Manned Missions to Mars?

This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for! 

Humans are to finally occupy a planet in our solar system other than Earth, which in this case is Mars. The “Red Planet”, because of the iron oxide on its surface, is the second smallest planet in the solar system and is the fourth planet from the sun. It’s the next planet over. It’s practically our neighbor!

Is life possible on Mars?
Well, let’s see… Mars has features similar to those of Earth and the Moon e.g. impact craters, volcanoes, valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps. Considering it is a terrestrial planet, the surface is composed of silicon, oxygen, metals, and other elements that make up rock. Hm.. It starting to sound a little like Earth. The soil in Mars showed it to be slightly alkaline and returned data that contained similar elements that can be found in the gardens on Earth. As for water, liquid water is unable to exist on the surface of Mars; however, it is possible on the lower elevations for a short period of time. The two polar ice caps appear to be made largely of water, and if melted, can cover the entire planet to a depth of 11 meters. It is also said that there are large quantities of water ice that are thought to be trapped within its thick cryosphere.

(Top: North polar ice cap 1999. Bottom: South polar ice cap 2000.)

Charles Bolden, the head of the US space program, mentioned that this mission consisted of many “stepping stones” in order to help the mission by providing testing ground for key technology necessary to reach and potentially set up residence on Mars. One of these “stepping stones” included “lassoing” an asteroid in order to bring it close to the Moon’s orbit, growing plants in space, and using 3D printers to provide onboard repairs.   He estimated that with an increase in NASA’s budget, we’d be able to reach Mars with a manned flight in 20 years. (Source)

Why aren’t we funding this? It’s a chance we take in order to travel to a new planet in our vast solar system.

-Lawrence Hernandez
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http://www.californiaac.com

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