The future is here. NASA just made the announcement that science fiction fans have been clamoring for for generations. Human colonies will soon be living on Mars.
NASA’s plan for the colonization of Mars includes three stages, and should lead to “Earth Independent” colonies by the 2030s. The first step of their plan is referred to as “Earth Reliant.” This stage will include the testing of technologies and advancing human health aboard the International Space Station. The next phase is called “Proving Ground,” wherein NASA will hold operations in deep space to enable astronauts to return to earth within a matter of days. The final step, called “Earth Independence,” involves astronauts conducting operations in Martian space, and eventually, on the surface of Mars.
NASA says they are taking a “pioneering approach,” which “enables a sustained expansion of human presence into the solar system, rather than a once-in-a-generation expedition.” In the document they just released, they outline their plans and discuss some of the biggest hurdles they face. This includes challenges like logistics and supply chains, the need for self-reliance, recycling packaging materials and trash, and designing, building, and repairing systems with common components.
Another main challenge they lay out is “recognition that achieving Earth Independence will take decades and can be impacted by multiple uncertain events.” They acknowledge that their plans will require a flexible strategy and resilience in the face of changes of priority for future administrations. Other challenges include things such as crew health, radiation safety, and one of their greatest challenges, entry, descent, and landing.
The goal of the mission is to answer several fundamental questions:
- Was Mars home to microbial life? Is it today?
- Could it be a safe home for humans one day?
- What can it teach us about life elsewhere in the cosmos or how life began on Earth?
- What can it teach us about Earth’s past, present, and future?
NASA first sent an unmanned spacecraft to Mars 50 years ago. This time around, they are looking to accomplish something entirely new, something they call “a global achievement that marks a transition in humanity’s expansion as we go to Mars not just to visit, but to stay.”
This news is entirely unprecedented, and incredibly exciting for all of humanity. To see the full document outlining NASA’s plans, click here.