperature on Mars can go up to 20 degrees Celsius and drop down to -126 degrees Celsius. The gravity of the planet is very weak which can cause serious health problems. While the soil is toxic and lacks mineral nutrients. You can’t use it to grow plants or vegetables there. Moreover, it has huge dust storms which carry dust particles at around 33 to 66 miles per hour.
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If Mars is such a harsh and unfriendly planet, why are space agencies planning to go there?
Yes, there are problems but scientists are working on their solutions. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is working on different kinds of models for building Mars City. It would be an underground structure. This whole structure will sustain suitable temperature, pressure, and oxygen level inside of it. When astronauts will have to go outside of it, they would be provided with a spacesuit. But still, they would be exposed to radiation.
Scientists are working on building technology through which they can extract water from the Martian soil. Furthermore, NASA’s Hydroponics will help in growing plants on Mars by removing toxic material from it and by adding necessary nutrients.
So, can we live on Mars? Not as we live here on Earth. But by modifying the planet’s conditions and through other technological resources, we can make Mars liveable.