HomeNewsNASA Tracking Explorers’ 80-Day Antarctica Trek for Mars Research

NASA Tracking Explorers’ 80-Day Antarctica Trek for Mars Research

by Michael Freeman
(Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Humans exploring Mars has been a dream since we knew the planet existed. To help prepare for the future endeavor, NASA is tracking two explorers trekking across Antarctica for Mars research.

Space.com reports British explorers Justin Packshaw and Jamie Facer Childs are currently on their 32nd day of exploring Antarctica. The journey is expected to last 80 days as part of the Chasing the Light mission. Space agencies are hoping to better understand the physical and psychological toils such trips impose on people. In this instance, Antarctica serves as a place to replicate other worlds.

The Chasing the Light website provides more details on the mission. “Much like the extreme conditions found on planets in our solar system, Antarctica has a [harsh] environment that is useful for a range of human and biological research. Justin and Jamie’s mission will allow scientists to observe a rare scientific story of human adaptability, which will ultimately contribute to … human centered space exploration.”

The two men have their work cut out for them on this mission. For example, they face freezing temperatures and katabatic winds up to a whopping 200 mph. The journey itself totals almost 2,300 miles as well, meaning they will cover significant ground every day. To top it off, the duo is trekking without mechanical assistance. Though they are walking and skiing some of the way, they are not using any vehicles for transportation.

Besides testing them physically and psychologically, NASA is gauging the explorers’ ability to visually estimate distance. Additionally, NASA wants them to obtain environmental information, like ice levels, radiation, and wind speed. Obtaining said information will be crucial on missions to planets like Mars.

With their journey not quite being halfway done, the two men still have much to do.

Scientists Dislike Elon Musk’s Mars Plan of a ‘Futuristic Noah’s Ark’

It’s one thing for humanity to land and thrive on Mars, but another for earth-dwelling animals to do the same. Musk proposed making a “futuristic Noah’s Ark” in that regard to Mars and scientists don’t seem too fond of it.

After winning Time’s coveted “Person of the Year” award, the outlet discussed heavy-hitting topics with Elon Musk. Naturally, SpaceX was mentioned and according to Musk, he’d like to bring more than just humans to Mars. “The next really big thing is to build a self-sustaining city on Mars and bring the animals and creatures of Earth there,” he said. “Sort of like a futuristic Noah’s ark.”

However, scientists say the idea simply isn’t feasible. Roger Wiens told The Daily Mail there’s no way it would work and we should start with botanical gardens first. Other scientists, such as Harvard Smithsonian Center astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, say it could work, but we’re not even close to achieving it yet.

Overall, the general consensus seems to be this is a bad idea now but may be possible in the future. The far future, that is.