Schulze-Makuch works in the Earth Sciences department at WSU and is the author of two books about life on other planets. His focus is eco-hydrogeology, which includes the study of water on planets and moons of our solar system and how those could serve as a potential habitat for microbial life.
The peer-reviewed Journal of Cosmology covers astronomy, astrobiology, Earth sciences and life.
Schulze-Makuch and Davies contend that Mars has abundant resources to help the colonists become self-sufficient over time. The colony should be next to a large ice cave, to provide shelter from radiation, plus water and oxygen, they wrote.
They believe the one-way trips could start in two decades.
"You would send a little bit older folks, around 60 or something like that," Schulze-Makuch said, bringing to mind the aging heroes who save the day in "Space Cowboys."
That's because the mission would undoubtedly reduce a person's lifespan, from a lack of medical care and exposure to radiation. That radiation would also damage human reproductive organs, so sending people of childbearing age is not a good idea, he said.
There have been seniors in space, including John Glenn, who was 77 when he flew on the space shuttle in 1998.
Still, Schulze-Makuch believes many people would be willing to make the sacrifice.
The Mars base would offer humanity a "lifeboat" in the event Earth becomes uninhabitable, they said.
"We are on a vulnerable planet," Schulze-Makuch said. "Asteroid impact can threaten us, or a supernova explosion. If we want to survive as a species, we have to expand into the solar system and likely beyond."
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