Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell

Sources – Mars

– Mars seems familiar: polar ice caps, large valleys, liquid water under its surface and a day barely longer than Earth's.


#NASA–Fact–Sheet on Mars, 2018

https://mars.nasa.gov/allaboutmars/facts/#?c=inspace&s=distance


#Liquid water spied deep below polar ice cap on Mars, 2018

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/07/liquid-water-spied-deep-below-polar-ice-cap-mars



– Unfortunately Mars is actually a cold, radioactive desert where the ground is poison and breathing is impossible.


#5. Toxic Effects of Martian Dust on Humans, NASA, 2005

https://mepag.jpl.nasa.gov/goal.cfm?goal=5


#Toxic Mars: Astronauts Must Deal with Perchlorate on the Red Planet, 2013

https://www.space.com/21554-mars-toxic-perchlorate-chemicals.html



– Mars is very energy poor. Because of its distance from the sun, solar power is only 40% as effective as on earth.


#Mars Solar Power, NASA, 2014

https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20040191326.pdf


#NASA–Fact–Sheet on Mars, 2018

https://mars.nasa.gov/allaboutmars/facts/#?c=inspace&s=distance



– But even this weakened sunlight is often obscured for days by enormous dust storms.


#The Massive Mars Dust Storm Is Starting to Die Down, 2018

https://www.space.com/41302-mars-dust-storm-dying-down.html



– Since Mars doesn’t have easily accessible Uranium


#Analysis of Uranium and Thorium lines in Mars odyssey gamma spectra and refined mapping of atmospheric radon, 2012

https://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2012/pdf/2852.pdf



– Mars’ atmosphere is only 1% as dense as Earth’s and mostly made up of CO2.


#Martian Atmosphere, Center for planetary science, 2017

http://planetary-science.org/mars-research/martian-atmosphere/


#Mars' Atmosphere: Composition, Climate & Weather, Space.com, 2017

https://www.space.com/16903-mars-atmosphere-climate-weather.html



– Without an extensive magnetosphere and a dense atmosphere, half of all radiation coming from space reaches the ground.


#The Structure of Martian Magnetosphere at the Dayside Terminator Region

as Observed on MAVEN Spacecraft

https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1801/1801.08878.pdf



– A person on the surface would be subjected to 50 times the radiation that they would be on Earth.


#Mars: First Radiation Measurements from Planet’s Surface, 2013

http://www.sci-news.com/space/science-mars-radiation-measurements-surface-01629.html


#Radiation Measurement on Mars, 2013

https://www.nasa.gov/jpl/msl/mars-rover-curiosity-pia17600.html#.XDdpU_wxl0h

(on average 220 - 240 μR/h)


Average background radiation on Earth:


#Wikipedia-Article “Background radiation"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_radiation#Natural_background_radiation



– To protect against that, we could shield our habitats with a thick layer of frozen CO2, that can be harvested directly from the atmosphere. Covering the dry ice with a meter of dirt would further increase the level of protection


#Radiation Protection for Human Missions to the Moon and Mars, 1991

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~sshepherd/research/Shielding/docs/Simonsen_91.pdf


#Mars surface shielding from radiation, 2015

https://selenianboondocks.com/2015/09/mars-surface-shielding-from-radiation/


#Radiation Protection for Human Missions to the Moon and Mars, NASA, 1991

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~sshepherd/research/Shielding/docs/Simonsen_91.pdf



– It is much smaller than dust on Earth, so it could find its way into the gears or electronics of our machines.


#The Fact and Fiction of Martian Dust Storms, 2015

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/the-fact-and-fiction-of-martian-dust-storms



– Mars’ soil is filled with very toxic perchlorate salts.


#Toxic Mars: Astronauts Must Deal with Perchlorate on the Red Planet, 2013

https://www.space.com/21554-mars-toxic-perchlorate-chemicals.html



–Mars’s soils are alkaline and lack the vital nitrogen compounds, plants need to grow.


(While nitrogen oxides have been released from Martian soil in testing, we haven’t directly sampled nitrates and ammonium that plants can use and there are no nitrogen-processing bacteria to recycle or make those compounds useful to plants.)


Study claiming “it could be possible to grow plants”

#Martian soil 'could support life', 2008

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7477310.stm


#Martian soil appears able to support life, 2008

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-mars/martian-soil-appears-able-to-support-life-idUSN2634952620080627


Nitrogen found on Mars

#NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Biologically Useful Nitrogen on Mars, 2015

https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/mars-nitrogen



–Mars has only 37% of Earth’s surface gravity which could cause muscle wasting, bone loss and cardiovascular problems


#NASA–Fact–Sheet on Mars, 2018

https://mars.nasa.gov/allaboutmars/facts/#?c=inspace&s=distance



– That leave only a narrow travel window, every two years.


#Mars transfer window frequency, 2018

https://space.stackexchange.com/questions/26870/mars-transfer-window-frequency


#Wikipedia-Article Launch-Window

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Launch_window