In September 2017, SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk revealed his latest aspirations for colonizing Mars. His plan is to send the first humans to Mars in 2024 to build the foundations for the first Martian city. But is Mars really the best place for humans to settle?
Some scientists, like Amanda Hendrix believes we should be looking somewhere else like Titan, a moon slightly bigger than our own that orbits Saturn. Following is a transcript of the video.
Amanda Hendrix: First of all, I don’t want to be negative about Mars. I like Mars, I do think we should go there. Humans should go there to visit and check it out and do science. I just don’t think it’s a good place for living for long-term. And the main reason is because of the radiation problem and Mars offers no natural protection against galactic cosmic rays. It has a thin atmosphere and no magnetosphere so humans who intend to spend any long period in Mars are probably going to have to live underground or in some sort of devices that can shield them from the galactic cosmic rays.
Titan, on the other hand, has got this natural shielding device, which is its nice thick atmosphere.Titan is really unique because it’s a moon and it has a solid surface, it’s mostly an icy moon but it has this thick atmosphere and it’s unique because there’s no other moon in the solar system that has such an atmosphere. The atmosphere is mostly nitrogen. It’s about 1 to 2% methane. So, one thing to point out is there’s no oxygen in the atmosphere like we have on Earth. And so, humans living in Titan making oxygen to breathe shouldn’t be a problem because there’s plenty of H²O frozen in the surface and in the sub-surface. So humans could derive oxygen to breathe without a big problem.
Perhaps a good option might be to try out a temporary, short-term colony of humans on Mars and use that as a stepping stone to Titan, use it as kind of a practice run. I think that will be a great idea. But somebody like Elon Musk who has the smarts to be able to work on Titan and make a colony there happen, and make the propulsion system happen, I think that he should be thinking about Titan more than Mars.
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