Why haven't humans come to Mars yet?

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Why haven't humans come to Mars yet?
Why haven't humans come to Mars yet?

In addition to the wars and upheavals that occurred in the twentieth century, it was this period that became the dawn of science fiction. The span of time, roughly covering the period from the late 1930s to the 1950s, is called the Golden Age of Science Fiction. It was during this period that such literature gained unprecedented popularity, and the world became acquainted with such iconic works as The War of the Worlds by HG Wells, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, The Red Planet by Robert Heinlein and many others. By the way, did you notice that the works about Mars are listed above? This is because in those years our time seemed like a distant future, in which colonies on Mars, like alien life, are commonplace. But reality does not always coincide with the assumptions of science fiction writers and scientists. So, today we know that the creatures described in the novels definitely do not live on Mars. Moreover, the surface of the Red Planet, judging by the photographs taken by the rovers, looks deserted and lifeless. So should we go there at all? And why didn't humans end up on Mars decades ago?

Red Planet

In the 1953 novel Sirens of Titan, science fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut described Mars as a real military base for training soldiers who will go to Earth and start a war. In Heinlein's "Red Planet", in turn, Mars appears as a well-equipped place, with settlements and universities. But what is really there, even in the animated series "Futurama" (which is a little over 20 years old), the fourth planet from the Sun is literally teeming with life.

In fact, only robots ply the surface of Mars, and there is no mention of at least some kind of intelligent life on the planet. Recently, an international team of researchers calculated that a flight to Mars with a crew cannot last more than 4 years. This is because human health can be threatened by prolonged exposure to cosmic radiation.

It is possible that humanity will never be able to get to Mars. Or perhaps this is not necessary at all.

So is the game worth the candle? And why all these big headlines in the media that people will be on Mars in 2024? American engineer and popularizer of science Bill Nas, for example, believes that all talk about the colonization of Mars is meaningless - there is simply nothing to breathe. And this is the least of the problems that future colonists will face. True, it is impossible to argue that this problem cannot be solved. Recently, as my colleague Ramin Ganiev told me, scientists have developed a plan for the extraction of oxygen in a red alien land.

In the meantime, scientists, philosophers and mere mortals are discussing the possible future of mankind on Mars, let's talk about why Homo Sapiens, having made a colossal scientific breakthrough and being on the Moon, never made it to the Red Planet.

Why haven't humans gone to Mars yet?

To begin with, Mars is the only Earth-like planet in the solar system and is within the habitable zone or Goldilocks zone. And yet, there are a number of compelling reasons why humans have not yet set foot on Mars. So, according to NASA, there are a number of obstacles that must be overcome before sending astronauts to our neighboring planet. These include, in particular, technological innovation and a better understanding of the human body, mind and how we might adapt to life on another planet.

In simple terms, these obstacles can be summarized in three main problems.For example, Michelle Rucker, head of the Mars Architecture for People at NASA and Jeffrey Shehey, chief engineer of the agency's space technology office, believe that every point is a problem: you need to get there, land there, live and eventually get home.

Space is fraught with many dangers to humans, but the most serious problem is cosmic radiation.

Long journey

So, the first obstacle is the incredibly huge distance between our planet and Mars. The red planet is located about 55, 76 million kilometers from us at its closest point. But the distance to Mars is not always the same. The Earth and Mars revolve around the Sun at different distances and speeds, which means that there are certain more optimal periods for travel between them, especially since the idea is not only to quickly get to Mars, but also to return back.

Despite the optimism and grandiose plans, some scientists believe that the astronauts will die en route to the Red Flight.

Technology, of course, plays a role in this whole story. Most of the rockets we launched from the atmosphere were propelled by rocket fuel. But this fuel for a fully chemical propulsion system would take up a lot of space and would not be optimal for the longest space travel in human history.

To get to Mars faster and more often, a system based on a nuclear heat engine or a nuclear electric engine is likely to be more efficient - but only if we focus on the small size of the ship. So, as you can see, distance is a serious problem.

Human factor

Beyond technology, we also need to learn more about how humans - that is, creatures that have evolved to live in Earth's atmosphere under Earth's gravity - will cope with the low gravity and environment on spacecraft during the months of transit.

It must be said that work on this problem has been underway for some time, whether it is studying how astronauts living on the International Space Station deal with the isolation and low gravity up there, and how they feel when they return to Earth. Various lunar missions have also shown how astronauts there handled low gravity. More details about the dangers of space for humans, I talked about in this article.

Life on Mars is full of dangers and is unlikely to be comfortable.

Other ongoing research missions could also help scientists understand what to expect from long-haul flights. These kinds of questions are important in determining how much time (and people) it takes to complete basic tasks. Another problem is whether people will be able to live in small, enclosed spaces for a long time without much external contact. Besides, ordering pizza for dinner will not work either.

Landing and other problems

Getting to Mars orbit is only half the battle. Another task is to land safely on the Red Planet, although not necessarily safe and sound. Today, NASA researchers are working on an inflatable retarder - a kind of reverse parachute that will protect and slow down the lander as it enters the atmosphere.

There are many problems for humans on Mars. But we, of course, will overcome many of them.

But beyond the risk to any astronauts or equipment on the planet, the weather on Mars can also raise surprises - storms throw up enough dust to block sunlight, which means that any solar-powered equipment may not work for a while. This is why scientists believe that any human mission to Mars is likely to be preceded by a cargo delivery.

Other obstacles to be overcome will be building a ship to travel there. But many scientists are optimistic that humans will finally be on Mars in the 2030s.

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