Would you go to Mars?

As early as 2025, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, plans to get humans to Mars. Mission “Heart of Gold,”  (in honor of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), could carry up to 100 people — with a “high” chance that participants could die.

Oh great. The high chance to die part doesn’t make the trip sound that appealing. The other issue is that it might take almost 3 years to get there. You probably be stuck with the same bunch of people during the trip up and probably while you are there. So it might be good to do a wee bit of personality profiling as well to ensure that everyone sort of gets along. The movie “The Martian” doesn’t also paint a very appealing picture. I would probably have to start a gardening course just to survive in case if anything catestrophic happens.

Kelly Oakes in a buzzfeed article provides a more systematic 17 reasons to consider before taking the leap into the rocketship ride up to Mars.

1. It’s going to take a long time to get there and the journey might not be very fun.

Mars One says a group of four “marsonauts” will go first, with a planned landing in 2025, but they’ll be followed by more groups at two year intervals.

When would-be astronauts spent 520 days in a fake spaceship in a Russian car park to simulate a round trip to Mars, four of the six crew had trouble sleeping or developed depression during the mission.

One crew member had such chronic sleep deprivation that he accounted for the majority of errors in concentration and alertness tests all crew undertook.

3. Humans have never been in space for that long before.

Astronauts at the moment are limited to spending six months at a time on the International Space Station, because of the way microgravity affects their bodies. A journey to Mars would take at least 200 days, which is over half a year.

So biological problems we’ve seen already, like muscle and bone loss, might get worse.

4. It’ll be hard to adjust to Mars time.

A day on Mars lasts 40 minutes longer than it does on Earth. It doesn’t sound like a big difference, but when you’ve lived all your life with 24 hour days, you’ll notice.

5. You’ll barely be able to see the Earth anymore, which might affect you more than you anticipate.

When Apollo astronauts went to the moon, they reported feeling disconcerted the further they got from Earth. Compared to Mars, the moon isn’t even that far away.

6. Once your body has adapted to Martian gravity you won’t be able to come back to Earth. Ever.

Gravity on Mars is just a third of what it is on Earth. Your bone and muscle would deteriorate and after a while your body wouldn’t be able to cope with normal Earth conditions anymore.

It’s the same reason astronauts struggle for a while when they come back from six months in low Earth orbit.

7. The first Martian settlers won’t be able to have children.

8. You’ll have to exercise to stay in a good condition. A lot.

9. Especially as, if you get ill, you’ll be (on average) 225 million miles away from Earth.

10. There’s always the chance that you’ll get infected with something from Mars.

Then Earth wouldn’t even have you back if you tried.

11. You’ll never go outside again.

13. Which also means you won’t really be able to use the internet.

Apart from a select few sites that are downloaded especially to the Mars webserver from Earth. Mars One says that the marsonauts will have access to their favourite websites this way, but won’t be able to surf the wider web.

14. You’ll never get to eat your favourite foods again.

Unless they’re made entirely of certain vegetables like sweet potatoes, spinach, lettuce or soya beans, which are plants we know can be grown in space, so should do fine in the reduced gravity of Mars.

15. You’ll also be exposed to really quite high levels of radiation.

When the Curiosity rover took its 360 day trip to Mars, scientists measured the amount of radiation it was exposed to so they could work out how much radiation humans would be exposed to on the same trip.

The total was 662 (plus or minus 108) millisieverts. That’s about two thirds the lifetime limit on radiation exposure of 1,000 millisieverts imposed by most space agencies on their astronauts. And because Mars doesn’t have a magnetic field protecting it like Earth does, you’d be exposed to more radiation every time you go out on to the surface.

16. Just to reiterate: you will die on Mars, away from all other humans.

17. Despite all this, when you’re finally there watching your first sunrise on Mars it’ll all seem worth it.

Anyway if you are still interested to go up, grab a queue number quick. 200,000 people have already applied to go, and 1058 of those remain in the application process right now. So if you start now, you might be the second at least in Singapore to be up there. Why second? Because you have to be behind me, I’m going to put my name on the waiting list. =)

Image from Shutterstock

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