The Martian factor
For centuries people gazed at a red dot in space called Mars. With the advent of telescopes early astronomers believed they saw canals on the surface of this world. Canals meant water and water meant intelligent life existed there. As time went by technology enabled humans to discern those shadows on the surface of Mars could be dried river beds not structures built by native beings. Yet the search for life became an obsession with scientists hoping something more than bacteria called the fourth planet from the sun home. Movies such as War of the Worlds and the Angry Red Planet established a trend in thinking that all aliens want to kill us, especially those from this red dot. With numerous robot explorations no forms of sentient life have been found so far therefore I suggest we will not be conquered by aliens in the near future. Interest in this planet has not diminished. Within the next 2 decades or sooner humans will be walking on the surface of Mars via the good graces of a billionaire and or a nation state. We may have the ability to travel there now, yet should we risk humans in this endeavor.
Mars fever seems to be raging within the pool of the extremely wealthy. Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, backs a company called Blue Origin that has set its sights on a Mars landing. Space X, founded by Elon Musk, is on a parallel course with Bezos for the same goal. Not to be outdone by private citizens NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is working towards a solution for a Mars voyage. These private efforts fail to understand the complexity of a Mars trip. NASA is the only agency, perhaps in the world, which is equipped to send and retrieve astronauts from Mars’ hostile environment and toxic atmosphere. Private efforts under consideration would send voyagers on a one way trip which is unacceptable in this author’s opinion. Yet the exploration bug has been transmitted to many others with less means. With the release of the recent Movie, The Martian, a generation has awakened to the possibilities in space. Nevertheless a few hurdles must be pointed out before the first voyage begins.
Intense radiation will affect those chosen to make the six month journey towards the red dot. Scientists have not yet developed shielding protective enough to disperse this radiation. Preceding DNA degeneration astronauts will confront several physical deformities. These include accelerated cataract formation, weakened muscles, electrolyte imbalances and softening of bones. Extended visits on the Space Station have produced these effects. Assuming these challenges can be overcome this long interplanetary journey will encounter dozens of hazards which may befall our astronauts. Science requires more research before people embark towards this new horizon. Yet the crusade to move off the Earth is moving fast.
The Martian factor is those circumstances which preclude a trip to the Red planet presently yet will be overcome as the science strengthens. Interplanetary travel is a few decades away. Those who rush to the door for this adventure will only find tragedy in their wake. Billionaires are pushing this dream but will they personally risk their lives in order for this voyage to become a reality. If not the adventure to Mars will have to stay within the realm of science fiction for now.
Mark Davis, MD
Manager of Superbbookreviews.com