Sun. Jul 14th, 2024
    walking on mars

    I was on Netflix earlier and I saw there is a new documentary titled “Return to Space” with Elon Musk on the poster. I have not watched it yet but you can bet top dollar that it tickled my fancy and seeing the poster made me type this quick read article:

    elon musk return to space on netflix

    Those who know me know I am a sucker for space travel in reality and in film. I have a mini telescope at home and enjoy looking at the full moon even with the city light population around. I cannot wait for humans to be a multi-planetary species. One thought that bores is that I might not be alive to see this happen. I wish Elon Musk and team the very best of luck in figuring out how to settle humans on Mars.

    On my Twitter bio, I have Neil deGrasse Tyson, an Astrophysicist, as my role model particularly because of how he has dedicated himself to be an educator around the importance of being “science literate”. You’d be hard pressed to go through my daily YouTube history and not find a StarTalk explainer video – I watch those religiously. He has been advocating for the US and the world to go back to space exploration. I had a couple of discussions with my friends around why I think figuring out space travel is beneficial and some of them had the expected rebuttal: “It’s a waste of money. Money we could be using back here on Earth.” There are many discoveries and inventions we are enjoying today because some people decided to explore what was beyond our terrestrial boundary. Inventions that are saving lives such as the insulin pump or computer mouses we use in our daily jobs. In this quick article I am however not going to talk about those. My goal right now is to briefly show how focused efforts on figuring out space exploration and attempting it presents opportunities for every single one of us, no matter your background.

    At times to solve problems one is facing, it helps to take them to another paradigm, figure them out there and bring the solutions back. For example, let us imagine we are starting to settle on Mars and think of some of the problems we will face. The answers to these questions might start giving us solutions to some of the problems we are currently facing here on Earth. This is a thought experiment I constantly have:

    • Banking and economics – What type of banking system are we going to have on Mars, one that is efficient, transparent and inclusive? What currency are we going to use? How is the currency going to be exchanged with Earth’s? How do we use advanced operations management to effectively allocate the limited resources the settlement is going to have access to? What is the basis of the economy going to be?
    • Educators – How is the Mars education system going to be structured? What subjects need to be prioritised? Is focus going to be on practical / artisanal skills and which ones? Do we need schools to be centralised or can students work from their homes (if so, will the communication specialists figure out how this can be achieved?) What will be the measure of success for students and how do they progress to higher levels of education to acquire more knowledge?
    • Historians – What should the Mars settlers learn about the history of Earth? How can the birth and growth of the settlement be documented (hopefully to avoid the confusion we have currently around how amazing structures from the ancient world were built)?
    • Cartographers and geologists – How can we map out Mars? What points of interest will need to be studied further? What are the rocks on Mars made of? Are there any natural energy sources on Mars that can be tapped into? Are there any tectonic plate activity on the planet and what risks do those pose because of phenomena such as quakes? Any structures such as protected caves we can exploit to built the first settlements?
    • Meteorologists – What weather patterns should we be ready for on Mars? Are there any areas that have stable weather that can better support human life than others? Can the weather be harnessed to provide natural energy? Is the weather reasonably predictable? What opportunities do the different seasons offer for resource gathering?
    • Power generators and electricians – How are the homes/pods going to be powered? What grid system is going to be put in place? And how is the energy generated? What about protection of household equipment against natural elements?
    • Lawyers, governance and police – What legal frameworks are going to be instituted on Mars? What government structure will be implemented? Who is going to be selecting the leaders and who is eligible to run for office? What laws do we need and how are they going to be enforced?
    • Transport and Logistics – Efficient transport networks are very critical to the flourishing of any settlement. What type of transport is possible on Mars? Can we use cars, helicopters, and planes as we have here on Earth or do we need to invent Mars specific vehicles? How can supplies be moved from Point A to Point B on Mars? And between Earth and Mars? What if there is an emergency in the settlement, how can aid the moved around as quickly as possible? If there is need for Earth to provide relief, how can this be done without delay?
    • Chemistsenvironmentalists and biologists – What type of chemicals are we going to encounter on Mars? How will those interact with our body’s biochemistry? And what fuel with the transport system on Mars use? Biologically, how will humans survive? Even before getting to the planet, how can they survive the journey? What about animals that will we probably bring along with us? How will we keep them safe and alive in a hostile environment when it might not economical to create bespoke survival suits and shelters? Which animals are more adaptable to the Mars environment than others? Will newborns have any differences in physiology / anatomy to their parents and how can this be tracked and monitored?
    • Farmers, botanists and nutritionists – What types of foods will humans have access to on the journey and what can they grow on Mars considering the soil composition could be different to Earth’s? What farming methods are going to be effective and efficient on Mars? How can the settlers have a proper balanced diet? Most of our medicines come from herbs and will those grow on Mars?
    • Health personnel – What type of new drugs will need to be developed by Pharmacists to curb the spread of potential new pathogens we will encounter? Aligned with farmers, will the necessary herbs that we need grow on Mars? Will doctors need to retrain on how to diagnose new ailments and prescribe new medication? Ambulance drivers will work with transport and logistics to figure out ways to transport patients across the settlement.
    • Food processing and distribution – After the farmers have harvested their crops, how do we process the food and store it? Can current metallic cans we use on Earth stay for long on Mars considering it is a different environment? Do we need to manufacture our cans from a different material to the one we use here on Earth? How will the food be distributed throughout the settlement in line with what logistics departments have in place? How will retail stores be built and function?
    • Mining – Are there any minerals on Mars we can exploit to better the settlement? If so, what machinery will be needed to mine these minerals? How will they be transported, stored, exploited and the waste managed sustainably?
    • Construction – Tied in with mining, are there any naturally occurring minerals we can use to build the habitats and not have to wait for supplies from Earth? What building methodologies can we use and what equipment is needed? What structures are we able to build on Mars and how large can they be both in width and height? How long would it take to construct such a structure?
    • Gym personal trainers – How do we make sure humans exercise and stay healthy in order to avoid their muscles atrophying when they move from Earth’s gravity to one much lower than their bodies are used to? What type of new equipment needs to be invented to help human stay in shape?
    • Arts, sports and entertainment – Currently the journey to Mars takes about 6 months when launched from the nearest alignment. What type of entertainment will keep everyone motivated and happy? When they get to Mars, what kind of stories are they going to tell? Books and movies to write? What extra curricula activities are possible on the Martian surface and do we need specialized equipment or housing to host ones such as swimming or soccer or are we going to develop totally new sports that work in that environment?
    • News publishers and orators – Separate from the books and movies for entertainment, what type of news will we be consuming on Mars and in what format? How can we be kept informed and how often? How will motivational speakers keep people motivated to strive for that next milestone?
    • Communications specialists – How will one-way and two-way communication on Mars work? What type of frequencies are possible and efficient with the type of atmosphere and energy sources available? How will news publishers inform the public? How can person A call person B or someone back on Earth? Do we need to engineer new type of equipment to withstand the weather on Mars for example new types of “cellphone” towers?
    • Material scientists and manufacturers – What type of materials do we need on Mars? What can be transported from Earth and what can be developed there? Even for the spaceships themselves, how will they be protected from things like radiation? And the suits people will wear? Or their daily clothes? Are our current mass-production manufacturing processes and assembly lines going to be possible on Mars say for vehicles we would need there?
    • Sanitary and waste management – How will the settlement be kept clean? Even dusting around our homes, with low gravity, how do we deal with dust that is not settling fast enough? What type of dust is it and do we need new chemicals and wiping materials to clean it? How will we wash up and keep our clothes clean? Human waste will need to be disposed of but with no water supply, what are the alternative ways to do this?
    • Entrepreneurs – What businesses can be founded on Mars? Are we going to have our own version of Facebook? What will the communications specialists figure out in line with the current internet on Earth to power those apps? Farming is a business and can there be trade with Earth? Repair shops will need to stock up on spare parts and how will the logistics of getting them work? Are we going to have the service and hospitality industry on Mars? Retail and clothes shops?
    • Beliefs – Will there be need for religion on Mars? If so, how will this work? Many religions speak about Earth as being where God focused his efforts. With Mars in the picture, what does this mean?

    I have looked at just a few skillsets and asked a few questions around them. When you think about your own, I am sure you can convince yourself how your skills will be stretched to the limit in order for humans to successfully settle on Mars. Space travel has and will always take human knowledge to the next level. There are so many complicated problems we would need to solve and this will force us to invent new ways of doing certain things and discover new knowledge.

    It’s a brave new world!

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