An asteroid impact 66 million years ago wiped out two-thirds of life on Earth and triggered a chain of events that ended the reign of the dinosaurs. Other cosmic dangers such as solar storms and rogue gamma rays can be equally devastating for the planet. Because of these threats, Dr Weronika Śliwa of the Copernicus Science Centre Planetarium in Warsaw, Poland, fears it is unwise for Earth to keep all of its eggs in one basket. One solution, the scientist argued, is to “diversify the risk” by moving to the Red Planet Mars.
The scientist told the Polish Press Agency (PAP): “It’s not good that humans only live on one planet.
“There’s a saying that you don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
“Our planet is in danger from various cosmic catastrophes and phenomena that could unexpectedly appear on its surface.
“It would be better if humanity slowly starts to think about settling other bodies in the solar system and perhaps later – farther.”
The two most likely candidates for colonisation are the Moon and the planet Mars.
US space agency NASA proved in 1969 humans can reach the lunar orb and the space agency’s upcoming Artemis programme will set the stage for a permanent human presence on the Moon.
The goal of NASA’s Artemis is to use the Moon as a stepping stone to Mars – a planet human explorers could visit as early as the 2030s.
But NASA is not the only space agency with its eyes set firmly on Mars.
However, the astronomer noted there is an inherent risk of failure associated with sending human crews on journeys to other planets.
Dr Śliwa said each mission risks injury or death to its crews and would carry an incredible cost.
She said: “It will simply cost more than any government right now would be willing to spend.”
Another obstacle that stands in the way is the political will need to make these dreams a reality.
The astronomer said: “As far as the commercial point of view, for now, we do not see any profitability in this type of mission, but in principle, any exploratory mission that does something for the very first time is always unprofitable.”
Ultimately, the astronomer said the first steps need to be taken before going to Mars becomes a worthy investment.