Mars mission off? Expert warns experts to fix Earth before leaving

Billionaire Elon Musk and his SpaceX company along with a host of space agencies such as NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and China have dreams of colonising other planets. Mars looks like humanity’s next stop, but one expert has said that we should focus on saving Earth, rather than dreaming of moving across the cosmos. Swiss astronomer Didier Queloz, who is one of three scientists to be awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics, said not only is the prospect of moving to another planet improbable for logistic reasons, but that life has undergone hundreds of millions of years of evolution on this planet and it is not suited to elsewhere.

Mr Queloz said: “I think this is just irresponsible because the stars are so far away I think we should not have any serious hope to escape the Earth.

“Also keep in mind that we are a species that has evolved and developed for this planet. We’re not built to survive on any other planet than this one.

“We’d better spend our time and energy trying to fix it.”

Not only does living on a planet like Mars present glaring issues – mainly the lack of oxygen – getting there would have major psychological and physiological problems.

This includes the prospect of crews not getting along, interplanetary “jetlag” and the idea of being crowded into a spaceship for six months on the journey to Mars and then living in a small dome once on the Red Planet.

Dr Federico Caprotti of the University of Exeter said: “The biggest hurdles to Mars settlement are not technical but psychological.

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“Long-range missions raise psychological questions that current knowledge in space science cannot answer.

“For example, the International Space Station enables a quick return and therefore a sense of psychological closeness to the Earth.

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NASA has decided it has unfinished business on our lunar satellite and wants to set up a permanent base on the Moon, with the missions hopefully taking place in 2024.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine made the announcement that he wants to set up a lunar colony and called on “the best and brightest of American industry to help design and develop “human lunar landers”.

The base would be used as a checkpoint between Earth and Mars while also allowing astronauts to study the Moon in close detail.


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