(Listen to this article on the Sky Alpha Breakfast Show)
Recently, NASA, the USA’s space agency, announced plans to send humans on another trip to the moon by 2024. Astronauts will bring back samples of rock from the surface of the moon so we can learn more about the moon’s history. Many people are excited about this, because no human has landed on the moon since 1972 – nearly 50 years ago!
However, many have started to think about an even more exciting idea. Some scientists believe that one day, humans may be able to leave Earth and live on another planet. But how could this ever be possible, and what would life be like if it happened?
WHERE WOULD WE LIVE?
The first problem with moving to another planet is that they are all very far away. The moon is relatively nearby – it takes astronauts just three days to travel there. But it would take 7 years to get to Mercury and 12 years to get to Neptune. The only planet we could think about moving to is Mars, which is 9 months away.
COULD HUMANS SURVIVE ON MARS?
As far as we know, there is no life on Mars, and humans would find it incredibly difficult to live there. This is because Mars is very cold, with average temperatures of -63 degrees Celsius. Also, the air and soil would be toxic to humans, and there is no liquid water.
If we wanted to live on Mars, we would have to “terraform” it first. “Terraforming” is the process of changing the surface and climate of a planet, to make it easier to live in. Currently, we do not have the technology needed to terraform another planet.
But, scientists believe that in the future, it might be possible. We would need to modify plants and food crops so that they could grow in different conditions. We would also need robot technology to help us build new cities to live in.
WHAT WOULD EVERYDAY LIFE BE LIKE?
If we lived on Mars, life would be different in quite a few ways.
Each year would be longer. One year on Mars is almost twice as long as one year on Earth. This is because a year is the length of time it takes a planet to make one orbit around the Sun. Mars is further away from the Sun than Earth is, so one orbit takes longer.
The force of gravity on Mars is also much weaker than it is on Earth. If you jump up in the air, gravity is the force that pulls you back down to the ground. But, the gravitational force on Mars is around three times weaker than on Earth. This means you would be able to jump much, much higher!
Humans will not be moving to Mars anytime soon – we have not even sent an astronaut there yet. But, in the future, humans could be living on Mars!