Humans have been interested in space travel for a long time. Some have even taken it as a life mission to set up a human civilization on Mars which apparently will be an alternative to earth in the situation where the earth gets destroyed or becomes too dangerous for humans to live in. Mars is said to be the closest planet to the earth in the solar system that could host humans. While some space missions have already begun on the red planet, some of us can’t help but wonder what it really is like to travel to such a place. Is it too hot or too cold? Do plants grow there? Are there rivers? Can humans live there? To get answers to some of these pressing questions, take a deep breath and prepare to embark on a journey to Mars.

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The Journey To Mars

While the destination itself is one thing to worry about, the journey to Mars is one of the most excruciating parts of the adventure. From exposure to interplanetary radiation to millions of miles of floating in space, there’s nothing really pleasant about the trip.

The Distance

Mars is one of the closest planets to earth but that statement underestimates the distance. The distance between the earth and Mars is 62.07 million kilometers (38.6 million miles) and both planets only becomes this close once every two years so it's safe to say that Mars is extremely far from the earth at all times. If this does not sound scary enough, imagine traveling to a destination and getting there in several months. That's similar to how long it would take to get to Mars from the earth (on a spaceship).

Although the trip to Mars has been estimated to take between three and six months, it might actually take longer. Explorers seeking to go to the red planet usually take advantage of the period when Mars is closest to the earth to save themselves tens of millions of miles. According to NASA, this opportunity only presents itself every two years and the next closest time to see the planet is December 8, 2022.

Life On Mars

Perhaps after months of traveling and getting bombarded by dangerous radiation, one makes it to Mars out of sheer luck; What next? Well with such a treacherous journey, one would expect a warm welcome into a thriving planet or a soft landing on land flowing with milk and honey. Actually, that might be too much of a wish because there are also some challenges to overcome on the planet itself.

Unpleasant Weather And Atmospheric Conditions

Mars is extremely cold, but its orbit around the run changes its temperature during different seasons. Nevertheless, on average, the planet’s temperature is -81 degrees Fahrenheit (-62 degrees Celsius), colder than the world's coldest city. During winter, the temperature drops to as low as -220 degrees Fahrenheit (-128.8 degrees Celsius) which is just unthinkable.

The sky of Mars presents colors opposite to that of the earth with blue sunrise and sunset and red skies during the day. The atmospheric pressure of mars is said to be less than 2 percent of the earth’s atmospheric pressure. With very little oxygen and up to 95% of carbon dioxide, it would be impossible for humans to breathe outdoors on Mars without the help of spacesuits with oxygen.

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Lack Of Food And Water

A robot named Curiosity rover was sent to Mars in 2012 to explore some parts of the planet and check for signs of life that may have previously existed on the planet. The robot did discover some signs of life and the previous presence of minerals, organic chemicals, water, and other materials that could help sustain life. But this is just an exploration of the planet’s past because currently, there’s no flowing water and no vegetation on Mars which means explorers getting to Mars will have to come with supplies. Nurturing crops on Mars might turn out to be a possibility as scientists might have discovered ways to grow food such as - Potatoes and lettuce during space missions. This is a good thing and while lack of food and water are crucial challenges that need to be solved on Mars, other challenges are even more threatening.

Frequent Dust Storms

Dust Storms are frequent occurrences on Mars and they sometimes last for weeks. However, due to the planet’s thin atmosphere, the storms do not come with winds strong enough to cause real damage or toss people and equipment around like paper. According to NASA, the strongest dust storms on Mars come with a wind speed of approximately 60 miles per hour or less than half the wind speed that comes with some hurricanes on earth. Still, it’s a challenge because the dust settles on literally everything, making it difficult for machinery, solar panels, and even the Perseverance rover (which is currently on Mars) to operate efficiently.

Exposure To Radiation

The atmosphere of Mars is highly exposed to cosmic radiation due to its lack of an ozone layer. These rays, which consist of different types of ionizing radiation and other particles, reach the planet’s surface easily and unhindered, thereby posing more risk to organic compounds and other forms of life on the planet.

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One fact remains - the ambition to go to Mars is growing stronger as humans advance technologically. Though going to Mars remains an almost impossible mission that no one is willing to risk their lives to embark on. Interestingly, Elon Musk - a leading pioneer in the setting up of human life on Mars is set to ready a spaceship that would land on Mars as early as 2022. Due to the harsh conditions on the journey, no humans will be allowed to travel on that first ship as it will only transport cargo. At the next closest distance between Mars and the Earth in 2024, the SpaceX CEO also plans to send in the next mission - two rockets that would contain real people. Besides Elon Musk, other individuals and organizations such as NASA and Jeff Bezos are also on this race to Mars. While many curious individuals around the world wish they could get their feet on that interesting planet as soon as possible, for now, one cannot help but watch keenly as the experts lead the way into this new human achievement.