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Why Neil deGrasse Tyson Is Skeptical About Mars Colonization

A study published in “Earth-Science Reviews” revealed in October 2020 that lava tubes on Mars and the moon could be used to build safe habitats that protect humans from radiation. The study recognizes that the existence of lava tubes on the moon and Mars are not scientifically proven facts, and have been a “matter of debate for more than 50 years.” However, when scientists compared the lava tube features on the moon and Mars, they found strong resemblances with the morphological characteristics of lava tubes on Earth.

More than 300 “skylights,” or “cave entrances,” have been identified on the moon, and more than 1,000 of them have been found on Mars by NASA orbiters. The study calls for robotic technologies to examine the tubes and collect data. “Intact, open segments of lava tubes could provide stable shelters for human habitats shielded by cosmic radiation and micrometeorite impacts,” the study claims. Lava tubes could also provide better access to resources, including water trapped as ice in caves. Additionally, the dimensions of lava tubes are “suitable for permanent housing design,” the study says. Lava tube skylights could also provide easy access to the surface.

While missions to Mars are undeniable and probably inevitable, and while NASA, ESA, and other space actors will continue to develop the technology necessary to make trips to the moon and Mars safe for astronauts, a city on Mars where millions of normal citizens live a “normal” life is highly unlikely. If a base on Mars is ever constructed, it will probably be an underground facility dedicated to scientific, and perhaps industrial, activities with an intense deployment of Mars robotics to do most of the jobs.

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