Is It Scientifically Possible to Live On Mars For More Than A Year?In this extended written report, I shall be looking into the question ‘Is it scientifically possible to live on Mars for more than a year’. I am doing this as I am highly interested in this topic, as a child I used to dream about being able to go and live on Mars in the future and felt like this was a good opportunity to research and get scientifically backed answers and information about this for myself and whoever would like to find out. Since there hasn’t been any manned missions to Mars before and probably not for a long time in the not too distant future, I will be looking at concepts such as Maslow’s hierarchy of basic needs and others to really make sure that in the end, my conclusion is as correct and accurate as possible.
There are many reasons why Mars would be a difficult and maybe even impossible place to live; due to factors such as its massively fluctuating temperature which can range from 20?c during the day around the equator area to -80?c at night (NASA, 2018). The lack of water and an atmosphere makes it impossible to live on the surface of Mars without support, there is no water to drink and you it is not possible to grow crops out in the open as the temperature is so cold and nothing substantial in the ground in order for the plants to grow. So, due to factors like this making the task of living on Mars for a extended period of time quite a low possibility to practically it being impossible but thanks to some advancements in technology and science, there is a slightly improved chance of this mission working out in the end; I will be looking into these different things and will make a final verdict on the basis of what I have researched to truly gauge whether this is possible and maybe even eventual colonization on Mars can happen. What is Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Basic Needs?In order to make sure that I cover everything needed to make sure that I have as accurate of a conclusion as possible I will make use of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and basic needs as a joint concept. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a description of the needs that motivate human behavior. In 1943, Abraham Maslow proposed five different kinds of human needs, beginning with the most basic need of all; Survival.
Physiological needs are things such as food, water, breathing and homeostasis, which are then followed by needs related to safety like financial security, health and wellness and safety against injury. Next, there are needs of love and belonging, for example, friendship, romantic attachments and family. Fourth, humans have needs of esteem, such as respect, confidence and achievement. The final need in the hierarchy is the need for self-actualization, which is seen as fulfilling one’s potential (-). As there is no life, as we know at the moment, on Mars and according to these needs you would have to make sure that the basics are in place before you can move to ‘the next level’. In this case you would have to make sure that the vitals are in place such as breathable air, food and water so I shall base my main focus of this question on some of these key aspects.
Mars:Mars (a.k.a The Red Planet) is seen as the planet that is the most similar to Earth in our solar system which can give it more significant attention than the other 6 ones. Although due to the fact that there is no life, as we know at the moment, and a lack of an atmosphere on Mars, compared to Earth which is bustling with it if you compare it with the other planets you will start to see some small similarities. For example the many geographical structures that are on Mars’ surface like canyon and volcanoes can draw an easy comparison with that of Earth as well as some of the weather types such as clear seasons are closely related and tectonic plates also go throughout the planet like Earth. Scientists have questioned the possibility of life on Mars for a long time and due to intensive, deep research they have suggested and theorised that up to 3.5 billion years ago the planet had a working, oxygen rich atmosphere and had water deposits around the planet, which can easily suggest that life would have/could have been present at that time but due to things like solar winds and storms the atmosphere was gradually eroded and basically lost (Nat Geo,-). Due to it being so long ago that this started to occur and it becoming uninhabitable, the chances of life being present on Mars is very low which can be a little disappointing.
However this can be changed; thanks to big leaps in technological advancements, it is becoming more and more possible of humans maybe one day living on Mars. Oxygen And Water:One of the most, if not the most vital elements in terms of supporting and giving life is oxygen and water, to put it in to the most simple terms possible; you definitely cannot live without it and if there is no oxygen or water present you will die. So it is fair to say that you will need these two things whilst you are are in space and on practically every planet in the solar system and way further beyond it as space is a vacuum and does not have any breathable air at all present. Mars’ atmosphere unfortunately only contains a very small amount of oxygen as it has a 96 percentage of Carbon Dioxide present (which can end up being lethal in high concentrations) therefore leaving only space for 4 percent of any other gases (-), which means that without support you cannot function and breathe.
The same is for water on Mars as there is no present liquid water anywhere on its surface, water is only slightly underneath oxygen in terms of importance for human life as it is used for regulation of temperature and many other bodily functions(-); you cannot live without it either. As it is so important in order for you to survive and due to there being none of these things on Mars, how are you supposed to live? Production of Oxygen and Water in Space:Due to there being none of these on Mars which therefore makes supply quite limited, you would have to have a recycling system in place to make sure that everything given out by an astronaut or machine can be used again in some way possible. This is exactly what happens aboard the International Space Station (ISS), it would be definitely the best option to work with if you are on Mars as it is proven effective and can be seen as basically the only option available. The oxygen/carbon dioxide cycle in space starts off with alkaline fuel cells. These will recombine the hydrogen and oxygen gases present which in turn it will produce electrical energy that can be saved in batteries and saved for later occasions if the solar panels are compromised or for electrical needs pre-launch and post-landing if needed (Handbook of Fuel Cells, 2010) . But most importantly this will create water as well, this will be used as drinking water for the astronauts onboard and an oxygen generator system which is the next step of this cycle.
In the oxygen generator system the process of electrolysis is used with the water in order to create hydrogen and oxygen gas, the oxygen will be sent back into circulation of the cabin as breathable air. During the next step human respiration plays a part, as when you breathe you will excrete waste products such as water vapours and carbon dioxide with a little bit of oxygen as well. Both the carbon dioxide and water vapours are collected in a ‘pressure swing bed’, in this both of these gases will be blown through and absorbed into bits of a synthetic rock called Zeolite while all other gases pass by.
This zeolite can be regenerated and cleaned of the excess molecules when it is heated and exposed to the vacuum outside, due to the heating of the Zeolite the water will turn into a gas and the carbon dioxide will be released. The water can then be condensed back into liquid form and sent to the water recovery system (I shall talk more in depth about this soon) meanwhile the carbon dioxide stays in gaseous state. Now the hydrogen made from the electrolysis previously will come into play with the addition of the carbon dioxide in the Sabatier reaction. In this reaction, both the substances mentioned above will be reacted together and will form water and methane gas, the methane is practically useless as it is a big safety hazard to burn it in space and is vented out of the vehicle/habitat but the water will be also sent off to the water recovery system (NASA, 2000). In this water recovery system (WRS), all of the possibly contaminated and undrinkable water are sent to be treated, this also does include the urine of the astronauts as you cannot risk wasting an possible drinking water. This WRS work in a three part system to fully purify and clean the water. The first step is a filter that removes particles and debris. Then the water passes through the “multi-filtration beds,” which contain substances that remove organic and inorganic impurities.
And finally, the “catalytic oxidation reactor” removes volatile organic compounds and kills bacteria and viruses (NASA, 2000). Even though you are drinking the remnants of your own breath and urine, due to the treatment style, all of the water that is made will be ultra-pure and is much cleaner than most tap water that you can get on Earth. After this the cycle is repeated and repeated meaning that there is basically an unlimited supply of oxygen for you to breathe and water to drink, which is very reassuring if you are living on Mars for an extended period of time, deeming that this could make the question ‘Is it Scientifically Possible to live on Mars for More than A Year?’ a whole lot more likely to turn out to be a yes as you can perform regular bodily functions in order to live let alone survive. But as we have not looked into the other key factors yet, we cannot be too sure on the end outcome as yet.