Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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How Will Humans Survive on Mars?

Human survival on Mars is a long way off. Many things still need to be researched and developed before we would be able to success

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How Will Humans Survive on Mars?

Human survival on Mars is a long way off. Many things still need to be researched and developed before we would be able to successfully and safely live on Mars. NASA’s three-part plan involves the research and experiments to test what we would need and how we would have to adjust our daily lives to survive on the generally uninhabitable red planet.

Many authors and scientists have tried to predict or explain how life on Mars would be. Based on the facts that we do have about Mars, many of these depictions could be very close to the truth. NASA has had teams of astronauts living in conditions that closely mimic what life on Mars would be like. They monitor these astronauts and their reactions and interactions. They gather data throughout the experiment and also interview the astronauts afterwards to learn how they experienced the process mentally, physically and psychologically.

The Conditions

Mars, unlike Earth, is not human-friendly. It has temperatures far below zero degrees, it is extremely dust, it has a very thin atmosphere and a lot of radiation and it has low gravity. For Mars to be habitable for humans, a lot of changes will have to be made to its surface. Before that can happen, we would need to find ways to create oxygen from Mars’ carbon dioxide and get water from the frozen rivers. We would also need to have spacesuits that protect us against the radiation.

The Landing

Landing on Mars is one of the big issues that NASA and others are working to address. Because of the lack of gravity, landing is a tricky thing. Many different ideas have been put forward on how to solve the problem. The latest idea involves retro-propulsion technology combined with parachutes. By the time we can actually go to Mars, there will be more and other ideas to make landing a heavy spacecraft on the surface of Mars.

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The Habitat

Humans will not be able to just live on the surface of Mars as we do here on Earth. The planet is currently able to sustain human life and is, in fact, a very hostile environment. Different possible habitats have been designed in an attempt to sustain human life. Each of these designs will likely have a few things in common:

  • Self-sustaining
  • Sealed for protection from radiation and against the thin atmosphere
  • Life-sustaining without help from Earth

The habitats will be necessary to keep humans alive on Mars until terraforming is completed. Terraforming is the process in which humans can cultivate Mars to the point where it will be able to sustain human life without assistance. We would be able to walk on the surface without a spacesuit.

The Equipment

The film, The Martian, which was recently released, portrays the types of habitats that NASA is looking to create. It also shows several other pieces of equipment and technology that are quite accurate to what is actually being studied and built.

To survive on Mars, we will need a lot of technology and equipment. Some of these will include:

Habitats – Life-sustaining habitats that can support human life without having supplies from Earth on a regular basis.

Storage Facilities – These facilities will be necessary for extra equipment, fuel, food, and spacecraft.

Extraction and other equipment – Mars has a lot of useful resources that can be used to make the planet more habitable and also help Earth with the possible depletion of resources like water. Equipment to extract and transform or use these resources will be very important. This will be one of the main missions for the people living on Mars.

Food Technology – To survive we need food. Equipment for food production, harvest and storage will be necessary. There are many obstacles to growing food on Mars and there will need to be equipment and methods to successfully do so.

Energy Production and Storage – Energy will be very important. Equipment for harnessing energy and storing that energy will be crucial.

Communication Equipment – Another very important aspect is communication equipment. It will be vitally important to remain in contact with Earth and the people in charge of the mission.

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The Farming

Sending packages from Earth to Mars will be an extremely expensive process. Therefore, it will be better to farm on Mars. However, Mars has soil and dust that is toxic to humans. Furthermore, there is much less sun and the soil doesn’t have the organics needed to grow. Luckily, the soil does have the minerals required for growth and with some small adjustments, we would be able to farm on Mars. Because of the soil toxicity, methods and equipment will be needed to ensure that the food farmed and harvested are safe to eat. Humans will also have to make use of the ice-capped poles on Mars. Because of the low temperatures, most of the water is in ice form and will need to be made into water.

The Reality

In reality, it is possible for us to do these things and sustain human life on Mars. Well, not yet, but once the technology is developed, it is possible. The only thing holding us back from getting to Mars is funding and the development of technology. Once these things fall in place, it will be no time until we send the first humans to Mars.

Many things must still be done and developed to realize this mission. Once humans are on Mars, it will take many years to make it habitable for more of us. It is unlikely that Mars will become a home to humans within our existing lifetime, but our great-grandchildren may well have that option.

It is intriguing to imagine a life on Mars. It would be fundamentally different from life on Earth because of all the challenges and dangers. People living on Mars will have their own laws and ways of doing things. One day, science and technology will make it happen.

Humans on Mars: What’s the Plan NASA?

NASA has been working on plans to go to Mars for a very long time. A few years ago, they announced their three-part plan to make it happen. This plan involves different stages of getting humans closer to Mars concluding with us stepping on Mars and exploring the potential of colonizing the red planet. The different stages are planned according to the development of technology and other capabilities. Most plans aim to have a manned mission to Mars in the next decade, so we can look forward to some exciting times in the 2030s.

The race to send a manned mission to Mars is an important one for different reasons. It holds economic advantages, collaboration promises, and much more. It also poses the potential to be a solution to problems with depleting resources and climate change.

Stage 1: EARTH RELIANT

The basic idea of this stage is research and experimentation. It involves research conducted on the International Space Station as well as areas on Earth that are similar to Mars. Astronauts stay in isolated areas where the conditions of Mars and isolation are mimicked to see what the effects are on them. The journey and stay on Mars will have both physical and psychological effects and this stage helps NASA learn more about the potential effects.

Some of the tests and research that are being conducted include improving advanced communication systems technology, material flammability tests, life support systems, 3D-printing, in-situ resource utilization development, and the effects on human health and behavior. Tests to improve space suits are also being conducted. When we do get to Mars, we will be exposed to radiation, the toxic dust from the planet surface, and who knows what else. The spacesuits our astronauts will wear needs to protect them

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Stage 2: PROVING GROUND

This stage involves experiments in deep space. Astronauts will perform complex operations in the Moon’s orbit which is called cislunar space. This will enable them to perform operations and learn what will be necessary to travel as far as Mars and survive. Several exploration missions and operations will be conducted. One of these is the Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission that is planned for 2020. A robot will collect a boulder from a near-Earth asteroid and then astronauts will study it and learn as much as they can.

Other projects will involve developing and testing state of the art information technology solutions and systems testing for a deep-space habitation facility. Research and development will also be done to find the best ways to make use of reduction, reuse, and recycling to reduce the constant need for new materials.

A new rover robot will be sent to join the Curiosity Rover in 2020. The new rover will feature a whole bunch of new and exciting gadgets that will enable us to learn more. A big part of the preparations for a Mars mission is the attempt to make oxygen from the carbon dioxide in Mars’ atmosphere. One of the new gadgets will be MOXIE and its main purpose is to try and make oxygen on Mars.

Stage 3: EARTH INDEPENDENT

The last stage of NASA’s mission to Mars plan is the EARTH INDEPENDENT. This entails sending humans to the vicinity or orbit of Mars, its moons and eventually Mars itself. All the information collected from the research on the International Space Station and the experiments and missions in deep space will be used to help send humans to Mars. The estimated timeline aims to put the first people on Mars in 2030.

The mission will be done as a collaborative effort between NASA and other countries and organizations. The mission is too big to be handled by a single organization or country. Not only will it require large amounts of money, but also the knowledge and information gained by different entities.

This stage involves having humans stay on Mars for a long period of time. They will attempt to grow food, create oxygen, and support human life. It will take some time to cultivate and prepare Mars to sustain several humans. A big part of the process is to improve communication and information technology to such an extent that interaction between Earth and Mars will be possible and easy.

A mission to Mars requires the development of several new technologies and equipment. When people land on Earth, they will need to be prepared for the harsh conditions and know how to survive. This will be a risky mission, but it is all worth it if it means we can expand the human race and gain resources.

The biggest problem with the Mars mission is the costs. It will be an exceptionally expensive mission and that is why collaboration will be needed. Some private organizations are funding their own projects and are aiming to beat NASA to Mars. One of these private entities is SpaceX run by Elon Musk. He aims to send humans to Mars within the next 10 years or so.

A mission to Mars is within our reach. Living on Mars is also a definite possibility, but that will probably only happen many years in the future. Sustaining a human population will take hundreds and maybe even thousands of years. There are still many years of research and experiments to be done before the dream of living on Mars can become a reality.

If you would like to get an idea of what it would be like to live on Mars, read this article about the books and films written about living on Mars.

Reasons Why We Cannot Live on Mars Yet

Science and technology have brought us a long way in understanding the world and the universe. We know things about our planet and the other planets in our solar system that we never thought possible. It is truly amazing and fascinating. One thing, however, is still eluding the human race. We have yet to send a manned mission to Mars.

Many countries and organizations are working towards sending people to Mars as soon as possible. There are many reasons why exploring and possibly colonizing Mars is important for us as humans. There are some reasons why this type of expedition has not been possible.

Lack of Technology

The technology needed to make a manned trip to Mars possible is within our means. It will be costly and take some time to develop, test, and perfect, but it is absolutely possible. The lack of technology creates problems across different areas.

Distance

Mars is a long way from Earth and it will take several trips to get everything needed for humans to survive on Mars. Current plans include sending supply craft and building parts ahead of humans. When they land on Mars, we will then assemble the equipment and housing. It will take a long time to get enough spacecraft to do this and develop the necessary technology to build housing to sustain human life.

Apart from the number of trips that will be necessary, the distance also presents a problem in terms of keeping humans alive in space. If we were to travel to Mars, it will take months. This means that new ways of storing food and carrying enough aboard a spacecraft to sustain several people will need to be created. Without enough food and stored resources, humans will not outlive the trip to Mars that is estimated at approximately 30 months.

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Vehicles

At the moment, there are no rockets that can make the trip to Mars without damage or getting destroyed. There are several reasons for this. First of all, the lack of gravity and atmosphere on Mars makes landing an extremely difficult process. Secondly, the weight of a rocket that is carrying humans and supplies will very likely crash to the surface of Mars and make the whole trip a big mess. The space fleet has been retired and building new rockets that are small enough to land and can carry enough weight at the same time will cost a lot of money and take quite a bit of time.

Fuel Storage

Fuel storage is another important gap. Technology needs to be developed to store enough fuel for human survival as well as the several trips that will be required from Earth to Mars and back. Fuel will also be needed on Mars for vehicles and equipment. This will be an expensive fuel situation. Other dangers involved with fuel storage include that it can easily explode in space if not secured and stored well enough. Space temperatures can make fuel act unpredictably and cause explosions.

In-Situ Resource Utilization

Mars has many useful elements and materials. These can be used by astronauts or humans who go to Mars. They could cultivate these elements to farm and create oxygen. However, the technology for this is not yet developed. In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) basically means living off the land. This is a process that NASA and others are looking at for feeding people when on Mars. Plans include the development of a machine that can extract oxygen from the carbon dioxide on Mars. It also includes harvesting and utilizing other minerals for fuel and building materials. There is still a lot to look at with this as the soil on Mars is believed to be toxic and we will not be able to eat food grown in it.

Human Health

The biggest concern about travelling to Mars is the effect it will have on humans. We don’t yet know enough about the effects of travelling and living in space. We can only predict and prepare based on what we now. Concerns that will have to be addressed include:

Body Functioning

Being weightless for long periods will influence the human body. Astronauts who were in space for several months came back with decreased bone density and low calcium. Some also showed signs of blindness. There is too much about the influence of space that we don’t yet know and understand.

Radiation

When we live on Mars, we won’t have the Earth’s atmosphere to protect us against radiation. Mars has a very thin atmosphere and space radiation will be a big problem. Before humans can be sent to live on Mars, we will have to find a suit or some other equipment to protect us against radiation properly.

Isolation

One of the biggest psychological challenges as indicated by astronauts during real space trips or simulated ones was the isolation. You don’t have contact with the outside world. Chances are that when you live on Mars, you may not hear from your family or friends again for a long time. You won’t be able to send them text messages or email them. The infrastructure for such things will still have to be developed. You will have others around you, but you will all experience isolation from the planet that you grew up on and everyone you left behind.

Contamination

Technology will need to be developed to properly isolate humans from their surroundings. It is very likely that we as humans can contaminate Mars and we don’t know if Mars can cause contamination for humans.

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Dust Damage

Dust damage is another big concern. It will likely cause a lot of damage to equipment and their moving parts. It will make maintenance very difficult. The dust may also be toxic to humans which bring about its own set of issues. The dust may cause allergies, pulmonary problems and can even contribute to causing cancer. Theradiation already increases the chances of cancer.

Cost and Collaboration

Costs to make a manned trip to Mars a reality will be enormous and will require international collaboration. There is no way that one country will be able to pull it off on its own. Many political issues will need to be sorted and the changing nature of politics and economics will need to be considered when collaborations are negotiated.

Legal, Ethical, and Societal Issues

Apart from all of these issues, we still need to keep in mind the legal, ethical, and social concerns that will also arise. The rules, laws, and societal norms on Mars will be vastly different from those we have on Earth. All of this must be considered and planned for.

As you can see, there are many issues that need to be resolved before a trip to Mars can be realized. The technology is within reach and the other problems can be researched and refined. The biggest issue remain the resources required to develop and perfect everything that will be needed.

Interesting Books and Films About Living on Mars

The planet Mars has fascinated people around the world for centuries. Philosophers, scientists, astronomers, and of course writers have all tried to learn more and try to predict how it would be to live on Mars. Many authors have written science-fiction books depicting the way they think life on Mars would be like. Authors often make use of actual facts to base their stories on which means that some of these science-fiction depictions may not be so far from the truth.

In order for us to have any type of idea of what it would be like to live on Mars, we must read about what others think it would be like. Obviously, these books are fiction, but many fiction books have some reality in them. Whether the depictions are accurate or not, we believe that you will enjoy the books on our list and that they will definitely get your mind going about living on Mars.

Our Mars-related book suggestions:

1. Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson

Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars make up the award-winning Mars Trilogy written by Kim Stanley Robinson. The series may be the most realistic depiction of what it would be like when humans finally attempt to colonise Mars. The stories are gripping and have been on the top of literature lists since its publication. The story takes us from the small party of scientists, adventurers, and others that start the process of terraforming through many trials, catastrophes, human conflicts, and more. This is definitely one of the books you must read.

2. How We’ll Live On Mars by Stephen Petranek

Stephen Petranek is an award-winning journalist that believes we will be living on Mars by 2027 and that is both plausible and inevitable. In this book, he explains why colonising Mars is a good backup plan for human life and also how he thinks it will happen. Petranek tells a riveting story and combines real-life interviews, keen reporting, and research to prepare us for living on Mars within the next decade.

3. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

The Martian Chronicles were the first science-fiction books written after science and technology learned that Mars was basically a lot of red dust. Ray Bradbury tells stories in a beautiful way and you will struggle to put these books down. His stories are imaginative and explore a whole range of interesting and sometimes haunting possibilities of living on Mars.

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4. Mars Life by Ben Bova

Ben Bova has a whole range of books that speculate and explore the possibility of colonizing other plants, including Mars. Mars Life follows a geologist and a crew of scientists on their journey to and across Mars. As it goes when humans are involved, the story has twists and turns and shows the struggles between money, politics, belief, science, and more that will follow no matter on which planet we live.

5. The Sands of Mars by Arthur C Clarke

This was one of the first novels written about mars. We have learned a lot more about Mars in the decades since this book was published. However, at the time that it was written, it was remarkable and stayed true to the facts we knew at that time. The story follows a reporter who voyages to Mars to write about the colonists and during his journey he comes across native Martians. It is a great story to show the contrast of what we knew then and what we know now.

6. Falling Stars by Michael Flynn

Falling Stars is the final book in the Firestar Series about why humans should leave Earth. The book is based on the belief that humans will go extinct if don’t find ways to live on other planets. Obviously, it is not a simple feat to move humans to other planets. Ethics, politics, religion, and societal norms will inevitably come into play and complicate things. The series follows humankind in its quest to overcome these issues and become an interplanetary and superterrestrial race.

7. Moving Mars by Greg Bear

Moving Mars is another award-winning book on this list. Together with Red Mars, it renewed interest in colonising Mars in the 1990s. It centersaround the idea that when we colonzse Mars there will inevitably be conflict between Mars and Earth. Mars is portrayed as the open-minded and radical side that clashes with Earth and its conservative way of seeing things. It is a high-tension novel that will keep you riveted until the last page.

Other titles that you can read for ideas and see how opinions have changed include Destination Mars by Hugh Walters, The Martian Way by Isaac Asimov, Voyage by Stephen Baxter, and Red Planet by Robert A Heinlein.

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Besides these science-fiction novels, many documentaries and movies have also been made about living on Mars. A few that are worth watching include:

  1. Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger made in 1990. It is loosely based on a short story by Philip K Dick.
  2. Mission to Mars made in 2000. It is a science-fiction thriller centeredaround the failure of the first manned mission to Mars and the rescue mission that follows.
  3. Race to Mars made in 2007. This is a documentary miniseries produced by Discovery Channel Canada about the red planet.
  4. The Martian made in 2015 and based on the novel by Andy Weir. This is a more recent film that depicts Mars more in the light of what we know already.
  5. Marsmade in 2016. This is a docudrama miniseries that was made by National Geographic. In the series, they combine real interviews with fiction to create a story of the first astronauts to travel to Mars to explore and colonise it. The film is based on the novel How We’ll Live on Mars by Stephen Petranek.

These novels and films are just the top of the iceberg of works about Mars and humans living on the red planet. Mars is truly a fascinating planet and the stories and depictions of what it may be like are amazing and sometimes scary. If you want to know more about the world’s fascination with Mars and why we need to colonise it, you must read these books.

Get to Know Mars: Facts About the Red Planet

Mars is an interesting planet. It is also called the ‘Red Planet’ because of its red outward color. Mars has characteristics that relate to Earth which makes it an interesting option for habitation. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and also the second smallest. It was first recorded by Egyptian astronomers approximately in the second millennium BC. Let’s look at some of the other facts about Mars.

Mars Name

Mars received its name based on mythology and the color of its surface. Its red color is the result of the rock and dust that are rich in iron. The Greeks called it Ares after their god of war. The Romans followed suit and called the planet Mars after their god of war that was associated with the color red and that is how we now refer to it. Other cultures and countries also named the planet based on its red color. The Egyptians called it ‘Her Desher’ which means ‘red one’ and the Chinese referred to it as ‘the fire star’.

Mars Profile

Mars is what we call a terrestrial planet. It has a thin atmosphere that consists mainly of carbon dioxide. Other elements that make up Mars’ atmosphere include argon and nitrogen. It is said that the atmosphere was thicker at one time but that it was damaged by storms. When compared to Earth, more than six of Mars will fit into the volume of the Earth. Mars has two moons.

Days and Years

One year on Mars is equal to 1.9 years. This means that a year on Mars is equal to 687 days compared to an Earth year that is 365 days. One day on Mars is 24 hours and 37 minutes compared to the Earth’s days that are 23 hours and 56 minutes. This is good news for when we finally go to live on Mars as the days won’t be that much longer.

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The Climate

The temperatures on Mars are extreme and create a very hostile environment for any living thing. The average temperature you can expect on Mars is -81 degrees Fahrenheit compared to the average of 57 degrees Fahrenheit on Earth. Like I said, it is an extreme and hostile environment.

The Moons

Mars has two moons that are called Phobos and Deimos. They were named after the horses that pulled the Greek god of war’s chariot. American astronomers discovered the two moons in 1977. Scientists believe that the two moons are asteroids that were captured. This is based on the similarities of the moon surfaces to those of asteroids found in the outer asteroid belt.

Mars and Earth

Mars is being considered as an ideal planet for humans to expand to. Despite the drastic temperatures and other unfriendly conditions, some things about Mars are similar enough to make living there a possibility.

One of the similarities is the landmass. Earth and Mars have approximately the same landmass. About two-thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered with water and scientists believe that Mars was also once covered with water. The gravity on Mars is less and you will be able to leap about 3 times higher than on Earth. You will also weigh a lot less on Mars.

Scientists could start studying Mars before missions were attempted because of rocks falling to Earth. Meteorites from Mars have orbited Earth for millions of years before falling to Earth. Scientists picked up on these debris pieces and were able to start studying Mars and its profile before any contact was made with the planet.

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Missions to Mars

NASA and other parties have been trying to put people on Mars for decades. There are several reasons why it has not yet succeeded. The attempts to discover more about Mars started during the mid-nineties and the first spacecraft was sent there in 1960. Since then, there have been approximately 68 missions.

Since 2014, 40 missions to Mars were attempted of which only 18 were successful. When we talk about missions to Mars, it refers to sending orbiters, rovers, and landers and also flybys. Missions fail for different reasons including the distance of Mars from Earth and a lack of specific technology.

Solar System Records

Mars is unique in many ways and despite its small size compared to the other plants in the solar system, it holds a few records. It is home to the tallest mountain in the solar system. The mountain is called ‘Olympus Mons’ and is in actual fact a shield volcano that is believed to still be active.

Mars is also at the top when it comes to dust storms. The storms on Mars are especially bad and can last for months. The main reason for the severity is because its trips around the Sun take longer than most other planets.

Mars Retrograde

Every two years, Mars appears to be moving backwards or from east to west. This is called retrograde. Retrograde is an illusion that occurs because of the way in which Mars and Earth orbit the sun. In earlier years, astronomers found this phenomenon very strange and tried to find some mystical meaning for it. Today, we know that it is simply an illusion that takes place every two years for a few months.

Putting People on Mars

For many decades now, NASA and other organisations like SpaceX have been working on putting people on Mars. One of the reasons is to have a backup planet in case Earth ceases to exist and another is to make the human race inter-planetary. Despite the many decades of studies and sending spacecraft to Mars, we are still unable to get humans to Mars. There many different reasons for this and we discuss this in a later post. However, despite the setbacks, it seems that people are more determined than ever to make putting people on Mars a reality.

Mars is a fascinating planet. Despite its harsh conditions, scientists and researchers believe that it will be possible for humans to live on Mars if we had the right technology. So, the experiments and the quests continue and some predict that we will be able to go to Mars within the next decade or so.a

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