Mars: Martian geologist discusses ‘possible’ future colony

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Scientists have generally agreed that the possibility of building a base on Mars could be completed in the near future so researchers can establish better and more in-depth research on the planet. While scientists are currently looking for ways to make living on the planet self-sustainable, Martian geologist Aine O’Brien says work is currently underway to make that a reality that could be finished in a few decades. But Ms O’Brien added the time frame of implementing it may be longer if life is discovered on Mars to avoid contamination. 

Speaking to The Nine on BBC, Ms O’Brien was asked how likely and how soon the human race could colonise Mars after several successful missions to the planet. 

She replied: “I kind of hope it isn’t that soon because we haven’t done that much robotically yet.

“There’s so much to see and we need to check if there’s life there before we contaminate it with our own life.

“So, hopefully, maybe 20-30 years, I think is the kind of expectation and hope and by then we should have done a whole lot of science to work out how we can do it without perhaps polluting anything on Mars that is already living there.”

Host Martin Geissler pushed the scientist and wanted her to clarify whether the feat could be completed so soon. 

Ms O’Brien responded: “Perhaps not living as a colony, I’m not sure if that’s the word I use either.

“But perhaps a kind of research station and maybe 20-30 years time.

“The big thing that’s just been announced this week in the space world are plans for NASA to return to the Moon by 2024.

“Which is a huge step because if we can build a more of a base, they’re going to call it the lunar gateway, which is basically a sort of hub to make it easier to get out into deep space like Mars for example.

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“If we get this base set up on the moon then we’ll be able to get to the outer planets without the same difficulty of getting off the Earth gravity which is a challenge and less of a challenge on Mars.”

Scientists are already planning out and designing potential “cities” and self-sustainable bases on the red planet.

One of the biggest issues scientists are attempting to solve is how to create large amounts of fuel on Mars to enable travel and power facilities. 

Several concepts have already been drawn up for the base designs with some using fungi as a building material. 

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Scientists are also looking at whether rock-eating bacteria which is already used on Earth could help with extracting and mining precious rock on Mars. 

The microbes eat certain types of rock leaving precious ore behind and are often used in mining programmes on Earth.

On Monday, the NASA Ingenuity helicopter carried out the first-ever flight on another planet while it was on Mars. 

The contraption rose three metres in the air, hovered and then safely returned to the ground. 

The flight lasted 40 seconds as data was sent back to scientists on Earth which will help expand travel on Mars. 

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