Living on Mars
Children of Mars
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Updated February 01, 2014
|The journey to Mars is a dream for humans much more ambitious than the trip to the Moon made in the 1970s (Apollo programs). What are the obstacles to us in 2014, to send men to Mars and especially go back healthy on our planet?|
In reality, the obstacles are numerous but the main current brakes are technological, financial and human order. To overcome these obstacles and gain all the necessary technology, it might take many decades. From Mars and return to Earth, is a mission impossible for the 2020s, as the pitfalls are many. As for live, simulations as Mars 500 show the enormous human and technical complexity of an such mission. Since the 1960s, scientists studying the planet Mars through the many space missions past and present (Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Pathfinder, Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, Mars Exploration Rover, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Phoenix, Mars Science Laboratory). Their probes and robots show to us, regularly hostile environment of Mars and scientists now have a pretty good idea of the history of its water, its climate, its basement, potential dangers to the surface of Mars, possible landing sites for human and living conditions for a manned mission.
| ||But it is not enough to live on Mars. Prior it will take to reach Mars, make a number of intermediate missions to gradually acquire the necessary technologies to children of Mars. |
In addition, the necessary budget is huge, a global collaboration of government and nongovernmental organizations is essential. Just the trip would cost $ 10 billion.
To go to Mars must be in good health, and that is why the main preoccupation of scientists is to preserve the health of men and women traveling in weightlessness. Already in the 1970s, with the Soviet Soyuz 9, had tested long stays in space. After only 18 days, the bones and muscles of astronauts had atrophied (muscle loss 30%).
Since then, in space stations, astronauts do a series of exercises several hours a day to maintain their muscle mass, but the mass loss remains high (15% muscle loss every 300 days). But this is not the most worrying to health. The stress caused by long journeys is huge and psychological equilibrium is disrupted by this isolation. The choice of men and women who will go, will be extremely selective because they will hold several years.
Image: The thin atmosphere of Mars contains carbon dioxide and nitrogen. The pressure is 0.6 kPa on Earth while it is 101 KPa. The gravity on Mars is 0.376 g while on Earth it is 1 g. The sun's rays are harmful and as children of the moon, it will protect from the sun. Under these conditions a pressurized suit is mandatory. The environment of Mars is particularly hostile, there is no oxygen, and the temperature reached -60 ° C on average. Credit astronoo
The journey to Mars
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To minimize the cost of travel, the mission should last at least 15 years because the most favorable alignments between Earth and Mars (shortest distance) occur only very rarely.
The shortest distance between two bodies is when Mars is in opposition, that is to say when the Earth comes between Mars and the Sun. These oppositions are held approximately every 780 days (26 months), but given the relative eccentricity of the orbits of Mars and Earth, the shortest distance between the Earth and Mars (55 million kilometers) does not return all 26 months. it will be necessary to wait the concordance between the perihelion of Mars and the opposition of the two planets, or 7 oppositions, i.e. 15 years.
In these favorable conditions, astronauts traveling 6 months to go and less than four months for the return, in the best conditions. Astronauts will be confined in a cramped box and the psychological aspect of this confinement is difficult to manage, all human beings are not capable, moreover very little will support. It will make a drastic selection of the candidates.
Live for months in complete autonomy in a capsule requires to take oxygen, water and food needed to travel. For a journey of nine months, the mass of oxygen, water and food needed is huge. Each day, a man consumes about 1 kg of food, 1 kg of oxygen and 3 kg of water. To optimize the load, so it will recycle water and waste and carry a mini terrestrial ecosystem that allows the survival of the crew during this long journey. For oxygen it will take the CO2 discharged and produce oxygen through photosynthesis of plants. For water, it will be necessary to recycle the urine. For food, it will be necessary to recycle organic waste and grow vegetables in the waste. In addition it must be ensured that no pathogen invades the capsule. The psychological balance between men and women will be strongly put to the test. Although astronauts will be confined in a cramped box, facing to their confinement, the outward journey remains the easiest part of the mission.
Upon arrival on the Martian soil, candidates must be autonomous and mostly stay healthy and this task is much more complex than it seems. The Martian atmosphere is hostile, the light is low, the solar radiations are harmful, there is no oxygen, there is no liquid water and the temperature reached average -60 ° C and can drop to -130 ° C. On the desert surface of Mars, nothing grows, it will be necessary to find water, produce energy, oxygen, water and food in mini heated greenhouses. To build this, it will require a lot of materials, absent on Mars. It will not be possible to carry the materials needed to build a power plant, a boiler, a water reservoir, a unit of wastewater treatment, a radio room, a laboratory, a workshop, offices, rooms, sports halls, a kitchen, a restaurant, a library, etc. As for the return to Earth, it is the most obscure part of the mission. We have to wait a giant technological leap forward to consider.
nota: MELiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) is a project whose objective is the study of an ecosystem of micro-organisms and plants. This tool allows to better understand the behavior of artificial ecosystems and the development of technology for a future regenerative life support system for manned space missions of long duration, for example a lunar base or a mission to Mars. The driving force of MELISSA is recovering the food , water and oxygen from wastes (faeces, urea), carbon dioxide and minerals. Based on the principle of "aquatic" ecosystem, MELISSA has 5 compartments colonized respectively by thermophilic anoxygenic bacteria, photohererotrophic bacteria, nitrifying bacteria, photosynthetic bacteria, higher plants, and the crew. Hazardous waste and air pollutants are processed using the natural function of plants that in their turn provide food and contribute to the purification of water and oxygen to revitalize the air.
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Image: since 1997, the French-Italian Concordia base in Antarctica, located at an altitude of 3233 meters, is one of three research stations in the Antarctic continent. The other two are the U.S. Amundsen-Scott base and the Russian Vostok base. During the 9 months of winter, Concordia hosts in especially difficult circumstances, fifteen people in total autonomy, in the coldest region of the world. On the foreground image, polygonal buildings placed on six hydraulic cylinders to compensate variations in levels of frozen ground and in the background the entire power station (central, boiler, water tank, radio, laboratory, bedrooms, kitchen, restaurant, library, ...).
While these scientists are on Earth, all they need unless oxygen need assistance terrestrial. To supply the people of Concordia, land and air transport used are huge. Approximately 350 tons of supplies arrive by three land convoys organized during the summer season. The isolation for a long time a small group of human beings is ideal for define type portraits for an exploration of Mars.
The roadmap for Mars mission
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Mission ISECG has identified a set of tasks required in the lunar vicinity and on the surface of the Moon, before considering a manned mission to Mars, for the years 2030.
Ten space agencies met in Kyoto August 30, 2011 under the ISECG (International Space Exploration Coordination Group) to discuss the development of a common roadmap for coordinated space exploration internationally. Before sending men to Mars, it will return to the Moon and send humans to an asteroid. Each of these objectives will allow space agencies to gradually acquire the necessary technologies to reach Mars. Roadmap to prepare for a possible manned mission to Mars, highlights efforts to achieve financial and technological leaps to cross by global governmental and non-governmental organizations. Sustainable exploration, affordable and productive of the surface of Mars by humans is a very long term goal. The global roadmap for the exploration of Mars, creates a framework for the coordination of preparatory activities. This global roadmap Mars exploration is linked to a set of priorities and goals of preliminary respect and there are not that technological objectives. Of course we need to develop exploration technologies and the infrastructure needed to live and work beyond low Earth orbit.
But we must also engage the public, to interactive manner, as in a common space exploration cause. Human missions beyond low Earth orbit are possible with a coordinated international participation because the pitfalls are considerable. It will take a lot of expertise to enhance safety, expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit to continually increase the number of people on each destination, extending the duration of manned missions in self-sufficiency, reduce the risk of space environment on human health and the technological equipment and finally to highlight the benefits to the whole of humanity.
nota: Agencies involved in the development of a common roadmap for coordinated space exploration are: ASI (Italy), CNES (France), CSA (Canada), DLR (Germany), ESA (European Space Agency), JAXA (Japan), KARI (Republic of Korea), NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), UKSA (UK).
Image: The roadmap idealistic to prepare a possible manned mission to Mars, highlights the financial efforts to achieve. The roadmap should allow to achieve this objective covers a period of 25 years and describes an sequence of of intermediaries robotic and human necessary.