NASA Scientist: Yes, Humans Can One Day Live on Mars

NASA Scientist: Yes, Humans Can One Day Live on Mars

In an interview, JPL Caltech planetary scientist, Jesse Tarnas, explains his motivations for Mars exploration, and how to find and sustain life there.

Science & Tech

NASA's JPL Caltech science team has spent years analyzing and researching data about Mars. The hope is that there is life beneath the Red Planet's surface and that this will further scientists' understanding of planetary evolution and, ultimately, of our galaxy.

In an interview with Interesting Engineering, Jesse Tarnas, a planetary scientist at JPL Caltech and NASA post-doctoral fellow, discussed where we currently are in the search for life on Mars, the future of Martian habitation, and what that means for us here on Earth.

Tarnas explained that part of his motivation comes from, "The idea of us living in a future where humans are collectively inhabiting Earth in a much more honorable and sustainable way." He believes that many of the ways this could be possible, and how we could learn to do so, come from exploring space, and from learning to inhabit other planets, like Mars.

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How NASA's planetary scientists figure out if Mars was, and is, habitable

Tarnas is part of the Mars Rover Perseverance 2020 team that looks at the rover's data as it comes in. The team uses a blend of the rover's current data, orbital data gathered from planetary satellites floating above in orbit, and data from past rovers and landers to try and evaluate different aspects of the planet's history and the potential of using space resources.

To gather that data, the team works hard to optimize a solution for exploration that gets the maximum scientific benefit out of the rover, for example, by planning out the rover's next ports of call.