The Guardian

Can humans live on Mars? You asked Google – here’s the answer | Ian Sample

Every day millions of internet users ask Google life’s most difficult questions, big and small. Our writers answer some of the commonest queries• Ian Sample is the Guardian’s science editor
‘The first humans to set foot on Mars will likely stay for a month or so.’ Photograph: HO/AFP/Getty Images

Wanted: men and women to leave the birthplace of humanity and the only safe haven in the solar system for an interminable voyage in a cramped container with people you will probably learn to hate. Destination: the freezing, airless, highly irradiated and irredeemable wasteland we call Mars. Must be willing to live in a pressurised pod, drink crewmates’ recycled urine and endure disgraceful broadband service.

Hollywood has a knack for bringing excitement to Mars, but the foundation of any tension invariably lies in the fact that anyone who goes wants to come back, because it’s downright hostile and Earth was never that bad, that dangerous, or that doomed in the first and want us to colonise other planets to safeguard the future of the species. They have a point. But if we can’t survive on the planet we evolved to live on – the only life-nurturing planet we know – it’s hard to see us making a great fist of it elsewhere. Another hitch: we’re nowhere near ready to leave.

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