It seem the next human home will be the ‘’new earth’’ as NASA is on a journey to Mars, with the aim of sending humans to one of the planet (discovered arguably in 1610, as a result of first telescopic observation by Galileo Galilei) which is often refers to as the ‘’Red Planet’’ in the 2030s. That trip is already well under way as indicated by NASA. Since the discovery that there could be existence of life on Mars, NASA has carried out a number of expeditions to investigate such phenomenon till date. The idea of life existence is constantly being carried out with much astronaut sent out already as the vision and conclusion about life on Mars seems to be feasible.

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A report has been release by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in it article “Journey to Mars”. The editor claimed that, the journey describe a variety of programs NASA worked on from 2008-2016 that would help send humans to Mars in the 2030s. As published, the release of National Space Policy Directive-1 on Dec. 11, 2017, majority of the programs under that label ‘’Journey to Mars’’ were with the aim of returning astronauts to the Moon as a focus in preparation for human missions to Mars.

The publication announcement stated that ‘For decades, the agency and its partners have sent orbiters, landers and rovers, dramatically increasing our knowledge about the Red Planet and paving the way for future human explorers. The Curiosity rover (automated motor vehicle research gadget)  has gathered radiation data to help us protect future astronauts, and the upcoming Mars 2020 rover will study the availability of Martian resources, including oxygen’’.

There is more to learn as NASA thrive humanity’s presence into the solar system. We need to learn; Was Mars once home to microbial life or is it today? Can it be a safe home for humans? What can the Red Planet(Mars) teach us about our own planet’s past, present and future?

The paper explained that as a result of continuing and building on the robotic legacy, the human exploration attempt of Mars crosses three thresholds and each threshold come with increasing challenges as humans move farther from Earth. The three thresholds regarded as: Earth Reliant, the Proving Ground, and Earth Independent.

Earth Reliant exploration is focused on research aboard the International Space Station. The orbiting microgravity laboratory serves as a world-class test bed for the technologies and communications systems needed for human missions to deep space. Astronauts are learning about what it takes to live and work in space for long periods of time, increasing the NASA researchers understanding of how the body changes in space and how to protect astronaut health.

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The NASA indicated that the Mars expedition includes commercial crew and cargo partners to provide access to low-Earth orbit and eventually stimulate new economic activity, allowing NASA to continue using the station while preparing for missions beyond.

This prepared the ground which usher in the next threshold, thus the Proving Ground. This is characterize by conducting a series of missions near the moon…known as “cislunar space’’ . . . that will test the capabilities the NASA Mars expedition team will need to live and work at Mars. The editor Jim Wilson has indicated in the paper that ‘’Astronauts on the space station are only hours away from Earth, but the proving ground is days away, a natural stepping stone to a Mars mission, which will be months away from home. The first of these missions will launch NASA’s powerful new rocket, the Space Launch System, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission will carry the Orion spacecraft (without astronauts) thousands of miles beyond the moon during an approximately three week mission . Next up, astronauts will climb into Orion for a similar mission, travelling farther than humans have ever travelled before’’.

It’s expected that in the 2020s, NASA will send astronauts on a yearlong mission into this deep space proving ground, verifying habitation and testing the crew’s readiness for Mars full exploration and findings.

Another proving ground milestone stated is the Asteroid Redirect Mission. NASA again will displace a robotic spacecraft to capture an asteroid boulder ( Asteroids rock fragment) and put it in a safe route around the moon. Astronauts on Orion will then explore the asteroid, returning to Earth with samples. It’s good to acknowledge that, this two-part mission will test both deep space space walking and sampling techniques and Solar Electric Propulsion, which require that NASA will send cargo as part of human missions to Mars.

At last, then introduced the threshold 3 phase, which allowed NASA to become Earth Independent, building on what has been learned on the space station and in deep space to send humans to low-Mars orbit in the early periods of 2030s.

The Earth Independence phase, will also enable NASA to test the entry, descent and landing techniques needed to get to the Martian surface and study what’s needed for original resource utilization or “living off the land.” It has been reported that ‘’NASA is already studying potential “Exploration Zones” on Mars that would offer compelling science research and provide resources our astronauts can use’’.

NASA publication has iterated that Science missions are already in the Independent phase, with the next rover ( automated motor vehicle that propels itself across the surface of the planet Mars upon arrival) due in 2020. It’s concluded that NASA will also conduct a round-trip robotic demonstration mission with sample return in the late 2020s.

With this exploration mission, it is fascinating that Mars is the next tangible frontier for human exploration, and it’s an achievable goal. The question left perhaps unanswered is, could Mars be the next home of the 22nd century human? Will man kind eventually move to their new ‘’Earth’’?, What will be it consequences of living there? Will it offer a better habitation for man alone or with it other living creatures included? Which class or category of the human race will settle on the red planet should it be that it’s habitable and support life?. A lot will unfold after the Mars 2020s and 2030s works by NASA. There are challenges to pioneering Mars, but NASA has said, such challenges are solvable.

The human generation perhaps led by NASA are well on their way to getting there, landing there, and living there.



Written by: Promise Edem Nukunu. © 2018