Then there are the advancements 5G is enabling with virtual reality (VR). But VR isn’t just for gamers, or a fun amusement. With 5G speeds, retailers can offer

Why should we live on Mars? Is showing of supremacy so much important to risk lives and spend millions?

The same question should have been asked thousands of years back, when some human beings risked their lives and invented fire. At that time, we perhaps did not know how to control fire, and many human beings might have lost their lives. But, we did it. And, look at where we are. Now, fire looks so normal.

Again, thousands of years ago, some human beings must have risked their lives to learn how to travel by sea. Why go and risk lives by trying to make a boat and go to sea, when there is plenty of land? Someone must have asked. Mind you, at that time, there was hardly any population and the land mass must have been far more sufficient for the small number of human beings. But, we did it. Now, imagine the condition of our development if there had not been sea travel.

Columbus and Vasco da Gama spent months in ocean to travel thousands of kilometres, in ships which were nowhere as advanced as of today, risking their lives. There was no GPS in those days (about 500 years back) to guide them in the ocean. No machines / motors to drive the ships. It was through physical efforts of humans. And, yet we controlled the oceans with our raw power.

One can go on and on.

The fact remains that human beings are adventurous. By human beings, I don’t mean all 7 billion human beings in the world today. Most of us are lazy and don’t like taking risks.

But, there are many among us who have the courage and the will power to do newer things. Who have courage and conviction to do new and new things.

And, it is because of these courageous, non-conventional, never-contented, innovative people that we have come thus far.

I agree we could have continued to be like animals. Or, may be continued in the stone age itself. But, we are not. We are different from other animals.

When man landed on moon, that was not a mere single journey to a newer place. It was much more.

As Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon, he said:[1]

“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

How true!!!

Thousands of new technologies were invented to travel to and make the landing on moon possible for human beings. Billions of dollars were spent to discover these new technologies.

Many of these new technologies have subsequently been used in the day to day life of humans or to create further new technologies. It is a virtuous cycle.

Why Mars?

Nobody is forcing anybody to go and live on Mars. There are thousands of volunteers who are willing to take the risk of going to Mars, knowing fully well that they may never be able to return anytime in the future.

A few years back, about 200,000 volunteers had registered for the ONE-WAY TRIP to Mars.[2] Nobody forced them.

And, it will not be millions of dollars, but tens of billions of dollars that may have to be spent for human-missions to Mars.

There are several advantages. The gifted ones among us can see those advantages. We, the lesser mortals, cannot perhaps see the advantages.

Firstly, a large number of new technologies will be innovated that can have widespread use in our lives.

Remember, satellites for communication, timing, GPS, weather forecasting, remote-sensing, and many other practical usages could become possible only due to our interest in space technologies.

One does not know what newer technologies would or could be developed further.

Just have a look at this NASA web page that lists a large number of spinoff technologies that have been developed and used for human life, due to its space programmes. One is due for a pleasant shock by looking at this. Surprise would be a milder word.

Earth has been there for billions of years. But, human beings are there only for about 200,000 years. However, the future existence of human beings on the Earth cannot be guaranteed.

There are many existential risks on earth that can cause human extinction or permanently and drastically curtail potential and activities of humans. Such catastrophic risks include risks caused by humans (through technology, governance, climate change), and some external risks.

Just for example, in 1908, an asteroid just 50 meters wide (yes, only 50 meters wide) exploded over Tunguska, Russia and levelled more than 2,000 square km of forest. NASA has listed about 18000 objects (out of which 8000 objects are above the 140-meter size threshold) that cross Earth’s path in the solar system.[3]

Having mastered the Earth to a great extent, it is quite natural for humans to explore the space around us. Moon and Mars are the immediate neighbours that give us some advantages.

We have to think of the future and not be narrow-sighted. It is only because of the far-sighted vision of some great humans that we have come thus far.

We have to continue our journey. Current generations cannot stop the path shown to us by our forefathers.

Yes, lives would be lost. Yes, costs will be heavy. This journey is not for the chicken-hearted people.

But, then, the rewards will also be multiple times. One cannot fathom the nature and quantity of the rewards that will ensue to human race from our space exploration, including human-missions (and potential human settlement) on Mars.

Going by the past experiences, investment in science and technology has never been loss-making. It has always rewarded us immensely.

So, let the journey continue. To Mars. And, beyond.

Footnotes

[1] FACT CHECK: Neil Armstrong’s First Words on the Moon

[2] One-Way Mars Colony Project Draws 200,000 Volunteers

[3] New report explores threat from near-Earth asteroids