Red Means Danger

Written by BG Howard

October 26, 2022

Like most semi-retired people, I have a tendency to spend a considerable part of the afternoon perusing the internet on some days. Much of that time is consumed conducting research or verifying information as I’ve developed a particular fondness for knowledge of any nature.

In the process of researching another topic, I inadvertently stumbled across a report concerning the ever-increasing fascination about the possibility of human settlement on Mars; the red planet. It really shouldn’t take anyone by surprise as the thought seems just one in the inevitable evolution of man’s desire to conquer new territories; both figuratively and literally.

From the first time a man was propelled into space when Yuri Gagarin, a Russian cosmonaut, accomplished the feat of being launched into orbit April 12, 1961, to Neil Armstrong’s historic walk on the moon eight years later. There has been a growing desire to go farther, push harder as mankind continues to test the boundaries of human limitation.

As such, former energy entrepreneur, Bas Lansdorp started a company called Mars One in 2011 with plans to settle the first humans on Mars by the year 2025. The co-founder and CEO announced in 2012 his outline of a process that would eventually result in the permanent settlement of the red planet. As an independent company, he disclosed, Mars One planned an unmanned demonstration flight to Mars in 2018 to confirm requirements for sustaining human habitation on the planet. In 2020, the company listed the intent to send the first rover to Mars for exploration of the region where the settlement was expected to be constructed. Another mission in 2022 would deliver all necessary hardware for living facilities which included two life support units as well as the same number of living pods, a supply unit and a second rover. The two rovers were to be used to set up the living pods and activate the life support units. An initial group of four people were set to launch in 2024 and land on the red planet the following year. Additional groups were to then join the settlement every two years beyond that.

At the staggering cost of an estimated six billion dollars for the first mission alone, one would think, that makes the concept inconceivable but it didn’t done much to dissuade the more than two hundred thousand initial applicants desiring to take the one-way trip. It had been confirmed that whoever took the flight to Mars, however, had to understand there was no return. Fortunately, or unfortunately, taking the historical voyage would be a one-way journey as there simply are no means to facilitate a return trip back to earth.

Trace Dominguez of Discovery News reported the necessary terraforming: the process of converting an alien planet to be more earthlike requires modifications to the Martian environment that are unfathomable. The midday temperature at the equator in the Martian summer would be about 80 degrees but temperatures at night during the winter can reach minus 392 degrees F. The planet has a thin atmosphere with no relative pressure to speak of so a person’s blood would instantly boil and their organs would rupture. The atmosphere is a virtual vacuum and is mostly carbon dioxide with a small degree of nitrogen whereas that of earth is mainly nitrogen with a small amount of carbon dioxide and twenty percent oxygen with enough atmospheric pressure that people won’t boil when exposed.

Pardon me, but am I the only one that sees an issue with this whole concept? I asserted earlier that knowledge of any sort does interest me but this goes just a bit beyond educational measures and borders on insanity. Why would anyone want to fly millions of miles to a place that can’t sustain life for the purpose of trying to establish a colony under such extremely volatile conditions? It only stands to reason we should redirect that twenty-four trillion (plus or minus ten) dollar price tag to the clean-up and repair of the planet we’ve been granted by God. Then we could simply choose to stay home which, considering the fluctuating gas prices, would eliminate one heck of a costly commute. Needless to say, with the costs associated along with all the unknown variables, the Mars One project was declared bankrupt in February of 2019.

It’s baffling that we, as man, were gifted the only planet in the universe capable of sustaining life. All we had to do was mind the garden and still screwed that up. Instead of taking care of it, we’ve trashed the place, ruined the air, polluted the waters and pillaged from it everything of value. Now, instead of taking responsibility and doing what’s necessary to repair the damage we simply want to relocate to another planet and make that one inhabitable only to do the same thing to it. From my point of view it’s simply more feasible to fix the one we’ve got. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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