Will humans one day be able to live on Mars? If President Barack Obama has any say in the matter, the answer will be yes. And the time will come sooner than you might expect.
Obama outlined his plans to send astronauts to Mars by the 2030s in an editorial published on CNN’s website Tuesday.
“We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America's story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time,” he wrote.
This isn’t the first time Obama has called for Americans to explore the red planet. He’s discussed space travel numerous times since 2010, NPR reports.
"By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth,” he said in 2010. “And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it."
How Will We Get To Mars?
The journey to Mars will require partnership between public and private agencies, and “we’re already well on our way,” Obama wrote.
“Within the next two years, private companies will for the first time send astronauts to the International Space Station,” the President continued.
The first phase of traveling to Mars involves using a rocket still in development by NASA called the Space Launch System to propel the Orion spacecraft toward the planet, The Observer reports.
Once in the planet’s orbit, the crew onboard the rocket will construct a space station within the planet’s orbit, according to The Observer.
This space station would serve as a base camp of sorts, breaking the long journey into more manageable segments. It would also simplify the process of receiving supplies.
A trip to Mars could take anywhere from just over a month to 9.5 months, according to space.com.
What Will We Do Once We’re There?
Since that Mars reality show is probably a scam, the first humans to set foot on the planet will have a mission that’s a little more involved than the need to stop being polite and start getting real.
NASA says the final phase of sending astronauts to Mars will involve learning more about the planet’s natural resources and how to live off the land before we’re able to move in.
Once we’re there, the environment will be unlike everything we’re accustomed to on Earth.
"The No. 1 thing an astronaut would be worried about is the radiation from space," Ashwin Vasavada, a deputy project scientist for NASA's Mars ScienceLaboratory, told Space.com.
While Earth has a thick atmosphere and global magnetic field to protect the surface from radiation, Mars does not, according to space.com.
Another key difference? Mars gets really, really cold.
The average temperature is -80 degrees Fahrenheit, and can range anywhere from -195 degrees near the poles in the winter to 68 degrees near the equator in summer. These temperatures can swing dramatically during the week, resulting in powerful dust storms, according to space.com.
Life on Mars has its upsides, too. For instance, we wouldn’t have to worry about earthquakes and volcanoes, according to space.com. The planet is also full of opportunities for sightseeing.
Is it worth risking radiation from space and braving the frigid temperatures to live in a whole new world? Let us know why or why not in the comments below.