Antarctic Research Center Tries to Mimic Mars Conditions on Earth

Mars exists on Earth…well, at least the closest thing to Mars.

According to CNN, the Concordia research station in Antarctica sits on a plateau that is 3,200 meters above sea level and for about four months every year it is engulfed in complete darkness.

Those who live in the research station live in complete isolation. In fact, CNN reports that the nearest human beings from the station can be found about 372 miles away, making the place more remote than the International Space Station.

And yet, 16 dedicated scientists call the research center home for an entire year.

This is because long time confinement, abnormal day and light cycles, extremely dry air, low oxygen levels, and limited supplies make Mars-like training possible at the research center.

And it will help people get ready for the human race’s eventual voyage to Mars.

“By watching how the human body and mind adapts in Antarctica, we can plan and predict what would happen in space,” Alex Kumar, a doctor with the National Institute for Health Research, told CNN.

$500,000 for future trips to Mars

SpaceX founder and billionaire Elon Musk is laying out his plans for a colony on Mars, and they are specific.

Musk has mapped out an approximate number of people he imagines living in the Mars colony (80,000), as well as how much a ticket to Mars might cost — $US500,000 ($A477,300).

But first, he said, SpaceX has to design what he calls a “rapid and reusable” rocket that can land vertically. “That is the pivotal step to achieving a colony on Mars,” he told an audience at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London last week.

If SpaceX or another company can’t come up with a rocket that can be reused and refuelled, like we reuse aeroplanes, then he said colonising Mars would be prohibitively expensive.

Musk described creating a rocket that could shuttle between Mars and the Earth as “possible, but quite difficult”.

But that hasn’t stopped him from mapping out a vision of how a colony on Mars might grow. The first step, of course, is getting a manned mission to Mars, which Musk said he thinks SpaceX can do in 10 to 15 years.

Next, he envisions sending 10 people to the Red Planet, along with supplies to build transparent domes, reports. If the domes are pressurised with the CO2 in Mars’ atmosphere, the colonists could grow Earth crops in the soil on Mars.

As the colony became more self-sufficient, space on the rocket could be filled with people rather than supplies.

And those numbers Musk tossed out are not random. He arrived at 80,000 colonists by estimating that by the time a Mars colony is a reality there will be 8 billion people on Earth. Musk said he thinks 1 in 100,000 people will be ready and willing to take the journey to Mars. As for the $US500,000 ticket — he said that while it’s a lot of money, it is a sum of money that someone who has worked hard and saved carefully might be able to afford.

And as to whether the American taxpayer should contribute to a colony on Mars, Musk says yes. A colony on another planet is life insurance for life collectively, he said during his talk. He added that it would be a fun adventure to watch, even if you aren’t planning on going yourself.