“Making It To Mars Won’t Be Easy”

Robinson Crusoe on Mars e1443766131893 “Making It To Mars Won’t Be Easy”

I’m firmly of the camp that believes humans shouldn’t currently be involved in space exploration beyond building rockets and robots. There’ll be time for us to take small steps and giant leaps later on, after our machine friends have conducted reconnaissance and at least semi-civilized these alien lands.

But no one is listening to me, as the new Space Race, being waged between private and public entities across the globe, are in a rush to plant humans and flags on Mars ASAP. It’s a far cry from 1991, when the revived Life magazine wrote of a 150-year plan to gradually terraform our neighbor with orbiting solar reflectors and other far-flung equipment, making Mars hospitable ahead of our arrival. The due date has clearly been pushed up, complicating what will be a long and lonely trip under any circumstances.

From Sidney Perkowitz at h+:

Making it to Mars won’t be easy. It’s the next planet out from the sun, but a daunting 140 million miles away from us, on average – far beyond the Earth’s moon, which, at nearly 250,000 miles away, is the only other celestial body human beings have set foot on.

Nevertheless, NASA and several private ventures believe that by further developing existing propulsion methods, they can send a manned spacecraft to Mars.

One NASA scenario would, over several years, pre-position supplies on the Martian moon Phobos, shipped there by unmanned spacecraft; land four astronauts on Phobos after an eight-month trip from Earth; and ferry them and their supplies down to Mars for a 10-month stay, before returning the astronauts to Earth.

We know less, though, about how a long voyage inside a cramped metal box would affect crew health and morale. Extended time in space under essentially zero gravity has adverse effects, including loss of bone density and muscle strength, which astronauts experienced after months aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

There are psychological factors, too. ISS astronauts in Earth orbit can see and communicate with their home planet, and could reach it in an escape craft, if necessary.

For the isolated Mars team, home would be a distant dot in the sky…•

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

Afflictor.com » Afflictor.com »