Roadmap to Mars: How NASA Will Conquer the Red Planet
NASA, ESA, China and Russia are all working towards the same goal, to reach the red planet and extend the human presence in our Solar System. Because of its potential to cater to life, many scientists and space agencies are keen on studying and conquering the surface of Mars. With imminent missions on the horizons, NASA released their roadmap to Mars and how will they complete this daunting and literally out-of-this-world task.
"NASA's strategy connects near-term activities and capability development to the journey to Mars and a future with a sustainable human presence in deep space" said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations.
NASA released a paper detailing the roadmap to Mars, called "NASA's Journey to Mars; Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration." Mars holds the best option for 'expanding human presence,' that's why NASA has set their eyes on being the first to set foot on the red planet.
"These scouts have shown that Mars' geological evolution and climate cycles were comparable to Earth's, and that at one time, Mars had conditions suitable for life. What we learn about the Red Planet will tell us more about our Earth's past and future, and may help answer whether life exists beyond our home planet" NASA added.
NASA released their paper entitled 'Three Phases on our Journey to Mars' which includes the following phases:
1. Earth Reliant - this part is focused on study and research aboard the ISS and is mainly focused on human health and the effects of long haul space missions to astronauts.
2. Proving Ground - in this part, NASA will start to test technologies that will allow transport and habitation of its crew members. This includes the test of the SLS and Orion which is the most powerful rocket ever built. Other technologies are also being developed to enable the Earth Independent phase.
3. Earth Independent - during this phase, NASA is expected to harness the knowledge gathered by studies. They will start to build and enable human missions on Mars' vicinity, its moons and on the surface of the red planet as well.
The three phases looked simple in writing. In truth, it'll take billions of dollars and an amazing quantity of scientists to study the most advanced array of equipments in order to prepare and observe before finally building the technologies needed to be able to reach and survive on Mars.
Exploring the unknown means taking risks. A new form of efficient transportation needs to be developed for this mission to succeed. Also, a half-way house or habitation modules would have to put in place in order for the crew to survive.
NASA also said that their technologies are all interconnected.
"Pioneering space requires a sustained set of mutually reinforcing activities-science missions, technology development, capability demonstrations, and human spaceflight-to expand human presence into deep space and extend our robotic agents farther into the solar system, with the horizon goal of humans travelling to Mars and remaining on the surface" said NASA in their Journey To Mars report.
NASA is confident that the two decades spent on preparing for this mission, and the remaining years before the mission is launched, will be enough for the journey to succeed and for man to finally conquer the red planet.