Over the last decade, our understanding of Mars has made rapid progress. The discovery of a vast amount of water spurred interest. More probe explorations are in the pipeline. And, so is an eventual manned mission to Mars.
The possibility of humans moving to Mars has the stuff of fiction. But with more and more mega corporations joining the fray, this possibility may become a reality.
In June 2016, an American space venture named SpaceX announced that they plan to land humans on Mars. CEO Elon Musk stated they will launch a rocket, ferrying astronauts to the rocky planet within the next decade.
Lockheed Martin one of the biggest U.S. defense and aerospace companies plans to build a manned space station on Mars by 2028. National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA, plans set humans on Mars by the 2030s and China sets aim for a manned mission to Mars in the 2050s as reported by Nikkei Asian Review.
The red planet was previously thought to be devoid of water. The atmospheric pressure is too thin and with too little water vapor making it physically impossible.
In 1999, an exploration mission named Mars Global Surveyor captured high-definition images of minerals. Analysis of these minerals showed that they could not have been formed without large amounts of water.
Mars, like our very own Earth, is a rocky planet. Its gravity is less than our own and it is farther away from the sun. With terraforming now a possibility, it is not too far-fetched of an idea that one day humans will be living on Mars.
Planning to put humans on the red planet, however, is a challenge of astronomical proportions. According to NASA, the safety of the astronauts is of the utmost importance. Getting these astronauts to and from the planet will be extremely difficult.
Hazards such as the amount of ultraviolet radiation on the planet's surface have yet to be studied as Mars, unlike Earth, have no ozone layer which shields humans from excessive radiation exposure.
Before Earthlings can set foot on the Martian surface, robots will pave the way. They will analyze the radiation environment, drill for water and other resources before a manned mission to Mars can begin.