A new book ships tomorrow...and it carries a hefty price tag with it. I think I saw it listed on Amazon at about $100 (not sure about the e-version), steep for most anybody in this economy. So why am I talking about it?
Because it is called The Human Mission to Mars. It weighs in at 500 pages, a veritable tome by today's standards. The various chapters within the book were written by numerous authorities in the field of cosmology, among them being exobiology expert, Dr. Paul Davies, and former NASA astronaut, Edgar Mitchell. Here is a polite smattering of the subjects covered within the book:
-To Boldly Go: Getting to Mars and Design Reference Architecture
-The Scientific Investigation of Mars: Humans, Geology, Geophysics, Atmosphere, Climate, Biology
-Mars Base and Colonization of the Red Planet
-Sex on Mars. Radiation, Brain, Heart, Sexuality, Fertility, Pregnancy, Fetal Development
-Robots on Mars
"The reactor makes air but the bastard won't turn it on!"
Sorry. That last chapter title brought it out in me.
A lot of people, myself included, talk quite a bit about colonizing Mars and other planets as a means of preserving the human species. But very few offer up any kind of plan as to how do so or how to circumvent the myriad problems such an undertaking is bound to encounter. That's where this book differs, at least on the surface. It puts forth a step-by-step plan for the colonization of Mars. At the same time, it speculates on the physical and psychological rigors that colonists would face on the Martian surface. It even has a chapter devoted to the chance of finding microbial life there.
I have yet to read the book so I cannot offer commentary on its quality. I do, however, like the pedigree of the authors and I am quite encouraged that the subject is being seriously considered in at least a few circles. Earlier in the year, Mary Roach wrote and published Packing for Mars, a book that examines, in a humorous manner it is said, the more commonplace aspects of space travel. Meaning, how is food prepared on said voyages, what does a spacecraft smell like after a two-week mission, and just what is etiquette for talking to someone while in zero g? May sound trivial, but I believe that it is these sorts of things that are going to make space travel seem more accessible to people and less like something left only to obsessed science fiction nerds...like me.
If we are to survive, we (or at least a few of us) must pull up stakes and move. It will not only preserve humankind, but it might just alleviate many of our problems down here, issues such as global poverty and dwindling resources.
Obviously we're a long way from making that into a reality. In the meantime, I'll just be glad someone is considering it, rather than devoting their time to reality TV.
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