Science: Destination Mars

Society | April 30, 2004, Friday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0

You can't fly there yet, but that's not stopping visionaries and NASA from planning a colony on Mars. Would-be Mars dwellers can take a virtual tour of a habitat that includes many of the comforts of home.

Mars doesn't exactly offer the qualities you'd normally look for in a dream destination. It's atmosphere contains hardly any oxygen -- it's mostly made up of carbon dioxide. With an average temperature of about minus 55 degrees Celsius, it can get pretty darn cold. And then there's the strange radioactive gas. Very unhealthy.

But these factors aren't enough to discourage certain visionaries from pursuing their dream of making it possible for humans to live on Mars. It's purely a question of money and will," said Sven Knuth, head of the German division of the Mars Society.

The precious oxygen would need to be kept inside the living quarters. And because of the radioactivity, it would be best to drive steel-plated vehicles, and live underground.

On the "Explore Mars Now" Web site, visitors can take a tour of the habitat, and check out simulations of the kitchen, the berth-like private rooms, the lab and medical center. NASA is already conducting tests on such a habitat, consisting of 120 square meters of living space on two levels, with a diameter of eight meters.

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