Mars: The Next (Not Final) Frontier
Tuesday November 1, 2016
Mars. The Red Planet. The heavenly body, which lies a paltry 33.9 million miles away from earth, is simply not far enough out of an earthling’s reach. In the last decade or so, it has become a major topic of discussion and exploration – thank you Mars Rover Missions – and is now the next target for a manned mission from both earth governments and corporations alike.
The race is officially on!
According to a new op-ed from President Barack Obama on CNN, the soon-to-be retired Commander in Chief is leaving a lofty legacy for his successor to fulfill: put men on Mars by the year 2030. A beautiful dream of expanding U.S. frontiers to the heavens, it is true. But it is also one that would take an astronomical amount of (forgive the pun) man hours, research, and resources from both NASA and other space agencies to bring it to life.
The trip to Mars alone in a manned spacecraft is estimated to take approximately 7 months. That’s longer than the duration of an astronaut’s stay on the international space station!
But progress, it seems, won’t be deterred.
Private companies, tech giants, and intrepid (not to mention insanely wealthy) explorers are taking cues from President Obama and beginning to fund their own manifest destiny to our rust-colored celestial neighbor. Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla, Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin, Dream Chasers from Sierra Nevada Corp., and others all have aims to get a manned mission to Mars, and soon.
How soon? Well, NASA plans to have Mars populated by the 2030’s or 2040’s. But that just isn’t soon enough for earth’s private galactic ambitions. Musk and his ilk want people to be frolicking on the surface of Mars by the early 2020’s, with an unmanned mission heading there as early as 2018!
But there are some sky-high challenges to overcome first before men can plant their flags among the rosy rocks of that far-away speck. And NASA and the rest know it:
- Global Dust Storms: Massive walls of toxic dust – thought to be deadly to humans – can cover the entire planet’s surface when it is closest to the sun.
- Mechanical Failure: Everything from stray energy particles to cosmic solar flares could fry the earth-made instruments; leaving guidance and landing systems useless and stranding astronauts out in space.
- “Space Brain”: Prolonged exposure to cosmic rays can give astronauts permanent brain damage similar to dementia. This can include memory loss, anxiety, and depression.
- Landing: Due to the thin martian atmosphere, the parachutes — used to slow and eventually stop the craft after landing — will not deploy properly.
But, throughout history, specifically the history of space exploration, there have always been challenges, setbacks, and seemingly-impossible risks to overcome. Maybe modern technology has the answers? Time and experiment will tell.
While on earth, for stellar printing results, and the most advanced printing technology in the cosmos, consult a local expert at the Cartridge World nearest you!