Earlier this year, an independent study found that a manned mission to Mars would just be waaaaay out of NASA’s budget for some time. But PayPal/Tesla/SpaceX founder Elon Musk spoke on CNBC recently and predicted that it would only be ten to twelve years before we launch people to the red planet.
Though we’ve been told by presidents that a manned Mars mission is within our grasp in the 21st century, reinforced by independent reports that said it would be really expensive, but it could work… and today, a more comprehensive analysis showed that accounting for inflation, NASA’s measly budget that’s unlikely to change and other factors, that our ability to put a man and woman on Mars is just way out of our budget right now.
So far, the search for any possible life, potential life, or maybe life on Mars has yielded some interesting things, some positive leads, but nothing one hundred percent. So maybe there’s life under the surface where it’s a bit warmer and less solar radiation— but how to we get to it without attaching a backhoe to the next rover? Shoot missiles at the planet. We might find something, we might piss off the underground Martians and they’ll come to Earth and annihilate us. Either way, it could be fun.
The majority of exploration into the presence of water on Mars deals with looking for evidence that there was water on the planet at some point in the past. But NASA JPL has announced they think water may be flowing right this very moment. A combination of salt and iron may be giving this seeping groundwater a natural antifreeze property, and you wouldn’t want to drink it, but still, shit… water on Mars as we speak.
India has made a huge leap this past week when it launched a rocket to Mars, to do what NASA has done— orbit the red planet and collect massive amounts of data. But whereas the same type of mission would cost billions and billions, India pulled it off for just $73 million, which is peanuts in terms of interplanetary space travel. While most of the technology developed to make it cheap for India was developed by NASA, India’s super cheap Mars still could provide the US and other spacegoing nations a model for more frequent, cheaper travel.
Even though Mars appears to be dry as a bone for the most part, NASA’s Curiosity rover has found that your average Martian soil is 2% water, which is plenty when it comes to providing water for future Martian explorers or inhabitants. Curiosity took some soil from the red planet, heated it up until it produced steam, cooled the steam down and voila— water. Pretty much the same process as condensing alcohol from a still, but with water. And from all that dry dirt, this process could easily be used to provide water for your great-great-great Martian grandchilldren.
Despite some people’s ideas that Earth is the little blue gem from which all life sprouts, new evidence suggests that not only may have Mars developed life much quicker and sooner than Earth, but the seeds of life on our planet may have come from the red planet before it was “the red planet”.