While humans are unlikely to colonize Mars anytime soon and make houses on mars, it is critical for NASA to locate areas where future science teams can reside for lengthy periods of time, and researchers have just discovered several potential Martian houses for future travelers and possibly even settlers.
Aside from the obvious lack of a breathable atmosphere, life on Mars could be fraught with threats from above.
NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity has been an extraordinary workhorse, collecting important data about Mars year after year. The wealth of data Curiosity has provided as part of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, which launched near the end of 2011, allows Earth-bound scientists to study Mars in great detail, often discovering new ways to interpret and extract what is needed from past recordings rather than relying on a new mission to gather new insights.
There are a number of obstacles to overcome before people can spend any considerable amount of time on Mars, and one of the most pressing issues is radiation, which prompted this latest study published in Geophysical Research Letters. MSL Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) data were analyzed to look for places and features on Mars that could provide protection from hazardous cosmic radiation.
When Curiosity drove to Murray Buttes in Gale Crater, it discovered an area with lower radiation, which was down around 5%. When the researchers looked at the sky visibility map, they discovered that 19% of the sky was blocked near the butte, which gave them a decent idea of which areas would make the finest dwellings.
In tiny doses, space radiation is largely innocuous to humans, but Mars poses a difficulty. Due to the Earth’s magnetic field, these levels are substantially higher on Mars than they are on Earth. Although Mars has a magnetic field, it is unstructured and offers little protection from solar and cosmic radiation.
It is generally simple to shield the parts of a machine that may be damaged by radiation, and many components are completely unaffected. Humans, on the other hand, readily absorb this energy, causing harm to numerous portions of our bodies, including our DNA.
In fact, astronauts who travel beyond Low Earth Orbit are at a higher risk of getting radiation illness, cancer, and degenerative disorders. The fact that Mars suffers more asteroid strikes than Earth is obvious, but the continual radiation bombardment is not.
Shielding behind rock walls is a viable option, however, albedo radiation affected some of the same locations that were spared from space radiation. Because albedo radiation is reflected off of a surface but can be just as hazardous, choosing a viable location may not be intuitive and will almost certainly require thorough research and planning.
A similar notion that has been proposed previously is to take shelter in extinct lava tubes. Shelters constructed within these high-walled natural structures could shield inhabitants from the bulk of space radiation while also reducing albedo radiation.
Future travellers stopping on Mars may find themselves cuddling up against rock walls or nestled deep beneath lava tubes to avoid dangerous radiation.
On a happier note- The Mars Helicopter from NASA has been given a new lease on life.
The mission of NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter on Mars has been extended indefinitely. The Ingenuity helicopter, a regular travel companion of the Perseverance rover, has already performed 12 successful flights as part of the expedition’s core aim to search for clues of ancient life on Mars. The Perseverance rover carried the helicopter to Mars, where it landed on February 18th before being deployed to the Martian surface on April 3rd.
The Ingenuity took to the air for the first time on April 19th, flying for 39.1 seconds and rising to a height of slightly over 10 feet. Ingenuity rose to a height of 16 feet and landed after 51.9 seconds on its second trip a few days later.
Since then, the chopper has flown ten more times, sending data 173 million miles back to Earth, where it was received by NASA’s array of ground antennae. Ingenuity has flown more than a mile in the Martian atmosphere, which is a significant accomplishment for such a little vehicle.
The Ingenuity chopper has been given a new lease on life after completing 12 successful flights, with NASA extending its mission on Mars for the foreseeable future. It was supposed to be retired by now, but NASA thinks it should stay in service because of its tremendous performance in its first dozen flights.
Josh Ravich, leader of Ingenuity’s mechanical engineering team, told AFP that the rotorcraft is performing better than predicted, which is why its mission has been extended.
The lifetime of Ingenuity, according to Ravich, can be due in part to the Martian weather, which has been pleasant during its initial months on the planet. “So far, the climate has been quite accommodating: temperatures, wind, sun, dust in the air… It’s still bitterly cold outside, but things could have been far worse “, he explained.
It Wasn’t Easy for Ingenuity to Succeed
Ingenuity’s success hasn’t always been easy. To make the Ingenuity test mission practicable, NASA scientists had to account for a number of unknowns. The rarefied atmosphere on Mars, which is reported to be only 1% as dense as Earth’s air, was one of the most difficult challenges the scientists faced.
While low atmospheric density is difficult for all types of aircraft, it is especially difficult for rotorcraft like Ingenuity. The Ingenuity’s rotors must spin at 2,400 RPM to achieve lift due to the ultra-thin atmosphere, which is nearly five times faster than a helicopter on Earth.
Among Ingenuity’s many triumphs over the last six months, there have also been several scares and close calls that could have ended the tiny helicopter’s Mars journey prematurely. A catastrophic in-flight malfunction once threw it dangerously off-balance, but it was able to recover and land safely.
The issue has since been resolved, and the chopper is back to its original mission of scanning for Perseverance with its high-resolution camera. It has already returned a slew of critical photographs, the most recent of which revealed that a region known as South Seetha isn’t as interesting as scientists had thought.