Mars and Beyond: Will It Be Possible for People to Live on Other Planets?

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Headlines keep reporting new developments about space, moving to mars and other interstellar developments. The more we hear, the more promising the news sounds. Most of us understand that the world, without intervention, is on a downward spiral. Scientists warn about global warming, deforestation and the heaps of trash. Never mind the lack of water supply and overpopulation. Moving to Mars is sounding better and better. However, the question still remains as to whether or not this kind of move is possible.

A Brief History of Space Travel

In 1946, the first rocket reached out beyond Earth’s atmosphere. This milestone became the first real leap towards interstellar travel. It took nearly 20 years before many would actually be in space. In 1961, Yuri Gagarch from the USSR became the first man. Two years later, another Russian, Valentina Tershkova became the first woman to make the journey into space. It wasn’t until 1969 that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would make it to the moon. With each milestone, these astronauts were all paving the way towards a future in space for humanity.

Dreaming of Space

In the early 80s, space travel was put on hold. In America, NASA was still working hard to perfect the scientific advancements needed for more reliable space travel. They were also trying to end the cold war with Russia. Other programs became obstacles for space exploration. Without it being the main priority, as the government focused on war and economics, other countries slowly dipped their toes into the historical timeline for the race to space.

Set Backs Towards Space

There have been some setbacks that have hindered the likelihood of humans colonizing the galaxy. While making it to the moon and people actually getting to space was big news, there are a few things blocking these endeavors becoming nothing more than a novelty.

Lessons Learned so Far

In order to make our dreams of space living an achievable goal, we need to be able to overcome the challenges of space. Thankfully, from the exploration and launches so far, humans have learned a thing or two.

Gravity is a Heavy Obstacle

Escaping Earth’s gravity needs to be done quickly and with as little drag as possible. Much like a messy breakup, the slower the process is, the more painful. Gravity is a definite force to be reckoned with. Scientists have been figuring out how to do it better for the last 70 years or so.

Rockets are Bulky

When getting past gravity, you need to be able to move fast. This isn’t easy for our bulky rockets. While there have been developments to shape and design since the Apollo 11 moon landing, our current technology still requires a girthy fall apart rocket. The chemicals used to propel the rocket can lift it up and beyond atmospheric restrictions, but then many of the rocket models to date are relying on kerosene or refined fuels. Until scientists can perfect plasma or determine a more viable fuel source space travel is slow and inadequate for anything other than exploration.

Stuff in the Way

Every time we send something into space and it breaks away, it just sort of stays there. While you can look up plenty of breathtaking images of Earth from afar, most of these pictures have been altered. Specifically, they are lacking a large amount of space junk that floats around our planet. Because space is a vacuum, there is nothing to stop or slow this stuff. Add in the approximately 4,000 satellites that are looming on the space horizon, and there are quite a few potential obstacles that can puncture, damage or destroy a spaceship.

People Need Oxygen

The nice thing about Earth is that, even with global warming and toxins in the atmosphere, life is still totally sustainable here. While plenty question for how long, the fact of the matter is, there is still oxygen and the right kinds of gasses for life to be a thing. In the vacuum of space, life has a difficult time.

We Need More Data

Sure, we have been to the moon and seen beyond our own space borders. NASA and space agencies outside of America continue to create technology that can help to explore space, but the data is still relatively limited. Each bit of information that comes back offers a wealth of learning opportunities, but it still needs to be tested and fact-checked. Beyond that, we only have limited opportunities to test in real-world scenarios. There is a lot of data, but there is still so much unknown about the universe beyond the atmosphere of Earth.

Working Together Has Been Difficult

The race for space was once largely an American and Russian endeavor. Japan and China are making grounds in their space technology. Each country has certainly made a contribution to galactic research, but it isn’t until recently that everyone began to realize that they must work together.

It’s Not All Bad

While there are many challenges to traveling through space, consider that this is relatively typical for a new exploration of any kind. As humans continue to discover new ways of doing things, they apply this knowledge and build off of any mistakes made. There are plenty of opportunities for learning currently taking place all over the world.

The International Space Station (ISS)

The International Space Station provides a home base for astronauts and cosmonauts to explore and research space. As it orbits around the Earth, scientists are able to gain valuable data that hopefully will help us overcome the difficulties of space life. Since the beginning of the ISS mission, gardening has been a priority. There are a number of plants aboard and as we begin to understand the dynamics of zero gravity, NASA and other government’s space agencies are taking the data to create better options for future space travel and exploration.

The Orion Spacecraft

Long before the 2011 announcement of the Orion project, Americans have had their eye on the sky. The Orion Spacecraft is only the newest addition towards scientific contributions towards space exploration. This small ship promises to be able to travel a small crew further than man has ever gone before. Currently, the Orion Spacecraft is still being tested. The team recently announced their second abort mission and are rallying around a launch date early July 2019. With successful test flights, the project continues to take steps towards sending astronauts into deep space. This step is a requirement for developing a working understanding of the more complex qualities of space travel.

Chang’e-4 Probes the Moon

This probe from China touched down on the south side of the Moon on January 3, 2019. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) oversees the flight and data of this project. However, it also shares payloads from other countries and proves to be a joint endeavor that exemplifies the benefits of intercountry cooperation towards space exploration.

SpaceX Promises Exploration

Elon Musk has been an outspoken supporter of space travel. His company, SpaceX continues to declare that they will be able to send commercial flights to space. The company has been testing multiple rocket types and gathering all sorts of data. Their goal is to aggressively seek out a way for not only space travel but multi-planetary life options for humanity.

 

When Do We Get to Mars?

With all of the current developments taking place, it is no wonder that the topic of living on another planet is becoming more and more anticipated. With people like Elon Musk telling the American people that living on other planets is part of their company mission, it creates an ongoing dialogue. However, we may want to consider that perhaps Mars won’t be the end goal? Mars is definitely on the scope of visibility for modern scientists.

Spirit and Opportunity

These twin geologist rovers landed on Mars in 2004. We have received much data from these rovers including:

  • The verification of water on Mars
  • Visual images of Mars topography
  • Sample studies of minerals and geological data

With the rovers, we learned so much about Mars. For example, there is a current water cycle on the planet. Maps of the topography show the layers of the red planetary soil. People could watch data pour in from the rovers and even talk to them on Twitter when they were online. Well, they could submit comments. This project helped to bring space exploration back into the public consciousness. The NASA team proved that people are still interested in space as well!

The Likelihood of Living on Other Planets

Some of the data that we have about Mars, while interesting, proves that the landscape would be harsh for humanity. Scientists are still going over the data from the years that Spirit and Opportunity roamed the planet. What we do know is that the atmosphere doesn’t sustain any of our known and familiar lifeforms. While the water cycle being present is promising, Mars has quite a thin atmosphere and harsh chemical components that would prove deadly to people. While Mars may end up being a destination, we may consider moving beyond Mars and researching more planets to find one more hospitable. Also, while Mars may not make for a great living environment, the components of the planet offer much in the way for potential mining and knowledge gathering to ensure that space life is possible in the future.

 

Humanity Can Keep Looking Up

Moving forward, the sky is the limit for the future of living in space. While it may be too early to tell where humans will land, the chances of living on other planets grow with each success in space. As science continues to develop new technology and develops a more complete understanding of space, as well as the nature of other planets, it isn’t a matter of if people will live away from Earth but when.