Five years from now there will be people visiting planet Mars for the first time, and many of us will be looking forward on this significant event. This is similar when Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon many years ago and made a history in the world. What are the details in this ambitious mission? It is so exciting to know but the big question is, how would this mission get started?
The search for an appearance of life in Mars was the root of this exploration. Started on the first close-up picture of the red planet in 1965, then several rovers and orbiters travel successfully on the planet, such as Odyssey-2001, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter-2006 and Phoenix Mars Lander-2008. These spacecrafts were designed to find out everything about the planet, its form and most especially to detect water and take geographical picture etc. At present time, the NASA Mars Rovers analyzing sample of rock powder and revealed that the rock, located near Curiosity’s Gale Crater landing site, contains all the chemical ingredients necessary for microbial life, the over-arching goal of the planned two-year mission.
Nowadays, a newly formed non-profit organization announced plans for a mission to Mars launching on January 5, 2018. The said foundation was headed by Dennis Tito, also known to become the first space tourist to visit the International Space Station. The multi-millionaire US engineer has committed to personally covering the first two years of mission development, no matter how much it costs because he believes this will give his grandchildren a great inspiration. He also said at a press conference on 27 February in Washington DC, that it is not a commercial mission.
Team member Michael Louks showed Orbital trajectories that he also shared on twitter last February 27. The craft according to plan will pass over Mars at a distance of about 160 kilometers shipping two crews, most likely a married couple who will be paid to make the expedition that will last within 501 days. However, project managers are not yet certain on the selection criteria for crew members.
Project managers have not yet decided on the selection criteria for crew members but they believe that those chosen ones must be knowledgeable of spacecraft systems, possess strong communications skills and can live in an isolated and confined environment. The selection of the crews will be assigned to NASA as spokeswoman Jessica Ballard said in an email “We will most definitely be seeking NASA’s experience and knowledge of crew selection and training,” On one hand, Tito said at the press briefing that they will need to have the right stuff times ten.
On the way to Mars, the two crews would live and manage their daily lives inside of an inflatable 17-cubic-meter habitat. In the shelter they will eat re hydrated food, drink recycled water and breathe recycled air. They will also be responsible for maintaining the spacecraft including their own life-support systems. Even though they have necessary things to survive, it is not yet clear how they will be protected against radiation damage because according to Marco Durante of Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany “The radiation exposure is proportional to the time in space”. In addition, experts said there will be 3 percent increased risk of cancer for the crews due to radiation exposure outside the Earth’s magnetic barrier hence; the crews will be providing personalized medicine. Despite of this risk to the life of the crews, the foundation members are adamant that the plan could work.