Why Is Mars So Attractive?

Sep 11, 2015 By Karthik G, Guest Editor
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[This article is a continuation of Part 1 last week where we learned about Project HI-SEAS. Don't miss that fascinating article here]

The plan to expand human colonies to space arises from how crowded the Earth is now.

In the past, explorers and conquerors would travel the world and claim new territory for their people back home. Now, astronauts are like space explorers on a mission to claim planets for humans on Earth.

But why go to Mars when the Moon is so much closer?

What Makes Mars Attractive?

Mars has many similar conditions to our home planet that make it viable for settlement.

A day on Mars has almost the same duration as that on Earth. It spins about an axis that is tilted very close to that of Earth’s as well. This means Mars has seasons as we do. However, it has a very long orbit around the Sun compared to the Earth and one year on Mars would be 1.88 years on Earth. This would mean each season would extend to almost double the time. Imagine a four-month-long winter instead of just two or a six-month-long summer! It would mean longer vacations and more time in school too.

The most important discovery the unmanned probes made is the presence of water ice on Mars. This is very important to us as it means we might have a water supply on Mars instead of having to transport water from Earth to the expected colonies there. How would you make ice under the ground available to people on the surface as water? Scientists still have to study the available resources and that would require a manned mission to the Red Planet.

What Are Some Issues?

There are problems with Mars as well. The ambient conditions on the planet are hostile to most organisms on earth. Mars has a lower gravity than Earth which causes health issues. Being further away from the Sun, the amount of sunlight reaching it is less than half of what we get. The shape of its orbit is more elliptical meaning there are greater variations in environmental conditions than we can tolerate. The atmosphere is also at much lower pressures than what humans can withstand.

Hopefully, the world’s cleverest minds will have a solution to those problems. This is just the start of years of deep space exploration!

Critical Thinking: What do you think would be the advantages and disadvantages of human settlement on the Moon?