So, what’s the big deal about our neighboring planet being only 34 billion miles away?
30 years ago, we may have been on Mars. NASA was already preparing its next stride into the unknown during the Apollo era’s height in the early 1970s. By the 1980s, it hoped to have built numerous space stations, ongoing Moon missions, and the first crewed journey to Mars. Imagine seeing astronauts walk on Mars at the very same time that the walkmen were released.
When it refers to interplanetary places beyond Earth in our solar system, there aren’t many fantastic alternatives in terms of weather, climate, or even solid land. Our close neighbor Venus is so hot that we’d burn up before we ever got close to solid land. With temperatures ranging as -400 degrees Fahrenheit, Pluto breaks the thermometers in the opposite way (-240 degrees Celsius). Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, and Saturn, on the other hand, are primarily made up of poisonous gases that would kill humans even if they could walk on stable ground. That’s not even taking into account the storms.
Mars seems to be the only planet in our solar system that has a livable orbit. Humans have set foot on the moon and deployed spacecraft that have traveled to Pluto and even departed the solar system’s outskirts after more than a half-century. We’ve also landed numerous spacecraft on Mars, particularly NASA’s Perseverance spacecraft and China’s Zhurong spacecraft, which are presently traveling from around the planet and transmitting photographs and other data.
So, why hasn’t mankind visited Mars yet?
Thus according to NASA, there are still a lot of hurdles to conquer before deploying a human expedition to the planet, including technological advancements and greater knowledge of the human body, psyche, and how humans may adjust to living in another world.
The Next Step Forward
Sending people to Mars appeared plausible after the Apollo Moon landings in the 1970s, but it would be a “big leap” politically and financially. Space is vast: whereas the Apollo astronauts took only four days to travel to The moon, it would take roughly 9 months to reach Mars using current technology. A whole mission may span two or three years by the time the planets align favorably for a return. The astronauts would require food, drink, and oxygen as well as radiation protection throughout that period.
The success rate of robot missions does not inspire confidence at this time. To date, Russia has deployed 21 Mars rockets, including five autonomous landers, but only 2 orbiters have returned. The US has fared better, missing only five of its 23 missions. There hasn’t been a return mission, though. Clearly, more research is required before we consider bringing humans to Mars. But, fairly soon, we’ll have to leave. It might happen in the next 20 years if there is political will. In the interim, one thing that may be done is to assess human psychological preparedness with such a mission.
Russian astronaut Valeri Polyakov holds the current record for the longest mission, having returned to Earth from Mir in March 1995 after 437 days in space. This accomplishment is a psychological and physical test of will and endurance, as well as a test of the human body’s capacity to resist the bone and muscle loss associated with zero gravity.
Trip to Mars
One of the most difficult aspects of a human journey to Mars will be maintaining the crew active and healthy. Someone who is in space for an extended period of time can cause a variety of unusual effects in the body. The first thing that happens when we enter the microgravity condition of space (where astronauts may float), is that bodily fluids that are “drawn” to the feet on Earth are decreased and migrate towards the head and chest. This leads astronauts to have a condition known as “puffy head, chicken legs.”
Changes in bone and muscle are also significant side effects. Bone density decreases by 1% each month in space, whereas muscle mass decreases by 3% per month. This is comparable to the levels lost over the course of a year for older individuals on Earth. In space, losing this much bone and muscle would not seem like a big deal. Because of the “weightlessness” of the environment, individuals might appear to execute superhuman feats of strength, such as putting a satellite into place by themselves. Muscles and bone loss, on the other hand, decreases physical performance and substantially increases the risk of a fracture when returning to a gravity environment.
Exercise is now the greatest approach we have for counteracting these impacts. On average, astronauts on the International Space Station work out for 2.5 hours each day, combining cardiovascular (cycling, jogging) and resistance or weight training. Furthermore, even with this level of activity, astronauts’ fitness drops by 25% in just six months, making it probable that crews would arrive on Mars frail and vulnerable.
Is It A One-Way Trip?
Crews will be exposed to gravity once more once they reach the surface of Mars. On Mars, however, gravity is only 0.38g (roughly one-third that of Earth). This implies that while moving around the planet’s surface will be considerably simpler than on Earth – even if visitors would be required to wear safety spacesuits – crew members may not be able to restore bone and muscle lost during the voyage. The fear is that if they can’t repair this bone and muscle while on the surface of Mars (for roughly a year), they won’t be able to return home.
As a result, scientists are considering a variety of options for keeping people healthy for lengthy space missions, such as a journey to Mars. They are attempting to develop artificial gravity systems that will allow astronauts to interact with the Earth’s surroundings. Another potential is vibrational platforms, similar to those already in use on Earth to aid with the regeneration of bones and muscles as people age.
Presumably, this means that crews will be able to make the multiple round trips to Mars and that our first mission to another planet will not be a one-way excursion.
Then, in the long future, when there are bases and colonists on Mars, the issue of terraformation — making Mars seem like Earth – arises. This may include melting polar carbon dioxide with nuclear energy or solar reflectors, then supplementing with foreign comets and asteroids. This would also boost temperature and allow liquid water to return. However, it would require the safety of a magnetic field created artificially. Algae or cyanobacteria may then begin generating oxygen, allowing the atmosphere to function.. Yes, it’s science fiction, but as we’ve seen, a lot of fiction becomes reality.