Sending people to Mars for long periods would be extremely unsafe.
Luckily, there’s a safer destination for humans in our solar system: Saturn’s moon Titan. Located 745 million miles from Earth, it has a thick atmosphere that provides protection from dangerous radiation. Titan has many other Earth-like qualities that could help us learn more about our home planet. Titan has lakes and seas, as well as wind, weather, and seasons similar to Earth’s, and many resources that would enable humans to build a self-sustaining settlement.
Human exploration of any planet or moon beyond our own is likely to be far in the future. It’s an enormous challenge to get humans safely to these destinations. We should take this giant scientific leap only when we are ready, and we shouldn’t subject our brave astronauts—and the success of the missions—to undue risk. For these reasons and more, sending humans for long-duration missions to Mars would be unwise.
—AMANDA R. HENDRIX
Senior Scientist, Planetary Science Institute