I remember a few years ago, going to Mars was the in thing to make a movie about, although no one did it right (although Melissa would argue that Red Planet was a great movie…). It seems like the angry red god of war is swinging back into headlines with this next bit of information. In an attempt to make humans a multi-planet species, NASA and other scientist are trying to devise a way to send some people there to colonize the planet for future generation. Trick is, they would never come back. Sounds like Total Recall meets Lost…ohh! I am totally calling that one. If anyone steals it, I will beat you!
The Hundred Year Starship: The Nasa mission that will take astronauts to Mars and leave them there forever
By Niall Firth
Last updated at 1:48 PM on 29th October 2010
The mission is to boldly go where no man has gone before â€“ on a flight to Mars.
The snag is that youâ€™d never come back.
The U.S. space agency Nasa is actively investigating the possibility of humans colonising other worlds such as the Red Planet in an ambitious project named the Hundred Years Starship.
The settlers would be sent supplies from Earth, but would go on the understanding that it would be too costly to make the return trip.
NASA Ames Director Pete Worden revealed that one of NASAâ€™s main research centres, Ames Research Centre, has received Â£1million funding to start work on the project.
The research team has also received an additional $100,000 from Nasa.
â€˜You heard it here,â€ Worden said at â€˜Long Conversation,â€™ an event in San Francisco. â€˜We also hope to inveigle some billionaires to form a Hundred Year Starship fund.â€™
He added: â€˜The human space program is now really aimed at settling other worlds. Twenty years ago you had to whisper that in dark bars and get fired.â€™
Worden said he has discussed the potential price tag for one-way trips to Mars with Google co-founder Larry Page, telling him such a mission could be done for $10 billion.
He said said: â€˜His response was, â€œCan you get it down to $1 [billion] or $2billion?â€ So now we’re starting to get a little argument over the price.â€™
Depending on the position of Mars in its orbit around the sun, its distance from Earth varies between 34million and 250million miles.
The most recent unmanned mission there was Nasaâ€™s Phoenix lander, which launched in August 2007 and landed on the planetâ€™s north polar cap in May the following year.
Experts say a nuclear-fuelled rocket could shorten the journey to about four months.
Of all the planets in the solar system, Mars is the most likely to have substantial quantities of water, making it the best bet for sustaining life. But it is a forbidding place to set up home.
Temperatures plummet way below freezing in some parts. The thin atmosphere would be a problem as it is mostly carbon dioxide, so oxygen supplies are a must.
Worden also suggested that new technologies such as synthetic biology and alterations to the human genome could also be explored ahead of the mission.
And he said that he believed the mission should visit Marsâ€™ moons first, where scientists can do extensive telerobotics exploration of the planet. He claims that humans could be on Mars’ moons by 2030.
24 HOURS AND 41 MINUTES IN A DAY
- Despite being known as the Red Planet, the colour of Mars is closer to butterscotch.
- Mars has the highest known mountain in the Solar System â€“ the 17-mile-high Olympus Mons â€“ which is three times the size of Everest.
- It is half the size of Earth, has two polar ice caps and has similar seasons to our planet. The Martian day is only 41 minutes longer than the day on Earth.
- The song Life on Mars? was written by David Bowie as a parody of My Way by Frank Sinatra. Bowie wrote it after shopping for shoes in Beckenham High Street. It went to number three in the charts in 1973.
- Nasa claims that definitive proof of life on Mars will be announced this year from analysis of chunks of the planet brought back to Earth.
- In HG Wellsâ€™s The War of the Worlds, Martians landed in Woking, Surrey.
News of the Hundred Years Starship comes as new research found that a one-way human mission to Mars is technologically feasible and would be a cheaper option than bringing astronauts back.
Writing in the Journal of Cosmology, scientists Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Paul Davies, say that the envision sending four volunteer astronauts on the first mission to permanently colonise Mars.
They write: â€˜A one-way human mission to Mars would not be a fixed duration project as in the Apollo program, but the first step in establishing a permanent human presence on the planet.â€™
The astronauts would be sent supplies from Earth on a regular basis but they would be expected to become self-sufficient on the red planetâ€™s surface as soon as possible.
They say: There are many reasons why a human colony on Mars is a desirable goal, scientifically and politically. The strategy of one-way missions brings this goal within technological and financial feasibility.
â€˜Nevertheless, to attain it would require not only major international cooperation, but a return to the exploration spirit and risk-taking ethos of the great period of Earth exploration, from Columbus to Amundsen, but which has nowadays being replaced with a culture of safety and political correctness.â€™
They admit that the mission would come with â€˜ethical considerationsâ€™ with the general public feeling that the Martian pioneers had been abandoned to their fate or sacrificed.
But they argue that these first inhabitants of Mars would be going in much the same spirit as the first white settlers of North America â€“ travelling to a distant land, knowing that they will never return home.
They say: â€˜Explorers such as Columbus, Frobisher, Scott and Amundsen, while not embarking on their voyages with the intention of staying at their destination, nevertheless took huge personal risks to explore new lands, in the knowledge that there was a significant likelihood that they would perish in the attempt.â€™
‘100-Year Starship’ on the Drawing Boards at NASA
“We just started a project with [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency],” Simon “Pete” Worden, the head of the NASA Ames Research Center, said last month at an event sponsored by the Long Now Foundation in San Francisco. “It’s called the 100-year starship.”
This is no round-trip flight to the moon, or even Mars. The astronauts wouldn’t come back. The goal of this starship would be a one-way flight for humans to colonize other planets.
“The human space program is now really aimed at settling other worlds,” Worden said.
The project is getting about $1 million in seed funding from DARPA, the far-out research and development arm of the Pentagon. That’s not a lot of money by Pentagon standards, but DARPA’s support has sparked even more interest in the mysterious project.
Worden said he’s also interested in getting the private sector, such as Google, involved to help support the project.
But what exactly the project entails, or what role the private sector may have, is unclear, even for those experts who have long worked in and around NASA. “When I worked for NASA, I was not allowed to suggest that the public, in any way, support or provide money for a particular thing,” Marc Millis, former head of NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project, told AOL News.
Millis now works for the Tau Zero Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to interstellar space travel.
Since Worden’s initial comments, DARPA has not supplied any further details on the project. A call by AOL News to NASA Ames public affairs office was not returned.
But today, DARPA issued a statement confirming its involvement in the project.
“The 100-Year Starship study is about more than building a spacecraft or any one specific technology,” Paul Eremenko, a DARPA official coordinating the study, said in a statement released by the agency “We endeavor to excite several generations to commit to the research and development of breakthrough technologies and cross-cutting innovations … to advance the goal of long-distance space travel, but also to benefit mankind.”
A DARPA spokesperson told AOL News that no further information is being released at this time about the study.
Journeying to Mars — on a One-Way Ticket
Sending astronauts to Mars or other destinations without a ride home could cut the cost of space missions.
- A one-way journey to Mars would significantly cut the cost of human space missions.
- The concept could also give humanity a shot at becoming a multi-planet species.
- The first pioneers would be people past reproductive age, who are better suited to handle the harsh radioactive environment.
Finished having kids? Perhaps it’s time to think about moving to Mars.
Scientists Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Paul Davies figure that sending astronautsÂ — particularly ones past their reproductive years — on one-way journeys to Mars is the most economical way to pioneer the space frontier and establish humans as a multi-planet species.
“This is not a suicide mission. The astronauts would go to Mars with the intention of staying for the rest of their lives, as trailblazers of a permanent human Mars colony,” Schultz-Makuch, with Washington State University, and Davies, at Arizona State, write in this month’s Journal of Cosmology.
“Their role would be to establish a base camp to which more colonists would eventually be sent, and to carry out important scientific and technological projects,” the scientists wrote.
Because of the harsh radioactive environment in space, the authors propose people in in their mid-50s or 60s would be the right age to go, Schultz-Makuch told Discovery News. The lifestyle would be tough, but the authors figure the space pioneers would have about a decade to work on a settlement.
The mission would begin with robotic ships, stocked with about two year’s worth of food, agricultural kits and tools.
The robots’ first job would be to get some power flowing, most likely a small nuclear reactor, supplemented with solar energy. A steady stream of freighters would keep the outpost resupplied until it was able to become self-sufficient, Schultz-Makuch added.
The scientists suggest an initial group of four people be sent to Mars, and had no recommendations about gender.Â “I suppose two men and two women would be good,” Schultz-Makuch said.
The plan would cut sharply cut the cost of a human mission to Mars — the authors estimate not needing fuel and supplies for a return trip to Earth could save about 80 percent — while paving the way for future colonization.
An outpost on Mars (eventually colonized by younger people) would also be a way to preserve the human species should an asteroid impact or some other disaster wipe out life on Earth, they point out.
“There are many reasons why a human colony on Mars is a desirable goal, scientifically and politically. The strategy of one-way missions brings this goal within technological and financial feasibility,” the scientists wrote.
The plan is likely to raise some ethical issues, but the scientists said sending people to live on Mars “would really be little different from the first white settlers of the North American continent, who left Europe with little expectation of return.”
The idea is getting some attention at NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, which is collaborating on a study called “The 100-Year Starship”Â intended to explore how to sustain human spaceflight a century from now.
The study, scheduled to last a year, anticipates a mix of private and government funds will be needed to “ensure continuity of the lengthy technological time horizon needed,” writes DARPA in a statement about the project.
Apparently, there are no shortage of volunteers. “I get emails all the time from people wanting to go,” Schultz-Makuch said.