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Water found on Mars, so when do we move?

 article about moving to mars

Mars is an exciting place. It is very similar to the Earth, minus a few problems like having no atmosphere. Recent discoveries made by NASA's robotic explorers have shown that there is even water on the planet that melts and travels across the dusty, rusty plains of Mars. With all the possibilities, why aren't we talking about moving there already? Well, scientists are talking about it, but there are a lot of technical reasons and limitations that will have to be overcome first.

First and foremost, in order to move to Mars, humans will have to travel there. While humans have been traveling through space for a number of years, these trips have been short. A visit to the moon takes approximately three to five days each way. This is difficult enough, as anyone who has been on a short road trip with few breaks can probably happen. A trip to Mars will take approximately seven months. Imagine spending seven months in a confined space with the same few people and no variation in routine. While the astronauts of such a mission would be able to contact the folks back home, that service would likely be much slower than on trips to the moon, and of course none of the communication would be private. Russians are currently testing people to see who can stand such isolation by locking them in a confined room for several months. This is an excellent idea, except of course that the people inside know they can technically leave at any time. The true isolation is probably not something anyone can prepare for in advance.

Another problem has to do with food storage. Humans have advanced quite a lot in their ability to store food for long periods of time without it spoiling. There is only so much that can be done, however, to keep that food appealing. Because there are very few things to keep the spirits of space travelers up, appealing food is very important to anyone who will take long, isolated journeys. It may be possible to terraform a tiny part of Mars to grow food for astronauts who travel there, but that would take a while at least and might fail. So there would have to be a lot of food provided while the astronauts establish themselves. 

Disease is also a factor. Even astronauts that travel short distances can develop complications from being exposed to the elements of space. Radiation is no good for anyone, and those bathing in it in space are at a greater risk for Alzheimer's and cancer. And since there is lots of radiation in space without an atmosphere to protect them from it, it should come as no surprise that astronauts are in danger of developing a host of health problems. Highly charged iron particles, a common thing found in space, are so small they can travel through even a well-sealed spaceship. The only way currently known to prevent these particles from traveling into spaceships would be to pack the ships in six feet of lead - which could conceivably be done, but which would add considerably to the amount of fuel needed to launch the vehicles in space. In addition to the possibility astronauts may develop life and brain threatening diseases, the sad fact is that any early traveler to Mars will likely never be able to return home. Therefore, anyone who develops Alzheimer's on their way to Mars would find it difficult or impossible to carry out their duties, and unfortunately all the remaining earthlings would have to watch helplessly while that intrepid explorer deteriorated.

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