Anyone who follows space science knows that there are long-term goals to put humans on Mars. Leaders from both NASA and SpaceX aspire to send astronauts there so they can develop the first interplanetary colonies that will enable humans to live on the red planet.
On the other hand, is a permanent trip to Mars a good idea? Some planetary scientists have their doubts.
While it might be a good idea to send people to Mars temporarily to experience the red planet's environment first-hand, a permanent settlement might come with too many drawbacks. For example, Mars has too thin of an atmosphere and lacks a magnetosphere, so there's no natural protection from cosmic radiation.
Unless we find a way to shield future Mars-explorers from said radiation, it could negatively impact the first Martian settlers' health. Most experts agree that Mars' first visitors would need to live underground or spend their lives inside of protective shielding; neither situation is ideal.
But is there a better solution? Some scientists have suggested turning a blind eye toward Mars and looking elsewhere. Saturn's moon Titan, for instance, has a thick atmosphere like Earth's. Although it lacks oxygen, humans could derive it from frozen water stored on Titan's surface, so that's not a tremendous issue.
There's certainly a lot to think about, but we'll leave that to the experts at NASA.