Why Send Humans To Mars?

The Opinions of the Enthusiasts, Science, inspiration, and resources are three of the most common reasons for exploring the Moon or Mars. 

This foundation was laid by Paul Spudis for lunar exploration6, but many of the same ideas have been extended to Mars by fans. 

The NASA Mars Design Reference Mission (DRM-1) elucidated the justification for human exploration of Mars in great detail (Hoffman et al. 1997). 

A workshop on the "whys" of Mars exploration was conducted in August 1992 at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. 

The workshop participants highlighted six key components of a Mars exploration program's justification, which are described here.

  • Human Evolution—Outside of the Earth-Moon system, Mars is the most accessible planetary body where prolonged human presence is thought to be feasible. 
  • The technological goals of Mars exploration should be to figure out what it would take to maintain a permanent human presence outside of Earth. 
  • Comparative Planetology—One of the scientific goals of Mars exploration should be to learn more about the planet and its past so that we may learn more about Earth. 
  • International Cooperation—At the conclusion of the Cold War, the political climate may be favorable to a coordinated international effort that is both suitable and needed for a long-term program. Technology 
  • Advancement—Human exploration of Mars is now on the verge of becoming a reality. Some of the technology needed to complete this mission is already in place or is on the way. Other technologies will emerge as a result of the mission's requirements. 
  • Novel technology, or new applications of current technologies, will help not just those exploring Mars, but also people on Earth. Mars exploration's objectives are audacious, big, and a stretch of the imagination. 

Such objectives will test the population's collective ability to achieve this accomplishment, will inspire our young, will push technical education goals, and will thrill people and countries across the globe. 

A Mars exploration mission is a low-cost investment when compared to other types of societal expenditures. 

“In the long run, the greatest value of human exploration of Mars may possibly be the philosophical and practical consequences of colonizing another planet,” DRM-1 said.

  •  Human history, overpopulation, resource depletion, the quest for religious or economic freedom, competitive advantage, and other human problems were all discussed in DRM-1. 
  • The idea that Mars might one day be a home for humans is at the heart of most of the public enthusiasm in Mars exploration outside of the realm of basic research. 

A human settlement on Mars, which would have to be self-sufficient in order to be sustainable, would satisfy human desires to push the boundaries of human capability, provide the possibility of saving human civilization from an ecological disaster on Earth (for example, a giant asteroid impact or a nuclear incident), and potentially lead to a new range of human endeavors not possible on Earth. 

DRM-1 went on to say that there are three things to think about: 

  • Demonstrating the ability to be self-sufficient. Demonstrating that humans can thrive and live on Mars. 
  • Demonstrating that the dangers of survival encountered by residents on Mars in their everyday lives are consistent with the advantages they perceive. 
  • Robert Zubrin, the founder and president of the Mars Society, is a leading proponent of Mars exploration. Zubrin (2005) further on why he thinks humanity should go to Mars. 

In fact, when he says we can accomplish it in a decade, his excitement outweighs his common sense. “Of all the planetary destinations presently within reach,” Zubrin said, “Mars offers the most—scientifically, socially, and in terms of what it portends for humanity's future.” 

  • Zubrin repeated a widely held view in the scientific community: that any planet with liquid water flowing on its surface in the presence of sunshine would ultimately spontaneously develop life. 
  • “So if the hypothesis is true that life is a naturally occurring phenomena, emerging from chemical ‘complexification' anywhere there is liquid water, a temperate temperature, adequate minerals, and enough time, then life should have emerged on Mars,” Zubrin concluded. 
  • This was based on his argument that “liquid water flowed on the surface of Mars for a billion years throughout its early history, a period five times as long as it took life to emerge on Earth once liquid water existed.” 

Zubrin considered looking for "fossils of previous life" on the surface of Mars, as well as employing "drilling rigs to access subterranean water where Martian life may still exist." He thinks that the inspiration generated by a Mars mission has enormous societal benefit. 

  • “The most essential reason to travel to Mars is the gateway it offers to the future,” he said. Mars is the only alien body in the inner solar system that has all of the resources necessary to sustain not just life, but also the formation of a technological civilization. 
  • We shall begin humanity's career as a multi-planet species by establishing our initial footing on Mars.” Many Mars enthusiasts back Zubrin (the Mars Society's mission is to "advance the objective of the exploration and colonization of the Red Planet.") 
  • They seem to think that “in 10 years” we will be able to transport people to Mars and establish long-term colonies. 
  • Every year, futurists present comprehensive ideas for long-term colonies on Mars at the International Space Development Conference. 

The Mars Society often refers to colonies on Mars as the next stage in the history of "colonization," and cautions against repeating the errors committed on Earth. 

  • According to the Oregon Chapter of the Mars Society, "there will most likely be a few clusters of tiny villages when the first colonies are put up." They should widen out as time goes by. 
  • The more dispersed the townships are, the more likely they are to establish their own culture.
  • Townships will first be reliant on one another for common resources such as food, water, fuel, and air.
  • People should be encouraged to establish more isolated settlements after a more solid infrastructure has been established on Mars. 
  • The law is an essential factor to consider in every region where colonization or expansion has happened. 
  • On Mars, some kind of law will be required. When we consider the system that was utilized in the old west, we can see that whomever is in charge of enforcing the law may have trouble doing so. 
  • The sheriffs' on Mars must be trustworthy persons who have the support of the majority of the population. 
  • They should not be chosen by the present crop of politically motivated citizens; this would only promote corruption. Instead, some kind of volunteer lottery system should be permitted. 
  • In terms of the legislation itself, it should be enacted to protect everyone's fundamental rights, from speech to privacy. 

While these fanatics are already preoccupied with creating law and order on Mars, this humble writer is just concerned with safely getting there and back. 

Rycroft offered a different point of view (2006). “The overall aim of space exploration for the twenty-first century should be to bring people to Mars, with the primary purpose of having them stay there,” he said. 

The aim was to give humanity with “a second base in the Solar System... since the Earth may no longer be livable at some time in the future.” Rycroft pointed out that this might happen as a result of a catastrophic event on Earth. 

Civilization may self-destruct, or the Earth may be rendered uninhabitable by a massive natural disaster. 

Overpopulation, global terrorism, nuclear war or accident, cyber technology war or accident, biological war or accident, emergence of a super-virus, asteroid collision, geophysical events (e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, volcanoes, hurricanes), resource depletion (e.g., oil, natural gas reserves), climate change, global warming and sea level rise, stratospheric ozone depletion, stratospheric ozone depletion.

 “The chances are no better than 50–50 that our current civilisation on Earth will survive to the end of the century,” he added, quoting M. Rees. 

The most urgent problems include overpopulation, pollution, global warming, resource depletion, and the global spread of Islamic terrorism, which may lead to a third World War between the West and Islam. 

While Rycroft highlighted the gravity of these dangers, his proposed approach of "colonization of Mars by the end of the twenty-first century" will exacerbate rather than alleviate humanity's difficulties. 

How will we manage to populate the Earth and live in peace if we can't do it on Mars, which has an immensely harsher climate? 

A number of new projects aiming towards human exploration of Mars have emerged in the eight years after the original version of this book was published. 

Exploremars.org has been an outspoken proponent of sending people to Mars. 

Their strategy seems to be to organize gatherings and have prominent individuals give remarks. Mars One will create a permanent human colony on Mars, according to Mars One. 

Starting in 2024, four-person crews will leave every two years. 

In 2018, we will launch our first unmanned mission. Participate in our journey to Mars by joining the Global Mars One Community.

According to a 2014 news report10, "Sending people to Mars by the 2030s is cheap," but "several critical adjustments are required if it is to materialize." 

  • A workshop group of more than 60 people from more than 30 government, industrial, academic, and other institutions discovered that if NASA's budget is restored to pre-sequestration levels, a human trip to Mars lead by NASA is possible. 
  • A human arrival on Mars is still approximately 20 years away, according to a more recent news report11, but NASA's journey to the Red Planet seems to be gradually moving ahead. 
  • NASA's top human exploration official told a Senate panel that major components of the deep-space rocket, capsule, and infrastructure required to reach Mars are on track for a landing in the 2030s. 
  • NASA is developing the technologies required to transport people to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s, according to a NASA website. 
  • NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and colleagues from throughout the agency presented NASA's Human Path to Mars during an Exploration Forum at NASA Headquarters in Washington on April 29, 2014. 

The Mars Society continues to push for human trips to the Red Planet. 

Human arrival on Mars is just a decade or two away, according to dozens, if not hundreds, of websites. Some groups, on the other hand, have determined that all of the above are untrue. 

The National Research Council (NRC) determined that NASA's human spaceflight program had an unsustainable and dangerous approach that will prohibit the United States from landing a person on Mars in the near future. 

The 286-page National Research Council report, the result of an 18-month, $3.2 million congressional investigation, concludes that continuing on the current path with budgets that don't keep up with inflation "invites failure, disillusionment, and the loss of the longstanding international perception that human spaceflight is something the US does best." 

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

You may also want to read more about Space Missions and Systems here.

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