Q&A on the News

Q: Do you have an estimation of when people will actually live on Mars?


A: A human could be sent to Mars by 2040, NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green told USA Today earlier this year.

Billionaire Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, said humans could travel to Mars earlier, by the mid-2020s, and a colony on the planet could exist by the 2060s and have one million residents, according to a National Geographic story.

“Science fiction writers have long featured terraforming, the process of creating an Earth-like or habitable environment on another planet, in their stories. Scientists themselves have proposed terraforming to enable the long-term colonization of Mars. A solution common to both groups is to release carbon dioxide gas trapped in the Martian surface to thicken the atmosphere and act as a blanket to warm the planet,” according to a NASA statement in 2018.

A NASA-sponsored study found that “Mars does not retain enough carbon dioxide that could practically be put back into the atmosphere to warm Mars.”

“Transforming the inhospitable Martian environment into a place astronauts could explore without life support is not possible without technology well beyond today’s capabilities,” according to the statement.

Q&A on the News runs Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Fast Copy News Service wrote this column. Do you have a question? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).