NASA have confirmed plans to establish an outpost on Mars. Before you get your hopes up too high, this will just be temporary accommodation for astronauts. According to agency officials, a permanent colony is “a long way down the road."
"No one’s thinking of, on the NASA side, like a permanent human base,” Chief Exploration Scientist Ben Bussey clarified. In other words, this will not be a Mars One-equivalent program.
The team isn't expecting humans to set foot on the red planet until the late 2020s or early 2030s, at which point we will begin to set up the Martian outpost. This will consist of a "habitation zone" at the centre of a 62 mile (100km) "exploration zone" radius.
The area will be chosen based on the how many regions of interest (ROIs) will be there, allowing astronauts to perform investigations, find raw materials for day-to-day living, and ultimately find out if there are signs of life on Mars.
As Bussey explains:
“The idea here is that you would have your exploration zone that you set up for the first crew…And that crew would leave, and then you send another crew at the next good launch opportunity. So it isn’t permanently occupied, but it is visited multiple times.”
Space.com go into great amounts of detail about the plan, but it's fair to say we're excited about the future!
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I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.