Mar expert Áine O’Brien was invited onto The Nine on BBC Scotland to discuss the possibility of mankind setting up a permanent home on the red planet. Scientists have been discussing possibilities for a martian settlement following the news that NASA successfully flew a small helicopter drone during explorations of the planet. When asked how soon a mission to colonise Mars could be launched, Ms O’Brien replied:”Maybe 20, 30 years…”
The Martian geologist told the programme: “I think it is really quite possible.”
“I hope it is not that soon because we haven’t done that much robotically yet.
“There is soo much to see and we need to see if there is life there before we contaminate with our own lives.
“Hopefully maybe 20, 30 years I think is the kind of expectation slash hope.
Ms O’Brien added: “By then we should have done a whole lot of science to work out how we can do it.
“Without perhaps polluting anything on Mars that you know is already living there.”
She later clarified the settlement would likely come in the form of a “research station” rather than a pioneering space colony.
The Scottish space expert linked the possibility of a base on Mars to the recent news that NASA plans to relaunch missions to the moon.
On Monday, the NASA Ingenuity helicopter carried out the first-ever flight on another planet while it was on Mars.
The contraption rose three metres in the air, hovered and then safely returned to the ground.
The flight lasted 40 seconds as data was sent back to scientists on Earth which will help expand travel on Mars.
Confirmation came via a satellite that relayed the chopper’s data back to Earth.