Travel to a new world – Mars
More than half a century has passed since Russia first sent Sputnik to space. Nevertheless, humanity has not restricted itself with the only conquest of space but has also begun to search for a new life. Many modern scientific achievements have been gained as a result of the competition of world giants the US, China, Russia, Japan, and even India since the Cold War. Countries, which once searched the new lands in the world, are now looking for a life in space. What is life like in space?
Traces of life on Mars
Some information has been collected as a result of the researches conducted by the US Space Exploration Center (NASA) since 2012. The organic fossils about three billion-year-old were claimed to be discovered while studying the Gale crater on the planet by the Curiosity space robot. It increases the claim about the existence of life on Mars once. Scientists, on the other hand, hope to find plant remains and fossils on Mars. Such findings will also prove the presence of water sources on Mars. They all are traces of life on Mars.
Methane gas was discovered on Mars
Another evidence of life on Mars is the discovery of methane in the atmosphere of the planet. In the summer of 2019, some thoughts were raised about the issue. Although the 2012 Study on Martian Surface revealed that methane gas level was ten ppb, this year, it has risen to 21 ppb. The increase during the seasonal changes causes some questions. This gas was discovered by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2004. Why is methane detection so important? Methane gas may present due to the decomposition of the fossils of the creatures that once lived on Mars. The discovery of the presence of methane gas on Mars due to the organic matter will make the claims on the existence of traces of life on Mars more realistic. However, this may also occur during some geological effects. Scientists have long racked their brains on these two theses. It is known that most of the methane gas on Earth is organic. A tiny part occurs due to tectonic sources. Can it also occur on Mars because of these biological causes? Professor of Natural Science at the University of Newcastle, England, Emmal Safi, explained: “There is the possibility that methane occurred due to the biological causes. Maybe there’s no life on Mars today. However, the remains of depleted creatures of 4 billion-year-old may be preserved as fossils or chemical signatures causing the rise of methane.”
What causes methane gas on mars?
Can only geological reasons play a role in such a substantial increase in methane gas? It is observed that the methane gas on Mars increases per season and region. In winter, severe winds and sandstorms occur on the planet, and the Martian surface is exposed to erosion. Methane gas, which is formed as a result of erosion, is absorbed into the air. It may be thought of as the cause of the seasonal occurrence of methane gas. Scientists in the research text published by “Scientific Reports” say that the fact that methane gas is released during heavy winds and rock erosion is less than real.
Other factors may cause regional growth. There are likely to be more deposits producing this gas in certain parts of the planet. Paul Mahaffy, a NASA Space Flight Center employee, expressed exciting ideas. According to him, methane is present on some non-living celestial bodies in the galaxy without any biological cause. The level of this gas on the planets such as Neptune, Uranus, Jupiter, and Saturn is very high. There is a liquid methane lake on Titan, Saturn satellite. Methane in the form of ice was found in Pluto. It is known that there is much of this gas in the solar system. The presence of this methane gas on Earth is due to the organic causes.
Dr Emmal Safi declares that there is no ground of the ideas on the occurrence of methane gas on Mars as a result of geological causes, and suggests that it may be because of biological reasons. However, no evidence has been found yet. Thus, the Curiosity robot laser light (TLS) investigating the surface of Mars is unable to determine whether biological or geological reasons cause the isotopes of methane gas. Although the ExoMars satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA) has such a detector (TGO), it has not yet achieved any results.
Is Mars suitable for the residences of Earth?
This question has long been the subject of science. The reason for the search for life on Mars is due to its similarities with the Earth. However, it should not be forgotten that it is a different planet from the Earth. Why Earth people cannot live on Mars? Firstly, it is colder than the Earth, and the temperature in the poles can reach -153°. It rotates around the Sun later. Therefore, one year on Mars is equal to our two years. The atmospheric layer is fragile, which indicates the presence of radiation and ultraviolet radiation. 96% of the atmosphere is carbon dioxide. It is iron powders that give a red colour to the planet, which is smaller than the Earth. And now you also know why is Mars red.
Another distinctive feature of Mars from our planet is the absence of a magnetic field on Mars. Scientists believe that Mars had a magnetic field about 4 billion years ago. However, the magnetic field disappeared as something shut off its churning core. Let’s try to explain this issue in the example of the Earth. Thus, the Earth’s core is in the form of liquid. Another fluid rotates around it and provides geodynamics due to which the magnetic field of the Earth is formed. The presence of a magnetic field prevents the spread of atmospheric gases by solar storms (remember the aurora) and radiation. The absence of such a magnetic field on Mars makes the situation problematic. All the above-listed make to consider that Mars is not a place to live. It was recently announced that NASA had begun work on creating an artificial magnetic field on Mars. The magnetic field at L1 Lagrange Point in a defined part of the planet can repel potential solar storms as a natural magnetic field. But the question is how successful it will be, as such an artificial field can be a great source of radiation.
Plans on “Terraforming of Mars”
The Earth is the only planet in the galaxy with all life conditions. Many people think that the Earth exposed to several impacts such as wars, forest fires, and environmental pollution may become an unlivable place. In the event of such danger, there is a need for an area where humanity can escape and find shelter. According to the head of Space X, Elon Musk, this place could be Mars. However, it is necessary to implement the plans on the terraforming of Mars.
Mars is a pretty cold planet. Methane gas can be used to heat Mars. Today, the threat of global warming on Earth is increasing every day. The start of such warming on Mars may cause the temperature to rise on the planet. For that, some explosions may be conducted on Mars (at this point, Elon Musk’s famous tweet can be remembered).
A search of water on Mars
A few years ago, NASA distributed some images of Mars. Geologist Colin Dundas, studying the photos, discovered that there are ice masses on the bottom layer of Mars. These masses are thought to be in a few meters depth of the planet. The discovery of water on Mars increases hope, as water is life. These ice masses can melt as a result of the warming of Mars, and the planet colour can be changed to “blue.”
How to get to Mars?
Travel to Mars seems challenging today. Travelling to the planet 55 million km away requires considerable economic opportunities and technological advances. Nevertheless, Elon Musk believes that it is not so far when the people will step on Mars. He explains some of the highlights when commenting on Mars flight plans. It is known that there is less atmosphere and high pressure on Mars. The gravitational force is 33% relative to the Earth. Firstly, the problem of how the cosmonauts will stay in such conditions should be addressed.
- Large number of radiation increases the risk of developing cancer in people who visit Mars;
- Measures should be taken for water, food, and energy safety;
- Ways to transport the necessary equipment should be sought;
The biggest obstacle is how those who went to Mars will come back.
Of course, once these problems are solved, travel to Mars can be possible. Then we can talk about the colonies that will be established here. According to Elon Musk, firstly, people will live in glass domes, and then the environment for a living will be created on Mars. Space X has announced that an uncrewed flight to Mars would be launched in 2022.
The cost of travel to Mars
Elon Musk announced that the ticket price for travel to Mars would be $ 500,000. He said that the price later would drop to $ 100,000.
NASA’s travel plans to Mars
NASA has announced that it will launch a crewed flight to Mars in 2033. And for that, it called out to the public with a strange statement. NASA is looking for astronauts that can make people laugh. Anthropologist of the University of Florida, Jeffrey Johnson, explains: “Being in a limited space for long journeys, such as the journey to Mars, can put a strain on nerves. Therefore, there is a need for people on the spacecraft to inspire the team to keep things running smoothly.” He said that he came to this conclusion as a result of a four-year study of groups working in Antarctica for an extended period. People who have the qualities of a leader, a fool, a clown, a good storyteller, and a grieving partner are always able to get things done in stressful situations.
Names will go before people
NASA plans to send a rocket to Mars in July 2020 and has launched a campaign for those who want to send the name to Mars. Thus, they want, at least, to take the name of people to Mars by the rocket. Millions of people have joined the campaign and registered on the website to send their names to the red planet.
NASA intends to clarify many dark points in the Mars 2020 program. First, soil samples will be collected from the Martian surface. Moreover, tests will be carried out to create a stable atmosphere on the planet. These studies will focus on the problems that people may face during their visit to Mars. Other measures are to look for traces of life.
Is man ready to make the transition to a multi-planet life?
Man is getting closer to the traces of life on Mars every day. The extent of readiness of the human being to the multi-planet life is controversial. James Green, Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA, says that they are very close to discovering traces of life on Mars. In an interview with “The Telegraph,” the scientist expressed concern that humanity is not ready for it. He explains his discomfort by illustrating how hard Copernicus once proved to humans that the Earth rotates around the Sun.
Mars is not the last planet to go!
Mars is not the last destination in the solar system. Jupiter’s satellite, Europa, is given as the most suitable celestial body for life. It has more water sources than in the world. Saturn satellite Enceladus is also on the list. Titan, another moon of Saturn, is also described as a pleasant place to live. There are lakes and atmospheric layers here.
To protect the Earth instead of leaving
The technological breakthroughs we have nowadays provide vast opportunities for expanding our borders. Of course, it is encouraging. The fact that humankind has reached such a stage of progress and is making more and more progress in this direction is yet another sign of future successes. However, our desire to be neighbour to aliens on other planets, to transfer to multi-planet lifestyle and other innovations, create the impression of wearisome of the world. Many scientists consider it essential to have another habitat that could be used to protect the human race in the event of a possible danger of asteroid collision or the spread of any deadly viruses. Other reasons for the search are increased global warming, environmental problems, and damage to the ozone layer. It is worth to note that we, humankind, are the reason for these problems, and we shall strive hard to save the Earth. Wherever we go, we will be locals, and of course, we will turn the new place to the Earth and then look for a “new world” again.
Vusala was engaged in pedagogical activities for a while. Music inspires her to read classic and autobiographical books, to travel, to constantly improve herself. She is interested in paintings by Rob Gonzalves and Salvador Dali. She makes the steps on the way to becoming a writer, researcher-journalist, blogger.