Earth Science - Other

Is Space Travel to the Planet Mars too Dangerous – Yes

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"Is Space Travel to the Planet Mars too Dangerous - Yes"
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If we're talking about unmanned probes and robotic cameras then the answer is no but if we were to send people on a mission to Mars then the answer would have to be yes, it is extremely dangerous. A large percentage of the unmanned probes sent to Mars have failed and while a manned probe would likely have a better chance of actually arriving at the Red Planet the numbers just aren't there to guarantee a 100% successful mission. The main aspect of why a manned mission to Mars is too dangerous is because of the time involved making such a trip and returning safely. A mission to and from Mars will probably take the better part of 18 months (including spending time on the surface) and will have to be entirely self sufficient with no possibility of help from Earth. The technology to make the mission shorter just does not exist.

Some people would argue that the International Space Station has been extremely successful in maintaining astronauts in orbit for extended periods time (sometimes approaching a year) and it has been a success for the most part. The problem with that theory is that the space station is only a few hours away and if something catastrophic occurred on board and the crew had to be evacuated they could receive help within a day or two. A mission to the Red Planet will afford no such luxury; it will be entirely alone.

Astronauts may well be prepared to handle such emergency situations but how will they hold up psychologically being that far from Earth. People on board the space station realize that the Earth is right there to help them if necessary. Even the astronauts aboard a ship heading toward the moon would not feel cut off from the Earth because if they angle the ship correctly they would still be able to see it floating in space nearby. A mission to Mars, however, would be completely different. The distance between Earth and Mars is so vast that at some point the Earth is not going to be seen as the Earth but simply as a point of light. The astronauts will know it is the Earth but deep in their subconscious it will seem like nothing more than a meaningless ball of rock floating in space that can do nothing to help them if something goes wrong.

The feeling of isolation that will develop in the minds of those brave souls who dare venture to Mars will be unlike any feeling of isolation ever experienced in the entire history of humanity. To go insane on the Earth would be one thing. To go insane in the featureless void of space would be Hell.

More about this author: Robert D. Twitchell

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