On Mars by 2025, people from earth will transform their kind into a multi-planet species, according to billionaire Elon Musk. His aerospace company, SpaceX, is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to send an unmanned mission to Mars in 2018, in advance of crewed missions, departing Earth in 2024 and arriving on Mars in 2025.
According to Popular Science, SpaceX’s current Falcon 9 could technically make it to Mars, but it wouldn’t be able to carry the food and supplies on board for the journey, which could take a few years round trip. The Falcon Heavy, three times more powerful than the Falcon 9, is SpaceX’s ticket to Mars, but it hasn’t test-launched yet. After many delays, Falcon Heavy is currently slated to launch by fall of this year in preparation for the 2024-2025 landmark voyage.
Aside from Elon Musk’s ambitious plans, NASA has a manned mission to Mars for the 2030s on the drawing board. Whichever project lands people on Mars first, by 2025 if Musk has his way, “you’d probably want a permanent base somewhere in the low northern latitudes,” Deputy Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, told Space.com in an interview.
A tilt on its axis gives Mars seasons like Earth, but a secondary seasonal effect is imposed on the red planet by its highly elliptical orbit. The 2025 pioneers will find a southern hemisphere pointed away from the sun when the planet is farthest from it, resulting in colder winters and hotter summers than those in the northern hemisphere.
If the first human settlers on Mars were to pick its northern hemisphere, they would enjoy about seven months of spring, six months of summer, a little more than five months of fall, and only about four months of winter. According to Space.com, a year on Mars is by Earth standards, about 1.88 years, and the 2025 human arrivals will find that a day lasts a little more than 24 hours.
The average temperature on Mars is minus-80 degrees Fahrenheit, or measuring by Celsius, minus-60 degrees. People exploring from Musk’s Falcon Heavy rocket in 2025 will have to adjust between minus-195 Fahrenheit or minus-126 Celsius in winter near the poles and 68 Fahrenheit or 20 Celsius in summer time near the equator. Temperature changes could also occur in a single week.
On Mars, temperature changes cause powerful dust storms, which can easily cover the entire planet in just a few days. Even if the storms do not physically harm Musk’s 2025 pioneers, the dust could clog electronics and interfere with solar-powered instruments in Vasavada’s scenario.
From the Space.com description of conditions, humans would not have to worry about volcanic and tectonic activity when they find themselves on Mars by 2025. In addition, Vasavada asserts that the Martian atmosphere at 1 percent the density of Earth’s atmosphere, is thick enough to burn up meteors smaller than marbles. And because meteors are rarely larger than marbles, Musk’s pioneers will not likely be hit by them.
Vasavada has one word of caution: sending a message from Mars to Earth would take an average of 15 minutes. He sees some humor in this situation for people seeking amenities on Mars by the time they’re nicely settled in 2025.
“It’s definitely annoying enough that it’d be hard to Skype with anybody.”
Time magazine asked Elon Musk to determine what type of government would be most suitable for the first wave of pioneers staking out homes on the red planet. He said he believes a direct democracy would work most efficiently for the land claimants on Mars by 2025.
“I think that’s better because the potential for corruption is substantially diminished in a direct versus representative democracy.”
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