Unit 44|Astronomy Assignment 2 – Evaluating the Benefits of Space Exploration (D1) Evaluating the Benefits of Colonising Mars 1. What are Stephen Petranek’s arguments for sending humans to colonise Mars? Life on Earth could be ended suddenly in a variety of ways. Colonising human life beyond Earth would increase our chances of survival overall. ‘Exploration is in our DNA’. Humans have always colonised alien habitats, it’s just that now that habitat is another planet! Living on Mars may make us value Earth more than we currently do, and may give us a better perspective as a species. 2. What are the counter arguments? The money spent on a Mars mission could do a lot of good here on Earth, We don’t have a good track record of looking after the planet we live on! We should put our efforts into preserving Earth, not colonising Mars. 3. What are the main challenges outlined? Travel time – an 8 month journey. Success rate of landing on Mars is only about 33%. We don’t have a rocket big enough. 4. What technology/resources are already in place? The Wavar dehumidifier extracts water from the Martian atmosphere. A large amount of water is already present on Mars as ice, but is harder to access and extract as a liquid. WATER The Moxie device takes in CO2 and pumps out oxygen. OXYGEN 15-20% of the food can be grown hydroponically when water is running on Mars. The rest will arrive as dried food from Earth. FOOD The shuttle and inflatable pressurised structures can be used for shelter initially. After that bricks can be made from Martian soil and polymer, or dwellings can be created underground in caves or in lava tubes (in order to evade radiation). SHELTER Space suits that provide all the protection and pressure needed have been designed. CLOTHES Terraforming the planet will provide longer term prospects for farming and living a lest primitive life on Mars. A large solar sail will heat the CO2 ice, which will cause a runaway greenhouse effect and will thicken the atmosphere. This will cause water ice to flow, and water vapour in the atmosphere. This will enable weather systems, atmospherc pressure, protection from radiation etc. CRISPR! 5. What aspects of Martian colonisation does Lucianne Walkowicz identify as problematic? The most inhabitable places on Earth are still far more habitable than Earth, and we do not colonise them. We have a uniquely habitable planet already! Looking to Mars as a ‘back up’ home planet is short sighted and unrealistic. Unit 44|Astronomy Assignment 2 – Evaluating the Benefits of Space Exploration (D1) 6. What is her argument for colonising Mars? Martian exploration can work alongside optimising life on Earth. Understanding Mars can help us to understand Earth, and to make the most of its habitability as well as looking beyond to Mars. 7. What do you think?