By Daniel Xu
A hundred years ago, outer space was still deemed a mystery, a place inconceivable to travel to. Technology involving cosmonautics was theoretical at the time; only because of the Cold War was the Soviet Union able to launch a human, Yuri Gagarin, into outer space on April 12, 1961. From the moment when Neil Armstrong first landed on the moon in 1969 to the first rover landing on Mars in 1997, recent history has eclipsed humanity’s previous minimal accomplishments in space explorations. Now, in a small span of fifty years, our society can contemplate and create a detailed plan to travel to other planets, which not only makes eccentric science fiction novels plausible but also brings us closer to the near infinite potential humans have.
NASA believes that it will be able to achieve a Mars landing in 2033. This event may no longer be a far-fetched idea, but there are still many questions about the future of space travel: “should we colonize Mars?” and “does it have the necessary chemicals to sustain life even with our technology?” Aaron Ridley, a professor of space sciences and engineering, thinks that the colonization of Mars is unfeasible; he estimates that a safe and operational colony would be in place only by the 22nd century. In contrast, colonizing the moon would be more beneficial. It would bring more economic gains and need much less funding. Additionally, it has closer day to night cycles and a much shorter travel time.
“The moon is a much more economically feasible location for a colony. A Mars colony will continue to be far off in the future until the funding and political winds shift,” Ridley said.
While I agree with these statements, I think Mars still has the highest potential, in the long run, of becoming a safe haven for humans. Even if it would take a few hundred years to establish a fully operational colony, it would still be a place for refugees in a time of threatening climate change or world wars. Similar amounts of gravity, a stable atmosphere, and a subtle change of temperature from day to night all back up the idea that Mars can become the second earth. Counterarguments like the absence of necessities such as food, water, and air and the points brought up by Ridley only consider colonizing in the short run. As our technology develops, the six months time to reach Mars will become two, a shortage of normal goods would not be a problem, and the amount of resources gained from cultivating the lands of Mars will outweigh the costs. If no one puts effort into making space colonies, then we will never have any.