NASA chief Charles Bolden says that the agency is moving forwards with plans for a manned Mars mission, but there are significant ‘technology gaps’. Which of these is likely to be the most difficult to overcome?
Three-fifths of the respondents to last week’s poll thought that developing systems to bring a huge 40tonne manned spacecraft to a safe landing on Mars would be the toughest hurdle that NASA would have to overcome in its ambition to visit the Red Planet. The next largest group, 21 per cent, thought that building shelters against solar radiation would the biggest technology gaps. Only small groups — 1 per cent, 5 per cent and ten per cent respectively — thought that developing very large, lightweight, collapsable solar panels; preventing the ship’s ion drive from corroding its nozzle; or drilling for water on the Martian surface would be the most difficult problem.
What’s your take on this? Is landing humans on Mars a practical proposition in the near future? Do we need a fundamental rethink of space technology? Let us know below.