Musk's Mars life plan a dangerous delusion, says scientist

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Dubai - The renowned astrophysicist played down suggestions that humans could live on Mars long-term.


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Published: Wed 10 Mar 2021, 10:00 PM

Last updated: Thu 11 Mar 2021, 7:25 AM

Astrophysicist Lord Martin Rees said Elon Musk’s plans to send humans to Mars was a “dangerous delusion”,

Lord Rees – who has been the UK’s Astronomer Royal since 1995 and holds fellowships of several prestigious societies – said that housing populations in “glass domes” on the Red Planet would be comparable to living in hostile environments like the South Pole or Mount Everest.

Speaking alongside astrophysicist Dr Neil DeGrasse Tyson at a WGS Dialogues panel on the global space race, the renowned scientist played down suggestions that humans could live on Mars long-term – in sharp contrast to SpaceX CEO Musk’s predictions that a million people will soon live on the Red Planet.

Lord Rees said: “So, the idea of Elon Musk to have a million people settle on Mars is a dangerous delusion. Living on Mars is no better than living on the South Pole or the tip of Mount Everest.”

Dr Tyson added: “To ship a billion people to another planet to help them survive a catastrophe on earth seems unrealistic. If you want to call Mars home, you need to terraform Mars, turn it into Earth. It is so much easier to make Earth return to Earth again rather than terraforming Mars.

“Space will always remain as an inspiration for young people and it is an area we need to support,” he said.

It comes after the UAE’s Hope Probe last month successfully entered orbit around the Red Planet and beamed its first surface-level images back to Earth.

During the same WGS panel, Dr Tyson – who is best known for his space-focused books and television appearances – remarked that inter-planetary exploration is essential since the solar system is the “world’s backyard”.

He said: “Space is for everyone and the Solar System is the world’s backyard. So, it’s great to see that collaborations are becoming important in space exploration and countries are coming together to share knowledge and resources.”

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