A manned mission to Mars could happen sometime in the coming decades, possibly by 2030. One of the safety issues, which was discussed by researchers and public health experts at the Humans 2 Mars Summit, is how to deal with dust on the Red Planet.
According to some of them, the martian dust’s high silicate mineral content could produce bad chemical effects by interacting with water in human lung tissue. While Richard Williams, NASA’s chief health and medical officer, was more concerned about perchlorates in the dust which can cause damage to the thyroid gland.
But of course human visitors would be wearing spacesuits on Mars as the planet’s oxygen content is insufficient and there are radiation issues as well. But the dust can stick to the suits and reach living spaces to result in health problems, damage to critical instruments and more troubles. Maybe they will find some way to clean their spacesuits perfectly before entering their accommodation.
The good news is that we can collect a lot of data from the robotic missions, and then gain as much necessary info as possible to ensure full safety for us to land and live on Mars. According to Grant Anderson, co-founder of Paragon Space Development, “The Apollo programme spent $17 million trying to solve their lunar dust problems, and I’m not sure they made much progress, because they had to do the tests on Earth. For Mars, the precursor robotic missions should all have some way to test how dust is going to kill you“.
All this is very exciting, right? But when are these guys going to plan a trip to the new Earth? Maybe it will happen after a few centuries?