May 27

Elon Musk’s ambition to send humans to Mars may be the most risky mission of mankind


Even Elon Musk has to admit the risks, he said: “Honestly, a lot of people could die in the first place.”

More than half a century after Neil Armstrong took humanity’s first step on the Moon, another space race is heating up. This time, humanity’s target is Mars. And not only wants to set foot on the red planet, billionaire Elon Musk’s ambition is also to bring people to settle here.

The race to Mars is hot. In recent times, a series of Mars exploration missions have been successfully carried out. Like NASA’s Perseverance expedition earlier this year, and China’s Zhurong earlier this month. These successes make us ask the question again: When can humans go to Mars?

NASA wants to send its astronauts to Mars by 2030. The United Arab Emirates is currently advancing its 100-year plan to build a colony on Mars. Meanwhile, China also considers the mission to send humans to Mars as its long-term goal.

But above all, the most ambitious person is billionaire Elon Musk. The SpaceX founder believes he can send humans to Mars by 2026. However, many scientists have warned that there are too many unanswered questions about space travel in time. long.

Even Elon Musk has to admit the risks, he said: “Honestly, a lot of people could die in the first place.” The risks of deep space travel are something scientists cannot answer, and so is SpaceX. It is completely different from sending humans to the Moon in just a few short days.

Too far away

Apollo astronauts could fly to the Moon in just a few days, but a trip to Mars would likely take six to nine months. With the distance between Earth and Mars is from 56 million – 400 million km, depending on the relative positions of the two planets. That makes traveling to Mars many times more difficult.

“With flying to the Moon, there’s always the possibility of a rescue or resupply from Earth or a space station,” said Associate Professor Alice Gorman at Flinders University. But that won’t be possible in the case of Mars.”

Sun – Killer

A long flight will expose astronauts to one of the greatest horrors of space travel. It’s a solar storm. It is the most powerful explosion in the solar system, possibly equivalent to 100 hydrogen bombs. The Earth’s magnetic field can help protect us from the radiation emitted by solar storms, but for an astronaut, it would be impossible to survive.

The Apollo mission was unable to solve this problem. Instead, the NASA researchers calculated that the mission would be carried out on days without solar storms. But with a few months-long trip to Mars, there’s no way you’ll avoid the ravages of solar storm radiation.

Dust storm

Solar storms and radiation aren’t just dangers on the way to Mars. Even after setting foot on Mars, a thin atmosphere and no magnetic shield like Earth’s would make people here vulnerable to solar radiation and radiation from space.

Dust storms are also a threat if you want to settle on Mars. Because the only power source is from solar panels. But when a dust storm occurs, it is like the night that covers the surface of Mars for several months. Solar panels won’t work, and you won’t have the energy to keep warm during the harsh Martian night.

Joseph Michalski, an associate professor of Mars survivability at the University of Hong Kong, said that the only possibility is living in caves, to block radiation and avoid storms. But we certainly don’t want to go to Mars just to go back to the cave life.

Food, water and oxygen

To settle on Mars like billionaire Elon Musk’s ambition, humans will definitely need food, water and oxygen. In the blockbuster “The Martian,” the astronaut stranded on Mars survived by growing potatoes, on Martian soil mixed with his own manure.

NASA has a similar plan, but it can’t grow potatoes, but can only grow snow algae, a type of algae common in the Nevada desert and other soils with few nutrients. Algae not only help create a food source, but can also produce oxygen. This research is still in the early stages.

Regarding water, scientists think that humans can get water from the ice layers below the surface of Mars. Locating these glacial lakes is important, so we need Mars exploration missions before humans can actually set foot here.

Return to Earth

Unless you’re signing up for a round-trip flight to Mars, you’ll need a rocket to return to Earth. Associate Professor Michalski said finding enough fuel to fuel the rocket on its return journey was the biggest technological challenge of the mission to send humans to Mars.

“We can’t bring more fuel for the return flight, because it’s too heavy,” the associate professor said.

The only solution is to create a fuel source right on Mars. We could separate hydrogen from water found below the surface of Mars, then create fuel for rockets to fly back to. But the problem is finding water on Mars, this is not a simple task.

In general, the mission to send humans to Mars is still pursued by scientists. But it won’t be in the short term. It will probably take more than 100 years before humans can fulfill this ambition, solving all the problems today, according to the Mars 2117 program director of the Space Center Mohammed Bin Rashid UAE said.


Elon Musk, Mars, The universe

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