A Progression for Humanity
Earth’s forests are getting smaller each day that ticks by, and the majority of Earth is covered in water which has been polluted by humans. Slowly but certainly energy sources are going to be depleted and within the next few decades the human species will have outgrown our own planet’s population limit. Our planet is slowly rotting away from human actions including non-sustainable development, overpopulation, and human waste. Sooner or later to save humanity from our inevitable demise, we must take the step to venture away from the toxic planet that rests under us. In order to succeed in such a feat, humanity must be willing to learn about the rest of our universe and discover if there is a possibility for another planet to hold life. Thanks to current technological methods, scientists have discovered that there may be hope to this discovery of life on the Red Planet: Mars. There is great controversy whether this endeavor is worth the investment but the human race will dive into a deeper understanding of our universe by creating a human settlement on Mars, which will be arguably be the biggest step in the direction of human progression since our evolution into conscious beings.
The main drawback that society is seeing from this mission is the monetary value that will need to be invested into it. Currently, according to MIT’s department of aeronautics Sydney Do, the “space logistics analysis revealed that, for the best scenario considered, establishing the first crew for a Mars settlement will require approximately 15 Falcon Heavy launchers and require $4.5 billion in funding, and these numbers will grow with additional crews” (Do). So realistically, it could take about 4.5 billion dollars in funding for the Mars One Mission to take place, which right now is aiming to launch in 2026. However when put into the perspective that the International Space Station was built off of the monetary sacrifice of 150 billion U.S. dollars, the Mars One mission is only a fraction of the cost. In Do’s Mars One Mission Plan, the 4.5 billion dollars was estimated off of the technology that we currently have. Between now and the year 2026 there will be over ten years for technology to be innovated and improved upon that will lower this estimation.
As science advances, and we learn more about how to operate in space and more importantly on the surface of Mars, this estimate will go down in numbers. For instance, when this mission was much more dream-like than a possible reality back in 2003, the Russians were discovered making preliminary plans to go to Mars and back. In an article “One Nuclear Leap to Mars”, “Gorshkov and his Russian colleagues claim that such a mission could be pulled off for anywhere from $14 billion to $20 billion. But many Western experts believe that’s pure fantasy. They peg the adventure nearer to ISS’s $150 billion price tag” (Stone). The estimated price was about 10 billion dollars higher than what is predicted today, showing that with new technologies created cost is significantly decreased. Knowing this likelihood of having a decreased cost, the pricing of this mission should not effect whether or not it takes place.
Additionally, Mars One is a non profit organization that is gaining millions of dollars in investments and making the endeavor as inexpensive as possible to take pressure off of needing government support. On the Mars One website, it informs that a “permanent settlement significantly reduces the cost, the required technology development, and the risk of the mission compared to the traditional return journey. It is also a more profound step in the continuous journey of the exploration by the human race.” They also explain on the website that it will be financed through investments from the private sector by establishing the Mars One Corporation, a for profit entity in which investors can buy shares. So, because Mars One company made themselves desirable enough for people want to buy stocks, the mission will be well financed. An example of who will be contributing funds to the mission is a company called Uwingu. “New ‘People’s Map of Mars’ To Be Used By Mars One Project” written by Mike Wall from the Huffington Post is written showing the partnership between the Netherlands based non-profit Mars One and the space-funding company Uwingu. Uwingu has developed a new “People’s maps of Mars” and by allowing people on Earth to buy certain craters and landmarks on Mars for a fee, Uwingu will therefore be able to support the mission with funding. The Mars One CEO states he was excited about this opportunity to give everyone in the world a chance for space exploration. The business aspect of Mars One and the integrity of various separate organizations supporting the mission helped to form a financial plan that will stay completely separate from any government line of work and will remain in progression without use of tax money.
Another concern is that there are not people willing to inhabit Mars, when in reality there are many people willing to sacrifice their lives to ensure that this mission is a success and operational at its full potential. Currently, there are thousands of volunteers that have signed their name for a one-way-trip to Mars. The Mars One organization is in the final process of deciding who will go with only a few people left to choose from. Three of the volunteers whom may be chosen to go to Mars share their motivations to Jessica Orwig in her interview “A new, strangely morbid video profile”. The men and women state that they have no reason to perish on this doomed planet[Earth] when asked “Why would they want to die on Mars?”. These volunteers say that they are okay with the possibility they could die on Mars. These people share a common trait in having few ties here on Earth, therefore making them more open-minded then others on the idea of starting a fresh life on the extraterrestrial planet versus sticking to the everyday life that in the end will be humanity’s downfall. People are willing to risk their lives because they believe with such an empowerment that this mission will prevent humanity from falling into extinction and instead will progress our species into discovery.
A motive for the endeavor is to gain extraordinary universal discoveries and scientific advances that will be resulting from this mission. Throughout the progression of Mars One there will be plenty of improvements in science occurring that lead to limitless possibilities for discovery. According to Bruce Jakosky, NASA astrobiologist, the way to start discovering our universe is to compare what is known about Earth’s processes to what is known in space or in other solar systems. When thinking of the scale of our solar system compared to the vast entirety of the Universe the plausibility of life grows; therefore encouraging humanity to learn as much as possible starting with our solar system. Jackson states in his book The Search For Life On Other Planets how well suited organisms are for survival through extracting energy, and with the countless other solar systems in existence how plausible life in those would be. The well known question whether life exists or can exist somewhere else in the cosmos will definitely be one of the forefront questions during the exploratory mission. By examining the environment of Mars, there is the possibility of discovering environments that could support life or even discovering forms of life itself. If the question is answered whether life can exist elsewhere from our planet from Mars One, humanity will be altered permanently.
Discovering life would cause existence as we know it to be completely transformed. “The possible existence of life elsewhere in our solar system or in the universe is one of the most profound issues that we can contemplate. Whatever the answer turns out to be- whether life is present elsewhere or absent- our view of the world and our place within it will be dramatically affected” (Jakosky). This quote exemplifies if extraterrestrial life is discovered, humanity’s perspective of our place in the universe will be completely transfigured. In the human race we have evolved from thinking the Sun revolves around our world, to realizing the fact that we are in an endless universe, so large that light hasn’t reached us from the outer most corners of the cosmos. If we add to this statement that either we are the only life forms out there or the other side of the argument, that there is extraterrestrial life somewhere, imagine the perspective that would be given to us. The perspective may be the strongest awareness of how largely diverse our universe could be. It could give us reason to create technology that we had not before dreamt of creating for there was no reason too.
Along with learning our place in the vast cosmos, the Mars One Mission would spawn an extreme technological movement that could push science and engineering to it’s limits. Scientists and engineers are being relied on to make advances in technology that would not have been prioritized without this mission. For instance according to engineers at MIT, “a system to remove excess oxygen would have to be implemented- a technology that has not yet been developed for use in space” (Chu). According to Jennifer Chu, this is one of the new technologies that will be needed for astronauts to stay alive and thrive on Mars or else vegetation would produce unsafe levels of oxygen and cause human inhabitants to eventually suffocate. Similarly, there was a “discovery of ice on the Martian surface in 2008, suggesting that future settlers might be able to melt ice for drinking water…current technologies designed to “bake” water from soil are not yet ready for deployment” (Chu). A number more of rigorous inventions will need to occur in various technologies. There are many unknowns with this mission and a success can not be close to guaranteed until our technology is more feasible for Martian properties. That is why an attempt at a human settlement will push our scientific knowledge to its limits; Mars will push humanity to greatness.
Pushing humanity to great scientific and engineering improvements might not be the only thing Mars One could accomplish; there is a possibility that it will save us from our own doomed Earth as well. In history, there have been five worldly catastrophic events that have wiped out almost every life form on the planet at that point in time, also called an extinction event. The Endangered Special International organization clearly describes each event: the Ordovician as the third largest about 439 million years ago from drop in sea levels as glaciers from. Most life was in the sea at that time and 60% marine life was lost. The Late Devonian extinction was around 364 million years ago for the suspected cause of glacier activity. Endangered Special International then said the Permian-Triassic extinction happened about 251 million years ago and wiped out 95% of all species, one of the most devastating extinctions that occurred. Many believe it occurred from a falling comet or asteroid, though it is still unproven. The End-Triassic extinction about 200 million years ago was described to be mostly caused from massive floods of lava from the central Atlantic triggering the break up of what would be the combined form of all of the continents, Pangaea. Finally, the organization wrote about the Cretaceous Tertiary extinction. The most recent mass extinction about 65 million years ago was caused by an asteroid hitting Earth and aggravating many surrounding volcanoes to wipe out the dinosaurs. All of these
extinctions had two common facts, the first being that they were naturally caused and the second being that they resulted in a destruction of most of the Earth’s current population. Mars has potential for us to evade these catastrophes, and humans would avoid the inevitable demise of Earth that is about to appear before us all. Our world as we know it will certainly fall, but our species needs to worry about other causes than only the natural catastrophic disasters. Through overpopulation and non-sustainable efforts, Earth along with its many species is slowly rotting and, on a cosmic scale of time, soon will become uninhabitable for most beings. A sixth mass extinction is being said to be in occurrence in this moment, but there is no asteroid to blame. This is strictly through human induced efforts, and it is becoming the fastest mass extinction in Earth’s history. This current mass extinction Earth is undergoing is caused by activities such as “transformation of the landscape, overexploitation of species, pollution, and the introduction of alien species” (Eldredge). As soon as human beings (the most intellectual species to be introduced to Earth) appeared, the environment was immediately disrupted. A researcher and writer for ActionBioscience Niles Eldredge wrote in an article about the 6th extinction that the invention of agriculture accelerated the pace, and created a way for humans to live outside of nature and not with it. He also writes that Earth can not sustain the trend in human population growth; we are reaching its limit in carrying capacity. “Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson estimated that Earth is currently losing something to the order of 30,000 species per year” (Eldredge). As a human race, we have slowly rotted Earth from life, fuel, and are soon going to run out of room to live and grow food. Eventually there will come a time of need for people to escape from Earth as it is a planet of mass extinction. Whether a human caused extinction occurs, or a world-wide natural disaster, there has been a history of devastation enough to capture factual information that humans are not going to live here peacefully forever. If humans want to survive past our planet’s pattern of extinction, we must become advanced enough to recognize and accept the pattern at hand. Leaving Earth and starting a settlement on Mars would be the first step to taking measures to prevent our extinction.
The substantial effort required for this mass settlement will produce incredible outcomes that could alter humanity in the long run. Mars One could be what motivates us to advance our species technologically and produce outcomes that were only dreamt of twenty years ago. This mission may answer the question on what else lies in our seemingly endless Universe. A success in this endeavor will advance us in such ways that we may be able to handle and survive the 6th mass extinction lying upon us. We will never be able to experience this advancement unless we have a successful mission to Mars, creating a settlement that can experience the Martian surface firsthand. Though the effort required is prodigious, it really is the biggest step humans have ever taken towards progression.
Chu, Jennifer. “Mars One (and Done?)” MIT News. n.p. 14 Oct. 2014. Web.
Do, Sydney. “An Independent Assessment of the Technical Feasibility of the Mars One Mission Plan” MIT Strategic Engineering 10 Oct. 2014. Web. 10 March, 2015.
Eldredge, Niles. “The Sixth Extinction”. ActionBioscience. American Institute of Biological Science. 2009. Web.
“The Five Worse Mass Extinctions.” Endangered Species International. n.p. 2011. Web.
Jakosky, Bruce. The Search For Life On Other Planets. New York City, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Print.
Mars One. Mars One. Web. 5 April, 2015.
Orwig, Jesscia. “A new, strangely morbid video profiles.” Business Insider. 10 Feb. 2015. Web. March 10, 2015.
Stone, Richard. “One Nuclear Leap to Mars?” Science. New Series, Vol. 301, No. 5635 (Aug. 15, 2003), pp. 906-909. 29 March, 2015. Database.
Wall, Mike. “New ‘People’s Map of Mars’ To Be Used By Mars One Project.” Huffington Post. March 12 2015. Web. (Interview)