Imagine living on the South Pole. It would be freezing, and you couldn’t go outside. Not much fun, right? Now, imagine living on the planet Mars. There it would be even worse. Despite this, many people, like billionaire Elon Musk, are dreaming of going to Mars. Are they crazy, or is there a good reason for traveling to the red planet?
In 2018, Musk’s company SpaceX sent an electric car to space. Two years later, he continued to impress by sending humans into orbit. This was only the beginning. SpaceX plans to go to Mars in less than ten years. Musk has said that he wants to establish a city on Mars as early as 2050.
That sounds fun, but living on Mars will be hard. The gravity on the red planet is only one-third the gravity on Earth. That means that if you weigh 100 pounds on Earth, you will weigh only 38 pounds on Mars. Our bodies are not made for such a low weight. People who live there could experience bone and muscle loss. They could also get sick.
There is not much air on Mars, and you could, therefore, never go outside without a spacesuit. There will be almost no people, it will be hard to go outside, and there will be little to do. So, why go?
The Stars and Beyond
Settling Mars isn’t really the end goal. Elon Musk has said that SpaceX will first go to the Moon and build a base there before traveling to Mars. The point of going to the Moon is practice and to gain an excellent place for launching rockets.
In the same way, going to Mars is also just practice. If we can master the colonization of Mars, we are better prepared to leave our solar system and visit other stars.
In the last 30 years, scientists have discovered that the universe is full of stars with planets. These planets outside our solar system are called exoplanets. Some resemble Earth, and the closest ones are only about five lightyears away. One day in the future, we might be able to build spaceships that can travel near the speed of light. Then it would be possible for humans to go to other stars with planets.
This could happen a lot faster than most people imagine. If you are young today, you could live to see the first mission to another star. You could even be one of the first people to set foot on an alien planet. Who knows, maybe we will even find alien life?