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Mission to Mars May Be Fatal After Only a Few Months, MIT Researchers Report



Last year, dutch entrepreneur Bas Landrop had announced the launch of the Mars One Project, which plans to send participants on a one-way mission to Mars by 2024. Funded in part by Reality TV corporation Endemol, the goal of the project is to create a “permanent human settlement on Mars,” launching crews of four people every two years starting in 2024. They are still narrowing down participants for the first crew leaving in 2024, after more than 200,000 people responded to the first call for astronauts.

But will they be able to sustain life on Mars? According to a report by a group of engineering graduates at MIT this week, the colonists will start dying just 68 days into their mission, mostly due to problems with oxygen removal. The plan to generate their oxygen from plants is a good one theoretically, but practically, once the wheat crops reach maturity they will release too much oxygen the atmosphere, creating a fire-hazard. This would lead to death by asphyxiation, unless it were possible to remove some of the oxygen from the air. The problem is that removing oxygen from the air would also remove nitrogen from the air, since there is no venting system that can distinguish between the two. The end result? Suffocation on the planet’s surface. Not fun.

Other problems cited in the MIT report include the costs and challenges of transporting so much equipment to space, constrained living space, lack of food selection and social interaction, as well as spending a very long time in space. And while the Mars One team seems confident that drinking water can be extracted from the soil by heating it, MIT researchers say that the technology to do this has not been invented yet. Finally, the report mentions that it will cost about $4.5 BILLION to transport four astronauts to Mars, and that there is not yet a safe way to feasibly transport the astronauts there. Hibernation is one possibility, but the technology is far off from being deemed safe.

Still, both the CEO of Mars One and the MIT researchers remain hopeful that technology will advance enough to facilitate a successful mission to Mars in the near future. The report was compiled by the researchers not to discourage the Mars mission, but rather to help “drive the project forward, enabling affordable, sustainable Mars colonization.” Many visionary minds believe this to be possible, including Elon Musk, who intends to build a city on Mars and retire there.

So, what do you think? Would you volunteer for this one-way mission to Mars, even if it meant you might die only a few months into the journey? Do you think that technology will advance sufficiently to facilitate this mission by 2024? Or is this a delusional fantasy being propagated by the insanely wealthy? Is colonizing Mars a good idea? Or is crazy to spend so many billions getting to Mars when we could invest those resources into saving planet Earth?

If a one-way mission Mars sounds like a little bit too much, but you still wouldn’t mind some space exploration, you can enter their competition to win a two-way trip to space aboard XCOR LINX’s Spacecraft.

Photo Credit: Independent UK


Dr. Kelly Neff is a social psychologist, author and educator who has helped thousands of people learn about health, relationships, love and sexuality. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Georgetown and M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. A professor of psychology since 2007, she has become an innovator in the field of online teaching with her book, Teaching Psychology Online. When she isn’t writing, teaching or doing healing work from her home in Boulder, CO, Dr. Neff travels the globe researching transformational festivals for her upcoming book for the Festival Research Project. She is currently a contributing author to The Mind Unleashed. You can find her daily doses of inspiration and positivity on Facebook and Twitter. Light and Love!

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