The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

Colonizing Mars

More likely than you think

Space exploration used to be a figment of our imagination. Being able to walk on the moon, or taking amazing, detailed photos of other universes has become the new reality as scientists and researchers modify technology. NASA has rapidly expanded since 1958, where once it was only a dream to conquer space travel.

Now, technological advancements are less likely to cause limitations with the reality of traveling to and exploring other planets. NASA has set its sights on Mars, our neighboring planet, to explore and possibly colonize. NASA started exploring Mars with simple rovers, machine coded technology that could collect environmental samples and data while relaying it back to its team of scientists back on Earth.

Analyzing these samples can help us understand what type of environment Mars has, and the possibility it holds to sustain life. It was believed that three billion years ago, Mars was closely similar to present day Earth. Mars had great oceans with huge continents and seasonal changes. It is theorized that a massive collision with an asteroid damaged and destroyed Mars’ atmosphere. The magnetic field surrounding Mars was stripped away, causing a dramatic shift in the environment as it succumbed to solar winds produced from the Sun.

NASA is focusing on developing revolutionary technologies that will help aid in colonizing and setting base on Mars. They need to increase the efficiency and speed of space shuttles in space, and NASA believes they can use nuclear power such as thermal propulsion to achieve part of this goal.

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Due to the frigid cold temperatures on Mars, without proper heat within the environment, it will be impossible to sustain life. NASA is looking into producing heat shields, a large dome like structure to stabilize the temperature and keep areas of interest heated. Unfortunately, producing bigger heat shields requires a higher durability of the material it is composed of. The material needs to be stable enough to properly enter Mars atmosphere without getting shredded or destroyed. 

NASA also needs to develop high tech martian suits that can support human life in a carbon dioxide rich atmosphere. These suits require proper insulation to keep astronauts warm in the Martian winter, while also preventing overheating and keeping them cool during the summer seasons.

Another obstacle would be creating an environment that is able to insulate and heat areas while simultaneously letting sunlight through in order to grow crops in space. An amazing discovery from Harvard’s University Faculty of Arts and Sciences has created a material known as “aerogel.” Aerogel is a styrofoam like solid that is mostly composed of air, while also being extremely light. This product is also a good insulator to prevent the transfer of heat, while also being very translucent. This property allowed sunlight to pass through while also blocking harmful ultraviolet light. 

Due to its composition, aerogel is very fragile and could fracture easily under pressure. The possibility of combining this material with flexible, malleable materials could prevent cracking, while also keeping most of the material’s original properties. It is theorized that this material could be used to produce greenhouses to store water and grow vegetation with how its unique properties insulate the area while also being letting light in.

Mars is the most hypothetical source of life due to its position in the solar system, being closer to the Sun like Earth. Sustaining life on Mars seems far fetched, but with these new technology advancements and discoveries, it may be possible within the next few decades. Moreover, we will be able to witness historical events as NASA continues to research the space around us.

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