Going to Mars has always been a far-off dream. But in as little as ten years time, it may just become a reality. NASA hopes to do a three-year mission to Mars by the 2030s. Mars One, a non-profit organization, has even loftier goals of establishing a permanent colony on Mars by 2024 while also documenting it all for television. Elon Musk, the tech billionaire, recently announced his plans to establish a colony on Mars in an attempt to save humans from extinction.
With interplanetary travel being such a hot topic of conversation lately, just what, exactly, would life on Mars look like for the humanoid? While Mars and Earth are often considered sisters, daily life would look fundamentally different. Reaching Mars, a trip that would be between 150 to 300 days, would be the easy part. Humans would be establishing an entirely new civilization, which would bring challenges that those left on Earth would never understand. With that, here are 15 things you may not have known about life on Mars.
15. Mars Will Alter Your Body
Although Earth and Mars are often called “sister planets,” the inhospitable Martian environment will likely take a serious toll on the human body, some threats which may even be deadly. For example, the perpetual red dust contains carcinogens, which could negatively affect health as well as cause allergies. It’s possible that the red dust could burn the skin similar to that of bleach, but it hasn’t been proven yet. Too much exposure to the Martian soil, which contains a chemical called perchlorates, have been shown to negatively impact the thyroid as well.
Then there’s the toll that a reduced level of gravity would take on your body. Humans would lose their muscle mass, which would make their arms and legs smaller and cause their hearts to become less strong. They would get osteoporosis. The loss of calcium would then enter the bloodstream and cause a series of health problems from constipation to kidney stones and even depression. This is only a small look into the health problems that could occur if humans were to leave their native planet in favour of another one.
14. Dietary Restrictions Won’t Be Tolerated
Not only are morning-risers not suited to live on Mars (we will get to that shortly), but those with dietary restrictions such as a gluten intolerance or allergies are not suitable to be living on Mars either. It has been suggested that those who are vegan are also not suitable for life on Mars. That’s because those who are going to live on Mars will be eating what astronauts typically eat in space as of now; coming up with an entirely new menu, figuring out if it’s nutritious enough and whether it would stay fresh (while also retaining somewhat of a delicious quality) would require a lot of money that NASA is probably unwilling to spend. That said, NASA may actually be coming up with an entirely vegan menu for those who are going to Mars. So, if you’re unwilling to cope with it, you’re probably not a suitable fit for a Mars expedition either.
13. You Would Weigh Less, Be Taller And Stronger
Scrap the diet you’ve been on and head to Mars: you will weight less there! In fact, you would weigh up to 62% less than you do on Earth, all due to the fact that Mars has a lot less gravity than Earth. Let’s give you an example. If you were 100 pounds on Earth, for example, you would only weigh 38 pounds on Mars! The fact that there is a lot less gravity not only means that you would weigh less, though. You would also be able to lift the equivalent of what a professional body lifter might be able to lift here on Earth. Every item that weighs ten pounds on Earth would only weigh four pounds on Mars. Due to the fact that the spine stretches in space, you would also grow an entire two inches taller! While all of this seems fine and dandy, there would be some things you would have to relearn, like how to run fast or how to do quick movements.
12. It’s Freezing Cold
Weather may not always be an interesting topic, but humans are always talking about it, so it’s worth a mention. Would the weather or climate on Mars be at all similar to what Earth experiences? Mars gets snow but no rain, so don’t expect to enjoy any moody storm clouds on Mars. It also has seasonal changes similar to that of Earth, including both summer and winter. However, Mars is much, much colder than Earth – on average it is about -50 degrees Fahrenheit, although it can get up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. It also has a lot of temperature changes that cause dust storms, which can be powerful enough to leave Mars covered in dust for several days. The sky has an orange colour too, because of it.
11. Your Days Will Be Longer
You may not have to ever utter something about how there are not enough hours in the day if you were to live on Mars. Martian days are 30 to 40 minutes longer than on Earth. That amounts to almost five extra hours per week and a total of 687 days per year compared to Earth’s 365. Think of all you could accomplish! This is because Mars is farther from the sun than that of Earth, making its orbital period much greater. Many of us would be quite content with nearly an extra hour every day in our lives and an extra 5 hours per week.
Now, if we’re being honest, the difference in between Mars and Earth is quite similar compared to the difference between Earth and Venus. Venus days are 116 (Earth) days and 18 hours!
10. Your Daily Life Will Change Drastically
NASA is set to send humans to Mars by 2030. In order to see how humans would respond psychologically to living on Mars, they have launched a series of experiments to simulate Martian life on Earth in what they have called “Hawaii Space Exploration Analogue and Simulation (HI-SEAS). The most recent experiment sent a team of six individuals to live on the side of a mountain in a 36 by 20-foot solar-powered dome in Hawaii for an entire year, where they had no extremely limited contact with the outside world. The experiment ended in August of 2016.
The point is your daily life would change quite drastically. During their experiment, their time was spent cleaning their living quarters and maintaining the dome. They filled out a lot of surveys for the scientists conducting the experiment in the first place. After that, they spent time growing their own plants or doing some baking. Everyone would exercise every day, even up to as much as two hours a day. Each person would cook dinner on one night of the week. They also had access to a digital library. In the evenings, they might do some salsa dancing or play dice games.
9. Daily Amenities, Anything But Luxurious
Then again, did you expect it to be anything different? If you have any bit of princess or prince inside you, then you may have some difficulties adjusting to life on Mars. Of course, astronauts happily forego life’s little pleasures in favour of the advancements that space travel can bring about. Of course, it is still worth a discussion. No longer will you get to enjoy a fresh dinner; your dinner will consist of freeze-dried meat, powdered cheese or canned tuna because everything has to be able to last on a shelf – at least that’s what happened for those who partook in the Mars simulation experiment. The only fresh vegetables were ones that people grew themselves, meaning they were limited. There is also talk that NASA may be developing an entirely vegan menu.
Do you like to take a long, hot shower at the end of each day? Try a 60-second shower once a week. You’d also have to get used to a fairly smelly (but not entirely unbearable) bathroom due to the composting toilets. There were also low-electricity days where everything but the toilets had to be turned off – that included heat, cookware and the treadmill. Could you survive on Mars for the good of humanity?
8. The Atmosphere Could Kill You
Should you ever inhabit Mars, do not attempt to venture outside without your spacesuit and helmet. Mars is deathly. There are several reasons for this. First of all, Mars is between -50 to -80 degrees Fahrenheit on average, and it can get down to -225 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter due to the fact that it is much further away from the sun. In the summer, it will only get to be as warm as 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees celsius). But that’s not even the most serious problem. The air pressure is only 1% that of what we have here on planet Earth, meaning it is too thin to breathe. Humans also need a blend of nitrogen and oxygen. Mars, however, is about 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen and 1.6% argon. To get the same amount of oxygen on Mars, you would have to take the equivalent of 14,500 breaths. Then there’s the problem of solar radiation…
7. Major Sleeping Problems
Humans spend eight hours per day, on average, sleeping, which is the equivalent of one-third of our lives. So the topic of sleeping on Mars is quite important for humans. We’ve already discussed the fact that one day on Mars, also called a solar day or “Sol,” is roughly 40 minutes longer than that on Earth. This would mean that the human’s circadian rhythm would be out of sync with the speed at which Mars rotates, which could have profound implications on the humanoid. Our circadian rhythms tell us when to wake and when to sleep as well as regulate brainwave activity and our hormones. If circadian rhythms and the rotational speed are not in sync, this could be particularly bad for morning people who have shorter clocks than night owls.
6. You’ll Never Be Alone (And Can Never Leave)
Aside from the challenge of boredom and monotony of living in the dome (which we will get to), the third challenge that seemed to arise in NASA’s year long Mars simulation experiment was living in a tight space with other people. Further, although the distractions that typically cause humans to procrastinate were eliminated in the Mars experiment, other people became distractions. The team hardly ever felt alone; to do that, they had to wear earplugs. Indeed, living on Mars may be an introvert’s worst nightmare.
Another stress came from being disconnected from everyone, as well as missing events such as births, weddings and even deaths or funerals. But, this is where the experiment could not entirely simulate what life on Mars would be like. Although this team had the pressure of the outside world and the researchers to stay in the dome, they could, in theory, leave in the case of a family emergency, which would never happen on Mars.
5. Your Constant Battle With Boredom
The most common theme in terms of the challenges that NASA’s team faced while living in a dome for an entire year in an effort to simulate life on Mars was boredom and monotony. One said that the biggest challenge was: “we were always in the same place, always with the same people.” His advice was to “Bring books.” Another member on the team said that: “If you can work on something that is self-developmental… you will not go crazy.” Another said: “One of your biggest enemies is boredom, saying, “Bring something to work on. Something meaningful to work on.” That said, humans are very resilient and can adapt to a wide range of circumstances, and that also includes a change to one’s daily routine. By the end of NASA’s experiments, all six members of the team said they would travel to Mars if given the chance.
4. You May Not Ever Skype Again
Aside from eating, sleep and drinking, social media is fairly pivotal to human affairs – at least humans of the 21st century, which is why it deserves a discussion here. While texting and e-mailing can be done on Mars, it takes 15 to 20 minutes for the message to actually reach Earth. While this kind of delay doesn’t seem too terrible, it does make immediate, face-to-face contact – that is, communicating in real time by Skyping and Facetiming, entirely impossible. Could you handle not having immediate contact with your family or friends? Most people could forgo delicious dinners or evening showers, but giving up immediate contact with family may be the most difficult challenge of them all.
3. Sexual Relations Would Be Awkward
When it comes to the topic of sex in space, it has been little studied (actually, not all, at least according to NASA). NASA insists that nothing of that nature actually happens in space. But that’s probably because they have been short term missions. If people are going to live on Mars for years at a time, and even permanently if the Mars One project has its way, it is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. While Mars One insists that they don’t want their colonists to reproduce, will birth control actually work in space when women’s hormones are going to be crazy? Indeed, the topic of sexual health, contraception and pregnancy need to be studied in more detail.
The next question is whether sex would be any different on Mars. Would less gravity change things? According to a professor who teaches a class on both sex and spaceflight, sex on Mars would be similar to that on Earth, except it might be a little difficult. According to the professor, “In terms of positions, it would be more about staying in contact with each other. It isn’t impossible, but it would be awkward.” So, in other words, don’t expect to be having great sex on Mars.
2. You Might Find Extraterrestrial Life
The topic of whether Mars could have ever supported life is an old topic. But we now know that Mars used to have water on it because it has rocks that could have only formed with water. There is also evidence of past floods. Scientists also believe that Mars used to have rivers, streams and even oceans in its early history. This is important because it means that Mars could have supported life in the past, even if it is now dry and all of its water is frozen. At this point, however, no robot has uncovered any extraterrestrial life on Mars, but there have been some curious rocks sighted. What we do know is that these robots do a week’s worth of work in what would only take humans 15 minutes. If humans ever land on Mars, and it’s becoming increasingly likely that they will, we might just be the ones to uncover any signs of intelligent life ourselves. At present, it is thought that if there is any extraterrestrial life there now, it may just be hiding under the surface. Stay tuned.
1. You May Already Be A Martian
Men are from Mars and women are from Venus? Actually, both men and women may be from Mars! While this entry isn’t exactly about life on Mars, the theory is so mind blowing that it deserves a discussion. Pieces of Mars in the form of meteorites have actually landed on Earth at various points in time, including in the Antarctic and Egypt – a total of 121 Martian meteorites in total. This suggests that microbial organisms (i.e. life) could have been transferred between Mars and Earth and that, well, we could very well be the Martians! Mind blowing, right? This is called the panspermia theory. Obviously, the organisms would have had to withstood freezing temperatures and a range of other harsh conditions, but the theory is an interesting one regardless. The fact that Mars used to be able to support life back in its early history suggests that this theory may hold some truth.