Should We Colonise Mars?

Monday 23 January 2017 TECHMIX NEWS

Hope Lowe

BIG DEBATE:

Should We Colonise Mars?

Scientists, innovators and explorers all agree; if the human race has a next destination in space, Mars is it. SpaceX have successfully created the world’s first reusable rocket, Falcon 9, which has instantly reduced the cost of spaceflight 100 times over. As a direct result, both SpaceX and NASA have announced plans to send humans to Mars, with the ultimate aim of colonising the planet:

 

"I think there are really two fundamental paths... One path is we stay on Earth forever, and then there will be some eventual extinction event… The alternative is to become a spacefaring civilisation and a multi-planet species.”

- Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, the world’s most successful private space company.

 

"Mars is the next tangible frontier for human exploration, and it's an achievable goal. We [will] become Earth Independent, building on what we've learned on the International Space Station and in deep space to send humans to low-Mars orbit in the early 2030s.”

NASA, Journey to Mars

These announcements spark a major debate around practical logistics, potential risks, and moral dilemmas; Should we colonise Mars? What’s your view? We asked students from Tech City College to explore the pros and cons of human life on Mars.

 

Yes

Ayub Mapara

Engineering Student, Tech City College

"History suggests that, someday, the Earth will no longer be a suitable home for us. With five mass extinctions already recorded, it’s inevitable another will happen eventually. So we should colonise neighbouring planets to ensure our survival, and become an interplanetary species.

But why Mars? First, it’s similar to Earth. Mars has immense amounts of water frozen underground, along with the same rotational patterns. Second, we can develop sustainable fuel there through fusion technologies. A millilitre of liquid hydrogen can produce energy equivalent to 20 tons of coal. But we must consider the planet’s toxic atmosphere. Pushing the boundaries of science and technology industry leaders have come up with ways of making Mars’ atmosphere more like Earth’s, including: using giant space mirrors to reflect sunlight and melt the polar ice caps into oceans; redirecting and smashing asteroids into Mars to release trapped air, water and heat to speed up the melting process; and growing plants to release greenhouse gases, reducing CO2, and making the atmosphere more habitable.

Once all of this is done, travelling to Mars will offer a fresh start for the human race to become a more intelligent and civilised species. Becoming an interplanetary species is inevitable."

 

No

Detta Wadday

Science Student, Tech City College

"The many problems with Mars start with no surface water and an atmosphere that is deadly to humans. Plus, lethal solar radiation, incredibly low temperatures and none of the natural resources we have here on Earth. However, humanity is the real problem. If we cannot live on our own planet without destroying it, morally is it right for us to go to another and potentially cause more damage?

To get around these problems, advocates of Mars colonization talk about “terraforming” - increasing its temperature to make it more like Earth. Antarctica has the closest temperatures to the red planet, an average of -49°C (56°F) compared to an average of -55°C (-67°F) on Mars. Despite having a completely breathable atmosphere and plenty of fresh water, Antarctica has no permanent residents; so what really makes Mars so appealing? To successfully colonise Mars, we will need self-sustaining, resource neutral systems using solar energy. Seemingly impossible even here on Earth.

Perhaps we should put our efforts into conserving and appreciating our own planet first. Earth is teeming with fascinating life forms and covered with mind-blowing geographic features. If we start treating Earth with respect, we may not need Mars as a back-up plan."

 

What do you think?

Join the debate