When you were small, you might have dreamt of moving to Mars. You were not alone by the way. Many people shared that dream along with many international organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA). We all thought that it was just a dream, until now. NASA has officially announced that they can get humans to Mars by 2040. Their estimated earliest departure time to Mars is supposed to be the 2030s, but no one can clarify that is exactly how long it will take. Mars tugs at the human imagination like no other planet! We have formed the Mars Exploration Program (MEP) since 1993, it is now time to finish the journey!
Now, why should we move to Mars? We are incredibly vulnerable to the whims of our galaxy. A single large asteroid or climate change could remove humanity forever. To survive, we have to reach beyond our home planet. Exploration is in our DNA. 2 million years ago, humans evolved in Africa, and they slowly but surely spread out across the entire planet by reaching into the wilderness that was beyond their horizons. Some of the greatest advances in civilization and technology were a result of exploration. We landed on the moon, so why can’t we do the same on Mars? The time and effort does take longer, but it’s the same idea. Governments and robots no longer control this game. Private companies are leaping into space, and they will be happy to take you to Mars. We need to have a great deal of determination if we are going to colonize Mars.
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in the Solar System. It is named after the Roman god of war, often described as the “Red Planet”, due to the iron oxide prevalent on its surface giving it a reddish appearance. On Mars, you would experience 62.5% less gravity then you are used to. For example, if you weighed 100 lbs on Earth, you would weight only 38 lbs on Mars. A year on Mars is almost twice as long as a year on Earth (365 Earth days= 687 Mars days). Which would be good news considering you would get to celebrate your birthday twice a year! Mars’atmosphere is very thin. In fact, it is 100 times thinner than on Earth. However, it is not breathable because it’s 96% carbon dioxide. The average temperature of Mars is -65 degrees Celsius. Mars is a very cold planet, it has a thin atmosphere and receives very little heat from the sun. On Mars, there are actually sources of water! The soil alone of Mars contains up to 60% water. Lots of craters have sheets of water ice on them too. Almost all water on Mars today exists as ice, though it also exists in small quantities as vapor in the atmosphere. If we could find a way to melt the ice, then we would have a water source.
Why can’t we just fly to Mars? Why is it taking so long to go? Here’s the thing, going to Mars isn’t an easy task, it is easy to say but hard to complete. Currently, we do not have a rocket big enough to get there. We once had a rocket, the Saturn V. A couple of Saturn V’s would have gotten us there. It was the most magnificent machine ever built by humans, and it was the rocket that took us to the moon. But the last Saturn V was used in 1973 to launch the Skylab space station. The biggest rocket we have now is only half the size and will not get us anything near to Mars. It takes us approximately 7 months to get to Mars, and that’s only if we launch on a very specific day, at a very specific time, once every 2 years. When Mars and the Earth are aligned just so the distance that the rocket would have to travel will be the shortest.
Mars’ atmosphere is composed primarily of carbon dioxide, with minor amounts of other gases such as argon and nitrogen. As I said earlier, the atmosphere is very thin. This means if you send a rover to land on Mars, it would be very complicated to slow down the speed when entering the atmosphere because of the pressure. A normal parachute won’t slow down the Spacecraft unless you have a huge parachute which would most likely rip apart. This is a major problem, even though we know how to land Rovers safely now, it is still very dangerous. The chances of the heavy spaceships and rovers landing successfully on Mars is extremely small. We have launched 44 Rovers/Spacecrafts to go to Mars, but only ⅓ of them made it. The rest have either missed or crashed. If getting there wasn’t difficult enough, we still have to worry about the six key things you need to survive: “Shelter, food, health, clothing, oxygen, and power.” It is most likely that our shelters on Mars will be built underground because of the thin atmosphere and radiation above. Food will probably be grown inside indoor gardens. Scientists are currently trying to build a machine that produces oxygen.
What are we doing to make progress? What are we doing to make our dream become reality?! A fleet of robotic spacecraft and rovers are already on and around Mars, dramatically increasing our knowledge about the Red Planet and paving the way for future human explorers. The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover measured radiation on the way to Mars and is sending back radiation data from the surface. This data will help us plan how to protect the astronauts who will explore Mars. Future missions like the Mars 2020 rover, seeking signs of past life, will also demonstrate new technologies that could help astronauts survive on Mars. A man is known as the real-life “Iron Man”. He is the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX. His amazing inventions are giving us great hopes for our future. SpaceX has contributed so much in this program to go to Mars. So have other countries, presidents like Trump and Obama donated over 1 billion to support the Moon to Mars program. “NASA should not be talking about going to the Moon - We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defence and Science!” -Donald J. Trump.
Overall, we are willing to do whatever it takes to reach it. We have gone so far, but it is not time to give up on it now. We will not rest until we achieve what we strived for years ago.