Humans wanted to reach the Moon. Now they want to get to Mars and even colonize it, but is it possible? Scientists believe the answer is: not really. And there are many factors that can make living on Mars an unlikely scenario. Nonetheless, Elon Musk believes that Mars is a “fixer-upper of a planet.”
A study sponsored by NASA, which was published on 30 July in the journal Nature Astronomy shows that to live on Mars, we should radically change the environment there. But the problem is that we cannot do it with the technology we have today.
First, we’d have to build a proper atmosphere for the Red Planet. Without an atmosphere, humans would die almost immediately because there is a very low level of atmospheric pressure. When the level of atmospheric pressure is too low for us, our organs simply rupture out our bodies and if we somehow survive that (which is impossible), we’d suffocate because there would be no oxygen. We would also freeze in low temperatures or get toasted from the ultraviolet radiation.
The study considers that to increase the atmospheric pressure on Mars would be a difficult task. The pressure should be enough to allow humans to walk on the surface of the planet without a pressurized suit and in a best-case scenario without an oxygen tank.
A solution to increase the atmospheric pressure would be to send the carbon dioxide (CO2) from the surface to the atmosphere. A few years ago, Musk suggested we could do this by targeting the planet’s poles with nuclear weapons. The second suggestion was to have solar heating of the Martian soil. Scientists have talked about placing giant orbital mirrors on the planet’s orbit.
But the study found that the CO2 on the planet is not enough to raise the atmospheric pressure for terraforming. They believe it’s enough to raise it from 0.6 to 7% of the Earth’s the atmospheric pressure. Over 6% increase sounds great, but it won’t keep our organs in!
We Will Colonize Mars
The conclusions from the study were drawn after studying the data from the past 20 years of observations of the Red Planet. However, Musk is relentless, so he took to Twitter hours later after the study was published to say that Mars has enough CO2 in its soil to allow terraforming.
One thing is true: the report explains that we don’t have the tech to terraform Mars now, but it can be possible with further advancement. Will Musk be able to send humans to Mars by 2024? A lot can happen in six years.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.