Re: Questions about life on Mars (fwd)

Ernest Prabhakar (
Thu, 24 Jul 97 12:57:35 -0700

Ana Maria,

Rohit forwarded your message to some friends, and I figured I would try to
answer it for you. I would be interested in finding out why you decided
to ask Rohit your question (he is not an space enthusiast, though some
people have claimed he -is- from another planet).

There are a variety of proposals floating around that could lead a Mars
landing sometime in the first half of the 21st century. These are all
speculative and extremely expensive (tens of billions of dollars, if not
hundreds). However, it is plausible to assume that sometime during the
21st century we will visit Mars similar to the way we visited the moon in
the 70s.

As far as "ordinary persons" visiting Mars, that is unlikely to happen
until sometime in the 23rdd century. That would effectively require have
a fully staffed and functional Mars base, living in tunnels or some sort
of prefabricated domes. There are no realistic plans for such an
activity. There are some speculations of this sort of Moon bases, which
conceivably might be realized during the 21st century.

If a viable moon base were established during the 21st century, it is
possibly that "ordinary citizens" could travel to the moon during the
first half of the 22nd century. This would require significant advances
in new energy sources or propulsion systems, which are unlikely but not
impossible. If we had the capacity to travel to the moon as easily as we
can now fly around the world, it is reasonable to assume we could travel
Mars as easily as we now travel to space.

If that is the case, it may be possible to establish a "stable" Mars base
by the last half of the 22nd century. It would have to be largely
self-sustaining due to the immense distances involved, and is thus only
possible if the current series of explorers find singificant resources
that could be of use to settlers.

Going from a "Mir-like" Mars base to something "ordinary people" could
visit would most likely require another advance in propulsion technology,
greater than that to get from today to regular Moon travel. The trip
would always be extremely long (on the order of months), and thus more
like the Pilgrims traveling to America than a plane flight. However, a
suitably rich and motivated individual could quite possible be able to
visit Mars (and spend 1-2 years doing so) by the first half of the 23rd

Of course, this assumes reasonably consistent technological progress, plus
a stable political and economic world. It is possible technology would
advance much more rapidly, but even more likely that political and
economic conditions would deteriorate.

Hope this helps. I would encourage you to make use of Web search
enginers, or attempt to contact organizations which focus on such problems
(such as SEDS, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, or
the Space Society).

Best wishes,

-- Ernie Prabhakar

Begin forwarded message:

Message-Id: <<>

From: "Ana Maria Gonzalez Salguero" <<>

To: <<>

Subject: Questions about life on Mars

Date: Thu, 24 Jul 1997 10:26:06 -0000

What are the chances that ordinary people can go to visit Mars?

I heard that there are plans that for the next century maybe humans can get

to life in Mars, Is that true? And how would they live there?

I'm very curious about this topic and I'll appreciate a prompt answer

Thank you very much.