I’m sure many of you may have heard that Elon Musk is intent on bringing humanity to the moon, or more likely, Mars. Musk has even said that his long-term goal for founding SpaceX back in 2002 was to make the inter-planetary leap.
Our lives on Earth have been threatened time and time again. We have seen horrible epidemics such as the Spanish Flu, the Bubonic Plague, AIDS/HIV, Malaria, Cholera, and Ebola. More than 108 million people have died in wars in the 21st century alone. Earth has been hit with deadly natural disasters such as the 1913 China Floods, the Haiti Earthquake, the 1883 eruption of the volcano Krakota, and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. There are even future events that are said to take place such as a solar flare from the sun or a comet hitting the Earth.
True, most of the past events have been slightly spread out over history, but it really seems like humanity can’t catch a break. It’s no surprise that many scientists and academics truly believe that the only way we can survive as a species is to leave this planet for a new one. Of course, it would not be humanities final destination, rather a stepping stone to the next.
Companies such as Holland’s Mars One, NASA, and, of course, SpaceX have promised to put permanent habitats on The Red Planet by the 2030s. We have been putting rovers, landers, and orbiters to Mars for decades, and the ride there would not be so difficult. It would take nine months to get there from Earth using a Hohmann transfer orbit, but with a more advanced spacecraft, it could be cut down to four months. The waiting would be bearable by putting the travelers in an induced deep sleep. Because of this method, we could potentially bring hundreds of thousands of people on Mars.
Obviously, there is a lot that needs to be taken into consideration before making the initial trip. There are ethical questions in play, including the challenges that could arrive should someone to become pregnant in space. NASA has already imposed a ban on sex in space, but there would still be the possibility. The effect of a birth in space could be disastrous.
It might also be necessary to house people under the surface of Mars, due to the increased amount of radiation that they would be susceptible to. Besides other physical effects such as weakened bones and muscles, the psychological effects could be severe. There would certainly be a negative impact on the human psyche after leaving their family and friends forever for a new planet.
Mars has been chosen as our next home planet because of many factors. For one, it is fairly similar to Earth in aspects of the length of the solar day, size, similar seasons, and the recent discoveries of water at the north polar ice cap. Yet, it is different in terms of gravity, oxygen level, temperature, solar exposure, and the conditions of the atmosphere. Nevertheless, Mars is the obvious choice.
In the future, we might be able to terraform Mars, but it is not yet a reality. To terraform a planet is to biologically engineer a planet to be more habitable for humans. This could be done by importing ammonia and hydrocarbons. There is even talk of using mirrors to direct sunlight and heat up Mars’ surface.
Unfortunately, us everyday citizens will not be the ones to go to Mars. It will be scientists, academics, and the people who fund the programs. Although the journey to Mars will be happening in the next decade or two, it’s not likely that our planet would be destroyed soon after. We may still be able to live out our lives on our home planet, despite a world war or two.
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