Mars is one planet that has been the subject of many space exploration missions and experiments. However, it is largely inhospitable, which begs the question – why all the curiosity about the Red Planet? For starters, it does have some natural phenomenon similar to those found on Earth such as polar ice caps, canyons, volcanoes, seasonal weather patterns, and clouds. The following is NASA’s highlight of the mysterious planet.
“Over the past three decades, spacecraft have shown us that Mars is rocky, cold, and sterile beneath its hazy, pink sky. We’ve discovered that today’s Martian wasteland hints at a formerly volatile world where volcanoes once raged, meteors plowed deep craters, and flash floods rushed over the land.”
“And Mars continues to throw out new enticements with each landing or orbital pass made by our spacecraft… About 3.8-3.5 billion years ago, Mars and Earth were much more similar. Evidence from Mars missions suggest Mars may have been much warmer and wetter than we observe it to be today. In this ancient timeframe, scientists find the first evidence of microbial life on Earth.”
Delving a bit into the details, Mars’ atmosphere is about a hundred times thinner than that on our planet, and is made up of 95 percent carbon dioxide. It is also much colder than Earth due to its distance from the Sun, with average temperatures being about minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit. At the poles, they can vary between minus 195 degrees Fahrenheit and 70.
On why billions of dollars should be used to try and reach an inhospitable planet, Bill Nye, the Planetary Society CEO, recently revealed the following, while on the StarTalk Radio Show.
“If humans go to Mars then scientists estimate we could make discoveries 10,000 times faster than the best robot spacecraft explorers we have now,” Nye said. “And even if robots become so advanced that they can compete with a human explorer, that wouldn’t change anything,” Nye added.
“We’d still want to explore ourselves. Lust for adventure and the tantalizing idea that we could discover something new would still exist.”
“Going to Mars for exploration is one thing though,” Nye said.
“Setting up a colony there is something entirely different. I would like to go to Mars but I want to come back. And I don’t want to go to Mars to live. I don’t think that is all the way thought through, in my opinion.”
This is as reported by Business Insider. That said, there are presently private companies looking to take humans to Mars, and one of them is Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The company seeks to be a pioneer in this space venture. However, there is always the question of whether this is even realistic. And on that, Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson, a Havard graduate with a post doctorate from Princeton, recently offered the following.
“History tells me there is no business model for ‘a private individual exploring a new world without government backing. There are too many unknowns. The British East India Company didn’t discover America. Columbus did. For the East India Company to try to explore the New World before Columbus blazed the trail.”
“[It] would have been an unwise investment, because they didn’t know where the trade winds are, and where are the hostiles and where are the friendlies. It was only after a government had provided the financing for Columbus’ expedition, and he had returned with some hard facts on the New World, that private companies could develop a plan to profit from it. Tyson expects the colonization of Mars to follow a similar path.”
This is as reported by the Motley Fool.
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