The red planet.
For over a century, mankind has looked up at the reddish glow of our sister world and wondered what it would be like to walk on the red planet. For much of the 19th and even a portion of the 20th Century, mankind wondered what sort of beings, what sort of civilizations might exist on Mars.
Much like the moon, Mars has inspired countless writers, poets and filmmakers. The thought of traveling to Mars inspired writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs to write an entire series of novels on the subject. Orson Welles terrified thousands of radio listeners into thinking that a Martian invasion had already commenced. This month, Matt Damon will find himself stranded on Mars when The Martian comes to a theater near you. Like the moon, the fourth planet from the sun seems so close, and we yearn to know more about it. As such, scientists have long known that Mars would be an eventual destination for mankind.
NASA has been sending unmanned craft to take closeup pictures of the red planet since the mid 1960''s. The space agency has been sending landers to learn more about Mars since the early 1970's. The next logical step is a manned mission and a possible colonization.
But is it possible?
The discovery of water on Mars has heightened the expectations of a manned trip to the red planet and a potential colonization. In fact, the water discovery has everyone from NASA to SpaceX looking to the future and making predictions.
NASA releases report detailing its ambitions for sending astronauts to live on Mars: http://t.co/HynU53evaz pic.twitter.com/RRlQ96k28m
— ABC News (@ABC) October 10, 2015
Getting TO #Mars is seeming more possible by the month. But How Will We Get Off Mars? http://t.co/gtFnTlIgw2 via @NatGeo
— SusanTylerHitchcock (@Hitchbooks) October 2, 2015
RT @elonmusk Researchers at @NASA propose using @SpaceX Falcon/Dragon for Mars sample return mission http://t.co/KMWOQVgmGG #techHowever, there is one NASA scientist that thinks that a manned mission to Mars and its eventual colonization, even by 2030, is unrealistic.
— Will Elliott (@ADJGrpTech) October 2, 2015
Amitabh Ghosh, a scientist that worked on the Mars Pathfinder mission says that just because there is water on Mars doesn't mean that we can actually use it.
"Among the things that need to be considered are the quality of the liquid water there — or for that matter on Pluto and some of the moons of Jupiter or Saturn — and the cost involved to recover it and make it fit for human consumption. The intention is very much there to send humans to a nearby planet. But I don't think these may materialize, say, at least over the next two to three decades"The NASA scientist continued, saying that if the liquid water on Mars is too deep below the surface of the planet, the cost of recovering it may be too difficult given current technology. As a result, if astronauts were to land on Mars for an extended duration, the water that is already there would be of no use to them.
The primary problem of a manned Mars mission is, of course, the long period of time it would take to get there. Just the one way trip to Mars would take astronauts at least 7 months. Such a long journey of over a year to travel to the Mars and back holds many barriers to the mission happening at all.
And yet, a seemingly insurmountable number of difficulties stood in the way of a manned mission to the moon as well, and yet, we overcame them with what now seems like ancient technology. Will man one day step foot on Mars? Should we? Comment below on your opinion of a manned Mars mission.
Photos by NASA: Getty Images