It has long been a preoccupation of human kind to muse over the scant possibility that there could be life on Mars, that remote, fascinating red planet that has captured the imaginations of artists, musicians and scientists alike over the years.
The notion that there could be other forms of life out there, floating somewhere in the cosmos far away from of our humble planet Earth is a seductive one, however ocular proof of such phenomena has never been forthcoming and the general consensus seems to be that no one knows for sure whether or not we are the only forms of advanced life in existence.
With existential threats to our own way of life here on Earth becoming a very real cause for concern as questions surrounding the sustainability of our environment in the face of the considerable damage humanity has casually inflicted over the years of industrial revolution and fuel emissions, it has been considered that for our species to survive, it might one day be necessary to colonise an alternative planet.
It wasn’t long ago that the visionary Elon Musk outlined his ambition for human kind to inhabit Mars – he has estimated that his company SpaceX could begin conducting manned missions to Mars as soon as 2022.
Now, NASA has unveiled their own plans to put a human being on Mars by implementing a five-phase mission that will be rolled out over the next several decades.
At the present time, we are in phase zero, which consists of tests being carried out aboard the International Space Station and the development of partnerships with private space companies (such as Musk’s SpaceX). Phase one is intended to be conducted between 2018 and 2025 and is set to see the launch and testing of six SLS rockets that will deliver necessary components of the Deep Space Gateway; a new space station that will be constructed close to the Moon in service of astronauts on their way to Mars. Following phases will see the launching of a Deep Space Transport tube toward the new lunar station, before it is being re-stocked with vital supplies after astronauts spend over a year inhabiting the tube prior to their eventual onward journey.
The final phase will be the journey to Mars itself, which is anticipated to be undertaken in 2033, just 16 years from now. To that end, there will be life on Mars, though far from being an unrecognisable alien race like the ones that inhabit Hollywood blockbusters, it will be humans like me and you.
The journey, of course, will not be without risks; Elon Musk himself admitted last year while describing his own hopes for the human colonisation of Mars that the “risk of fatality will be high” during the first trip to Mars and that any participants would have to be willing to accept the not inconsiderable risks associated with such a journey.
“The probability of death is quite high on the first mission” were Musk’s reassuring words.
Presuming our spirit of exploration and the desire to extend humanity’s reach to an interplanetary level persists, the reality is that life on Mars is significantly less than two decades away. The future is becoming an outmoded concept; we’re living in the middle of it right now.
Source: Viral Thread