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What Will it Take to Bring Humans to Mars?

What Will it Take to Bring Humans to Mars?
Reported by
Kari Fischer

Posted July 24, 2020

Presented By

The New York Academy of Sciences

Human bodies are optimized for life on Earth, and ill-equipped for environments like those we will encounter on Mars. But here at home there are organisms that thrive in the extremes: the coldest, hottest, driest, and saltiest places. As technologies like CRISPR enable us to manipulate our genes, there may be adaptive tools we can borrow from these extremophiles. But while we are absorbed in self-preservation, it will be easy to neglect the planet we hope to colonize. After all, humans do not have the best track record when it comes to ethical exploration. While there is no evidence for life on Mars—yet—there is still the matter of an entire land that has no one to speak for it, or to defend it. So in the process of getting humans to Mars, what values may be compromised along the way? In this eBriefing you will hear from three scientists who study Mars-like environments here on Earth, the effects of space travel on human health, and the ethics of space exploration. Together, they paint an exciting but cautionary vision for 2035—the year humans might land on Mars.

In this eBriefing, You’ll Learn:

  • The environment humans will encounter on Mars
  • Hazards of long-term spaceflight for the human body
  • The state of the science for human gene editing
  • Ethical challenges for human space exploration


Brooke Grindlinger, PhD
Brooke Grindlinger, PhD

New York Academy of Sciences


Kennda Lynch
Kennda Lynch, PhD

Lunar and Planetary Institute

Christopher Mason
Christopher Mason, PhD

Weill Cornell Medicine

Lucianne Walkowicz
Lucianne Walkowicz, PhD

The JustSpace Alliance; Adler Plantarium

The Very Human Challenges of Mars Exploration