Humans Traveling to Mars Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1377 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Astronomy

Humans on Mars

Humans upon Mars -- Resist the Pull of the Red Planet!

That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," said Neil Armstrong on that fateful day of July 20, 1969, when for the first time humankind strode upon the moon. (Stephen, 2004) it was hard to believe after the first, sputtering attempts to bring a United States program into being in the wake of the horror of the Russian Sputnik launch that an American now stood upon the moon. It seemed as if anything were possible in the eyes of the nation staring at 'one of their own' upon the cratered surface. But now, however, it is difficult for many Americans to believe that sending human beings into space via the national or even an international space program is such an important effort today. This is partly in the light of a reconfigured geopolitical balance between Russia and America, and partly due to the increased costs and perceived risks of the space program. And perhaps such doubting American may be right. For although it may become technically possible for humans to stride and boldly go where none have gone before, namely to Mars, the fourth planet of out solar system and the one that most closely resembles our own earthly sphere's climate and gravitational force, this paper will argue that human travel to Mars should not be the primary goal of the American space program. ("Mars," Columbia Encyclopedia, 2001)Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Humans Traveling to Mars Assignment

First of all, travel to Mars would be expensive, perhaps prohibitively so. The peer-reviewed journal of politics and economics the New Statesman soberly calculates that "a trip to Mars would take as long as three years, travelling a good 100 million miles. A crew would have to consist of at least six -- doctors to cope with medical emergencies, a geologist and a biologist, as well as at least two trained astronauts." To provide a point of contrast, "the launch cost of a space shuttle mission is around $20m per-ton and just getting 1,000 tons of Mars equipment into space would cost $20bn, more than Nasa's annual budget. The Apollo spacecrafts that carried astronauts to the moon weighed just 45 tons at departure, and carried enough material to support three people over ten days in a journey of around 750,000 miles. The probes that have just landed on Mars each weigh a single ton and cost a total of $820m to despatch. Using the same cost scale, a single Mars mission at today's prices would set the country back at least $600bn." (Stephen, 2004)

Also, according to National Geographic Magazine in 2001, there are still considerable technical glitches to be worked out, given "the only means of extended space travel is by chemically propelled rockets, similar to those used today. Using such rockets, it would take about six months to fly to Mars, and the amount of fuel needed just to get there would be so large that the fuel would make up a huge part of the spacecraft's volume. Moreover, there would not be enough fuel for the spacecraft to turn around and come back to Earth if the mission needed to be aborted." (Querna, "Human Travel to Mars" May 2001)

Additional space safety concerns on a flight to Mars surround the question of what would happen to the human bodies involved if things went wrong. Because of the necessary duration of the mission, "being weightless for the entire mission" would cause inevitable "degeneration of muscles, bones, and the heart," of even the healthiest astronauts. "Another issue that must be addressed is the huge amount of radiation exposure that occurs outside the atmosphere." (Querna, "Health Risks May Pose a Hurdle for Travel to Mars," 2001)

Given these health and safety risks, one must ask, is travel to Mars worth it? Of course, there is the 'competitive' aspect, still. The Russian newspaper Pravda reported in 2001 "Russian cosmonauts will go to Mars in 2005. Preparations for the flight are in full swing, and the participants of the expedition have already been chosen." Needless to say, these 2001 reports were somewhat exaggerated --… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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