Colonize or die out: why do we need Mars?

Colonize or die out: why do we need Mars?

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Some believe that we will stay on the Ground — people will cease to exist. In an article published in June, Elon Musk has warned of the inevitability of space: life on Earth will disappear if we will not mnogoletnim. There are two ways Musk wrote: “One way to stay on the Ground forever until an event occurs that carries the end of all living things. I’m not trying to make an apocalyptic prophecy, not just history gives us to understand that the end is inevitable. The alternative is to become endearing space civilization and mnogoletnim views, and this will agree, is right.”

Survival, coupled with fear, remains a basic instinct of mankind, which will cause him to become mnogoletnim. Although the hypothetical event of a mass extinction like the asteroid or nuclear war, can put us before the fact, we have advanced technology or good theory on how such technology to do to protect the future of humanity. What then makes us think about the colonization of Mars?

Powerful solar flares

Increasingly, scientists and futurists worried about a possible solar superspike (DIS). Normal solar flare is a normal part of the cycle of sunspots of our star, causing outbursts of cosmic radiation. But DIS is a powerful solar flare. A star produces energy equivalent to 475 billion nuclear bombs, just a few hours, or even seconds, says Scott Fleming, astronomer and archivist of the MAST. Their energy is released as x-rays, gamma rays, radio waves, visible light and ultraviolet radiation.

For a long time scientists did not believe that this possibility deserves attention, but new discoveries have changed their opinions. Over the past few years, the space telescope Kepler discovered that the distant, sun-like stars quite often show flare activity. Scientists began to wonder what would happen if DIS happens on our Sun that gave rise to new research.

If DIS happens, the first thing to suffer electrical infrastructure. Cell phones, computers, cars, artificial lighting technology, which depends entirely on our society will cease to function, which will send a global civilization into a tailspin and into a new dark age.

CERs can also affect the environment. It can destroy what remains of the ozone layer, which will harm the ecosystem and cause mass extinction. First warm gases leave the atmosphere and the planet cooled. But later the Land will remain vulnerable to the constant bombardment of ultraviolet rays, which will allow them to reach the surface and ravage her.

At the poles, where the ozone hole grow from the 1970s years, the cold sea quickly absorb carbon dioxide, reducing the amount of available oxygen in the ocean and making the water more acidic. Such changes threaten the phytoplankton, which forms the basis of the food chain. The deficit will put the whole chain in a Domino effect.

But the real threat lies in a remote possibility of a second subsequent major outbreaks, which will happen before our ozone layer will fully recover from the first. Without the ozone layer, which could protect us, the UV radiation of the second DIS will cause a radical mutation of DNA that will cause irreparable damage to the fertility and alter physiological functions. Even the extremophiles can disappear (although this scenario is completely unlikely).

Still have not watched DIS our Sun. Partly because they do not happen so often; partly because our civilization is too young. But unstable atoms trapped in the rings of trees show that moderate CERs struck the Earth before.

Despite all these fears, scientists have not yet decided how often there are such catastrophic events. However, the data of the Kepler telescope on the frequency of flares on other stars over the past 400 000 years helped the researchers to assess how often CERs occur in stars similar to our Sun. According to them, the Sun produces CERs every 20 million years.

If the last of CERs occurred in the year 775, will have to wait a very long time. So, if people like Musk, are looking for justification for colonizing another world, CERs will not be the most convincing motive.

But this story does not end there. Although full-scale CERs to be deployed in the near future, more weak, but devastating solar flare is likely to occur in this Millennium, as the work published in the Astrophysical Journal. “We expect that the total losses can exceed the current GDP of the world in the case of certain superspaces,” write the study authors. Such an event may not put an end to our species, but it certainly will destroy our society, destroy the economy and limit access to resources necessary for survival.

However, to understand the nature of CERs, astrophysicists need to know exactly how those born in the stars. Not knowing the depths of our Sun, the scientists can not predict DIS before for a week. Perhaps DIS is more risk than we think.

Other threats to the Earth?

Risks of solar superspice may not be enough to save the world from us, but there are other apocalyptic scenarios that may be more motivating. Brian Wilcox, a JPL member and developer of technology space robotics and is a member of the Advisory Board of NASA’s planetary protection (NACPD), thinking about the technical aspects prevent asteroids and comets on the Earth.

“My research showed that the problem of asteroid really was not as serious as claimed by some people, because to a certain extent, we monitor all the major objects of the inner Solar system,” says Wilcox. “It is estimated that 98% odnokolernyh objects in the inner Solar system has already found a place, and it was long before we found them”.

As soon as we confirm position and trajectory of asteroids, says Wilcox, the collision of these objects with the Earth, which we cannot prevent, are becoming less likely. When scientists identificeret a possible threat in the form of an asteroid, they know that there’s a seven-minute window prior to its collision with the Earth. In the past, scientists assumed that all the asteroids have equal chances of collision. “Either he will go or not,” adds Wilcox. But after many observations, we obtained quantitative evidence that the vast majority of asteroids traveling through the inner Solar system, is not going to collide with Earth. “Long-period comets which arrive from Neptune, are still a cause for concern, because we can think, but they are a hundred times less dangerous than the asteroids of the inner Solar system,” he says. Worry, like, about.

If a celestial object will be on collision course with Earth, we can stop it in several ways. This year, NASA has initiated the development of DART, a spacecraft designed to launch a huge object in the asteroid with the purpose of deviation to the course. Lasers could do something similar.

The Wilcox is not worried about asteroids. Supervolcanoes, however, is a different story. They are much, much more dangerous than asteroids.

SUPERVOLCANO could produce devastating effect in just one eruption. He can throw enough dust and other particles into the atmosphere to block the sunlight, suspend photosynthesis and lead to mass starvation. And to predict when the SUPERVOLCANO will erupt, we have no chance.

We know that Yellowstone erupts every 620 000 years or so, but, as with CER, the human civilization has not yet existed long enough to witness such an event. The last known SUPERVOLCANO erupted 75,000 years ago in Indonesia and, as shown by the evidence, threw away almost 100 billion trucks of molten substances into the atmosphere.

But Wilcox believes that none of these examples does not provide sufficient motivation to leave the Earth. In fact, even a pandemic does not justify the creation of a colony on another planet like Mars.

The flight to Mars, he says, will not save our species as well as resettlement on many asteroids. “If the pandemic was our main problem, the fastest method of self-defense would be the creation of the asteroid settlements in terraforming asteroids, which could provide habitat for up to 7,000 people,” explained Wilcox. “We would have many colonies on asteroids instead of one of Mars.”

Asteroids not only easier and cheaper to develop than Mars; they are safer from a position of distance. Trip from Earth to Mars takes several months to several years. It will take even more time to get to the asteroid belt or any near-earth asteroid that we could settle in the future. It is longer than the incubation period of any disease — by the time the astronauts arrive at their new home, the most dangerous diseases will do the trick. “It is hoped that medicine progresses enough that we can develop tests and to prevent sending infected people into space colonies,” says Wilcox. Will need to make sure that nobody carries a dangerous disease with them.

If we have to leave the Earth, the Moon may be partly viable option. We can produce rocket fuel on the surface, and to reach it is long. The pipes of ancient lava flows offer people a protected space for the construction of colonies that we could protect from solar radiation.

So, Mars is our best bet?

If we are concerned about DIS, Mars at first seems promising option for colonization. The red planet is about two times farther from the Sun than the Earth, so less solar radiation will reach the surface.

In fact, Mars would be much more dangerous for people in case of CERs. Mars has no magnetosphere, and its atmosphere was blown away in a solar flare in 4 billion years ago. In the case of CERs, on the Ground, we at least would be protected atmosphere, our “bulletproof vest” from the radiation; on Mars we would be naked and vulnerable.

In addition, the journey to Mars would be dangerous. Must be better alternatives, says Wilcox. “If humanity is going to live and work in space, we need to learn to live and work in space,” he says. One of the good places to start is literally at the door. “Before we go to Mars, you can practice on the moon.” We need to break the technology to colonize Mars before sending astronauts to one end, putting their lives at risk.

So, Mars may conceal from us knowledge and the ability to meet our space ambitions. But for survival, maybe we should stick to the roots.