The Curiosity rover has done some amazing things when it comes to providing a detailed account of what Mars is like and because of that, NASA says that it is “blazing the trail” for a human mission to the planet. NASA scientists have wanted to go to Mars for decades but they are closer than every before to having the technology available to actually allow for the mission.
“The wheels of Curiosity are literally blazing the trail for human footprints on Mars,” stated NASA chief Charles Bolden during Curiosity’s one-year anniversary earlier today. Jim Green, the director of NASA’s planetary division thinks that humans will be able to get to Mars within 20 to 30 years from now which means that a NASA mission to the planet could occur by 2033.
Before sending humans to the planet, NASA scientists are gearing up to send even more rovers to Mars which will provide an ever better look at the terrain and try to determine whether or not the planet could have ever sustained life. The next rover set to blast off should be taking the trip in 2015 but a full timeline has yet to be released.
NASA’s estimations as to when a manned mission to Mars will be possible are relatively conservative however. Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, thinks that his technology could be used to send humans to the planet around 10 years before NASA expects to be able to.
Musk has famously stated “I’ll put a man on Mars in 10 years” multiple times since 2012. Other scientists are unsure as to whether or not this will be possible but Musk has already shown his prowess when it comes to privatizing space exploration and his estimates are definitely worth paying attention to.
According to NASA, they are currently trying to figure out if they could use advances in 3D printing to build some of the tools which they will need once reaching Mars.