NASA is locked in a race to Mars with Elon Musk after vowing to put humans on the Red Plant in 25 years.
The US space agency is researching how to help mankind survive in a martian mission that will subject space explorers to deadly radiation, vision loss and cause bones to crumble.
Getty – Contributor NASA and Elon Musk are going head to head to walk on the red planet[/caption]
Former NASA astronaut Tom Jones said: “The cost of solving those means that under current budgets, or slightly expanded budgets, it’s going to take about 25 years to solve those.”
The current date set by governments for man’s first steps on Mars is in the late 2030s.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk has his eyes on a Mars mission, with supporters – including Brit astronaut Tim Peake – saying he could get us there within 20 years.
He also has pledged to send humans to Mars by 2024 in bold plan to make humanity an ‘interplanetary species’.
Space X founder Elon Musk has promised to put humans on Mars within 20 yearsGetty Images
Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy successfully launched on February 6, 2018, headed for Mars orbitReuters
In February, his Space X program launched a demonstration flight to the Mars orbit – and even sent a Tesla car hurtling towards the Red Planet.
At an average distance of about 140 million miles, Mars poses greater scientific problems than anything encountered by the Apollo moon missions.
It would take an astronaut up to nine months to reach Mars and the physical toll of floating that long in zero gravity would be huge, AFP reports.
Scientists think prolonged weightlessness can cause irreversible changes to blood vessels in the eye.
The skeleton starts to lose calcium and bone mass.
How long does it take to get to Mars?
It's not that short of a trip…
There’s an immense distance between Earth and Mars, which means any trip to the red planet will take a very long time.
It’s also made more complicated by the fact that the distance is constantly changing as the two planets rotate around the sun.
The closest that the Earth and Mars would ever be is a distance of 33.9million miles – that’s 9,800 times the distance between London and New York.
That’s really rare though: the more useful distance is the average, which is 140million miles.
Scientists on Earth have already launched a whole bunch of spacecraft to (or near) Mars, so we have a rough idea of how long it takes with current technology.
Historically, the trip has taken anywhere from 128 to 333 days – admittedly a huge length of time for humans to be on board a cramped spacecraft.
An image snapped by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the planet’s northern-most sand dunes beginning to emerge from their winter cover of seasonal carbon dioxide (dry) iceAFP
With gravity only one-third of Earth’s, scientists don’t yet know the effects of a presumed one-year mission to the surface of Mars.
Jim Garvin, chief scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, said InSight would fill in “critical unknowns” and help build a key understanding of Mars.
Jones added: “If we start now, in 25 years we might have these technologies available to help us and protect us from these long transit times.
“We don’t have the solution yet in terms of shielding, in terms of protecting you from cosmic rays and solar flares that you experience during this transit time.”
NASA currently has a new robotic lander called InSight zooming towards Mars, due to land on November 26 after taking off from California on May 5.
The £763 million project aims to expand human knowledge of interior conditions on Mars, inform efforts to send explorers there, and reveal how rocky planets like the Earth formed billions of years ago.
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In 2020, another mission will see NASA send a rover to Mars that aims to determine the habitability of the Martian environment, search for signs of ancient life, and assess natural resources and hazards for future human explorers.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX and a host of other nations are building technologies that could be used on future Mars missions.
The closest the Earth and Mars would ever be is a distance of 33.9million miles – that’s 9,800 times the distance between London and New York.
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