The race to fake Mars.
When someone wants to write what I am about to write, he knows that the writing will be distorted in any case, and that therefore they will make him say things that he has not said. Still, a few things need to be said about the race to Mars.
This race to Mars is, like all space races, a geopolitical race. It has nothing to do with Mars, we need a goal that is easy to show to the population as a goal, a goal that is technologically ambitious, and that is sufficiently "paying" in terms of military research. It must therefore have subsequent technological repercussions.
Why not the moon? Why not go back to the moon, then?
Because the Moon is so easily militarized that a real competition for its subdivision would begin. Let's say the US builds a military base on the Moon: launching missiles at a target on earth would become so simple and so effective (the missile doesn't even need to have a warhead) that immediately Russia, China and others would start building their own. base. But at that point, the problem is: where? Where can the Chinese build and where the Americans? Which part of the lunar soil is American and which is Chinese? In short, wars on the moon. At costs that no one wants to pay.
Mars is more neutral. From Mars, launching a missile against the earth is possible, but militarily it is not a reliable position. That's why Mars.
As a supporter of science, that's okay with me, since Mars is a very interesting planet, although personally I would prefer to focus less on Mars and better distribute the attention towards other more interesting celestial bodies, such as Europa and its probable underground seas, Enceladus and others.
The problem is instead: what do fans of space exploration expect: to make it clear, if those who pay do not find what they were looking for on Mars, they will never pay for a space project again. And then we need to be very clear.
No, potatoes don't grow on Mars soil. And nothing else grows there.
The soil of Mars, in fact, is toxic. Highly toxic. It is jam-packed with chlorine compounds . If the scene were true, the plants would have died long ago, and the guy would have already died suffocating from chlorine vapors .
As if that weren't enough, there is hardly any nitrogen on Mars. It is only 3% of an atmosphere which is 1% of the Earth's. On earth it is 78% of the atmosphere. Consequently, you forget about the plants. No terrestrial plants grow on that soil, period.
Unless you mix it with elements taken from the Earth, on the soil of Mars you do not grow anything, you will never grow anything, period. This is because the planets are formed more or less far from the Sun, and the closer they are only the more heavy elements they contain. There are finer elements on Mars than on Earth, so you have more sulfur, more chlorine, and so on. In general, the chemical composition of Mars as a planet is different. And too many things are missing to do any kind of agriculture.
No terraforming. No self-sufficient colonies. Not now, not in the future. Even if there were bacterial life, it would not be anything like the terrestrial one, and this is where scientific interest rises, but that of those nostalgic for the race to the Americas falls. Being a lighter planet it does not even have uranium, to answer those who say that you find uranium and you make the power plants, the sun is much weaker, the right frequencies for photosynthesis do not arrive and there is too much radiation. ionizing.
Moral: no self-sufficient colonies are built on the surface of Mars. Colonies can be built, but they will always be dependent on the Earth. The argument "but if he ended his life on Earth he would be saved on Mars" is stupid: if humanity self-destructed on Earth, on Mars the agony would be slightly longer, but nothing more.
Non self-sufficient colonies, they say, is equally cool. At the limit then some precious Martian resource is traded on earth. I would not say. First of all, there is no evidence that we can reproduce off the planet. The few experiments carried out, of which nothing is known, took place in the Soviet period and no mammal was ever able to procreate, including two astronauts. As far as we know, homo sapiens reproduces on Earth. We don't know anything about growing up from children to adults in a low-gravity place, of course. We don't even know anything about what happens to the body after five years of continued low gravity.
I'm sorry, but the first dream is not a dream: it is a fantasy.
And this is the problem, because if you look at those who tell each other the story of "we are going to live on Mars", or the story "if humanity died out on Earth it would have a second chance on Mars", there are people who think about this:
Well, it doesn't work. Those guys in blue are done for.
Obviously, since it is the same guys in blue who pay for the exploration of Mars, the game is to make them believe (through large press campaigns) that one day, once this planet is ruined, the rich will be able to have planet B, and leave. the poor to die.
No, it doesn't work. (Nevertheless, if you want to send all the rich to Mars, starting with Briatore, you already have my support).
So robotic exploration of Mars is fine, and will vastly improve robotics and transmission science here on earth. It is interesting on a scientific level and just to make robust probes on Mars, which is infested with regolith particles of all sizes, from sand to micro-dust and nanopulviscle, means enormously improving everything that is electromechanical on our planet.
The fact that Perseverance has a nuclear rather than solar propulsion means pushing forward the science of small reactors for civil use, and so on.
But there are some things to say:
- you can't live there.
- you can't live there, in case you didn't understand.
- no terrestrial plants grow there. of any kind.
- some microbes live on perchlorates. But they die from Martian radiation.
- there is no water in the quantities needed.
- All the CO2 of Mars, even if released into the air by bombarding it as Musk says, is not enough for the greenhouse effect that is needed to have water in a liquid state.
- multigenerational colonies are not possible, or rather, there is no evidence of human reproduction in non-terrestrial gravity.
So no, I'm sorry for those who are dreaming: the race to Mars is nothing like "we will go to live there one day and we will live there independently, and if we screw the earth then we will survive on Mars". No.
If you delude yourself otherwise, well, then you have another Mars in mind.
Not that of this solar system.