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    NASA appears to have quite a long road ahead to develop affordable approaches for human missions to Mars. Some estimates do not place a human on Mars until 2080. NASA continues to be hopeful about these plans, but there are many challenges in creating a human mission to Mars.

    One such challenge is that unlike lunar missions, Mars missions have little to no opportunity to abort the mission. This increases the requirements and costs of the spacecraft systems since Mars missions will likely be over 2.5 years roundtrip. Producing enough food, water, and oxygen over that time will be essential to the missionís success.

    Another great challenge for Mars missions is traveling there and back. Chemical propulsion is one plausible method of making Mars missions a reality. The large quantities of propellants needed to get a group of astronauts and their supplies to Mars are significant restrictions to the possibility of achieving this type of mission. NASA is currently working on many other methods of propulsion to get the astronauts there in less time. Many of these still require chemical propellants to get them into space before they can be utilized.

    Another challenge engineers are concerned about is the exposure to space radiation the astronauts may experience on their journey to Mars. Since the biological effects of exposure to space radiation can change from person to person, and may take years to show their full impact, the definition of how much exposure is acceptable will always vary to some extent. They are very concerned about the possibility of a solar flare or other solar event that would send a large amount of radiation at the spacecraft. An event like this would be catastrophic for the ship and the crew without enough protection.

    There are benefits to sending humans to Mars that many people feel make this journey worthwhile. One significant benefit would be the information about Mars that a human could gather in ways that robotic spacecraft are unable to. Another would be advancements in technology for the spacecraft systems that our society would benefit from. Plastics, paints, insulation, and computers are just a few of the products that space technology is used in developing today.

    It is quite difficult to estimate the overall cost of such a complex space mission. Do you think cost and concerns are enough to not send a person to Mars? Or do you think the knowledge gained with such a mission would far outweigh those concerns? Share your thoughts in the Opinion Corner forum.

     
    A number of significant technological hurdles have to be overcome before humans can successfully explore Mars. Image credit: NASA.
     
    Image of Mars. Image credit: NASA.

    AuthorComment
    Mike
    Student

    Maple School District
    Poplar, Wisconsin
    10/12/2006 11:13:57 AM
    Re: Should We Send Humans to Mars?
    YES!!! Because in case there are martians on mars and they want to ATTACK!
    Ben
    Student

    Estherville Lincoln Central
    Estherville, Iowa
    12/18/2006 4:56:13 PM
    Re: Should We Send Humans to Mars?
    yes but they should make a air dome for them to survive
    Jacob
    Student

    Maple School District
    Poplar, Wisconsin
    1/30/2007 11:58:17 AM
    Re: Should We Send Humans to Mars?
    I think sending people to Mars would be like the next step for the human race. We sent someone to the moon. Back then, it was the same thing as now. Should we send someone to the moon? We did it then! But now we've sent a probe to Mars, so we know what its like. Why not?
    Brennan
    Student

    Washington Woods School
    Holt, Michigan
    3/5/2007 8:35:19 AM
    Re: Should We Send Humans to Mars?
    yes
    Cynthia Sawatzky
    Teacher

    Custer
    Custer, Oklahoma
    12/14/2007 8:00:31 AM
    Re: Should We Send Humans to Mars?
    yes, but we need them to be very safe first.
    Bryan
    Student

    Gifford
    Vero Beach, Florida
    4/10/2008 3:42:28 PM
    Re: Should We Send Humans to Mars?
    I think we should send humans to Mars because it would be one of the greatest accomplishments we could ever make in science exploration history. It would be possible for us to do this and I don't see any harm in it so I think it would be a very good idea.
    Nick
    Student

    Washington Middle School
    Oconto Falls, Wisconsin
    4/15/2008 7:50:07 AM
    Re: Should We Send Humans to Mars?
    i think we shouldnt maybe they find sweet things to bring back down. it be cool to find out some things that happen or whats up there!!!
    Student
    Student

    Oriole Beach
    Gulf Breeze, Florida
    4/30/2008 7:47:24 AM
    Re: Should We Send Humans to Mars?
    yes and plant lots of trees so there is oxgyen

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