NASA’s Opportunity rover, for example, spent more than 15 years on Mars and traversed complex topography for more than two dozen miles, at a price tag that is almost certainly less than 1 percent of what a comparable human expedition would cost today. Raw materials and the transformation of planetary surfaces. The Trump administration proposes to create a lunar base as a key step in sending astronauts to Mars. CROSS-CONTAMINATION FROM EARTH The treaty’s key provisions forbid placing weapons of mass destruction on the moon, in orbit or elsewhere in outer space. For colonies on Mars—even “harmless” ones whose purpose is purely exploration—the problem increases steeply: Most experts agree that life probably existed on Mars when water ran freely over its surface and may that it may yet survive in underground pools. A Dutch nonprofit venture called Mars One aspires to send four people to Mars by 2026 as the beginning of a permanent human settlement. Earth's Biosphere (and Humans more specifically) can survive a lot. Subscribers get more award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. “Moreover, the report acknowledges what many on this Committee have been surmising during past hearings — namely, that there is no actual Plan for a human Mars mission.”, While NASA has, since Pence’s speech, focused on how it will develop an architecture for a 2024 moon landing, it has not neglected Mars entirely. The report, dated February 2019, was completed prior to the announcement of the 2024 lunar landing goal, and thus does not address costs of such an effort. Three Good Reasons to NOT Send Humans to Mars 1. Designing a Mars mission would be easier if we could use resources that are already available locally. Do any existing international agreements deal with these issues? “We want to achieve a Mars landing in 2033,” he said. Possibly, they may meet and interact with similar probes from an array of other civilizations. STPI, at NASA’s direction, used the strategy the agency had laid out in its “Exploration Campaign” report, which projects the continued use of the Space Launch System and Orion and development of the lunar Gateway in the 2020s. Popularized by Star Trek, the Prime Directive dictates that humanity, capable of … Statements by Musk and Bezos testify to deep beliefs in human activities in space, which they apparently regard as not even requiring justification. Furthermore, the current geopolitical climate suggests the treaty’s terms might not fully govern the actions of any state or private party. Multiple lunar missions have mapped the moon’s far side, detected the gravitational anomalies that make the “man in the moon” always face Earth and discovered huge amounts of water frozen in the soil at the lunar poles. A moment’s thought, however, tends to reveal that (a) the notion that we can learn from our errors on Earth in order to survive in space involves pie-in-the-sky optimism and (b) the billions of people to be left behind deserve greater consideration. What of the superrich who operate free from such constraints? If humans do eventually land on Mars, they would not arrive alone. Uplifting the human spirit. But the past five decades have taught a clear lesson about how best to explore the cosmos. Beyond any scientific returns, these efforts elevated the human spirit, reaching a peak on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong set humanity’s first footprints on the moon. The James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to supplant the now creaky Hubble next year, will be directed to the much more astronomically favored “L2 point” (for second Lagrange point), a million miles from Earth. Large-scale extraction efforts, however, could never proceed without this contamination. Even the moon or asteroids, hostile to life though they now are, may contain traces of past biological activity. If we discover much faster means of propulsion or find a way to prolong human life or invent a means of inducing limitless suspension of life during a multicentury journey, we can send humans to the nearest stars and their planetary systems. It aimed to send a crewed mission to the Moon in 2020 and land the first humans on Mars by the 2030s. Everest would be unlikely to wipe out all Life (or all humans) on Earth. To their enthusiasts, giant space colonies and human habitats on Mars offer not only sites to develop a better society but also places where we may modify humans … In particular, space radiation—especially galactic cosmic rays (GCRs)—is dangerous. The STPI report also warns that attempting to reduce schedules by not using NASA’s existing standard practices for program development “would lead to very high technology, schedule, and cost overrun risk.”. We can imagine future space missions that use the more abundant minerals for the construction of mining colonies but that draw the bulk of their profits from the return of the most valuable metals to Earth. Last year, the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing found a host of private and governmental projects that aim to send astronauts far beyond the near-Earth orbits that have limited human space exploration since 1972. The costs and risks are huge. Meanwhile we would do well to ponder the current advantages that our automated explorers of realms close to Earth maintain over their human counterparts. An additional $12 billion covers SLS and Orion costs, as well as other launches to transport the landers, propellant and other cargo. The InSight mission hopes to improve the odds. For these reasons and more, sending humans for long-duration missions to Mars would be unwise. He also argued that going to the moon in 2024 would allow an earlier human mission to Mars. A report concluded that NASA has no chance of sending humans to Mars by 2033, with the earliest such a mission could be flown being the late 2030s. The technology will not be ready to send a human to Mars for at least another 10, perhaps even 15 years. The report uses the three-stage lunar lander approach that NASA studied last year, with a reusable ascent stage and transfer vehicle and expendable descent stages. Today, as America plans to lead efforts to send humans to Mars in the early 2030s, it is important to clearly articulate the rationale for undertaking such ambitious missions. By exporting our Earthly competition into space, we increase the likelihood of conflict in both venues. NASA contracted with the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) to prepare the report, which Congress directed NASA to perform in the 2017 NASA authorization act. NASA Astronaut Explains Why We Should Send Humans To Mars (VIDEO) ... NASA astronaut Rex Walheim, one of the crew members onboard the final space shuttle mission, says sending humans to the Red Planet is necessary to determine whether there has ever been life on Mars. a Human survival. Okay all of those can be addressed, protection from cosmic radiation, centrifuge sleeping quarters and indeed the whole habitat could be set spinning to increase the gravity felt inside, and UV radiation easy enough to protect against. GCRs are energetic particles that … To some, the answer is obvious: Of course we do. They cost far less than humans do, and we know how to improve them every year. The report estimated that the first lunar landing mission would cost an estimated $2.44 billion in launch and hardware costs, plus several billion in development costs for the landers. The race to the Moon was all about politics not science. ... Mars Over the Moon. “Why do we go to the moon? Of course, one easy way to minimise the risk of contamination is to send robots to Mars instead of humans – the second argument against a manned trip to Mars. Mars offers two things we don't have on Earth: Insurance & Room. We're putting so much money into going to mars, We don't even know if it will be successful. He also alluded to the STPI report in his testimony. And if they fail, we lose only dollars and scientific results. Whether the exploits proposed by Musk and Bezos will inspire us to greater efforts on Earth—or cause us to imagine that we can forget about problems on our planet—remains an open question. Actually, attempting to eventually send humans to Mars is a pricey, risky leap. “As such,” the report concludes, “a mission to Mars orbit in 2033 is infeasible from a technology development and schedule perspective.” The next launch window, in 2035, was also deemed infeasible because of technology development work, pushing the earliest possible date for flying the mission to the following launch window in 2037. He says Nasa shouldn't be aiming to send manned missions to Mars Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.), chairwoman of the House space subcommittee, did mention in it in prepared remarks for an April 2 hearing by the full House Science Committee on the NASA budget request. India, which crashed a lander on the moon in 2019, dreams of doing likewise. So we shouldn't get too hung up on the large surface area of Mars, as it's not the only place we could colonize. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have spent large sums on future human space missions. These explorers will deploy numerous tools to probe rocks and minerals, using a memory equal—and soon superior—to any human’s. For e. G Africa, Some Asian countries and many other countries. Let’s examine the arguments in favor of sending humans into space in the in reverse order from which we have posed them. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American. Gravity on Mars is 38% that of our Earth's, which is believed by many to be sufficient for the human body to adapt to; It has an atmosphere (albeit a thin one) that offers protection from cosmic and the Sun's radiation; The day/night rhythm is very similar to ours here on Earth: a Mars … The Prime Directive. We could learn a lot from any mission to send people to Mars, such as whether there's life elsewhere in the universe or even the technology for new household appliances. A man on the Moon can enjoy himself a sunny afternoon in the shade of the... 3. Four major motivations deserve special attention as answers to this question. Those totals don’t include other costs, such as development of the SLS, Orion and Gateway themselves. They would carry with them their earthly microbes. National pride. This discussion has assumed the existence of a forum to debate the pros and cons of humans in space and reach a (more or less) logical conclusion. A mission to Mars launching in 2033, the report concluded, would need to have critical technologies tested by 2022, which is unlikely. There are, of course, good reasons for exploring Mars. Rees is author of nine books, including On the Future: Prospects for Humanity (Princeton University Press, 2018). If we create human colonies in space, their inhabitants might undergo evolutionary changes that make them more fit for space travel. Advocates of exploiting other worlds often point to a glorious future on Mars after engineers have “terraformed” the planet to produce more Earth-like conditions. 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