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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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 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.
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.
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.