ON TO MARS…OR BUST
(…is just due perhaps because…it’s there!)

There are now reports that some folks, such as Mr. Elon Musk, are seriously setting their sights on our red planet neighbor…Mars…and aiming to colonize it by planting some million humans on it within the next five to ten years.

It is an intriguing idea, of course, but despite all the recent advances in our space technologies, and the rapid pace of their further developments, we do think it’s a trifle premature. Nevertheless, it does represent the same kind of vision which has always apparently driven we humans to expand our horizons beyond wherever we might be at a given moment. So the reason now for this urge of…on to Mars…or bust… is just due perhaps because…it’s there (even though, as we understand it, it could take some three years space travel to get to it).

Such time-distance factors however have never been a deterrent against our exploratory instincts. Venturing out into the wilderness of Space is just a different kind of wilderness than the kinds we once roamed into from our earliest days as upright bi-pedal human beings.

It seems therefor that we’re at the same kind of threshold as that of some of our own ancestors were barely more than two hundred years ago, when one of them, leading a small party of youthful peers, ventured off across the Appalachian barrier to explore the potentials of what was then the great wilderness of “Kaintuckee”, and despite whatever difficulties or dangers encountered, managed to return home with all of them after almost a year’s absence.  Barely another hundred years on from that time…and we had overrun the rest of this continent from sea to shining sea…so to speak. Granted, the “wilderness” of Space presents much more formidable challenges, yet, in terms of technological capacity and support, we are at about that same comparable level as our distant ancestor was…back then.

Well, while Mars seems to offer interesting potentials as another place for we humans to go to and occupy, we question the idea of transporting some one million of us there to do so. Aside from all the technical issues involved with providing the life-support systems needed to sustain so many humans, our proclivity for being “fruitful” and multiplying more rapidly than rabbits or lemmings, could present an almost insoluble problem. We need only to look at what has happened here on Earth in just those same two hundred years to realize that, from a perspective of sustainability, such a colonizing effort on Mars might do better by perhaps only starting with 50,000 humans instead. A greater question that we should be asking ourselves about such a project however is this: In what way could we create an atmosphere on Mars which would allow air-breathing, oxygen-dependent humans like us to roam freely about it…without the need of either “space suits”…or forced to live in collectives contained within an array of  “superdome” structures spread out across the Martian landscape?

An even more intriguing bit of speculation about such a colonizing effort is how would that kind of environment affect our ongoing evolution as a human species? How would the DNA of descendants of those first colonizers on Mars physiologically change our present human form to adapt to an environment having less gravity, a different atmospheric composition, greater or lesser exposure to solar radiation, etc.?

Who knows…but the eventuality that such future distant Martian cousins of ours would have literally evolved into…little green folks from that red planet…could become a reality.

CENTURION

 

…HEADING OFF INTO THE GREAT BEYOND