As the prospect of a permanent colony on Mars is getting closer with every new press release from the Mars One project, it probably makes sense to remember that any person who will move permanently to Mars will most likely die untimely and painful death.
Here are some things that are most likely to cause it (all kinds of technical problems are excluded from consideration):
First of all, the Mars colonists will be subjected toradiation before having set foot on the threshold of their new home. Technically, the radiation level during the trip from Earth to Mars does not exceed the capacity of the human body, but one should remember that the Sun is a huge unpredictable radioactive destructive mass.
Just one solar flare during the trip to Mars will send a stream of high-energy particles that will damage any shielding that can be created today. In fact, it will ‘roast’ any creature that is not protected by the planetary magnetic fields. In 2022, just a couple of years before the planned start of the expedition, the Sun will be at the peak of its 11-year cycle.
Then, on the surface of Mars, the colonists would have to find a way to deal with a reduced gravitational field of the planet. Since Mars has only a third of the earth’s gravity, this factor can be fatal in the long term perspective. All aspects of our biological structure – from heart rate to the strength of our bones – are related to gravity.
As soon as this force is removed, we begin to lose bone marrow and our heart and vestibular system start to malfunction. It is the reason why the astronauts do not stay on the ISS for longer than necessary. The effects of the so-called “space sickness” on Mars will be reduced compared to the microgravity of outer space, but in the long run they will likely lead to the terminal health problems.
And finally, there is a problem of self-sustaining life on the Red Planet. Since the supply missions to Mars will cost billions of dollars, they will be probably delayed if the colonists suddenly run out of something important, like the air, water or food.
Of course, each colony on Mars is planned as a self-sustaining system. However, just one serious crop failure will lead to the lack of oxygen, which will be produced by plants, and will raise the question of survival of the colonists.
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