Scientists have a long list of challenges that makes the future of humanity look rather bleak in the future.
Whoever said money can’t buy happiness surely needs to be reborn in 21st century. Because this is 2021 and a billion bucks can not only help you dominate Earth but even Space. There is a new benchmark that every ambitious entrepreneur now wants to achieve and it is not platinum status- it is tellurium status. The race to colonize space is on and handful of billionaires are aiming straight at Mars and Moon.
Two biggest contenders of this race are none other than the behemoths Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
The former is hellbent on colonizing human species on Mars through his orbital vision “SpaceX”. While the latter is determined to set up bases at moon and human habitat in a spinning space stations through “Blue Origin”. However, there is so much one can do to eliminate the scientific and ethical challenges of relocating the human race from planet earth.
TWO-FOLDED VISION OF THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL GRANDIOSE
Two richest men of the world are aiming to build the future of humanity outside Earth with slightly clashing vision. Elon Musk, through his company SpaceX, wants to colonize Mars by 2050s and has already began with partnering with NASA to transport supplies to space. Jeff Bezos, on the other hand, has also partnered with NASA in its efforts to set up human bases on O’Neill cylinders near moon. O’Neill cylinder is a cylindrical spinning space station around moon that is designed to defy gravity.
While the billionaires’ extraterrestrial ambitions straight of sci-fi movies are a massive hope for a dying planet, scientists and experts believe that there are colossal obstacles on the way.
REAL SCIENTIFIC CHALLENGES ON THE WAY-
Drop in muscle mass
Researchers have found out that space causes irreversible loss in muscle mass of humans that can never be reversed. According to NASA researchers, astronauts lose as much as 20 percent muscle mass while on a spaceship for five to 11 days.
The reason is that outside Earth’s atmosphere, the body doesn’t have to work against the force of gravity, eventually leading to loss of muscle mass.
The phenomenon is called muscle atrophy and causes the alteration in growth hormone, glucocorticoids, and anabolic steroids circulation. Muscle mass can be regained once astronauts return to Earth, however, duration longer than 15 days can be a serious concern.
Another major scientific challenge is thinning of human bones. Just like muscle mass, humans when loose significant bone mass while in space.
Astronauts have been studied to lose on average 1% to 2% bone mineral density in a microgravity environment space, every month. This again happens because due to lack of gravity outside Earth’s atmosphere, bones no longer have to support the body weight thus leading to decrease in production of osteoblasts.
This eventually leads to decrease in the production of new bone cells and increased removal of existing cells. The major impact of this phenomenon is experienced in hips, legs and back of the astronauts who travel to space and can take up to three to four years to recover.
Change in heart size
This is perhaps the most daunting entry on the list of space challenges.
The shape of heart changes in the microgravity space outside Earth from an oval to a small round organ. Space causes human heart to shrink.
The reasoning for this phenomenon is linked to the loss in muscle mass. Atrophy of muscles in the blood vessels lead to restriction in blood flow control in the body. Human heart eventually needs to pump much less blood in space therefore, leading to shrinkage in size.
The human heart beat too is lower in space than on Earth. All of these cardiovascular alterations in body can lead to alarming risk of kidney stones, blood pressure and other complications in human body that we don’t know of.
Abnormal change in immune system
Another big biological change observed in the human body during space visit is the drastic change in the immune system. Immune system begins to change on cellular level in the microgravity regions and eventually lead to major physiological shifts in human body. The abnormal weakening of immune system in short term space missions has been linked by researchers to activation of immune cells called T regulators.
This revelation has been followed by the distorted functioning of NK-cells on long-term space missions. Researches are still under process to find out the exact reason of weak immune system in astronauts. However, the hypothetical explanation is the thinning of bones since bone marrow is where the blood cells are produced.
Vision of colonization of Mars is met with colossal challenges. This includes tackling the conditioning of the atmosphere of Mars. The atmosphere of the red planet is so thin that combined with low gravity, molecules freely escape out of its atmosphere.
Musk aims at terraforming the surface of red planet, a term straight out of science fiction. It means to alter the natural atmosphere of a plent to make it suitable for human life to sustain.
One theoretical way of terraforming the Martian surface is by releasing the carbon dioxide trapped under the planet’s surface that would help the planet become warmer. Another theory calls for redirecting asteroids and comets to hit Mars surface, which is again a very impractical concept. According to scientists, we are still thousands of years behind from developing technology that can make terraforming possible.