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4 Reasons Why Moving To Mars Makes Sense | Unveiled

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
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Human beings love Mars. For years we've been dreaming of reaching the Red Planet and setting up a civilisation there. But... why?? In this video, Unveiled discusses the crucial reasons why moving to Mars makes A LOT of sense for the future of our species! The countdown to Mars has begun!
Transcript

4 Reasons Why Moving to Mars Makes Sense


Mars is the furthest inner planet from the sun and the second-smallest planet in the solar system. It’s also one of the most promising, Earth-like bodies out there. We know more about it than any other alien world. And, if plans are put into practice, then in the near future we’ll be sending the first humans to explore the Red Planet, too. But, on the most basic levels, why are we doing it?

This is Unveiled, and today we’re exploring the reasons why moving to Mars makes sense.

It’s only relatively recently that private industry has taken a big interest in space. And, generally speaking, it’s still the publicly funded space agencies that have the lead. But all of these groups unite under at least one thing; a thirst for knowledge… and it’s this inherent, human curiosity that makes Mars so intriguing.

The first reason why moving to Mars makes sense, then, is the unparalleled knowledge we could gain. Anything we can learn about Mars is valuable information, even if what we ultimately discover is that, despite all of our hopes, it isn’t the best place for a permanent human colony. For now, the main question still stands as; should we send human beings? But, in the future, it could change to; how many humans can we get there? Or… what have we learnt about Mars to help us in finding another, more suitable second home? We just need to make that first, iconic step by reaching it.

In terms of satisfying curiosity, safely moving to Mars is really a no-lose situation. Even if all evidence was against long-term settlement, then simply being on such a foreign landscape - for no matter how short a time - could prompt any number of other, new discoveries. For one, we’d have a better chance of understanding exactly what happened to make Mars lose its magnetosphere; knowledge which could then be applied to the future of Earth, as well. In general, studying Mars up close would provide us with another example of how a rocky planet works. We could better determine how Mars formed, and therefore better understand what the early solar system looked like. Getting to Mars would be almost limitless in terms of the new stuff it could reveal to us.

It could also give us far greater clarity in our search for extraterrestrial life. If we visited in person and studied on site, then we’d finally have first-hand experience of a genuine alien world - making it far easier to determine whether life does (or ever did) exist there. Of course, there are now various things that we do know about Mars that we didn’t just a few years ago, thanks to rover missions and remote research. We’re confident, for example, that it had large amounts of surface water at one stage, and we know that it still has polar ice today. From our perspective here on Earth, this makes it possible that Mars was once (and could even still be) a habitable world. We might never know for sure, though, until we actually visit.

But if this place is such a bottomless pit of bountiful discovery, then why aren’t we there already? Unfortunately, the financial risk is still considered very high. NASA may well be the world’s most prominent space agency, but it receives less than 0.5% of America’s total federal budget. In the case of Mars, the opportunities for profit are still deemed to be low. But, on the other hand, we do know that Mars has certain resources to tap, which is reportedly why the more speculative private sector has upped its interest recently.

Therefore, our second reason why moving to Mars makes sense is the industry that could be built there. There are ores like nickel, copper, titanium and lithium just waiting to be mined from the Martian plains. And of course, there’s plenty of iron, with iron being the main reason for Mars’ reddish colour. Simply mapping the resource potential on Mars, regardless of how we’d go on to use it, could be seen as reason enough to visit. Again, to build knowledge.

There’s clearly a balance to be struck here, however. Firstly, we already have deposits of a lot of these elements on Earth… so we don’t necessarily need to go to all the trouble of settling on an alien planet just to get more of them. On top of that, if we’re serious about moving large numbers of people to Mars at any time in the future, then it might make more sense to leave resources where they are - where they’ll be needed and could be vital to our survival. Understandably, the thought of pillaging Mars for all its worth also just doesn’t sit well with a lot of people. It could be seen as humans exploiting an environment that certainly isn’t ours, and growing numbers worry that if we do ever make it off of this planet… we’ll just end up wasting another one in its place.

Inevitably, though, this is what fuels our third reason why moving to Mars makes sense: Extinction avoidance. Here on Earth, humanity is already facing a sixth mass extinction, the Holocene event. So, we already have reason to want to leave. But there are various other apocalypse scenarios that could also play out in the near-to-far future… and if they did then having a human presence on Mars could be crucial, as we look for greener - or in this case redder - pastures.

Since Mars is far friendlier than Venus and far closer than the gas giant moons of Titan or Europa, it remains our best bet for an off-Earth bolthole. But, of course, there’s still plenty of work to do, and we’re still an indeterminate number of decades away from being able to evacuate anyone from here to there.

We’ve seen a variety of terraforming suggestions made in recent years, including Elon Musk’s much-publicised belief that we should nuke Mars in order to create an artificial atmosphere there. The more conventional (and less destructive) plans tend to involve us building large, enclosed habitats. Massive domes known as biospheres. And NASA already has designs for 3D printed versions of these, ready for a future time when humans inhabit robot-built homes to form a living base on Mars. And then, if the worst really were to happen to Earth, we’d have somewhere that’s better for us than even our home planet is.

So, we’ve got knowledge, resources and avoiding extinction. Our final reason why moving to Mars makes sense is because if we don’t then we might never go anywhere. In the most optimistic projections for how a space-faring future plays out for humanity, Mars is very much seen as a steppingstone. The opening act. A first-generation other world which could, if explored successfully, serve as a launchpad for all manner of next generation space ambitions.

Most models of advanced, future civilizations include them becoming a multi-planetary species. Achieve this, and you’re no longer at the mercy of what happens on just one world... because you can escape to another. And then another. But many of the problems and unforeseen issues we’ll undoubtedly face on Mars, we would also experience on anywhere else that isn’t Earth. Issues with increased radiation, for example, achieving a reliable oxygen supply, and also withstanding the long-distance space travel to get there in the first place. How will humans cope? Will we be able to communicate effectively with Earth? And would we be able to re-launch ourselves off of Mars, if we needed to?

But these are questions that apply to all alien planets and celestial bodies. Not only Mars. It’s just that Mars represents our best bet to get out there and answer them. To get a grip on the solar system as a whole, as we look to broaden our horizons. Once we’ve been to Mars, we needn’t worry as much about making the long journey to Titan, for example - a trip which took the Cassini probe seven years. And, if our research so far is right, then Titan could actually be a better prospect for a long-term stay.

So, moving to Mars is about more than just… moving to Mars. It’s a trial run. An incredible trial run the likes of which we’ve never seen before. But one that, once it’s complete, could open up the entire solar system to us. From Mars it could be onto to Titan, and then Europa, and then even back to Venus, the asteroid belt, or as far-flung as Pluto. And once we’ve applied all that we learn on Mars to every other local world, then maybe we can look even further afield… beyond the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud, to find an exoplanet in a different star system that might not need terraforming at all.

For now, moving to Mars would dramatically increase our knowledge, could potentially yield all new resources, would certainly provide us with an escape route from extinction, and might ultimately turn the tricky business of interstellar travel into second nature for advanced human beings. And that’s why heading to the Red Planet makes a lot of sense.
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