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Destination Mars

Barring some unforeseen circumstance it appears as though the next planned destination for humanity is going to be the planet next door, about 9 months of travel time away, Mars. Our understanding of the red planet has changed quite a bit since the earliest recordings and observations which deemed it a warrior trapped in the night sky.

Since the advent of modern science, Mars has gone from being a red blurry dot with mythical meanings to a terrestrial hunk of rock floating in the vastness of space just flirting with our imagination. Everything from little green men that live in deep underground canals to the very real study of the soil on Mars have kept this planet in the public awareness for some time now. Consider for a moment the massive amounts of time that go into researching our celestial neighbor-planet. The implications of this work are enormous. The decades of speculation over Mars’ past and the potential for water there were finally made solid when the Curiosity rover sampled some watery soil earlier this year.

The Indian Space Research Organization just launched their own Mars exploration project a few days ago. There is no shortage of interest in studying the planet next door and study after study it seems as though humanity is poised to make Mars the next landmark destination for human history’s list of accomplishments. Dutch company Mars One has already drafted a plan to have the red planet colonized by humans in the year 2023. Private funders are looking to send a couple to travel to Mars and back as an extended honeymoon and research trip in 2018. When you pair all this up with the rise in commercial space tourism, private companies contracting for cargo transportation to space, and the need for continued technological support for these projects it becomes very apparent that this happenings could very feasibly lead to us witnessing the landing of a human on a foreign planet in the very near future.

With that said, this is a time to celebrate as NASA launched the MAVEN space craft from Florida on November 18th. MAVEN stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN. The goal of the mission is to study Mars’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the solar wind. These are all important variables in gaining a larger understanding of its climate, the history of water, and even potential colonization variables. It’s been a long journey on the path to understanding more about our natural world, but these small steps are vital roles for humanity’s true awareness of our surroundings.

After over 200 thousand years of evolution we’re finally attempting to reach across to the next stepping stone, located 140 million miles away. Perhaps in another two hundred thousand years we will be more familiar with the concept of traveling to other stellar systems that redefine our understanding of life and certainly help us understand more about how this whole crazy party got started in the first place, till then we must patiently wait and encourage each advance, such as the MAVEN spacecraft leaving earth this week.

MAVEN roll out!

Article by Prabir Mehta, My Glasses Rule

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