Stephen Petranek explains how humans will be traveling to Mars in the not too distant future. He explains the problems we will face and how we can solve the problems to get there.
The following is a list of solutions to obstacles that we will face when traveling to and living on Mars.
Mars is about a thousand times further from the Earth than the Moon. The moon is about 238 thousand miles away. It took Apollo 3 days to get to the Moon. Mars is about 249 million miles away and it will take us 8 months to get there (240 days).
Only about 1/3 of the unmanned missions to Mars have been successful. However we have made improvements and learned a lot from these missions. We also do not have a rocket big enough to get there for a human mission. However new propulsion technology is looking promising. Stephen Petranek believes that if we used the old, larger, Saturn 5 rocket we could get there. We have since used the efficient space shuttle which is meant for much smaller distances.
Timing and Technology
NASA once said they could get humans to Mars by 2050. Now they are saying they can get humans to Mars by 2040. Stephen Petranek believes we will have humans be able to travel to Mars by 2027 because of Space X. The CEO of Space X is Elon Musk a wealthy entrepreneur. Elon claimed we could reach Mars by 2025. Elon has a great track record in innovating in the private industry. Within a decade Elon brought the electric car back to life. Elon also developed the Falcon 9 rocket which took 6 tons of supplies to the International Space Station.
Living Requirement: Water
Water weighs a lot and is expensive to transport to Mars. However water has been found on Mars. Ice is just below the surface of Mars. We could help the ice to get water. There is a lot water ice at the poles. A dehumidifier was developed at the University of Washington back in 1998. Mars has water in its atmosphere and this device can extract water from the atmosphere.
Living Requirement: Oxygen
Oxygen is also an important resource for human life. The atmosphere of Mars is not breathable because it has very little Oxygen in the form of O2 and is a thin atmosphere. However there is a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere. O2, oxygen, can be extracted from CO2 using a device invented by a MIT Scientist Michael Hecht called Moxie. It is essentially called a reverse fuel cell. It extracts oxygen from the atmosphere.
Living Requirement: Food
Food is also an important resource for humans to survive on Mars. Eventually Hydroponic Farming will be used on Mars once flowing water is possible. Until then dry earth food will be sent to Mars and hydroponics may be possible inside of the Mars buildings.
Living Requirement: Shelter
There is a lot of cosmic radiation that hits Mars. The shelters will need to protect against this. At first there will be inflatable pressurized buildings that will be used. The Mars soil can be used to make bricks which can be used to build buildings. Humans can also build underground which will also help protect against radiation. It is believed that once Mars is terraformed with an atmosphere humans and life will be better protected from cosmic radiation.
We will eventually want to terraform Mars. With enough energy we can theoretically do this in the future. We can melt the water at the poles and begin converting CO2 into O2 we can plant trees and plants.