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The problems with going to Mars

Updated on December 22, 2016

If we are to launch a manned mission to Mars, then we will have to overcome many problems to get there. From price to astronaut health there will be many difficulties on the road to Mars. This hub analyses, in detail, the possibilities for such a trip to become real

The distance

Earth and Mars, at their closest points are 150 times further away from each other than the Earth and the moon are at their average. This means that you need more fuel for the journey, and fuel is heavy so you will need bigger rockets to transport it. The vast distance that you need to travel for a long time too.

The time

A trip to Mars would take in the region of eight months. The long travel time means that 16 month’s worth of food would need to be taken on top of the food that would be eaten whilst on Mars. To avoid taking all the food on the journey with the astronauts NASA say that they will send the food to be eaten on Mars and on the return journey on a mission beforehand. NASA will also grow plants for food and oxygen so they won’t have to take all the oxygen too, however if anything happened to the plants then things would go horribly wrong.

The price

Estimates on the price of the mission range from around 100 billion dollars to somewhere closer to 1 trillion dollars. The cost of this mission is very high so many people won’t want governments spending that sort of money on a mission that they may not feel helps them, even though it probably will have a positive impact on their lives. To counter this problem governments will have to co-operate and an agreement will have to be made for a multi-national co-operation. This agreement may be hard to make work but if it did then it could help sooth political tensions.

Health risks

The astronauts on board the mission will have to be able to accept that their bodies won’t be in such good shape when they return to Earth, for example:

  • Weightlessness causes bone and muscle loss. When they arrive on Mars they may not be able to walk unaided- this could potentially be catastrophic to the mission. The astronauts who go will have to be strong beforehand so they won’t be as weak when they arrive. They will also will have to do a lot of exercise to stave off the effects.

  • Radiation is one of the worst problems for a mission as astronauts will be exposed to an average of 0.66 Sieverts of radiation. An astronaut’s lifetime limit is 1 seivert. The worst problem is that occasionally the sun fires vast amounts of radiation at once, the Earth’s magnetic field shields us from it- but on the journey to Mars it could kill the crew pretty quickly. Also, upon return to Earth the astronauts risk of getting cancer will have gone up because of the damage done to their cells.

  • Going mad- astronauts will be confined to a spaceship with just a few other people to speak to properly. Astronauts could get annoyed at other crewmates because they will be in close quarters for a long period of time. Also, they won’t get a clear view of the Earth and sometimes no view at all, this could lead to them feeling very isolated and alone.

  • No hospitals- if an astronaut were to fall ill then they would have very little help apart from the small amount of medical supplies on board. There would be no hospital to go to.

Do you think humans will have been to Mars by the end of the century?

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Although you can see Mars in the night’s sky- it is very difficult to actually get there because of the colossal size of the solar system, the galaxy and the universe. Space is hard- even getting to the International Space Station is hard. And going to Mars is even harder.

But with some effort I think that it will be possible for men and women to travel to one of our nearest neighbours and one day, probably not in our lifetimes, we may be able to travel to other star systems.


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