NASA and other space agencies are planning for a manned mission to Mars. As the conditions on Earth are continuously deteriorating, we have to think of some other location in outer space which can be colonized by Humans.
Whenever it comes to human colonization in outer space Mars is the foremost location.But still we have to cover many risks if we plan to land a manned mission on the red planet.
Despite I have been a great advocate of manned mission to Mars but I have to compile a list of ten biggest risks factors that space agencies have to cover before they can plan a human landing on the red planet.
Risk 1: Over dependence on current technology
Journey to Mars is not as easy as a journey between any two places on Earth. It will require each and every bit of technology that we have. Moreover any hardware or software failure could result in disaster as we cannot send a mission to repair the damage done as we did when Hubble encountered a failure. Another concern is that any damage that may occur to the space craft during the initial journey as the astronauts cannot survive in a damaged spacecraft.
Risk2: Large Distance:
The distance between Earth and Mars, when Mars is at the minimum distance from Earth is 33,900,000 miles. This means that reaching Mars takes six months when Mars is at the minimum distance from Earth. The return journey will be even longer as the planets would have changed their relative places in their orbits. Such a long journey also means that we are over-depended on the current technology and the physical conditions of the astronauts should also be considered.
Risk 3: Solar Radiation:
Such inter-planet travel missions mean that humans and the spacecraft will be continuously subjected to solar radiation. The two cosmic sources of radiation that could impact a mission outside the Earth’s magnetic field are solar particle events (SPE) and galactic cosmic rays (GCR). These radiations can cause a number of health-related problems, but the primary concern is related to the increased risk of cancer induction in astronauts.
Risk 4: Lack of Real time transmission from Mission Control
Considering the distance between Mars and Earth it takes 20 minutes for a signal to travel from Mars to Earth. Astronauts will have to wait for 40 minutes to get a reply of their query from Mission Control. This means that the astronauts will have to cater to any instant damage or problem in the space craft or the Mars Lander or they will have to wait for 40 minutes for a solution from Mission Control. 40 minutes can be fine for a normal problem but if there is some severe problem that needs immediate attention then the crew is at risk.
Risk 5: Fear of collision with an asteroid
NASA has already commented that the space agency is lacking funds to protect Earth from ‘Killer Asteroids’. We have not been able to track all the near-Earth asteroids that could be on a collision course with Earth. Tracking the asteroids that will be on the collision course with the spacecraft is a dream till now. A collision with an asteroid which is as small as a golf ball could end the mission instantly.
Risk 6: Effects of Low-gravity
Astronauts will have to remain in Zero-gravity environment till they reach Mars and on reaching Mars they will be subjected to low gravity conditions. Low-gravity presents challenges such as near total damage of the human musculature and the immune system. After returning from such a long mission astronauts will have to cope up to the gravity of Earth which could prove to be fatal.
Risk 7: Effects of continuous stay in low temperature
The temperature on Mars ranges from -129° C to 0° C. Living in such low temperatures could have a disastrous effect on blood circulation and can even cause hypothermia.
Risk 8: Risk from Martian Dust:
Unlike the dust on Earth, the dust on Mars is thought to be larger and rougher similar to the dust on Moon. If astronauts make a long trip to Mars they are expected to stay there for some months. This would give potentially hazardous dust plenty of time to accumulate in equipment, cause airlock malfunctions and even infiltrate astronaut’s lungs. Moreover dust on Mars doesn’t just sit on the ground; it gets furiously swept about in massive dust storms. Such massive dust storms can make the conditions even worse.
Risk 9: Physiological effects on Humans:
Humans can have adverse mental effects of the long journey and the stay on Mars. The loneliness, tensions with crewmates and a daily battle to maintain fitness can start playing on the minds of astronauts. We cannot depend on trips to Moon to determine human behavior in adverse conditions as on Mars because the trips to moon are comparatively shorter than the trips to Mars. Astronauts will not be able to talk to the family members as they do in ISS because they will have to wait for 45 minutes to pass on their conversation and wait for another 45 minutes to get the reply. All this can show its effects on humans who can start acting in an abnormal way.
Risk 10: Cost Risk:
A human mission to Mars is expected to cost around $100 billion. This mission has already been described as ‘crazy’ by some White House advisors. Moreover this money will come at the cost of some unmanned missions that are more urgent than this mission to Mars. If an estimate from traditional NASA contractors is made, the actual costs will probably exceed that by at least 30%.