Some people would rather invest these resources in solving global problems than in launching astronauts to other worlds. People in the 1960s questioned the Apollo program for the same reasons – it was also a time of systemic inequality and fear of nuclear war. Today, in polls of American adults, NASA’s climate action and monitoring of near-Earth asteroids feature prominently. more popular than crewed missions to the Moon and Mars.
“It would be easier to justify going to the moon and then to Mars if people didn’t starve and die. I don’t think there’s a rational scientific basis for this, and that’s fine,” says Natalie Trevigno, a space theorist at the UK’s Open University. However, as she notes, the desire to explore is not always logical. “Why do we do art and music? Living in contradiction is what the human experience is. It’s both amazing and tragic at the same time.”
Depending on what inspired the exploration of Mars, the first astronauts could have been scientists, poets, tourists, or the military. They can be seen as visitors, settlers, cowboys, or colonists. Treviño prefers the term “migrants” – in part to destigmatize migration on Earth – and she prefers to include an artist to make sense of the existential experience and enormous culture shock of living in this ruddy, barren world.
so to speak work: Humanity overcomes the financial and practical obstacles associated with the settlement of Mars, and earth migrants arrive. There’s one thing left to consider: maybe Mars would be better off without us.
If our handling of the Earth’s atmosphere is any indication, we’ll spoil the Martian atmosphere as well. We will litter it with rubbish, as we have spoiled our own world. Maybe we could geoengineer the atmosphere, or make Musk’s wish come true. terraform world by detonate a nuclear weapon create a “nuclear winter”—something we have so far managed to avoid at home—raise the temperature, initiate beneficial climate change, and melt some of the polar ice caps. As with geoengineering proposals to combat climate change on Earth, such schemes carry enormous risks.
We would also be working on the surface, probably replicating the economic disparities and unsustainable practices already prevalent on Earth. For example, says Treviño, Martian ice is limited, but there are no binding rules governing who can use it, how much, and for what purpose. Also, if any Martian life form is underground, terraforming and mining attempts could very well destroy it and its ecosystem, and who are we to decide their fate? It is the height of pride for one species to decide what to do with an entire planet that is not their home world.
So, as we go to Mars, let’s be ambitious and curious, but at the same time thoughtful, ethical and sustainable. Our travels of many millions of miles will most likely serve as a reminder of how lucky we are to have our own world, says Sasha Sagan: “I suspect that the further we go, the more we will realize how this planet is precious and valuable. “.