The Challenges of Living in Space

Before we know it, cable television and lawn parties will become part of the latest planetary design for Mars or the moon, instead of just here on Earth. The reason for this is because the future of our human race depends on whether or not some form of habitat can be found in the universe. A lot has to do with the innate curiosity of the human being, but more has a lot to do with global warming and the risk that a disaster will destroy Earth. Where will we go?

A British astrophysicist by the name of Stephen Hawking, everyone’s favorite, feels very strongly about this to the point he feels that we could have a permanent moon base in 20 years, and permanent Mars base within 40 years. “We won’t find anywhere as nice as Earth unless we go to another star system,” Stephen Hawking told a news conference in Hong Kong on June 13, 2006. Strongly spoken, he says that “if humans can avoid killing themselves within the next 100 years, they should have space settlements that can continue without support from Earth.”

Whether this is the general consensus or not, the space flights to nearby planets are on the move. Many ask why, even though NASA’s Mars Exploration rovers and ESA’s Mars Express have actually confirmed there has been water on Mars, and now has a high probability it is available in the form of ice water. For one major reason, humans cannot survive on Mars without a space suit, as an unprotected person would only last as long as 20 seconds without the barest minimum amount of oxygen. Then we have something called solar winds due to the lack of magnetosphere, with the solar winds traveling between 600 and 800 km/s when located outside the ecliptic, where it travels at typical speeds between 200 and 600 km/s.

Yet, scientists feel that Mars is better for human colonization than the extreme hot and cold temperatures of Mercury. It is also better than Venus’ extremely hot temperatures similar to that of a furnace, or the outer planets and their very low and cold temperatures. I guess if one wanted to live somewhere that closely resembled Mars, pitch a tent in the Arctic and Antarctic, as they match the extreme temperatures that are on the red planet the most. Located 40-million miles from Earth, a person would not want to run out of fuel or groceries that far from home-at least if there is one to return home, according to Hawking.

The moon is less habitable as Mars as it does not have enough gravity to maintain the type of atmosphere we need to sustain our life. Also important, is that water will be unable to maintain a liquid state due to an inadequate atmosphere. Vacuumed water maintains two states-it either boils or freezes. So unless water is taken to the Moon, there will not be any available for human colonization. Mathematically, Mars has about 38% of Earth’s gravity, while the Moon has about 16.7% of Earth’s gravity. To sum it up, Mar’s gravity is about twice that of the Moon’s gravity. If we look at it in black and white and in an objective manner, Mars is not as close to the physical attributes of Earth as we are brought to believe.