How do you get to Mars and what are the shapes like?


Second earth? Mars is an outer neighbor of our home planet. Image: Wikimedia

Bait Mars – but can you stay there?

Because telescopes allow views closer to Mars, these earth-like planets have given wings to fantasies and longings – and sometimes fears – of humans at a special level. With the development of space travel, the Red Planet has actually come within reach. Already Wernher von Braun is planning manned space flights to Mars. Today visionaries like Elon Musk dream of colonizing Mars.

How does it look there?

Named after the Roman god of war, Mars is the outermost planet of four deep rocks whose orbit is inside the asteroid belt. Of all the planets is the second smallest; only Mercury is smaller. However, gravity is slightly lower on Mars than on Mercury, because Mars has 3.9 g / cm³ (soil: 5.5 g / cm3) The lowest density of all rocky planets.

Little neighbor: Mars (r.) Only has a good seventh volume of earth. Image: Wikimedia

Red planet – the name given to its color by iron oxide dust on its surface and in the atmosphere – significantly smaller than the earth. This is indicated by a direct comparison: The diameter, just under 6800 km, is only half the size, the volume is seventh good, and the mass is only more than one tenth. But Mars has two months, Deimos and Phobos, which are small in size.

Mars and Earth in size comparisons: Although Mars is much smaller, the land area is only slightly smaller than Earth. Image: Pinterest

Mars is about one and a half times farther than the sun as the earth (1.52 AU). To circle the sun, it takes 687 days, while the parade is only a little longer than the day of the earth. The axle slope (25.2 °) is similar, so Mars, like Earth, has declared the season.

The atmosphere of our neighboring planet is very thin. Their average pressure is only around 7 millibars, which is less than one percent of the earth's air pressure at sea level. Air envelope consists of 95.3 percent CO2the rest is mainly nitrogen and argon. Oxygen is only in the trace.

The vast area on Mars looks like a desert, as shown by the InSight landing image. But there are also large canyons and volcanic massifs. Image: EPA / NASA

Mars looks like a dry desert planet, but billions of years ago it should have runny water. Today, there is practically only frozen water on the surface. However, in a deeper layer, one suspects a large amount of water. Unlike Earth, Mars does not have a magnetic field.

How did you get there?

Like Earth, Mars moves in an elliptical orbit around the sun. About every two years – when Mars is in opposition – the two planets are very close. The distance between them varies between 56 and 401 million km. This does not mean that flights to Mars must begin right when the planet is closest to Earth.

Mars is about one and a half times farther than the sun as the earth. Image: NASA

A spaceship or an unmanned spacecraft cannot fly in a straight line to Mars, as you can imagine. Spacecraft, like the planet itself, describe elliptical orbits around the sun. They accelerate only when they have to start and leave the Earth's gravitational field – and if they slow down at the finish. Your elliptical orbit is favorably selected to touch the target planet's orbit.

In 1925, German engineer Walter Hohmann calculated the most favorable direction in terms of energy consumption: the so-called Hohmann transfer, which optimally uses the exact movements of two planets. This is a transitional path, which starts tangentially in the initial orbit and ends in the destination orbit.

Hohmann Transfer uses the Marssonde example. Image: Wikimedia

The launch occurred when Mars was at a 44 degree angle from Earth. This is the case every 26 months; Then there is a window of time from 4 to 6 weeks for the start. The orbit of the spacecraft then describes half the ellipse and then reaches Mars's orbit when the planet is on the opposite side of the Sun (relative to the position of the Earth when taking off). This constellation is conjunction.

Flight duration depends on several factors, including the initial speed of the spacecraft and energy consumption. This varies between 6 and 10 months. Marslander InSight, for example, is almost 7 months on the road, while in 2007 launching Polarlander Phoenix took almost 10 months.

How do you communicate at such a distance?

If space investigations like InSight had just landed on celestial bodies a million miles away, this was a technical masterpiece – just because at such a distance, communication between the control center and the spacecraft was delayed in time. Even though radio waves travel at the speed of light, Mars is about 8 minutes of light from Earth when the InSight lands. This means that each signal is more than 8 minutes before reaching the receiver.

The Curiosity Mars rover has a rotating antenna that allows direct communication to the earth. Image: EPA / NASA

In addition, signals with a distance that must be bridged, are weaker – even a beam of high-speed cars scatter with increasing distances. The receiving antenna on earth must therefore be very sensitive and precisely parallel to the transmitter. Spacecraft also only have limited energy resources, their transmission power is limited. And they send with radio waves that have low frequencies – which in turn limits the amount of data sent.

Data transmission between spacecraft landing on Mars and Earth can be done directly or through a kind of relay station in Mars orbit. For example, the Curiosity Mars rover has a shaft called a high-gain antenna that allows direct communication to the earth. The biggest part of data transfer, however, is through the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which also participates in the landing of InSight. However, if the orbiter disappears outside of Mars' horizon, there is no possible data transfer from the rover.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter functions as a kind of relay station in Mars orbit. Image:

Can people live there?

Although Mars is the most Earth-like planet in the solar system and has some similarities to our home planet. So there is atmosphere and water. And gravity must also be quite pleasant with 38% of the worldly.

Unfortunately, there are also some significant disadvantages. So Mars has long lost most of its atmosphere and its water is liquid. The atmosphere is so thin that people cannot survive without a pressure setting. Even the small proportion of oxygen in the gas envelope is not friendly to life.

Add to this the missing global magnetic field problem. Only one hundredth as strong as the earth – this means cosmic radiation flows almost unhindered on the planet's surface. This – in combination with the lost ozone layer – inhibits the conditions for living things in an extraordinary way.

Because Mars is far from the sun, less solar energy is needed there. Therefore it is very cold – on average, the freezing surface temperature is -50 ° C. Around the poles, the average temperature is even at -140 ° C and near the equator is still at -23 ° C. Above the desert is cold and not this friendly, sandstorm rages above it.

All of these factors will force human colonists into narrow pressure vessels equipped with AC CO2 must be converted to oxygen. It can also change what is called terraforming – if it's feasible – change anything. The plan to build a greenhouse effect that strengthens itself on Mars with the help of large CFC gas factories can only be explained by the amount of CO available2 failed.

Humans can survive on Mars only in the pressure and pressure of vessels. Image:

If it is still functioning, the colonists can hang their pressure settings at the earliest after 500 or 1000 years – only then will the atmosphere be tight enough. However, respiratory aids are still needed for more than 100,000 years. The top layer of artificially enriched atmosphere will also continue to be transported by the solar wind into space.

All in all, the barriers to human life on Mars are quite large, especially if it becomes permanent.

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