Hello again. Last time out, we reminded ourselves of the awesome majesty that surrounds us each and every day – and night – come to that: stars.
Be it their size, their luminosity, or the simple fact that in comparison, our own Sun seems tiny and insignificant.
Well, NASA would appear to be spearheading a journey that will eventually take us to the Red Planet. Like the Apollo Program, it is an endeavor that will benefit all humanity. Unlike Apollo, however, it seems NASA not only intends to reach Mars, but they want to establish a presence there, and stay.
That will be a historic pioneering endeavor, an endeavor only made possible by the sustained effort of science and exploration missions beyond Earth, and the inclusion of more capable technologies and partnerships.
But it begs the question: Why Mars?
In reality, Mars is the next tangible frontier for expanding human exploration. We know this because robotic science scouts have already found valuable resources for sustaining human pioneers, such as water ice just below the surface. Consider too that in the past, Mars’ geological evolution and climate cycles possessed conditions suitable for life.
This leads us nicely toward the future. What we learn about the Red Planet will tell us more about what we can expect as we reach out toward other worlds, and may help answer whether life exists beyond our Earth itself.
The great thing about this is that Mars is an achievable goal. We’ve spent more than four decades dipping our toes in the water with a succession of robotic explorers. Meanwhile, the next phase has by no mean remained idle. The preliminary steps toward putting a human on Mars have already been taken through science and technological research aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and in laboratories here on Earth.
Additionally, the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion crewed spacecraft are already demonstrating the effectiveness of new operations to reduce logistics, and developing the capabilities necessary not only to get to Mars, but to land there and live there as well.
Obviously, a great many challenges stand in the way, but NASA now feels they are solvable.
Yes, Mars is a goal within our reach. We are closer to sending humans to Mars than at any point in human history. Over the next decade, NASA will use what they learn to prepare for the next step – extending the human presence deeper into the solar system and beyond.
So, how are we going to do it?
Ah, next time, we’ll take a look at the three main phases required to get to Mars.
See you then.