NASA’s Perseverance, upon reaching
Mars on Thursday, became the fifth rover so far the touch the Martian surface, turning
the longstanding question of ‘when will humans be able to reach Mars’? even
stronger. NASA’s Artemis program is labelled as a ‘Moon to Mars’ mission, with acting administrator Steve Jurczyk reiterating his hopeful “mid-to-end of the
2030s” timeline for a crewed space expedition to the red planet, AFP
Interestingly, plans for a Mars
mission are stuck because of rather surprising reason – funding uncertainties.
Having begun shortly after the success
of the Apollo program in 1969, plans of a potential human trip to Mars was
drawn out by Wernher von Braun, the architect of the Apollo mission.
Funding, in this case, faces
uncertainties due to the sheer distance of the planet from Earth.
Astronauts travelling to Mars will
have to pass through a total of 140 million miles (225 million kilometres),
relative to the position of the two planets in real-time.
This substantially raises chances of
two hazards: radiation, and microgravity. While the former raises chances of developing
cancer throughout a person’s lifetime, the latter reduces bone density and muscle
Furthermore, any potential problems
would have to be solved on Mars itself.
So far, two possible solutions have
been provided by scientists to counter the harmful effects.
The first is attaching nuclear
propulsion to the spacecraft, which produces considerably more thrust than traditional
Whereas to avoid radiation, attaching
water containers, which would soak space radiation, to the sides of the spacecraft
has been suggested.