Since ancient times, humans have been interested in exploring the heavens. Even centuries ago, the Chinese used to blast rockets into space for ceremonial purposes. And as we all know, during the late 20th century we finally created rockets powerful enough to overcome gravity, eventually getting us to the Moon.
Now new advances in technology have made it possible to set our sights on a destination more than 200 million kilometres (124 million miles) away: Mars
Let’s take a look at some of the puzzle pieces coming together to make a trip to Mars a reality:
Elon Musk, the CEO and CTO of Space X, is one of the biggest advocates of Mars exploration. In December of 2015, his company was able to successfully launch a rocket, send 11 satellites into orbit, and land the rocket vertically. This major breakthrough will no doubt play a role in a mission to Mars.
There’s also Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the Moon. Aldrin is also a big supporter of Mars exploration. In his book, “Mission to Mars,” Aldrin stated that it should be our next exploration goal.
In order for us to get to Mars, we need a spacecraft equipped with facilities that will keep astronauts safe and healthy for around 200 days (6 months). This requires a sufficient amount of fuel as well as a special propulsion system, something NASA is looking into right now.
Space X is also developing its own craft called the Dragon Capsule. The company believes their craft will someday be used as the main mode of transportation for interplanetary trips.
Experiments and research
Astronauts embarking on a trip to Mars face six months of isolation in tiny, cramped quarters. And when they finally get there? They have to endure the harsh weather and conditions of the Martian surface.
The Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation and the Concordia Research Facility in Antarctica are conducting experiments and finding out how humans can stay comfortable, healthy, and happy during the trip to Mars.
The two facilities are conducting tests on a group of people living together in confined, isolated spaces. These simulations attempt o mirror the experience of travelling and living on the surface of Mars.