Is There Death on Mars…

Over the past couple days a few messages have popped up regarding sudden exposure of a human body to the Martian atmosphere – in particular this post I made to the feed:


A generally snarky and oddly lefty post for the feed, but people were really thrown by the reference to “boil” – which was an effect I always found fascinating about the low pressure of Mars. But, those two problems – suffocation and boiling, are only two of the ways Mars will KILL THE SHIT OUT OF US.

So let’s talk about how tough life on Mars will be.

First off – cosmic radiation – solar and other radiation is really pretty deadly, and we’ll be exposed to it as we travel to Mars. And there is a limit to what we can take – it’s estimated that  if we take our time getting to Mars, we might be exposed to at least double the recommended dosage of cosmic rays… which will no don’t lead to super powers.

Also, Mars has NO MAGNETIC FIELD – and so, it is constantly bombarded by solar radiation. On Earth, our magnetic field deflects solar radiation and protects us, and Mars won’t do shit to protect us. Thin atmosphere and no magnetic field = us all getting cancer and dying.

Of course, without protection we’ll be dead waaaaaaay before the radiation gets us.

Next we have the atmosphere. There’s barely any there, and what there is there is useless. Martian air is pretty much all carbon dioxide, and what those of you who listen to hippies or scientists or people who are sensible will know is that humans cannot breathe carbon dioxide.

So the Martian air will suffocate us – because humans need oxygen in our blood. We run on it, and without that – we will die. But of course, WHILE WE SUFFOCATE, we will also boil.

The air pressure on Mars is so low, about 0.6% of Earth’s, and in such low pressure any exposed water will boil instantly – which is why you can only find frozen water on Mars. Now, what this means for humans is that the water that isn’t under pressure (our blood pressure is internally regulated, so your blood won’t boil – though it will be lacking in oxygen which will still kill you) water in your sweat, your eyeballs, your mouth, in your lungs when you breath… all of that water will boil away instantly, and you will be as an aerosol can. Your lungs don’t work when they’re dry, so you won’t be able to breathe in the atmosphere that will kill you anyway.

Regardless – the air and pressure and radiation on Mars will kill us all.

As will the temperature. Average temperatures on Mars vary from 27 °C (81 °F) to -143 °C (-225 °F) and usually it’s on the colder side of that… which will undoubtably kill us all, though of course, not before the suffocation thing.

And then – even overcoming all of those problems, we only THEN get to start looking at the basic requirements we face here on Earth – food, shelter, safety – and those are just as problematic.

So, in conclusion, MARS IS TRYING TO KILL US. In every way possible – the only way it could be worse is to have a liquid surface of lava with sharks swimming in it.

Which it could do, I mean, who knows – it’s a mysterious place, is Mars.

Oh, and then there are all these aliens that NASA isn’t telling us about.

So that’s how scary Mars is. Best of luck to the brave women and men we send to conquer it.

Have a good science, everyone!


7 thoughts on “Is There Death on Mars…

  1. Ron says:

    2 words…. Proof reading. Great article though, sorry to be a dick

  2. Mohammed says:

    Fun and thought provoking, but why wouldn’t all the lubricants in the rover (curiosity) boil?

    • That’s a great question! I don’t know the answer though. MY GUESS, however, is that the lubricants and fluids are probably under internal pressure, and/or are liquids designed to operate at very very low pressure. Either way, whatever they did, it’s clearly working.

      • Brian says:

        Fun fact: The cameras used on the lunar surface during the Apollo missions were modified in such a way that all the lubricants were removed, to prevent them from boiling away.

  3. CrakGenius says:

    I think the safe assumption here is to expose the SHIT outta ourselves to the cosmic radiation. The resulting superpowers will allow us to stroll around the surface of Mars with ease.

    Frankly, I’m surprised you didn’t see this obvious solution.

  4. Excellent article. After watching Total Recall, I quite fancied a Mars vacation, but now I can definitely say that’s its not going to happen.

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