We’re going to Mars? #ScienceGoals

NASA’s Mars Exploration Program is probably
one of the most ambitious, expensive and long-drawn out space exploration projects in the world. From Mariner 4’s first fly-by of Mars 1965
to the recent findings of the Curiosity rover, NASA spent over 40 years and billions of dollars
on exploring Mars. Not only that, with the Orion spacecraft and
Space Launch System almost ready, NASA aims to land astronauts on Mars by the year 2030. As we speak, NASA scientists and physicists
are currently involved in an experiment that has scientists living in a simulated Martian
atmosphere for an entire year. And by “Martian atmosphere” we mean 6
people living in an enclosure 36 feet in diameter on one of the ‘Mars-like’ slopes of Hawaii’s
many mountain with no one else for company except each other and no communication with
the outside world except their Mission Support. And NASA isn’t the only one doing it – the
ESA too, together with French and Italian space agencies is running a similar experiment
in the extreme environs of Antarctica. Plus Elon Musk’s company SpaceX is planning
to colonize Mars alongside NASA. And of course, there’s Mars One – a highly
ambitious, and also highly questionable program that aims to send people on a one-way trip
to Mars.   Basically, to cut a long story short, folks,
buckle up – looks like we are going to Mars. Mars has always been very inviting for a number
of reasons. First, it’s red color thanks to the iron-rich
regolith which was thought to be similar to Earth’s surface matter. Next, while Mars is much colder than Earth
it is still the most hospitable among other planets. Most importantly though – the photos from
NASA’s Viking program showed that Mars too was dotted with valleys, mountains, craters,
gullies and channels that suggest it may once have had flowing water, along with sand dunes,
volcanoes, canyons and polar ice caps. Mars even has seasons, just like Earth. However, at the crux of our fascination, or
obsession with Mars lies the fundamental question: Where did we come from? Many scientific theorists believe that life
on Earth may have actually been seeded by Mars – a concept known as Panspermia – the
theory that life on the earth originated from microorganisms or chemical precursors of life
present in outer space and able to initiate life on reaching a suitable environment. In fact, if credible evidence of life on Mars
could be discovered, it could change what we know about evolution entirely. We could all be Martians!! Then there’s also the possibility of humanity
on Earth getting wiped out altogether. As we speak there’s about 150 asteroids
that NASA’s is carefully monitoring, each of which has a good chance of doing the Earth
much damage. So, if the human species is going to survive
– is it only going to be on Earth? With this thought, NASA, and many other agencies
of the world are now strapping on space suits with the goal of making manned missions to
Mars and eventually colonizing the red planet. So, the question is – what are we waiting
for? Plenty. The road to Mars is definitely long, and full
of hurdles. One of the biggest challenges to make a crewed
Martian journey is simply the sheer power needed to blast off and speed a spacecraft
large enough to carry the people, supplies and fuel needed to make the journey. Then there’s the small problem of actually
landing on the planet. Curiosity weighs as much as a small car and
needed a parachute to create the drag force of 29,300 kilos to land. Now Imagine a two storeyed building hurtling
way through the Martian atmosphere at 24,000 kilometers per hour (which, by the way is
more than the speed of sound). A few parachutes or propulsion rockets won’t
be enough to make a safe landing. Yet, with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket making
the very first unmanned vertical landing in late December 2015, it looks like this problem
may not be a problem for long. But what about the journey itself? Rovers and probes are practically immune to
the dangers of space and solar radiation, but humans – not so much. Moreover, robots don’t get nostalgic. The effects of living in almost complete isolation,
with very little contact with Earth can’t be entirely too pleasant. Almost for all the participants in simulations
– the psychological issues are the hardest part. Perhaps one of the most significant challenges
though of a manned Mars mission is simply – the cost and resources. The ISS – currently one of the most expensive
space projects, needed the co-operation and resources of almost 5 different countries
to come to life – a process that took about 5 years to draft. It’s safe to say sending humans to Mars
will hardly be a NASA-alone project. How and when international space agencies
come together for such an endeavor remains the biggest question on this journey. Given all the effort required, is visiting
Mars really worth the trouble? Well, if we care about humankind and our existence,
then the answer is a resounding YES. Space exploration is one of the soundest ways
in which we discover our past and ascertain our future. It is one of the foremost causes of many groundbreaking
scientific discoveries, in the absence of which we wouldn’t understand what we now
do. If we’re really keen on saving our planet,
knowing more about it is the first step. And sometimes in order to know what’s going
on in here, you need to first know what’s out there. Hey guys, thanks for watching this video. A big thanks to Google’s Making & Science
team for making this video possible. If you like what we’ve made, please share
it with your friends with the hashtag #sciencegoals. The next video which we’re working on is going
to be about Stranger Things. So hit that subscribe button if you don’t
want to miss it. And one last thing, please support us on Patreon
so we can keep doing what we love!

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