I have written in previous posts, about limits and how they may or may not exist. As far as where we live, there is really only one choice. Earth is a limit as far as where humans may choose to live… for now. From here, the ultimate next step, the ultimate adventure, for those who may participate is Mars. Mars is a curious, fascinating place, it seems it would open up the universe. An almost Star Trek scenario comes to mind. Humans going to Mars, would bring back the excitement, the team work, the joy of exploration that has been in many ways missing since the 60’s when John F. Kennedy lead the Americans to the moon with a very inspirational speech We Choose to go to the Moon.
Why go to Mars?
In many ways, for the short term, exploring new planets is all about improving our own. Many of the other planets show us our own past, or a possible future for earth.
“The more we learn about the other planets out there, the more we learn about Earth,”
Mars may have at some point been very much earth like, there would have been oceans that are now subterranean and frozen. There are canyons and volcanoes and craters much like earths. There is a lot of methane on mars, on earth methane is almost all produced by life, these may be small bacteria but they are life.
A TED Talk from 2009, still very relevant in explaining today why Mars is so important. For more information about the ARES mission.
In more of a long view, Mars may be a possibility for an escape, or just a different place to live, the same way sailing across the Atlantic at one point was so attractive to Vikings, and later Europeans. It is a realistic dream. As far as space goes, it seems where NASA goes, so does the rest of the world. The president’s fiscal year 2016 budget calls for $18.5 billion overall for NASA — 0.46 percent of the federal budget. Just a small part of the budget as most people think it’s 10 times that much.The problem often is that there is no immediate feedback, these missions often take years, even decades to complete. However NASA is more than abstract money spending, time wasting space exploration. In many of these missions findings that are very much related to earth come about. Improvements to firefighters suits, road safety and LED lights are among many of NASA’s on earth contributions to science.
Is it possible for humans to get to Mars?
Nasa is currently working on a one year trip to the International Space Station, you can go to their Facebook page to find videos explaining the trip and how it relates to a future Mars mission. They are working on physiological and psychological tests and right now are testing to see how space affects twins, one being on the ISS and one staying on earth. Nasa’s plan currently calls for manned missions to Mars for 2030. There are many people currently in the field however, who would like to make that much sooner. Elon Musk is one of the entrepreneurs currently working on this problem. One of the founders of PayPall, Elon Musk and the team decided to sell in 2001. Elon was left with $165 million and decided instead of buying himself an island and living peacefully, that with that money he wanted to create a garden on Mars! At the time (and still today), there are many problems with this dream. First of all the transportation to get there is far to expensive. Secondly, there would be no return if a person were to be sent. In an Interview with Salman Kahn of the Khan Academy.
“I thought that there wasn’t enough will, but there actually was plenty of will if people thought there was a way. So then I decided, OK, well, I need to work on the way.” – Elon Musk
And so it was, Elon Musk created SpaceX, a company currently contracted to build for NASA. Eventually planning a round trip to Mars. At the moment they are working on a rocket that would make a safe return to earth after its mission, costing a quarter of what anyone else has right now. With this technology SpaceX is a potential competitor in those planning an eventual trip to Mars.
Elon Musk on Mars exploration fitting on an evolutionary scale
Another idea was to send people right to Mars, with no arranged way back. Mars one at one point had many volunteers who were willing to go to Mars with no return in sight in hopes to colonize the planet. The plan was to take one hundred people and there were videos explaining why these people wanted to be sent to Mars. This project seems to be on the back burner for now and it remains to be seen if they are able to continue on. It is extremely interesting to see that some people would actually be willing to be sent away from earth with the possibility of never returning, but in many ways this has happened over and over throughout human history.
We humans are perpetually in jeopardy if we stay on Earth, whether from nuclear war, climate apocalypse, or a good old-fashioned killer asteroid (a classic). If humanity is to survive, we have to spread out. –MARCUS WOO
Life, and humans are always looking for a way to survive. This is as much on a species level as it is on an individual and familial level.
What comes next?
There is much disagreement about this, but NASA is planning to send astronauts to an asteroid in the mid 2020’s. The unmanned missions, to Pluto, Ceres and Jupiter will also continue. There is also water on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons and Europa, one of Jupiters moons. These were at one point planned missions that have fallen to the back of Nasa’s list but do remain possibilities. The European Space Agency also have plans in the area. It does seem though, that Europa may even be a better bet than Mars for the title of Ultimate Destination!