At an event promoting the new National Geographic Channel’s series "Mars," scientist and science educator Bill Nye spoke about the Red Planet’s future. While he’s all about the idea that astronauts travel to Mars and explore Mars and possibly even mine Mars, he’s pretty much against the idea that humans could live on Mars. "This whole idea of terraforming Mars," said Nye, "As respectful as I can be, are you guys high?"
1. We’re already killing our own planet
Bill Nye made remarks this week in an interview this week with USA Today. "We can’t even take care of this planet where we live," said Nye, "and we’re perfectly suited for it, let alone another planet." He’s not wrong. Have a peek at this recent heat study to see what sort of shape we’re in with regard to climate change.
2. Not many people live in Antarctica
"Nobody goes to Antarctica to raise a family," said Nye. "You don’t go there and build a park, there’s just no such thing." Scientists visit Antarctica for relatively short periods of time, but no human lives there permanently. That’s mostly because it’s extremely cold. According to the CIA in the USA, in Antarctica the following is true: "[There are] no indigenous inhabitants, but there are both permanent and summer-only staffed research stations."
And also they get absolutely no cable TV or internet coverage up there – what kind of life is that?
3. Mars is cold
"Nobody’s gonna go settle on Mars and raise a family and have generations of Martians," said Nye. "It’s not reasonable because it’s so cold." You’d have to wear protective gear whenever you weren’t inside a protective structure. While parts of Mars can get up to 70 degrees F (20 degrees C), most of the time the whole planet’s closer to well below zero.
The above image comes from an All About Mars Facts page at NASA where a whole bunch of Mars Facts can be found. So many Mars Facts you won’t know what to do with the lot!
Let’s say you DID somehow, for whatever reason, find reason enough to live on Mars. Whenever you wanted to get from one human-made structure to another, you’d need to wear a space suit and/or use a vehicle something like what we got a test drive in back in 2015 – the Mars rover, aka Space Exploration Vehicle, as seen in the video below.
4. There’s very little water and absolutely no food
"There is hardly any water," said Nye, "[and] there’s absolutely no food." That is unless you are Matt Damon in The Martian and you use a little bit of magic to grow the bare minimum amount of potatoes to survive several months, of course.
In our most recent visit to NASA, Vickie Kloeris Manager, Space Food Systems Laboratory was asked if Damon’s potato-growing adventure was realistic. At that time, Kloeris said, "I certainly think that given the right infrastructure, you’d be able to do it." So… maybe?
5. Oxygen is lacking
"And the big thing, I just remind these guys," said Nye, "There’s nothing to breathe." For the moment there’s most certainly not enough oxygen on Mars for human beings to breathe. Barring any sort of futuristic not-yet-invented means to terraform Mars with an artificial atmosphere and one massive amount of oxygen, we’re not realistically headed for Mars long-term.
But exploration is a must!
"We would send people there to make discoveries. To explore, that’s the big idea," said Nye. "I want to find evidence of life on another world in my lifetime, so Mars in the next logical place to look."