The prospect of humans moving to Mars has always been an interesting topic for debates. Scientists have been researching the Red Planet for many years and now they have come up with the possibility that humans may inhabit Mars by the 2030s. This poses a very interesting question: how will humans be able to survive on the Red Planet?
Industrial work, gas emissions and litter are among the main threats to our home planet. As a result, climate change is one of the biggest threats to us all which makes the prospects of moving to another planet slightly more real.
Humans have always speculated on how life would be like on Mars, ranging from where we would live to how we will find food and water. In collaboration with Stephen Petranek, the author of “How We’ll Live on Mars”, the astronomers from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich have created the first ever model of a Martian home.
The display gives an insight into where and how we might live on the Red Planet in the next few decades. The igloo-shaped construction would be made of recycled spaceship parts and Martian soil. Inside the home, all the essentials for living on Mars will be included. There would be a space where people could grow their own food, a ‘living room’ area, a bed and even an exercise machine. It is also said that all the houses on Mars would be connected by an underground system.
However, the real question is: are humans even close to colonising Mars as the Royal Observatory claims? The astronomer Marios Karouzos states that we are closer than ever, since ‘’science is progressing and our technological abilities are becoming better each year”.
“This doesn’t mean that we are close enough. At this stage, going to Mars requires the same skillset as an astronaut,” he adds.
Going to Mars requires people to be able to respond to any kind of emergency that may arise at any moment. For example, engineering, physics and medicine are among the skills that are essential for humans to survive on Mars. Karouzos also points out that people travelling to Mars “need to be healthy with fully functional bodies”.
In order to survive, humans would have to grow their own food, melt ice for water and produce their own fuel. The physicist and senior lecturer at Imperial College London, Dr David Clements, also says that new developing technologies would create a radiation shielding using magnetic fields as a form of storm shelter. He adds: “It won’t just be a quick ‘stay a couple of days and fly straight back’ job as it was with Apollo”. “There’s a lot of work to be done on Mars itself.”
The plan would also involve a further exploration of the planet. Dr Clements believes there might be geology and maybe even biology by the time we finally colonise Mars. Nevertheless, it is important that humans take precautions and educate themselves on possible hazards we could face before jumping into the unknown.
The astrobiologist and professor of planetary science at Birkbeck University, Ian Crawford believes that people should make sure whether life exists on Mars or not, before sending people there. “I think we should certainly learn more about the composition of the Martian dust”, he says. “That red dust is very oxidised and could be quite toxic. We don’t know, because we’ve never studied it.”
Crawford stresses that it is crucial to send robotic missions to Mars first, in order to collect samples of rocks and soils and bring them to the Earth and study them. In this way, he says, we can determine the chemistry of the dust and decide whether it is a hazard or not.
While sending people to the Moon was a Cold War competition, moving to Mars should be a political opportunity for international collaboration. Relocating to another planet is something that involves a global effort.
But for now travelling to Mars is still a long way ahead of us. Therefore, we must make sure that our planet stays liveable for as long as possible, working hard to preserve all the natural resources it offers. In the meantime, it is wise to explore all the options that our universe has set aside for us.