What If We Colonize Mars?

“Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here.” -Interstellar This is perhaps one of the most fascinating and iconic quotes of all time and, if you think about it, it is a beautiful phrase because it’s true. We could spend (and we should spend!) all the time we have talking about making the Earth a better place for humans, but at the end of the day, we would also have to face the fact that we are not biologically destined to stay on Earth. Actually, we’ll be forced to leave not only the Earth but the Solar System. Because one day our Sun is going to die. That’s why scientists and people all around the world are currently dreaming of leaving. They are visionary people who escape the ordinary and try to imagine a life on another planet, maybe in another stars system. Of course, this is sci-fi. But someone thinks we can do the first small steps in that direction: that’s why today we are going to talk about Mars Colonization. Since the 20th century, there have been several proposed human missions to Mars, but no person has set foot on the planet yet. On Mars’ surface, there are currently landers and rovers that have successfully explored the planetary surface and delivered information about conditions on the ground. Why did we send rovers instead of humans? Why is it so difficult to plan and carry out a human mission to Mars? This is simple to understand. Mars is just another planet in the solar system, just like Earth. And it has some features that resemble our planet, but also it possesses some characteristics that make it very different from Earth. The similarities we can find are: 1) the martian day is very close in duration to Earth’s day. It lasts about 24 hours, 39 minutes. 2) Mars has an axial tilt of 25.19°, compared to the earth’s axial tilt of 23.44°. As a result, Mars has seasons much like Earth, though on average they last nearly twice as long because the Martian year is about 1.88 Earth years. 3) Observations by NASA and ESA orbiters and landers confirm the presence of water ice on Mars. But here come the differences that will help us to understand why it’s so hard to prepare a human mission and send it on Mars: 1) Mars doesn’t have a magnetosphere. The magnetosphere is actually a layer that protects us, sheltering us from the solar particle events and cosmic rays that could cause harm to our bodies. In fact, the solar wind it’s made of high energy cosmic rays that could hit us and cause, for example, cancer. The scientist has to find an effective solution to this before sending humans on Mars: we want our astronauts to be safe! 2) On Mars, humans couldn’t survive without pressure suits. This is because the Atmospheric pressure is far below the so-called Armstrong limit, at which people can survive without suits. Also, the atmosphere is toxic as most of it consists of carbon dioxide. This means we first have to be able to convert that kind of molecules into oxygen in order for our mars colons to breathe. 3) Due to the thinness of the atmosphere, the temperature difference between day and night is much larger than on Earth, typically around 70 °C (125 °F). 4)The Martian soil is toxic due to relatively high concentrations of chlorine and associated compounds which are hazardous to all known forms of life. So this is why we haven’t already sent humans to Mars. But scientists are working hard to accomplish this mission as soon as possible. Also, we wish to send humans to Mars and stay to form a colony. Our greatest desire it’s to colonize Mars. We want to be able to live a sort of “ordinary life” on the red planet. This is, at the moment, far beyond our capabilities. But what if we really colonize mars? Of course, as we said we should learn how to convert molecules into oxygen, and that’s pretty what perseverance is trying to do right now on the surface of the red planet with its new instrument MOXIE! Also, there’s no fertile soil on Mars to grow food in. That’s why we have to cultivate our crops in a mineral and nutrient solution that requires no soil. However, our colony would only be able to grow about 20% of the food it would need. The rest of it would have to be shipped from Earth in the form of dried meat, for example. Don’t expect fresh food! We’d probably live in inflatable pressurized buildings (or in underground constructions, because radiation levels are two and a half times higher than at the international space station. So…Forget about sun tanning! Also, here are some things that we should deal with if we ever colonize the red planet (long term missions and establishment of a permanent group). Effects on human health. Human health is an important factor. And also Mars presents a hostile environment for human habitation. This is why different technologies have been developed to assist long-term space exploration and may be adapted for habitation on Mars. The existing record for the longest consecutive space flight is 438 days by cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, and the most accrued time in space is 878 days by Gennady Padalka. Scientists have also hypothesized that many different biological functions can be negatively affected by the environment of Mars colonies. Due to higher levels of radiation, there is a multitude of physical side effects that must be mitigated. Currently, there are plenty of scientists involved in main or side projects that will help us understand better how to protect human health on a different planet. Physical effects The difference in gravity (Mars is smaller than Earth, and this gives us a gravity of about 0.38 per cent of Earth’s gravity) would negatively affect human health by weakening bones and muscles. There is also the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular problems. Current rotations on the International Space Station put astronauts in zero gravity for six months, a comparable length of time to a one-way trip to Mars. This gives researchers the ability to better understand the physical state that astronauts going to Mars would arrive in. On the skeletal system which is important to support our body’s posture, long space flight and exposure to microgravity cause demineralization and atrophy of muscles. During re-acclimation, astronauts were observed to have a myriad of symptoms including cold sweats, nausea, vomiting and motion sickness. Returning astronauts also felt disorientated. Journeys to and from Mars being six months is the average time spent at the ISS. Once on Mars with its lesser surface gravity (38% per cent of Earth’s), these health effects would be a serious concern. Upon return to Earth, recovery from bone loss and atrophy is a long process and the effects of microgravity may never fully reverse. Psychological effects One has to recall that we are humans, so the psychological factor for a long-term mission has to be taken into account. Due to the communication delays, new protocols need to be developed in order to assess crew members’ psychological health. Researchers have developed a Martian simulation called HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) that places scientists in a simulated Martian laboratory to study the psychological effects of isolation, repetitive tasks, and living in close quarters with other scientists for up to a year at a time. Computer programs are being developed to assist crews with personal and interpersonal issues in absence of direct communication with professionals on Earth. Current suggestions for Mars exploration and colonization are to select individuals who have passed psychological screenings. Psychosocial sessions for the return home are also suggested to reorient people to society. So this is pretty much what we’ll have to face if we really want to colonize Mars. Do you think we should make more efforts in this direction? Let us know in the comments below! “Thanks for watching everyone! ? If you would like to help improve the quality of our content, please check us out on patreon, we would like to say a big thank you to all those who show their support. See you next time on the channel!

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