Your kids might live on Mars. Here’s how they’ll survive | Stephen Petranek

Your kids might live on Mars. Here’s how they’ll survive | Stephen Petranek


Strap yourselves in, we’re going to Mars. Not just a few astronauts — thousands of people
are going to colonize Mars. And I am telling you
that they’re going to do this soon. Some of you will end up
working on projects on Mars, and I guarantee that some
of your children will end up living there. That probably sounds preposterous, so I’m going to share with you
how and when that will happen. But first I want to discuss
the obvious question: Why the heck should we do this? 12 years ago, I gave a TED talk on 10 ways
the world could end suddenly. We are incredibly vulnerable
to the whims of our own galaxy. A single, large asteroid
could take us out forever. To survive we have to reach
beyond the home planet. Think what a tragedy it would be if all that humans have accomplished
were suddenly obliterated. And there’s another reason we should go: exploration is in our DNA. Two million years ago
humans evolved in Africa and then slowly but surely
spread out across the entire planet by reaching into the wilderness
that was beyond their horizons. This stuff is inside us. And they prospered doing that. Some of the greatest advances
in civilization and technology came because we explored. Yes, we could do a lot of good with the money it will take
to establish a thriving colony on Mars. And yes we should all be taking
far better care of our own home planet. And yes, I worry we could screw up Mars
the way we’ve screwed up Earth. But think for a moment, what we had when John F. Kennedy
told us we would put a human on the moon. He excited an entire generation to dream. Think how inspired we will be
to see a landing on Mars. Perhaps then we will look back at Earth and see that that is
one people instead of many and perhaps then
we will look back at Earth, as we struggle to survive on Mars, and realize how precious
the home planet is. So let me tell you about the extraordinary
adventure we’re about to undertake. But first, a few fascinating facts
about where we’re going. This picture actually represents
the true size of Mars compared to Earth. Mars is not our sister planet. It’s far less than half
the size of the Earth, and yet despite the fact
that it’s smaller, the surface area of Mars
that you can stand on is equivalent to the surface area
of the Earth that you can stand on, because the Earth
is mostly covered by water. The atmosphere on Mars is really thin — 100 times thinner than on Earth — and it’s not breathable,
it’s 96 percent carbon dioxide. It’s really cold there. The average temperature
is minus 81 degrees, although there is
quite a range of temperature. A day on Mars is about as long
as a day on Earth, plus about 39 minutes. Seasons and years on Mars
are twice as long as they are on Earth. And for anybody who wants to strap
on some wings and go flying one day, Mars has a lot less gravity than on Earth, and it’s the kind of place where you can jump over your car
instead of walk around it. Now, as you can see,
Mars isn’t exactly Earth-like, but it’s by far the most livable
other place in our entire solar system. Here’s the problem. Mars is a long way away, a thousand times farther away
from us than our own moon. The Moon is 250,000 miles away and it took Apollo astronauts
three days to get there. Mars is 250 million miles away and it will take us
eight months to get there — 240 days. And that’s only if we launch
on a very specific day, at a very specific time, once every two years, when Mars and the Earth
are aligned just so, so the distance that the rocket
would have to travel will be the shortest. 240 days is a long time to spend
trapped with your colleagues in a tin can. And meanwhile, our track record
of getting to Mars is lousy. We and the Russians,
the Europeans, the Japanese, the Chinese and the Indians, have actually sent 44 rockets there, and the vast majority of them
have either missed or crashed. Only about a third of the missions
to Mars have been successful. And we don’t at the moment have
a rocket big enough to get there anyway. We once had that rocket, the Saturn V. A couple of Saturn Vs
would have gotten us there. It was the most magnificent
machine ever built by humans, and it was the rocket
that took us to the Moon. But the last Saturn V was used in 1973
to launch the Skylab space station, and we decided to do
something called the shuttle instead of continuing on to Mars
after we landed on the Moon. The biggest rocket we have now is only half big enough
to get us anything to Mars. So getting to Mars is not going to be easy and that brings up
a really interesting question … how soon will the first humans
actually land here? Now, some pundits think
if we got there by 2050, that’d be a pretty good achievement. These days, NASA seems to be saying
that it can get humans to Mars by 2040. Maybe they can. I believe that they can get
human beings into Mars orbit by 2035. But frankly, I don’t think they’re going to bother
in 2035 to send a rocket to Mars, because we will already be there. We’re going to land on Mars in 2027. And the reason is this man is determined
to make that happen. His name is Elon Musk,
he’s the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX. Now, he actually told me
that we would land on Mars by 2025, but Elon Musk is more
optimistic than I am — and that’s going a ways — so I’m giving him
a couple of years of slack. Still … you’ve got to ask yourself, can this guy really do this
by 2025 or 2027? Well, let’s put a decade with Elon Musk
into a little perspective. Where was this 10 years ago? That’s the Tesla electric automobile. In 2005, a lot of people
in the automobile industry were saying, we would not have
a decent electric car for 50 years. And where was that? That is SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, lifting six tons of supplies
to the International Space Station. 10 years ago, SpaceX had not launched anything,
or fired a rocket to anywhere. So I think it’s a pretty good bet that the person who is revolutionizing
the automobile industry in less than 10 years and the person who created an entire
rocket company in less than 10 years will get us to Mars by 2027. Now, you need to know this: governments and robots
no longer control this game. Private companies are leaping into space and they will be happy
to take you to Mars. And that raises a really big question. Can we actually live there? Now, NASA may not be able
to get us there until 2040, or we may get there
a long time before NASA, but NASA has taken a huge responsibility
in figuring out how we can live on Mars. Let’s look at the problem this way. Here’s what you need to live on Earth: food, water, shelter and clothing. And here’s what you need to live on Mars: all of the above, plus oxygen. So let’s look at the most
important thing on this list first. Water is the basis
of all life as we know it, and it’s far too heavy for us to carry
water from the Earth to Mars to live, so we have to find water
if our life is going to succeed on Mars. And if you look at Mars,
it looks really dry, it looks like the entire
planet is a desert. But it turns out that it’s not. The soil alone on Mars
contains up to 60 percent water. And a number of orbiters that we still
have flying around Mars have shown us — and by the way,
that’s a real photograph — that lots of craters on Mars
have a sheet of water ice in them. It’s not a bad place to start a colony. Now, here’s a view of a little dig
the Phoenix Lander did in 2008, showing that just below
the surface of the soil is ice — that white stuff is ice. In the second picture, which is four days later
than the first picture, you can see that
some of it is evaporating. Orbiters also tell us that there are huge amounts
of underground water on Mars as well as glaciers. In fact, if only the water ice
at the poles on Mars melted, most of the planet
would be under 30 feet of water. So there’s plenty of water there, but most of it’s ice,
most of it’s underground, it takes a lot of energy to get it
and a lot of human labor. This is a device cooked up
at the University of Washington back in 1998. It’s basically a low-tech dehumidifier. And it turns out the Mars atmosphere
is often 100 percent humid. So this device can extract
all the water that humans will need simply from the atmosphere on Mars. Next we have to worry
about what we will breathe. Frankly, I was really shocked to find out that NASA
has this problem worked out. This is a scientist at MIT
named Michael Hecht. And he’s developed this machine, Moxie. I love this thing. It’s a reverse fuel cell, essentially, that sucks in the Martian atmosphere
and pumps out oxygen. And you have to remember that CO2 — carbon dioxide, which is
96 percent of Mars’ atmosphere — CO2 is basically 78 percent oxygen. Now, the next big rover
that NASA sends to Mars in 2020 is going to have one
of these devices aboard, and it will be able
to produce enough oxygen to keep one person alive indefinitely. But the secret to this — and that’s just for testing — the secret to this is that this thing
was designed from the get-go to be scalable by a factor of 100. Next, what will we eat? Well, we’ll use hydroponics to grow food, but we’re not going to be able to grow more than 15 to 20 percent
of our food there, at least not until water is running
on the surface of Mars and we actually have the probability
and the capability of planting crops. In the meantime, most of our food will arrive from Earth, and it will be dried. And then we need some shelter. At first we can use inflatable,
pressurized buildings as well as the landers themselves. But this really only works
during the daytime. There is too much solar radiation
and too much radiation from cosmic rays. So we really have to go underground. Now, it turns out that the soil on Mars, by and large,
is perfect for making bricks. And NASA has figured this one out, too. They’re going to throw
some polymer plastic into the bricks, shove them in a microwave oven, and then you will be able to build
buildings with really thick walls. Or we may choose to live underground
in caves or in lava tubes, of which there are plenty. And finally there’s clothing. On Earth we have miles
of atmosphere piled up on us, which creates 15 pounds of pressure
on our bodies at all times, and we’re constantly
pushing out against that. On Mars there’s hardly
any atmospheric pressure. So Dava Newman, a scientist at MIT, has created this sleek space suit. It will keep us together, block radiation and keep us warm. So let’s think about this for a minute. Food, shelter, clothing, water, oxygen … we can do this. We really can. But it’s still a little complicated
and a little difficult. So that leads to the next big — really big step — in living the good life on Mars. And that’s terraforming the planet: making it more like Earth, reengineering an entire planet. That sounds like a lot of hubris, but the truth is that the technology to do everything
I’m about to tell you already exists. First we’ve got to warm it up. Mars is incredibly cold
because it has a very thin atmosphere. The answer lies here, at the south pole
and at the north pole of Mars, both of which are covered with an incredible amount
of frozen carbon dioxide — dry ice. If we heat it up, it sublimes directly into the atmosphere and thickens the atmosphere
the same way it does on Earth. And as we know, CO2 is an incredibly
potent greenhouse gas. Now, my favorite way of doing this
is to erect a very, very large solar sail and focus it — it essentially serves as a mirror — and focus it on the south pole
of Mars at first. As the planet spins, it will heat up
all that dry ice, sublime it, and it will go into the atmosphere. It actually won’t take long for the temperature
on Mars to start rising, probably less than 20 years. Right now, on a perfect day at the equator, in the middle of summer on Mars, temperatures can
actually reach 70 degrees, but then they go down
to minus 100 at night. (Laughter) What we’re shooting for
is a runaway greenhouse effect: enough temperature rise
to see a lot of that ice on Mars — especially the ice in the ground — melt. Then we get some real magic. As the atmosphere gets thicker,
everything gets better. We get more protection from radiation, more atmosphere makes us warmer,
makes the planet warmer, so we get running water and that makes crops possible. Then more water vapor goes into the air,
forming yet another potent greenhouse gas. It will rain and it will snow on Mars. And a thicker atmosphere
will create enough pressure so that we can
throw away those space suits. We only need about five pounds
of pressure to survive. Eventually, Mars will be made
to feel a lot like British Columbia. We’ll still be left
with the complicated problem of making the atmosphere breathable, and frankly that could take
1,000 years to accomplish. But humans are amazingly smart
and incredibly adaptable. There is no telling what our future
technology will be able to accomplish and no telling what we can do
with our own bodies. In biology right now, we are on the very verge of being
able to control our own genetics, what the genes
in our own bodies are doing, and certainly, eventually, our own evolution. We could end up with a species
of human being on Earth that is slightly different
from the species of human beings on Mars. But what would you do there?
How would you live? It’s going to be
the same as it is on Earth. Somebody’s going to start a restaurant, somebody’s going to build an iron foundry. Someone will make
documentary movies of Mars and sell them on Earth. Some idiot will start a reality TV show. (Laughter) There will be software companies, there will be hotels, there will be bars. This much is certain: it will be the most disruptive
event in our lifetimes, and I think it will be the most inspiring. Ask any 10-year-old girl
if she wants to go to Mars. Children who are now in elementary school
are going to choose to live there. Remember when we landed
humans on the Moon? When that happened,
people looked at each other and said, “If we can do this, we can do anything.” What are they going to think
when we actually form a colony on Mars? Most importantly, it will make us a spacefaring species. And that means humans will survive
no matter what happens on Earth. We will never be the last of our kind. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Your kids might live on Mars. Here’s how they’ll survive | Stephen Petranek

  1. Danger is not from the outer space but from within. If anything could suddenly wipe out all human races one day, it would definitely be the evil of humanity.

  2. Now you wanna go and ruin another planet . How about instead of focusing on another planet use your knowledge how to save Mother Earth .

  3. This is ridiculous. Focusing on this tiny unlivable planet and willing to spend an unknown amount of money to shoot for impossible crazy sounding goals. People have become completely insane. Why can’t we just be happy with what we have? Why do we need to mess with our genetics and go live on a planet that sucks worse than the one we live on now? If you try to colonize Mars you will die and your bodies may never be recovered. I just hope you die before you waste too much money and not after trillions of dollars have been spent on dumb bs. If everyone trying to colonize Mars decides to pursue their silly dream and they all die from one of the million ways that they could all die, I’ll just look at it as natural selection.

  4. Mars has no ionosphere therefore it has no way to deflect solar radiation and in turn any atmosphere that is created will be swept right off in to space. Terraforming mars is impossible.

  5. nothing will survive on mars…
    there is no magnetic field protecting it from the sun's radiation.
    you would have to live in lead boxes without ever going outside.

  6. Oxygen is the most harmful thing for the earth. Not humans or pollution. Take away oxygen and nothing rots or rusts. Everything stays just as it is. So yes humans can destroy humans on Earth. But humans can not harm the earth.

  7. Most of this sounds good and should be doable but terra-forming Mars on a large scale is simply not a good idea. The moon and Mars need to be self sustaining human outposts to send humans further out into space.

    These celestial bodies can support small scale colonies for scientific research and advancements. However, one cannot expect the leisures and luxuries we have on earth if one were to live on Mars.

    Melting the polar ice caps, forming rivers, oceans and an atmosphere on the planet is definitely possible. However it's a terrible idea because we're completely overlooking the fact that the Martian world which once harboured a thicker atmosphere and ocean got completely stripped away by solar winds due to a weak magnetic field.

    For the most part, humans who do end up living on Mars will have to live in very sheltered habitats near the poles. These habitats would require some form of artificial gravity in order to preserve the bone density of astronauts living in a low gravity environment.

    These habitats will also melt only as much water ice and other ices required for human consumption and to grow crops. Crops would most likely be grown in enclosed greenhouses.

  8. Well one thing is for sure, this will never happen, dream on peeps, the fallen have stolen your mind and taken your eyes off the real prize.

  9. His answer to food is really weak "bring it from earth" sounds stupid. Cannot grow food in toxic martian soil. uh-on 😲

  10. GRAVITATION IS JUST A BIG LIE, A SAFETY PLAN FOR GLOBALIST WHEN THEY HAVE NO ARGUMENT LEFT

    We see an airplane in the sky for very long time, it has it's nose point a little bit up all the time, it never dip the nose.
    What You globalist claim then is, that gravitation makes it follow the curve of the globe.

    If gravitation have such powerful force, so it can make an airplane have it's nose pointing a little up all the time, and still follow a curve on a globe, nothing could ever leave the earth, not a ballone and not a rocket to go to the moon, or satellites or spacestation ISS, connect the dots You globalists, to live in deny is a sicknes You have to cure

  11. my son always say he's going to blow up the earth that he doesn't like earth. this video explains it.

  12. Who is this guy and why is he on TED? Sounds like he just googled mars before he took to the podium. He didn't say anything new we all hadnt heard 5 years ago.

  13. Dearest Eartha, Im leaving you for Marsha. Shes cold, distant and not much to look at but…she can change. Just know its not you its me. Love Manny

  14. bullshit, mars is lile 11% of earth's mass ergo mars has a fraction of earths gravity
    1. humans can not survive in to low gravity long term, thats why no moon bases
    2. no atmosphere and even if we could release all the co2 and frozen water on mars it would not equail survivable air pressure and it would all transublumate away into space cause not enough grsvity to keep it on mars
    3. no magnetic field so no protection from radiation

    humanities future is in rotating habitat rings which would simulate earth normal gravity

  15. the reason there is a layer of ice on mars is because of the impact of the meteorite and the meteorite contains 10% ice of its own so the impact and the heat of it turns it into water but its so cold on mars that it will change it to ice again

  16. the only way i can see anyone living on mars is if we colonize mars craters, then build a structural rooftop covering the crater that protects against global dust storms and radiation, then build habitats underground

  17. We are born in the right era?

    We have just completed level 2 of the universe…So we can say that we are the ones who are living too early to explore the best out of the universe….Well i am okay with that cuz Humans life cycle and universe life cycle has no comparison, We live 60 years while earth is going to end only when the sun will be so close to earth that we cant survive and that time is quite far away i guess….We should enjoy what we have now cuz we havent explored the sea yet which is on the earth…Assuming living on other planet is a whole different prespective

    Thank Earth that you are born here not as a bacteria on Mars😂😂

  18. Sounds wonderful, like rainbows and butterflies !!

    Apart from only that small, negligible fact that Mars has no magnetosphere so any water vapor you blow into the sky with that big shiny mirror will eventually get stripped away by solar wind and radiation, but we'll just assume NASA will have that sorted out too… (right?)
    Not trying to be a pessimist though, just a bit disappointed that Mr. Petranek forgot to mention that.

  19. What a fantasy! I thought that's what I was supposed to be an educational Channel but all I ever get is made up science. Nobody is going to Mars nobody's going to the Moon, nobody's going anywhere, so we might as well fix the problems here! The people of India dying of disease and starvation and yet make believe they went to the Moon😢

  20. Mars is not a Planet (neither is Earth) it's a luminated Plane. All the so called "Mars" Rover images come from Devon, Island Canada. There are no "Planets" shaped like rotten American women, lol. Don't be so naive.

  21. How do you keep the atmosphere from being eroded by solar wind? How will you kick start the martian magnetic filed to protect the atmosphere and limit the exposure to radiation? Where is the energy coming from to support most of these technologies?

  22. RIGHT. Mars has 1/100th the atmosphere, VERY LITTLE oxygen, water that is sequestered as frozen MUD, planet wide sandstorms on a regular basis. And it will take a BILLION dollars for every kilogram to get there. Ted SQUAWKS.

  23. This is one of the most ridiculous TED's I've ever heard. Mars to be the back up plan for humans? Mars would need Earth for everything. The costs of sending just a 100 people to Mars would exceed NASA's annual budget. Who's going to pay $50M just for a 9 month seat to Mars? This plod lives on Corn Flakes and prescriptions. Never going to happen. Earth goes we all go end of story.

  24. There are too many problems on earth which created by humans; I have to leave from it to earth. this is a big dream, everything has a beginning who selected the earth planet for humans to be here and live. the earth makes life possible than any other planet. thank God; he created everything he knows everything. we are very weak if mars is better than Earthy Allah would situate humans over there on mars. we never live another planet this is impossible; we need Allah permit

  25. Nice idea and all sounds great till the part of terraforming. We can´t do this on Mars without having the two Moons of Mars fall down on Mars and destroy every live on it. They fall down because they rub on the new build atmosphere. So, yes living on Mars seems possible, but just in unconfortablle conditions.

  26. Water vapor reaches escape velocity in Martian conditions. Any surface water will evaporate into space even if the ideal atmosphere were somehow created. Calculate the RMS velocity of water vapor on Martian conditions and compare this to Martian escape velocity if you doubt me. This is first semester chemistry gas laws stuff, super simple, you can do it. We could only live in caves, bubbles, or sealed habitats. You can never terraform a planet to be right for us that won't keep surface water. Also, we know now humans will not maintain good health in 0.38 gravity and it is certain human development would not proceed normally. Engineering humans around this is a much bigger thing technologically and ethically than he reports. Terraform Venus.

  27. I highly doubt the possibility of humans permanently colonizing the mars even in the 100 years time even if they managed to terraform it. The problem is the gravity, less than half that of earth, can cause severe weakening of the bones's structure of humans.

  28. People from Alfa Centauri have been coming here on a regular basis ,its common knowledge to the heads of the G8 country'@t why carry on with the bs.The Natives on Alfa Centauri came from Earth,they occupied Atlantis,i have seen their ships and so have thousands of people across the World.The South African Scientist Elizabeth Klare had a long romantic affair with a Scientist from Meton one of their planets and had a son with him,it was all over the papers in the 60s why lie to us when there is so much on this.

  29. The truth is..

    U.S has been on Mars since 1975. Their is a base their, has been their for quite some time. The Space Shuttle, was a diversion, to the public, in terms of space travel. Most people in the world do not know, that most flights to space, are launched at S10A16, An American control facility in Antarctica. They have a craft, that can fly, between earth and mars, and land, in 17 mins.

  30. Btw I have borderlands 3 on pause just to watch this and when you said the word "company" I got a little scared there! Lol

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