A protestor’s sign at a Paris gathering devoted to the study of climate change read: “There is no Planet B.”
Well, not now, anyway. But scientists are increasingly turning to Mars as a planet that might be hospitable for human colonization. In October, NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) declared that colonizing Mars in 20 years was an “achievable goal.”
If you are wondering why the forbidding red planet with its subzero temperatures and almost nonexistent atmosphere is getting a second look, scientists explain that it all has to do with the discovery of water on Mars by the latest NASA lander. Just a few years ago, critics were wondering if the lander was worth its $2.5 million price tag. No longer, the discovery of water has made scientists take a new look at Mars.
“Mars is obviously the logical next place to expand our capabilities and getting Earth crews there,” Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin told CNBC in a recent interview. Aldrin is famous as the second man to walk on the moon. He said sending humans to Mars would be an achievement “that’s unparalleled in humanity.”
Despite Mars’ thin nitrogen-based atmosphere and ferocious dust storms, many researchers are looking at ways to change conditions to make the red planet habitable for humans. (No word on how they would warm the icy planet up.)
It’s Mars or we tough it out on earth should a calamity hit, says Jim Greene, director of NASA’s planetary science. That’s because the earth runs a risk of being hit by a huge asteroid. Recently, NASA revealed that it was monitoring a 480-meter asteroid that could collide with the Earth sometime in the next four decades. British astronomers are even more forbidding, saying there’s a good likelihood that a large space comet or asteroid could cause world panic, if not disaster.
“Asteroids cross our orbit frequently and we know we’re going to get hit again,” Green told CNBC. “It’s not a matter of if, but when.”
Gulp! And where’s the news on the technology that would break up such a meteor before it hits Earth? No reports on anything functional yet. Frankly, I think they better get working on that before they think they can terra-form Mars.