Why Colonize Mars?
Mars, the Red Planet: since the most remote antiquity it has always been at the center of dreams, expectations and myths of all kinds precisely because of the reddish color that distinguishes it, already appreciable by observing the planet with unaided eye. But why is Mars so interesting from this point of view? And are there other reasons for colonizing it in the distant future?
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Another reason for colonizing Mars is that the red planet, in some respects, is very similar to Earth.
Mars is the fourth planet in order of distance from the Sun and is located at an average distance of 1,5 astronomical units from our star, around which it travels an elliptical orbit in just under two years: this implies that the Martian seasons last almost double the terrestrial analogues. Like the Earth, Mars is a rocky planet, and it takes just over a day (24 hours, 37 minutes and 23 s against the Earth’s 23 hours 56 minutes) to make a rotation around its axis: therefore a day on Mars, called “Sol”, is almost as long as an earth day.
Furthermore, the inclination of its rotation axis with respect to the vertical to the plane of the orbit is equal to 25.19 ° (for the Earth it is about 23 °).
Like the Earth, Mars also has two polar caps: unlike Earth caps, martian caps are formed by dry ice, that is, ice originating from carbon dioxide; depending on the season the size of the polar caps increases or decreases.
Moreover, in 2015 the existence of liquid water on its surface was also confirmed, by analyzing data from the NASA Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter probe: this water periodically forms small streams. The presence of other salty liquid water was also detected under the southern polar ice cap by radar surveys of the Mars Express spacecraft of the European Space Agency conducted between 2012 and 2015.
Mars, however, differs from the Earth in several features: its diameter, 6804 km, is about half that of the Earth, and its mass is also less, about a ninth of that of the Earth: it follows that the Martian gravity is about 1 / 3 of the terrestrial one. In other words, a person who weighs 60 chilograms on Earth would only weigh 20 chilograms on Mars! But be careful, if you want to start a diet, it is not enough to go to Mars to weigh less, because what changes is only the weight, because the force of gravity of the planet you are on changes, not your mass, that is the quantity of matter you are made of!
Being the mass of Mars smaller than that of the Earth, Mars is not able to retain a dense atmosphere: it is believed that a few billion years ago the Martian atmosphere was denser than the current one, and that it then partially dispersed into space. The current thin atmosphere of Mars is made up of just over 95% of carbon dioxide, and the remaining 5% of nitrogen, argon and traces of other gases. The pressure on the surface exerted by the Martian atmosphere is just 1% of the Earth’s analogue.
Due to the greater distance from the Sun, the solar radiation that reaches the surface of Mars at noon is about half of that that reaches the Earth at the same time, so Mars is a dimly lit world, also because the solar diameter seen from Mars is 19 arc minutes at aphelion (point in orbit where Mars is furthest from the Sun) and 23 arc minutes at perihelion (when Mars is at the point of its orbit closest to the Sun): these apparent dimensions respectively correspond to 60 and 70 percent of the solar angular diameter observed from the Earth at the corresponding points of the orbit (the considerable variation in the size of the Sun seen from Mars is due to the greater eccentricity of the Martian orbit compared to that of the Earth: e = 0.093 versus e = 0.016). Average Martian temperatures are around -50 ° C.
One last noteworthy aspect of the Martian sky are the auroras. s
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