As Mars is bright enough to be seen in the night sky without using binoculars or a telescope, no-one can tell when the planet was first discovered. For centuries people believed there was life on the planet, with Orson Welle’s radio broadcast in 1938 actually convincing many Americans that they had been invaded! This theme of Martian aliens has influenced literature, films and music and still continues to fascinate even though we now have proof there is no current life on Mars.
With earth’s population constantly increasing, many scientists feel it makes sense to look at colonising another planet, and Mars has many advantages for setting up long term settlements. Nasa’s Science Rover Curiosity landed on Mars in August, 2012, and has been examining soil samples from the planet’s surface in preparation for future human exploration. The costs for such an undertaking are staggering, with the cheapest estimate for the flight itself equivalent to 2.5 million round the world cruises. Add to this the cost of shelter and sustaining life and the total cost rises to $48 billion per person.
Elon Musk, the founder of Paypal and SpaceX, has a NASA contract for flights to the International Space Station, but his personal goal is to send humans to Mars with the idea of creating sustainable settlements on the red planet. His original idea of Mars Oasis Missions was to send a small greenhouse to the surface of Mars, packed with dehydrated nutrient gel that could be hydrated on landing. The stumbling block was the cost of the rockets so he is looking into the technology of creating reusable ones.
Our infographic has put together some figures to give you an idea as to what is involved in sending men to Mars. What once seemed like science fiction could become fact within the next 20 years!