Friday, March 13, 2015
A Human Colony on Mars? Not So Fast.
In 1698 the Scots, in a frenzy of nationalism, invested an enormous amount of money, 20% of the entire nation's capital, on a quest to colonize Panama. The project failed spectacularly two years later due to disease and hostilities with local - conditions that could easily have been foreseen, but Scots neglected due diligence and wasted many fortunes.
I fear our country is neglecting due diligence on our space colonization efforts.
For the long term human survival on Mars, the big question is not whether we can build shelters against the extreme radiation, or grow our own food, but can a human fetus grow to adulthood in 38% gravity. I doubt it.
Astronauts staying aloft in the International Space Station for extended periods have many physical issues like heart, bone, and eye problems. Many, many questions need to be answered, like "Since Martian-born humans would probably be taller with thinner bones, would the volume of marrow make the appropriate amount of blood?".
We need to fund something like the Mars Gravity Biosatellite before spending any more money on a manned trip to mars. Conceptually we need to put mice in 55 gallon drum in the ISS spinning just fast enough so the centrifugal force simulates Mars gravity. Let's see if the mice can survive and reproduce two generations. It would be better to know now, that earth mammals cannot reproduce their species in 38% gravity, that after we spend our hard-earned money on this adventure.
I personally would rather NASA be spending our precious space dollars on sending robotic craft to all the moons in our solar system and building telescopes, instead of a project which, like the colonization of Panama, may be doomed from the start.