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Mission To Mars: A Critical Step In Space Globalization
by Natalia Kovalenko for Voice of Russia
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Oct 17, 2013

File image.

India is getting ready to become the fifth country to send a spaceship to Mars. The USA, Russia, the EU, China and Japan are working on their own programs of studying the Red Planet. And although it has already been proven that there is no life there, it does not make Mars any less interesting for people. To the contrary, a race of space projects to make colonies on Mars has started on Earth.

Generally speaking, the Indian program to study Mars is under threat of disruption. The start of the orbital mission is set for October 28. But the Indians will not be able to launch the spacecraft without the NASA's help.

Due to the budget crisis in the USA the employees of the American Space Agency have been sent on vacation. If the launch is not carried out in a certain period of time, the Indians will have to wait for favorable conditions for two years.

The launch of the Russian-European orbital station to study Mars is planned for about the same time. And in 2018 a robotized spaceship is to be launched towards the Red Planet, which will eventually land on its surface.

The best research institutions of Russia and the EU are working on the ExoMars project. The initiators of the project are planning to drill into the surface of Mars ten times deeper that the American Mars rover - up to 50 cm.

About 400 million euro have already been invested in the project, while its total cost is to amount to 1.2 billion euro, as was earlier reported by the European Space Agency. And all this is just supposed to confirm what has been known for over 40 years, specifically: there is no life on Mars in our understanding of the word. Here is the commentary of Ivan Moiseyev, head of the Institute of Space Policy.

"Let's not fool ourselves. It is clear that there is no life anywhere else in our solar system other than on Earth. It is already clear. If we look at all these planets, their origin, it becomes clear there could have been no life born there. They are not suitable for life".

On the other hand, even if there is no life there, it can be brought there. Projects to colonize Mars are already being developed. Architects from the Russian-German design bureau ZA Architects are proposing to send to Mars a team of robot builders, which will be operated with the help of solar batteries.

Those robots are to prepare housing for humans - they would dig large caves in the surface of Mars and prepare them for living. Then humans would arrive there. What the robots will be unable to do, will be done by humans - it will be printed on 3D printers.

The Martian soil will be used as material for the printers. It sounds like science fiction. But what are humans to dream of if not of Mars, says Alexander Zheleznyakov, an academician at the Russian Tsiolkovsky Academy of Space Exploration.

"No matter how you look at it, Mars is the only planet located in the vicinity of the Earth where humans can form colonies. That is why it has been and will be attracting our attention. Perhaps now it is fiction. But if we look into the more distanced future, not dozens or hundreds, but hundred of thousands of years, humankind will be forced to look for some other planet, where it could settle down and increase its habitat. At this stage Mars is perceived as the only possible planet where humans from the Earth can live despite certain difficulties."

The moon can help overcome the difficulties. That little friend of the planet Earth is close, but at the same time it is located beyond the laws of physics of the Earth. It would be easier for the humans to settle down there than anywhere else in space, thinks academician Alexander Zheleznyakov.

"For one thing, the moon is a unique testing grounds for space equipment - equipment that already exists as well as developed in the future. Secondly, it is an ideal scientific base to study deep space. A telescope located on the other side of the moon alone is worth a lot! That is why we cannot do without it. But to divide this program into stages - first the moon and then Mars - is not reasonable. It is better to actively explore the moon and gradually study Mars than just focus on one object."

Not too long ago a model program was implemented in Russia called Mars-500, which was dedicated to humans' stay in a mockup of an interplanetary spaceship. Now a team is being gathered for a real flight. In Russia scientists believe that the first stay of the humans on Mars should last only a few days. The Americans are playing a big game: they have announced the preparation for a piloted expedition lasting for 501 days.

The issue is how to house humans outside of the usual Earth environment. The question of oxygen can be resolved, but the issue of food is more complicated. Experiments have revealed than nothing grows on the moon.

Cucumbers and tomatoes have grown on the soil from Mars, but they turned out to be inedible - they were poisoned by heavy metals. Another option is to print food on 3D printers as well. But such prospects could scare away volunteers who agreed to travel to Mars. Besides the need to say good-bye to their close ones and be forced to listen to birds singing only on records, they would also be doomed to eat synthetic food all the time.

Source: Voice of Russia


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