Mars has become the target of the new space race. These are the reasons why public and private companies want to travel to the red planet.
Mars, the red planet, is an obvious target for exploration for NASA and SpaceX because it is close to Planet Earth in our Solar System, but there are many more reasons to explore this planet.
The reasons given by scientists for going to Mars can be summarized in the following points: a). the search for life, b). understanding the surface and c). evolution of the planet and preparing for future human exploration.
Why travel to Mars?
1. Search for life
If we want to understand if there is life in another part of the Universe beyond Earth, it is a fundamental question for humanity to go to other planets.
Mars is an excellent place to investigate this question because it is the most Earth-like planet in the Solar System. Evidence suggests that Mars was once filled with water, warmer, and had a thicker atmosphere, offering a potentially habitable environment.
2. Understand how life came about
We know that currently, the only planet with intelligent and developed life is Earth; but it wasn’t always like that. While life was born and evolved on Earth, Mars experienced a serious climate change, the NASA is determining how life arose on Mars.
The geologists are studying the rocks, sediments, and soils of Mars for clues to discover the history of the area. While scientists are interested in the history of water on Mars to understand how life may have survived.
The volcanoes, the craters of impacts from meteorites, the signs of atmospheric effects or photochemical and geophysical processes, all lead aspects of the history of Mars.
Samples of the atmosphere could reveal crucial details about its formation and evolution, and also why Mars has fewer atmospheres than Earth.
Mars can also help us learn more about our home. Understanding Martian geophysical processes promise to uncover details of the evolution and history of Earth and other planets in our Solar System.
3. An extremely profitable project
To reduce the cost and risk of human exploration of Mars, robotic missions have become commonplace on NASA travel for the following reasons:
- They can explore in advance.
- Help us find potential resources.
- It reduces the risks of working on the planet.
It is more profitable, not only economically; Training a group of astronauts specialized in different fields for years and later sending them thousands of kilometers away for just a few days costs millions of dollars and less information is obtained.
Before sending astronauts, we need to understand the risks. Inevitably, astronauts will come into contact with unknown Martian material and when they return to Earth they will bring it with them, either on their equipment or on themselves. Which can pose a danger to us?
Understanding any biohazards in the soil and dust will help in planning and preparing for these future missions.
Going to Mars is difficult and it is even more difficult for humans because we would need to pack everything to survive the trip to our neighboring planet and back. If we could use the resources that are already available locally, designing a mission to Mars would be easier.
The water is a valuable resource for human expeditions, both to be consumed by astronauts as fuel. Samples collected by robots in the space race could help assess where potential resources are available to future human explorers and how to exploit them.