Is Human Space Travel to the Planet Mars too Dangerous?
The majority answer to the question, "Is Human Space Travel to the Planet Mars too Dangerous?" would be a resounding, "Yes!" Of course, most people are not educated enough on the matters of inter-planetary space flight or they would know that the prime opportunity of traveling to Mars comes around every 25 months. Therefore, if our scientists and reporters on such matters know this then surely travelling to Mars may be more dangerous than we may think.
According to an article by Universe Today, the current method we use in travelling to the moon would put us at 214 days to get to Mars. Using nuclear power it would shorten that time to four months in one direction. This would allow two months of investigating and another four months of travelling again. All of this would be done in less than a year. Wow!
My thought on this is, "How would they store enough oxygen for such a long trip?" Wouldn't the ship need to be extra large to store oxygen? This would make the ship more volatile, and would have the astronauts more concerned about their lives.
Then there is the issue of how well their suits will hold up once they land on Mars. Surely we don't know every element that exists in the universe based upon what we know of our own planet. It sure would be sad to hear of some astronaut ripping their suit on something that it should have stood up against. This would be a result of their vision being rather limited in the suits.
Rob Manning, chief engineer of the Mars Exploration Directorate, is also mentioned in another article of Universe today. He basically states that we are so far behind in technology in order to land on Mars because of its lighter atmosphere. Astronauts would not have time to slow down quick enough to have a safe and light landing on Mars.
Airbags would not be of any good simply because they would have to be enormous, and at that point hazardous. They cannot exactly use air brakes to slow down to less than Mach 1 from Mach 5 in just a matter of minutes. The descent would be too quick. Manning also mentions a parachute would not have time to fully open and would be very cumbersome considering its size.
To conceive of anything over ten tons able to safely land on Mar's rugged terrain would be short of a miracle. What seems more feasible at this point would be to orbit the planet a few times before making a descent, and then hopefully you can orbit Mars without being thrown out of trajectory. We still do not know, not even mathematically, the density of Mars and its gravitational pull on such a large craft. That would be a quadrillion or more dollar loss drifting off into space not to mention the lives we would know to be lost.
Communications would undoubtedly be lost unless the craft was carrying extra weight in the form of satellites to drop off here and there along the way. They can only hope that the satellites will stay in range long enough before losing them to the dark abyss we call space. Our current satellites follow a certain orbital path around the earth. Satellites dropped off randomly in space will veer towards a larger mass and more than likely fall into it. This would leave our astronauts without communication.
The question of landing on Mars has been on scientists minds for decades if not centuries. Someday it may happen, but do not count on it happening during this century or the next. It would take a combination of anti-matter propulsion and who knows what else to achieve such a mission. Although it may seem that we are capable of landing now, we do not have enough knowledge on how to safely land humans on Mars and return.