Amid all of the jocular talk about UFOs and the strange things that the Mars Curiosity Rover has been allegedly finding on the surface of the Red Planet, NASA administrator and former U.S. Marine Major General Charles Bolden has trumping up life on Mars – not the detection of alien life, but the placing of humans on Mars to ensure the longevity of our species.
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Bolden was in London last week at the Royal Aeronautical Society, discussing such topics as the sustainability of life on Mars and climate change here at home. According to an Oct. 10 article from UK’s Headline and Global News, Bolden said: “Getting to Mars is important because it is the only planet in the solar system [other than Earth] that we believe might have born life in some form at some time.”
The Obama-appointed Bolden, a former NASA astronaut with four spaceflights under his belt, told the gathered audience that Mars is closer to tenable life than we think. “It may be able to sustain life right now, and it definitely can sustain human life if we put humans there,” Bolden said.
A Dutch company has been working toward placing a group of amateur astronauts on Mars in 2022, not as a NASA-sanctioned exploration event, but for the purposes of reality TV. The Netherland-based Mars One is planning a one-way, seven month trip with the goal of colonization. However, an MIT simulation of the Mars One plan shows that the colonists will die from hypoxia within approximately two and a half months.
Bolden, reality television aside, said NASA remains committed to getting astronauts on Mars, and discussed the need for international cooperation. “It’s important for the preservation of the species, and I want to make sure that my granddaughters, and great, great granddaughters have the opportunity to go there… If we step away now, my belief is it will be generations before we get back to where we are,” Bolden said.
The 68-year-old Bolden rolled a discussion of the climate of Mars into our own climate change concerns, calling it a “very real” danger and saying we need to “get a grip” when it comes to the issue of man-made global warming.
“We have to understand it, it’s real,” he said. Speaking of NASA’s MAVEN probe that is now orbiting Mars, Bolden said data being sent back by the satellite is being used to understand what happened to the Red Planet’s atmosphere – with the hopes that we can avoid the same thing here.
“Mars used to have, we think, a climate and atmosphere, everything like we have on Earth, and at some point in its life the middle of the planet got turned off, and it lost its magnetic field and everything else,” he said. “It lost the magnetic field that protected it like our magnetosphere protects us, and then solar winds and other radiation scraped off Mars’ atmosphere… Maven will answer lots of science questions relevant to Earth about our sister planet.”
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