Being the second smallest planet in the solarsystem and named after the Roman god of war, Mars is considered to be a desolate, frigidand inhospitable rock whose colonization is one of the biggest challenges in our century. Curious to know why it is so hard to colonizeMars? Keep Watching!! Mars exploration and colonization have beena fantasy and a really hard challenge for Humans in the current century. However, we are working to make this dreama reality where NASA is planning to put humans on Mars by the end of 2030.
One of the biggest challenges is transportingastronauts and payload across the 34 million miles of space that exists between Mars andEarth, however, upon their arrival; humans will have to face many other challenges duringthe course of their mission. For instance, they will have to find solutionsfor life threatening problems such as the lack of water, thin atmosphere, the high levelsof radiation, toxic soil, cold temperatures and low gravity. In this video, we’ll talk about each factorof these serious problems in detail. 1- Lack of Water, As we all know, water isthe most important and essential factor when it comes to the lives of humans and theirsurvival. However, Mars does not contain water or atleast it does not contain water in a form suitable for human usage. There were signs of water on the red planetillustrated in some images sent by The Mariner 9 and Viking space probes back to the 1970s. Moreover, in 2018, a study was published inthe science journal reporting that an approximately 12 miles in width lack; had been found andit’s located about a mile below the south pole of Mars. Additionally, scientists had found eight regionson Mars where soil erosion had uncovered huge areas of ice deposits below the Martian surface. In 2019, the American Geophysical Union reportedthat they located layers of ice and sand buried a mile beneath Mars’s north pole.
All of this information demonstrates thatMars does contain water on its surface, however, the technology required to extract this embeddedwater is not available to us, Yet. NASA is working on this problem through formingpartnerships in order to advance their mining technologies for use in space exploration. The results of these partnerships are verypromising where in July 2019, along with Honeybee Robotics and the University of Central Florida,NASA showed off a prototype spacecraft that is called “The World Is Not Enough” orWINE, for short, it is a prototype of the size of a microwave oven specifically designedto mine soil on asteroids, extract water from this soil and then use it to generate steamin order to propel itself to its next mining destination. It’s a truly promising technology but itcan be adapted to harvest water for Mars exploration. 2- Thin Atmosphere, an atmosphere is one ofthe most important factors that a planet must acquire in order to support human life andsurvival. However, Mars’s atmosphere is very thinand it’s made up of all the wrong combinations of gases.
For example, it’s mostly composed of carbondioxide, approximately 95.3% of Mars’s atmosphere is carbon dioxide which is a very high ratiocompared to less than 1% on Earth. Moreover, Mars’s atmosphere has barely anyoxygen, around 0.13% compared to 21% on Earth, which is very unfortunate due to the factthat humans need oxygen to breath. In addition to this, Mars’s atmosphere containsa very small ratio of nitrogen, around 2.7% compared to 78% on Earth which is also veryunfortunate due to the fact that plants need nitrogen to survive. Besides the wrong combinations of gases inMars’s atmosphere, the atmospheric pressure is unfortunately quite low , around 6.1 millibarscompared to 1,013.25 millibars on Earth. In order to fully grasp this, the atmosphericpressure is crucial to the survival of humans and without it, the trapped air pockets insidethe human body would expand, the eardrums would rapture and the water ratio in the bodywould boil. All of these life threatening obstacles willface any crew members during their mission on Mars due to the extremely low pressureof its atmosphere.
Therefore, in general, astronauts must wearpressurized suits to survive in space and they have to wear them all the time on Marsas well or even live in pressurized habitats. This will limit their freedom of moving aroundto collect data or samples and transporting the equipment necessary for performing theirexperiments specific to their mission. Having a thin atmosphere leads to many catastrophicconsequences as well, for example, the martian thin atmosphere allows the heat provided fromthe sun to escape into outer space; which makes the martian nights very cold with temperaturesreaching minus 285 degrees fahrenheit or even below. Although numerous solutions regarding engineeringan atmosphere on Mars have been proposed, None of them can possibly work unfortunately. To elaborate, these proposed solutions suggestengineering an artificial atmosphere on Mars which would produce the necessary gases andworm the planet. Moreover, they suggest stimulating the greenhousegases that include carbon dioxide and water vapor which already exist on the planet torise into the air and create a thick atmosphere. However, according to a study published inNature Astronomy in 2018, Mars does not have enough of these elements on its surface inorder to create such an atmosphere necessary to sustain human life. Thereby, the optimum solution is that; astronautstravelling to Mars will need to bring all of the life-support systems with them. 3- High Levels Of Radiation, we all know thatthe Sun, like any other star, is a fusion reactor that emits enormous amounts of electromagneticenergy with all different types of spectrum including X-rays, Gamma rays and ultravioletradiation.
Moreover, the sun also emits high energy protons,atomic nuclei and many other subatomic particles which have significant risk on the human body. For example, it can affect the central nervoussystem, increase the lifetime risk for cancer, cause sickness and degenerative diseases. Fortunately, Earth’s strong magnetic fieldforms an invisible barrier against most of the incident radiation and diverts the electricallycharged particles back into space, additionally, the remnants of the radiation are absorbedby the thick atmosphere of our planet. Thereby, astronauts outside our protectiveatmosphere are at risk due to the fact that they are directly exposed to high levels ofradiation. Moreover, according to the European SpaceAgency “ESA”, the martian thin atmosphere absorbs radiation doses up to 700 times higherthan on Earth. However, the ESA agency is collaborating withsome particle accelerator labs to develop new technologies that can help mitigate theexposure. In particular, they try to recreate rays ofthe cosmic radiation and then build shields that can protect astronauts against it.
Moreover, in order to track the radiationexposure outside the Earth orbit, the ESA agency has collaborated with NASA to sendradiation sensors on the upcoming Orion test launch during their mission to the Moon. Fortunately, an experiment has been conducted,recently, onboard the international space station, the results of this experiment haveshown that astronauts are actually able to mix cement in microgravity conditions. These results can be extended in the favorof Mars colonization; more specifically, concrete is a protective and sturdy material whichis already used on Earth at nuclear facilities to help protect people from being directlyexposed to the nuclear radiation. Thereby, It’s possible that people colonizingMars can use the Martian soil to make concrete that would help them construct habitable structureswhich would help protect them against the high levels of radiation as well. Before moving on, be sure to like or dislikethe video so that we can continue to improve our content and make these videos better foryou. Plus, be sure to subscribe to the channeland don’t forget to hit the bell button so that you don’t miss any of our weeklyvideos. 4- Toxic Soil, It’s highly likely that themartian soil is toxic to the living cells which implies that we would not be able togrow food on Mars. According to scientists at the universityof Edinburgh; the martian surface is less inhabitable than we had previously thought.
This means that they need to develop new methodologiesin order to be able to grow food on Mars before the human colonization on Mars becomes a reality. Their findings were based on a study and anexperiment conducted on a soil that contains perchlorates which is believed to exist inthe martian soil. When perchlorates are exposed to UV light,they form a toxic cocktail of by-products. Recall that there are high levels of radiationon Mars and the short-wave ultraviolet radiation is one of them and this exactly the type ofradiation used in the experiment. Moreover, there are additional chemical materialsthat interact with perchlorates which further increases the soil toxicity. Scientists believe that these chemical materialsare iron oxides and hydrogen peroxide. According to Simon George, who is a professorof organic geochemistry at Macquarie University, “ There’s no Ozone layer on Mars, so UVrays penetrate down to the surface and they are very toxic, they give you really bad sunburnif you’re on the surface. But what happens is this UV radiation interactswith perchlorates and produces side products, Probably chlorite and others, which are thethings that are really toxic to life”. Although these findings seem to be pessimistic,there’s still a possibility that we will find life on Mars but we need to search deeperand if NASA is going to send a human mission to Mars by 2030, then they must must knowwhether Mars is a suitable home for microbial life and if it’s going to be safe for humans. Astrobiologists are working on new methodsand technologies via which there’s a possibility to treat the Martian soil with enzymes inorder to put the perchlorates to good use and release considerable amounts of oxygen. 5- Cold Temperatures, due to the fact thatMars has an extremely thin atmosphere that is around 100 times thinner than Earth’satmosphere, there’s no thermal blanket that can help retain any thermal energy on thesurface. The average temperatures on the martian surfacecan reach about minus 60 degrees celsius. Now you may wonder why temperatures on Marsare cold despite the fact that its atmosphere is mostly made up of carbon dioxide?! And in order to understand the answer to thisquestion, you need to know that there are four major factors that control the temperatureof any planet’s surface; these factors are atmospheric composition, atmospheric density,water content and the distance from the sun.
What makes Earth a habitable planet is thebalance between these four factors and any disturbances or changes in this balance leadto significant effects on the climate on a planetary scale. The greenhouse effect is one example of theseplanetary scale effects. Where the gradual increase of the planet’ssurface temperature is because of the increased concentrations of the greenhouse gases suchas carbon dioxide, methane, sulphur dioxide, sulphur hexafluoride and many other gases. Surprisingly, we have raised carbon dioxidelevels in our atmosphere by a very small fraction of a percent since the 1950s and it has alreadybeen causing several changes in our climate. Moreover, water plays a crucial role in thesurface temperature of any planet, it helps make heat currents move slowly which helpsretain the thermal energy inside the atmosphere. When it comes to Mars, it has a very thinatmosphere that is about 96% carbon dioxide, moreover, it’s also extremely dry becauseit lacks any water content and it’s located further away from the sun.
All of these factors cause Mars to be an extremelycold and harsh world which would make it harder for us to colonize it one day. 6- Low Gravity, Martian gravity is approximately40 percent of that on Earth which means that humans exposed to this partial gravity arevery likely to experience muscle atrophy which will not be a good thing especially if theyare going to stay for long periods of time on Mars. To sum it up, Any crew mission on Mars willexperience many harsh and life threatening conditions from the lack of oxygen and water,the deadly radiation, the low gravity, toxic soil and the extremely cold surface temperatures. This means that if we really want to senda mission to the red planet by 2030, then we have to find solutions and develop newtechnologies to help make human colonization on Mars viable. Thanks For Watching Everyone!! Did you learn anything new in this video? Do you think that we can actually colonizeMars one day? Let me know in the comments below, be sureto subscribe, and I’ll see you next time on the channel!