GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Guest Post: Would you go to Mars? (Mars Girls book tour) + giveaway | I Smell Sheep

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Guest Post: Would you go to Mars? (Mars Girls book tour) + giveaway

Would you go to Mars?
by Mary Turzillo

Hi. I’m a founding member of the Mars Society. I’ve always been interested in humanity’s exploration of the universe, and I want to ask a question you may not have every been asked before. Or maybe you have.

If offered a ride, would you go to Mars?
Let’s narrow this down I’m not talking about being cooped up in a tin can for nine months, landing in a desert, spending a couple years living basically in a space suit and doing experiments, then coming back to Earth in the same tin can.

I’m talking about a one-way trip. Not a death trip, although in the long run everybody dies (so far as we know). You would probably die on Mars, but only after a long and very interesting life as a Martian colonist.

Well, would you go?

Let me list some of the features of this possible life, pro and con.

You probably know the cons. Thin atmosphere, only 3% of Earth’s: not enough to sustain even a few minutes of life, so you’d be living inside a habitat with brief excursions outside in either an environment suit or a rover. You’d be absorbing cosmic rays that might damage your health. It’s really cold. Some places it might reach a temperature above the freezing temperature of water. But carbon dioxide freezes on Mars, so it’s COLD. You’d be far away from everybody on Earth, and conversations would feature a fo communicate with you as if by text or email, albeit with video features.

And it would be hard to get accepted to go to Mars. You’d have to be very healthy. Whatever organization provided the ride would be expecting returns on their investment, so likely they’d want engineers and scientists who would work hard to make scientific discoveries worth their hire. 

My Mars Girls, in my upcoming Apex novel, were born on Mars. They had no choice. But still, it’s their home. They don’t want to leave.

So, I’d like to tell you the good stuff.

First off, you’d be famous. Because so few would be selected, you’d be like an astronaut. Heck, you’d be an aresnaut. Your activities would be fascinating to everybody on Earth. If you made even the smallest discovery (I’m not saying “signs of life,” but why the heck not?) your name would be emblazoned on every news website. You might have a crater or a fallen meteorite or some other weird new thing named after you.

So there’s for you glory hounds.

But what about everyday life?

As a guess, I think NASA or some sponsoring organization would pay for your health insurance forever. They would be watching how you adapt to the low gravity, the dryness, the corrosive peroxides that leak into your living space no matter how carefully they are excluded. Sophisticated miniaturized medical equipment would be among the very first payloads, so if you did get sick (and you and your fellow Martians were vetted to be very healthy), the best equipment would be available, along with advice from all the terrestrial medical experts on Earth. They would not skimp on treatment and care! After all, NASA, ESA, and/or other sponsoring organizations would be heavily invested in your well-being. Plus the eyes of the human race are on you. Your health insurance would cover EVERYTHING, and I bet somebody else would be paying the premiums.

It’s unlikely that the terrestrial viruses that cause colds, flu, and norovirus would get to Mars. Recent studies say such diseases can arise spontaneously from human transposons, but I suspect that the first fifty years of Martian occupation will find settlers relatively free of these nuisance diseases. And of course you would not need to fear the zika virus or other diseases spread by insects. Any insects that make it to Mars would be strictly those invited to pollinate greenhouse plants or provide information to researchers.

I mentioned those peroxides. How would you like to be a natural blonde with no trips to the beauty parlor?

What about your fellow Martians? I don’t know your stereotype of space travelers, but let me extrapolate from a few of the astronauts we know about. Chris Hadfield now has his own music career. Thanks to an agreement with Bowie’s publisher, Hadfield’s performance of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, recorded on the International Space Station, was available to view for two years. Another astronaut, Kjell Lindgren, played bagpipes on the ISS.

Music is a natural for people living in limited space. Here's a chart showing other sastronaut hobbies. https://github.com/gganssle/astroBio/blob/master/figs/hob.png
So you might miss your homeys, but you’ll have interesting new friends.

Incidentally, astronauts are vetted to be sure they have agreeable personalities as well as intellectual and mechanical brilliance. As the wife of a NASA scientist, I’ve met quite a few astronauts, and found them universally interesting, convivial, and kind. They enjoy sharing their adventure with others and they love to engage with space-fans. They readily agree to photographs and autographs. They are people-people.

Some astronauts like to cook, incidentally. So, they get clever even with limited ingredients. The experts running greenhouses on Mars will always be trying new crops, maybe exotic things not available back in your city’s supermarkets. Mars might be a paradise for vegetarians, but there will be some small food animals. I’m also reading reports of meat grown from stem-cells, which because of how it is designed would be healthier in nutritional profile and free of toxins, antibiotics, or parasites: (Washington Post, May 2, 2106).

Let’s talk about the climate some more. Mars has a long year, almost twice that of Earth. Since you’ll be spending most of your time indoors, that will hardly matter. Artificial light and heat will even out the seasons. But here’s something delicious for you if you are a late sleeper: Mars’ day cycle is 24 hours, 37 minutes, and some odd seconds. This means you can sleep late every single day!

And you’ve probably already thought about the gravity issue. It is a little more than a third that of Earth’s. Take your present weight and multiply it by 0.376, and there’s your Mars weight. I weigh 135 pounds (as of this morning), but on Mars, I would be able to jump off tables or maybe even tall rocks and not break my legs, because my weight would be just a little over fifty pounds! Without calorie-counting! How amazing is that? I realize that mass is conserved, but still, our ability to jump and run would be awesomely enhanced. Imagine new forms of Earthly sports on Mars: baseball, cricket, badminton, tennis could be played iin arenas inside habitats, or outside with players in environment suits.
As a fencer, I try to imagine how that sport would change. Running attacks or fl├Ęches would be spectacular. Foilists might jump several meters in the air in order to land a touch on an opponent, or to avoid getting touched. I wish somebody would make an anime about a champion fencer coming to Mars to compete in an Interplanetary Fencing Cup. Anybody reading this who does computer animation? Please? Fulfill my dream? 

Now, here’s the best part of living on Mars. Scenery. No, you wouldn’t have pastoral meadows filled with wildflowers, or stately redwood forests. Instead, you would have amazing canyons and pinnacles, in all different shades of red and ochre.

And best of all, you would have the stars. Have you ever been to a remote location (Utah, Montana, Alberta, Saskatchewan, NamibRand Nature Reserve, Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve in New Zealand, etc.) where you could see more stars than are visible from even suburban or farming areas?

The view of the heavens from Mars will be beyond your expectations. Heavenly, literally. People will ride rovers in environment suits with warmed platforms so they can recline and enjoy the heavens. Or transparent domes will be erected so people can have star parties where they eat, drink, dance, and gape at the universe. They will see the colors of the stars, they will see nebulas, they will see the Milky Way.

The people of Mars will see the whole galaxy, the visible cosmos, and they will know that humanity has made another step toward exploring and populating the universe beyond Earth. You could be one of them—if you’re young enough, and if you really want it. I hope some of you do.

But here’s one drawback: I just don’t know that sheep will adapt to Mars. I love sheep, but they do need a lot of open pasture to graze. So maybe you’ll have to do with holographic sheep — or, better, this blog.

See you on Mars — in 2035, maybe.

Mars Girls
by Mary Turzillo
June 13, 2017
300 pages
Cover art by Sasha Alexeeva
ISBN 978-1-937009-52-6
Nanoannie is bored. She wants to go to clubs, wear the latest Earth fashions, and dance with nuke guys. But her life is not exciting. She lives on her family’s Pharm with her parents, little sister, and a holo-cat named Fuzzbutt. The closest she gets to clubs are on the Marsnet. And her parents are pressuring her to sign her contract over to Utopia Limited Corp before she’s even had a chance to live a little. When Kapera—a friend from online school—shows up at her Pharm asking for help, Nanoannie is quick to jump in the rover and take off. Finally an adventure!

What Nanoannie and Kapera find at the Smythe’s Pharm is more than the girls bargained for. The hab has been trashed and there are dead bodies buried in the backyard! If that wasn’t bad enough, the girls crash the rover and Kapera gets kidnapped by Facers who claim her parents are murderers! Between Renegade Nuns, Facers, and corp geeks, Nanoannie and Kapera don’t know who to trust or where to go. Kapera only wants to find her parents so they can get to Earth Orbitals and she can be treated for her leukemia. Nanoannie wants to help her friend and experience a little bit of Mars before selling her contract to the first corp that offers to buy it.

Life isn’t easy when you’re just as a couple of Mars Girls.



About the Author:
Mary Turzillo's 1999 Nebula-winner,"Mars Is no Place for Children" and her Analog novel, AN OLD-FASHIONED MARTIAN GIRL, are read on the International Space Station. Her poetry collection, LOVERS & KILLERS, won the 2013 Elgin Award. She has been a finalist on the British Science Fiction Association, Pushcart, Stoker, Dwarf Stars and Rhysling ballots. SWEET POISON, her Dark Renaissance collaboration with Marge Simon, was a Stoker finalist and won the 2015 Elgin Award. She's working on a novel, A MARS CAT & HIS BOY, and another collaboration with Marge Simon, SATAN'S SWEETHEARTS. Her novel MARS GIRLS is forthcoming from Apex. She lives in Ohio, with her scientist-writer husband, Geoffrey Landis, both of whom fence internationally.

Geoff and Mary ponder the question: what would it be like to fence in zero-G? and: What about if we were cats fencing in zero-G?


GIVEWAY
The give away runs May 28th-June17th Midnight, 1 ebook copy of Mars Girls, open internationally.

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