Space travel has always captured the attention of mankind and the likes of NASA, SpaceX, and Mars One are already mulling over sending people to Mars. Countries like the UAE have also proposed the same idea.
NASA And Its 'Journey To Mars'
NASA has already started working on its Mars program, christened "Journey to Mars" and aims at sending people to the Red Planet in the 2030s. NASA has been sending unmanned rovers and satellites to Mars regularly over the past few years and the next logical step would be sending humans.
Astronauts aboard the Journey to Mars program have been researching about the conditions, which would support human life on Mars. They are also looking to understand the adaptations, which one would require to go through in space. Further experiments and tests have been lined up to make human travel to Mars possible.
Elon Musk, the CEO and CTO of SpaceX Corp., had iterated in a 2011 interview that he wanted to send people to Mars within the next 20 years. This dream of his came closer to fulfillment in 2013 when he privately funded a development project to build a fleet of rocket aircrafts, rocket engines, and capsules to facilitate space travel to and from Mars. Musk has even made clear his plans on colonizing Mars.
Mars One: Proposition 2024
Space organization Mars One, whose sole aim is to facilitate human landing on the Red Planet, has stated that it will successfully drop off humans on Mars by 2024. Led by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, this organization plans to select some volunteers, two men and two women, who are willing to permanently reside in Mars and will have no intention of coming back to Earth.
UAE's Mars 2117
The UAE has made a bold statement that it wants to send colonies to Mars in the next 100 years. The project, nicknamed "Mars 2117" has set goals to transport people to Mars. The residential quarters there would be built beforehand by robots.
"The new project is a seed that we plant today, and we expect future generations to reap the benefits, driven by its passion to learn to unveil a new knowledge," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister of the UAE.
Possible Health Risks Of Mars Journey
Given the popularity of interplanetary travel, people tend to oversee the risks and health hazards involved in the journey. A recent study has determined that space travelers to Mars could be at tremendous risk of exposure to radiation. This will in turn increase the risk of leukemia in the travelers.
The researchers experimented on mice, which were transplanted with human stem cells, and demonstrated that deep space radiation could increase the chances of leukemia in human beings. A round trip to Mars is expected to take three years and this would result in risks of exposure to radiation for long periods.
"Our results are troubling because they show radiation exposure could potentially increase the risk of leukemia in two ways," said Christopher Porada, Ph.D., associate professor of regenerative medicine. Porada also acts as the lead researcher of the project.
The Human Research Program of NASA is focusing on the radiation levels during the journey, along with studying conditions of isolation, microgravity, and confinement in the Martian environment.
The prospect of traveling and settling down in Mars may not be unrealistic now, as several organizations are focusing on it with determination. It remains to be seen when mankind's next giant step will actually be taken.