The guide to `Colonizing the Red Planet`

Washington: A manned mission to Mars would be the greatest adventure in the history of the human race and one man has penned a book on how to make it a reality.

Joel Levine, senior research scientist with NASA`s Langley Research Center and co-chair of NASA`s Human Exploration of Mars Science Analysis Group, has published ``The Human Mission to Mars: Colonizing the Red Planet.``

The book reads like a who’s who of Mars mission science, featuring senators, astronauts, astrophysicists, geologists and more on getting to Mars, studying its atmosphere and climate, the psychological and medical effects on the crew and other details.

There’s even a section detailing the science of sex on Mars, should NASA attempt to create a permanent colony there.

"For the last three years, I’ve been co-chairing a panel of about 30 U.S. and Canadian scientists, coming up with a blueprint, purely from a scientific perspective, of humanity’s role on Mars," a news channel quoted Levine, as saying.

"The trip to Mars would take on the order of 220 days using today’s chemical propulsion technology," wrote Steven A. Hawley, a former astronaut now with the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Kansas, in a chapter on the challenges and sacrifices of the trip to Mars.

He suggested either a short duration or longer duration stay before the return trip. "The longer surface mission would enable significant science, but also expose the crew to greater risk if systems don’t function as planned."

But regardless of whether a colony is initially established, Levine is passionate-and poetic-about a trip to Mars.

"When we do this, the human species will be a two-planet species for the first time ever," he said. A trip to Mars would open up countless revelations and possibly answer one of the greatest questions science today seeks to answer: is there life elsewhere in the universe?

"The search for life outside the Earth is one of the key questions in all of science and of all the objects in the Solar System, Mars is the most likely," he said.

Levine was asked to put together a special edition of the Journal of Cosmology exploring the topic, which was later published as a new book.



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