I'm sorry, Elon Musk, but science has shown that colonizing Mars is a terrible idea: the UCL scientist says

<pre><pre>I'm sorry, Elon Musk, but science has shown that colonizing Mars is a terrible idea: the UCL scientist says

Mars is the focus of many international space missions as humans look more and more at the red planet as a future home.

Billionaire businessman Elon Musk has declared his intentions to detonate two fusion bombs on the planet to change its atmosphere, making it hospitable to humans.

According to the CEO of SpaceX, detonations would fill the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, which would cause an intentional climate change to make it habitable.

Professor Andrew Coates, a physicist at University College London, describes Musk's ambitious plans as "science fiction."

The scientist points to recent research that shows that the so-called "terraforming" through nuclear explosions would not be enough to permanently change the conditions of Mars.

Professor Coates also refers to the discovery of a lake buried a mile (1.6 km) underground on the red planet, which was confirmed by scientists last month.

The body of 12 miles of liquid water, which was discovered by scientists at the National Institute of Astrophysics of Italy (INAF), could be home to the first evidence of life outside Earth.

Writing for The Conversation, he also argues that it will be decades before humans can set foot on the planet, due to the risks of polluting possible Martian life forms.

Mars is the focus of many international space missions as humans look more and more at the red planet as a future home. Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has been a prominent figure, declaring his intentions to terraform the arid planet and make it fit for the human habitation

The founder of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk, has a vision to colonize Mars, based on a large rocket, nuclear explosions and an infrastructure to transport millions of people there.

This was seen as very ambitious but technically challenging in several ways.

The rules of planetary protection and the difficulties of terraforming (making the planet hospitable, for example, by heating it) and dealing with harsh radiation were mentioned as severe obstacles.

Undeterred, Musk took a first step toward his goal in February of this year with the launch of a convertible Tesla sports car in an orbit that traveled beyond Mars on the first Falcon Heavy rocket.

This dramatically illustrated the growing launching capacity for future missions made available by partnerships between commercial and government agencies.

But six months later, the plans began to look more like fantasy.

Since then, we have learned that there could be life below the surface of Mars and that it may be impossible to terraform its surface.

The possibility that there might currently be life on the red planet was raised last week when scientists reported the discovery of a saltwater lake beneath the surface of Mars.

The lake would be 1.5 km below the southern polar limit and at least 20 km in diameter.

This was found from the analysis of the subsurface radar data of the Mars Express spacecraft.

It is believed that the water is saline, with the probable salts of magnesium perchlorate, calcium and sodium acting as antifreeze to temperatures of perhaps 200 K (-73.15 ° C).

This is exciting as it is the first definitive detection of liquid water on Mars, and it is possible that there are more deep lakes in other parts of the planet.

This means that there is a real possibility of current life on Mars.

The possibility that there might currently be life on the red planet was raised last week when scientists reported the discovery of a saltwater lake beneath the surface of Mars. The lake would be 1.5 km below the south polar limit and would have at least 20 km in diameter (in the photo)

The possibility that there might currently be life on the red planet was raised last week when scientists reported the discovery of a saltwater lake beneath the surface of Mars. The lake would be 1.5 km below the south polar limit and would have at least 20 km in diameter (in the photo)

The possibility that there might currently be life on the red planet was raised last week when scientists reported the discovery of a saltwater lake beneath the surface of Mars. The lake would be 1.5 km below the south polar limit and would have at least 20 km in diameter (in the photo)

We already knew that life could have existed on Mars in the past.

There are several tests that indicate that Mars was habitable 3.8 to 4 billion years ago.

Data from recent missions, including Mars Global Surveyor, Odyssey, Opportunity, Curiosity and Mars Express, have provided increasing evidence that water was present on the surface in streams and lakes with reasonable acidity and that the correct chemistry for life evolved there around the time that life was evolving on Earth.

The founder of Space X and Tesla, Elon Musk (pictured) has a vision to colonize Mars, based on a large rocket, nuclear explosions and an infrastructure to transport millions of people there.

The founder of Space X and Tesla, Elon Musk (pictured) has a vision to colonize Mars, based on a large rocket, nuclear explosions and an infrastructure to transport millions of people there.

The founder of Space X and Tesla, Elon Musk (pictured) has a vision to colonize Mars, based on a large rocket, nuclear explosions and an infrastructure to transport millions of people there.

But Mars lost its magnetic field, which would have protected life from the harsh radiation of space, 3,800 million years ago.

This also meant that its atmosphere began to seep into space, making it increasingly inhospitable. Then living organisms may not have survived.

But although the new discovery can feed the dreams of aspiring colonizers that underground water could be used to sustain human presence, the reality is very different.

The risk of contamination means that we should not send humans until we know for sure if life evolved naturally, something that could take years or decades.

We will have to drill below the surface and analyze samples, either in situ or from material returned to Earth, and find suitable biomarkers to be safe.

When asked about life on Mars itself, Musk said the company is more concerned about the trip than the colony (impression of the artist).

Terraforming plans crushed?

Perhaps even more damning, the long-suggested idea of ​​terraforming Mars is now firmly locked in the realm of science fiction.

Musk has previously indicated that he wants to terraform the planet to be more Earth-like, so he can walk outside with nothing.

This would be done more easily by producing an atmosphere made of greenhouse gases that trap heat encased in the planet's ice in order to raise its temperature and pressure.

Musk has suggested that we could throw thermonuclear bombs on ice at their poles to heat it and release carbon dioxide.

But according to a new study published in Nature Astronomy, Mars has lost much of its potential greenhouse gases in space for billions of years and now there is no possibility of transforming the remaining atmosphere into a breathable one with the available technology.

The study is based on measurements of the recent escape rate of gases into space measured in the last 15 years by Mars Express and the last four years by MAVEN.

This can tell us how much greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and water are available on Mars.

The measurements, combined with the knowledge of carbon dioxide and water inventories on Mars from recent space missions, show that the greenhouse gases enclosed in the ice sheets are not enough to provide the necessary warming.

There may be more available in the depths of the planet, but to extract that goes beyond current technology.

In addition, the atmosphere is still being lost due to the lack of a magnetic field, so it would have to be slowed down in some way to maintain the changes achieved by terraforming.

This means that potential explorers would have to use heavy, watertight walls, roofs or buildings to provide the proper atmosphere and the required detection of cosmic radiation.

While Musk may be disappointed by these new results, most Mars scientists are breathing with relief.

Musk took a first step towards its goal in February this year with the launch of a Tesla roadster in an orbit that traveled beyond Mars in the first Falcon Heavy rocket (pictured)

Musk took a first step towards its goal in February this year with the launch of a Tesla roadster in an orbit that traveled beyond Mars in the first Falcon Heavy rocket (pictured)

Musk took a first step towards its goal in February this year with the launch of a Tesla roadster in an orbit that traveled beyond Mars in the first Falcon Heavy rocket (pictured)

There may be present or past life on Mars, and now we can focus on finding it.

We will look for signs of life with the ESA-Russian ExoMars 2020 rover, and NASA's Mars 2020 mission will collect samples for the eventual return to Earthbound laboratories around 2030.

The results of all this can tell us if there was, is or could be life elsewhere.

In our solar system, the best targets are Mars, the moon of Saturn Enceladus and the moons of Jupiter Europa and Titan.

And these only hint at the potential of life on the many planets beyond our own solar system.

Mars shines in our skies this week, the brightest since 2003.

The red planet is never far from our thoughts, either as a potential cradle for life beyond Earth or as a goal for humans in the future.

We live in exciting times when it comes to space exploration.

So let's not spoil one of the greatest and most fundamental experiments for humanity, letting the dreams of colonization go too far, at least until we know if there is life.

Andrew Coates is a professor of physics and deputy director at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London

This article was originally published in The Conversation.

WHAT ARE NASA'S PLANS FOR A MISSION DIRECTED TO MARS IN THE 2030s?

Mars has become the next giant leap for the exploration of space by humanity.

But before humans reach the red planet, astronauts will take a series of small steps back to the moon for a one-year mission.

The details of a mission in the lunar orbit have been revealed as part of a timeline of events leading to missions to Mars in the 2030s.

NASA has outlined its four-stage plan (in the photo) that it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars at the Human to Mars Summit, held yesterday in Washington DC. This will involve multiple missions to the moon in the coming decades

NASA has outlined its four-stage plan (in the photo) that it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars at the Human to Mars Summit, held yesterday in Washington DC. This will involve multiple missions to the moon in the coming decades

NASA has outlined its four-stage plan (in the photo) that it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars at the Human to Mars Summit, held yesterday in Washington DC. This will involve multiple missions to the moon in the coming decades

In May of 2017, Greg Williams, assistant deputy administrator of policies and plans at NASA, outlined the four-stage plan of the space agency that he hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars, as well as their planned time.

Phase one and two It will involve multiple trips to the lunar space, to allow the construction of a habitat that will provide a preparation area for the trip.

The last piece of hardware delivered would be the real Deep Space Transport vehicle that would later be used to take a team to Mars.

And a simulation of a year's life on Mars will take place in 2027.

Phase three and four will begin after 2030 and will include sustained manned expeditions to the Martian system and the surface of Mars.

The conversation

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