Next, I turned my attention to probably the greatest source I stumbled upon during my relatively light research for this paper. I discovered an article entitled, “Revised Scenario for Human Missions to Mars” written by Jean Marc Salotti. As mentioned in this paper, Mars Direct advocates the idea of sending the recovery vehicle to Mars first, and then everything else. Salotti addresses this notion in depth, and also provides what he (and his team) think is a better scenario. The specifics are rather boring and not easily summarized here, but suffice it to say that his team believes they have a better plan, which also minimizes risks by providing redundancies every step of the way (286). What was so moving about this paper is that it was written with a tone that doesn’t hide that he fully expects a successful manned journey to Mars—and soon.
The journey nearing an end, I found an article which seemed a fitting punctuation mark with which to conclude the paper, “Can Humans Live on Mars?” by Ken Kremer. The short answer is “Yes”. Kremer focuses his question and subsequent answer specifically on radiation levels. For the lay reader, the article reveals that astronauts today already operate within preset radiation exposure limits (Kremer). He goes on to conclude that all the data argues that Mars’ thin atmosphere actually reduces the radiation exposure an astronaut would encounter when compared to current trips to the International Space Station (Kremer). This is encouraging news. There are, of course, still many uncertainties, but the overall point is that settling Planet Mars, as Mars One intends on doing, seems to be more than a joke. While the details are being fine-tuned, it is clear that prominent members of the larger space exploration community argue that humanity possesses the ability to fly to and land on Mars. Furthermore it seems that humans should be able to live for at least a short time without ill effect.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This goal to inhabit Mars in 2023 is achievable and realistic. More than the research this paper reviews, I know this to be true because I am a member of the human race. I know this to be true because I possess the innately human quality intuition. I know this to be true because when backed by the history of human experience and achievement, intuition proves itself accurate. The human race is a super-organism that does not give-up. When we direct our attention towards manifesting an idea, the rest is history.
Kremer, Ken. “Can Humans Live on Mars?” Universe Today RSS. N.p., 19 Nov. 2012. Web. 17 Sept. 2013. <http://www.universetoday.com/98509/can-humans-live-on-mars/>.
Salotti, Jean Marc. “Revised Scenario For Human Missions To Mars.” Acta Astronautica 81.1 (2012): 273-287. Academic Search Premier. Web. 5 Sept. 2013.
So far my research had been exclusively American. I decided I needed to change it up a bit, so I looked to discover what the motherland had to say. My most relevant findings weren’t about the future, but the past. BBC News’ Race to Mars webpage had a nice timeline which emphasized most that humans hit Mars with man-made materials in 1971 and 1972. Educating uninitiated space junkies, the site reveals that starting back in 1965 humans were taking close-up pictures of the surface from orbiting satellites. This was exciting and a good sign for two reasons. First, from taking close-up pictures to landing–albeit crash landing–took less than a decade. Second, Mars One has given itself a decade and there are rovers right now on Mars. Remember Mars One’s claim…they’re only going to use existing technology. That was becoming more and more believable as my research continued. Moreover, 10 years to prepare was beginning to sound more like 10 years to perfect the plan.
Scrolling down to my Works Cited page, I decided to see what James Bell III had to say. In an extremely impressive article called, “The Search for Habitable Worlds: Planetary Exploration in the 21St Century,” Bell plainly and eloquently explains the situation. The situation is that Mars is definitely mankind’s chosen priority at the moment (9). Before going further, I need to clear the air and acknowledge that Bell never does discuss placing humans on any of the once habitable or possibly habitable worlds; instead he emphasizes the current strategy slogan adopted by NASA is “flyby, orbit, land, rove, and return” (9). One particular article highlight is that it sounds like Mars likely had water at one point, but it is difficult or impossible for water to remain stable on the surface today because of the lack of atmosphere (12). So, this article then is a mixed bag for my quest. This writer, Bell, seems to be a very respectable voice in the community, but he doesn’t mention settling people on Mars. However, he does an excellent job of delineating that humankind is in the “third great Age of Exploration” as historian and author Stephen Pyne has labeled it (8). As always, I take this to be a great indicator that we are moving quickly and will soon be living on Mars. I take this to be a great indicator because the first two ages of exploration (the first personified by Columbus; the second, Lewis and Clark) were successful. Among the many things humans, as a group, seem to be skilled at, exploring tops the list–and I see no reason for this skill to have perished simply because we’ve reached the end of the Earth.
Bell III, James F. “The Search for Habitable Worlds: Planetary Exploration in the 21St Century.” Daedalus 141.3 (2012): 8. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 5 Sept. 2013.
BBC News. BBC, 04 Feb. 2008. Web. 17 Sept. 2013. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/sci_tech/2003/race_for_mars/default.stm>.