6 November 2020
If we want to know whether there is life beyond Earth then the quickest way to answer that question is to explore Mars, writes astrobiologist Malcolm Walter in The Conversation.
Prof Walter of the University of New South Wales, Australia, believes “we should go to Mars because of what we can learn from the red planet, and from developing the technologies to get people there safely”.
On the benefits of space exploration, he writes:
Apart from looking for life, why bother with a mission to send humans to Mars? Many aspects of our modern lives would not be possible if it were not for our interest in space.
The Apollo and other NASA missions led to developments in micro-electronincs that later made it into household devices such as calculators and home computers.
Intangible, but critical nonetheless, is the inspiration we derive from space exploration. It can be very significant in attracting young people to science and engineering, something needed more and more as our economies continue to transition to an ever higher-tech future.
In the US there was a large spike in tertiary enrolments in science and engineering during the Apollo missions to the Moon.
Four years ago, at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk set out two possible paths for humanity. “One path,” he told his audience, “is we stay on Earth forever, and then there will be some eventual extinction event.” He was not foretelling immediate doom, just noting that nothing lasts forever.
“The alternative,” he said, “is to become a space-faring civilization and a multi-planet species”. Which is to say: having more than one home for humanity would increase the odds that our species survives a disaster on Earth. It is therefore prudent to look around the solar system for a place to go. Mars is our best option.
— Bloomberg Technology (@technology) October 2, 2016
Musk has outlined his vision of building a colony on Mars with the first rocket propelling humans to the planet by 2025. And last year, he tweeted he believed it was “possible to make a self-sustaining city on Mars by 2050, if we start in five years”.
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) October 17, 2020
Elon Musk: we must colonise Mars to preserve our species after a third world war – video
What will SpaceX do when they get to Mars?
Elon Musk – 2020 Mars Society Virtual Convention
Colonizing Mars may require humanity to tweak its DNA
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