17 Things You Should Know Before Going To Mars

It’s hard out there for a human.

Mars One is a mission aiming to put humans on Mars. The catch is it won’t be bringing them back.

NASA/JPL/MSSS / Via jpl.nasa.gov

200,000 people have already applied to go, and 1058 of those remain in the application process right now. Mars One says a group of four “marsonauts” will go first, with a planned landing in 2025, but they’ll be followed by more groups at two year intervals.

Here’s what someone you should know before considering taking a similar trip.

1. It’s going to take a long time to get there and the journey might not be very fun.

Bryan Versteeg / Mars One

Mars One say the first crew’s journey will take 210 days. During this time the crew will each have 20m3 of living space each, and won’t be able to shower.

If you struggle to cope with your family over Christmas, how would you cope with 30 weeks in such tight living quarters?

2. Like, really not fun.

ESA / Via esa.int

When would-be astronauts spent 520 days in a fake spaceship in a Russian car park to simulate a round trip to Mars, four of the six crew had trouble sleeping or developed depression during the mission.

One crew member had such chronic sleep deprivation that he accounted for the majority of errors in concentration and alertness tests all crew undertook.

3. Humans have never been in space for that long before.

Astronauts at the moment are limited to spending six months at a time on the International Space Station, because of the way microgravity affects their bodies. A journey to Mars would take at least 200 days, which is over half a year.

So biological problems we’ve seen already, like muscle and bone loss, might get worse.

4. It’ll be hard to adjust to Mars time.

A day on Mars lasts 40 minutes longer than it does on Earth. It doesn’t sound like a big difference, but when you’ve lived all your life with 24 hour days, you’ll notice.

5. You’ll barely be able to see the Earth anymore, which might affect you more than you anticipate.

NASA

When Apollo astronauts went to the moon, they reported feeling disconcerted the further they got from Earth. Compared to Mars, the moon isn’t even that far away.

6. Once your body has adapted to Martian gravity you won’t be able to come back to Earth. Ever.

NASA / Getty Images

Gravity on Mars is just a third of what it is on Earth. Your bone and muscle would deteriorate and after a while your body wouldn’t be able to cope with normal Earth conditions anymore.

It’s the same reason astronauts struggle for a while when they come back from six months in low Earth orbit.

7. The first Martian settlers won’t be able to have children.

You can decide whether that’s a good or bad thing, but Mars One will advise the first people to live on Mars “not to attempt to have children” because of a lack of research into conception and whether a fetus can grow normally in reduced gravity.

8. You’ll have to exercise to stay in a good condition. A lot.

9. Especially as, if you get ill, you’ll be (on average) 225 million miles away from Earth.

(That’s what Earth looks like from Mars.)

10. There’s always the chance that you’ll get infected with something from Mars.

Then Earth wouldn’t even have you back if you tried.

11. You’ll never go outside again.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona / Via jpl.nasa.gov

The atmosphere on Mars is very thin (about 1% the density of Earth’s). It’s also 96% carbon dioxide, with only a trace of oxygen.

There are huge, huge dust storms, too. They can get going in hours but envelop the planet for days at a time. And the dust could be toxic to humans.

You’ll be able to go out in your spacesuit, but that’s not really the same.

12. It will take between 3 and 22 minutes to relay information to Earth from Mars, so a phone call to friends back home is out of the question.

And a text message would take at least 6 minutes to get a reply.

13. Which also means you won’t really be able to use the internet.

Apart from a select few sites that are downloaded especially to the Mars webserver from Earth. Mars One says that the marsonauts will have access to their favourite websites this way, but won’t be able to surf the wider web.

14. You’ll never get to eat your favourite foods again.

 

Unless they’re made entirely of certain vegetables like sweet potatoes, spinach, lettuce or soya beans, which are plants we know can be grown in space, so should do fine in the reduced gravity of Mars.

15. You’ll also be exposed to really quite high levels of radiation.

When the Curiosity rover took its 360 day trip to Mars, scientists measured the amount of radiation it was exposed to so they could work out how much radiation humans would be exposed to on the same trip.

The total was 662 (plus or minus 108) millisieverts. That’s about two thirds the lifetime limit on radiation exposure of 1,000 millisieverts imposed by most space agencies on their astronauts.

And because Mars doesn’t have a magnetic field protecting it like Earth does, you’d be exposed to more radiation every time you go out on to the surface.

16. Just to reiterate: you will die on Mars, away from all other humans.

Plenty of medical conditions won’t be treatable on the red planet. Even if they were, you’d still die millions of miles away from all of your friends and family.

17. Despite all this, when you’re finally there watching your first sunrise on Mars it’ll all seem worth it.

NASA/JPL/Texas A&M/Cornell / Via marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov

Or it might not. You’ll really only know once you get there, and by then it’ll be too late. Safe trip!

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