Mission to Mars

As you may have gathered from my persuasive essay, space has always been a fascination of mine.  As with many space enthusiasts, the prospect of one day establishing a colony on the Red Planet has always captivated my dreams.  Many planned missions have been proposed, including a promise from President Obama to send a massed mission to Mars by the 2030s.  Another promising mission is envisioned by a private corporation, known as Mars One, which is planning on establishing a permanent colony on Mars.  It hopes to send four humans to live permanently on Mars in 2023, sending four more every two years.  Unfortunately, many problems still remain to be surpassed in order to successfully land humans on Mars, most prominently the health threats from cosmic rays that astronauts face in space.  This threat prohibits humans for surviving for extended periods of time in space, making a trip to Mars, which would take twelve months, possibly lethal.  Fortunately, researchers funded by NASA have developed a new fusion engine that could cut down the trip to Mars from twelve months to just thirty days.  The researchers involved in developing this engine, located at the University of Washington, believe that our current methods of space travel are inadequate, and that their new technology will allow for interplanetary travel.  The technology is complicated, but essentially the engine induces a fusion reaction, which forces the propellant out of the engine at thirty kilometers per second, creating an intense pulse every minute.  Remarkably, the new engine could rely solely on solar energy, minimizing the complexity and size of rockets exponentially, as storage for fuel comprises a large majority of modern rockets.  Another bonus of this new technology is that it is vastly cheaper than our current method of escaping the earth’s atmosphere, as the amount of fuel required is greatly reduced.  Perhaps the most commendable aspect of this engine is its practicality; the research team has already successfully built and tested each component of the engine, and will now begin compiling each element into a working machine.  The team predicts that the spacecraft will be complete as soon as 2020.  I hope to hear much more about this project in the years to come!

fdr_fusion_driver_prototypeThe new engine at the University of Washington

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3 Responses to Mission to Mars

  1. Meaghan Auchincloss says:

    I had no idea that a project like this was being worked on! The thought of having people actually living on Mars in the years to come is unbelievable to me.

  2. Justin Femiano says:

    I look forward to the day that we actually land a human on mars. I will be a great day indeed. I believe it will happen during our generation and I hope to be there when it happens. This engine seems like landing is now a reality. The question I have is… how do they get back?

  3. Elizabeth (Lizz) Carney says:

    Wow I thought getting a man to Mars was going to remain a Sci Fi fantasy for at least the next few decades, but the idea of colonization is astounding.

    The part of the engine that seems most interesting to me is the use of solar power. I don’t know why but solar power in space seems so strange, but once it’s pointed out it seems like a great idea.

    As it’s the last week of blogging, I just wanted to comment honestly that I am most definitely smarter after reading your blog each week. Haha I liked it a lot- cool topic!

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