NASA has announced a space program to launch humans to Mars in a way quite similar to the proposal released to the public only a couple of weeks ago by Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Paul Davies, which we first brought to you earlier this month. The proposed 100 year starship program is thought to be one of the most powerful endeavors ever to be undertaken by mankind. And in the coming generation we may see a sustained and lasting project where people survive on a harsh and inhospitable planet.
In the past year discoveries have been made suggesting life may exist or have existed on Mars in years past. And though it may have never been as complex as it is on Earth, the planet is said to have the potential to eventually become a fertile ground for human occupation. But there will be no return trips from the red planet. At least none have been proposed. Those setting off on the vast ship will have to bring with them everything they need to survive, including the very building materials necessary to survive on Mars. If something is broken and needs to be replaced, it is likely that there will be points where Earth cannot provide these supplies. And with the human invasion of Mars requiring an entire lifetime on its surface, there is little doubt that Earth will need to plan ahead and then some if these brave explorers and settlers are to live full and rich lives on the planet’s surface.
But life on Mars will require the same challenges as life on Earth would. First, astronauts will have to learn how to survive without oxygen. Or rather they will have to survive while making their own through one of a number of means. In addition to the oxygen they have on their ship, they will have to take careful care of the plants they bring along with them. As these plants grow, they will produce oxygen allowing them to survive. And while the first few generations may show new challenges to maintain, future strains will be affected by natural selection on the planet allowing them to develop more confidently and fully in the future. And as there will be no lack of carbon dioxide on the vessel, this will likely contribute to the plants’ full growth. Food will similarly have to come from plants grown by the crew and could at times be incredibly limited if crops fail in the highly controlled environment. Luckily plants have been used to provide oxygen on the International space station.
Another major challenge will be water. While the surface of Mars does have enough water to reasonably allow for the sustenance of a small population, the transportation of this water will be abundantly difficult in some cases and would likely have to be recycled using filters or chemical treatments.
Electricity could come either from an internal nuclear source or solar panels attached to the surface of the craft. And as years went by eventually a permanent installation could be created to allow for a growing population on its surface. In this way humanity may finally move beyond Earth and into the stars.