Colonising Mars, dream or future reality?

Were you excited when the U.S president revealed his goal to send humans to Mars by the year 2030? The president first said in 2010 that he wanted to send astronauts to mars and to bring them after they spend extended time on the planet. Spending a few days on the red planet sounds exciting and the project seems optimistic, but the ruler of the UAE, his highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai is thinking and planning ahead of just a trip to the mars, he actually has plans to create a small community there and yes, it also has a due date.

The ambitious project was launched on 15-Feb-2017 on the sideline of the 5th World Government Summit, and set to be developed and executed in partnership with major international scientific research institutions.

“The landing of people on other planets has been a longtime dream for humans. Our aim is that the UAE will spearhead international efforts to make this dream a reality,” said Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid.

For decades, space agencies consider a mission to mars a difficult one to accomplish as journey to this far-off planet is complicated and there is little room for errors or plan changes. The only possible way to accomplish such a mission is with a huge budget, enough time to plan and execute, and astronauts who are willing to risk radiation on this long journey.

The UAE has set the project for 2117, and there is enough time required for proper planning and develop capable technology and partnerships. The project will start with an Emirati team and later extended with international scientists and researchers to focus on developing faster means of transportation to and from the planet.

Mars is the planet of most interest for space agencies as there is a lot to explore and learn about our solar system and its formation. Scientists believe it’s the next tangible frontier for expanding human presence. Exploring Mars can help us get information of own planet and uncover mysteries like does life exist on any other planet , could it be a safe home for humans and also can teach us about the earth’s past present and future.

NASA’S robotic science scouts at Mars have found valuable resources for sustaining human pioneers, such as water and ice just below the surface.  Mars is thought to have thick atmosphere that could have maintained water bodies, and a warmer, potentially habitable climate.

NASA is preparing for its 2030 mission and has already released a three step plan that begins on our own planet. Named as the “Earth Reliant” phase will involve existing technologies to be tested, innovated, scaled and extended with a particular focus on long term space travel. This is the most important step as it clears a vision on the possible time astronauts can sustain in the orbit with fears of severe health damage.

The next step will take place in “cislunar space”, this is the name given to area around the moon. In this step knowledge attained from step one will be utilized, this will be a rehearsal of the actual mission.

In the third and final phase called “Earth Dependant”, astronauts will travel to one of the Mars moons before landing on the planet. For this step the technologies are yet to be invented and this phase will need most of the research and innovation.

NASA is not the only agency aiming for Mars, there are others who are also dreaming of Mars colonization and working upon it. Commercial spaceflight company SpaceX founder Elon Musk seems to have a similar goal to make the establishment of a sustainable city on Mars a reality. The company is working on an Interplanetary Transport System (ITS), which will combine the most powerful rocket ever built with a spaceship designed to carry at least 100 people to the Red Planet per flight. Then if all goes well later or sooner the reusable ITS will help earthlings establish a permanent, self-sustaining colony on the Red Planet within the next 50 to 100 years.

Here in the GCC, UAE is on the forefront of developing the space sector as it believes in the sectors importance in shaping the future of science and technology in the country and building an economy that is focused, driven by innovation and contributes to the global space projects.

Last week NASA announced to launch a massive magnetic shield into space to protect Mars from solar winds, this shield could restore the atmosphere it once had and flow water to the surface again making it habitable. With all the effort and the technology being developed it seem Mars is reachable and it’s something that we might see in our lifetimes.

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