Should we spend money and resources colonizing Mars?
- On July 30, 2020, NASA launched the Perseverance Rover to “search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance NASA's quest to explore the past habitability of Mars.”
- The average temperature on Mars is -80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Elon Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 in order to jumpstart the colonization of Mars.
- Similar to Earth’s timeframe, a day on Mars is 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35 seconds long.
- According to research from the Nature Conservancy, humans can save the planet if we stop overfishing, rely more on clean energy, and produce more food on less land.
- A Pew Research study revealed that only 31% of respondents felt that it was a top priority for NASA to look for planets that could support life.
With a growing multitude of pressing problems here on Earth, it's difficult to justify spending money on the colonization of Mars. People are hungry, many are homeless, and there is massive wealth inequality. We are also in the midst of an economic crisis. President Trump has called for a budget of $25 billion for NASA going into 2021. In contrast, the US Environmental Protection Agency only has a proposed budget of $6.658 billion for 2021. Does it really make sense to invest more in colonizing space than improving and protecting life on our own planet?
There are also more profitable things to do in space than looking for new colonies. For example, mining asteroids could provide Earth with a far greater range of valuable resources, including precious metals. These mining operations could be uncrewed and carried out by drones. Not only can we find asteroids that are closer to us than Mars, but the potential rewards of a successful asteroid mining mission are also much higher. According to Physics World, an asteroid the size of a football field can contain $50 billion worth of platinum. Asteroids may also contain ice that could be vital as we run out of resources like drinking water.
There is no need to put humans on Mars when we have a wonderful planet under our feet with tons of potential. The government serves the people, and we need to ask ourselves how colonizing Mars would actually benefit Earth's population. We certainly shouldn't be spending taxpayers' money on these colonization efforts, but, of course, private companies are free to do as they wish.
The exploration of Mars represents the next significant logical step in not only space exploration, but the future of humankind's desire to explore. People have been explorers since leaving the ancient caves of the steppes of Africa, and it is for this reason that our footprint has expanded here on Earth—and also why our footprints have landed on the moon.
Today, in the twenty-first century, humans are looking at the option to travel to the surface of Mars, an adventure that will take approximately two years to complete. It is within the technical and scientific capability of a worldwide-sponsored mission to send humans to the surface of Mars. If the nations of the world come together and fund such a task, it will lead to new scientific and technological advancements that humans will share for generations.
Mars also offers a potential safe-haven should humans be unable to live on Earth. With the rate of global warming and population growth, humankind may be looking for a new home sooner rather than later. Mars, with the proper investment, would provide such a home for not only exploration, but also to serve as a second Earth.
Humans seek to explore, and spending the money to mount a manned mission to Mars is the next logical step in that quest to find the next great adventure--and perhaps the next great home.