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"Let's (Not) Go To Mars!"

on Monday, 17 July 2017. Posted in From The Desk of...The Chief Scientist

Ah, the question asked since the dawn of human civilization: Should we go to Mars? Earth is getting pretty crowded, we're using up all the easily-accessible resources, and we're pretty much done exploring here. So let's go somewhere new!

Hence the anonymous question asked on the whiteboard by my desk recently. Mars seems like a good place to visit, and maybe even move to. But should we?

Mars certainly has a lot going for it. As planets go it's not too far away. It's bigger than the moon, which gives it a more Earth-like gravity. There's a lot of water on the surface just laying around. You could certainly pick a worse place to plant your interplanetary feet.

On the other hand, there's no air. Well, a little bit, and it's all carbon dioxide. The water is frozen. The gravity, while stronger than the moon's, is only about a third that of the Earth. And "not too far away" in space is...really, really far away.

Getting to Mars is certainly technologically feasible. Building a colony there? Possible, but it will take some major leaps and bounds, not to mention a century or two of solid investment, before it could be self-sustaining.

But in the end, should we go to Mars? Maybe.