The Red Planet.
Mars has been home to our imagination for centuries beyond. From Roman mythology to modern science-fiction, the Red Planet has comprised our wildest dreams. Mysticism peaked when we landed a man on the moon – why not Mars as well?
The wanderlust started to drift to fact once Sojourner, the first rover on Mars, landed on July 6th, 1997. Sojourner was responsible for collecting valuable data on the ground as well as scouting the terrain for rocks and soil. Mars was found to been incredibly habitable in its past, adding to the claims of NASA of water being present within its lands.
The potential for human colonization is outstanding due to its striking similarities to Earth. The day/night cycle totals just over 24 hours, there is an atmosphere present (that protects from radiation), and most importantly, the presence of water within the soil or surface make growing plants accessible.
Just recently, researchers at the University of Arizona collaborated with NASA to develop an inflatable greenhouse perfect for use on other planets. The greenhouse takes advantage of human-created natural cycles: humans respire carbon dioxide when breathing, which is utilized by the plants via photosynthesis to create glucose. They release oxygen as a byproduct, which is essential for human entities. This oxygen can therefore be used in the process of cellular respiration, making critical ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) that is absolutely necessary to carry on life's processes.
But what's the bigger picture?
Well, it's complicated. Space exploration has always been a pinnacle of global innovation and ingenuity – the race to the moon has now manifested in the race for the galaxy. We are entering a new age of space "real estate", where everything is up for grabs. It's just up to us to go out and discover it.
All these smaller breakthroughs are ultimately driven toward one thing: eventual colonization. Be it Mars or another entity, we are hungry to set our sights on something new. It's because of this that NASA announced their Mars One mission not too long ago, and why Elon Musk is eager to take people to all corners of the planets.
There's also the troubling question of morality and ethics – what's protocol if we come across another intelligent being?
All-in-all, it would be absolutely ludicrous not to take advantage of the status quo and push our limits. Science is, indeed, going in the right direction, and at this point, we must reach for the stars.