This is certainly a bold initiative! Sifting through the human race, finding the right people that are willing to leave the Earth forever, and then off to Mars they go. Wow! Is this for real, or what?
Evidently, there has already been a conference on this, a hundred thousand dollar grant, and some serious talk about colonizing Mars. In fact, a poll as been taken and the amount of people willing to leave our Earth and put down roots in the Martian soil outnumbers those who wish to stay home. So there are a lot of people who still have the spirit of adventure and exploration, and are willing to risk their lives to further our knowledge of the universe.
Like the days of Christopher Columbus, a voyage to Mars with the intent of colonizing the planet is probably the grandest adventure one can think of, short of traveling to the stars. But of course the stars are far in the future, and even getting to Mars will be an expensive and time-consuming undertaking. That is the reason for the one-way trip. It’s just too damn expensive! Until a new means of rocket propulsion is discovered that can shrink the time it takes to travel to Mars, then a one-way voyage is certainly doable right now.
The talk is that four people, or astronauts, would take the trip. They would look to inhabit a Martian ice cave for the shelter that exists, and to protect them from radiation. At least that is one of the ideas. But I have to say, I believe that this one-way business has doom written all over it. What about the psychological stress of this decision? What about all the inherent dangers that we haven’t even discovered yet, let alone some of the things we now know, such as bone loss in space. That’s right, stay in space long enough and our bones not only get weak, they begin to lose a lot of calcium. What is going to happen when these astronauts reach Mars and need to move around? Martian gravity is pretty damn close to Earth gravity, so that might be a problem.
But the thing that bothers me the most is the fact that these volunteers are on a one-way mission. I’m all for exploration, in fact I’m a huge proponent of it, but I still think that a better way is possible. No matter how much psychological testing is done on these space travelers, the fact that this is such a final voyage might be too much for them to handle. All it takes is one to go off his or her rocker and the whole mission is at risk!
Why not concentrate all of our resources on a better propulsion method? Chemical rockets just don’t cut it anymore as the distances in our solar system are just too vast. Perhaps a plasma rocket might be possible, with the huge increase in speed that can reduce the time it takes to get to Mars in a matter of months as opposed to almost a year.
And a round-trip is certainly an option if we can increase our speed for the voyage. Even if the first explorers stay a while and set up shop, at least they have the option and the knowledge that they can get back home at some point in the future if they wish. Doesn’t this make more sense for everyone involved? Won’t this protect the welfare and investment of the mission? I think this is a far better way to go.