Why is everyone, including the UAE, going to Mars? Looking for water, alien life, and new scenic landscapes?
All of the above and more.
Life on earth is getting a bit unbearable and Mars is super cold and dry but we think we can change all of that, as humans often believe and do.
It’s taken us a little over 100 years to put Earth on the path to irreversible environmental and species extinction, so now we want to have a shot at Mars.
If the development of Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s Starship Mars-colonizing vehicle goes well, it’s possible that humanity could put boots on the Red Planet in the next 10 years.
And today there are no less than 4 Projects heading to the freezing Red Planet.
What do we know about Mars, anyway?
Scientists learned a great deal about the history and evolution of Mars in the last 10 years. NASA’s Curiosity rover mission led the charge, determining that at least some parts of the planet were capable of supporting Earth-like life.
Orbiters identified an ancient lake-and-stream system inside Mars’ 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) Gale Crater.
Water might escape Mars more effectively than previously thought, potentially helping to explain how the Red Planet lost its seas, lakes and rivers, a new study finds, according to Space.com.
What remains of the water on Mars is mostly locked frozen in the Red Planet’s polar ice caps. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun breaks apart water in Mars’ upper atmosphere to form hydrogen and oxygen, and much of this hydrogen then floats off into space as Mars gravity is just 40% as strong as Earth’s.
The average temperature on Mars is -80 degrees Fahrenheit and could drop in the winter to-195 degrees F.
Colonizing Mars on Earth
To research how people might one day settle on Mars, engineers and scientists at a company called Interstellar Lab are designing space-inspired villages called the Experimental Bioregenerative Station (EBIOS), in California’s Mojave Desert starting in 2021.
The prototype space village could be used to train astronauts for life on the red planet, or give high-paying tourists a simulation of life away from Earth.
For 6 months, astronauts live and conduct tests such as new ways to grow plants and experiment with 3D printing,and for the other 6, tourists could book a stay in one of the colony’s living spaces.
The colony could hold up to 100 visitors and a single stay could cost between $3,000 and $6,000 per week.
Interstellar Lab are neither alone, nor the first to try this.
In the early 1990s, a set of enclosed biomes and living spaces in the Arizona desert, called Biosphere 2, housed four men and four women. The group lived inside for two years however, food became scarce and oxygen levels in the community dropped (partly because organic matter in the soil promoted the growth of oxygen-hungry bacteria).
On Jan. 4, in Hawaii, on the remote slopes of Mauna Loa, the largest volcano in the world, six scientists embarked on a historic “mission to Mars”, according to Space.com, as part of analog astronaut missions that place scientists and explorers in remote locations on Earth that physically resemble cosmic destinations like Mars.
Current missions to Mars
Here are four missions that are heading to Mars in 2020 and beyond.
1. ExoMars by the ESA and Roscosmos
“The ExoMars program comprises two missions: the first – the Trace Gas Orbiter – launched in 2016 while the second, comprising a rover and surface platform, is planned for 2020. Together they will address the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars,” reads ExoMars’ mission on its webpage.
2. China’s Huoxing-1 mission
Also known as the Mars Global Remote Sensing Orbiter and Small Rover, China’s Huoxing-1 mission is planned to be launched in July or August 2020 with a Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket. It will feature an orbiter which will circle the Red Planet to drop a lander with a rover.
Its aim is to look for both signs of current and past life.
3. The UAE’s Hope Mars Mission
The Emirates Mars Mission is currently building a probe thanks to the combined effort of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, and the University of Colorado and Arizona State University and will be set for a 2020 launch date.
Its aim is to study and analyze the Red Planet’s climate through seasonal cycles and the weather on Mars’ different geographic areas.
4. NASA’s Mars 2020 mission
Perhaps the most famous of them all, this mission is mostly known for the helicopter that the Mars 2020 rover will come equipped with. The rover, this time around, will seek to see if there are methods of using Mars’ current resources to support future colonization efforts.