Although all eyes are fixed on the Moon for NASA’s next human mission that will take place in 2024, SpaceX is already planning to visit Mars within the next few years. A sizable problem Going to Mars is the easy part, surviving there is the real challenge. In fact, the red planet is very hostile for all forms of life, including our own. Between the radiation, the gravity that deteriorates the muscles and the bones as well as very cold temperatures, it’s complicated to stay alive on this planet which (appears) hostile for human life. Controlled climate change So that life can exist on Mars, scientists have created an aerogel, a material similar to a gel, where the liquid component is replaced by gas, capable of heating up the surface of the planet, in order to achieve temperatures which are similar to those on Earth. The aerogel will not only heat up the planet, but also create an anti-UV barrier. A question of ethics This technique has been proved and could work right now. So why haven’t we done it already? What is holding us back? Very simply because we haven’t found life on Mars, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any. Heating up the planet and colonising it, means introducing microbes from Earth to the red planet which could be potentially dangerous for the currently unknown life forms that are already there. Therefore, scientists are suggesting we mark off an area for earth life so as not to endanger the Martian life. NASA’s Mars mission in 2020 should allow us to learn more about the red planet.