In my opinion, hopefully neither place because there is no valuable reason for humans other than our robots to establish a presence in either place. Robots are expendable and you don’t have to bring them back. They can transmit what they find. Both are dead planets. Both have no reason to settle there.
Okay. I admit it.
This is a weird blog. It’s my blog and I post whatever I want on it and I get, for some reason, a whole lot of traffic.
I post about weird stuff. Space. Occasionally politics. Life and death stuff. Philosophy. Linux. Weird stuff. At all times of the day.
Now I want to tell you about Cassini–Huygens. It’s an unmanned spacecraft sent to the planet Saturn. It is a Flagship-class NASA–ESA–ASI robotic spacecraft. Cassini is the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit, and its mission is ongoing as of April 2017.
That last paragraph was mostly plagiarized which I can do. Sue me.
Not very big! It would just have to be natural. Not made by man! And it wouldn’t have to be there for very long either. Just long enough for it to be in orbit.
The astronomical community doesn’t have a definition for moon other than it has to be a natural object. Thus captured asteroids can be moons. It’s even possible for a moon to have a moon!
Mars has two moons, neither of which are large enough to be round. Objects in space get round due to their own gravity. The first image above is Deimos and the second is Phobos, the Martian Moons. Deimos (top) is the smallest. It has a mean radius of 3.9 miles.
It is far easier to create a living quarter on the floor of the Pacific, maybe even in a deep trench, than to live on the surface of Mars.
by Richard Muller
Richard Muller is Prof. Physics UC Berkeley and author of “Physics for Future Presidents”
Most of the universe out there is pretty bleak. The planets and their moons look like exotic but very severe places to visit. They wouldn’t be much fun to explore, except remotely. Unlike the exploration of the New World in the 1500s and 1600s, will be completely dependent on the resources of a major country or company just to survive. It will be a totally artificial survival.
It is far easier to create a living quarter on the floor of the Pacific, maybe even in a deep trench, than to live on the surface of Mars. We are not running out of space on Earth. Even Antarctica is far more benign than any planetary surface other than that of the Earth.
I once invited Wally Shirra to speak at a meeting on the exploration of the planets. I had no idea what he was going to say, but as someone who had “been there” I knew it would be interesting. When he spoke, he said that he knew what it was like in space, and that it was awful. Yes, you get some nice views, but space is constantly trying to kill you. He said he had no interest in going back; been there, done that, and it was exciting but exceedingly difficult. He suggested that the best way to explore the universe was with robots, like Voyager, not with people.
I agree. We can do a much finer exploration of Mars and the other planets/moons if we spend the money on advanced robotics, and not on the unnecessary human.
Professor Muller, thank you for your refreshing take. I have a blog and express my opinions here on Quora reiterating your views of space and Mars. People call me crazy and send me hate mail. Truth hurts sometimes.
Mars is one of the most habitable planets in the solar system besides Earth. But don’t let that fool you — that says more about the rest of the planets in the solar system than it does about Mars.
By Matt Lever
“But… but Mars has CO2 in the atmosphere, soil, and sunlight!” I hear you reply.
Mars has an atmosphere, sure. But it’s atmosphere is so incredibly tenuous in comparison to Earth’s that it may as well not be there at all, at least so far as a respirating organism is concerned. Partially thanks to this, it is also perishingly cold, particularly at night. Siberia would seem like Tunisia in comparison.
And yes, Mars has soil. It’s dead soil, though. Not only is it not going to be nutritious to a burgeoning plant baby, but it would also be toxic. To say nothing of how frigid and dry it is.
And it may well receive sunlight, but only about half as much as we get on Earth. Contrariwise, Mars lacks an effective magnetosphere, so much more radiation gets down to the surface. So even if that first shoot somehow forced its way out of the toxic, perishingly cold, infertile soil, and somehow managed to suck out some CO2 from that tenuous, dry atmosphere, it would be starved of light and irradiated.
And then blown away by ferocious winds and torn apart by sandstorms.
Mars is one of the most habitable planets in the solar system besides Earth. But don’t let that fool you — that says more about the rest of the planets in the solar system than it does about Mars. As it stands now, planting a tree there would just be a seed funeral.
By looking at the illustration below, you would think so! Earth and Mars are so close, why not build an outpost between to make it easier to go there!
Unfortunately, this image only shows us the relative distances the planets have from the sun. Actually, Earth orbits the sun faster than Mars because Earth is closer to the sun. The closer to the sun, the faster the orbit. The further from the sun, the slower the orbit.
This means that sometimes the two planets are close together and other times they’re on opposite sides of the Sun.
If you could somehow position an outpost so it stayed midway between the two planets then as the planets move to opposite the sun from each other where would the outpost go? Into the sun!
You couldn’t have that! The best you could do is put an outpost in orbit around the sun, between Earth and Mars, but then the outpost would have the same problem for both Earth and Mars. Sometimes the outpost would be near one planet or the other and sometimes it would be on the opposite side of the sun. It would be very rare to find all three of them lined up in a row like stepping stones.
Now another idea might be to have an outpost orbiting Earth, way out in space halfway the distance to Mars. It could work, but it would take a long time to orbit Earth at that distance. It wouldn’t remain stationary. It would be in orbit, albeit a fairly slow one. Sometimes it will be on the opposite side of the Earth from Mars, being of no use. Such an orbit would be influenced by the orbit of Earth’s moon, and by Mars itself, throwing it off orbit, and would be inherently unstable.
So if somebody thinks we might one day build such an outpost to make going to the planet Mars easier, that idea wouldn’t work too well.
A question people ask.
We really want to send somebody to Mars. Why?
The answer to the question is that it’s a long way away, it moves all the time (sometimes it’s a very long way away on the other side of the sun), it’s expensive, it’s very dangerous, it’s a dead planet, there’s nothing humans can do there that our less expensive rovers can’t do, we can’t breathe the air, we can’t grow anything there, there’s no legitimate scientific reason to go and last but not least nobody would fund it, especially Congress.