Ibrahim Ghazal ‘22
Since 2014, NASA has been preparing for its Mars 2020 Mission. On July 30, 2020, NASA officially launched the Perseverance rover, which took approximately 7 months to arrive on Mars. The Perseverance rover landed on Mars on February 18, 2021. The expected mission duration is about one year on Mars, which is about 687 Earth days.
The rover was programmed and designed to examine the rock record so that scientists could have a better understanding of the geological processes that developed the Martian crust. The rover is also examining for evidence of water, or rocks that have formed in water, which would give evidence of possible life on Mars. NASA scientists also seek evidence of life by examining whether the rover can identify ancient habitable environments to prove whether life existed on Mars or not.
The rover is mainly examining environmental conditions, natural resources, and support for whether Human Exploration is possible. At the moment, the ultimate goal of human exploration is to ensure the safety and protection of future human explorers. NASA’s goal is to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.
Although NASA’s goal for human exploration on Mars is in the 2030s, SpaceX has some different plans. Elon Musk recently claimed that “SpaceX will be landing Starships on Mars well before 2030” (Musk). Musk also implied that landing Starships on Mars isn’t the main difficulty because the real challenge is making “Mars Base Alpha self-sustaining”. In 2017, Musk claimed the possibility of SpaceX launching cargo ships to Mars in 2022, and then possibly launching a crewed mission in 2024.
However, Musk has also proposed the idea of launching an uncrewed rocket in 2024, and then a crewed mission two years later. Elon Musk definitely has several goals to colonize Mars, he even claimed that he plans to develop a city of over 1 million people on Mars by the year 2050. This would be done with the production of 1,000 Starships, where about three Starships would be launched per day.
It is evident that Musk’s goal is to make travel and life on Mars accessible to anyone. Musk plans to develop an entirely new society as he also claims that there would be several opportunities for jobs on Mars. Ultimately, it is possible for colonization to develop on Mars in the next coming decades.